Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop has rolled around again, as it does every week, but this time there was a topic that really struck me:
4.) What lights your fire? Describe five things you are most passionate about.
This is a great prompt for me. I spend so much time focusing on what I’m frustrated about and what is sad in my life, and I don’t stop and think about the things I love nearly often enough. Well, except dog training. The idea that I can do something I love without feeling guilty since it’s actually earning me money still blows my mind!
Anyway, without further ado, and in no particular order (because I’m not opening that can ‘o’ worms), my 5 things:
1) As I just said, dog training. I love dog training. I am so passionate about it. It is so fun. It is so rewarding. Helping people and dogs live happier lives, well, there’s just not much better. Not to mention that I love teaching. I love seeing the moment when it all *clicks* and suddenly someone gets it. Tonight I had a moment like that with a dog. A client and I have been working for weeks to teach her dog to find and retrieve her keys. We have not been working hard, and there has been a lot of other stuff going on, but it’s been there. Tonight, when we sent her to get the keys, on impulse the client asked her dog to “bring it.” Her dog grabbed the keys (this is metal, mind you, that most dogs HATE mouthing) and carried them to her person’s feet. We threw the biggest party! The dog was happy, the client was happy, I was happy, it was a great feeling!
I also love training my own dog, because HE loves training! As I wrote recently in my Awesome Agility post, we have a lot of fun together! When I grab my clicker or treat pouch he starts positively wriggling and running circles around my feet. If I just sit with my clicker he will offer behavior after behavior, quivering with excitement, trying to figure out what is earning him that elusive click. And the “aha” moment is priceless. It helps him stay mentally healthy (he is one of the “smartest” shih tzus I know because I taught him how to think), mentally exercised, and happy. Why would I not give him that?
2) I am addicted to reading. Mainly fiction. Mainly high fantasy. My three favorite series are the Kushiel series, the Black Jewels Trilogy, and the Sword of Truth series (if you want to buy through Amazon, go through my friend Essie‘s page and click through from there. Amazon will pay her a portion of the sale!). I love high fantasy books largely because they are one of the few mediums left that can really make you think about philosophical or religious questions. We are so caught up in our preconceived ideas that it can be hard to see things from another point of view, but in high fantasy the author simply plops you in another world where none of your “givens” apply. If you don’t like it, you are challenged to explain why your “normal” is better than the one created. It has really helped me think about a lot of philosophical and moral issues. Kushiel challenged my ideas of sexuality. The Sword of Truth series challenged my views of pacifism and religion. The Black Jewels trilogy..well..it kind of challenged my views of the afterlife, but mostly that one just has some of the most amazing characterization I’ve ever seen.
When I’m not reading high fantasy, I also love historical fiction, primarily from medieval Europe. I’m currently reading a series set in the Tudor court and it’s fascinating to me. Has been as long as I remember. Not sure why. I’m really a fan of any genre of fiction, as long as it has a strong plot, good characterization, and at least somewhat of a love story (I’m a romantic, shoot me). I’ve also recently started to read some non-fiction. I’ve read two incredible non-fiction books recently and recommend them. The first is The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog. It’s a book by a child psychologist with stories of his past clients and really good explanations of how the brain develops and works. I highly recommend it to anyone who knows someone with a mental illness and/or has children. The other was Losing My Religion, a book about a man who was a very strong evangelical Christian but lost his faith on the religion beat he earned his way onto. This one resonated with me, a lot of what he said, especially at the end, was, “Exactly!” to me. Nice to know I’m not the only one to have felt those exact feelings and thought those exact thoughts.
3) My hubby. He is awesome. He takes such good care of me. I am not an easy person to live with. I am constantly so physically and mentally exhausted I cannot get up to get my own food when I’m hungry. He not only gets me food, he offers to do so, does it cheerfully, and tells me how much he loves helping me. It’s difficult to keep me from feeling guilty about accepting help, but he does it! Same goes for all the other things he fetches for me so I can rest. He cooks. He does the shopping. He keeps track of finances. And all of this while working full time, and officiating various sports in his off-hours. Another fun trait of mine are the constant depressions. Dysthemic disorder means that I am usually down, in a very chemical way, to some extent, and that not-infrequently it goes into a major “down” which can be life-threatening. He knows how to help me, and he is not offended when the best thing he can do to help is call my service dog and let Toby bring me back to myself. And again, he never minds helping me pull out of a depression. Then you have social anxiety disorder. Which means being out in public or with people is exhausting, even when I like them. So by myself, I tend to stay in a lot. He is a social guy who loves to go out. He goes out a lot less than he otherwise would, to stay home with me, and at other times he will go to parties, sporting events, etc. alone and really enjoy them, so that I don’t have to feel guilty for not accompanying him everywhere when I don’t want to (I grew up with a dad who needed a crowd at all times, so not only did he always want to go out, he needed everyone else to go out with him. That my hubby can enjoy himself without me is such a blessing!). Our premarital counselor (total bee-atch, maybe I’ll talk about her later) once asked me what my favorite thing about my (soon to be) hubby was, and I said it was that he put up with me and knew how to deal with me, and loved me anyway. She didn’t like that, but my hubby understood what I meant. He is the only person I can truly relax with and be myself around. That is invaluable. I love him so much!
4) Morality is very important to me. As you might have gotten a hint of from #2. Debating moral or philosophical questions is not only fascinating, to me it is important. Issues such as the use of birth control (I was raised Catholic, this is an issue), gay marriage, and abortion are important to me. I am especially interested in the role of religion in moral issues. As in, I disagree with the church I was raised in on most moral issues :P And the corruption that led to a lot of the teachings upsets me, since they directly impact the lives of a lot of people. To give you an idea of how passionate I am, my senior thesis was on the Tradition (capital “T”) of the Catholic Church’s teaching on birth control. It was 100 pages long. Single spaced. With 1″ margins. Yeah. Slightly passionate. If I had time (HAHAHAHAHA) I would pull it out and rewrite it the way I wish I could have the first time (a year was not enough time, especially with everything else I had going on), and try to get it published. There’s a lot of great information in the history that most modern Catholics are unaware of. This saddens me. I work hard to be very respectful of anyone with a different opinion than me. This is made easier by the fact that I held the opposite opinions on most issues passionately up until a few years ago. I understand them thoroughly. I argued them. And now I disagree with them. And I can pinpoint the base points at which those who disagree and I diverge. I love talking to get to those base points. As an example of how hard I work to be respectful, at the beginning of my thesis I wrote an explanation of the Catholic Church’s current official teaching. I had several people read my thesis. Almost every one, including many I’d talked with at length who knew my position, came to me (sometimes confused) to ask if I agreed with the Church while reading that section. I presented it as if I believed it, not with sarcasm or disdain, and it showed.
5) Dogs. No, this is not cheating. See, #1 is dog TRAINING. Totally different.
I am very passionate about a lot of things related to dogs. First I just love dogs. An extreme amount. They make me happy in a way that people just cannot. They are joyful, they love without limit, and they do not judge. I strive to be more like them in these ways!
I hate puppy mills. With a fiery, fiery passion. I think they are evil institutions which torture sentient animals purely for the sake of profit. You may think torture is an extreme term, but I’m not sure what else to call ramming metal rods down dogs’ throats to debark them, forcing dogs to live in wire cages so small they can barely turn around which cause sores in their feet for their whole life, letting animals get so caked in urine it actually chemically burns their skin, and denying medical care so that hernias can grow to the size of grapefruits and other minor medical conditions can kill, not to mention the lack of any human contact, or often even canine contact. And that’s not talking about the health problems in the puppies, since they do not bother to do health/genetic tests on the parents to ensure healthy puppies. Or that they contribute to overcrowding in shelters since they do not take responsibility for their puppies once they’re sold.
I love service dogs. I love all the things they can do for their people. One of my biggest dreams is to be able to run a not-for-profit service dog training organization some day, working to specially train dogs to assist people with various disabilities. It amazes me what dogs can do. Guiding blind people, alerting deaf people to sounds, helping people keep their balance and regain their footing, alerting to seizures and assisting with them, calling 9-1-1 in a medical emergency, helping people with mental disabilities come out of meltdown, picking up things that are dropped for people who cannot reach the floor or are often too dizzy to bend over, opening drawers, cabinets, and even refrigerators for people, acting as an alarm clock for people who cannot otherwise wake up, the list goes on and on and on. I get annoyed by people who slap a dog on their vest and call them a service dog, making it harder for legitimate teams to gain access. I also get annoyed by people who try to define a “service dog” more strictly than it legally is, such as saying they have to perform specific tasks, or that they have to come from a service dog school. The freedom these dogs can give their people is incredible, and all should be able to find it!
So there’s my list. I could go on, but I’m sleepy. It is late. This was just so therapeutic I had to participate. Thanks Mama Kat, for the great prompt!