Following the Tao of Mona


Writers’ “antennae” pick up drama like ants’ do a juicy piece of fruit.

Drama is sexy. Who wants to read about someone with no struggles or challenges? Who wants to read about a family who genuinely love, support, and get along with each other (the anti-Kardashians)?

Writers need regular reality checks to save them from drowning in drama.

Call it God, call it a higher power, call it fate, or call it The Force. Whatever. There is a cosmic pattern that provides just the right life thread at the right time. That is why writers should seriously consider rescuing a dog.

Oh, cats are wonderful creatures, especially if you want to learn patience and humility. We writers like cats because their independent, often solitary nature mirrors our own.

But a dog! Well, a dog just wants to share love and adventure and happiness. Rescue dogs are especially grateful for getting a better life.

Mona, who came into my life at a particularly dark time, exudes contentment. It doesn’t take much to make her happy:

  • Dozing in sunbeams on the back of the couch
  • Chasing the cat around the house
  • Rolling in the grass (especially if there is a mysterious, decaying, disgusting, smelly blob!)
  • Doggie treats
  • Racing me back to the house from the mailbox
  • Just running
  • Biting at water coming out of a hose
  • Visiting with other people and dogs (She is very fond of my father.)
  • A constant supply of kibble
  • Gutting a squeaky toy
  • Squirrel patrol
  • Hanging out with me while I work

Things are not all sunshine and roses for Mona. She doesn’t like baths, getting her toenails clipped, or gunshots. But she doesn’t dwell on them either. When they are over, they are over.

Come on! This is a dog who wags her tail in her sleep. (Cracks me up every time.)

At Thanksgiving, we remind ourselves of all the things in life we are grateful for. The Tao of Mona means living in that state of gratitude every moment of every day.

Want to know the secret of a happy life? Hang out with a dog for a while.


How a Gratitude Attitude Makes Life Better

Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. is Thursday. People look forward to huge meals (anchored by turkeys), parades, football games, and holiday shopping.old-fashioned cornucopia Are we letting the “thanks” in Thanksgiving fade away?

The trappings of the holiday (the food, the sports, the entertainment, the gathering of loved ones) came about as outward manifestations of the gratitude the Pilgrims felt at making it to a point where they weren’t facing starvation and death.

I was organizing my thoughts for this piece, thinking about all that I am thankful for when it hit me: one day of gratitude is not enough.

Yes, it’s nice to have a day to relax and reflect on the blessings of life, but the many little things that make life good should be celebrated continuously.

I was crawling around under the house the other day doing “maintenance” that quickly turned into a fiasco. I was becoming increasingly frustrated and angry. I was close to the screaming point when this thought popped into my head: “At least you have a house to crawl under and the health to be able to do it.”

It was amazing how quickly my anger and frustration fizzled away.

When I concentrate on the good things that life offers, it really is tough to wallow in negativity. Mona, my dog, has no patience for negativity. When I start feeling sorry for myself, she looks at me, wags her tail, and seems to say, “Don’t just sit there! Play with me.”

A positive outlook, created with a gratitude attitude, makes life healthier and more fun. So, here are some of the things I am grateful for on Thanksgiving Day and every day:

  • Family and friends who love me
  • A comfortable home filled with good memories
  • Fur babies who keep me busy (and sometimes sleep deprived)
  • The ability to explore new ideas and new things
  • My health
  • Work that is fulfilling
  • A sense of humor
  • Good, nutritious food
  • The freedom to think, act, and live without oppression
  • A phone conversation with my father
  • The inherent goodness of people

How do you cultivate your gratitude attitude?