Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Don't Be A Slave To Habit Part 2

by Miriam B. Medina

In part 1 of this two-part series, we explored how we are all slaves to habit in one way or another. We obsess over time or hygiene or safety. Some habits, if not taken too far, aren't bad for us, they're even good for us, but some habits are bad for us, and, even worse, for those we love. In this, part 2 of the 2 part series, we'll further explore some of these habits and examine how we can break bad habits and develop good ones.

People who have certain routines and who are not flexible are always in conflict with others who don't follow the same routine. Some bad habits can be embarrassing, irritating, and nerve-racking, such as nail-biting, teeth grinding, not flushing the toilet, passing gas at the dinner table, picking your teeth after a meal, picking your nose and taking wax out of your ears with your finger, blowing your nose into a tissue and looking at it afterwards. These are all bad habits.

I once saw a man and woman lick their plate in a diner, it was utterly disgusting, finishing the meal like a dog does. A friend of mine had a habit of talking with her mouth full, food dribbling out so she had to wipe her mouth on her sleeve. Of course, after seeing this, my invitations to eat out with her were limited. Yuck, the list of bad habits can be endless. Then you have those people who persist in continuing dangerous habits, such as those who perpetuate physical violence, such as men who are in the habit of bullying others or who physically attack their female counterparts. There is a certain depth and intensity to their emotional disturbance. The rage they experience is a highly charged physical change, wherein the urge to dominate and control is visually exposed as their face reddens, as their nostrils and pupils dilate, and as they clench their teeth and fists. The dangerous habit of physical abuse is the result of the abuser trying to appear powerful and intimidating by suppressing and belittling another individual's feelings of self-worth and independence. This power of control is the driving force that motivates the abuser. They exercise the same habitual pattern of attacking those weaker than themselves, starting with emotional and verbal abuse, escalating their dominance to an absolute powerful expression of physical strength. These individuals, those who participate in and continue this cycle of violence are in desperate need of psychological care in order to break the habit which they have programmed themselves into habitually following as a way of life.

In order to disrupt these often destructive, enslaving habit patterns, we need to develop productive habits that expand our intellectual horizons. This requires a critical reflection on those bad habits that we need to replace. It is always easier to create good habits from the beginning than to undo bad habits once they are established. Bad habits never disappear miraculously. You have to find a way to undo them. Once you find a way to accomplish this, the good habits can only be successfully established by continuous repetition. Any break in the routine, you will likely return to a less desirable habit, which may undo all the good effort that has been devoted to change. Habits of action are affected, but also deep-seated habits of thought are affected too. That is why we need to develop productive habits to replace the bad ones. Since we have learned bad habits, we have to find a way to unlearn them. Habits become entrenched over time because of their repeated performance. So in order to break them, we have to develop a new behavioral pattern. This will weaken the old habit. After doing this for a while, the new way becomes automatic. In order to be successful, one needs to have persistence and a step by step plan. You need to look at each habit with a critical eye and ask yourself "in what way will I benefit if I break this habit?"

Ask yourself if the bad habit will eventually hurt you if you keep doing it? This could refer to drinking alcohol, smoking, or even simply chewing your nails. Also, ask yourself if your habit is affecting others in a dangerous way. IN ORDER to make changes to your habits, you need to debate all the pros and cons of making such a change. This should include the worst possible consequences and the best possible benefits of breaking the habit. Then you have to decide whether or not you should continue those habits. This is a time where you need to be flexible. You have to want to change. You have to create some form of plan that will assist you if you really want to stop letting those bad habits enslave you. Write a list of all the bad habits that you need to stop and the reasons why you should stop doing them. Create a log, where you can write down everything that is happening in regards to the bad habit, such as how often it occurs, when did it start, and what caused it to start. What was going on when it started? Going through this self-analysis will help you monitor your habits and enable you to find a positive solution when it comes to replacing them.

Habits, good or bad, help make you who you are. Any effort you make to create a positive change will result in an improved quality of life. Free yourself from your bad habits, and a good life will follow! Nothing good in life is easy, and breaking habits can be hard, but breaking bad habits are well worth the effort, they can enrich your life, in some cases lengthen your life, and make your life far more enjoyable. If you're going to be a slave to anything, you might as well be a slave to making your life the best that it can be, right?

Don't Be A Slave to Habit Part I

by Miriam B. Medina

In part, 1 of this two-part series, we will examine how all of us are slaves to habit. In some cases, this can be a dreadful thing, especially if the habit is terrible for you or bad for those around you. In part, 2, we'll discuss ways to break these habits, to improve your quality of life by improving your behavior and controlling your compulsions.

After all, in one way or another, we're all slaves to habit. Take me, for example. It's 4am again, my usual wake-up time. The dogs, the other two creatures of habit who share my abode, are whining and scratching my bedroom door ready to do their business. If I don't hurry up, there will be a mess to clean up, and I certainly don't want that. Their habit dictates my actions. So I routinely get up and take them for their walk, hoping I don't run into anyone at that hour. Upon seeing me, both dogs go in circles of pleasure, running toward the door. Thank God, a few minutes later, the deed is finally done. Maybe I can sit down now and go on Facebook to see what's going on in the world while the coffee is brewing. I always have an irresistible addiction of checking my Facebook whenever I am on the computer, even before I drink my coffee for the morning. I immediately log in, but don't see any messages or notifications, not even a single post from anyone. What? No Good Morning for me today? My self-esteem takes a dive. I'm so used to getting a Good Morning from one of my friends on Facebook, as I'm in the habit of saying Good Night to everyone when I sign off of Facebook. Today, there were no responses.

I'm devastated.

Is it time to unfriend a few people? Doesn't that sound like someone who has an addiction? For some reason, I don't feel loved, and I thought I was Miss Popularity. Boo Hoo. Oh well, there's a lot of sadness in this world. I'll just have to deal with it. I'm wondering where my keyboard is. I'm sure it was here on my desk before I went to bed. AH! There it is, hanging off the desk, and the mouse too. My dog Buddy must have knocked it off my desk while sniffing for crumbs from the crackers I ate last night. He does that a lot. It's 5am now. All the same I have two more hours to go on Facebook. Oh goody, maybe I'll still get one Good Morning from someone who values me as a friend before I start preparing to go to work.
My neighbor who lives above me has a grandfather clock. The gong can be heard every hour on the hour. Amazing how this clock is a creature of exact mechanical habit. To be habitual is to be at best an efficient machine, utterly unable to do anything except make the wheel go around, running one's life pattern along its own course of action, eventually leading to a loss of richness in experience, making life a mere repeated monotony. After so many years, I am now used to the gong. At the moment I hear my neighbor moving about, to and from, zigzagging back and forth along the squeaking floors like the swinging pendulum in her clock. I find it very distracting. I am concentrating more on her habitual pattern than on what I am doing on Facebook.

It's precisely 5:45am now, there she goes, right on time, rushing down the wooden stairs in her high- heeled shoes, slamming the door as usual as she hurries through the five blocks between here and the 6:00am bus that goes to the Port Authority in Manhattan. I say to myself, what if one of her heels should break (not that I am wishing it), then what? This lady is definitely a creature of habit. This would bring her day to a halt, temporarily shocking her pre-programmed mind. After a short break to readjust, after going back to her apartment to find another pair of shoes, the ignition will spark, the wheels start whirling, and once again, she'll find herself moving along more quickly in an effort to catch the next bus. She's a slave to habit as we all are, in bondage to that acquired behavioral pattern that we follow to the point of involuntary servitude. These habituations are mechanical and routine, and many of us do not wish to change them.

First and foremost, let me identify the word "habituations" which is the "reduction of psychological or behavioral response occurring when a specific stimulus occurs repeatedly."

To be honest, most of the life is habitual. Habit is simply a thoughtless routine that we abide by on a daily basis. This includes the same things we did yesterday and the day before and the day before that and so forth, we continue these things today automatically. For example, here are some routine habits many people share: getting ready to go to work, getting ready to go to bed at night or getting the kids off to school. When the kids come home from school, they might have a habit of throwing their jacket wherever it lands or leaving their shoes where others can fall over them. Even many adults take their clothes off and drop them on the floor or on the sofa, leaving them there until the next day or when laundry day comes around. After taking a shower the wet towel gets tossed onto the bathroom counter, to become a decorative accent to the room until you clean the house because company is coming.

We are also creatures of habit at work, from the time we arrive we are in the habit of looking at the clock. We watch it and we are governed by it. We watch the clock for waiting for our coffee break to arrive, then we hurry back from our break, staring at the clock again, counting the minutes until lunch time. We hurry off to lunch only to watch the clock to make sure that we get back in time Finally, after staring at the clock all day, the end of the day arrives and we rush to our cars so we can be the first one to get out of the parking lot. Of course we need to chat on our cell phones on the way out, free at last, no longer slave to work habits, now we are simply slaves to our own personal routine.

If these routines become a customary practice, it forms part of our character. Sometimes those habits may identify us as being neurotic. Most of us are not even aware we are doing certain things because we do it in a natural, consistent way. Some people suffer from germaphobia, which is an irrational fear that overestimates the risk of being exposed to dangerous germs. Germaphobics are obsessed with cleanliness, forever washing their hands for fear of contamination. Cleanliness is a good thing. Hand washing practices, if improved, would significantly reduce the possibility of infection. It's a sanitary practice, especially after using the bathroom and before handling food. But the Germaphobe will wash his or her hands until raw, still feeling as though they are not clean enough. They develop a cleaning ritual. Individuals who follow this regimen are labeled OCD, which means they have obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD makes that individual's brain get stuck on a particular thought or urge. Just like taking a bath every day is a deeply ingrained American habit. A practice often blessed by public transportation riders during rush hour, especially when everyone is packed together like a can of sardines with no room to breathe. Some individuals are in the habit of checking things before they leave the house. They repeatedly check anything connected with harm or danger. For example: they check the oven to make sure it's off, check the alarm to make sure it's working or check to make sure that the door is locked. Then you have the individual who is so negative, they have developed a habit of always looking at the dark side of life. They easily cry when they are criticized or they are forever drowning in their sorrows, carrying a "woe is me" attitude, which can potentially damage any relationship they might have over a period of time. Whereas the person with a positive mental attitude is always in the habit of looking at the bright side of life, distributing positive energies wherever they go. In part 2 of this 2 part series, we'll explore positive ways to break bad habits to improve your quality of life!

Read Part II

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Having A Dog Can Be Fun When Raised Properly

By Miriam B. Medina

Sometimes I hate mornings. You see, I have dogs. There's a right way to raise and train pets and a wrong way. Go the wrong way and believe me, you'll pay for it. I'll give you a typical day in my life and help you find ways to avoid unnecessary puppy mess. Training your pets and spending time with them are extremely important, for you and your pet.
T.J., my mean, ferocious, spiteful miniature poodle (yes, a poodle can be ferocious, you'd be angry too if you were a guy and everybody thought you should wear pink sweaters and a bow) relieves himself on my leg and leaves piles of his contempt for me on the floor. I call him the "Miracle Dumper" because he walks and goes number two at the same time. Nothing like a smart bomb to ruin your nice, clean shoes first thing in the morning.
But is that normal?
Once in a while he has an "accident" in the house. Maybe I should call it an on purpose because I think he does it to spite me. It's not my fault he's so cute that people want to stuff him into pink fleece. I think he has some deficiency issues and miracle dumping is his therapy. But that can be fixed with proper attention. In my case, as soon as I see him starting to bend over, I run for a plastic bag, throwing myself into a prostrate position trying to catch his disgusting projectiles like I'm a catcher with a baseball glove snagging a wayward knuckle ball. The problem is, he doesn't stay still long enough to arrest the process. Not a great way to start the day.
So there I sit, prone, lying on the floor at 4 a.m. with an empty bag in my hand and my face only a couple of inches away from the lovely present he left for me. Maybe I will make him wear a pink sweater from now on.
Geez... it's not even sunrise, let me get a cup of coffee at least. Why can't you be like Buddy, my good dog? For Pete's sake, it's pouring outside too, now what do I do? The designated dog walking area is all the way across the street, that's where every one is supposed to go, but for today, since no one is around and it's pouring, Fugheddaboudit!
Good thing my apartment is on the ground floor with a large grassy area in front. Hell, I'm not going to go out there in my nightgown, holding an umbrella with a flashlight and a poop-scooper in my hand. I might get arrested, even in New York. It's bad enough that I have to follow the little bugger around the house with a bag like a deranged baseball catcher chasing a bunt. I'd be drenched while I waited, and my shoes would get water-logged. Who's going to know, anyway? There's my neighbor, Fred, who has the habit of walking across the lawn on the way to his car. But he's a mild-mannered guy. I'll take my chances.
I can't help but love my dogs. Maybe that's the problem, maybe I love them too much. The rule of thumb is that you have to take responsibility for your pet and his mischievous behavior, even the wayward piles that he leaves. "Responsible dog ownership means more than just adoring your dog. It is a serious lifelong commitment that requires time and close attention. Don't forget -- when Fido misbehaves, you are the one who will have to take the blame."
The first step to properly training your dog or any pet is to take responsibility for him or her. Even though we adore them, we must teach them and maintain discipline so that they do what they are supposed to. It doesn't mean they won't love you. In fact, it means the exact opposite. A dog or pet that respects you and your discipline will likely adore you. And he won't leave you early birthday presents in smelly piles on the floor.
My pets aren't that bad. I love them dearly, but any pet's life and behavior can be improved. Sometimes I call T.J. Slippery Louie because he is so fast. He's insecure, and every so often he shows aggressive behavior to both me and Buddy, my beloved Cocker Spaniel, even though T.J has been neutered. Spaying and neutering animals is important if you're not going to breed them. It not only helps control animal population, it's good for your pet. The last thing anyone needs is a super frisky pet assaulting your visitors knees every chance he gets.
T.J. is usually very gentle, he'll lick the skin off your face, but he can be quite unpredictable, so I handle him with kid gloves. While Buddy is low-keyed and easy-going, T.J. is hyper. He's eight years old. Hyper is common for poodles, mellow is common for Cocker Spaniels. Though T.J. Loves Buddy, he also intimidates him. He's a bully. If Buddy gets anywhere near him while he's eating, he'll bite, so I always keep them apart at mealtime. Again, it's important to set boundaries with your animals. It's instinctive for a dog to protect his food, so I take the precaution of keeping them apart at meal time. That's another key part of animal rearing, spending time with your pets. That's how you learn about them so you can train them properly. Ignoring your pet or not spending time with them is a bad habit. If you're always traveling or on the go, then you shouldn't have a pet.

My dogs are inseparable. I call them my bookends. T.J. sleeps on one side of the sofa while Buddy sleeps on the other side. Buddy and T.J. both bring joy to my life. Dogs are smart and they have their own personalities. If I tell T.J. he is going to take a bath, the little shrimp starts howling up a storm like I'm torturing him. Buddy does the Saint Vitus dance instead, jerking around like a break dancer with a bad case of Poison Ivy. For all of us who have pets, whether they be dogs, cats, or any other type of pet, they are tremendously valuable to our lives. You are valuable to their lives too, and you must remember this. Pets give us an inner sense of joy and happiness. Pets make their owners laugh, which not only loosens your face muscles, it also helps lower your blood pressure. This contributes to a healthier, longer existence for both of you. So I appreciate T.J.'s annoying interruptions even when I am writing.
Simply put, pets can help you live longer, so you have to take care of them. You have to give them exercise, but exercise is good for you as well. Walking them, taking them swimming, even taking them for a ride is awesome exercise. Of course, proper training can fix bathroom surprises in a much more efficient way.
"Every time you take your pet out say over and over "go potty". Praise her when she does. Soon you will notice that when you say "go potty" she will get right down to business. After she will go on command, take her out and "empty" her often so she can't mess in the house."
The most important way to train your pet, and to keep them happy and healthy, is to spend time with them. Believe it or not, dogs suffer from separation anxiety. They can have panic attacks, and this causes bad behavior, both when you are away and after you come home. Pets will act out to make you pay for leaving them alone. They're smart that way. Not only will they leave you sporty piles to clean up, but they'll destroy your house, tearing up books and paper, clawing away at doors, and damaging furniture.
Ultimately, you'll find that your beloved pets will reward you more than you can possibly imagine, not just with a little pile of poo in the middle of the living room either! You have to learn their personalities, conform to their needs, and convince them to conform to acceptable behavior too. This process isn't a bad thing. It doesn't mean that you won't be standing outside your home at 4 a.m. in the rain letting your dog do his business, it means you'll be happy you won't have to clean the floor later, and you'll have moments and memories that will last you a life time. Moments a pet owner wouldn't trade for anything. Even a tiny poodle can carve a huge place in your heart. We should all give them the time and attention their love and affection deserves.

Honey, Forget the Kids, Who Shrunk The Dollar? Part II

By Miriam B. Medina

In part 1 of this 2 part series, we examined the plight of most American citizens today. Sure, there's that 1% or so that are doing quite well, but the rest of us are struggling mightily. This is not to damn those that are doing well, but America was built and made strong on the ideal that anyone could find their fortune, make their way and build their home in this great country.

So what happened? Why are we all broke ALL OF THE TIME? As stated in part 1 of this series, the American economy was originally founded and prospered on trade backed by gold that was used as a common currency. But all of that began to change at the outset of the Civil War, and we've slowly been paying the price ever since.

President Abraham Lincoln, representing the desire of the North to hold the Union together at all costs, was forced to amass a great army to quiet the rebellion, but he had one huge problem. A country made of many states with state-run banks had no united currency or central bank that was effective enough to pay for such an army. The country didn't have enough gold on hand to purchase the weapons it required or to pay the soldiers for the service they were to perform for their nation. Lincoln hired an old friend, Colonel Dick Taylor, to help him solve this problem. Taylor advised the President to print federal money, authorized legal tender, that could be used in place of gold. Lincoln wasn't sure this would work, but Taylor assured him it would. If the federal government said it would, it would have to, the citizens would have no choice.

"Colonel Dick Taylor, when Lincoln asked if the people of America would accept the notes, said: "The people or anyone else will not have any choice in the matter, if you make them full legal tender. They will have the full sanction of the government and be just as good as any money; as Congress is given that express right by the Constitution."

Thus greenbacks were printed, named for the green ink used to print the "money," and the dollar was born. The dollar was still tied to the promise of gold. It could ultimately be redeemed for gold if the holder asked, but it was accepted as cash, except there wasn't enough gold to redeem every dollar if everyone redeemed them at one time. This means the value of gold rose above $1 an ounce. This process is called inflation. This signaled the beginning of the end for the Almighty Dollar. Americans and the world accepted the currency. America pushed forward, once again growing at an astounding pace. America's gold standard became the standard bearing currency around the world. By the 1920's, the economy peaked, and the dollar and gold were sitting high, as were U.S. citizens.

Then the Great Depression set in during the late 1920's and into the 1930's. Banks defaulted by the hundreds as many citizens, in fear, tried to redeem their dollars for gold, but there wasn't enough gold to cover the mad flight to safety. The economy crashed. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal was ultimately born. More dollars were printed, and the value of gold once again inflated, reaching as high as $25 an ounce. The dollar, once worth $1 per ounce of gold, was 1/25th the value it had been when it was first printed.

After World War I and World War II, the American economy soared again. To the victor go the spoils. The strength in the dollar led to a natural inflation. The more the dollar soared, the more expensive basic commodities, necessities and services became. By the time Richard Nixon was in power in the early 1970's, the nation faced a great problem. There was another costly war in Vietnam to pay for. The cost of gold soared, from $38 to $42 in one year between 1972 and 1973, and stagflation had set in, meaning there was a loss in the growth of production, but inflation continued to rise. People had less money to spend and everything cost more. Sound familiar, rising costs with less money to go around?

Faced with really no alternatives, except to either suffer a much-needed consolidation in an inflated economy, or, divorcing the dollar from the gold standard in an effort to put this correction off for a few more years, Nixon removed the dollar from the gold standard in 1973. The value of gold soared to over $100 an ounce on the free market at an astonishing pace. The dollar was no longer a promissory note redeemable in gold. It was no longer a coupon, it was simply a piece of paper that this government and other governments, via trade, set the value for. You can see the problem there. The Fed, led by Ben Bernanke today, the independent American banking system, and other central banking systems such as the EU (European Union) and the IMF (International Monetary Fund), set the value and rate of the dollar and other currencies with their actions or lack of actions, particularly during a financial crisis like the one we are in now. The Fed answered the housing crash in 2008 by "bailing out" the economy. How? They printed more cash, not coupons any more, simply dollars printed on paper. This is known as hyperinflation. Hyperinflation kills any currency, its value ultimately decreases, and will continue to do so. The more dollars there are, the less they are worth. Gold is now worth over $1600 per ounce. Gas is near $4.00 a gallon as is milk.

The Almighty Dollar has been devalued over time, and unless some grand changes are made in economic policy, which is unlikely, this will continue to happen. The dollar will stretch less and less, and goods and services will cost more and more. Sadly, the only question is, how low will the dollar go? We are a great nation, and we will survive and thrive again, but survival and growth have a cost. Perhaps that cost won't be paid for, ultimately, in broken dollars, but will be paid for with ingenuity, the indomitable American spirit, our work ethic and our great will. I hope so. I, like most other people I know, am running out of dollars. I'm chock full of spirit, work ethic and will power though. I hope you are too. We must remember this when we vote and empower those that make decisions that affect all of us. Each bailout has a cost. Each Quantitative Easing has a cost. Each entitlement program has a cost, and one way or another, through taxation or rising prices we pay every day for food and gas and clothing, we ALL pay it. Perhaps it is time to roll up our sleeves and find a solution that doesn't involve a printing press, because every time the government prints more paper for whatever reason, everything costs more and more, and the almighty dollar continues to shrink. Soon enough, the dollar won't be worth the paper it's printed on, if it isn't already.

To contact:

Honey, Forget The Kids, Who Shrunk the Dollar? Part I

By Miriam B. Medina
A scene you might see today in any American household.

Wife: Billy needs another pair of sneakers. The ones I got him last month are already worn out.

Husband: How much is that going to cost us?

Wife: I can probably find cheap ones on sale for $25.00.

Husband: Hell, can't you do better than that? I have to put my car in the shop this week.

Wife: That's about the best I can do. He needs shoes. Buying cheap shoes doesn't fix anything anyway, they'll wear out quick again and we'll have to buy more in a month or so.

Husband: How much are good shoes, shoes that will last?

Wife: $100-$125, easy.

Husband: HOLY $%^&!!! That's INSANE!

Wife: You have to give me some money today anyway, the baby is out of diapers and formula.

Husband: What, do you think I'm an ATM machine? I'm working two jobs already! Why aren't you
buying stuff on sale at the supermarket instead of name brands all the time.

Wife: I hate those cheap brands, they're horrible. Name brands are better. Cheap brands are useless and you end up wasting more money on stuff that gets used up fast or doesn't work, just like with the shoes.

Husband: Then you'll have to do better at cutting down on household expenses, I can't pay any more than I am. I don't have it. We don't have to eat steak twice a week you know.

Wife: Why do I always have to find ways to stretch the dollar? You're always putting the blame on me.Why don't you get a better paying job. I'm tired of living like this.

Husband: I'm doing the best I can. Gas keeps going up. Taxes and tolls and everything else keep rising. We have to do something or we'll be out on the street. Don't use the air conditioner all day for example, you're running up the bill.

Wife: It's too hot for the baby. He cries a lot when he is uncomfortable and extreme temperatures are dangerous for him.

Husband: I guess you're right but I don't know what else to do. There's just not enough money anymore. Something has to give somewhere?

Who in this economy isn't tired of being broke? This scene is all too common. How many families are busting a hump just to make ends meet, and losing all of their savings in the process. That's not even the worst of it. Unemployment is at 8%, foreclosures are at an all time high, and while the government may say that inflation is only 2%, it sure seems a lot higher when you're at the gas pump or buying a loaf of bread. How many people do you know that are out of work or struggling to find a job? How many foreclosures do you see driving down the street?

Let's face it, the economy is in trouble and it has been since the housing bubble burst in 2008, but in reality, the American economy has been headed for trouble for quite some time. The American Dream has become the daily nightmare for far too many people. In this article, part 1 of a 2 part series, we will examine the reasons that the American dollar, and most other currencies around the world for that matter, seem to be shrinking. Instead of seeing and hearing about tales of fortune these days, look around and all you see and hear are tales of misfortune. Statements like the following are all too common:

"If only I had a few more dollars left after I pay the bills."
"I can't seem to make the dollar stretch enough to make ends meet."
"The dollar just doesn't seem to go as far as it used to."

Sadly, all of this is too true. How did we get this way? What happened to the great American industrial economy that used to lead the world in production, that has now led the world into a seemingly endless recession? Did we get lazy? Are we becoming obsolete in a global economy?

Not exactly.

Perhaps it is not us, the American populace, who are broke. Perhaps it is the Almighty American Dollar that is broken, destroyed by an ongoing fiscal policy that has robbed from the present to pay past debt for many decades at the expense of the future, and that future has caught up to us.

The American economy was originally built on the trading of hard commodities for goods and services. Pelts and livestock and vegetables and dairy were traded for weapons and tools. Hard commodities like gold and silver, as has transpired around the globe over the ages, were traded as currency for doctor's services and goods. In the case of America, specifically thanks to the gold boom in California in the 1840's and 1850's, gold became the main trading asset utilized by citizens and the public. The gold standard became the norm. Gold in the United States was money. Banks traded promissory notes for gold, allowing people to safely park their gold in banks. A dollar's worth of gold (an ounce) equaled a $1 promissory note. Bank customers could gain interest by sitting their gold in banks, and could redeem these notes for their gold at any time. This exchange was the foundation of the cash that we use today. The note, or "cash," was a contract, a bond that entitled the holder to redeem their commodity at any time.

America hummed along for many years, steadily growing at a healthy rate. Trade was good. Production was fantastic. But then this fractional nation, made of independent states united as one union, came to a crossroads. The federal government wanted, or felt it required, more power to unionize the states so that everyone in the country maintained equal rights and laws. Slavery became an issue between the North and South. States rights became the mandate in the South, and federal power became the desire in the North, causing great friction in Congress and in the country. This dispute grew until, finally, the Civil War began in 1861. In part 2 of this 2 part series, we will examine how Lincoln and the Civil War started the economy on its downward spiral, and how many Administrations since have furthered that spiral.

See Part II



Saturday, September 22, 2012

I know Why the Doggie Barks and the Kitty Meows-Do You?

By Miriam B. Medina (Ezine's expert author at Diamond Level)

We all love our pets. Some of us are absolutely crazy over our kitties and our dogs. We love the way they meow when they're hungry or playful. We love all the different barks our pooch makes depending on what his or her situation or mood are. All pets are different. But how much do we really understand about the idiosyncrasies of the way our pets uniquely communicate with us? How much do we really know about how and why they bark or how and why they meow?

Do you know what your cat or dog are trying to say when they bark or they meow? Well, if you don't, this article is for you.

Yes, it's true, to some neighbors and even family members, a loud pet can be quite annoying. But when they bark or they meow, it's their only way to communicate with you. Except for the Basenji, a species of dog that doesn't make a peep, all dogs bark. They are pack animals in their natural habitat, and I don't mean your back yard. Some yap, some howl, and some yelp, but they all bark to try to communicate with you. But what do these barks mean to you? What is your dog trying to say? Here are a few common types of barks that most dogs utilize at one time or another and what they mean to you.

1. The warning bark: This is usually a terse, energetic bark. They're usually done one at a time as if to say "hey. If you don't pay attention to what I'm telling you, you might not be able to feed me later, so listen up!"
2. The alarm bark: This is a more high-pitched, more frenetic bark, telling you that danger might be imminent. "Hey, master person. DANGER... DANGER... DANGER! Do not let this unknown stranger near my food bowl.... Oh, and take care of yourself too!"

3. The bark on command: This is a bark you teach your dog to bark on cue. He's simply saying "yes, I know how to bark... this is degrading, now give me a cookie."

come on, come on, throw me the ball... throw me the ball... throw me the ball... throw me the ball...
5. The need bark: This one is usually accompanied with some whining and it's easy to read: "Come on man, I NEEEEEEED to go outside. Hurry up or you'll be sorry. You'll see. I'll go right in your dress shoes."
6. The nuisance bark: This is simply an "I need attention" bark. Dogs, like any pet, need lots of love and attention. If you don't give it to them, after a while, they will annoy you to get what they need. You can't blame them, really, can you?

Cats also make a lot of sounds over the course of their 9 lives. Like dogs, cats are naturally pack animals. They use these sounds, be it purrs or meows, to communicate with each other. When you have a cat as a pet, they also use these sounds to communicate with you. Here are some of the sounds your cat will make and what they're trying to say to you.

1. The emphatic, loud meow: This is the "Hey... I said HEY.... Fill my food bowl servant. It is far too low to serve at my pleasure" meow. Cats are usually quite regal in their nature. When they want or need something, the WANT or NEED something, and they're not afraid to let you know it.

2. The super soft or silent meow: This is the "awwww, look how cute I am!" Meow. They want to please you and they want affection, and if you don't soon give it, you might taste claw.

3. The purr: Perhaps the favorite of all cat sounds is the purr. It simply means that whatever you are doing or whatever is going on, your cat is content. This is the "keep it up" sound. It means you're doing a good job.
4. The hiss: This is the cat saying it's very scared, frightened and angry. This is, by no means, a good sound. It means the cat's fur is up and it's ready to defend itself. In the wild, this is a warning to other animals that the cat is ready to strike. Be careful when you hear this sound, because when a cat feels cornered, even your beloved pet fluffy, any cat can be dangerous.

5. The yeowl: This is the loud mewl that makes a cat sound like it's drunk in the alley howling at the moon. Trust me, the cat hasn't gotten into your stash of special bourbon, your pet is just lonely. Give your cat some attention and some affection, and this annoying sound will soon cease.

There you have it. A simple playbook you can use to read and understand your cat or dog. They're wonderful creatures, and there's nothing quite as special or unique as having a strong bond with your pet. If you listen to what they have to say, they'll tell you exactly what they need so you can give them what they want. Now go spend some quality time with your pets and enjoy their fantastic company.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Oh My God, I can't hold it any longer, I have to go and Pee!!!!

Ha, Ha, Ha, that was a great joke, do  you have any more of those dirty ones?

Hell No, I'm not Jack the Ripper, I'm just an ordinary D.J. playing Hip-Hop Music.?

Don't even breathe the word "TREADMILL.", or I'll scratch  your eyes out.


By Miriam B. Medina

America the Beautiful, America the Brave, America the Melting Pot, America has been described as all of these things, but which epitaph best describes this great country? Ask any immigrant who has made his or her way here, greeting the Statue of Liberty with cries of joy, and they'd likely tell you that The United States is the land of the free, the home of the brave, the most beautiful site they ever saw, simply because it is the Great Melting Pot.

How many immigrants struggled to reach the shores of the United States, to find their American Dream, huddled aboard the deck of a ship, packed like sardines with so many others just like themselves? Different people and different families from disparate regions and different countries, all with one common goal, one thought in mind. Let me reach the shores of the United States where I will find opportunity, where I can build a better life for myself and my family, where I can pursue liberty and freedom. While every immigrant has a different story and takes a different path to America, there is a single reason that so many people have struggled to reach these hallowed shores for so long, and that reason is what makes this country so unique and so great.

The United States is and has been an asylum for millions of people who have suffered around the world, at the hands of their own governments, at the hands of oppressors, and at the hands of cruel fate and hardship. It is fitting that the United States greets so many immigrants at Ellis Island in New York with the grand sight of the Statue of Liberty waiting in the mouth of the New York Harbor, a welcome sight for weary eyes, because America itself has always been a safe harbor in an endless storm of global uncertainty.

But why do they come HERE and how does this make America so great? James Truslow Adams coined the phrase "The American Dream" in the 1931 novel, Epic of America. This term has come to symbolize the ideals of freedom, democracy, opportunity, and the potential to realize material comfort. While we native Americans take our liberties and opportunities for granted, even with a sense of entitlement in this day and age, to many people around the world who have suffered at the hands of tyranny, it offers all that they could ever hope for, a chance. America has come to represent hope to many who simply want a chance to succeed. Through great effort and often under much duress, millions of people have found their way to the shores of America, perhaps not so much to realize the American Dream, but to simply have a chance at realizing it. They come here not so much looking for easy street, but looking for a fair opportunity to earn a better life, and that has been key to the greatness of America over the years.
We're not a perfect nation, and we've had plenty of trials and tribulations over the years, but as a nation, we persevere and we prevail, for the very reason we attract so many people, because we're free to be who we are, therefore we are diverse. It is our diversity and our desire to be ourselves that unites us with such a strong common bond. We are now a nation made of many great cultures, of many great ideals and religions, and it is this diversity and sense of earned liberty, provided to us by our forefathers and all of the immigrants that have united here to build this great nation, that gives us the strength to prosper and grow. That's why I believe we, as a nation, can get though any crisis, we always have before, and we'll get through this current fiscal crisis that we face now.
We are the land of the free, the home of the brave, and we are the Melting Pot, when we lose sight of that fact from time, all we need do is look at that great lady standing tall above the New York Harbor, as so many of our ancestors have done before us and as so many new Americans still do today. She's still a sight for sore eyes, still the embodiment of hope and freedom, still the symbol of the American Dream, and she'll stand strong and remind the world of this fact for many years to come.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

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By Miriam B. Medina

Welcome to the latest installment of the tale of Boobala Darling, the heartfelt story of a woman beaten down by life, whose one hope is to win a cruise, and then... SHE DID WIN the cruise of her dreams. Now let's see if her dreams bear fruit...

At long last, the day arrived for Boobala to begin her cruise. She had made up her mind that she would do all that she could to improve her appearance and to arrive with style. She made sure that all her outfits were provocative, emphasizing the curves in her body that she wanted to be noticed. "Oh well, 'vat the hell," she would say, "it's only money." But in fact, it was the first time she was going to part with her savings. Boobala felt excited about her new image. With the help of a good girdle, an 'AHHH' bra, a new hair style, make-up and an effective diet, she still looked good at age 45, maybe a little chunky in some places, but it complimented her.

Boobala felt young again, just like the day she married Harry. When Myrtle saw her at the door, she could not believe her eyes. Boobala looked almost pretty. Myrtle, her old friend, squealed with delight as she hugged Boobala. Myrtle was going to see Boobala off at the pier. Boobala called a taxi to take them there. With all the hustle and bustle of people getting on and off of the ship, Boobala noticed a tall blonde man in a dark suit. Surprisingly, the man reminded her of Harry as he shouted orders to the crew. The sound of his voice sent shivers up her spine. She was mesmerized by his handsomeness. His image consumed her mind. Boobala felt her heart race and her cheeks grow hot, her eyes lit up, widening in awe. She couldn't move, even if she wanted to. Her feet were cemented to the ground. She was a victim of Cupid's arrow. After all, she was a lonely widow. It was not at all surprising that she might find love in the strangest place.

It was evident by the smile framing her lips that she was excited and happy. Her fantasy of meeting a man on this cruise was intensified as she imagined herself in the arms of her Prince charming, dancing the night away. Boobala made sure that her face did not reveal the slightest emotion as she lugged her baggage, moving closer to the Captain to courageously ask him a question. However, the arrogant Captain, who was irritated by the interruption, yelled at her to step aside as she was in the way. He didn't have the slightest interest in her, or in her new, attractive appearance. Boobala's face flushed with embarrassment. She was devastated. Her self-esteem and self-worth crashed and her newly built confidence vanished. Rage consumed her. She didn't know how to respond to him or to her dreams being dashed as her cruise ship fantasy crashed on the shores in her mind. She wandered away, muttering to herself as she lugged her baggage..

Why does he think I'm a suitcase?
Why does he treat me like I'm freight?
Stamped and shoved like all the baggage,
Can't he see my great legs and face?
I've never suffered such humiliation,
If I had known there'd be complications,
I would never have spent so much money
To make myself look this good!
Just because I've won this cruise,
Does it mean I deserve abuse?
I'm a passenger boarding a ship,
Not a lackey looking for a tip.
I'm a lady, oh can't you see,
Must you make baggage of me?
Treat me with some dignity,
Whether or not this trip is free.

Such a good-looking man, that Captain.
How can I stay annoyed with him?
If I could only know him better
It would be nice to be in love again
I 'd overlook this situation
If he'd only show some consideration
Help me to my feet, take me to my suite
Then I'd know this cruise would be.
Something simply heavenly...

... Sorry Boobala it's not going to happen.
Aren't you a little curious to find out more about what happened to Boobala before she went on this cruise? If you want to follow Boobala's intriguing tale, you can read her life story in my previously published series of articles called Boobala Darling Wins a Cruise. Parts 1-9. at

To contact:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


By Miriam B. Medina
As a victim of Domestic Violence, I would like to share this article which I wrote, in the hopes that it may be of help to someone who has has already suffered or is going through a similar experience. It was FEAR that kept me in my marriage and FEAR FOR MY LIFE that got me out of it. In relation to the Title, the article is self-explanatory.

The Victims
Her powerful shriek, anguished cries and pleas for help fade to a bare whisper. She is the battered victim of domestic violence, rape, or cruel assault, desperately struggling against her attacker, clinging to her life. Horribly beaten with blood flowing from the gashes on her neck, face and head, in many cases more than once, she lies there, almost unconscious. Nearby doors and windows remain closed. Passersby don't want to interfere, and they scurry away in fear for their own lives.

For those that have the good fortune to survive, battered and bruised, emotionally scarred, they endure a shocking and disturbing future. Most victims are reluctant to speak out as they suffer their endless shame, feeling helplessness, humiliated and desperate, isolated in silence. They turn to alcohol, drugs or self-mutilation, they even contemplate suicide.
What madness is this? Sustained violence escalating to epidemic proportions throughout the United States? Everyday local newspapers report headlines such as; "Shooting and Mass Murder on College Campus," "Husband Goes Berserk, Killing Wife and Their Three Children," "Woman Jogger Raped and Brutally Beaten In Central Park," "Mother, Driven by Post-Partum Depression Drowns Children," and so on and so forth. The newer tragic aspect of this is that these are no longer features of urban life, but headlines largely drawn from suburbia, as well. Statistics say that 85% of domestic violence victims are female. Acts of violence have also caused the death of around 4,000 women killed each year by a current or former spouse, spurned lover, or stalker.
Let's not forget the innocent children who are also subjected to neglect, sexual, physical and emotional abuse as well. They are silent spectators to domestic violence, mentally scarred, being trained to become abusive themselves. Not only are children witnesses to domestic violence, but also are at high risk for suffering physical abuse by standing directly in the line of fire, when things get thrown, or weapons are used. Sometimes an older child will try to protect his or her mother, and the batterer will turn on them.
Traumatic experiences such as these, whether they be physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, particularly in the early stages of a person's development, can have a devastating and lasting impact on children. It affects their "ability to think, feel, trust and relate to others."
One of the most popular and most overlooked forms of family violence in the United States is Sibling Abuse. Most of these violent acts consist of slaps, pushes, bites, kicks and punches, more extreme cases ending in death. Many young people are not only cruel toward their siblings; they also physically abuse their parents. Parents, who are the victims of a violent teenager often find themselves in a terrible dilemma. They love this child desperately, and would rather suffer silently in apprehension and shame than to report abuse to the proper authorities, for fear of having their child taken away from them. They can not understand this graphic expression of anger, so they soul search because they believe that they must have contributed in some way to this provocation. Although calling 911 can be the most difficult decision a parent can make, it is one of the most effective ways for that youth to take responsibility for his or her own actions, so that they learn that violence does not pay.
Frail, debilitated older people may at times be incapable of helping themselves at all, and are also subjected to neglect, as well as physical and emotional abuse and financial exploitation. They are no exception in this world of filled with violence and abuse. Perpetrators of abuse directed toward the elderly may be family members, professional caregivers, and etc. These abuses are existent at home as well as in care facilities. Rough handling, use of physical restraints, harassment, cursing, insulting, inadequate provision of food or water, delay of medical care, inadequate help with hygiene or bathing, being kept in their own urine and feces in unchanged diapers, exposing them to perpetual infections.
Because elderly people are sometimes unable to hear or see well or to be as commanding physically or verbally as they used to be, they are easy targets for exploitation by family members or their alleged care-givers. Through scamming, the elder person's bank account is depleted, life savings gone instantly, credit cards abused, Social Security and pension checks stolen, or they are forced into signing an agreement that would end up generating a financial commitment. They are also bamboozled into making a will which under normal conditions would not have been made, one that would favor the exploiter.
Patterns Of Abuse And Violence
While abuse may take the form of physical violence, there is also damage on an emotional and verbal level. Although the abuser appears to be a powerful and intimidating creature, they lack self-esteem, and by constantly attacking the self-worth of the person or child, they maintain a sense of power and control. By the abuser belittling, shaming, ridiculing or verbally terrorizing the person or child with physical pain, death, or, the death of a loved one, they are "chipping away at the individual's feelings of self-worth and independence," until that person feels helpless and yields. Abusers enjoy scaring their victims into submission, by the use of threatening looks or gestures, throwing objects at the victim, smashing dishes, destroying property, or even showing a weapon to convey the message: "Do As I say or else!"
The power of control is the driving force that motivates the abuser. The abuser always needs to be in charge of the relationship, making all decisions and expecting their partner to perform without complaint. The victim becomes that person's possession, to be done with as he or she sees fit. By making statements such as, "You are nothing without ME!" "You don't need anyone, but ME!" "You belong to ME!" the abuser is cutting the victim off from the outside world, making the victim more dependent on themselves. The victim is no longer allowed to visit family members and friends or allowed to go anywhere or see anyone without asking for permission. Eventually, through fear and manipulation, the victim becomes the prisoner of the abuser.
Abusive individuals often are of an impulsive nature, moving frequently, changing jobs, as well as being emotionally dependent on their spouse. They are also noted for being blame-shifters, never accepting responsibilities for their actions. It will always be someone else's fault. The abuser will accuse the partner of having an affair with an imaginary lover, dressing in a provocative way to attract other men, for example or of neglect, abusing the finances, the house was not clean, the laundry was not done, supper was not ready; whatever instability of reasoning that might appear to justify the abuse. The pattern of attack may begin with emotional and verbal abuse, but often escalates from pushing and shoving to an absolute powerful expression of physical strength, and woe to anyone who may want to interfere...
When the abuser returns to reality, and views their masterpiece of savage art, guilt begins to take over. Abusers do not feel remorse or responsibility for what they have done, but for what is obvious for the world to see and the serious consequences that will result. In plain words, their concern is more about getting caught and punished without ever caring for their victim. Many abusive individuals at the time of the attack are under the influence of substance abuse and would attribute their acts of violence to that. The mere fact is that the abuser abuses his or her victims, because he or she chooses to abuse.

After the storm comes the calm. Many partners deceived by the sudden change in their abuser's behavior pattern accept the peace offerings as a display of that person's true love, and apparent, genuine apologies that this will never happen again, often ending with sex. Some call this the Honeymoon period. The victims begin to relax, convincing themselves with excuses: " He loves me"; "He says he is sorry"; "He says he needs me"; "He is not a bad person." Still in denial, they continue to make excuses: "He lost his job, and because he is under pressure he did what he did; "He's just had an unfortunate stroke of luck lately;" "It was my fault that he got so upset, "etc., etc. With this blinding attitude, they don't realize that they are placing themselves in a vulnerable state, balanced on a dangerous parapet of belief, trust, and risk, making it all the more difficult to leave the abuser.
The victim, feeling relieved that all is well, goes cheerfully about his or her day, while the abuser is given time to rebuild their insanity, beginning to develop the next strategy of attack, planning situations where once again the cycle of violence will continue.
No human being should ever have to go through such a horrible existence and unbelievable infliction of pain and suffering.

So Why Do Women In Particular Stay In Such Abusive Relationships?
For many reasons; they depend economically on these men; they are afraid that if they try to leave, they would put themselves and their children in greater physical danger. Some women lack job skills, and might not be able to find employment to support themselves; and there is fear of the unknown; not having a place to live; isolation from friends and family members, etc. And for those with careers, these abused women have considerable fear that the abuser would call where she works and create problems. She is also deathly afraid of losing custody of her children because of lies that the abuser might say about her, and so on and so forth.
Violence is non-discriminatory. It frequently happens within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, religions, gay/lesbian/transvestite relationships, with any type of sexual partners and at all economic levels. One will find that among the perpetrators of these acts of violence, there are intelligent and motivated individuals, college graduates, entrepreneurs, high-ranking officials as well as leading suburbanites.
So What Is America Doing To Curb The Violence And Assist Those Who Are Victimized?
Federal, State and Local government programs have been addressing the issue of Domestic Violence for many years and have achieved success in keeping some families safe. Great efforts across America have had a significant impact in helping battered victims with medical and psychiatric care, providing protection, shelters and food, enacting laws recognizing crime victims' rights and much more.
 Warm, Loving and Productive Families are the Backbone of This Nation
Although we may decide that violence has become a way of life as well as a crisis in modern America, keep in mind that there exists warm and productive families that are the backbone of this nation, that make us the leading, most diverse and respected country that exists today. Positive families provide a safe, warm, loving and stable environment for their children. These men and women honor their roles seriously as parents and spouses. Tough love, mutual respect and understanding, are the basis of their homes.

Wondering Where It Went Wrong-A Poem

By Miriam B. Medina

Those of us lucky to find love most often suffer at love. For every joy there is a sorrow, and for every breathless moment, there are a hundred moments of dread. 'Do I look good enough? Is he thinking about me? Why does he treat me like this? Will I ever feel like that again.
Most often, pain goes as it comes, to be replaced by another joy, new experiences, new friends and lovers. But in that moment of grief it feels like the pain will never end. It feels like the world has stopped and all joy has been destroyed, and all you can do is wonder what would have happened if, and what will happen in the future.

I lie awake nights
Hands curled in sheets
Exhausted and drained,
Wondering... where it went wrong
Drenched in sweat, I shudder, cold
Thoughts imprison my mind
As a shroud they bury me
Squeezing the air from my lungs
Suffocating, unable even to scream.
I am alone, completely alone.
There is no one to quiet my fears
There are no kind words...
My pale skin no longer bears
Witness to all the abuse.
Tears flow, my mind is overshadowed
By visions of a face consumed with rage,
Poisonous harsh words ring in my ears
Deeply distraught, I feel the despair.
My mind, a cauldron of hate, boils.
Vengeance would taste good, hot or cold.
What did I do that was so wrong?
I seek refuge under a mound of covers
hoping for sleep to abduct me,
Yet blessed sleep eludes me...
The night in remembrance
Remains a vivid memory,
But not what he was like before that moment.
When it comes to love, I shall never learn,
I keep making the same mistake
Over and over, again and again...
I'm wondering why in love I cannot win?
Enough, though, I have suffered enough
I have spent too much time wondering
Will wondering change history?
It is what it is
As it always will be.
I refuse to suffer anymore.

Miriam B. Medina loves nothing more than sharing what she learns, creates, thinks about and writes with everyone she can. So be sure to check out all of Miriam's other poems at
I must warn you that Miriam B. Medina loves to write. So find yourself a comfortable chair, get a glass of wine or a hot cup of coffee and you're all set to take an informative, enjoyable trip with her. Happy reading.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Hey Dude, got a nasty hang-over from last night's party. I think I could use another beer.

Been up all night on Facebook, just taking a short nap before I go back on.

Geez......aren't you a clingy one. Can't you just be quiet for a while? I need some time for myself.

Hey, just picked up these two chicks and we're going to do the town tonight. Want to join us?

Nothing like Home Sweet Home!
That's Okay baby, you can cry on my shoulder anytime you need to. I love you.
Wow! That was good. Hey Bartender, can I have another round of that Tequila?


Wow! Are These for Me? Thanks Mom.
Welcome to our Feline Talent Show.
Friends Forever
What the Hell is this? Do you Expect Me to eat This Slop?
That's it keep messaging, just right about there, got a lot of gas build-up and need some fast relief.

Ha, Ha, looks like the bird pulled a fast one on the Cat. Boy does he look pissed. Watch your back little bird.

Sweet Dreams My Precious

My Pampered Pet
Photos-Cats (2)


Page: 2 for more Artwork-Cats

How Your Cat Can Train You To Be a Better Owner

By Miriam B. Medina

Cats and dogs are definitely different, they're kind of like democrats and republicans with fur. They can't agree on anything, they don't get along, they generally don't like each other, and they have completely different philosophies on the way that life is to be run. For instance, if you take a cat for a walk, you'll never see a cat attracted to one single fire hydrant, quivering with extreme jubilation and excitement, not one, let alone EVERY single fire hydrant you pass on your walk. For that reason, cats must be treated very differently than dogs, or any other pet for that matter.
Take teaching your pet tricks. A dog, for example, will sit down, see the cookie or treat, hear your garbled words, and with repetition, eventually decipher that when you utter a certain sound, if he gives you his paw, he will get the treat. The cat, under the same set of circumstances, will figure out after a while that for some stupid reason, you want to hold his paw so you can give him a tuna snap. He recognizes that within his paw lies razor-sharp claws. After looking at you like an idiot for a while and then yawning out of boredom, he will use the claws inside the paw that you covet so much to slice you to ribbons and take the tuna snap from you.
Just try it once, you'll see. I still have the scar. Didn't keep the tuna snap though.
The fact is, you can train a dog or most pets so that you can live your life with a certain continuity, you can come to expect things from a dog, things that you can count on. For instance, he will bark to go outside to relieve himself. Or she might stand in an ever so cute fashion on her hind legs to get her supper. You can train them to sit, to lie and to fetch. While you might have problems come bath time, you might get aggravated as you chase the wet dog around the house, you will not pry a dog from the ceiling or off of your back each and every time you turn a faucet on in the bathroom. Cats, on the other hand, are a different story completely. Giving them a bath is like going to the dentist.... If the dentist were a complete psychopath with machetes as fingers. Cats must be treated differently if you want to enjoy them... Hell, if you simply want to survive them.
You don't train cats, they train you, and once you come to accept this fact and even learn to take advantage of it, your life will be the better for it.
First off, the cat's perception is that you are there to please them. When they want you to pet them, they let you. When they don't want you to pet them, just try catching and holding onto them without needing a blood transfusion. There's a certain logic to a cat's thinking that you can't deny. While they are our pets (or so we think), we did choose them, find them, and bring them into our house. We owe them. We are responsible for them, and they know it. Dogs haven't figured this out yet, they're just happy to have a sofa to sleep on and a warm place to lick themselves.
So from day one, understand that you belong to your cat. That's just the way it is. Learn from your cat, and if you obey him or her, your life will be fine. The cat will go in the litter box, the cat will play with your stupid ball of yarn to amuse you when it feels the urge. The cat will let you pet him when he itches and will let you feed him when he meows. The cat might even purr on occasion and warm up your heart.
Ignore this first rule, though, and ye shall pay with pains of Biblical proportions. Newspapers and magazines will mysteriously turn into confetti. Shoes will get sprayed. Plants will be chewed to bits. And that's just a warm up act if you don't get the hint.
So now that you know that you belong to the cat, how can you best serve your new master so as not to stir his or her temper?
Start like you do with any pet, spend time with them and let them know that you love them. Don't try to get even by hiding their toys because they aggravated you. They will find the cat nip mouse and the jingling plastic ball and destroy the sock drawer you hid them in, and the pictures on top of the bureau and your pillow to boot.
Believe it or not, cats like routine behavior, so set a routine. Feed them at the same times each day. You'll know if you make a mistake and miss feeding time when you find hair-balls in your soup. If you feed the cat at the same time each day and its belly is full, then you will be allowed to eat in peace.
Also, cats like to be groomed and to be petted when they are in the mood for it. They are really very clean creatures, they will actually train themselves to use a litter box and will clean their fur constantly. If you brush them, pet them and groom them, and keep the litter box clean, you will likely encounter very few problems with their hygiene. Eventually, you will have to bathe the cat, and that's never easy, but if you routinely groom them, you won't have to bathe them too often. The mist bottles they sell that give cats quick, gentle baths work, but the cat will still flee once he recognizes that the bottle sprays wet stuff. In fact, the cat might flee and hide whenever it sees ANY spray bottle once you bathe it with one, but this can be used to your advantage. The cat won't stop meowing, break out the spray bottle. You won't even have to spray the cat, you probably couldn't if you wanted to because the little buggers are fast, the appearance of the bottle will do the work for you. Spray bottles can be good, gentle training tools. You can use them to keep cats off counters, off tables, and out of other places you don't want them to go. Water is your friend, and it is your cat's kryptonite.
Cat nip helps settle excitable cats down, but you can over-use it. Cat nip on occasion and in small amounts is okay, but it does get a cat intoxicated, that's why they become so docile and playful. You wouldn't give your teen whiskey to keep them in line, so keep that in mind. But cat nip isn't bad at all for cats in small doses, they enjoy it, and it can give you some stress free time with your feline.
Lastly, cat sweaters are never a good idea. I don't care how cute you think they'll look, they'll hate it, and you have to get that sucker on them. If you insist on dressing your cat for some reason, you'll need the outfit, a tourniquet, and an ambulance on stand-by. It never hurts to keep a bowl of ice nearby too so that perhaps the surgeons can save whatever limb your cat slices off of you. Doctors can work miracles these days. Or better yet, leave the cat be, they're already wearing a fur coat. Sheesh. Get a chihuahua or a Barbie doll if you have the need to dress something up so that it looks cute.

How Do You Cope With Grief When Your Beloved Pet Dies?

By Miriam B. Medina

"What A wonderful world it would be, if pets could live forever."
On August 25, 2012, my fourteen year old, beloved Cocker Spaniel "Buddy" had to be put to sleep. He was dying from cancer of the liver, which had metastasized throughout his body and into his lungs, making it difficult for him to breathe. No matter how hungry he was or how much food he devoured, he couldn't stop losing weight. The Vet said that he would only last another two or three weeks. He was constantly whimpering, suffering in pain. The most difficult decision that one must make is to euthanize their pet. Even when you have to take that step, because you love them so dearly, to end their suffering, it still hurts. Their pain may stop, which is a blessing, but yours is just beginning.
For all of us who have pets, whether they be cats, dogs, or any other type of pet, they are tremendously valuable, important parts of our lives. We, as their owners, are also valuable to their lives. We are the center around which they gravitate, the food bowl by which they patiently wait, licking their chops for more love and attention. Our beloved pets give us an inner sense of peace, joy and happiness. Oh how they can make us laugh and smile. They ease our stress. They reward us in so many ways, their presence alone are more important to us than one can possibly imagine. Their adoring love and loyalty is unmatched in a world full of pain and sorrow.

And then they are gone.

Nonetheless, our pets will always leave us with moments and memories, joys that will last a lifetime. Moments that any true pet owner wouldn't trade for anything, in the course of their life. Our pets are irreplaceable, and after all those years of licking, doing tricks for us, lying by our feet, protecting and loving us, they leave us with one final gift, their memories.

Let me tell you a little bit about my beloved Buddy. He was such an extraordinarily sweet and gentle dog, which made me very happy. He would happily slobber all over my face, even after he had licked himself from head to toe. He didn't know any different. I guess it was his way of saying hello, I love you, but yuck, what foul breath he had.

With one slurp, he could turn fresh milk into cottage cheese. He could wilt flowers with one blast of his puppy halitosis. I wonder, sometimes, if he ate his own poop. It didn't matter, I loved him and I felt loved. My grief didn't start the day he died, it started before then, as it does with many pet owners. My worry and pain began as I saw him go from an energetic playful dog, to one slowed down by arthritic pain. That pain started to affect his hips in a very bad way. I felt terrible watching him as he moved along with great difficulty, trying to bounce around as he did as a puppy or bound through the house as he did as a young dog. With age, he wobbled as he walked. It was heart-breaking to watch. His health was failing him, horribly at the end.

Then the moment of decision came, that awful point in time that all pet owners face, sooner or later. I couldn't prolong his suffering, not for my own sake.

The process of Dog Euthanasia
Not only is one tormented by feelings of grief and guilt, but the regret of making such a terrible decision is overwhelming. Although one seems to be doing the animal a great service by relieving the poor beast's suffering, the emptiness and the guilt you feel is terribly unbearable. Am I doing the right thing? Maybe he could bounce back? Maybe the pain isn't that bad...

Then you see him struggle to get to the food bowl or he soils himself because getting up to go outside is too much for him, and you realize, it's time. Maybe it's past time, but that doesn't make it any easier.
Your whole world changes from that moment forward. It's turned upside down. The joy and happiness that you once felt is no longer there, it's replaced by fear, pain and guilt. You become listless and depressed, not knowing what to do with yourself. No matter where you look, there is always something that reminds you of your beloved pet. The house feels emptier, quieter, and lonelier in every way. Where once warm meows, hearty barks and wagging tails existed, there is emptiness now. A big part of you is missing, gone for good. Your pet won't be licking your face or your hands anymore, and you won't be laughing at his funny attention-getting ways.

So you ask yourself, "How do I cope without my best friend?"

Believe it or not, there are ways to cope with your grief, though it's never easy. Meditation can help, so that you become calm and relaxed, allowing you to deal with your grief. It doesn't replace the loss, but it might allow you to come to terms with it. Believe it or not, having a proper funeral, even a wake can help you deal with the loss. It may sound silly, but you'd do the same for a friend or family member, and what better friend or more loving family member will you ever have? Get out of the house too, don't stay shut in with the memories all of the time, compounding the pain. Take a walk; it will help you free your mind. Lastly, if and when you're ready, you can accept the responsibility of finding a new pet, a new friend and partner. This animal will not replace your original pet, no dog will ever be another Buddy, but a new pet will offer you new joys, a whole new outlook, and new memories to share. In the end, after time as you heal, you will remember your pet as what they were, as I remember Buddy, a loyal friend, a big part of my life, and a wondrous family member that made the world a better place, especially my world.

"It is said that the one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master." No author is mentioned. No author needs to be mentioned, because some sayings and some feelings are simply universal. I'll miss you Buddy.