5 yoga tricks your dog is trying to teach you.

Meet Cooper.
Dogs are great at yoga – masterful, even – and we stand to learn a lot from them, if we'd just slow down and take a look. Sure, no one's going to toss us a treat when we get these right...but there are still rewards to reap.
  •  Stretch. While we're stumbling for coffee, Cooper shifts his hips back into a beautiful adho mukha svanasana, or (yes, you guessed it) downward facing dog. Lengthening the spine. Warming up the legs. No caffeine required.
Cooper's not the only one in downward dog. Photo from illuminateyoga.com.au
  • Appreciate what you have. No one's saying you have to wag your tail, but, after a few years together, it's easy to toss out a half-baked greeting when a significant other walks through the door after a long day. Not dogs, though. They'll run across the wood floor, skid across the tile and jump around with springs in their feet. Er, paws.
  • Be in the moment. When Cooper's playing with his rope, he's all there. When he's on a walk, he's all there. When he's getting a bath, he's all there (though, on that last one, I'll admit: he's not happy about it)
  • Drop the envy. Learn to live well with what you have and who you are. Find contentment and purpose in what you offer the world.  
  • Live fully. There's a lot to be said for turning 100, but sometimes longevity is all we see. Dogs, on the other hand? They're busy making the most of time. Of now. Make the most of yours too – even if that means settling in for a nap.

Onward and Upward

Ever feel like everyone you know is enjoying success while you're stuck in a slump? I have lately, and more than a few times I've shaken my fist at the universe. When's my turn?!

As the weeks stretch into months – without divine intervention – I find myself looking at others' lives or day-to-day routines through a rose-colored lens. The simplest things seem shinier. Look prettier and easier. And it has all started to shave away at my own happiness. Before I knew it, I hit the point of dreading the "What's new with you?" question because my answer was always the same: Nothing. Not much here.

Theodore Roosevelt, a much wiser person than me, once said, "Comparison is the thief of all joy." Which is the truth – and exactly what I've been guilty of. It's just that everyone seems so busy and lucky and fulfilled, from new jobs and better pay to even the simplest and silliest of things, like spending Saturday morning at brunch instead of clearing dishes off the table. In contrast, I feel boring and ungrateful and this small which I'm not (and know I'm not) but sometimes forget.

The double-whammy here, about this comparison thief, is that it's self-created (ego) and society-created (collective ego). Always searching for a rank, the ego tells you and me and everyone in between that there's superior and inferior, upward and downward, a proverbial mountain to scale and that the top is the place to be. But the reality is that life is not – and never will be – lived in a vertical plane. There is no top, and even if there were, once reached there would be nowhere new to go. Imagine that heartache and loneliness. Imagine being robbed of that joy.

Life, I think, is horizontal. One day rolls into the next, and whether rich or poor, homeless or executive, mansion or cardboard box, time moves in the same direction for all of us. Its linear quality means there is no bottom and no top. No high, no low. Just what is, and its ability to continually push us toward whatever's in store along the way – a journey which is ours and ours alone, without compare.

Onward and upward.

On the fence.

How does the saying go? Oh, yeah. Good fences make good neighbors.

My neighbor and I had new lawns put in not too terribly long ago. The grass on both sides has had its far share of trouble, and both of us have had to replace giant chunks at a time. I mean, this is Florida, after all. We're trying to grow sod and it's more than a little buggy around here.

Shortly after, my neighbor got a dog. Cute. Adorable, even. But get this: When the pup goes out to do his duty, my neighbor walks out her front door and through her grass into ours. Where the dog does numero uno. And numero dos.

Strange? Yes.

At first I thought it was a one-time deal. Maybe they'd had the yard sprayed, and she didn't want any chemicals on the little guy's paws. But as I began to take a more watchful eye (yes, between the slats of our blinds), I noticed that it was their normal day in, day out routine.

I admit; it started to annoy me. Why do it? I mean, even in our yard, she picks up behind him – which she could easily do in her own. Did she not want her grass soiled – but ours was okay?

As my blood pressure climbed, I eventually figured I had two options to this irritating (yet silly) situation. Say something or decide to let it go. Sure, confronting her might give me a temporary feeling of winning, but it also might cast a small shadow on a friendly relationship. Shrugging it off would be easy in theory – until I saw them skip over their yard for ours once again.

With no good outcome, for now, I've decided to let it go. Having a dog in our yard hurts nothing. And even though I find it so very odd, some truths probably have no business being said. The truths that come from ego, possession or pride serve no value, kindness or purpose to the speaker or the recipient. Which means they are better swept under the rug. (Or, in this case, the lawn.)

Photo credit: summitfencesupply.com

Live from the inside out.

So what does that mean, exactly? Well, I think it means a number of things, and they'll be every bit as unique as we all are.

For me, live from the inside out means:
Take care of yourself.
Be at peace with who you are and where you are.
Love yourself and then abundantly love others.

Of course, it also brings to mind a catchy little song that will probably to get stuck in your head all day, and for that I'm sorry. But I’m also kind of not sorry, if you know what I mean. Because these lyrics? They’ve got to be the epitome of living from the inside out.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

So sing on and shine on. 

When it rains...

Photo credit: Rain HD Photography

I'd always choose a warm day over a cold one. A sunny day over a cloudy one. A cloudy day over a rainy one. But, then again, today, as water falls from the sky in sheets, buckets, drizzles, droplets and then sheets again – no match for my umbrella, flooding the streets and making it hard to get home, so different than yesterday – it's mirror to life is clearer than the clearest skies.

Sometimes life comes down gently and others it's too much to handle – there's no way to stay dry; it comes too hard, too fast. Flooding happens. Devastation. Possessions get ruined or taken away or become unusable. 

The spirit can drown underneath the rain too. But it is stronger than materials, than roads, than roofs. And, out of the darkest times, we all can lift our chins up, knowing blue skies will come around again.