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Margot Ahlquist
Boston, MA
Margot Ahlquist is the creator of Pawbituary.com
Interests: Dogs, Yoga, Laughing, being a Boston sports fan, spending time at the beach
Recent Activity
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The other day I was stunned as I watched multiple news reports on people assaulting each other over the latest electronic gadget during a Black Friday- rage blackout sale. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bargain too but to hit someone over an iPhone is going over the edge. I wanted to reach through the TV and shake these people. Then I wondered what this time of year would be like if our four-legged friends had command over the holiday season. No Thumbs, No Problem Even though dogs are lacking certain physical features that pose logistical problems, their attitude helps to make up for any shortcomings. Customer service attendants should have to study the dog before helping the public. They would learn the art of never giving up, emoting true compassion and not stopping until others are happy. Dogs rarely shy away from a task. Instead of thinking about how much effort it will take, they just try their best to make it happen. Hugs Are Back In Style If dogs were in charge of the holiday season, there would be more joy in the air. The thing that I love most about dogs is their ability to love unconditionally. No matter how many times they have had their hearts broken in the past, dogs are still willing to care for others with all of their being. Of course, they can have reservations about being hurt again but those feelings never hold them back. A dog doesn’t know what a grudge is. What if we could be open to love again no matter how badly we were hurt before? Envision sitting at the dinner table with a relative who you are mad at and finding a way to connect with this person again. Of course, you don’t have to go running off into the sunset with this relative but maybe you can enjoy their good qualities instead of focusing on the ones that drive you crazy. Real Ball Games Having spent the holidays with my family, friends and significant others, no matter what house I am in there is always a ball game on TV and people gathered around. In a dog-ruled holiday season, we would all be outside throwing the ball around together. We would also gain little holiday weight because of our time spent chasing the ball. More importantly, we would feel better about ourselves because the exercise is a mood elevator. I have never seen a dog upset after running around or playing fetch. In most cases, they want the activity to keep going. So when the dwindling number of shopping days bring about anxiety, stop and remember how dogs would celebrate the season. By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk and professional life coach. Dogs Don't Overcomplicate Their Lives So Why Should We? Join the Pack of Hundreds Living Happier Lives at www.pawstotalk.com Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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My was heart racing as if I were out for a vigorous jog, as I sat at my computer trying to make sense of the very technical email that came across the screen. It was a Friday and the technical person who was bringing a project to fruition was about to knock off for the weekend. He needed an answer to the question in the email, which I knew nothing about, in order to launch the project. The deadline suspended over me was getting ready to drop on me like a ton of concrete. I sat at my desk wringing my hands. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my dog Toby licking his paws, which usually means he wants a chew toy. Since we share an office, I must admit that there are a lot of times when I ignore my dogs while working. If I stopped working every time they did something cute or tried to get my attention then I would have no clients. However, at this particularly stressful time, I retrieved Toby’s beloved beef chew stick and let him at it. In that moment, I wished I had a beef chew stick to gnaw on. Because Toby has broken a couple of teeth chewing on tasty treats, I now hold onto anything solid that he nibbles on for an extended period of time. While my mind was full of fear, anxiety and eagerness, I sat on the floor facilitating Toby’s chew session. He appreciated it and had pure enjoyment displayed on his face. Then he put is paw on my hand. Granted, Toby was trying to get me to move the beef stick closer to him but his paw on my hand was the start of me calming down. Toby suddenly had all of my attention. His sweet and furry face prompted me to move into a more positive mind space. I told Toby that I was so lucky to have him and how he is such a good dog. Flashbacks came to mind about how my heart was so full the first night he was in the house asleep next to me. After about 5 minutes, Toby made a nice dent on his beef chew stick and I made my way back to my desk. As I took a breath and read the time sensitive email again, I realized that it wasn’t as complicated as I made it out to be. The stress of the moment heightened everything. I reviewed my project plan and the answer was blatantly clear. About a half hour later, all the work was done. When chaos descends, don’t let it take you over. Escape into a dog’s gaze or get to work on your chew toy. By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk and professional life coach. Dogs Don't Overcomplicate Their Lives So Why Should We? Join the Pack of Hundreds Living Happier Lives at www.pawstotalk.com Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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To Whom it May Concern: Lately, we have been noticing that life in our world and neighborhood has become very tough. More humans are sad and worried. We have been working overtime providing cuddles. Even when we sit in front of the big bright thing in the living room we see humans suffering. Stories of violence, poverty and loss with a hint of overly dramatic reality TV seem to demonstrate what is going on. When humans hurt, we do too. We haven’t even gotten into the issues our animals friends are facing. Some are having to fend for themselves on the street or are waiting for a new family in the shelter. There is too much despair around us. We don’t want to live this way. How can we make things better? -A concerned pack of dogs Howl, Everything you said above is unfortunately a reality in our world today. Even though we believe that animals should have more responsibilities in our society, none of us have yet to be elected to office. Until that happens, there are several things we can do to brighten the horizon. Below are some suggestions. Focus on Your Home Forget about the world for now. Sure there are huge problems everywhere but work on the ones within your reach. If one of your humans lost their job, see if you can pitch in. If someone is sick, make sure you are by their side serving them. Bring the stray animal(s) in your neighborhood some kibble. The world seems better when the home front is at peace. Organize With Others It sounds like your pack is a tight-knit unit. Writing to us was a positive step in helping the situation. However, make sure you spread the word further. Let others into your pack that want to make the community better. Don’t believe the naysayers who call you just some pack of dogs. You are more powerful than you think. Use Your Gifts We don’t mean to use those plush toys you got on your birthday but rather your talents. Are you a great entertainer? Excellent! Put on some shows around the neighborhood. Maybe you are very ambitious? Fantastic! Use it to push the humans out the door to be productive. Find out what your gift is and use it. As an aside, if plush toys can be used for good then we are all for it. Keep your heads up. Put one paw in front of the other. Before you know it, things will be better. Woof, Bella and DiDi By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk. Dogs Don't Overcomplicate Their Lives So Why Should We? Join the Pack of Hundreds Living Happier Lives at www.pawstotalk.com Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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Last week, I was forced to reflect deeply on my family dynamics. I leapt with both feet into an unknown space where events from the past and present would tap dance around my mind. It’s Complicated I credit my mom and dad with investing great effort into being the best parents possible. However, as I have become an adult, I realize certain lonely gaps in my childhood that I wish I could go back in time to replace with hugs from my parents. I continue to be amazed at how actions from years ago can still be so raw and painful. Sure, it sounds like the typical thing to blame the parents for their shortcomings in bringing up children. I have no doubt that some of us go immediately to that place and hover there because it is easier. I aim to improve the situation instead of using it for ammunition in an excruciating war of emotion. An Emotional Epidemic? In my work, I encounter many clients who are also trying to rectify issues from their childhood. Last night as I finished a session with yet another client who detailed how old wounds from the formative years pushed her over the edge. I began to wonder if this is an epidemic. Just because it doesn’t have an FDA warning or a fancy name that can become a trend in our news cycle doesn’t mean it isn’t a big problem in our society. I bet everyone knows of at least one person who didn’t have good childhood. Moreover, most of us probably know others who had “normal” childhoods but are grappling with frustrating family dynamics as adults. Some may not even be aware of how this could be impacting them. Perhaps, it gets hidden in that extra cocktail at dinner or in throwing oneself into work 60 plus hours a week. A Modern Day Mowgli My reflection turned into some online research. I was curious to see if dogs had successfully raised any children. Google showed me many things on this topic. First, a You Tube video of a little girl who was raised by a pack of dogs and thought she was one. Also, an excerpt from the book The Boy Raised as a Dog. What caught my eye, was a news item about a Russian boy, Ivan Mishukov who was taken in by a wild pack of dogs soon after his parents abandoned him. It took authorities a month to pry the boy away from his dog family. Ivan said, “The dogs loved and protected me.” Admittedly, all of these accounts were disturbing because they involved child abandonment and a dire need for health care. However, the bond that was formed between Ivan and these dogs had to have been special. Dogs Pick Up the Slack The news account made me wonder if Ivan will be more traumatized by what his parents did to him instead of the lack of doctor visits, education and proper nutrition he received while living with his dog family. Dogs love unconditionally. They will even accept a different species into their pack and love them like their own. Why do a lot of humans have such a difficult time providing enough love and emotional support to their own family? Are we too burdened by providing basic needs for our loved ones that we overlook developing the character and strength of our souls? Margot Ahlquist is the creator of Paws to Talk and a professional life coach. Dogs Don't Overcomplicate Their Lives So Why Should We? Join the Hundreds Living Happier Lives at www.pawstotalk.com. Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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Howl, My daddy always says that I should work now and play later. I think half of him is right (I am not sure if it is his top half or bottom half). While nothing feels better than finishing a long yard patrol session, I am not a yard patrolling robot. Some days, I don’t want to patrol and would prefer to spend time with my neighborhood friends or help a human with a kitchen project. A poodle has to kick up her paws every now and then. Maybe I should join the Rockettes? Since I am known as the most fun-loving animal in my house (my sister Bella still disputes this), I am here to suggest 5 ways for you to have more fun. 1. Have a Dance Party Who cares if you can’t dance well? Put your favorite songs on and move. Just make sure you don’t do the pee-pee dance. That might send the wrong message. 2. Act Like a Puppy The other day, after a storm monster left our yard, the sun came out and brought us a beautiful day. Bella and I ran around like we were back with our litters. Even one of the humans left her house chores behind to come out and play with us. Find moments like this where you can be a puppy without causing trouble. 3. Take a Trip Go somewhere amazing that you have always wanted to visit. If you aren’t able to do that (not everyone has enough bones in the bank to travel) then plan a local adventure. Maybe you can go camping in your own yard? Some of the best adventures I have had were just over the stone wall outside of the yard where Bella and I play. You don't always have to go far to get away. 4. Flirt If you are single and a cute animal without a partner catches your eye, then why not? It is very satisfying to have a romantic flirt. Plus, you never know where a flirt can lead. I have witnessed many love stories that began with a flirt. 5. Phone a Friend I love connecting with my friends that live far away. It is always exciting to hear who is expecting a new litter, out in the world pursuing their dreams or redecorating their dog house. When the humans aren't looking Bella and I get our paws dialing. Life is too short to not eat premium kibble and add more joy to your days. Woof, DiDi the Poodle By Margot Ahlquist, founder of Paws to Talk. Dogs don't overcomplicate life, so why should we? Join the pack of hundreds living happier lives at www.pawstotalk.com Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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My dog Bella knows how to listen to her body. Something I have yet to master. It’s 1AM on a Saturday morning and it starts. My body’s fight for care faces off against my mind’s determination to be as close to perfect as possible. Mind Hinders Body This battle was brought about thanks to a horrendous norovirus that wreaked havoc with my insides. As I cling to the cream colored tile on the bathroom floor, I panic because tomorrow morning at 10AM I am due to be on a flight to San Francisco for work. I ruminate on how I must get on that plane. If I don’t get on that plane and do my job, I will be fired, inevitably leading to me begging for change on a New York City street corner to survive. Delirium and paranoia apparently came free of charge with the norovirus. No I Will Not Admit I am Sick! Upon suggestion from my boyfriend at the time, that I call my boss and explain how horribly sick I am, I use what little strength I have to scoff. Sunday at 10AM rolled around and I slowly made my way into the terminal at JFK International Airport clutching my stomach and preparing to embark some of the most uncomfortable days of my life. Bella Knows Better Than Her Human A few years later, as I write this, I cringe at how tough I was on my body. While I am still on a journey to discovering my healthiest self, I am done with the torture. Last week my dogs had their annual physicals. A couple of weeks before the physicals, I noticed that Bella (the grand dame and oldest of our pack) was not walking with the ease that she normally does. She protested going on her daily morning walk but I coaxed her out the door (I still have a lot to learn about when enough is enough). Bella lives for her morning walk. I figured she would be happy once we were trotting through town. She did the walk but moved at a markedly slower speed. Bella was protecting herself because she knew her leg was not right. The vet confirmed the dog’s intuition at her physical when he discovered she had a pulled tendon. Suddenly, flashes of boarding that plane at JFK while feeling nauseous beyond belief came to mind. What Is So Wrong With A Dog’s Life? Yet again, my dog is smarter than I am. She trusts how her body feels and refuses to push beyond a reasonable limit. Meanwhile, as an adult, I am just starting to fully grasp this concept. People often joke about “A Dog’s Life” meaning the ability to take naps when need be and enjoy a leisurely pace of living. I think the joke is on us humans and the dogs have had the right idea all along. After all, most health professionals preach that plentiful amounts of sleep and decreasing stress only help our bodies function at their highest levels. The next time I am tempted to be unkind to my body, I will remember that Bella has grown to become a healthy older dog not because she knows when to push but rather she knows when to give herself a break. By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk. Dogs don't overcomplicate their lives, so why should we? Join the pack of hundreds living happier lives at www.pawstotalk.com Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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I used to have a life plan. It consisted of making a certain amount of money by the time I turned 30 years old, getting married a couple of years later and having two kids while remaining a career woman. My plan didn't come together and I'm glad it didn't. More Than a Feeling A few nights ago, I was finishing up some work at my desk when I was overcome with a wonderful feeling. As I typed the last sentence of a blog post, it dawned on me that finally I am at a truly happy place in my life. My mind wasn’t preoccupied by the fact I haven’t yet reached my latest financial goal for my business or that all the dates I have been on in the past couple of months have felt like I was on a hidden camera game show. All that was in my head and heart was reassurance letting me know that I am at the right place. That night I slept sounder than I have in a long time. Paw Prints Show the Way A little over a year ago, I adopted my dog Toby from a shelter. There is no sugar coating the fact that it took several months out of the past year until Toby was completely settled. However, even as he battled stomach parasites, getting used to our other family dogs Bella and DiDi, and missing his original family, he constantly wore a smile on his face. Toby found joy even though he wasn’t at his ideal happy spot. Fast forward to a couple of days ago, on a gorgeous fall morning as I watch him leap through the woods at a local park chasing chipmunks and playing with other dogs. If his smile got any bigger it would swallow the rest of his furry face. Just because Toby is finally settled and living a glorious life, doesn’t mean he wasn’t happy in those tough months of adjustment. The Happiness Myth vs Reality For the longest time, I thought that pure happiness would come once I got to a certain stage in my life or made it through a tough time. That late night work session reminded me that one doesn’t have to wait for joy because it is already here. We just have to realize it. Admittedly, I am not done excavating for happiness. It would be nice to have a special someone and make my business be all I dreamed it could be. At least I know that my paws are planted in a happy place while the digging continues. By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk. Dogs don’t overcomplicate life so why should we? Join the pack of hundreds living happier lives at www.pawstotalk.com Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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I get off the elevator and reach for the hand-sanitizing dispenser. I can’t get enough of that white foamy, germ killing stuff. My hand keeps hitting the dispensing button almost like a nervous twitch. To say I am uncomfortable would be an understatement. I Don’t Want to Be Here I follow my parents' direction as we pass by the medical equipment showing everyone on the floor’s heart rate. My dad leads us down the wrong hallway and gets angry with himself as if he is the hospital tour guide and should know better. A few minutes later, we arrive at the right room. There she is. My grandma, the only surviving grandparent I have left. She looks frail, tired but is happy to have visitors. Her thin legs are being squeezed by compression tights to reduce swelling. Even though they are helping, these tights are a huge fashion faux pas. The Grandma Exam We make eye contact and I see the joy that comes over her knowing that I am there. She begins to pepper me with questions about my business, social life, living situation, money and of course dating prospects. Then she wonders if I could sneak one of the dogs in to visit her. A chat about Bella, DiDi and Toby (my dogs) brings an immediate smile to her face even though the nurse is poking, prodding and yet again asking her to repeat her name. Cold Noses Make Life Warm The sun is beginning to set over the gray hospital buildings. I peek at my cell phone to see what time it is. Although it is a Sunday, I feel the urge to check my email or jump on Facebook AKA hide from the situation in front of me. I decide not to. Despite what my grandma has said in the past, about wanting to join my grandfather in heaven, she is scared. Her hands fidget and she tells the nurse that she never wants to be back here. All she wants is for the nausea and shortness of breath to go away. Also, she wants to see those furry poodle faces at her bedside. Like my grandfather was, my grandma is a magnet for animals. In their 60 plus years of marriage, their house became home to horses, birds and many dogs. It didn’t matter whether the dog was a stray or from a breeder, all kinds were welcome. With grandma stable and wanting to take a nap we leave the hospital. Risky Business The next day it is determined by doctors, my grandma, my father and his siblings that she will undergo a procedure to help her condition vastly improve. Although she is 89 years old, the chances for success outweigh the risks. However, there are still risks and the reality of the situation bears down. Bring All of The Family The evening before the procedure, I call my grandma in the hospital. In the 90 seconds that our conversation lasted, she tells me how nervous she is. The idea of her life slipping away is terrifying her. Then she tells me to visit and bring Toby (the smallest of my dogs at 25 pounds) with me to visit. She reasons that he is not too big so maybe the hospital won’t mind. When I suggest that the hospital could say no, she cuts me off and says, “Do some research.” Before we hang up she pleads with me to visit. I promise to do just that. Nothing is more important than the loved one (four legged and two legged) in front of your face. Nothing! I have already inquired about bringing Toby to visit grandma in the hospital. Tomorrow, I hope to bring him to grandma’s bedside and remind her that she has a lot more living to do with all of her family members. By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk. Dogs don’t overcomplicate life so why should we? Join the pack of hundreds living happier lives at www.pawstotalk.com Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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We all remember that day. The one where steel tumbled from the sky, lives were changed forever and uncertainty took over the world. 9/11/2001 I can still smell the crisp morning air from that day as I started my sophomore year at Syracuse University. I was lucky because at the time I didn’t have any family and friends residing in New York City, Washington D.C. or Pennsylvania. However, the very real loss happening around me to my friends and classmates was devastating beyond explanation. On that day, my morning class was quickly dismissed. As soon as I stepped outside, I heard screams like I have never heard before As I approached the quad, it was like a war zone. No actual violence had taken place on campus but at first glance that was not obvious. Students laid hysterically crying on the ground. More screams echoed. Seeking Shelter At the time, being a sheltered kid from a quaint Massachusetts town, I was way out of my comfort zone. I ran back to my dorm room to call my sister who was nearby and my parents who happened to be in Italy that week. All I got were busy signals. My roommate was a mess and had our 12-inch TV turned up to the maximum volume. As I saw the footage of the morning play, and the news coming out of the TV faster than I could comprehend it, I literally felt like the world could be ending. Not only had lives been lost and buildings fallen down but the “shelter” over me that I brought to college was obliterated. Never the Same Again Like many of people all over the world, that day shook me to the core. I had always been a high achiever in school. My freshman year at Syracuse I made the Dean’s List both semesters. Of course, I expected to do the same my sophomore year but it wasn’t that easy. I struggled in all my classes that fall semester. At times, I barely felt like I could catch my breath. I looked for comfort and reassurance everywhere but couldn’t find it. My friends and the typical college debauchery brought temporary smiles to my face but something was most definitely off in my life. I couldn’t pin it down. I Just Need a Break Depression engulfed me and by the time December rolled around, I was counting the hours until I could go home for winter break. I thought that a break was all I needed. Everything would be okay after a break. With two days left to go before my return home for the cure-all break, I couldn’t sleep at all. I was not prepared for my last final and was so full of anxiety I couldn’t stand it. A Breath of Fresh Air Then I heard some refreshing news. My parents brought home our new family puppy Bella. I remember my mom saying how our dog Marty and “my new sister” Bella were ready to welcome me home but I had to tough it out for the next couple of days. I did just that. Finally, I arrived home late on a Tuesday night. My parents were happy I was home but looked like they hadn’t slept much in the past couple of days as they got Bella acclimated to our house. As my parents dozed off on the couch, I held Bella in my arms as she chewed on her favorite toy. For the first time since that awful day in September, I felt happy. Coming Back to Life Over the next three weeks, Marty and Bella revived me from my semester of malaise. Each morning, we would play, cuddle and walk together. They made me laugh everyday without fail. I began therapy for my depression, which was still lingering. When tears flowed, Marty and Bella were there to kiss them away. This would not be the first time in my life in which it would all fall down but it was the first time that I realized how my dogs were true healers. Even though Marty and Bella didn’t have any thumbs, I knew from then on they were there to catch me if I fell. By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk, professional life coach and blogger. Dogs don't overcomplicate life, so why should we? Join the pack of hundreds living happier lives at www.pawstotalk.com. Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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I admit it. I have prematurely anticipated the payoff for my hard work in business, relationships and life in general. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be recognized for their effort, talent and patience? However, I have noticed that victory marches are scheduled for days when you least expect them. Procuring of Treats My dogs bury some of the treats that I give them in various spots around our yard. The unearthing of these treasures is not an everyday affair. In fact, it seems to occur randomly and for reasons which I don’t fully understand. The dogs don’t have any control over when I give them treats but they know exactly when it is time to dig up one of the many scrumptious rewards that have been stowed away. Is It My Turn Yet? As a kid and young adult, I was a competitive tennis player. At that time in my life, tennis was my passion and a source of validation. After two successful years of high school tennis, including an undefeated season, I entered my junior year sensing that the top spot on the team was mine. I had done everything the coach asked of me while gracefully waiting for the upperclassmen to close out their brilliant careers It was my turn. Right? Wrong! I got so swept up in believing that I deserved the number one spot on the team that I forgot of go out and execute on the tennis court. Let the Excavating Begin Devastated and embarrassed, I accepted the number two spot on the team for my junior year. As I sat on the court, exhausted with tears welling up in my eyes, I had no idea that I was merely just starting to excavate my “treat” from the soil. The bitter taste of disappointment stuck with me for the next 12 months. It resulted in me improving my skills, running extra miles for stamina on the court and affirming to myself that when on the court nothing else mattered but the fuzzy yellow round thing coming towards me. I was digging for my treat. I wasn’t sure when I would be able to get my paws on it but I was getting closer. Keep Digging The first practice of my senior year arrived and it was time to prove myself. Visions of last year’s disappoint came over me but I just kept working at my goal. My focus was solely on winning the top spot and sinking my teeth into my long awaited treat. Paydirt At Last! After a week of practice and gut-wrenching competition, I did it. My coach bestowed the number one spot on the team to me. To my surprise that year, I also led our wonderful team to the State Finals and captured my school’s Most Outstanding Athlete Award. It turned out that my digging led me to three treats instead of just one. In hindsight, I now realize that had I found a way to get these treats any earlier than I did, the reward wouldn’t have been as tasty. Although your paws may be sore from digging, there is a treat for you. It just may not surface exactly when you think it will. By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk, professional life coach and blogger. Join the pack of hundreds living happier lives at www.pawstotalk.com. Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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Have you ever been in a situation where you kept your opinions or thoughts to yourself instead of expressing them to those around you? What stopped you from sharing your view in the office, with family and friends or even with a significant other? Communicate Like a Dog When it comes to these instances, I do my best to truly live like my dogs. Their language skills are top notch. I am not kidding. Dogs typically bark when they need something or if there is danger. However, they use their growl as a warning signal before a bark is ever needed. For example, my dog Bella doesn't like to feel cramped in a corner. She goes to the corner of the room for some zen time. So if the other dogs or our family gather around her in this situation, she will growl to let us know that now is not the time. She tells us how she feels without causing a stir. More Growl, More Clarity Why can't we use our growl more often? Speaking your mind doesn't have to be the equivalent of a cat fight on a soap opera. In fact, I have found that the more times I have growled, especially when it comes to my work, other people have respected me more because they know that I have a backbone. However, it took me a while to feel comfortable with my growl. Instead, in my personal life, I used to hold in my true feelings and then go on a barking spree where I would get so mad that my teeth would show. In the office, I let the thoughts I wanted to say swirl around in my head and never communicated what I was thinking unless it seemed like I was in a safe setting. I was all bark and no growl. How Did I Ever Survive Without It? About five years ago, when I was still working in TV Production, I had an experience where I needed my growl but could only manager a whimper. For a week, I was working with a producer who typically doesn't work as a producer. This woman's regular job required her to find dynamic guests to be interviewed by our show host. Meanwhile, each week, I was on the front lines, actually putting together the program. This producer was more senior to me and took advantage of that when I did a task in a way that she didn't approve (yet the big bosses always approved of this). She asked me to join her at the Starbucks in our office building. I obliged. Just as I started sipping my English Breakfast Tea, it began. A flogging about how she is completely in charge and I need to hang on her every word. A floggling about how she has 15 more years of experience in this industry and knows better. A flogging that I had no words or growl for which ultimately ended in me dissovling into a pile of tears in front of other co-workers who were filing through Starbucks for their morning caffeine jolt. It was a ridiculous situation. Perfecting a Growl As a reflect on it now, had a growled and respectfully declined to sit in this public place while she beat me to a pulp, it would have saved me a lot of angst and embarassment. For three weeks after the Starbucks incident, it still played through my mind as if I were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Also, whenever I passed this woman in the hallway I felt her gaze searing through me. Ultimately, I got over it but I wasted so much time being bothered by someone else's nonesense. From that point on, I started perfecting my growl. Sometimes, it came off as a bark and I apologized. However, over time, my growl has hit the right tone. Do you have a growl and is it set to the right volume? By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk, professional life coach and blogger. Join the pack of hundreds living happier lives at www.pawstotalk.com. Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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Have you ever had one of those moments? A moment where you know something is absent in your life. Even if you are in a happy place, it seems to be human nature for our minds to churn up thoughts about goals or accomplishments one is still yearning for. A Game of Fetch About Life For the majority of my life, I have loved and lived with dogs. Each time, I am in their presence I feel like I am at peace. A few weeks ago while I was playing fetch with Bella, DiDi and Toby, otherwise known as my “Poodle Pack,” an unexpected thing happened. I was overcome with thoughts about how I wished there was someone special I could share my life with. Currently, I am a single woman so these types of thoughts have popped into my head before but this time they really stuck with me. I resumed playing with my dogs but it was like they became aware of the questions occupying my brain. Suddenly, I had three sets of poodle eyes focused on me as if I were a barbeque flavored chew toy. Woof Equals Clarity? It is no secret that for most people, the simple act of playing with a dog can reduce stress and anxiety but apparently it can also bring you to a place where clarity is abundant. I wondered how I had been skipping over this important gap in my life. Am I too busy to know what it is that I truly want? Why I am hiding behind my dogs? I had no idea that a few minutes of canine interaction would bring about such deep questions but I seized the chance to explore. Admittedly, I surrounded myself with my furry protectors who love me unconditionally because I still had scars from last relationship, which ended like the Hindenburg disaster. I want to find a kind, honest, hard working and dog loving man but until that powerful moment I didn’t know that I was ready to start looking. No Thumbs, No Problem Our dogs are more than pets. Instead, they are true friends who allow us to feel comfortable enough to explore our own shortcomings. Dogs don’t relay judgmental comments or ask why we aren’t doing something. Most of the time, these are normal human reactions even when the best of intentions are meant. Nonetheless, when grappling with love gone wrong and feeling glum about the prospects out there these things become difficult to discuss. Dogs listen and can sense what we are feeling. This is probably why I had my aha moment about love while surrounded by my Poodle Pack even though I have a wonderful human support system. Allow yourself to embrace the quiet moments when realizations can surface and be dealt with. Maybe all you need is a wagging tail to help you remember what you really want? By Margot Ahlquist,creator of Paws to Talk, professional life coach and blogger. Join the pack of hundreds living happier lives at www.pawstotalk.com. Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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At 3:12 PM on a smothering July day, there I stood looking at the Mt. Everest of sand and gravel wishing with every bone in my body the clock read 4PM. For the next 48 minutes, my fellow teammates and I would be asked to do the impossible. I was about 15 years old and standing with a handful of boys and girls around the same age as we were about to endure this sneaker-burning, exhausting and ridiculous challenge. We were the elite group of the junior tennis camp that summer so more was expected from us. Apparently, "more" meant, sprinting up this huge mass of sand that practically swallowed our ankles whole on the first stride until the clock hit the glorious stroke of 4PM. As a young teenager, I knew very little about managing a challenge like this so I ran and ran until my legs literally gave out well before the golden hour of 4PM. Sitting here at 31 years old, reflecting on those awful summer runs in the sand mountains, I realize now, tackling a tough task is all about strategy and mindset. If you let the sand mountain gobble up your ankle then it will take your calf and whole leg too. As always, I turned to my furry muses to observe how they deal with challenge. 1. Mark Your Territory I have mentioned before how my dogs, Bella, DiDi and Toby love to guard our yard. However, they don’t run around like maniacs defending every corner all at once. They have a very systematic way of patrolling. One of the dogs will start in a small part of the yard, inspect, sniff and mark it with his or her scent. Then proceed to the next area. When faced with a challenge, breaking it down into pieces doesn’t make it seem so daunting. If I had to run that sand mountain again for 48 minutes, I would only allow myself to think about the challenge a few minutes at a time. After each time up and back I would congratulate myself instead of grumbling with dread. 2. Save Some for Later Each day my dogs save a few morsels of food in their dishes after a meal. They do this on purpose in the event that my family or I never make it home to feed them. It is a survival tactic and an insurance policy that their tummies won’t growl. Once I get home and settle (i.e. put on some pajamas, get into bed or plop down on the couch with out a laptop or smart phone screen in front of my eyes) they all rush to their bowls and finish the leftovers. The next day they repeat the same behavior. As you deal with a challenge, whether it is in business or your personal life, make sure you have enough energy, money and/or support on deck for later. You never know how events can unfold and the last thing you want is to be stuck without resources of your own. 3. Chew Time Have you ever watched a dog chew a bone? In my experience, they chew very hard for a period of time and then they toss the bone aside to take a nap. Pick a pace at which you would like to take care of this challenge. Maybe you would rather spend 20 hours straight finishing it and take the next day off? Or perhaps, you find it is better to work on it bit by bit? Whatever you decide, remember that you have to start “chewing” or else you will just be carrying around a burden and a large rawhide bone. By Margot Ahlquist,creator of Paws to Talk, professional life coach and blogger. Join the pack of hundreds living their happiest lives at www.pawstotalk.com. Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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Bella (L) and DiDi (R) After deciding that my one-way relationship with camera gear and motel carts had to go, I was faced with an even bigger challenge. What To Do? What was I going to do for a living once I made the official leap out of TV Production? I had a college degree, a love of dogs and a hundred questions running through my mind. So, I did what anyone on a mission would do, I googled for hours about businesses involving dogs. The search produced options such as dog trainer, dog photographer, dog boutique owner and dog walker. While all of these are fine professions and I admire the people that do them, nothing set my heart on fire. Life Is What Happens While Making Plans Then suddenly, in the middle of this exploratory search for my new dog-related business, my personal life fell apart. Literally. Unfortunate circumstances forced me to break off my engagement to a man that I had loved and shared my life with for four years. In between meetings and phone calls, I escaped to the dank office bathroom to cry about this huge loss. Enough Already! Like a robot, I carried on with my work and was once again headed out on the road with the expensive gear and reservations in various small motels. However, my life kept unraveling. Less than a week after I broke my engagement, I blew my knee out while traveling for work. I was completely engulfed in physical and emotional pain. Are You Threatening Me? I couldn’t hide my angst at the office anymore. Even though, I never missed a day of work and kept up my writing and producing responsibilities, I was called into the boss’s office and read the riot act. The secret had gotten out about my personal life crumbling and I was in obvious physical pain barely hobbling around the office with at least two torn ligaments and a nasty bone bruise. None of it mattered to this boss. She threatened my livelihood and trivialized all that I was going through by saying, “We all have struggles in our life.” Thanks! I’ll take that ice-cold sentiment and stitch it onto a gorgeous throw pillow. At that moment, around 4PM on a Tuesday, I left the office hours before my usual quitting time. As soon as I got out onto the Manhattan Street, I could feel my lunch rising up I clutched a public trashcan for dear life (by the way I recommend NEVER doing this in New York City). The Relief Thankfully, four days later I headed into the hospital for knee surgery. Yes, I said thankfully. Having major knee surgery was a relief from the utter disaster my life had become over the past 2 weeks. Before the anesthetic, I remembering telling my mom that this was the happiest day I had in a long time. I will never forget the sadness on her face and tears in her eyes after I uttered those words. Paws to Talk Is Born So there I was, in a knee brace from hip to toe, on crutches for the next six weeks and on an unplanned hiatus from work while being forced to heal. Crying and daytime TV got old after a week. So I started reading through some idea journals that I had kept over time. Then I saw it! “Paws to Talk,” my idea for an advice blog written through the voices of our family’s beloved standard poodles Bella and DiDi. I envisioned the blog being in a “Dear Abby” format but instead of Abby’s answers, Bella and DiDi would dispense their wisdom one bark at a time. So I started writing. I felt alive for the first time in a long while. Little By Little I made a goal for myself to write one article a day. Because I didn’t have anyone (yet) asking the dogs or me for advice, I picked a topic, made up a submission and then had the dogs answer it in their wise voices. After 30 articles were completed, I got a logo designed and built the blog’s webpage. New Priorities On a cold Sunday in late February 2012, I launched Paws to Talk with no clue that it would change my life. The blog gained a small and loyal following at first and then began to grow. Soon, I was released from the purgatory of the knee brace and crutches. Also, with the help of incredible family and friends, I moved to a new apartment that wasn’t full of broken dreams and heartache. I happily took a step down the TV Production corporate ladder to work as a Series Researcher/Interview Booker so that I would never have to experience 21-hour workdays and babysit the expensive equipment again. My career in TV became just a job. One that I did exceptionally well but Paws to Talk was the reason why I got out of bed in the morning. Stuck Again?!? Nine months later, my blog growth hit a plateau. Plus, earning an income from advertisements on my website had not panned out. I was stuck again. I believed with every bone in my body that Paws to Talk was something special. But there are a lot of good ideas out there that never work as businesses. I didn’t want that to happen with Paws to Talk. How would I keep the original Paws to Talk concept of helping people through the simple and smart dog point of view? I sought help. What the Hell is a Life Coach? I was sitting in the plush office of a career counselor on a rainy Friday night when after a careful evaluation of my skills and resume, the words “life coach” floated from his mouth to my ears. Life coach! What? Isn’t that for Hollywood actresses? Nope, it is about problem solving with clients so they can feel better in their lives. If I could run highly successful and expensive... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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It’s 3AM and the production crew and I are just checking into our motel for a refreshing 3 hours of sleep before we have to be in the van headed to our next shoot. We had started the day in Washington, D.C. and here we were ending it 21 hours later in West Virginia. You’re Kidding. Right? On the brink of hallucinating thanks to a lack of rest, food and water, I meander up to my room pushing a hotel cart crammed with about $100,000 worth of equipment. I was the Producer, the one charged with actually making the Executive Producers’ vision come to life no matter how grand. Also, I got to babysit the equipment, which had a net worth far exceeding mine. Just as I could start to envision my head on a pillow, the 53rd crisis of the day hits. THE CART WON’T FIT THROUGH THE DOOR! My co-worker who was helping me get the gear into the room began singing a curse chorus, which I soon joined. Then we both collapsed on the floor with laughter. It took too much energy to be angry. After a few minutes, we peeled ourselves off the floor and systematically unloaded the cart and pushed everything into the room. The Moment 2 and half hours later my alarm went off. I practically fell out of bed, as I was delirious. I took two steps and that’s when I was faced with it. The heavy and very expensive equipment was blocking the bathroom! Cue the curse chorus. At this moment, standing in my pajamas, exhausted, dirty, starving, away from loved ones, days spent on the road visiting countless motels around America, I realized that there is not enough money in the world to keep me doing this job. Things Look Better on the Outside Sure, I had shot up the corporate ladder, racked up an Emmy nomination and worked with the top names in Television/Film Production in New York City. But my sanity was not for sale anymore. People told me they would do anything to have my job. They had NO idea what they were talking about. Seriously, no idea because scenes like the one that occurred on that day in West Virginia from 3AM-6AM happened all the time. In fact, they were a regular part of the job. Once I wrapped the shoot and recovered, I began to rethink my career and life. I couldn’t live like this anymore. Where’s the Passion? I thought how amazing it would be to be my own boss, instead of marching to someone else’s orders. At least if I had my own business, I could work 21-hour days for my own beloved cause. However, I couldn’t put my finger on what I wanted to do. On the side, I began to dabble in making my own films. I had the skills, my own camera and a lot to say. After a few months, I realized that filmmaking was not my passion. It was when I was 22 but I was pushing 30 and had changed a lot since graduating from college. You Had Me At Woof Little did I know that my life’s passion was kissing me on the face and loved to fetch tennis balls (no it wasn’t my boyfriend of the time). I love dogs! Always have since I was a little girl. Everywhere my parents took me, dogs would make a beeline to be pet by me. No one could explain it. I have always had a special connection with dogs. My heart felt full with thoughts of owning a dog-related business. I wanted to get going right away. But what would I do? How could my passion be converted into an actual business? Come by next Tuesday to find out in part 2! By Margot Ahlquist, creator of Paws to Talk, professional life coach and blogger. She has helped hundreds of people live happier and simpler lives by solving problems using a dog's point of view. Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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Do you wish you had made that career move? Wondering what your life would have been like had you not broken up that relationship? Upset you didn’t make time for that vacation? Life is full of things to regret. Whether it is personal or business, “what ifs” swirl around us with dizzying speed. The other day I was taking a break from my work to play with my dogs Bella, DiDi and Toby (a common and relaxing ritual). I watched as they chased their tennis ball in the yard. Each of them had a moment in our 30 minutes of play where they missed the ball. However, they never stopped playing. THEY were running this ballgame and it wasn’t over until they said so (or until I made them stop so I could go back to work). I enviously thought how the dog probably never has regrets. Here is why: 1. Bark Regularly When my dogs are unhappy about something, they don’t hold it in. Barks ring through the house. Sometimes, it is not even a full bark but a little noise or grumble to finish expressing how they feel. If we said how we felt when a regretful situation was on the table, we would probably save ourselves a lot of tossing and turning at night. While strategy and politics could be at play when regret threatens, there still is no reason why you can’t politely and intelligently say how you feel. Bark it out! 2. Protect Your Yard I don’t exactly know why but my dogs hate the squirrels that are always invading our backyard. They chase the bushy-tailed animals off our property no matter what time of day, rain, snow or shine. We have to be as vigilant with demoralizing feelings as my dogs are with squirrels. Bella, DiDi and Toby wouldn’t let squirrels stay more than 2 minutes in their yard. Why are you letting negativity and unproductive thoughts take up your mind space? 3. Bury It Dogs bury things that have had meaning to them such as a special bone or toy. Whatever you regret in your life was at one time incredibly important. Why else would it still linger in your mind? Specifically, write down your regret(s) on a piece of paper. Include dates, details and any other pertinent information. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions may come over you while jotting this down. Then release this paper into the trash. By giving that part of your life a proper burial, now you can move onto bigger and better things. By Margot Ahlquist,creator of Paws to Talk, professional life coach and blogger. She has helped hundreds of people live happier and simpler lives by solving problems using a dog's point of view. Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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Emails flooding your inbox, phone buzzing with unanswered voicemails and nothing to wear because everything is at the dry cleaners. Does this sound remotely familiar? No matter what your circumstances in life there are bound to be countless distractions that tug you away from the day’s agenda. If you want to be more productive I have a suggestion. This suggestion has 4 legs, no thumbs and usually eats without utensils. That’s right, a dog. I know. House-training, vet bills, chew toys and buying endless amounts of dog food maybe running through your mind. However, before you dismiss this idea totally, allow me to point out how owning a dog can make your days more meaningful. Please remember that owning a dog is a serious commitment. You shouldn’t run out and get a dog without careful consideration. There is a New Sheriff in Town When you are responsible for a dog, they control your schedule to a certain degree. At specific times, the animal needs to be let out, fed and played with. If you don’t honor the dog’s schedule, then he or she will suffer and your shoe collection will likely become newly autographed with chew marks. Because the dog needs to stick to a schedule, so do you. This will help you optimize your day. 4-Legged Therapy Numerous studies over the past several years have proven that spending time with a dog reduces stress. The simple act of petting a dog or even sitting near one can change your outlook. Additionally, dogs require daily exercise and play just like us humans do. Get out there with your pooch and take a walk. The dog will get the exercise it craves and the walk will give you a chance to clear your mind. Walking is considered to be a form or meditation and will help to readjust your thinking. In turn, if you have less stress you will be able work more effectively. Unwavering Support Whether you closed a multi-million dollar deal or had a lousy day, your dog will greet you with the same amount of love and support when walking through the door. Canine kisses and hugs can bring you back from the depths of despair. Or they can make a great day even better. It makes it easier to give your best and put yourself out there knowing when you come home you have a diehard fan who can’t wait to see you. People may come and go in our lives but a dog will stick by your side forever. Dogs have the highest opinion of their caregivers and this helps you put things in perspective. By Margot Ahlquist,creator of Paws to Talk, professional life coach and blogger. She has helped hundreds of people live happier and simpler lives by solving problems using a dog's point of view. Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
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One of the scariest things in life can be leaving the structure of working for someone else to start your own business. Let’s face it, if something goes wrong you and your business partner (s) have to shoulder the entire burden. This fear alone is enough to keep a lot of people at their 9-5 jobs forever. However, getting your own venture off the ground does not have to be a hand wringing, migraine headache inducing, tossing and turning all night way of life. Inspired by our canine friends, here are 3 ways to maintain your sanity while starting a business. 1. Run With a Pack- Dogs function better in packs instead of alone. They work more efficiently but most importantly; the sense of community makes them feel comfortable. As a new business owner, find your pack or community where you can get support, meet like-minded people, vent frustrations and possibly gain new customers. Starting a business can be very isolating so it is crucial to find a good pack to run with. 2. Eat a Treat- When starting a new business, it is common for money to be tight. No matter if you have an investor, have taken out a loan or are financing it on your own, dollar signs probably dance through your mind constantly. Just because your disposable income is currently low or non-existent doesn’t meant you shouldn’t indulge in a treat here and there. Dogs eat treats everyday. Why shouldn’t you reward yourself too? There are numerous was in which you can “eat a treat” such as spending time with a friend, getting a manicure, cooking yourself a healthy dinner, watching a movie, taking a walk and on and on. 3. Know When to Stop Playing Fetch- It is easy to work insane hours as a new business owner. When you can, it is important to give yourself a break. A dog doesn’t play fetch all day and night so why should you work all day and night? When you are tired and stressed, it is difficult to give your best. Work as hard as you can during business hours and then stop. Get a good night sleep. Our canine friends provide a good model for how we can manage business and life. Being a new business owner will seem much less scary once you have allowed your mind and body to recharge. Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
Margot Ahlquist is now following The Typepad Team
Jul 9, 2013