I Quit my Job so I Could Walk my Dog More

One of my goals when I left my full-time job to become my own boss was to walk the dog more. Sounds like a ridiculous or irresponsible career or life move.

“Hey, y’all. I’m quitting my job with health insurance benefits, paid vacation, and an office so I can walk the dog more.”

Marnie has finally flipped, right?

But there it was on my list. I worked with a career coach, Debbie Peterson, over a couple of months. So it wasn’t impulsive. The list also included becoming my own boss, setting my own hours, having time for family, travel and yoga. And the dog.

My life had gotten to the point where walking the dog was rushed, a chore. Gotta walk the dog before work. Gotta walk the dog before bed. And we’d rush to get our mile in morning and night around the neighborhood, which is nice, but not inspirational. And I’d be cross with my daughter for not walking the dog after school because she forgot. Rushed and angry were not good parenting.

For me, walking the dog – really walking the dog – provided meditation and inspiration time. We’d head into the woods, and I would leave behind deadlines, silly demands, and ridiculous behavior from co-workers. I had two techniques, one taught by Debbie, to release the issues of the day. This would free my mind to engage in more creative pursuits, like thinking up story ideas or solving some domestic problem. I’d feel the wind, humidity, or sun on my body. I’d watch the change of seasons as a story told by the plant world. Forty-five to 90 minutes later, I would emerge calmer, happier. And, of course, the dog thrilled at every sniff  of every other dog that walked the same route, and solicit some love from fellow walkers.

I gave myself 6 months to figure out what I wanted to do in this next phase. That deadline is approaching this month. But the commitment to walking the dog will still be part of that phase.

I pick our walks based on the weather. Sun beating down on us means we need to find shade. Typically, I like Asbury Woods in Millcreek Township, Pennsylvania, or Pleasant Ridge Park,  in Fairview Township. Asbury has hundreds of acres and Pleasant Ridge has about 80. But both have lots of mosquitoes at this time of year – and even the best repellent results in about a dozen bites.

With a nice breeze today, we headed to Erie Bluffs State Park, nearly 600 acres along Lake Erie and bordered by Elk Creek.  I unload Bobo and we walk the path from the parking lot through what used to be corn. This open stretch will take us part of the walk, where the grasshoppers will flip and skitter around as we disturb them. We are the only ones at the park this morning. We can listen as the tall weeds rustle and the crickets keep up a hum throughout this open part. The pods of milkweed, beloved of the Monarch butterfly, are still green and haven’t opened yet to release the white fluffy interior. Eventually we get to the edge of the woods, where the trees are more oak than maple and we head into the shade. If we chose one path, it will lead us down toward Elk Creek, a popular fishing creek later in the fall. The wind replaces the sounds of the crickets. This breeze is keeping us both cooler and the mosquitoes away.

Down to the creek we head, where the dog gets a drink of water in time to see a kayaker come down stream. The heat of the day is starting to intensify, so up we go back into the cool of the trees. Alas coming down means heading up a vertical incline, using tree roots as our stairs. We move to the other side of the wood, toward Lake Erie, and the waves hitting the shoreline is drowning out the wind. I wish I could bottle this sound and play it at 1:45 a.m., 3:45 a.m. and 5 a.m. when I wake each night. It is that soothing to me.

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We head back toward the car, into the light, and the grasshoppers, and bees, and then the dog disappears into the tall weeds. All I can see is a tail wagging. I head back toward him and suddenly he is rolling and wagging.

Nature’s back scratch.

Back into the car, with lots of water, he goes. Home again, home again.

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Bobo is about 10 years old. We rescued him at the ANNA Shelter in Erie, Pennsylvania, and all three of us have been tremendously rewarded by the experience.

 

Have a peaceful Wednesday.

XOXOXO

Marnie

marnie@marniemeadmedia.com

You say To-May-Toe, but my To-Mah-Toes are terrific

IMG_4413One of my guidelines for food, work, and life is finding ways not to be negative. If you focus on all that you cannot do, then the negative attitude will follow you around. So whenever I engage in a new venture – diet, relationship, job – I try to focus on what will be positive about it (and not what I can try to change). If the negatives outweigh the pluses, then it is time to take a pass or move on.

Engaging in the Whole30 meant I could focus on all the foods I couldn’t eat – and the list was quite extensive – or what I could. I chose to focus on what I could enjoy. With summer’s bounty ripening outside my doorstep and around Erie County, Pennsylvania, every day, I had plenty of choices. Plus, this supports my choice to eat local and support local farmers.

I’m not going to lie and insist a peach or slice of melon is as satisfying as a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day. But the peach or melon doesn’t carry the baggage of guilt and the accompanying bloating. And an RX chocolate bar isn’t the same as a homemade brownie, but it will do in a pinch. Plus, I’m notorious for cutting off all the edges and eating them – pretending that I really haven’t even had a “real” brownie.

Hah.

The goal, also, wasn’t to make one dinner for me and one for my daughter each night. I don’t think you can ever be successful making a lovely meal for some of the family and then serving yourself something that isn’t as pleasing. Some nights I may have had sausage and homemade tomato sauce with a side of roasted eggplant, while my daughter had the sausage and sauce over pasta.

My homemade roasted tomato sauce is doing many duties. It can become plain sauce, soup, or get jazzed up with add-ins, such as onions, capers, raisins and mint to make a divine sauce for fish or chicken. You can also freeze it and use it in the dead of winter.

Print Recipe
Roasted Tomato Sauce
This versatile sauce can be used alone or combined with other ingredients to make a more elaborate sauce or a simple soup.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2-3 hours
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2-3 hours
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Cut tomatoes in half. Put into 2 9x13-inch baking dishes. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and herbs.
  3. Bake for about 2 hours. Check after 1 hour to make sure they are OK and not cooking too quickly (if you see brown or black, that's your indication). Turn oven to 400 degrees after 2 hours and roast for about 20-30 minutes (check after 20). They should be slightly brown around the edges.
  4. Allow to cool. You have the choice of running them through a food mill, which will remove the skins and seeds. Or, put them in a high-speed blender (I use a Ninja) and puree until smooth.
  5. Add 1 cup chicken broth. Mix well.
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