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Counting my blessings during a rough patch

February 5, 2014 - Andy Flynn
I woke up with a dog sitting on my head. I’m not sure if it was the big dog, Mickie the black lab, or the little dog, Minnie the rat terrier. Talk about getting up on the wrong side of the dog.

“Get off my head,” I said.

It was endearing that one of the dogs wanted to be close to me. I’d just prefer she weren’t that close at 6 in the morning.

“Get off your father’s head,” my wife said from the other room.

Our two shelter dogs love to play on the bed while I’m sneaking in a few extra Zs in the morning, using me as their backstop and jumping board.

"Get off my head!”

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I turned over on my back to get up, and the little dog jumped on top of my stomach, sprawled out and began licking my face uncontrollably. The big dog pushed against my left side with her butt as if to say, “Scratch me here, daddy. Scratch me here.”

Dawn and I don’t have children, just these two adorable 7-year-old dogs. I’ve heard some morbidly obese people say they started to lose weight once their child was born, hoping to extend their lives for the sake of the child and to spend more time with him. I can’t say I’m losing weight to stick around longer to play with my dogs, but if I were, these two kids of ours would be worth it.

Dogs can be a great distraction from food and a stress relief. Just laughing at them reduces my blood pressure. Sitting with them on the couch and giving them hugs, instead of raiding the refrigerator, is something I’ve been doing almost every night. It doesn’t always get me away from eating a snack, but I’ve had more successes than failures.

If you look at my stats for the week — a weight gain — you may be wondering what the heck happened. Well, I guess I had more failures than successes. It was another stressful week, and even on the great days I fell victim to my sins as an overeater late in the evening. That’s my toughest time of the day.

Confession. While Tuesday was my proudest moment — defeating a binge without really trying — Friday was my most embarrassing. I was riding a high from being given the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival’s Trudeau Award at the coronation ceremony and decided on the way home that I deserved to celebrate. So instead of driving home to have a small piece of chocolate or some fruit, I stopped at the convenience store and bought the fixins for nachos, a package of four Mallo Cups, and a six-pack of blueberry beer (delicious, by the way). After having the nachos, the Mallo Cups, a Whatchamacallit candy bar I bought a week earlier (for research, I swear), three of those beers and an Ubu ale, I went to bed.

The problem with having leftovers is the temptation to finish them the next day. So I had the rest of the beer — three blueberry lagers and an Ubu ale — while cooking chicken parm for dinner on Saturday. Not only was there extra cheese on top of the chicken, but I cooked mozzarella sticks and spaghetti on the side. And, of course, there were leftovers for Sunday morning.

By Sunday night, I was in better control. By Monday, I was in diet mode again. Tuesday and Wednesday I did fine, but I’ve found it difficult to fit walking into my schedule and I haven’t made the time to prepare breakfast and lunch, leaving me wide open for overeating at night.

This past week, I’ve felt as though the world was crashing down on top of me. I’m off balance. I want the snow to melt so I can go outside and walk without freezing my feet. I need a vacation. There’s no end in sight for all the work I have on my plate. I feel like I’m getting sick. My laptop died a couple days ago — with the only copy of the lecture I’m presenting in a couple weeks at Union College — and I don’t have the money to fix it. Deadlines and bills are piling up. Arguments with my wife don’t help. I’ve got to shovel more snow. I need to sleep for a few days.

Luckily, I remember to take a deep breath and count my blessings once in a while. When I feel like I’m drowning, I list all the good things happening in my life, and my emotions stabilize, at least for the moment.

I think of my loving wife and family, a successful and rewarding career, dozens of supportive friends and the fact that I’m living the dream here in the best place on Earth: the Adirondack Park.

I even think of a dog sitting on my head when I wake up in the morning. And it makes me smile.


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Blog Photos

Our dogs — Mickie the big dog and Minnie the little dog (Photo — Andy Flynn)