mental health · relationships · Wellness

The Simple Magic of DOING Something

My nephew, Logan, is ten years old, and in his own words…he’s “AWESOME.”

I have four nieces and two nephews, each uniquely gifted. Veronica is an amazing actor and singer. Bryce is extremely tech-savvy. Aislynn is athletic. Kali is an incredible artist. Dayla is not quite three, so we are still learning what gift she possesses. For now it is the gift of a large, commanding personality and amazing style.

Logan was blessed with the gift of humor. Collectively as a family, we have been blessed with the gift of experiencing Logan’s humor. He is goofy and has the best facial expressions, one-liners, and quick-witted remarks. He can also be quite the charmer.

The other week, Logan was upset because Veronica and Kali were invited to see the new Spiderman movie with friends, and the invitation was not extended to Aislynn and him. He and Aislynn were beside themselves. My sister decided that perhaps a walk to my house would cheer them up and distract them from the tragedy of not getting to go to the movies with the teenagers.

I see Logan bouncing up my driveway and run out to greet him. The first thing he says is not “Hi, Aunt Loni!” Nor is it, “Hello!” Or, “Good evening!” Or any other common greetings.

He says: “Veronica and Kali decided to go to the movies instead of coming to see you. Not me and Aisy though, we CHOSE YOU, Loni. We chose to come see you instead of going to see a movie.”

Sure, I knew the real deal because my sister had called me half an hour prior from her backyard whispering, “ I think they are about to conspire against me over this stupid movie!”

But with his icy blue eyes and toothy grin, I couldn’t help but have my socks knocked off by Logan’s charm.

Recently, my little comedian charmed me in a different, humbling way.


It was a Friday night. My sister, Steph, had surgery for a herniated disc that day, and my mom had her three up at the hospital to visit her. Kali was at a slumber party. I had Logan and Dayla while my sis, Bri, and her hubby were out for dinner.

When my sis and bro-in-law first left for the evening, Dayla was finishing up dinner, and Logan was watching a cartoon. Eventually, Dayla migrated over, and the two were entranced by some obscure show. I figured I’d let them watch a few episodes because Bri is typically pretty strict with TV time, so I thought a Friday night novelty was called for.

Besides, I wasn’t feeling very “there.” As in, life has recently been throwing all sorts of unexpected craziness in my direction, and how could I possibly be actively engaged with my niece and nephew’s company when there was so much unproductive worrying I could be doing instead? So I sat on the couch beside them, and I stewed and daydreamed of worst possible scenarios. I was in the same room as them, on the same couch even, yet I was nowhere near them.

At some point, I mentally checked-in to think that we were nearing the threshold of enough TV viewing for one sitting and decided that after this episode, we’d come up with a new activity. Well, new for them. I’d still stew and worry.

Mid anxious thought, Logan loudly asks, “Hey Loni, do you want to DO something??”

“Sure, Bud,” I reply. “What would you like to DO?”

He opts for coloring a neat hardbound mythical monsters coloring book Steph gave him. He gets all set up at the kitchen table, excitedly coloring the next monster on the page after reading about its magical powers.

I get Dayla going with some colored pencils and her new sticker book. Then I take my seat and resume my worrying. I was in the same room as them, at the same table even, yet I was nowhere near them.

“Hey Loni….” Logan calls out to me while still coloring. “You could come sit beside me and color some of the monsters I haven’t started on yet,” he sweetly offers.

I sit by him. Anxiety floods me as I try and figure out what colors to use on this serpent snake whose mystical powers “aren’t that impressive” according to Logan. I settle on a navy and a gold. I’m coloring and fretting over how small some of the details are, and I pretty much deem the snake a failure when Logan exclaims, “Whoah, Loni! How did you learn to color so lightly like that? It looks awesome!”

Truth be told, his compliment made me feel better.

We move on to a new page. This one has a huge spider with a sugar skull design on its back. Logan decides we need to conquer this bad boy together. We decide to go with bright colors on the eyes, nose, and mouth of the sugar skull, as well as on the legs. We color the body black to make the colors pop.

As we work, we discuss which colors need to go where. We talk about how we wouldn’t want to run into this spider in the nighttime. We are coloring. We are talking. And I am not stewing. I am not worrying. We are sitting beside each other, DOING an activity together. Logan’s excitement grows as we complete the spider.

My sister calls to let me know she is on her way home and in the background Logan yells towards the phone, “We are having SO much fun!” Dayla mimics her brother, “SO much fun!”

When Bri walks in the door, Logan immediately takes her by the arm over to the table to admire the spider. “Didn’t Logan do an awesome job?” I ask.

“No, WE did an awesome job,” he corrects me.

Before I leave, Logan gives me the biggest hug and whispers to me that he had the best night with me. A few weeks later, he is still showing off the spider to his cousins.

Logan is my goofy, comedian nephew, yet that night he taught me a valuable lesson about life.


The time I spent at that table coloring with Logan, I felt alive. I was present. I showed up for that moment. You know what is really crazy?

My life quality did not diminish from abandoning my worries and concerns. If anything, it improved.

My stress levels did not increase because I neglected my worries and concerns. If anything, they fell.

Life is not meant to be spent inside one’s head. Life is meant to be lived. Living shouldn’t be overthought. To begin living, just DO something. Anything. Take action, and do. When you simply DO something and dedicate your entire focus to this action, the magic of living begins.

Being present and in the moment

xx-Lona

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Culture · Events · mental health · music · relationships · Travel · Wellness

Life Lately, Bonnaroo 2017, and a Summer Vibes Playlist

 

 

What a sight for sore eyes this screen is. I have missed my blog. I have missed you, dear friends. All of it.

Yet every time I have sat down to post, I have been overwhelmed with anxiety, which is not a feeling I typically associate with this blog. I planned to take a week off for Bonnaroo, only to hop directly back on the blog train to tell you all about my wild adventures and hear about some of yours from while I was away from my little blog community.

Then last week happened.

Last week was just a continuous stream of weird, unfavorable events for my family. Some of these events are laughable, and some are quite serious. There are some major health problems plaguing a couple of family members, which means I’ve been “ON” more constantly, and really trying to help out with my nieces and nephews, since it is summer break for them.

In light of some of the bad things going on, I have enjoyed being around my family so much over the past week and a half. Last night, I spent an awesome few hours with my youngest niece, who is almost three years old. We ate strawberries, tried on sparkly jewelry, and played hide and seek until sundown!

The caveat to this refreshing time spent with family is that when I finally have a few quiet moments to myself at night…I am exhausted and a little disoriented because my routine has been let go with abandon. I’ve not just been absent from [W]IT GIRL, but from social media in general. I’ll sometimes go nine hours without touching my phone because I’ve been so engaged in everything from handling a damaged AC unit (4 days, no AC, 90 degree weather), to prepping for my nephew’s birthday party, to helping care for my sister’s ill pup. In a way, unplugging has been rejuvenating. But also, it has interfered with a blog routine that has been manageable, successful, and fulfilling.

Cue anxiety—you see, normally I pour myself into each post, and it is planned, edited, and ready to go days prior to when it is to be posted. Bonnaroo obviously got in the way of my usual weekend workflow; however, when I would sit down to catch up, I’d find myself exhausted, concerned about giving you less than my best.

[W]IT GIRL started over two years ago as a way to play with concepts I was picking up from my Technical Writing courses during undergrad. Over time I’d held onto it hoping to one day turn it into something valuable. 2017 has been my year to create quality, authentic content, and the notion that perhaps creating content while exhausted would take away from the progress I’ve made over the past half of a year opened the flood gates for waves of anxiety.

After much internal deliberation, I decided that while I should not let exhaustion rob my blog of quality content, exhaustion does not make my writing any less authentic. If anything, it makes it more authentic.

So here I am. I’m not as caffeinated as I’d prefer, but I am showing up, and sometimes that’s the beginning and end of everything.

 

Let’s talk Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

As I mentioned in my previous post, I first attended Bonnaroo in 2011 and then again in 2012. Those were two of the most magical experiences of my life, and I truly believe seeing Radio Head live and witnessing Thom York’s sweet moves up close impacted who I am today. These glorious memories had me pretty pumped to return to the farm!

Five years later, Bonnaroo is a different crowd. A little younger than I recall. Yes, I am a good bit older than when I first attended; however, I did not see any of the older hippies who hop festivals as a lifestyle. I have vivid memories of such individuals from my first trips to Bonnaroo. This time around, it definitely gave off a more trendy Coachella vibe, but Benny had nothing to compare it to, and I wasn’t about to let the difference throw a wrench my good time, so we just went with it.

We arrived early Thursday afternoon and set up our campsite. Each morning we’d chill at the campsite for a few hours before trekking into Centeroo for the music and activities.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

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There were only a couple of acts Thursday that I recognized, so we really set out to explore and discover awesome artists. We got mighty close for The Orwells. I was so pumped to get Benny in such a good spot for our first set, only to immediately regret this moments into their first song. I failed to realize that The Orwells have a rather rowdy following who “dance” in an aggressive matter with little attention to their surroundings. We immediately backtracked our way to higher ground, safe from the mosh pit.

My sunglasses were the only casualty. We are thankful for their sacrifice. Could have been a limb or a phalange or a face instead. Jesus took the wheel on that one.

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Throughout the course of the weekend, Benny and I had a blast being moved by the incredible talent that swept Bonnaroo stages. A few of my favorite acts were Glass Animals, Tove Lo, Tegan and Sara, Chance the Rapper, and Lorde. And that’s the condensed list.

My freckles came out to play. We gained Chaco tan lines. We walked until our feet were numb. We came back sun-kissed, sleepy, and free-spirited. ‘Twas a good time, most definitely.

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Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

I’m not sure when I’ll next return to the farm, but I urge you, [W]IT GIRLS, go see some live music this summer. Make it a priority. And when you do, don’t film it all on your phone. Be there. Be enchanted. Be present.

You can shop my adorable off-the-shoulder swimsuit here. I received so many compliments on it!

Last, but certainly not least…..I’m gifting you a Summer Vibes playlist that is Bonnaroo 2017 inspired, since it is OFFICALLY SUMMER!!

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festivalxx-Lona

mental health · relationships · Wellness

5 Mantras for Confidence

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Do you want to know what I find to be one of the most beautiful things?

A lady with confidence.

There is something so powerful about a woman who is comfortable in her skin and able to communicate with poise and dignity.

Y’all, it give me chills! That’s one of the whole reasons I started [W]IT GIRL: I wanted to create a platform through which young women could grow into well-rounded, confident ladies who take the world head on.

Some people are innately born with confidence. Others gain it with age and maturity. And still others struggle to find this enigmatic characteristic. I fall into the last category, although I will say age has helped. I strive to make my fellow [W]IT GIRLS feel confident in themselves and the work they do; I find community is huge in boosting one’s confidence.

One of my favorite ways to manifest confidence is mantras.

One million years ago during a yoga class, my teacher introduced me to the concept of a mantra. At the time I found the notion a little strange and voodoo-y. Joke was on me.

A mantra is a word or phrase you repeat to yourself or aloud (often in a meditation practice). Typically mantras are positive and uplifting; the idea is that as you vocalize these pure thoughts and ideas repeatedly, you realize them. Mantras manifest your dreams. Think of it as a pep talk.

I often write mantras repeatedly, or I’ve even made mantra cards and kept them in my purse for easy access. When I need a boost of confidence or feel overwhelmed, I choose a mantra and give myself one minute to repeat it as many times as I can while doing some deep breathing. Mantras can be great mechanisms for coping with stress or frustration, as well.


Today I’m sharing with you 5 mantras to manifest confidence.

1.

5Oh, sweet [W]IT GIRL, you are enough. You have enough. Everything you need is within. Don’t let anyone steal your self-worth.

2.

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God places you exactly where you are meant. Any obstacle you face or pain you experience is temporary and preparing you for bigger, for better.

3.

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You are the light. You are the positivity. Inhale and expand. Exhale and let go of that which no longer serves you.

4.

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Acceptance is crucial to finding inner peace. Fight for the things you can change. Accept the things you cannot.

5.

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[W]IT GIRLS, you attract what you radiate.

 

So go forth, radiate confidence.

 

xx-Lona

Food & Drink · Living · relationships · Wellness

No More Juggling Dog Bones, There’s a Subscription for That

I’m just going to come right out and say it:

Being a young, career-oriented woman who also wants to be a dutiful homeowner, wife, fur baby mama, and blogger is HARD.

I might as well write professional juggler on my resume because that’s this [W]IT GIRL’s magic act. And while I am being candid, there is nothing I hate more than dropped balls.

Wait.

Strike that.

Not what I meant.

Prime example, though–it is so difficult to give 100% of me to every aspect of my life, and I know this must be how a lot of strong women feel, especially you mamas out there. That’s one more ball to juggle, and one that you can’t afford to drop. After awhile of the go, go, go mentality to get to everything, it makes me a little twitchy.

Okay, I am done with my horrible metaphors.

On the fur baby front, I want to share my latest discovery that helps me ensure I won’t spend anymore late nights scrambling eggs for them and cutting up sweet potato because I forgot to run to the pet store for food.

Readers, meet Chewy. Chewy is magical.

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Don’t take it from them; they are always a little suspect of strange smells and new objects.

Chewy is an online superstore for pet owners. They offer competitive prices for everything from food to toys to beds, and they have super quick shipping as well!

My first purchase from Chewy was two lifted dog beds to put in our mudroom for the puppers. I found the prices to be extremely reasonable. The only issue I ran into was that one piece on one of the two beds was defective.

I called Chewy and was received by such a pleasant worker who was conversational as she processed updates regarding my order. Rather than just sending me a new part, she sent me an entire new bed and told me to donate the defective one to a shelter.

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They each have their own bed, but they have a zero tolerance policy for personal space.

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Cheap shot on Piper’s part.

After having a great experience with the beds, I decided to go ahead and sign up for a subscription to two things I hate buying in store, and therefore forget (funny how that works) to buy: dog food and cat litter.

What do these two things have in common? They’re HEAVY.

So every four weeks, I’m subscribed to purchase and receive two bags of dog food and one box of cat litter. For the first 3 subscription orders you make, Chewy gives you a 20% discount, which is pretty sweet. Eventually I will also subscribe to cat food, but Basie seems to make a bag of food last much, much longer than the doggos.

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In addition to food and beds, I have also purchased Kong brand toys (the only toys that can prolong the destruction my rowdy pups ultimately achieve) for a hugely discounted price for the pups! As you can see, Chewy is a huge help in managing supplies and food for my furry loves.

I wanted to share with you today this sweet discovery of mine in hopes that maybe this will eliminate one thing from those that you are juggling!

Keep on, keeping on, [W]IT GIRLS, because you are so much stronger than you think! Work smart though, and look for vehicles such as Chewy that can help reduce your load.

Check out the magic here

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xx-Lona

relationships · Wellness

Celebrating the Most Important Woman in my Life–her Name is Mom

Hi, friends!

As we discussed last Thursday, Sunday is Mother’s Day! Last week I shared my gift giving guide to help you find the perfect, ethical Mother’s Day present for the moms in your life. Today, I thought I’d celebrate my own mom and tell you about why she is so special to me, aside from the fact that she’s MOM.

Maybe you’ve noticed that I don’t share much about my family on the blog. I’m actually very close to my family, and love our little tightly knit corner of the world! My family as a whole is not a fan of social media, and it’s understandable. They are not keen on putting their information out there on the web for others to see, and privacy has always been a big deal in our household. Out of respect for them, I don’t share them much on my blog, but I love the heck out of them. One of my goals for this blog from the start (over two years ago, say whaaaat?!) has been to create a space for building confidence in women, so I feel compelled to write a bit about the woman who has built me up over the past twenty some years, and continues to do so daily.

I think my mother is the best person on this planet, and the older I get, the more honored I feel that I–of all people–get to be her daughter. This realization alone is often times enough to make me strive to be better. I view my mom as the embodiment of that quote about not letting the world change you or bring you down, but rather going forth and lifting up the world.

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Attribute: Jelly Wong

My mom’s suffered adversity at nearly every stage in her life, and it breaks my heart just thinking about some of the situations she has endured. Even though I think she has been dealt more pain than ten people put together should experience in a lifetime, she is somehow the queen of positive thinking and making the best out of less than ideal situations….you could say she makes some mean lemonade!

Not only is my mom the most resilient person I know, she is extremely self-sacrificing. Throughout my whole childhood, she made decisions that were right for me, even if they meant she had to give up something in her life, or go the extra mile to make mine better. While this seems to be a common trait in mothers, my mom still acts so selflessly in my life now, even though I’m grown. She’s spent so much time helping us on our new house. She took days off from work to help me get the house move-in ready, one of those which she spent the entirety of on a tall ladder, nine feet in the air painting my trim despite the fact that she has vertigo. We’d be living amid a huge construction/painting warzone if it hadn’t been for her help.

While my mother is selfless and giving, I should also put it out there that she definitely holds me accountable. She is not afraid to call me on my crap, or let me know when I can do better. I remember in high school wishing she could be more like other kids’ moms who maintained a “my child can do no wrong” mindset….hindsight no longer has me wishing that. The realist that my mom is always keeps me in check, and as a young adult, I value this aspect of our relationship so much.

Whenever I ask my mom about how she is so realistic and can predict how situations will pan out with (somewhat scary) precision accuracy, she always tells me it’s because she’s old, and she has seen it all. While I contest the old part, she truly has seen a lot of what life is about, and she guides me accordingly. I remember being a senior in high school telling her that there was so much I continue to learn about her and how it’s weird that while she’s been around my entire life, I’ve been around for less than half of hers. I’ll never forget her response—she said, “Well maybe I wasn’t really me until I had you.”

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I love my mom, and I can’t wait to celebrate her this weekend! Go out and hug the important mamas in your life this weekend—they have the toughest job.

How are you celebrating Mother’s Day?

 

[W]IT GIRL

mental health · relationships · Wellness

From the Heart: Success is a Choice

Howdy, friends!

I’m currently sitting on my patio, enjoying the refreshing breeze and winding down from a long day….and a rather long weekend, as strange as that is to say.

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Today I am going to be a bit vulnerable and share something from the heart with you all. We did a lot of learning this weekend at the Benitez household, and while it might not have been fun in the moment, I’m so thankful that we were able to grow from our experience.

Friday marked two weeks since closing on our new home, and to give ourselves some credit, we’ve made a lot happen in two weeks! We went into the weekend with big plans for getting more done, and while we did accomplish our goals, we learned (or relearned) an important lesson along the way, best put by Alex Noble:

“Success is a process, a quality of mind and way of being, an outgoing affirmation of life.”

Our goals this weekend included purchasing a lawn mower, mowing our yard, pulling weeds from our front planter, and cleaning up our mudroom and patio a bit from much of the mud tracked in, on, and around the house by our furbabes.

Backtrack to Thursday evening, one of our commodes began leaking dirty water. The positive side to this incident was that I hated the commode and intended on replacing it eventually. The downside to this incident is that our weekend was already chock full with the aforementioned plans. There was no wiggle room in our schedules or our budget to deal with this problem over the weekend. We removed the toilet, covered the plumbing opening, and started the weekend with less than stellar attitudes.

Friday was extremely stormy. There are some patches along our backyard that have sparse to no grass coverage, so you can imagine precipitation brings lots of mud to these patches. Piper and Rooney are not known to let a little rain halt their antics, so they embraced the muddy patches and rolled every square inch of their doggo bodies in the mud. They encouraged the sweet foster puppy we were dog-sitting to do the same, and she was easily influenced. Seeing the white vinyl of our house covered in red clay-like mud from the pups hopping up to peer into the windows was a little stressful, as was the sight of our mudroom living up to its name.

Saturday came with some sunshine, which was great for all of the yard work we had planned. We got up early and felt the pinch of a new lawnmower on our bank account, which is still recovering from us becoming homeowners. Tense, yet anxious to be productive, we returned home, where our teamwork quickly fell to the wayside.

I am a planner by nature. I think of things in steps with small boxes to check along the way. Benny is a big picture viewer. He sees the desired result and reverse engineers his way through things.

We get home, and while I planned our course of action, Benny plowed ahead to trying to get our concrete patio spic and span. At first, I resisted his method before somewhat resentfully caving and trying to help him. He became slightly obsessive over getting mud off the patio, while all I could think about was how more rain was in the forecast, and how the mudroom was where we were supposed to start, according to my plan.

We reached a whopping fifteen minutes before I lost my patience and temper and we split directions in tasking. The silly part is that we were both so stuck in trying to reach our goal, which was to improve our home, that logic totally fled our thought processes.

You see, first, “Success is a process.” We were so engrossed in the outcome that we did not think that perhaps addressing the muddy patches in the lawn was the first step to solving the muddy patio. We can’t prevent rain, which creates mud. We could sow some grass into the barren patches to reduce mud though, ultimately eliminating the bulk of our frustration with the patio and mudroom. We failed to trust or appreciate the process.

Second, “Success is…a quality of mind and way of being.” We both approached this weekend with anything but successful mindsets. The leaky toilet threw a wrench (cheap pun) in our plans, and the downpour on Friday didn’t improve our mindsets. We woke up Saturday tense and cranky, and we acted according to our crappy attitudes. We totally let circumstances dictate our behavior. Success was nowhere to be seen.

Third, “Success is….an outgoing affirmation of life.” While I love to get caught up in the notion that life is comprised of all the enjoyable moments, truthfully half of life is not joy. At least not to start. I assert that a solid half of life is unpleasant, annoying, mundane, and/or painful. I believe these fractions can change based on mindset and a person’s self-grown aptitude to react and accept circumstances that are not automatically enjoyable. I think that the sooner we learn to accept and thrive in the parts of life that are not easy, pretty, clean….the sooner we will find success. Life is life—good, bad, ugly, messy, breathtaking, inspiring…all of it. We did not own the messiness of the weekend, and we didn’t stop to give it the consideration that perhaps, it was just one annoying moment in a lifetime of moments.

We left the weekend in better spirits, both acknowledging that we didn’t act in a way conducive to success as homeowners, spouses, or individuals. I don’t think it is a coincidence that this lesson came with our seven-month wedding anniversary (today).

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I’m glad we’ve recognized the lesson learned from last weekend, and I hope this little musing resides with you as well. Enjoy each form through which success grows and moves you, friends.

 

Happy Monday!

 

[W]IT GIRL

relationships · Wellness

My Miracle Pup: Piper’s Story

Hello, friends!

It’s officially Friday Eve, woohoo!

This week has felt especially long to me, and I still have much to accomplish today and tomorrow, so it doesn’t quite feel like the weekend is anywhere near. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that big things are brewing in the Benitez household. I am close to being able to share what we have going on, which I believe is a large reason behind me being super tired and this week feeling like it is dragging.

Today I thought I’d change things up a bit and continue a mini-series I started awhile back. As you may know from following along on this blog, I am a proud mama to three rescue animals. Animal rescue is a huge passion of mine, which I think compliments my desire to reduce my footprint on Earth and the environment. I’ve shared Rooney’s story (here) and Basie’s story (here), but I have yet to introduce you to my miracle pup, Piper.

Without further ado…

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Piper is Rooney’s littermate, though she did not come into our lives until later. She was adopted before Rooney, and a whole year passed before we met this special pooch. We were coming up on our one year adoption anniversary with Rooney, when I was catching up with our family friend who was part of Rooney’s foster family and she mentioned that one of his sisters had been surrendered back to them. It was something about the little boy in the dog’s adopted family having an allergy.

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Benny and I had discussed at length how we’d never find another Rooney, and how we’d eventually like to get him a playmate. I went and met the dog and made the decision that we had to have her. I normally never make such impulsive decisions, but we were four months from the wedding and two weeks from moving into our apartment, and I think I was a little out of sorts.

We named the gorgeous pup Piper. We were in for a slightly rude awakening, as she was (and still isn’t) anywhere near as easy to care for as Rooney. For starters, she was so nervous and absolutely terrified of Benny. She had to come to me for me to be able to pet her, and I don’t think Benny was able to pet her much at all. She would not eat around people. I had to put her food in a bowl in the kitchen and then leave the room. As she ate, she would come look at me to make sure I was not coming back before she’d take her next bite.

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It was quite stressful at first, and each time Benny came home, Piper would have an accident…she was that scared. About a week into having her, we decided to take her to a pet store for the first time. Rooney always loves going out and about and visiting people, so we figured we’d get her into the same groove.

It was horrible. Absolutely horrible.

Piper shook violently when a dog trainer tried to help us size her for a harness, and when we were getting ready to leave, Benny and Rooney got too far ahead of us. Piper freaked out, somehow shimmied out of her collar and ran into the busy parking lot. Benny chased after her, which frightened her more. Finally I just got into the backseat of the car, opened all the doors, and gently called to her until she tentatively made her way into the car.

I cried the whole way home.

The way she looked in that parking lot….so scared and unfamiliar to humans. I had this feeling in my stomach that something wasn’t right.

Fast forward a few weeks to our new apartment. Benny was home on a lunch break to let the dogs out, and when he went to try and get Piper in her crate things went south. She was running from him, and finally he cornered her and went to grab her, and she snapped at him. This incident, the night she got loose in the parking lot, and the fact that the vet said she exhibited behavior of an abused animal helped me come to the decision that we had to get a better grip on the situation.

We enrolled Piper into a six week obedience course, and Benny attended every session with her to build their bond. The poor girl was terrified every class. She would not let the trainer get anywhere near her. Each week we’d go home though, and she’d execute the commands we learned flawlessly. We had to video record her each lesson to show the trainer she was learning the tasks in order for Piper to pass the class and get her certificate. It was not always fun, but getting Piper away from Rooney for an hour each week and building her trust in us was the right decision.

We have had Piper for ten months now, and we cannot imagine life without her. She is still nervous in public and around strangers; however, she is a dime! She greets Benny at the door each evening and kisses his face, she is an amazing leash walker, and every night she burrows underneath our covers and sleeps cuddled up to us. She’s proven to be great with my nieces and nephews, and she especially adores my niece, Dayla, who is only two and a half and a little timid around most dogs.

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Piper is no Rooney. She is her own fun and playful type of pup, and despite her hound-like tendencies, she has grown close with our cat, Basie. Piper is our little miracle pupper. We don’t know the truth about why she was surrendered, or what her first year of life was like…the vet and her trainer both hint at perhaps she was kicked around and neglected. We’ve got her eating high quality food now, so her coat has turned quite glossy and beautiful; we love on her constantly, and now she will just crawl up on our laps; and we continue to work with her, so that she grows more comfortable.

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Ten months has made a world of difference, and each month that goes by, I see improvement. An older gentleman at one of our training classes looked at me one night and said as he motioned towards Piper, “That dog will be the best dog you ever have. You know nothing about what she’s been through, but once you’ve got her trust, she will be the most loyal creature you’ve ever known.”

 I think he’s right.

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Have you ever seen an animal blossom from shy and nervous to playful and confident?

 

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animals · cute · dog · entertaining · love · pet · relationships · Wellness

PiperRooney (Pepperoni) Turn Two!

Hi, friends!

Yesterday was a very special day in the Benitez household – our sweet pups turned a big TWO years old! I have not yet shared Piper’s story with you all; however, I fully intend to dedicate a post to her. She is in fact, Rooney’s littermate.

For their birthday, we took them to get special birthday bone cookies and on a walk in the fresh breezy sun. They quite enjoyed their special treats, which is great because we quite enjoy them.


In honor of my pups’ birthday, I thought I’d share with you reasons why adopting rescues has been a huge source of happiness in my life.

  • Dogs are great no matter what; however, knowing that if it wasn’t for being rescued, my pups could have been born on a cold construction site…or worse, could not have survived being born in the cold, gives me great pride for the home with which I provide them. They are so loved and cherished.
  • Dogs are often sought out by breed for specific desired characteristics, be it aesthetic or personality related. I think that often people forget that much of a dog’s behavior is shaped by environment though, so you don’t have to have a specific breed dog to get an incredible jogging partner, or a fierce guardian. I love Rooney and Piper’s personalities and the funny quirks they’ve developed despite being mutts. For instance, Rooney is quite protective of our pack, and he’s not afraid to don a scary bark or bear teeth if he thinks a stranger (usually male) gets to close to me on our solo walks or if we are home without Benny. Piper has turned out to be quite the athlete. She loves swimming and running at full speed. She does great on jogs and hikes!
  • Particularly regarding dogs that had a poor home life prior to adoption, the progress of trust and loyalty is an incredible phenomenon. Piper is my little miracle dog. I almost forget how meek and terrified she was when we took her in, yet here we are, less than a year since adoption, and her confidence has grown so much! Her trust in Benny and me has also grown light years, and our bond with her is especially sweet and unique because of the trust-building process. She has been a challenge at times, but bond we’ve built with her makes trying times more than worth it. 

So there ya have it, two tubby two year olds and some things to consider when deciding if adopting a rescue pup is for you. 



What fun things have you done for a pet’s birthday?
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animals · cute · dog · relationships · Uncategorized · Wellness

My Rooney

Hello and happy Friday, friends!

I hope that you have had a great week, and cheers to good holiday weekend!

Today I wanted to share another furbaby story. Say hello to my Rooney.

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Rooney is my baggy-skinned, 63 lb weiner dog lookin pupper who LOVES cuddles and following me around.

The last semester before our senior year of university, Benny was so keen on getting a dog. I LOVE animals, particularly dogs, but I had major concerns about getting a pet during our last year in college. I knew that Benny would get one whether or not I agreed, so I decided that I should choose what kind of dog seeing as it’d end up being mine as well.

At the beginning of 2015, we were experiencing some frozen weather. A family friend was working on a construction project and noticed a dog hanging around. One evening he decided to bring her home because he knew it’d be a very cold night and was afraid she wouldn’t survive below freezing temperatures. So he brought the scraggly daschund mix home to sleep in his garage.

His wife made a post on Facebook regarding the dog to see if perhaps it had run away from a loving home. A few weeks later she was contacted by its owner who hadn’t even realized it was missing. Our friends decided to keep the dog and find it a better home than the neglectful one it came from. Before too long it became obvious that the dog was pregnant.

I mentioned this to Benny, but when he saw pictures of her, he was unimpressed. Truthfully, she wasn’t the cutest dog. She gave birth to a pretty big litter of 8 or 9 at the end of February.  When I showed Benny pictures, he told me he didn’t want one of those “ebola puppies.”

Our friends connected with a local rescue group to get the puppies and the mama dog vetted and up for adoption. Within three months, all but two of the puppies and the mama pup had been adopted! One day I was at my mom’s house when our friends passed by as they were walking the two remaining pups.

That’s when I first laid eyes on him. My Rooney.

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My first encounter with Rooney.

 

He was the cutest puppy with an awesome coat and beautiful green eyes. I texted Benny letting him know I’d met our dog. That weekend Benny adopted him.

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Rooney was the most joyful, well-behaved baby! His name comes from Benny’s favorite soccer player, Wayne Rooney. Rooney’s amazing little personality definitely sold me on him, but I also thought he’d be a good fit for us because since his mom was a small daschund mix, I figured he’d be a small dog, good for apartment living.

WRONG.

While most of Rooney’s siblings stayed relatively small, Rooney has grown to be my 63 lb boy! It is so crazy! We like to imagine what kind of dog his father must have been…Rooney definitely favors daschund through his head, but he has a brindle coat, long legs, and a curly tail! His tail looks like God held it on a curling iron for a quick second before deeming his creation complete.

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Even though Rooney grew quickly, he still believes he is lap-sized, and if he had it his way, I’d carry him everywhere. He is very much a human companion dog. He is friendly towards most other dogs, but he has little interest in them. He is so bonded to Benny and me, that while he is our best behaved animal at home, when my niece watches him, he is the problem child. He acts out when we are away, and he feels abandoned so easily.

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Whenever we return from a trip, he gives us the silent treatment for a few hours, followed by howling. He is very vocal and has the most hound dog bark I’ve ever heard! It is low and makes the apartment vibrate it seems. I love that it is a such a deep scary bark because I think it’d deter an intruder were we to ever have one.

Rooney’s favorite pastime is fetch. He loves his Frisbee, and he expects you to keep throwing it until he drops. When he’s not outside playing fetch, he loves chewing on bones and destroying soft toys. We were very paranoid about him being destructive as a puppy, so we always supplied him countless bones and chew toys…as a result, he doesn’t chew shoes or anything of the like; however, he can go through even the “toughest” of bones so quickly!

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Rooney is a most loyal companion, and when Benny isn’t around, he is quite protective of his mama. I love that on nights where Benny retreats to bed first, Rooney waits for me and follows me around as I lock doors and close up the kitchen. His face is the one I wake up to most mornings, and he loves to spoon. He’s my precious boy, and sometimes he feels like a true friend. He knows when I am sick or upset, and he is always by my side.

So there you have it, my sweet, sweet Rooneykins.

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He fetched a little too hard. Tore up his feet on gravel, poor baby!

 

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“I waz just testing the paint, Mom. Iz promises.”

 

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Have you ever felt like one of your pets was your bff?

 

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cute · fashion · Fashion · ootd · relationships · what I wore

The Perfect Winter to Spring Transition Casual Date Night Outfit

Howdy, y’all!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! It is my favorite holiday and has been since childhood because it brings a little bit of excitement in the last long weeks of winter. Plus, chocolate!

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Benny and I kept it simple this year–we hit up our favorite sushi place in Huntsville and went to see “Fifty Shades Darker.” My initial outfit plan for the casual date fell through because it was chillier out than I anticipated. I went to one of my current go-to pieces–my blush ribbed maxi skirt–and dressed it down with a chambray shirt and my Vans. I mixed the look with some pearls and my daily silver jewelry for a fun look that I find perfect for the winter-spring in between!

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Valentine’s Day started off really cute because Benny woke up early to ask me if we could exchange gifts before I headed off to work. I initially resisted because I hadn’t wrapped his gift yet or written in his card. He was so precious about it though, so we decided to hold off on cards until our date but to go ahead and exchange gifts.

He made me go first. His sweet self got me a wedding charm for my Pandora bracelet and some new right hand bling, plus some chocolate I’ve been wanting from a local sweets shop, Pizzelle’s Confections *insert all the heart eyes*. I got him a jersey he has been dying for, and his Snap Chat made my heart melt. I love seeing him excited!

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My look:

-Chambray shirt: similar here 

-Pleated maxi skirt: similar here 

-Vans: here 

-Clutch: mine is old from Dress Barn, but here is a cute envelope clutch that can be monogrammed 

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What was your latest date night look?

 

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