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Author Archive for Joan Courtney

Happy Hanukkah

A candle is a small thing. But one candle can light another. And see how its own light increases, as a candle gives its own flame to the other. You are such a light.

—Moshe David

Duff here. Mom and I have many Good Friends who are Jewish. We have often celebrated their Holiday and Now want to honor Them. As the Story goes, a small Quantity of oil was all that was available to light The Temple’s Menorah. Amazingly, there was Enough Oil in that Tiny vessel to continue burning for eight Days. A True Miracle! To observe the Event in today’s Times, Gifts are exchanged and parties Thrown for a Week plus a Day. My goodness. That’s really Living Unstuck.

And Games are such fun at These Parties. One involves a Dreidel, a Top with four sides. Depending on which Side is Facing Up at the End of The Spin, Players win, lose or forfeit a turn. You already know Mom has Fumble Fingers, as You have observed at times from her Typing Skills for Me. She practiced and Practiced “The Spin” as I cheered Her on. But She couldn’t get the hang of it. Definitely not living unstuck. But She laughed when Playing and had a great Time Anyway. Took Her good times with Her, She did.  

Do You have Friends who are Jewish? I say: Help Them revere the Occasion and wish Them A happy Hanukkah or Hanukkah Sameakh. They will appreciate Your Thoughtfulness and may even Share the History of that Time with You. My Friends did with Mom and Me, and We have long Cherished it. Happy Hanukkah!  #unstuckliving#happyhanukkah

Glow of Happiness

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things—not the great occasions—give off the greatest glow of happiness.

—Bing Crosby

Duff here. I am a Canine and love The Simple Things. Bones to chew On. Other Puppies to play With. A new Toy? I’m delighted. Snackerels? I’m yours forever. A Snuggle or Tummy Rub? That’s the best. All part of living unstuck.

Mom shared a Story of a Christmas when She was Younger. And the Little Things that brought the Most Happiness. Her Folks invited three or Four other Families over to the house for Christmas Eve. The Kids hung out while the parents did Grown Up Things, like talking and Visiting.

But after a Time, five or Six card Tables were set up, end to End. It was Time to play the Infamous card game, Old Maid. Everyone, from little 5-year-old Kevin to 87-year-old Grandma Cullen and her Sister, Auntie Florrie, took part in the Festivities. The most fun was when Kevin got the Old Maid. He tried to be So Sneaky but gave Himself away. His Whole face lit up. Simple things and Living unstuck.

How about You? Do you have Memories of simple Things from Christmas past which make Your Heart happy? Or are You a Grinch? I say: Time to make Some New Happy Times and cherish those Good Remembrances from Days gone by. You won’t regret polishing the Glow of Happiness. Live unstuck. #unstuck-living#simple-things-glow-of-happiness

Being Helpful

Duff here. I was thinking the other day how Helpful I am in many Different Arenas. It’s cold in Our Part of the World now. After Mom and I return from Our Walk, She grooms Me. Now, In the summertime, I hop off Her lap and curl Up on the other End of the Sofa. For if I’m on Her Lap, I get too warm. (Besides, I am not a Baby.) But It’s late fall, and 23 degrees outside keeps Us both moving. I snuggle in and serve as a Lap Warmer. This helps Us both live unstuck. 

I also Help to Cheer people up, should They be down in the Dumps. This Time of year, Folks tend to focus on Expectations. Like: Last Thanksgiving was a mess, and will probably be the Same this time Around. Curious. My Aunt Petunia was a Character. But once I learned to Relax and enjoy (rather than Judge) Her Antics, I could Romp and Play. Living unstuck.

How about You? Are You helpful? When You consider the Holidays, are You telling Yourself it will Always Be the Same? I say: Change Your Expectations into Expressions of Gratitude. It’s the season for thanksgiving. And I look forward to giving Thanks for bits of Nibbles that come My Way. Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours! #unstuck-living#happy-thanksgiving

You are You. Now isn’t that pleasant?

—Dr. Seuss

Whisper Your Problems Out

Sometimes when I get mad I go to my room and whisper bad words.

—Buzz Feed, Teachers’ student sayings: anonymous 5-year-old

Duff here. Mom and I heard: Most people can handle Their Families for four Hours on a Holiday. Then They need a Break. Old grudges return. Sibling rivalry is at its best. Squabbles erupt. These Bad Feelings can build and build, until There is No Fun to be Had. At all. People are miffed. They feel Unheard. Unloved. And left Out. Definitely not living unstuck.

But I think this Little Five-year-Old Boy has the right Strategy. What would Happen if: When You get mad, You go to Your Room and whisper those Bad words? I do that When I’m out of Sorts with Mom. There are times when She doesn’t do what I think She should. A little snackerel? More walks? You know what I mean. When I get in a Dither, I go into My carrier. And mumble a few choice Phrases. I’m embarrassed to say: I can hear Her softly chuckling in the Other Room. The Nerve! But after that, We both live unstuck.

How about You? What do You do when You get a Set of the Hips? Bluster about? Yell and stomp? Or do You go to Your Quiet Place and get Straightened out? I say: Opt for the latter. After all, Santa is coming. And You want to be as Good as You can for the Big Day. Living unstuck. #unstuck-living#whisper-your-problems-out

Remembering Who You Are

It’s okay. You just forgot who you are. Welcome back.


Duff here. It’s winding up into full gear for the Holiday Season. On top of My Regular Schedule, I watch Mom make Plans and purchase Gifts. She even made a list on Her Computer, noting what She bought and who It was For. This year, She got smart and noted where She stored those precious Treasures. We are both Shaking Our heads as She discovers Gifts in a Far Corner Somewhere from 4 years back. She just forgot where She placed them. Not unstuck at all.

She can also get too Wound up in the Season. That’s when She forgets Who She is, and becomes more Rigid. That’s where I step in and remind Her, “It’s time to Play. Time for a Walk. Time for Me.” Then She comes back into being the Doggy Mommy I know and Love. And I welcome Her back. Living unstuck.

How about You? Do You get Involved in a project or a Season and forget Who You are? Or do You stay the Course? I say: Slow down. Check out the Scenery. Breathe deeply. And notice One Thing You are Grateful for, be It large or small. ‘Tis the Season. Living unstuck #unstuck-living#remembering-who-you-are

Wake Up Time

Duff here. Mom and I have a ritual, A specific pattern We follow to begin the Day. First, the little Westminster chime clock sounds the hour. For whatever reason, the Timepiece is 7 minutes Faster than the usual hour. This gives Mom time to stretch and begin to waken. The back up is The Alarm on Her cell phone, left in another room. (Clever Mom.) If She’s too slow for Me, I shake My Tags in My Carrier. That does it, for She is up and at ‘Em. After She makes Her Bed, (She’s a Good Kid) She unlatches My carrier. We do a meet and greet all of Our own, ending with My Ear Rub. Ah, luxury. Living unstuck.

But there is a place close by with a Very Different Method. As We saunter by in the early Morning hours, Lights flash. Then Stop. Then Flash. Then stop. We have observed this phenomenon for Minutes on end. From what We can figure out, the Person inside must be a very heavy Sleeper. It reminded Mom of the Time She had an Early Morning Class and would set a double bell alarm clock in a Metal Waste basket. When the Alarm did ring, She described levitating in the Bed, revolving Three times, then gently Landing. And yes, She did get up on Time. Living unstuck.

How about You? Do You have a Gentle wake Up routine? Or do You require something more Forceful? I say: Be kind to Yourself. Perhaps setting a timer for Lights in another Room would do the Trick. Or whatever tickles Your fancy. The last resort? Unless You have a Strong Heart, The double bell alarm clock in the Metal Waste basket. It works for sure! Living unstuck. #unstuck-living#wake-up-time

Life is getting up an hour early to live an hour more.



On my daily morning walk with MacDuff, we pass a ditch with running water. Sometimes the ditch is fairly full, burbling and moving along. Once, it was so full it overflowed onto the empty lot on the corner. And other times, it is simply a trickle. The water itself is usually clear, with a definite movement to it. But it can also be quite muddy and slow with a lazy attitude.

When I think about it, the water in this ditch can be like a mirror of my own path through life, and perhaps yours too. It begins its life on earth as it falls from the skies or melts from ice into a stream. In the same way, we begin our lives on earth in a clear direction as a baby. We bring special characteristics to define our personality and attitude toward life. We are here on earth at a specific time, in a particular place. We are gifted with certain challenges and benefits. Within these boundaries, we move through life, much as a river flows, coming upon many twists, turns and obstacles along the way.

Water is a great teacher. It shows us how to move through the world with grace, determination, ease and humility.

  • When a river flows over a waterfall, it gains power and moves on. As we encounter our own waterfalls, we may tumble but after falling, keep moving along.
  • Water can inspire us to be flexible and let go of the familiar when it no longer serves us. We can be brave and not waste time clinging to the past, but flow onward without looking back.
  • At the same time, if there is a hollow to be filled, water does not run away from it in fear of the dark. It humbly and courageously fills the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments and overwhelming fears in our lives rather than fleeing in panic.
  • Water can tumble and create froth, shimmering as it goes along the path of the river. We can also sparkle and have fun in our lives. As we come to joy filled times, we make happy memories.
  • Water can also lap quietly along the shores of a lake. We too can embrace or create peaceful times for ourselves. Those tranquil spaces fill our hearts and souls. They remind us who we are and why we are here, expanding feelings of appreciation and wonder.
  • Water can get stuck, building up pressure behind an obstacle or blockage. We too can get stuck, not able to move past a certain point. But like water, we can move around or over the stumbling block. We can move on, being ever flexible and ingenious. We have tools and resources within us. All we have to do is tap into them.  
  • Water can turn into ice, penetrating cracks and fissures in rocks. The pressure can eventually cause the boulder to shatter. We too can come across difficult times where we feel broken, lost and alone but use our strength to achieve goals.
  • Eventually, water returns to the earth or flows into the sea. It is not afraid of losing its identity or being weak. We also can be with others, contributing and merging without losing energy. There is no resistance, for the highest good is to help one another. 

Is your life like water? Does it flow? Or are you stuck? Let me know what’s happening in your world.