look then look away

Frankie’s Fixation

My sister’s dog is a Dorkie. A Dorkie is a cross between the Dachshund and the Yorkshire Terrier not a dog who is slow-witted or socially inept although this dog does have some interesting quirks.

Frankie the Dorkie

During our recent family gathering, Frankie the Dorkie would sit beside the refrigerator with his glance fixed firmly on a bright green frog-like fridge magnet. Despite the constant, buzzing activity and social antics of the dozen or so adults, children and four other dogs all around him, Frankie’s gaze remained steady.

But then looking was no longer enough for him. He would then begin to whimper with only the occasional glance away from his beloved magnet to see if anyone would come and lower the magnet on the fridge so he could get a closer look.  When the whimpering didn’t work, he tried barking.

For some reason, we were all quite amused at this fixation and would lower the magnet to see what would happen next. Frankie would get visibly excited as the magnet made its way down to where he could reach it. He would sniff it and then he’d take it gently in his mouth and run away.

Laughing, we’d retrieve the magnet and put it back on the fridge to only start the sitting, staring and whimpering process all over again.

The humour wore off much sooner than Frankie’s steely resolve and we finally hid the magnet on top of the fridge. Frankie was not to be deterred and he just kept staring at the top of the fridge where he thought the magnet was.

Days later now, an email from my mother, who is babysitting Frankie for the week, explained that he is still obsessed with the magnet even though it is no longer even on top of the fridge. To prove that to Frankie, she put him on top of the fridge to show him that there was nothing up there.

It was no use. He is a dog obsessed. Holding on to something that is not his and never will be. Waiting impatiently and expectantly for something even with clear evidence that it may not even exist anymore.

It may be easy to write off Frankie as a canine oddity but those of us who walk on two feet instead of four still struggle with fixations and obsessions.


“It has to happen exactly this way or it’s not right”

“I need more…. time, money, friends, support, hope… then everything will be fine”

“He hurt me and I will never be able to forgive him. Ever.”


Resolve, Resolutions and Acceptance
In this season of goal setting, can we all find space to accept all of it?

All aspects of ourselves and our lives. Get up on top of the fridge and see that we may be fixated on an empty space and then accept that. The fixation and the empty space.

Then look away and accept that, too.

To what do you cling?  Can you accept the clinging?  Can you accept the letting go?

Be well, be happy and be at peace this coming year.

Compassion starts at home.



the time for ‘out-waiting’


During the most recent Olympic hockey game, the Canadian women’s hockey team was playing Switzerland and a commentator complimented the Swiss goalie for ‘out-waiting’ a lone Canadian shooter to prevent a goal in a game where the Swiss were already down 3 goals to 1.  What a great concept!  Out-waiting.

Out-waiting: engaging in the essential pause.  A skill to practice.  A practice to repeat.

Can you choose to out-wait this moment’s distraction?  The fear?  The rage?  The attachment?  The dullness?  The resentment?  The desire? The complaint-on-the-tip-of-your-tongue?

Is there a lone attacker gliding toward you ready to take a shot?  What will you do?

Take a deep breath and engage the mighty “out-wait”.




me, me, me & mussolini


At the onset of my novel-worthy summer by the lake, no one could have predicted that the long-awaited moments of rejuvenation and blissful solitude would have included entertaining Mussolini.

No, not the actual dictator.  Not even his ghost.  My Mussolini is almost as dark as old Benito though.  But without the whimsy.  My beach-house fascist is a pillaging black squirrel who I felt compelled to name immediately when I stepped out onto the porch one day.


Black squirrel


This bold forager devoured most of my beautiful porch plants without so much as a friendly introduction or welcome to the neighbourhood.  What was to be my rich, green summer sanctuary now was a mess of empty planters and sad, wilted leaves left to die on the ground beside their former beds.  It was a botanical massacre.

I can certainly see why he was drawn to the tender trails of sweet watercress that were flourishing in my herb garden.  But I was not prepared to see my vibrant, two-year old passion vine reduced to a few leaves lifelessly dangling on the two single vines left.  Only two days before, two of the unique purple passion flowers had bloomed confidently and a third one was pregnant with blossoming potential.



My first slump-shouldered reaction was a resigned disappointment but that, more quickly than I’d like to admit, turned into me looking around for something akin to a BB gun.  This was followed by many words definitely not suitable for the Family Channel as I cleaned up the mess.

To protect the remaining few plants, I’d heard that coffee grounds on the soil around plants will keep squirrels from digging so I tried that first.  And, as option two, I filled a squirt bottle with water and set the nozzle to the stream position. After a few wet encounters with my furry Mussolini that involved me sitting on my porch with a coffee in one hand and the squirt bottle in the other, his visits have magically stopped.

To be fair, the squirrel could have no way of knowing that I had nurtured that passion vine through a long winter of less-than-optimal sun conditions and it had just begun to recover nicely.  And that I intentionally brought the plant with me to my summer getaway so I could enjoy it in its period of abundant growth and fullness.  He could have no idea that the plant reminded me daily of the beauty and natural power of patient resilience.

I guess I’d become attached.  Just counting the number of times I used “my” in the re-telling of this story tells me that my sub-conscious attachments are flung far and wide.  My summer by the lake. My porch. My passion vine. Even my Mussolini.  How much rest could I really get this summer if I’m holding on so tightly to everything around me?

After finding more remnants of my former plants protruding from under a wooden box at the side of the porch, it turns out that the pillaging had purpose.  And that Benito is likely a Benita.

With both of us nesting, each in our own way, perhaps we can learn to accept each other for who we are and where we’re coming from.  Both doing what we’re wired to do.

Live and let live.  With a squirt bottle still firmly in hand!