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I loved so many photos that I took at the local Game Fair last Saturday that it was difficult to select which ones to put into this blog post. This wasn’t because so many shots were good – many are fuzzy, cluttered or have fence wires running through them – but through all of that, I think the emotion and excitement of the dogs and the cool relationship they have with their human came through in a big smile way.

Neither Steve and I are hunters so all the booths selling hunting gear were wasted on us. What I went for was to see the dogs and to have a chance to photograph them in action.

This boy was amazing! It wasn’t that he found the decoy in the obstacle course right away. What was fun to watch was the teamwork between the dog and his human. When the dog went in the wrong direction, the man blew a whistle and the dog froze, waiting for a signal. When the signal came, he continued in the direction he was pointed. I loved his intensity! He simply seemed to have character.

And he scores!

Dogs watching on the sidelines, like Java, badly wanted to be a part of the action.

This dog waited with every muscle tensed, eyes focused, waiting for the command…


And retrieve

And retrieve

“Please let me go play too?”

“I think I smell sheep…”

“I do smell sheep! You won’t even let me chase squirrels!”

Besides a sheep herding demonstration, there were agility dogs. This guy was a beginner just starting out.

He looked like he was having fun.

Note to self: This looks like a real workout for the owner too.
May have to rethink pursuing agility with Latte…

Do ya think there was a bit of “treat” anticipation?

There were more experienced dogs too.

“What’s so great about that? I could do that blind folded!”

Did I mention what a good dog training event this was for the dog spectators? Latte was actually better behaved than Java because Java (a lot of retriever in her) wanted to go into the water SOOOOO BAD!
Java might have some herding instinct in her too as the sheep drove her a bit nuts, while agility left her cold, and she proceeded to put her head on some guy’s lap next to us and drool on his pants. Good thing he was a dog person…

There are many things I’d like to change about myself and my habits — lose five pounds, stick to my writing plan, go forth in life with courage. But those things require hard and often unpleasant work.

Hopefully, the new stuff eventually becomes the old stuff and comes more naturally, but this can take weeks, months, even a lifetime of practice, practice, practice. Just think if I tried to teach my chickens to go into the coop during the day and come out at night? It goes against all their instincts for self preservation!

That’s what’s so hard about change. It goes against what comes much more naturally to us and usually means giving up instant gratification.

But there’s one change that comes pretty easy and where you see instantaneous results — a haircut!

Okay, making a decision wasn’t easy. I had lots of photos of cuts that I liked, most of them VERY short. But for some reason, stylists are always talking me out of going that far. They always want to leave some hair to “soften” my face. Hmmm….
Anyway, an hour of time tops and you have a whole new woman.

Okay, not wholely new, but I felt different. Every time I passed a mirror or ran a hand across my neck, I knew something had changed. My friend Cheryle thought I looked taller and thinner. Way cool!

So although I know a haircut is not a core-deep, inspiring change — in fact, it only lasts for about 6-8 weeks and then you need to do it again — I do think it can be a good kick start.

I feel lighter and softer. Not soft in a bad, walk-all-over me way, but in a go with the flow, open and accepting way. Okay, Steve might argue with that because returning to work after a week off has made me cranky, but really, a weight was removed.

I picture that my spirit, alongside my curl, has been released and brought back. This makes me happy.

Speaking of curl, I have hair with multiple personalities. It wants to be straight towards the top of my head, while underneath and farther down, it wants to be curly. I have struggled for consistency, leaning towards wanting all of my hair to be curly.

It’s just not ever going to happen, and I am learning to accept this and see that this mix still works out okay.

This is such an excellent metaphor for a healthy view of life. Really, it is! This tendency to want consistency and order comes from wanting things to be predictable, which would certainly make life easier and less stressful. But perhaps also boring. Too much sameness. Too much perfection.

Quirks, uniqueness, a bit of something out of place makes life more interesting. These things catch your eye and somehow make you love the imperfection.

Like a flower that pops up in a crack in the cement, sometimes things that thrive in a less than ideal environment do so because of their strength and will to not just survive, but thrive.

My general stress level makes me wonder how I manage to be mistaken for a normal, functioning human being from day-to-day. Wait, I do generally look normal and functioning, don’t I?

Floating down the river last Saturday was a wonderful moment of escape from an ordinary life, but I can’t get out and do that every day. So my mini-escape hatch is my potting shed. I can go out there and work on my iPad or read. I can ditch that feeling of the world simultaneously asking too much of me and not seeing that I’m there.

When I was house hunting two years ago, I found a home that was on the Elk River and was thickly surrounded by trees. I loved the lot the house was on, and it had a porch that looked out through the trees towards the river. On one viewing, I sat in the porch at a high top table, imagining myself sitting there in the morning, listening to the birds and rustle of wind, a mug of steaming coffee in front of me, while I wrote one of many best sellers.

Alas, that is not the house I ended up with, but my newly installed potting shed, with the view of chickens, is the next best thing. Right?

I think every woman needs a special place to get away from the sight of laundry, dirty dishes, and balls of dog and cat hair intermixed with sand that skitter across the floor as you walk through the room.

It’s also good to remove myself from sources of food that I eat mindlessly, trying to counteract the boredom of above said tasks or the frustration of being stuck on a paragraph that will not be beaten into something brilliant or at least funny.

Bit by bit, I am turning the potting shed into a cabin retreat — a space where my mind has room to run free.

Do you have such a place to escape? Or maybe not a place but an activity that heals the frazzles?

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