Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hello Again

Where do I even start? It has been months since I posted and while I have not lost even one ounce of weight my life has changed for the better in other ways.

I have a new job. A new career. A new reason for going to work in the mornings.

To clarify- I still work at my night job. I enjoy it and it helps pay the bills. But last month I began working as a legal assistant to an attorney in Edmond, Oklahoma. My new boss is passionate about her clients and is a wonderful lawyer. It is so nice to work for someone who cares so much about the people that she represents. She is an ethical, hard working and brilliant woman and I feel blessed every single day that I was given this amazing opportunity to begin a new career at this stage of my life.

I never thought that I would be lucky enough to find a job that I was truly inspired by at my age. Every day when I drive to work I thank God that he showed me the ad for the position and that he gave me the right words and timing to apply for the job.

I started the Monday after I got back from South Africa.... and I am amazed at how much I have learned in the six weeks that I have been there. But time to back track a bit.....

No posts since May makes for a lot of things that have happened.... in June we went to a freestyle competition and Tilly and I paired with friends Kris and Roxie to add two more legs to our Pairs total so that now we are within one qualifying score of our first Championship together. We are traveling to South Carolina in November where we may be able to finish that title. Tilly and I also won high herding dog and our routine won high artistic at the event. Kris was kind enough to let us bring home the award for that and so now I have some great musical note art hanging on the bedroom wall to remember the weekend by.

At the end of June we demoed each day at the Summer Classic Dog show in Oklahoma City. Flag and Tilly were both great- and it was so much fun to spend 5 days immersed in dog stuff with dog friends.

In July I went on my whirlwind trip to South Africa. There and back in less than a week! It was amazing. I loved the culture and came home with wonderful gifts of art from the group. Judging each day was such a pleasure and teaching the seminars were inspiring from so many directions. One of the highlights of the event was seeing one of my early heroes of freestyle- the amazing dog Quincy- compete in perhaps her last competition at the South African Championships. Watching her work with such a zest and love for dancing was an emotional experience, and one that I will never forget.

One good thing about working weird hours is that I did not experience even a moment of jet lag. I got on the airplane on Wednesday at 8 am and I arrived in South Africa about 30 hours later. I did not sleep on the plane (much to the dismay of the man sitting between me and the plane aisle) and I made myself get up every two hours for a jaunt around the plane. Lots of water and fruit juices kept my energy level up and I got off the plane at 9 pm Thursday night SA time. I was picked up by Gavin who is the husband of Liz, who arranged the entire event. We went to dinner and I met the club members- all of whom I immediately fell in love with. I was good for about two hours when I hit the wall. And so home we went where I fell fast asleep until I woke up in the morning- refreshed and not feeling any affects of a 30 hour trip in the least!

The event was at a huge pet fair and dog/cat show. There was obedience, agility, rally, flyball and dozens of vendors. It was so great walking around meeting people. I found it funny that the moment I opened my mouth, each vendor asked me what part of the states I was from. I had no trouble figuring out the exchange rate and discovered right away that our money goes a very long way when shopping in South Africa. I picked up a few things from the dog show, including hand stamped gold dog tags shaped like a dog bone. I had Tilly and Jake put on one (one on each side) and Tango and Flag put on the other. When I was at the dog show in June there were several vendors who were selling small dog collars as bracelets for people. I had loved the idea (but not the $25 price tag) and right afterwards ordered a $3 one off of ebay that is brown leather and has rhinestones on it. So now I added my new dog tags to it and I get compliments on it all of the time. Plus I get to have a piece of my dogs with me all of the time......

But back to South Africa. The show lasted for three days and I was inspired by the amazing and creative freestyle I was allowed to watch and judge each day. What a great group of dog trainers and talented dogs are competing over there. I cannot wait to go back some day and spend more time with them. Before I left I was not sure how I would feel being there- but given the choice I would go back to visit any time!

Sunday morning before the event, my wonderful host Liz took me shopping at the rooftop outdoor mall. There are a couple of hundred vendors there that would otherwise not be able to showcase their handcrafted wares due to financial restrictions and you could spend days up there going through all of the booths. I found a couple of amazing handpainted canvases (for the astronomical price of about $8 US funds each), a hand beaded cross for Kaity ($2 US) and a beautiful silver cross with pink CZs embedded for $12 US. While I was there I saw an amazing hand carved wooden doll with beading. I decided that I just could not afford to buy it, but Liz saw my face while I was looking at it and at the end of the show I was given it as my judges gift from the club. It is now hanging in the center of my 'Africa wall' and I will cherish it forever. There was also an Afrikan woman selling hand knitted winter caps for just a few US dollars and one for myself and one for Kaity went into the shopping bag.

When I was growing up my father collected Asian art and I always wondered what made him feel drawn to a s specific culture that way. I do not wonder any longer since I have most certainly felt a very strong pull towards the culture and art of South Africa and will most likely add other elements to my small collection as time goes on.

I taught four seminars on Monday and Tuesday and the room was packed each time. I hope that I was able to give them as much as I got in return. Working with such talented and dedicated dog people is such a blessing for those of us who love this sport. It was two days that I will never forget and I am so grateful that I was given the chance to experience it.

On Wednesday, another fellow freestyle judge Gaby came over and she and Liz and myself headed out to sight see. After hiking to the highest point in the area that over looks all of Johannesburg we went down town for a drive around. People were walking everywhere and it is not easy to drive around. Vendors line each side of the street with all sorts of wares and the atmosphere is electric and filled with energy. Unfortunately it is also a very dangerous area of the country and so we needed to stay in the car with doors locked. But at one point I spotted someone walking with a great shopping bag with an elephant on the side. I realized that many people had these bags and I mentioned I would love to bring some home for people. We started looking for them and finally we spotted vendor that had them. Gaby triple parked the car with the motor running and Liz and I ran to the vendor and negotiated for several of them. I love my Africa bag- I use it to carry my clothes for my night job and it is the best bag in the world. It is a mid weight plastic and zippers shut and I am so glad that we stopped for them!

Wednesday evening it was all over and I headed back to the airport. I had about 100 rand left (about $14 US) and there was no place at any of the airports to exchange it so a wooden salad spoon and fork, an African mask and a scarf ended up in my carry on bag as my last souvenirs from my trip.

32 hours later I was sitting in Lisa's car as she brought me home. An amazing week......and I am so grateful that I was able to experience it.

That Monday morning I started my new job aka new career and once again, in case you did not hear me= I LOVE MY NEW JOB!!!!!!

So life is good, life is great and I am happy. I still have about a million pounds to lose- but maybe, finally I will start to look at myself as deserving of all things that are good. It almost seems unfair to ask for more. I have an amazing daughter, loving and dear friends, an inspiring hobby, animals that I love more than can be put into words and a job that causes me to want to work harder each and every day. Do I deserve to also be thin? Maybe not....but I need to be healthy to fully enjoy all that I have. So maybe that is how I need to look at it. Not thin, certainly not young and beautiful (ship sailed a really long time ago) but at least healthy and fit to best serve all that I have been given. So we will try that.......

Next weekend I am volunteering a horse show to benefit ex Thoroughbred race horses and then volunteering with the dogs on Sunday at another benefit to help rescue dogs. In November we head for South Carolina. Then in March is our HUGE freestyle week with banquet to benefit the Greyhound rescue. Life is busy and fast moving. Maybe it is time that I do what needs to be done to keep up with it.