Saturday, August 31, 2013

The rawhide project

It all started on a Friday a couple of weeks ago. Early. Five o-clock in the morning to be exact. My alarm on my iPhone jolted me awake from a strange dream I vaguely remember. About as quick as the dream disappeared from my memory, so did the eery feeling that my alarm might have been going off longer than it should have. But when I glanced at the time, it certainly was exactly 5:00a.m. Strange.

Charlie was already up, pacing the room. Mornings get him excited. Well, pretty much anything can excite this dog.

After briefly walking off the odd dream that involved me withdrawing huge sums of money (which I didn't have) from my bank account, I passed through the living room and into the kitchen to make coffee. Charlie at my heels, he passed up the rawhide bone he had pretended to bury in the couch cushion the night before. It wasn't buried, really. Rather, it was delicately placed in the crevice where the cushion meets the backrest, waiting plainly for anyone to see. Charlie didn't seem to pay it any attention as we strolled past. Strange dog.

Michelle had given Charlie the rawhide days earlier. Most dogs presented with such goodness will immediately devour the thing or at least attempt to chew it apart. Not Charlie. He walked around with it. He pretended to bury it. He was not going to eat it.

Michelle, Charlie, and I were up earlier than usual that morning because I was taking Michelle to the airport. It always amazes me how Charlie can sense a different routine, a break in the normalcy of our lives. That morning I asked him to go into his kennel, knowing I would soon return from the trip north on Interstate 80 and back again. And while I told Charlie I would be back, he didn't believe a word I was saying.

When I did return home, we completed our morning routine together. But Charlie missed his mom. Charlie ate breakfast. He was looking for Michelle. I let him outside and he went to the bathroom while I took the garbage out to the curb and the neighbor dogs went insane barking at me the entire time. He still seemed to look at me, wondering what I did with Michelle.

Back inside the house, well, watch:

And then, he proceeded to eat the entire thing in under 15 minutes.

Maybe Charlie grew tired of "fake" hiding the rawhide and then "rediscovering" it exactly where he had left it. Or maybe he was so upset Michelle was gone that eating it was calming and safe. Or maybe he was embarrassed that I caught his weirdness on video. But maybe, the real truth is Charlie is just downright, plain crazy.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Tomorrow, at Lincoln High School, TEDxYouth@Lincoln: Unleash Brilliance is taking place from 10am to 3pm.

I can guarantee that this event will be memorable for both youth and adults. I was able to get a glimpse of a few of the opening acts and I have been working with some amazingly talented youth who will be giving wonderful talks.

If you can attend, you should.

If you can't attend in person, you can watch the event streaming live!

I'll be there and will try to tweet from the event. You can follow me @CharliesHuman.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Living the mindful way

Charlie and I woke up early this morning to the bright sun beaming into the house. Michelle's sister stayed over last night and the two of them are still sleeping. The house is peacefully silent. I briefly interrupted the quiet by grinding some coffee beans and then relaxed on the couch with my most loyal companion laying next to me. In this moment, I became fully aware of how quickly time seeps away when life gets hectic. And when life gets busy, I almost always deprive myself of what I love.

I enjoy writing (or blathering) on this blog. I surprised myself when I pulled up the page to see my last entry was seven weeks ago.

I love running and, sadly, it has probably been at least that many weeks since my last run.

I take pride in finding time for Charlie, playing fetch in the backyard, walking or running with him, and grooming him. Lately, I have forgotten about the importance of those moments, for both of us.

I am thankful for the relationships I have with family and friends. While I have thought about people lately, I have failed to reach out to some of them, call them, or spend time with them.

What I have been doing is practicing mindfulness. And since I have neglected some parts of life, I thought it might be appropriate to write how mindfulness can enrich life.

While I knew of mindfulness long before, I really began to think about it and apply it (to my life and my teaching) during a graduate class I was taking for my master's degree. Mindfulness is the art of paying attention, or really being attuned to the people and things around you. It requires a full seeing or observation to what we often miss or take for granted.

I think of it this way: when we are busy, constantly multi-tasking, and thinking about several different things while doing something else, we don't fully attend to what we are doing in the current moment. Instead, we should focus on the moment at hand, and only that moment. Living the mindful way opens up opportunities to see, think, react, and interact in a more fulfilling and engaged way.

Read what Eden Kozlowski says in Mindfulness and How it Helps Kids Excel.

I have been practicing mindfulness at home and work and it has opened up moments in establishing relationships with new people. It has helped me to see challenges more clearly and has given me better insight for how to interact with them. I have grown to embrace the process of progress, rather than stress and fret over the details along the way. I feel fresh and energetic when encountering the daily, often monotonous tasks of life and work.

Now I must refocus on those things I love. Have you considered being more mindful? What in life have you neglected lately?