Earth, Wind, and Smoochies by Dana Bergstrom

I started to write about visiting a psychic to learn more about my wrist pain and it accidentally turned into an I TALK TO DEAD PEOPLE post.

So, let's try again and see if this attempt gets just as weird, shall we?

Awrighty then!

One of my besties asked if I'd like to see her psychic friend, Marie, about pain in my left wrist. And since I'd never met with a psychic before and I'm curious how consciousness is connected between humans (dead or alive), it seemed this would be a fun opportunity to try something new and maybe get some help, too.

The day of the appointment, we drove down to a suburb of Minneapolis and pulled up to a small, light-colored, brick house that looked like it was built in the 1950s.

Marie, a sparkly-eyed, heavy-set, older woman with medium length, silver hair enthusiastically greeted us at her door with a warm, genuine smile. She's welcoming, kind, and engaging and it's clear that she loves being with people.

After we're all seated comfortably in her living room and she's explained what's about to happen, Marie breathes deeply with her eyes closed.

Quickly getting into an altered state, she then puts up a "psychic screen" in front of her.

She's able to see my chakras on this screen and offer insight into how I'm directing my energy.

Here's a quickie CHAKRA definition for peeps new to the concept:

In some Eastern medical and spiritual traditions, chakras are centers in and around our physical bodies that our life energy runs through. And if our animating energy gets blocked up in these areas, it can turn into illness or other difficult life situations that feel crappy.

So, Marie goes into a relaxed state and with her eyes half-open, she puts up the "screen" and begins to explain what she sees.

I'm finding it super fascinating and helpful and when she arrives at the middle section of my body, things start to get extra lively.

Marie asks which element resonates the most for me....Fire, Earth, Water?

Well, the weekend before, I'd gone to an Earth, Wind, and Fire concert and it was a massive spiritual experience for me.

Like, really massive.

The concert was exactly, in my feral world, what an ideal church service would be like...lots of bass, heavy drums, a loud-ass horn section, gorgeous harmonies, people dancing everywhere, and loads of songs about love, unity, and cosmic consciousness.

That night pretty much summed up my idea of a perfect universe, which is an over-the-top celebration of the oneness of All-That-Is in the form of a big, fat, funky LOVEFEST.

I was soooo freekin' blissed out and happy that partway through the show, I left my husband and friends behind in our row and danced all the way up to the front of the stage just so I could feel every bit of the band's blazing, positive energy run through and fill my entire being.

And because I felt soooo much love from these musicians, I desperately wanted them to feel my love, too. I mean, when you're receiving so dang much, you naturally want to give something back, right?

I do this at dance parties all of the time.

I want the DJs to know how much I appreciate their artistry, so I get waaaay too close to the turntables, and smile and spin, and give 'em two thumbs up, and occasionally blow some kisses, which could easily be perceived as borderline inappropriate.

But, ya know what? I've got a lot of love in me and I can't help it.

And then there have been a couple of times when I'm a little buzzed and I become an unsteady, bouncy menace to all those marvelous, vinyl albums and Pauly has to pull me away, like the champ of a husband that he is, because scratching precious records is MOST DEFINITELY inappropriate.

On the eve of Earth, Wind, and Fire (EW&F), I was happy, clear-minded, wide-awake, fully present in my body, and bursting with excitement.

And the ONLY thing that stopped me from crawling up on the stage and LOVING UP those magical performers was a serious-looking, brute of a policeman with folded arms, who was at the foot of the platform, silently scanning the crowd for over-enthusiastic maniacs like me.

Way to do yer job, Mr. Officer!

Your commitment to protect and serve saved the EW&F concert from a funked up, ecstatic, love-crazed woman!

Good on ya!

So instead of invading the performers' space, I soaked up tons of their magical juju just a few feet away.

Dancing to their transcendental tunes and watching their bright-eyes, sweat-soaked faces, and sparkly smiles I was completely FILLED TO OVERFLOWING.

It had been several days since the concert and I hadn't yet been able to talk about my EW&F experience without breaking down in tears.

So, instead of choosing an element that I resonated with, I was compelled to tell Marie, the psychic, about Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Oh my god.

Now I'm crying again.

Oh boy, let's see if I can keep my tears off of the keyboard and get through this.

So the thing that I love about EW&F is not only the PURE LOVE OF LIFE that comes through their lyrics and soulful music but also the fact that they are African-American males.

Three of the original band members are in their mid-60s and have been making funky music together for 45 YEARS!

45 YEARS of spreading the message of JOYFUL LOVE ENERGY as black men!

I mean, can you imagine what fresh hell these guys have experienced in their lifetimes?

First, there's the fact that their ancestors were brought to this country as slaves.

Then there's the long-lasting impact that being treated as sub-human has had on generations of their families.

Then you've got the constant racism and oppression that is thrown their way every single day.

Can you freekin' believe how these guys have TOTALLY TRANSFORMED all of that negative energy?!

To me, they are living, breathing miracles.

And they formed as a group only a few short years after African Americans got the right to vote!

I feel overwhelmed.

Just took a good, long, cry break and then looked up the history of EWF - a band whose stated mission from the very beginning is to SPREAD THE MESSAGE OF UNIVERSAL LOVE AND HARMONY.

Could they be any more inspirational?!

Maybe I feel this way because I've experienced pain, trauma, and cruelty, too.

Certainly, not the kind they've experienced, but I do know suffering and I definitely know what it feels like to want to end my life because of that suffering.

And anyone who can experience intense pain and negativity, look within themselves, take responsibility for their energy, and find a reason to live for love is a hero in my book.

They are my funky, funky, love filled heroes.

So, I explain to Marie what Earth, Wind, and Fire mean to me through sobs and loads of Kleenex.

And she tells me that I have a lot of love to share with the world.

She emphasizes "a lot of love" a few times, which I totally think justifies ALL KINDS of kiss-blowing, don't you? ;)

And, while looking at my upper chakras, she states that I am an intuitive and a communicator.

Are you a writer, Dana?

Well, I have a blog and I'm a big ol' Facebook blabbermouth so, yes, I am.

Marie explained that I have oodles of stories inside of me waiting to be shared and that I'd better start finding more ways to share them because that's what the life energy in me wants to do.

And as far as my wrist is concerned, besides expressing myself, which is key to my healing, I'm also going to want to forgive whoever has hurt me.

Because holding on to that hurt is blocking the energy there, creating my pain.

And so, this is what I'm doing right now. I'm communicating some EW&F love and openly expressing my willingness to forgive.

I'm also beginning to see that forgiveness really has nothing to do with the other person(s).

I've been confused about what to do about some painful, repressed, childhood trauma that unexpectedly surfaced and explained a whole lot of blocked energy in my life.

And it's becoming clear that, in my case, I don't need to talk to the people who hurt me about the details of the experience, or my suffering, or my forgiveness.

Forgiveness is purely an act of redirecting my energy.

Oh, my.

That sentence poured outta my fingers and then I gasped when I read it.

Forgiveness IS purely an act of redirecting my energy.

It's really an act of self-love because all I truly have in this world is my own energy and how I manage it.

So why not focus that energy and share it in a positive direction just like EW&F has?

Yeah, why not?

Okey doke! Well...I guess that's a wrap.

I didn't get sidetracked by dead people this time, but I wept through most of this post, so there ya go!

A good cry renews the soul.

Thanks for reading, fellow infinite, energetic/spiritual beings who are also having unpredictable, painful, and wonderfully beautiful human experiences.

I am now blowing kisses of big ol' smoochy smoochy appreciation to y'all.

And if you have any thoughts on forgiveness, love energy, dead people, chakras, or cops who stop wild fans from rushing the stage at concerts, feel free to comment below.

Chatting With The Dead by Dana Bergstrom

One of my besties is concerned about the pain I've been having in my left wrist and so she asked if I'd be willing to see her longtime friend who's a psychic.

Now before your BS meter starts going wild, here's some personal experience with psychic stuff:

I've had a couple of dead people come talk to me.

The first one was when I was around 6 years old.

His name was Carl and he was a 30-something parishioner at my dad's Evangelical Covenant Church in Missouri.

Not long after Carl passed away, while I was sitting there just staring out the window, he showed up at the foot of my bed.

Carl said he wanted to tell me that, no matter what anyone else says, I don't need to worry about Hell because it doesn't actually exist.

I don't recall being worried about it at all then; however, when Hell became a long-term, terrifying subject for me soon after, I, unfortunately, forgot about Carl's message.

I mean, if lots of NOT DEAD adults are teaching a kid about Hell on a regular basis, then it's easy to understand why this post-mortem wisdom wouldn't stick, right?

Also, at that point, nobody had told me that people who have transitioned can still actually communicate.

That's okay though...I'm very happy that Carl gave it a go because I remembered his message later, and it played a part in helping me get over the terror of Hell.

Carl knew what he was doing after all!

The other spirit who showed herself to me arrived a few years ago.

It was my high school friend Sara's mom, Cindy, whom I loved.

Cindy was one of those cool moms who was sweet, generous, and hilarious and knew exactly what kind of space her kids and their friends needed to do their thing.

This authentic, gravely-voiced, chain smoker also kindly overlooked Sara's and my juvenile delinquent antics when we came home waaaay early from school one day. I sorta think Cindy wasn't supposed to be home from work early either. Haha. :)

I looked forward to seeing her whenever I had the chance while visiting Nebraska because she was so much fun, but Cindy and I hadn't spoken in over 20 years.

Okay...

so late one night, while Pauly was giving me a Jin Shin Jyutsu (JSJ) session, Cindy suddenly pops into view and starts talking and waving her arms with excitement.

I get so relaxed during these sessions that I've seen a lot of weird, super duper helpful stuff, but this was my first dead person from this lifetime, so it was kinda surprising.

Anyway.

Cindy wanted to pass along a message of self-love and asked me to send her daughter the link to the Journey tune "Be Good To Yourself" along with the lyrics.

I thought it was strange yet sweet, and told Pauly about it before falling asleep.

The next morning I awoke thinking about Cindy's request for my assistance.

And my next thought was...

Um...

there is no fucking way I'm doing that.

I mean, REALLY.

I'm gonna tell a high school friend, who I haven't seen IN TWO DECADES, that her beloved dead mother wants her to listen to a Journey song?!

Nope!

I'm not saying any of this weird SHIT to anybody!

End of story!

[Insert a loud, screechy record scratch]

Then I get on Facebook and see something disturbing...

It's Sara's freekin birthday!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

THIS IS A BIRTHDAY MESSAGE FROM SARA'S MAMA?!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!!!

So, after a bit of contemplating a few worst case scenarios...

I realized that nobody could lock me up and put me in a straight jacket for mentioning what I experienced.

So, I decided to tell Sara what her mama said.

And OH MY GOD!!!

Sara was thrilled that I did!!!

She said it was the most amazing birthday present she had ever received!!!

And there ya go.

A happy ending!

I think this blog post must be Part I in my Intuition Series.

I'd like to write more about this since I believe everyone Everyone EVERYONE has access to information that cannot be explained by the intellect.

So we'll see what flies outta my fingers, but that's enough woo-woo for now.

I'll write more about my wrist and the psychic soon.

If you have an intuition story that you've been keeping to yourself and wanna tell someone about it, but are worried about being locked up, just give me a holler.

It's fun hearing about other people's unexplainable experiences.

I mean, I don't know much, but I do know one thing:

We're all in this weird and beautiful life together.

So let's just see what comes of sharing all of our strange happenings, eh?

I Hacked My Feral Brain For Love by Dana Bergstrom

Been feeling super disconnected from Pauly lately.

Built-up tensions and grievances have been in the way of my usual appreciation of his funny, sweet, adorable self.

Then, the other night, I watched a new Brené Brown talk on SHAME and it hit me:

Pauly and I have been trying to communicate while we're both experiencing shame, and that's why many of our talks have felt extra shitty.

If you don't know Dr. Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability, which is incredibly practical, here are some quick definitions:

Guilt = I did something bad.

Shame = I am bad.

We know what guilt feels like because we all make mistakes. And when we admit our mess ups, we can address them and move on. Guilt is behavior focused.

Shame is more intense because it's a false self-perception. We believe we're so flawed that we're unworthy of acceptance and belonging.

I'm not sure when I bought into the idea that I AM BAD. It could stem from another lifetime, since I truly have no clue how vast space, time and consciousness is.

But with the help of literal Christian theology, it was emphasized early in this lifetime that I was born unworthy unless, of course, I adopted a very specifc dogma.

Religion aside, there are countless ways for us to get the idea that we're bad or unworthy in one area of life or another.

Although it's not a natural emotion, pretty much everyone feels shame. We just experience it to different degrees.

So...here's what's up.

The day after I watched the Brené Brown video, Pauly decided he wanted to talk to me about our finances.

Awww HELL NO!

I'll do anything to avoid talking about the family budget!

And that's because neither one of us is into making or keeping money.

We’re waaaay better at giving it away and, as a result, we both feel shame about where we are financially at this point in our lives.

We're not flat broke, but we ain't rollin' around buck nekkid in piles of dollars either. DAMMIT.

And the way we’ve been dealing with our shame is to avoid it. We only talk about money when absolutely necessary and then pretty much every discussion ends in fist shaking and yelling.

But Pauly was feeling brave the other day, plus, I was lying down all lazy-like and appeared unusually docile.

That did not last long.

As soon as Pauly uttered the word "money", things got crazy. His tone was defensive and then he amped it up real quick with some blame and judgment.

I sat straight up and watched anger take over my body and oooooh, I could feel a big ol’ yell coming on.

It likes to start in my toes and work its way up, ya know, for increased momentum and dramatic flair.

And just as the holler filled my healthy lungs and was about to launch off of my raring-to-go vocal chords, I remembered the shame video.

In her research, Brené Brown discovered three ways that people react when they feel shame. She calls them SHAME SHEILDS.

One is MOVING AWAY from people and isolating oneself so others cannot see you.

Another is MOVING TOWARDS others with people-pleasing behaviors. They won’t see the real you because you’re making them happy, effectively distracting you both and hiding your shame.

And the third is MOVING AGAINST others by attacking them either physically or verbally so it becomes about them and not you.

Here’s a great quote by Dr. Brown that sums it up:

If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.

So, in the midst of this escalating money discussion, I can see that both Pauly and I are MOVING AGAINST each other and that's when I remembered something else my therapist taught me - a brain hack for empathy!

She said that when you're afraid to talk to a loved one about something uncomfortable, you can hold hands or just gently touch the other person and then, using your left eye, you look into their left eye.

It’s a way to create a connection. Mothers and babies do this instinctively to form their bond.

And it popped into my head right as Pauly and I were headed for yet another flying F-bomb, arm-waving, teeth-baring, money talk train wreck!

So I redirected my yell into a question and then a suggestion.

I asked Pauly if we could try something different.

“Let’s hold hands and look into each other’s left eyeballs while we talk about this.”

He let out an exasperated sigh and shook his head in frustration.

Yet after some reluctance on Pauly’s part and some huggy, kissy, eyelash-batting convincing work on my part, we stood face-to-face, held hands and gave it a go.

It was not easy.

Because as Pauly spoke, he kept looking away.

And when that became too much, he began pulling away.

But I gently held on to him, looking into his eyes as I listened.

And the reason he kept looking and pulling away is because shame makes us feel like we'll be abandoned. It makes us feel so unlovable, unsafe, and insecure that staying with that feeling is literally PAINFUL and we want to use one or all of those shame shields.

But that’s where empathy comes in.

“Let’s keep trying, love," I said. "We can do this.”

And.

It.

Worked.

Pauly and I had a calm, effective talk about our least favorite topic while holding hands and staring at each other.

And I’ve gotta say - with only a few bumps in the road - we’ve been communicating like FUCKING CHAMPS ever since!

There is so much more lightness, playfulness, and sweetness in our words and touches now that we're using the brain hack on a regular basis.

We feel much more connected and I'm all about appreciating his precious self again.

And, lo and behold, I think my money shame is also gone gone gone!

I even looked at my financial spreadsheet without a total freak out.

The other night - I cannot believe I'm saying this - I ENJOYED recording all of the numbers that I’ve been avoiding tracking and I feel good and optimistic about where we’re at!

I mean, we’re not skinny-dipping in lush, green pools of hundred dollar bills yet, but, ya know what?

We could be if I stop letting shame run me.

#dirtymoney

And, hey, who cares if we never get our money filthy in our birthday suits?

Maybe the best we'll ever be able to do is simply pay the bills.

Either way, I’m super blissed out that I’m feeling lovey-dovey and connected with my sweetheart again.

Intimacy is one of my all-time favorite things about being a human.

So, if it’s one of yours, too, and you decide to use this brain hack, would you let me know if it helped you?

I’d love to hear what you discovered.

Thieves by Dana Bergstrom

Pauly and I are often on the lookout for things to steal, kinda like a less extreme Bonnie-and-Clyde-type duo.

We discovered our shared interest in swiping stuff soon after we wed.

A favorite spot is bookstores, but we often do it online.

Then there's also the random driving around town during daytime hours.

When we notice something, the car comes to a full stop and we do our thing.

And our thing is snapping a photo.

We steal ideas.

Like this one:

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Pauly spotted the pic in a magazine along with a few other options for deck railings.

And I was completely smitten with the playful design.

Actually, I've never been this excited about a deck railing before.

When I realized that we could bring this super adorable design to life, I jumped all over the front yard, clapping with excitement.

Wrapping up my lawn celebration, we immediately tracked down our hole saw bits. Then, after making a few test cuts, we found the one that was just the right shape and Pauly made a jig. I cued up "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" and danced around because I'm helpful like that.

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After loads of planing, cutting, sawing, sanding, painting, and dancing we got this!

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And this!

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From this!

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Oh, and I'm madly in love with the railing shadows, too.

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There's a great book by Austin Kleon called STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST and that's exactly what we did.

The book claims there aren't any original ideas left, and we're all basically riffing on other people's work. Which, if you think about it, makes perfect sense as we're all totally interdependent on each other for everything anyway.

I think every person is an artist, whether they know it or not.

Every move we make and every word we speak has an effect on our world. 

I don't always consider that.

Sometimes I forget how much these tiny acts of artistry add up.

Each person has talents, gifts, a certain something or somethings that they offer to the whole of life, whether it's trying a new recipe or parking a gigantic semi-trailer or offering a listening ear or tending a garden.

And since we're all just building on what's come before us, the pressure is off to make it be something new and special.

Don't you love that?

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My pal, Pug, has a talent for making hilarious breathing noises. She doesn't care that she's not the first pug to ever come up with those. She asked why I bothered reading her this book. Pug already lives her art, man. She lives it full on.

Austin's next book was called SHOW YOUR WORK.

After encouraging us all to do what we love, he says we gotta let everybody know about it and not keep our artistry to ourselves.

Thanks to other people/artists as real-life examples and Austin's encouragement, I've been doing less of what I should, more of what I love, and sharing it.

And besides enjoying my life more, it's also led to magical new relationships.

Sometimes I dunno why I write what I write, but it just hit me that Pauly and I are about a week away from finishing this house. And it's been rewarding in some ways (these cute railings were probably the highlight for me), but in other ways it's been a challenging and eye-opening endeavor. 

I'm ready to do something different with my time.

But I'm not sure exactly what that's gonna look like.

When it comes to facing the unknown, It's very tempting for me to go back to doing what I should instead of what I love.

Doing what you love feels scary when you're used to doing what you should.

This post must be a way of reminding myself that it's worth the risk.

25 Years! by Dana Bergstrom

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Hey!

Guess what we're doing to celebrate our 25th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY this month?!

You guessed it.

We're both getting plastic surgery!

Pauly really wants a hair follicle transplant and I could use some bigger boobs.

You think I'm kidding?

Actually, we're doing something far more extravagant.

We're going back to therapy.

Geez, guys, really?

Why not take a fancy trip to an exotic destination?

Or get matching tattoos?

Or go ahead and get that plastic surgery?

Nope.

Besides indulging in a super delicious meal at Northern Waters Restaurant on our special day, we're marking this marital milestone by seeing our therapist, who we visited a handful of times many years ago. 

And we're going for exactly the same reason we did last time:

TO AMP UP THE FUN FACTOR.

I kid you not, that counselor was like an angel sent from heaven who saw right through our sticky stuckness and helped us quickly get happy again with some fine suggestions on how to be more present for ourselves and each other. 

So now we've got new piles of stuckness, as we've been living AND working together 24/7 on fixer upper #5 for almost two long years.

OY.

Pauly's still my favorite human being on Earth, yet these past couple of years have been kinda rough with almost constant togetherness.

The truth is: we have profoundly different approaches to remodeling. Ever since his dad retired from working with us, fixer uppers have been extra challenging.

Plus, we don't agree on how to spend our time, as he loves hanging with people and I love Love LOVE solitude. 

Add to that, my big ol' mid-life FEMININE AWAKENING, which has also been shaking LOTZA shit up, and there's been more way more yelling than normal.

So this month we've started to get some outside insight and talk all of our hoohaw out.

SEE YA, HOOHAW!! YEEEEEEHAAAAAAW!!!

I'm super excited! 

Can you tell?

Pauly's less enthusiastic.

Yet the instant he notices a sharp decline in the hollering, fist shaking, and occasional biting (he claims Ray learned it from me), I'm sure he'll be happy, just like last time.  

Heck, I would've scheduled an appointment long ago except our therapist, Glenn Tobey, was coming to our living room every month for two years for something called A Circle of Trust, which was a part of the Sacred Art of Living and Dying Biannual Seminars we attended.

The three of us happened to be placed in the same small Circle of Trust, along with four other people. 

The purpose of the Circle is to support the inner journey of each participant. 

And it was a beautiful experience of being present for others and ourselves with the goal of living a fully authentic, undivided life. I'll write more about that later, but if you're interested, click here.

Anyhoo.

I didn't wanna stink up our sweet Circle by talking about how my adorable husband (who was sitting right there) happened to be driving me batshit crazy.

That woulda been awkward for everybody.

So I shared other parts of my life, which also needed truthy tweaking. 

Actually, the courage to do the blog came from one of my Circle revelations.

Now that the Circle has ended, Pauly and I will get some help honing our relationship in the areas where we still aren't fully present for ourselves or each other. 

We've only had two sessions and it's already been super helpful in my becoming more understanding of how Pauly's mind works. I've also made a commitment to complain less. (Actually, I said I'd stop complaining, but baby steps, eh?) And Pauly now has a deeper understanding of my need for solitude and is honoring that.

I've also already learned what NOT to do in marriage counseling.

Like when your husband starts getting a bit preachy about his life's philosophy and Glenn Tobey kindly says to him, "But that's YOUR truth, not THE truth" and it hits you that you've been dying to say that to him forever, but never had the perfect words to express how you felt until now, and you leap from the couch, slam a pretend microphone on the ground, and yell,

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! 

GLENN TOBEY WITH THE MIC DROP! 

YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! 

with raised arms and head thrown back in glee...

because after everyone in the room recovers from the outburst, Glenn Tobey will quietly remind you that "It goes both ways, Dana".

Moral of the story: 

Everybody's truth is different.

Be present for myself and others.

Keep therapy mic drops to a min.

And Happy Anniversary to us! 

Jungle Boy Meets iPhone by Dana Bergstrom

Pauly's done a great job avoiding anything technology related.

This does not include power tools.

He’s all about those.

But how he's managed to dodge computers for 50 long years is pretty dang impressive.

I’m the opposite. I loooove technology!

And I desperately want Pauly to share my love of all things electronic, so several years ago I forced an iPod on him, claiming he’d have access to millions of construction related YouTube videos in the palm of his hand.

Fortunately, he loves music, so once I got the Pandora and Soundcloud apps on there, he took to it right away. YouTube was just a bonus.

Then we got him a cell phone.

He agreed to use it but when I’d ask where it was, we’d find the phone buried in his nightstand drawer after a week's worth of voicemails and messages had piled up.

Or he’d leave it on a shelf and never turn it on.

Pointless.

Once his mom got sick though, Pauly started to take electronic communication very seriously. He wanted to know immediately if his parents needed anything, so he started carrying his phone on him at all times.

And now he’s taking a year-long Jin Shin Jyutsu course out in New Jersey and EVERY SINGLE COMMUNICATION FOR CLASS is online.

This was daunting and frustrating news for Pauly.

Many times he's shouted, "All I need for JSJ are THESE BAD BOYS!” while holding his magical hands up in the air.

I told him I’d be happy to walk him through all of his technology issues.

The other day we were walking to the fixer upper next door, he asked me with 100% sincerity,

“What’s the difference between email and gmail?”

OH

MY

GOD.

We really are starting at square one.

Deep breath.

Okay...we can DO THIS.

I explained that gmail is a provider of email. For example, you could have Charter (our local cable company) or Google which has cleverly named their service.

We got through that one.

The browser discussion was much more difficult.

As were explanations of texting vs. messaging, tabs vs. pages, and apps and Microsoft Excel and uploading and downloading and servers and firewires.

Oy.

I’m hearing this a lot...

I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND ONE WORD YOU SAID.

THAT WAS COMPLETE CHINESE.

SPEAK SLOWER.

Pauly's learning a new language, so I’ve gotta go nice and easy.

When he left for Newark Liberty International Airport last month, I felt like I was sending an innocent jungle boy out into the cold, mean, electronic world.

Pauly grew up in the jungle in Africa and he’s done his best to maintain as much of that simple lifestyle as possible in our little house in the woods. So, I kind of was.

But then he had to take Uber to get everywhere, and he'd never done that before.

He had airplane tickets in his phone wallet and had to figure out how to access them.

His hotel reservation numbers were saved in his email and his notes apps, just in case.

I rearranged all the important stuff on his phone so everything he needed was on the home page.

But then I also wondered if he’d accidentally delete all the phone apps with his cute lil' butt and destroy the entire trip.

Headline: HOT HUSBAND'S TUSHY WREAKS TRAVEL HELL!!

He had to run between both of his connecting flights so we didn’t have much time to chat. I just had to trust that he was gonna get where he needed to go without me.

When he called from his hotel late that night I surprisingly found myself bursting with pride.

YAAAAAAAY! YOU DID IT!

This must be how it feels to watch your kid successfully ride a bike without training wheels the first time.

Headline: 50-YEAR-OLD JUNGLE BOY MASTERS IPHONE!!

My heart swelled.

This month he’s driving to New Jersey, so he's had to learn Google Maps the hard way - on a 20 hour road trip.

I can't tell you how many times I’ve explained how to use Google Maps before and since he left. It’s a marathon in patience for us both.

But we’re both happy that he’s learning.

And I'm pretty sure the man is well on his way to joining me in techno-love!

I can feel it!

  Google maps led him to Weinerlicious in Michigan. Lookit how happy he is!

Google maps led him to Weinerlicious in Michigan. Lookit how happy he is!

Tippytoes by Dana Bergstrom

After drywalling ceilings on Fixer Upper #2, our arms felt like they were gonna fall outta their sockets.

So instead of morphing into bloody, appendage-less torsos on our third house [cue Monty Python!], we invested in a handy dandy sheet rock lift.

The lift is MONSTROUS and a real pain in the ass to store, but we're always very happy it's available when it comes to ceiling work.

The other day we were hanging sheet rock, pondering our luxurious existence with this magnificent lift - LIVING LIKE FANCY DRYWALL ROYALTY - when we discovered it was too large to fit in the hallway.

Huh.

I was surprised to realize I wasn't even slightly disappointed.

Guess I kinda missed the physical challenge of holding two arms above my head for long periods of time!

Ya know, there is something super satisfying about being pushed beyond one's physical limits and feeling it in the body afterwards. Makes ya feel alive!

So we measured and cut the sheet rock and as we both lifted it to the ceiling, Pauly said,

"Use a helper stick. It's too tall for you."

"NO WAY!", I shouted.

I really wanted to feel the burn.

"I'M ON MY TIPTOES BECAUSE IT'S MORE FUN!"

He shook his head and grunted.

"Okay. Whatever you want, TIPPYTOES."

I dunno why the word "tippytoes" makes me laugh really hard, but I had to keep some sort of composure as I was completely stretched out from my raised arms to little piggies, literally holding up the ceiling.

So now Pauly's taken to calling me MISS TIPPYTOES whenever I start to get too serious.

The other day, while running errands, I was considering dropping
dead from low blood sugar, but Pauly suggested that we stop at Wendy's instead.

The kid at the counter assembled our order and then apprehensively and with obvious embarrassment, called out the name I'd given the cashier,

TIPPY...

there was an awkward pause before he said in a low, quiet voice...

TOES.

I pretended to be all sneaky, like some kind of new Batman villain, walking on tiptoes with T-Rex arms in my paint stained overalls, as the entire staff of Wendy's kitchen moved toward the front to see exactly what kind of nut-job they were about to encounter.

I looked at everybody straight In the eyes.

As soon as I grabbed the tray, we all burst into crazy laughter.

And even though the food wasn't all that tasty, Miss Tippytoes leveled out her sugars and she smiled through the entire meal.

Happy Interdependence Day! by Dana Bergstrom

Whenever I'm given a bouquet of flowers, I get ridiculously giddy.

Bright, colorful blooms and green stems bursting from even a simple Mason jar totally, TOTALLY send me over the edge.

Flowers stay in constant motion at our house as I move the arrangement from spot to spot so I can soak up every last bit of it's goodness and beauty.

If I'm doing dishes, the bouquet's on the high counter at eye level right in front of me.

While eating, it's on the kitchen table.

When sitting in the living room, it's in front of the picture window.

The flowers will only be with me for a few days, so I enjoy them (80s alert!) TO THE MAX.

Today, I woke up feeling acutely aware of everything having a temporary existence.

It's very obvious to me in this moment that my dog's, my husband's, and my friends' bodies are only here for a short while.

Mine, too.

Every single being and thing is a fleeting expression of the formless--a mysterious energy moving through form in countless creations.

And today I'll enjoy it even more as I remember that we're all this one powerful, invisible force, temporarily showing up as life on planet Earth.

So, HAPPY INTERDEPENDENCE DAY!

We're completely dependent on each other's unique, beautiful, and sometimes aggravating differences to help us realize that our formless essence as life energy is what really makes us all the same.

I love it when I remember the big picture.

It's gonna be a great day.

Puppies For Perfectionists by Dana Bergstrom

I'm gonna write the sequel to this book and call it PERFECT PUPPY IN 7,000 DAYS.

That's when Ray turns 19 and he'll be too old or dead to be naughty.

Seriously.

As a recovering perfectionist, I've gotta say that this book makes me really happy.

Partly, because I now know better than to expect anything to be perfect. And partly, just because it's in my house.

A book about perfection in a recovering perfectionist's living room is kinda like a keg of beer in a recovering alcoholic's kitchen. The temptation to strive to be perfect is right there and somehow it has zero pull on me! Makes me smile every time I walk past it. (Thank you, Brené Brown.)

The book really is chock-full of excellent advice, and they could even shelve a few copies in the comedy section for people like me who now find the idea of perfection to be absolutely hilarious.

Anyway...unlike the perfect puppy in this book, Lil' Ray didn't come to us healthy and happy via a reputable breeder. His situation was the opposite. So Ray's positive socialization got off to a rough start.

I asked for socializing help and our generous friends and their dogs were sooooo kind and patient with Ray's fearful nipping. And since he showed great improvement with dogs one-on-one, I took him to the dog park which Ray loved more than any other place in the whole world!

Then came the fateful day at the park when a giant German Shepherd, appropriately named Magnum, decided he wasn't gonna tolerate any shit from this scared nippy puppy. In the blink of an eye, Magnum pinned Ray to the ground by his little neck and fiercely growled in his face.

Lil' Ray cried and shook.

We quickly got him out of the situation and went and played in a different part of the park. And he seemed okay.

A few hours later at our puppy class, Ray found the smallest pup in the bunch, a super tiny Rottweiler named Lola, and reenacted the entire dog park scene. Ray played the part of Magnum and Lola was Lil' Ray. The only difference was that Lola seemed completely unfazed.

Never before had Ray tried to dominate another dog.

Bullying begets more bullying. For real.

Our trainer suggested that we redirect Ray with a water bottle.

So when he went for Lola again, Ray got sprayed.

As soon as the water hit his rear end, Ray let out a high pitched scream that startled everybody in the room.

Limping and crying loudly, Ray scurried on three paws to the nearest corner where he cried some more as he licked his now completely lame leg, certain that he was mortally wounded.

Did you know that being shot with a water bottle can cripple a dog?

Me neither.

As it turns out, Ray is basically a gigantic, juicy drama queen.

Sometimes I am, too.

When Ray doesn't appreciate something, he focuses all of his energy and attention on how shitty this certain thing is and then blows the entire situation out of proportion.

DRAAAMAAAAAAAA!

Ray would love spending time playing with toys in his kennel, but only until we shut the door, when he'd exhaust himself with hours of screaming bloody murder because the closed door is ALL he can see.

He wanted freedom to run around and do whatever he wanted at our recent attempt at dog obedience class. But Ray had to be leashed like everybody else, so all his lunging and barking and biting gets us kicked out of school because Ray's lack of freedom is ALL he can see.

Several months ago I was having a really hard time with Ray's behaviors and was questioning why the hell I got this puppy in the first place.

I looked at Ray and all I could see was hard work.

But then I realized I was acting just like Ray, focusing on what I didn't like.

Hey! What if I made a list of everything I loved about him?

So that's what I did. I got out a notebook and went on a written rampage of appreciation about our puppy.

The effect on my perception was immediate.

I'd catch him being calm and tell him what a good boy he was.

I'd praise him whenever he wasn't attempting to destroy our stuff.

I'd love him up for chewing his toys instead of me.

I taught him lots of tricks so I could praise him for those.

I'd tell him how smart and sweet and adorable he is.

I laid the sugar on extra thick and our relationship changed instantly.

And even though Ray still acts like a total maniac around other dogs and I haven't been able to take him to the dog park for months because of his bullying and reactivity to certain dogs, his impulse control is stellar around tennis balls. We've made huge strides in that area in recent days.

Progress! And there's more to come.

The truth is...

Ray is already perfect.

He's perfect for me.

Clunky Communication by Dana Bergstrom

Guess what?! Pauly and I celebrate 25 years of yelling next month!

And it took us nearly that long to read a wildly popular bestseller from the 90s, The Five Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts.

Loads of people recommended the book over the years and, finally, after the third person within a few days mentioned it, I knew the Universe really wanted to tell me something.

So we got the audio version for a road trip and even took the free online quiz.

And, boy, was it helpful.

  A county clerk issuing our Yelling License

A county clerk issuing our Yelling License

The love languages are five ways, identified by a longtime marriage counselor, that people naturally prefer to give and receive love.

They are:

Gift Giving,
Quality Time,
Words of Affirmation,
Acts of Service
and Physical Touch.

Luckily, Pauly and I share a primary love language.

It's been one of our favorite activities ever since I got my grubby, little paws on his hot hot bod!

Okay, I PROMISE NOT TO GIT ALL FRRRREEEEAKY HERE, but I do wanna say that we love touching sooooo much that we went out and got the perfect piece of furniture SPECIFICALLY FOR CUDDLING.

It's a giant, weird looking, bean bag thingy filled with foam where we sit and watch movies with our arms and legs tangled up all lovey-dovey like. It's soft, snuggly CANOODLING HEAVEN!

  Courthouse cuddling, marriage license in hand

Courthouse cuddling, marriage license in hand

The book also helped us discover something else of importance:

We're not very fluent in our partner's OTHER top love languages.

Mine is Words of Affirmation.

I absolutely love to shower Pauly with verbal appreciation, telling him regularly that he's wonderful, adorable, thoughtful, handy, and wise.

And it'd also be nice to receive words of affirmation from him since love languages are about giving AND receiving love.

But doing that isn't his thing.

I haven't actually kept track, but I bet he's only given me like 25 compliments in our marriage.

One for each year...

Yep...

that sounds about right!

The other day when I mentioned I'd enjoy a few more words of affirmation thrown my way, he claimed he doesn't pay me compliments or say what he appreciates about me "because words don't mean anything."

UM, WHAT?

OF COURSE THEY DO!

"You know what words of affirmation are to me?" he said defensively.

"Turds of Affirmation."

TURDS OF AFFIRMATION!!!!!!!!!!!

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

I ended up laughing for days about that and totally forgot about the short supply of sweet talk.

Until now, that is. :)

Pauly's other main love language is Acts of Service.

The phrase "Actions speak louder than words" is his reason for dissing my particular love language.

Nearly every day, Pauly makes me a delicious omelette for breakfast. He loves loves LOVES to make food, which works out 'cause I'm not fond of cooking.

Several years ago, when I had an actual job, I'd often come home from the office to a surprise candlelight dinner of steak or pasta with steamed veggies and soft music playing in the background JUST BECAUSE.

Yet, the funny thing is, if he'd just tell me that he loves me on occasion, HE WOULDN'T NEED TO PREPARE ALL THOSE MEALS!

I get so giddy whenever I get a rare compliment from him, I'm positive I could live off a daily diet of only his delicious words!

But, alas, that's not his natural language.

I vividly remember the day when Pauly said that every single time he opens his sock drawer to see his socks all clean and folded, he feels LOVED.

I was dumbfounded.

YOU FEEL LOVED BECAUSE I DO THE LAUNDRY?

But I do that because our clothes are dirty...

NOT BECAUSE I LOVE YOU!

Isn't that crazy?

Yet, that's exactly how it is when you don't know each others' language.

I'm speaking Chinese and he's speaking Swahili.

And maybe that's why, a quarter of a century later, we're still looking for more enjoyable ways to live together.

Now that we've gotten a bit more clarity about this, I'd like to practice each other's languages so we can get EVEN MORE OF THE LOVE VIBE flowing 'cause, well, that's just more fun.

And in the meantime, thank goodness for canoodling.

Impulse Control by Dana Bergstrom

Since Ray’s barky, bitey self disrupted all learning at dog school for two weeks straight, we've graduated on to private sessions!

That's my positive spin on our little demotion.

Congrats, doggo!

But it's Ray's human classmates who are really celebrating. 

They finally get to concentrate on their own dog's education instead of spending the better part of an hour giving me, Pauly and Ray the evil eye.

I'm not kidding.

Because of Ray's loud outbursts, people couldn't hear the trainer, nobody could think, other dogs started to get in on the act. It was madness. I don't blame 'em for all of the dirty looks. Not one bit.

So!

We had our very first lesson today and after analyzing Ray's behavior and getting a history (kept in an unheated barn with 60+ dogs, intense fear of other dogs, plus the story of Pauly’s and my haphazard home training methods), the trainer decided that we need to work on impulse control.

IMPULSE CONTROL!

Oh my God, I'm the one who needs help with impulse control!

In ways, I’m as feral as Ray.

I asked the trainer if this will also work for humans and donut holes.

Suddenly, with evangelical fervor, she launched into a lengthy story about how she was inspired by her body building son (whose food and exercise regime was recited in detail) to change her evil food consuming ways.

She’s been off sugar for A WHOLE MONTH,  and ONLY EATS CLEAN.

VEGGIES!

FRUIT!

PROTEIN!

THAT’S IT!

And she's lost 11 lbs without trying.

"I'M 60 YEARS OLD AND IN THE BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE!"

"Oh, good for you," I thought with both hands inside my sweatshirt pouch, resting on my potbelly.

Sorry I asked.

More dog training, less food sermons.

Sheesh.

Actually...

I take that back.

I’m kinda glad she gave her inspiring testimonial because I’ve been thinking of making a change to my diet.

This 47-year-old body can no longer handle what it occasionally consumes, even in small amounts. It mostly affects my skin, which is constantly yelling at me to knock it off.

My impulse control is pretty low when it comes to processed foods. Cheese cheese cheese cheese. Oh my god. I love cheese. Marry me, cheese. Marry me!

And I can’t even have cold cereal in the house because I won’t eat anything BUT THAT. Cold cereal is my absolute favorite drug. A big ol’ brain numbing, comfort food drug. Sometimes when I’m PMSing, I lose my mind and buy a box.

I’m not right for days after that.

Impulse control.

Maybe since I'll be working with Ray every day on controlling his impulses, I’ll be more mindful of my own.

This isn’t the first time Lil' Ray has been a perfect mirror for my own stuff.

He’s good for me like that.

Crash by Dana Bergstrom

Can you call it a BIKE CRASH if you weren't even moving?

I'm gonna call it one because it involved a bike and a crash.

And, of course, Ray.

So Lil’ Ray and I had just finished a successful ride making it past THREE dogs on our high speed adventure around the neighborhood and I was feelin GOOOOOOD!

We rode onto our dead end, gravel road and spotted the neighbors outside, so I stopped to chat. 

But I failed to remember that their puppy, Myla, was in their backyard and what Ray wants more THAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD is to GET AT MYLA.

So I stop the bike to say HI.

Ray sees the puppy. 

Ray lunges with aaaaaalllll of his might at the puppy. 

I'm slammed to the ground and the bicycle pins me.

Then Ray drags both me and the bike slowly towards their yard. 

My reaction was the usual. 

As long as I’m not hurt too badly, which I wasn’t, I spend my time thinking about how hilarious the whole thing must look. 

I don’t know how long I was lying on the ground laughing hysterically, but since all shocking things happen for me in slow motion, it seems like it was several minutes. 

Ray’s still barking and lunging while all of this is going on and as I’m giggling, I’m beginning to wonder how I’m gonna get up and not get yanked down again.

The neighbors are just standing there looking at me like...

WHAT

THE

HELL.

Why is this woman not doing anything but lying in the dirt in her paint stained overalls and super age appropriate Boston Terrier shirt?

And why did we move right next to a loud mouth wife who yells all of the time? 

And how can we all band together and stop Crazy Ray from making our neighborhood even less peaceful than Dana already has? 

I know this is what they were thinking. 

I lifted my head off the grass. 

“How can we help?” one neighbor eventually asks.

Hmmm. 

Ray might not deal well with them handling him, so I asked one person to grab the bike, the other picked up the bike basket which had flown off in the crash, and I held on to rabid, barky, lungy Ray as we walked across the street to my house, and I continued to giggle. 

Man, I wish someone had recorded that. 

America’s Funniest Videos GOLD! 

Oh. And Happy Doggy Mother's Day to me and to ALL of the other kinds of mothers out there! :)

  A LITTLE LEG BRUISING AIN'T GONNA STOP US FROM MOTHER'S DAY TRAMPOLINING. RIGHT, RAY?

A LITTLE LEG BRUISING AIN'T GONNA STOP US FROM MOTHER'S DAY TRAMPOLINING. RIGHT, RAY?

  RIGHT!

RIGHT!

Fur The Love by Dana Bergstrom

When we first got Lil’ Ray at 9 weeks old, nearly everyone said that he looked like a Jack Russell Terrier.

Although I managed to remain calm each time it was mentioned,

inside my brain,

I was blowing a fucking gasket.

Ya see, for my entire life I've had friends and neighbors with terriers and that entire time I've known that I would never, ever, EVER live with one.

I feel funny saying this and if you're one of my friends or neighbors with a terrier, please, hear me out.

I've enjoyed dog-sitting gigs and spending time with your adorable and hilarious pups, but I have certain ideas about what I want in a long-term, committed relationship.

Heck, I wouldn't choose a husband who wasn't cuddly or raced in the opposite direction every time I called his name while he's enjoying the freedom of the outdoors.

In my experience, terriers aren’t that snuggly and when they get focused on something, they rarely listen. They’re quirky and funny but ya gotta keep ‘em leashed or mostly confined at all times or something completely insane is gonna happen.

They’ll dig escape routes and run away laughing as you try to catch them.

They’ll pee on innocent people suntanning at the beach.

They’ll loudly bark at whoever walks in the house for 30 minutes straight.

These are things I want to avoid.

This also goes to show that I’m a doggy racist.

I make unhelpful, sweeping assumptions about individual dogs based on breed tendencies, ya know, just like a regular human racist.

With Ray, we totally thought we were getting some kind of herding dog mix, but then my doggy racism kicked in and I got nervous when everybody started making RAY IS A FREEKIN' TERRIER comments.

If this was true, it would be a pretty great cosmic joke.

Welp.

As it turns out, Ray's a highly selective listener; he’s wildly anxious about anything new; he's territorial in the most hostile way; he’s less than thrilled about cuddling or being handled unless flat-out exhausted; he barks like mad at everyone and everything when he's outside; and if there's anything interesting underground he's voracious digger.

So we did a DNA test to see exactly what kind of beast we're living with.

The instructions stated we were to collect cells between the gum and teeth for 15 seconds with the two DNA cheek swabs provided in the kit.

Of course, feral, Lil' Ray naturally assumed we were trying to kill him with these new, q-tippy-like things and he kicked, screamed and brutally attacked them with a fierceness bordering on lunacy.  

Each one was in his mouth for less than one second before he mauled our fingers and then the swab, before spitting them out on our dog hair covered carpet. Then while putting the samples in the box to mail, I accidentally sneezed on 'em.

Gaaaaaaaahhhhh!

Well...at least they'll get somebody’s DNA.

I was sure the lab would tell us we didn’t get enough of Ray's cells

OR

they’d say that we have some kind of human-canine mutant breed and WE’D HAVE TO SURRENDER OURSELVES TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR HORRIBLE INVASIVE TESTING, JUST LIKE THEY DID TO E.T.!!!!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I WON’T GOOOOOOOOOO!

And, GOOD LUCK catching Crazy Ray, YA DIRTY FEDS!

Anyway, since it was gonna take 2-3 weeks before we got the results, which seemed like forever, and I didn’t want to spend the entire time fretting, I opted to come to terms with the fact that I could be living with a terrier.

The first positive step towards accepting my new life was coming across this Boston Terrier sweatshirt at the thrift store.

I laughed the second I saw it and immediately knew it'd help me embrace the idea of rooming with a terrier for the next 15 or so years.

I love it and it's super cute and I will wear it and be happy no matter what the test results say!

Weird shirts are now one of my favorite things.

I got this sweatshirt after Pauly and I were called Righteous Partiers.

It cheers me up every time I put it on.

Anyway, I now have loads of ridiculous, thrift store tops.

I don't even speak French!

So...back to Ray.

We got his test results and it turns out he’s mostly a mix of herding type dogs but he does have 25% of mixed breeds that are unknown.

Which means he could totally have terrier in him.

And ya know what?

I’m cool with that because the very instant I laid eyes on Ray and held him in my arms, I knew this dog was gonna be all about UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

Not his unconditional love of me, but mine of him.

So here I am, in my strange shirts, releasing resistance to all things terrier and letting go of my doggy racism.

I’m gonna learn whatever our wild and feisty, tiny guru plans to teach me about loving unconditionally.

And that’s why I’m here on planet Earth anyway…

fur the LOVE!

Simple Pleasures by Dana Bergstrom

Our new puppy, Ray, has been kicking my ass.

But only because his main life goal has been to get every thing he sees into his stomach.

Someone keeps eyeballs on him pretty much 24/7.

And DAAAAANG Lil' Ray is so stinkin' fast and curious!

Wait.

Fast and Curious?!

Isn't that a movie title!

It is!

It'll be a film about Ray and every outrageous object he's tried to eat while running away from us at top speed!

Vin Diesel will sport a red-haired wig and fake boobs and play me, a dog trainer chasing Ray in a souped up Mini Cooper, who is out to save delicate, doggy intestines from lethal, foreign objects!

It's FAST AND CURIOUS: PUPPY PATROL!!!

Deadly dangly earrings!

Flaming blow torches!

Jagged rocks and sticks!

Action packed with rock hard bodies and adorable puppies...

this movie has it all!

Right.

Anyway…

In the last couple of weeks Ray has become much easier to monitor and life is less terrifyingly dramatic. He now knows what “leave it” means and most of the time he actually listens.

Ray used to be a morning person/puppy. He’d wake up and immediately charge off to start swallowing dangerous stuff.

But as time goes by, Ray is less motivated to eat all of our worldly possessions. And he's at his laziest in the a.m.!

Yaaaaaaay for lethargic, boring ass puppies!

I get crazy giddy when Ray wakes up, goes potty, comes back inside and falls asleep.

QUIET TIME! I can actually READ and WRITE again!

It's like I've won the lottery! THIS IS THE BESSSSSST!

Ya know what I love about Ray?

The little guy is helping me focus on the simple pleasures in life.

And aren't those what makes life grand anyway?!

An interesting book.

A tasty meal.

A sunny day.

A funky song.

A free association blog post.

And hanging out with your favorite people...

and puppies.

  Our neighbor took this cute pic of Ray at 9 weeks. Hope your finger tip's grown back by now, Sam Bergstedt!   Great photographers risk it all for a sweet shot!

Our neighbor took this cute pic of Ray at 9 weeks. Hope your finger tip's grown back by now, Sam Bergstedt! Great photographers risk it all for a sweet shot!

The Happiest Place On Earth by Dana Bergstrom

It has loads of smiling people, fresh air, open space, an incredible amount of tail-wagging, and more cuteness than one can stand.

It's not Disneyland.

It's the doooooog paaaaaaark!

We've been going daily for almost two weeks and now I can barely imagine a day without it.

That place has THE BEST kind of chaos and mayhem!

There’s endless sniffing and chasing and licking.

Pups run amok with mid-air Husky/Dalmatian scruff chewing contests. Great Dane paws smush little Collie faces. A Lab scoots under a Terrier, stands up and carries her on his back. Hilarity ensues.

It's also kinda exciting and daredevilish because there's a REALLY good chance of getting body slammed by a wild pack of running dogs!

I try to remember to keep my knees bent at all times, just in case they hit me from behind, which has happened a couple of times.

I'm chatting with several folks and suddenly - BAM - I'm horizontal!

It's always shocking and it makes for some pretty impressive bruises, but you know what I always wish for whenever something like that happens to me? 

Instant replay...

actually, instant replay with slo-mo to see all the facial expressions as I fly through the air and land surrounded by so many concerned, yet probably secretly amused, humans.

What a hoot.

Besides enjoying watching people fall down, there's so much doggy slapstick going on, I smile the entire time I'm there.

And, somehow, everybody seems to happily bounce back from whatever awkward thing just happened.

Our 18 week old puppy, Ray, is finding lots of buddies to chase and wrestle with, but he really goes to meet new people.

Ray is certain he's found TRUE LOVE the moment each human walks into the park.

"OH! OH! OH! THAT BEAUTIFUL TWO-LEGGED BEING HASN'T PET ME YET! HEEEEEEERRREEEE I COOOOOOOOME!"

Ray instantly lights up faces and melts hearts as he lunges at people with his enthusiastic tongue and a wild butt wiggle that takes over his whole body.

Hey!

That's exactly how I won over my husband, Pauly!

Oh, Dana. Stop!

Anyway!

I think Ray is gonna turn me into a massive extrovert.

Either I find him piles of people to adore or he's gonna chew us to bits with those razor sharp puppy teeth!

  Ray charmed these two kind strangers by sitting on their laps and feet. He finally decided to play with their dogs.

Ray charmed these two kind strangers by sitting on their laps and feet. He finally decided to play with their dogs.

Ray knows that we know that he loves us, so he only sweetly snuggles a couple of times a day - morning and night - when he's too tired to think about gnawing on our limbs. After that, he’d clearly prefer to spread the lovin' around. Ray thinks monogamy is for suckers.

It'd be ideal to go to the park twice a day, but when would we get any work done?

Hey! Maybe we'll sell our home, build a tiny house on wheels and just live AT the dog park so he can play there all day!

Or I'll get a job at a facility where Ray can be a certified therapy dog and kiss-kiss-kiss the residents who would like a little more physical affection.

Yeah!

Or maybe I'll have potlucks and campfires and invite friends and dog-loving strangers to our house every single night.

Or I'll be an Uber driver whose tagline is HAPPIEST CAR ON EARTH and Ray can ride along and smooch on my passengers.

Ideas are flowing!

If you have some more, send them my way.

Lil' Ray has got a LOT of love to give, y'all! And I'm gonna find a way to help him give it.

💜

Miracles In Space by Dana Bergstrom

When I get a little overly focused on something that feels crappy, I sometimes tell myself "800 miles per second” and that snaps me out of it.

Like this morning, I was thinking about the piles of paperwork sitting on my desk; the mass of clutter in my office corner; our attic that’s bursting with things we’ll probably never use; and how I still haven’t filled out an advanced directive or done any kind of planning for when Pauly and I are done with these human bodies.

Basically, I was ruminating over loads of unpleasant shit I don't wanna do and was starting to feel super overwhelmed. And that short list is just the tip of the iceberg of things I could get wildly worked up about.

I was lucky I stopped myself there with “800 miles per second”.

This is the speed Earthlings are hurtling through space. Or at least how a couple of people have calculated it.

When I remember I’m traveling at a crazy high speed without knowing how I got here, or where I’m going, or what’s gonna happen next; a wave of ease comes over me.

Chill, Dana.

Just do one task at a time.

And then sit back and enjoy your trip through space.

Something else that works is remembering my unity experiences.

I’ve had a number of experiences where I felt at one with everyone and everything. I was able to see the perfection of the entire world.

And only one of those was drug induced.

The rest were just mystical experiences that came when I was really relaxed.

I saw the wholeness of everything in existence. No separation or lack or judgment of anyone or anything. Just 100% appreciation for being alive in a strange, beautiful world that’s brimming with so many contrasting and interesting experiences.

A Course In Miracles says that a miracle is simply “a shift in perception”.

That’s it.

And that’s exactly what remembering these things does for me.

Awrighty then.

That was my first of many miracles of the day.

:)

Off to finish some paperwork at 800 miles per second.

 Arches Cluster, the most crowded place in the Milky Way. Beautiful and sparkly like a disco floor. More dancing. Less worrying.

Arches Cluster, the most crowded place in the Milky Way. Beautiful and sparkly like a disco floor. More dancing. Less worrying.

My First Stand-Up Comedy Routine by Dana Bergstrom

Yesterday, my comedian pal, Jenny, suggested that I write a five-minute set so we can go to an open mic and I can make a fool of myself.

Well...that's not why she suggested it.

She thinks it'll be fun.

I don't even know how to begin such a process, so I'm writing a blog post instead.

Ya know why I love Love LOVE doing blog posts?

Because I never have to get dressed to chat with y'all!

I can write wearing my favorite outfit - a stained 29 year old college sweatshirt and jeans with holes blown out in sketchy places - like I'm doing now.

Or I can write wearing no clothes at all!

It's soooo great!

Maybe I can talk on stage about how, as a feral human, getting dressed every single day is like a total ordeal for me.

And how Pauly, my husband of 24 years, sometimes finds me in the kitchen, nekkid head-to-toe, happily making scrambled eggs for breakfast.

HEY! PUT ON SOME CLOTHES! he always shouts.

Not gonna do it.

My motto is: DON'T WEAR ANYTHING UNLESS YOU HAVE TO.

Clothing at home is constrictive and unnecessary and I'm not having it.

Or maybe I can use open mic time to discuss my comedically incompatible husband who believes Minions are the most hilarious things on the planet.

Geez.

Pauly was watching them again yesterday and if I didn't derive so much joy out of seeing him laugh, I'd blow a giant gasket over his love for those yellow goofballs.

Truth be told, I'm jealous.

There are so many times I say something funny and he doesn't even crack a smile.

But one Minion on YouTube smacks another one in the face with a pair of goggles and Pauly FALLS OFF THE COUCH crying and laughing.

I love that man very much and I do not understand him.

minion.jpg

Maybe I can talk about that.

Or I could talk about how a friend suggested that I post a How-To-Twerk video since I love making dance vids.

I've never attempted to learn the move so I found a tutorial online.

I began to twerk, well...maybe...I did, but I was wearing super baggy overalls and couldn't tell in the mirror if I was actually doing the move.

All of a sudden, I'm staring at myself wearing only a t-shirt and panties, with a big pile of denim around the ankles, ass in the air, having a twerk-inspired existential crisis.

What am I'm doing with this bizarre, middle-aged existence of mine?

Or I could mention the night I was PMSing and drank too many cocktails in an attempt to cope with all the wild emotions.

Then came the tequila-fueled shopping spree where I purchased a ridiculously gigantic and expensive food dehydrator on Amazon.

Not something fun or whimsical or luxuriously extravagant.

A dehydrator.

Goddammit.

Do you know how much EXTRA WORK I've created by buying this?

Work that involves going outside and growing vegetables and WEARING CLOTHES?!

After the dehydrator arrived, I really, really, really wished there had been a breathalyzer attached to my iMac.

Guess we all know what gadget I'll be purchasing next time I'm sauced and near a computer!

Welp.

I still haven't written my five minute set, but this is a start.

I think my living room has just become a stand-up writing lab where I hope to eventually shoot comedy videos from the neck up so I never ever ever have to get dressed.

Goals!

I've got 'em.

Facing Phallic Fears by Dana Bergstrom

Like most humans, I've worried plenty about what others thought of me.

Then middle-age arrives and some of us are like, "Geez! Other people's opinions are none of my biznass! I'm gonna ditch 'em and get on with the fun stuff I came to dooooo!"

And some of us do that, to the best of our ability, but occasionally things pop up indicating that we still have more hoohaw to let go.

Like the other night, I dreamed someone told me all of my emails were accessible to anyone on the internet.

"Wow," I thought.

I wasn't worried about it, but was curious to know if it was true.

I nonchalantly hopped online and quickly scrolled down the list of my emails.

Huh. No biggie.

But then I stopped at the last one, one I didn't even recall was in my inbox.

Black Helvetica. All lowercase. Just quietly sitting all alone at the bottom of the screen with the subject line...

"penis"

OH MY GOD! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I totally freaked out.

I freaked out so hard that I woke myself up and sat up in bed.

"Oh, thank goodness! That email's not really in my inbox. There's nothing to worry about."

Then suddenly it all became hilarious to me.

I'm terrified of penis emails?!

Ridiculous!

Pauly was awake so, between laughs, I told him about it.

He just stared at me blankly.

Sometimes my very modest husband has no idea what to do with me, so he doesn't react at all, probably hoping it'll stop me from talking about whatever disturbing topic I'm wild about, in this case, very public, genital-related documentation.   

"Okay, fine," I thought. It's not funny to him but I know someone who will totally see the humor in this, so I sent my dream off to my pal, Marian.

Marian quickly responded on a new email thread with the subject line...

"penis".

And THAT, folks, is what friends are for!

😃

The Best Kind Of Name Calling by Dana Bergstrom

Pauly and I were called something outrageous the other night. And now whenever this name pops into my head, I start giggling.

We were in Minneapolis since our pal, DJ Nola, was spinning her magic at Club Jäger on Friday. The instant we walked into the club, I began jumping around like a happy bunny.

But that's only because Craig Lambert, another wizard on the wheels of steel, was playing fantastic music from the get-go.

Hop hop hop! Shake shake shake! No warm-up required! Pauly loved the jams and joined me on the dance floor, too.

The place began to fill up while we bounced and beamed to Craig and Nola's transcendental tunes. Then I saw another one of my favorite DJs, who I hadn’t spoken to since he played in July on my happy birthday!

His DJ name is Cloudy Kid but Pauly and I call him DJ Cutie. He’s not only funky, he’s stinkin’ adorable.

Well...lemme rephrase that.

I'm the one who thinks he’s adorable.

One of the many wonderful things about being married to Pauly for the last 24 years is that he has zero problem with my announcing that another dude has Got It Goin' On.

Each time I point out a guy who's my type, which is always a fun, rare sighting, my sweetheart does the exact same thing.

First, he smiles and shouts "HE'S GOT NOTHIN' ON ME!" while taking his hand and running it through his long, dark, invisible hair, which was last seen sometime during the 90s.

Makes me laugh every time!

And it's true. Even though these guys always have amazingly gorgeous, long locks, they don't have a thing on him.

Pauly also makes fun of me whenever we run into one of these hairy fellas. I ADORE Pauly's insult comedy no matter who it's pointed at, so, yeah, my lil' crushes are entertaining for us both.

Anyhoo!

DJ Cutie spins a lot of amazing old school funk, soul and disco, which I’m crazy about, and on the night of my birthday he slipped in a perfectly-placed and completely unexpected jam by Madonna.

VOGUE!

No!

Way!

I instantly lost my mind…

well, actually...

me and ALL of the gay guys in the club lost our collective minds.

Holy! The combined energy soared through the roof with loads of screaming and arm waving. That was one blissed out, femme dance floor!

But I love to give artists their props and I missed the chance to let DJ Cutie know how fabulous his set was. So when Pauly and I ran into him on Friday, I expressed my appreciation for the whole night, plus the peppy, Material Girl bombshell!

This is when he said that although he didn’t really know anything about our lives outside of our many dance floor encounters, he knows one thing.

And that one thing is that we are...

Righteous Partiers!

As soon as the words came out of his mouth I started laughing.

He then went on to emphasize that we live too far away and we COULD be down in the Twin Cities partying with them every week and SINCE PARTYING IS THE ONE REASON WE ARE HERE ON EARTH, we should REALLY move closer because, once again...

with great and adorable emphasis...

we are Righteous Partiers!

I very much appreciated his impassioned sermon and told him so.

What I didn't say was that this was one of the funniest names we've ever been called.

I think it’s 'cause dancing was considered a questionable activity during our upbringing. Pauly wasn’t allowed to go to dances AT ALL. I was, but it was tolerated and not encouraged. I was actually forced to sing in church as kind of penance/trade for some of my secular activities, which was annoying at the time but amusing to me now.

This was a huge improvement from what my parents had experienced. My mom’s church had banned dancing, declaring it a sin while she was growing up. And I was told that my paternal grandmother would not be happy to learn that I’d attended my high school prom and this was gonna have to be our family's little secret.

So, yeah, in our ultra serious, religious home environments the word “righteous" was never a word associated with "partier". Quite the opposite.

Then there’s the fact that we’re about two decades older than DJ Cutie AND IT ONLY TOOK US ABOUT 50 YEARS (47 & 49, but who's counting?) of life on planet Earth to be called "Righteous Partiers", making us some mighty late bloomers in the partying department. :)

But, ya know...if I think about it for a sec, we get SO DANG HAPPY on the dance floor...

in truth, we could be righteous.

We let go of all thoughts and allow unfiltered life energy to flow directly through us...

smiles are permanently parked on our faces while the rest of our bodies totally spaz out…

we're fully in the NOW channeling pure positive energy...

Yep, that’s a lotta LOVE right there!

I think DJ Cutie is on to something.

Partying AKA Joy in the present moment is why we're here.

Party on!

Follow Your Bliss, Super - Callous - Fragile - Ego - Expialidocious by Dana Bergstrom

Sometimes I'll see a fantastic quote and get an impulse to text it to a friend.

This morning I spotted a magical one and sent it off:

LIVE THE LIFE YOU LOVE
If you allow yourself to be the person that you are, then everything will come into rhythm. If you live the life you love, you will receive shelter and blessings. Sometimes the great famine of blessing in and around us derives from the fact that we are not living the life we love, rather we are living the life that is expected of us. We have fallen out of rhythm with the secret signature and light of our own nature.
John O'Donohue

My friend enjoyed it so much that she forwarded it to someone else.

Her friend replied, "It didn't work for Hitler."

Here's the thing:

I think it could've.

As a young man, Hitler dreamed of becoming an artist. He had a great passion for painting yet he was rejected from art school and made unsuccessful attempts to make a living as a painter.

But what if he had decided to fiercely pursue what he loved, despite the repeated rejection he got from his father and the external authorities in the art world?

I mean, why go around spewing hate and starting wars when you could take a simple job and make just enough money to be surrounded by brightly colored paints and beautiful scenery while creating something that brings you joy?

According to a conversation in August 1939, published in the British War Blue Book, Hitler exclaimed "I am an artist and not a politician. Once the Polish question is settled, I want to end my life as an artist."[4]

What if the fear of being perceived as not good enough is what caused Hitler to not follow his bliss?

Focusing our time and energy on what we love is how we awaken our true nature. It is that part of us that inherently understands we are all connected.

Of course, Hitler's actions were beyond horrific and, as a result, many people believe that he was born evil.

Yet, that is the exact line of thinking that Hitler himself promoted - some humans are born better than others - which absolutely is not true.

It's just that people who abandon their dreams often choose a perpetually critical and lack-based focus, which is what feeds their super-callous-fragile-egos-expialidocious and sometimes they can become a menace.

I would freekin know.

I was afraid of not having enough or being enough, so I ignored most of my passions for years! And I yelled at near-deafening levels during those years like a lil' redheaded dictator who thought she desperately needed things to be a certain way.

Several years ago I was standing in our living room and I was so mad (read: fearful) and yelling soooo loudly over a remodeling project that I…

get this…

hurt my lower back.

No joke.

As soon as I felt the sharp pain, the whole thing became immediately hilarious to me and Pauly but, holy crap, you gotta be a special kind of maniac to do something like that.

And I AM that special kind of maniac…who then got to explain the entire ordeal to her sweet, gentle-natured osteopath.

Oh well. Embarrassing myself is my thang.

Depending on externals for self-validation and security is how I was living.

And Oooooeeee, that's a mighty unpleasant way to live.

Happily...feeling good by simply focusing on what I love is a daily choice!

Don't be like Hitler. Follow your bliss!

OMG.

I just visualized that as a black bumper sticker with bold, white lettering.

The world's worst bumper sticker.

Okay, erase that nonsense from your mind with Jerry Seinfeld and Friends' Hitler jokes.

Or just go do something that feels good, loves!