Lessons From A Shitty House Dog

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-10-59-10-pm

How Does One Obtain A Shitty House Dog?

Much like many things in my life, Nelly the Bulldog/Boston Terrier mix, fell into the laps of my partner and I. On a good day, Nelly is a 45lb ball of joy sprawled across your lap waiting for a long belly rub. On a bad day, Nelly is hiding in her kennel after releasing a puddle of urine on the carpet out of fear.

Nelly entered our lives after two heart breaks as my partner and I were feverishly searched for a dog to bring into our lives. We decided that our lives would be made better with a canine in it. The first heart break came after we had followed a dog on the popular site, Petfinder.com. Her name was Anna and she was a black Boston Terrier mix that was adopted hours before we could make the drive out to Grand Rapids to meet her. The second heart break came after Jake decided to stop at the local animal shelter to explore our options. After he fell in love with Ash, a tan pit bull terrier, the apartment complex squashed any hopes of having this beautiful creature in our lives because of breed assumptions.

We were heartbroken.

That evening my partner located two dogs in the Midland area that fit what we were looking for. Moose the 25lb terrier mix and Patty, the dog that ended up to be our Nelly. First we called about Moose but the phone went straight to voicemail so we decided it was not meant to be. Next we called about Patty who her family called Lucy. Their family picked up and we planned to meet the following day.

That night Jake and I headed to the store to pick up anything we could to look like responsible future pet owners. We felt elated with the idea that the next morning we would possibly have a new member of our family.

On July 2nd, Jake and I headed to her home to meet Patty/Lucy/Nelly. She greeted us on the front lawn with her paws in the air, tail wagging, and belly waiting to be rubbed. We took her for a walk around their neighborhood to solidify our love for this happy and chubby dog. After an hour of sitting with her and the family, they handed over her leash and sent us on our way to enjoy the 4th of July weekend.

Nelly’s Past

Little is known about Nelly’s past. She was found in mid-March as a 3 year old stray. On her face were several scars from what looked like dog bites. The Humane Society of Genesee County took her in, and labeled her as a “pit bull mix.” After a short stay in Genesee County, the Humane Society of Midland County picked her up. There they labeled her as a Bulldog/Boston Terrier. After sometime in Midland a family adopted her.

Little did the family know that Patty/Lucy was going to be a handful. She had no respect for authority, personal space, or your side of the bed. She would push her way out the front door and run down the street. She even once jumped over their 6ft high privacy fence. Patty/Lucy was a handful for a family with smaller children. Eventually without being able to convince Patty/Lucy that this was her home and she should stop trying to run away, the family listed her on Petfinder in hopes that someone could manage this stubborn dog. This is where Jake and I came into her story.

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-10-58-37-pm

What Makes A House Dog So Shitty? 

Nelly is a great dog. When she wants to be. If given the opportunity she would spend the entire day in your lap as you lose circulation in your legs, without a care in the world. She will lay there barking and running in her dreams. She enjoys a nice long walks, sometimes by the beach but not in the water. If you say “R-U-N” she will run back and fourth from you to the door until you catch up with her. She loves bath time and prefers drinking water out of the tub. Nelly also hates her kennel and when people grab her collar. She eats the back of doors, has ripped up our carpet, and broken out of several of her cages.

Nelly had a desire for running out the door. One day she decided that while I was opening it to put the trash outside that she would take herself for a walk. Of course she did not want to listen to me and every time I got close enough to catch her, she would take off running. After running through most of the neighborhood trying to catch her, an unsuspecting neighbor began to park his Prius. Nelly loves car rides and decided to invite herself into his car, through his partially cracked driver side window. I yanked her chubby body out of the window, apologized, and hung my head very low as I walked her back to the apartment. Shitty House Dog.

One morning after returning home from breakfast at a Chinese buffet, my partner and I found Nelly, tucked inside her kennel. Her kennel was still standing but she had pulled the bars around the door back in an attempt to escape. Bloody and wet from panting, she laid in her kennel excited and regretful. Shitty House Dog.

Her title of Shitty House Dog has a larger story to it than just being naughty. On a crisp Fall Monday Jake arrived at the apartment around 4PM to be hit by the overpowering smell of what a Shitty House Dog smells like. While away at work Nelly had, for lack of better terms, exploded. Something she ate tore through her like the flu. Both her front and back end tried to expel whatever evil was rampaging through her body. In an attempt to get as far away from the mess, she pushed the plastic protective base out from the kennel which then smeared it further across the carpet. The first thing Jake did when he got home was put her in the tub for a quick cleaning before he started to tackle the rest of the mess. As she laid on a towel drying and watching Jake begin to devise a plan to begin cleaning, the evil forces inside of her stirred and out of both ends came her hot bile lava.

For two long days the sad Shitty House Dog battled her stomach illness. She lost a few pounds and a lot of fluid but she came out as the victor.

That is truly how Nelly came to be known as the Shitty House Dog.

Lessons Learned From a Shitty House Dog

Patience because if you let a Shitty House Dog rain on your parade then all of the beautiful floats that have been created will melt around you.

Love because trying to convince a dog to love you as much as you love her is like trying to convince a toddler to eat the green mash sitting on their spoon.

Kindness because even though she pushes her limits, Shitty House Dog wants to be there for you.

To laugh because Shitty House Dog does the darnedest things.

Talk to your partner about dog parenting styles because talking about it before inviting a Shitty House Dog into your life will help keep the both of you sane.

As hard as it is sometimes to love Nelly/Shitty House Dog, I would not want it any other way.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-1-49-50-pm

Advertisements

“So Who’s Your Mentee?”

541988_530219953658759_1326425259_n

In 2012 I attended my very first Mentor/Mentee retreat. This retreat serves as a time to gather the freshmen mentees and their sophomore mentors together. During this time students work together to accomplish several group challenges and a high ropes course. They also participate in small and large group discussions to being learning more about their Leader Advancement Scholarship cohort. This is the time where everyone can forget about school for 24 hours and enjoy others like them.

In 2016 I returned to Eagle Village for my third Mentor/Mentee retreat. This time I was neither a mentor nor a mentee…except I did get asked “who’s your mentee?” This year I returned as the Leadership Institute’s third graduate assistant. My past two experiences were from the inside -> out. This year I watched from the outside -> in. Watching the groups instead of being a group was eye opening. It gave me the chance to see our students work together, connect, and grow. Instead of being limited to my group of mentor/mentee pairs, I was able to see every one take on some of the toughest challenges that their facilitators could throw at them. The opportunity to watch our students work together was beneficial in learning more about them and gave me the time to reflect on my experience. Being a part of the Leadership Institute gave me the foundation of what I needed to excel within my CMU community.

This weekend left me with a happy heart knowing that I get to watch the next group of Leader Advancement Scholars tackle what our campus has in store for them!

Townie Time

Townie /taʋnı/

  1. A local of the Mount Pleasant, Michigan or surrounding area.
  2. Someone who decides to stick around the Mount Pleasant, Michigan area.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 2.30.09 PM

Back in January, I posted about the excitement and anticipation I felt for leaving my cozy college town of Mount Pleasant, MI for the “adult world.” I talked about the weird feelings I had of loneliness as some of my closest campus confidants left and did exactly what I was waiting for.

Well as my final undergraduate semester wrapped up and I enjoyed my final weeks with my friends still in Mount Pleasant, I stumbled upon a gift from God in the form of a Graduate Assistantship through the Leadership Institute. I’m a believer in the saying “things happen for a reason” because if I wasn’t, I would be an angry human being. I knew that I was unhappy in my choice of an undergraduate degree but I did not know what to do about it other than try it out in the real world. This opportunity came at the perfect moment in time as the realization that I was not headed down the path intended for me. Now I’m headed down a much different path. I’ve headed down a path where I see myself making a difference in the lives of students.

In this process I am also headed down another path that I never thought I would enter: The townie path. The word townie is derived from no real word other than town. The term of townie is sometimes looked down upon because townies are seen as people that never truly moved on. The idea that I will soon have lived over half a decade, which is about 30% of my life, in this town was a reality that I never thought I would encounter.

But here I am. Embracing my new life in the well-known. I’m trying to find new ways to become involved in my community and future places with backyards because who doesn’t love a privacy fence. I have even noticed the Mount Pleasant Oilers section at Meijer. I’ve started to become the news hub for my closest campus confidants that have left the 48858/48859 for their next chapter. All in all, right now this is where I’m supposed to be and I like it.

I won’t be here forever so I might as well enjoy it while I’m here.

 

Welcome To CMU

11350431_10153325498127866_5464017373766886692_nThis summer close to 4,000 incoming freshmen and transfer students meandered onto campus, followed closely by their family members to experience their first Central Michigan University (CMU) orientation. Over the summer 36 student and family mentors worked closely with professional campus staff members to coordinate 11 orientation sessions. Orientation consists of educational sessions for both students and family members. Family members learn about financial aid, campus life, the bookstore, safety and eat lunch at a residential restaurant. Students schedule classes, meet with advisors, receive their student ID and discover places where they can get involved on campus. The day ends with Reunion Central. This is the time family members take full advantage of this time to ask questions, explore, make phone calls to find the entire family and eat ice cream cones.

10407973_10153325498842866_2925108577260570278_nI spent my four weeks of orientation working with the family team. What does it mean to be a family academic orientation mentor? This means I had the opportunity to work closely with the family members that decided to take the trip to Mount Pleasant for the day. I met the fathers who feared that their daughters might meet a boy on campus. I met the mothers who asked where their sons would get their laundry done. I met the first time parents along with the second, third, fourth and fifth timers. I met the parents of twins, the parents of adopted children, the family members who weren’t their parents and the parents who had graduated “not that long ago” from CMU. For some family members this was their first time visiting Mount Pleasant and for others they had spent the day before exploring campus so they knew where every building on campus already was. I had family members that could give my tour and family members that had stories to tell about their off campus experiences. I had the good, the bad, the funny and the fast walkers. This truly was the experience of a lifetime. I would never trade the experience of being an Academic Orientation mentor, even for all the khaki pants in the world.

11215081_10153246715008257_7603673999406738096_n

A Day In the Life of an Academic Orientation Mentor

5:15 am: First alarm goes off; snooze is hit shortly after and repeatedly.

5:30 am: You mutter “let’s go” and roll out of your twin bed.

6:45 am: Everyone reports for breakfast downstairs. During the walk to residential restaurant, you pray they will be serving “tri-tators” this time.

7:00 am: Daily morning meeting with Michelle Howard, the director of academic orientation. This meeting included numbers for the day, weather, daily awards and of course the moon phase.

7:30 am: Clean-up and head to our various starting locations on campus.

8:00 am: Registration, welcoming eyes, smiling faces and groups begin to form.

9:05 am: Meet my group of family members for the day.

9:30 am: Programming begins.

12:00 pm: The best part of the family member’s day: LUNCH!

4:00 pm: Reunion Central begins. Family members and students reconnect, catch up on their days and indulge on the provided snacks.

4:30 pm: The best part of the mentor’s day: DINNER! This time is spent catching up, sharing stories from the day and stuffing our faces after another day on the sunny Mount Pleasant streets.

 

Ignite Leadership Cohort

11144976_10152909335154075_7075661327118586621_n

For four weeks in March and April I had the privilege to spend two hours each Thursday night with my 2015 Ignite Leadership Cohort. The Ignite Leadership cohort is designed for the most senior student leaders at Central Michigan University.  This program, based on the Leadership Challenge curriculum, utilizes the Student Leadership Practices Inventory (sLPI) to help student leaders assess their leadership abilities and develop a personal growth plan.

11127808_10152909337484075_2702004607498685156_n

Each week we looked at a different component of our Leadership Practices Inventory and how we can improve in those areas. I filled out this inventory my freshman year for my Leadership 100 class. It was exciting to see how I had changed and developed as a leader. I learned how to use these practices more in my life. We also used the two hours to talk about what we are passionate about and discuss our daily life development. I found these conversations to be extremely powerful and inspiring.

This experience inspired me so much that I applied and received the Ignite Leadership Coordinator position for 2016. I cannot wait to continue developing the program and meet other inspiring campus leaders.

11069400_10152909335229075_9094167845413988907_n

Vice President of New Member Education

10941416_1003448966334863_5858933382025398156_n

Sometimes people ask me if being in a sorority is worth it. Sometimes being in a sorority can be expensive, required dues and other things add up. I have found myself trying to put a price tag on my experiences and I realize there is no possible way to put one on it. The people I have met and memories are priceless. The opportunities I have been given and confidence I have gained from a unique support system cannot be measured. Nothing could ever be worth not being a member of my sorority. Since joining Sigma Sigma Sigma I have become a confident and brighter women who believes in herself.

In 2014 I was voted into the officer board position of Vice President of New Member Education. This position has given me the opportunity to use my “Why.” My Why is to inspire others to challenge themselves and the world. I work with the new member class to think about what they do. Their actions represent thousands of past, present and future Tri Sigma women; that is an honor. We talk about goals for ourselves and within the chapter; being a leader does not require having a title; our leadership styles and so much more. This position has challenged me to be innovative and develop new ideas while still including traditions.

Position Responsibilities

– Ensure that all new members programming follows all National policies and procedures.
– Oversee the Arc Sequence of the online program named Essential Sigma
– Foster space to build relationships between chapter members and new members
– Promote active participation of new members in all chapter events
– Delegate work to Arc Group Leaders and Ritual Chairman
– Maintain accurate membership records
– Complete Tri Sigma and campus sorority forms
– Correspond with my chapter’s Regional Consultant and communicate regularly with the
Essential Sigma Advisor

Personal Goals

– 100% initiation
– Submit all paperwork 5 days after receiving it
– 100% of new member dues paid two weeks before initiation

Why Happiness is the Hardest

Every morning I wake up and make a choice.

Every morning I am forced to make a decision that dictates the rest of my day. Some mornings it is an obvious choice. I can get out of bed and I know that no matter what is thrown at me during the day, I will conquer it. I know that on that day I will smile wider, laugh harder and genuinely enjoy the highs and lows that are in my near future. Other mornings don’t come as easy to me. I wake up harder and roll around more. I press snooze a few more times and resent the light coming in through the window. Those morning I check the time and do the mental math of how long I can continue to lay there. Each and every morning I make the toughest choice of the day. I choose to be happy. I choose to see the light at the end of the day and the silver lining, even if it will suck all of the energy out of me.

Why is happiness the toughest feeling to feel? I like the phrase “defaulting to sad.” Defaulting to sad is the idea that instead of having a resting bitch face, you have a resting emotion. Sometimes it is just easier to let the world win. It’s easier to not fight for your right to happiness because the world can be a mean place. Floating around our lives are millions of negative thoughts, words and people and their poisonous attitudes. That negativity collects in your life and sucks out any energy you have. We all know that person who, after you’re no longer around, you can take a deep breath because their negativity is draining. Not only are you drained by them but you’re also now tainted by negativity. Negativity is a poison that infects your whole body. It weakens you mentally, emotionally, physically and socially. It causes happy, confident, go lucky people to do the worst thing on this planet: doubt themselves.

I myself have recently successfully made the journey back from the saddest place I’ve ever known. Every morning that I woke up sad, I would do nothing to change it. I would lay in bed extra long and didn’t have much to say. I was a shell of the former Hannah I once was. I smiled with my lips instead of toothy thing I flash now. I forced myself to laugh because being questioned was the worst thing that could happen to me. I was passionless, hopeless and helpless to the infective negativity that ravished my body. I lived each day wondering why I was stuck like this? Why was I so alone? I hated everything about myself. Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) swarmed my swampy brain. (Ted Talk explains ANTS.) When they say that you are your own worst nightmare, they were right. I could do nothing correctly, I was never smart enough, I was too fat, too awkward, too friendly, not friendly enough, ugly, average, boring but mainly I was lonely. I was all alone in a group of wonderful people because my foggy brain kept me secluded from everyone.

I would be lying if I said this only lasted for a little bit. In all honestly, I think I’ve had to fight to be happy longer than when it came naturally to me. Maybe I only think that because for some reason we’re equipped with a brain that remembers the bad before the good. I could blame a lot of things but I think it was because no one ever told me it’s ok to be sad, it’s what you do with it that is the problem. Sadness has its place in your life. Sometimes the world sucks and you’re allowed to feel it. You’re allowed to dread the day but when you begin to hate more than you love, you’ve been caught in the default mood. When you finally find out sadness is the easiest of the emotions but don’t pick to push yourself to be happy, that’s when it becomes a problem. I’ve had to fight most of my life to put a smile on my face but it has always been worth it.

How did I beat the fog?

I fell in love with who I am and who I can become.

One day something clicked. Maybe it was two days. (Sorry nothing is definitive because I don’t know when it exactly hit me. It has only recently set in that I’ve made, maybe not a 360 but at least a 180 and I’m headed in the right direction.) I do know that a program I participated in called Leadershape changed my life for the better. Spending a week with 60 outwardly positive people really has a way of soaking into your tough shell, enriching your soul and expelling all of the negativity. It filled up the outwardly confident, daring and passionate woman I seemed to be with actual energy. It gave me that realization that I had succumb to sadness and used it as my default emotion. It took me all summer to start this fall (2014) stronger than ever before. I still have days where I lay there longer and struggle to move out of bed but I make sure to catch myself before ANTS start to swarm my brain again. I remind myself of how lucky I am. I start big and work my way in. I’m at an university, I have a job, I am an ‘able body’ individual, I have the ability to lay in my bed… I have a bed. I think about the littlest things I have. I have polish on my toenails, my pillowcases match my sheets, I have both shampoo and conditioner waiting for me in the shower. I remind myself every morning to be thankful because I have the dumb little things that people go without. Each and everyday I give myself something to look forward to. Wether it be the act of getting ready or cooking dinner that night, I make sure to reward myself with something small. Everyone deserves a treat. If I have a day that can be filled with other activities, I do that. I love on people, do things for someone else, watch Netflix, drink a coffee while sitting down. It’s the little things, but those are the things that saved me from remaining lost.

Keep your head up because in the end, you need yourself before you need anyone else.

Deaf Awareness

“Deaf awareness”
One Monday morning at 7:30 am I clicked the link to attend the Deaf Awareness Alternative Winter Break. Deaf Awareness is such a broad topic so I didn’t know what to expect. I knew there are Deaf and deaf people in the world. I knew some American Sign Language but I didn’t know what I was in for. Our break left December 13th for Washington D.C. We were told that for the first half of our day we would work with Deaf REACH. Service: UNKNOWN. The second half of our day would be spent at the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School on Galludet University’s campus. Service: Working with children. General enough.

So what did we end up doing?

During the first service we worked together to 1. Pack over 600 Safe Sex Kits, 2. File paperwork, 3. Shred years of papers 4. Design information business cards, 4×6 cards, T-shirts and, 5. Decorate office door displays. This service was one of the most rewarding jobs because we could see our work getting done. We were able to see progress through out the week. What does this have to do with Deaf Awareness? Well, half of the staff is Deaf and uses American Sign Language as their primary language. The week was spent pushing ourselves to learn new signs, sentence structure and practice communicating with people within the Deaf community. Instead of the staff giving us “volunteer work” which usually breaks down to just filing and cleaning, they took us on as ‘staff.’ They gave us real projects. They made our time feel meaningful because we were giving them real work.

At Kendall Demonstration School we worked in two separate groups. Half of the group spent time with the Kindergarten and younger kids while my group worked with 1st-4th grade. This was another amazing time for us to learn signs we’ve never used before.

I can’t wait to take these signs back to my classes as I finish my American Sign Language minor. I find myself causally throwing signs into my daily life. I hope that in my future I will be able to find friends who are also interested in American Sign Language. It is so helpful when you’re far away from someone or in a loud area. In the last few years I have noticed a slow decline in my hearing and I hope that in my future I will be able it to communicate more clearly.

A few moments from our trip…

1016064_989302707766583_7342002484173841535_n

The final day with all of our Safe Sex Kits.

10891546_989290941101093_4115387667721465539_n

We learned about safe sex.

10411197_989302721099915_8125172271884949912_n

Our grow outside of Deaf REACH.

10881662_989291007767753_1287599758204276198_nWe traveled by Metro.

Leadershape 2014

What is Leadershape?

10346649_10203917257955016_423112113618909773_n

A few months ago I signed up for a program called “Leadershape.” Everything I had ever heard about this program was “I can’t explain it, but it changes your life.” That isn’t very descriptive… Going into this ‘life changing program’ I didn’t know what to expect. I assumed it would be an awesome experience but I under estimated the impact the program would have on me. Being the skeptic that I am, I was hesitant to dive right into the program. I found myself sitting back and watching. That was my biggest regret of the week. This week I surrounded myself with some of the most kind hearted and impactful people I have ever experienced. Leadershape opened my eyes to myself. It showed me that I have the ability to stand up for what I believe in, stick to my core values and do something amazing in the world.

My sophomore year of college was extremely difficult. It put me in a bad place. This school year forced me to second guess myself. I felt lost. I felt dumb. It drained me of the enthusiasm for life I once had. This week rejuvenated me. I feel enabled, confident and that I have a million options again.

Leadershape is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. Everyone should experience this program. It is amazing how much of a change I felt and saw not just in myself but the entire group.

Now I plan on being an active citizen to conquering my dreams. In my perfect world children would never spend anytime waiting in the foster care/adoption system. Every person/couple seeking to create a family would choose to adopt instead of having a biological child. A family is a family, whether it’s biological or not.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Homelessness LEAD team chair

I was the co-chair then chair of the Homelessness Awareness LEAD team. Our job was to help with homelessness in the community. We were a group of about 10 people. If we were dedicated to helping the community homelessness or not is still yet to be determined. We focused on adopting a child from the local church for Christmas and a few mobile food pantries. This group was extremely difficult for me to work with. I found there was not a lot of participation, drive or accessibility. Many of the people in my group didn’t want to put in a lot of work for this group. It was very discouraging. This group taught me that you can’t always control a group. I struggled and lost confidence in leading this group. From now I approach groups differently.