Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets

Being Grateful

I’m all about finding the joy right now. In such a troubling, terrifying world, I think we all owe it to ourselves to look for the bright moments, the joy, the happiness, no matter how small they may be.

The last time I wrote for this blog, we’d lost our beloved dog, Daisy, but now, almost three IMG_1290months later, we have a new pooch, Lexi. A rescue German Shepherd. She is bringing joy back into our lives again and somebody new to love. She gets on brilliantly with our resident dog, Mango and all the cats – though initially, they weren’t overly thrilled with her arrival!

Another thing I’m grateful for is my middle son passing his Theory Test first time, which was great news for us and today, he is going to pick up his very first car. I can hardly believe I have a child that is old enough to drive, but I do! In fact, I have three of them!

I’m grateful that my youngest son, who has always struggled with autism, is doing brilliantly in his new school. We had a long fight to get him the support we needed (which was ridiculous) but he has it now for the first time. Stability. Happiness and he, himself, is finding the joy in learning for the first time.

I’m grateful that I can write and I’ve had two books published since I last blogged – A Child To Heal Them and Saving The Single Dad Doc. I’m thrilled to pieces that I get to do the best job in the entire world, every single day!

 

There are other things going off in my life, that aren’t brilliant. Family members with significant illnesses for one, that we can’t do a damn thing about, but I am trying to find as much time as I can to be with them and create happy memories, before we’re unable to. Each joke, each smile, is something to be treasured.

I’m enjoying the warm, sunny days. The days I get to walk along the beach barefoot. The days I get to sit with my children around the dinner table and laugh. Small things, but wonderful things.

Years ago, Oprah Winfrey wrote about the importance of having a Gratitude Journal and I believe in that totally, because when you force yourself to look for the good, every single day, you find your focus shifting in life. You don’t concentrate so much on all the stuff that goes wrong, all the stuff that’s out of your hands that you can’t change, and instead you focus on what made you smile – whether it was a particularly beautiful flower you saw that day, or an old couple still holding hands, or just the fact that you enjoyed a particularly lovely cup of tea!

Try it and see. There are some lovely Gratitude Journals on the market. Or you can just pick up a pretty notebook and make your own.

In the meantime, if you’d like to read a story about hope and possibility and love, then check out Saving The Single Dad Doc! And remember to look for the joy and the beauty and enjoy your life in lots of small, little ways. Why not tell me below about what you are grateful for today? Try and find three things and share! I can’t wait to read them.

Louisa xxx

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets

Love and Loss

(WARNING – This hurt me to write. I apologise if it upsets anyone, but I felt the need to tell the story)

Ten years ago, when our youngest son was four years old, we were struggling to reach him and communicate effectively. His speech was minimal and the words he did say, were often unintelligible, except to me and his Dad.

Back then he hadn’t been diagnosed, though we strongly suspected autism was the case. I was researching autism, trying to find other parents like me, struggling to reach their child and I came across two families, that had brought a dog into their home to try and make a break-through. We’d always had dogs in the house, but hadn’t for a while, after the death of our previous dog, Lucy, a golden labrador.

So we decided the time was right for another.  And bought a fluffy white bundle that looked like a baby polar bear.

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Her name was Daisy and she was a golden retriever.

Goldens are renowned for their gentle spirit, intelligence and capacity for patience and love and we knew that she’d need it. Jack could be furious and physical, lashing out in frustration at not being able to convey his feelings.

Until Daisy and Jack met.

Daisy settled into our home well. Making friends with everybody, including the rather unimpressed cats and our other children, tolerant of all the loud noises and the constant hands that wanted to pat her and stroke her. Jack often lay down on the floor, using her body as a pillow and she would follow him and the others around, making sure they were always in sight, always around.

Jack’s verbal abilities and temper became better. He helped us take Daisy for walks and they would play and run in the surf together and when Jack got tired (which wasn’t easy!) Daisy would continue to play in the water and chase seagulls and sticks and whatever you threw for her.

She became our family dog and entered our hearts so easily with her big, brown eyes and soft, white fur and the way she’d somehow manage to make you pet her, whilst you were watching television or a movie. The way she’d nuzzle her nose under your hand, so that you’d stroke her or give her a belly rub.

She loved physical contact.

She loved us.

You could see it, clearly in her eyes. In the wag of her tail. In the way she’d sit at the window whenever you left the house and stay there until you came back again. The greeting when you came through the door.

She had some funny quirks. She liked rolling in smelly stuff. She liked to dive into dirt just after you’d given her a bath. She liked to rub herself into the grass so hard, she’d give herself a grass bindi – a little green stain in the centre of her forehead. And after breakfast, lunch and dinner, with her belly full, she would roll onto her back and squirm about, as if she were getting a spinal massage, whilst groaning and moaning in joy.

She never barked. She never chewed something she shouldn’t. She often looked guilty for something the other animals had done, as if she were willing to take the blame, but she was always so happy for those cuddles and kisses to let her know that you weren’t mad.

And then, a week ago today, April 20th, I found her lying in the garden. I thought she was sunbathing. The weather was hot, but it was still early morning, so not too bad. But there was something about the way she was lying, that made my inner red flags go up.

As I got closer, I saw her breathing was off and so I immediately checked her gums and they were white. Not the healthy pink they should be and I knew she was either in shock from something, or was suffering internal blood loss. I called the vets and they asked me to rush her in.

The vet, Hannah, could feel a mass in her abdomen, but as they’re a small practice, they didn’t have an ultrasound machine and needed to send her to Portsmouth to get it done at their emergency surgery.

But she wasn’t strong enough for travel. They offered to put her on a drip and get some fluids into her and painkillers in case she was hurting anywhere. She couldn’t stand because her blood pressure had tanked.

They did a chest X-ray, but it only showed that her heart was enlarged. Now stabilised, they asked us if we wanted to see her before they took her to Portsmouth and we all went in and surrounded her with love and affection. Stroking her. Telling her that we loved her. That she had to fight, whatever it was. And then it was time to go.

We sat at home. Jumping every time the phone rang and believe you me the world and his wife suddenly wanted to talk. Random calls. Marketing calls. We tried to be polite, but were probably curt to get them off the phone.

Then the cardiologist rang. Daisy had fluid around her heart and it wasn’t beating properly. The mass in her abdomen was a build up of fluid that her system couldn’t shift. The fluid around her heart could be one of two things. Either a simple infection, in which they could operate to remove the pericardial sac and fluid and she’d be fine, OR, it could be a cancer, in which case, she wouldn’t survive.

We had to give her the chance to live, so we pinned our hopes on it being an infection and gave them permission to operate. The next hour was terrible as we waited. Our children were upset, no-one could eat, our stomachs felt painful and twisted. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Keep busy? We couldn’t concentrate on anything, except replaying everything that had happened.

And then the phone rang. The cardiologist had found a massive tumour running through her heart. There was no way she would survive. Did she have our permission to put her to sleep?

Hearts broken, we said yes. We’d wanted a last goodbye. To be there, when it happened, but it would have been too cruel to have woken her, in pain, just so that we could be there. So she was put to sleep.

Our world stopped. We all fell to pieces. There’s a big, Daisy shaped hole in our home. No dog lying in the doorway that we have to step over every time. No dog waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs when we come down in the morning. No-one lifting our hand with a  big, wet nose, for a cuddle.

The sight of her dog bowls in the kitchen had me in floods of tears. Finding her lead in the car, broke me again. Hearing my children sob in their rooms tore me asunder.

This is all so raw. So painful. But I know that we will, in time, be able to talk about her with a smile and bring up happier memories. We will be able to look at photographs of her and feel a good feeling.

She had a good life. She was the happiest dog I know.

RIP Daisy. We will always miss you and will forever have a piece of our hearts.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets, Quirky Stories, Reading, The Writing Life

My No Blog Blog

This is my “No Blog Because I Forgot to Blog” blog. It was on my calendar, I got the reminders, knew it was coming up. Yet, every time I saw one of those pop-up 49674273reminders, I thought to myself, I’ll do it tomorrow.” Well, here it is, half-way through my blog day, and I still haven’t done it.

 

Why? Because I get distracted. Or, too busy. Because I have other things to do. Maybe I just want to take a nap, instead. Whatever the reason, here I am at the last minute, unprepared. But life is like that in a lot of ways, isn’t it? Insurance payment coming up and you know you need to pay it, but you’re not in the mood right now, so tomorrow… Oops, it’s five days later and you’re writing your “I Forgot to Pay” blog. Your father-in-law’s birthday is coming up and you keep putting off buying that card, then suddenly you’re writing that “Why my 01d6bb7057b53f54559383a6203e330fFather-In-Law Hates me” blog.

Life is full of distractions. Some we create for ourselves. Some are created for us. Of course, in my case, some are created by my cat at the exact moment I want to write. She knows. She always knows. But, I allow it, because I want to be distracted. I want that few minutes of purring in my ear, that few minutes of putting off what I know I need to do. I need that distraction. I really do, because life closes in. It surrounds us. We multi-task nowadays (even though some experts say there’s no such thing.) We let ourselves get caught up in things that waste our time. For me, Facebook. Sometimes up to an hour a day, complaining about it every second it holds me hostage. There used to be a time, in that spare hour, when I’d read, or play the piano, or even write (before I was a writer.) All pleasant things. Distractions, perhaps,  but ways to enrich me as I was being distracted.

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Now though, people accept their distractions for what most of them are – a time suck, a waste of true enjoyment or productivity. They count on their distractions to move them from place to place. In some cases, even motivate them. I’m bored—play a game. I’m sick of doing what I’m doing—go to social media of your choice. I need to call my mother—go eat a taco. In a way, we plan these distractions, and while there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, we let them consume us. And, not in a good way, especially when they start to take over.

For a writer, a distraction can be fatal for a deadline. For a doctor, it can be fatal for a patient. So, it makes me wonder, where has our attention span gone? I know where mine goes. Cats, research, chatting with friends. But, only in moderation (except for, apparently, when it comes to writing my blog). I plan distractions in my daily routine because the body, as well as the mind needs them. The truth is, you can’t stay focused all the time. Sometimes you have to let down. I get that. But what I don’t get is how our distractions have become almost as important as the task-at-hand. I shouldn’t let my cat anywhere near me when I’m writing. I know that, but I still do it. Then ask myself, why?

Personally, I think it’s because we’re losing the concept of self-discipline. The grandmother who raised me was all about that. In her iron-fisted, little German body, she had more self-discipline than any ten people (put together) I know today. But, she came from a different era, where a distraction for her meant a meal might not get served (and there was no calling out for pizza), or a bath might not get taken (because there was no hot tap water and a warm bath came from water heated on a wood stove.) For me, the worst that can happen if I get distracted is that I do call out for that pizza, or I just hop in the shower later on.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Maybe the distractions we face are a generational thing. Perhaps earlier generation distractions had bigger consequences? I don’t know, but it makes sense. Especially on those nights when I invite all my grown kids to dinner and see them distracted from eating because they’re tied up with their phones. The consequences of that – cold food which can be reheated in the microwave.20170224_192732_resized

Maybe it’s time to measure our distractions. Get off the phone, read a book. Get off the social media, go outside and take a walk. Get off the game, call your mother. Distractions are allowed, but they need to be re-defined into something that benefits us. Talking on the phone throughout an entire family meal never has, and never will. It’s simple, really. Choose our distractions wisely. Choose them so they’re beneficial, not detrimental. That’s all I’m saying.

Except, cats. Cats can always be a distraction. Just ask my three. They’re the distraction experts.

My book, Saved by Doctor Dreamy, came out the first of June. It’s available in all the usual places. It’s all about the wild jungles in Costa Rica where the wrong distraction can cost you your life. Or, your true love.

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As always, wishing you health and happiness.

DD

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets, The Writing Life

Love is the answer

kate hardy sept 2015 400pxI’m writing this with a really heavy heart, given the events of Saturday night in London. But I’m also writing with a sense of defiance, because the extremists who seem to hate just about everything do NOT have the right to tell me what to think, do, wear or anything else for that matter. And I’m not letting them win by letting them suck the joy and the love out of my life. (Or the bigots who are using this as an excuse for spewing vileness and hatred against anyone who doesn’t look or sound like them.)

So if this seems light and frothy and inappropriate, I apologise, because recent events have hit me very deeply (my teenage daughter and I go to concerts together all the time, and we’re due in Manchester next month to see Radiohead at the Arena – something we’ve wanted for years and looked forward to since the second I got tickets; and the M&B offices are at London Bridge Street so that’s very close to home).

I believe that sharing love and joy is the best thing we can do right now. Find our common ground instead of using our differences to divide us even further.

So in that spirit – along with my family, here are three things that I love.

The seaside. This is Wells-next-the-Sea, where my husband took me on our first date outside the little market town where we both lived at the time. It holds a special place in my heart – it’s also the first place where our eldest went to the seaside and tried ice cream (while still in his baby sling), where I go when I’m sad and need something to bolster me, and where we go when we’re happy (DH’s birthday two days ago, and we took the puppy with us – he loved having a run along the sand and meeting lots of new dogs).

Archie. He’s nearly 9 months old now and has brought us so much joy. I didn’t cope at all well when we had to say goodbye to Byron, and the only thing that got me through was knowing that we’d have four paws and a waggy tail in the house again. Archie’s great-x5 grtandparents were Byron’s grandparents, and it’s really nice to have that continuity. Archie’s exuberant, terribly inquisitive, and believes that everyone he meets is going to be his new best friend. And he’s really cuddly. (I posted a pic of him a while back showing this dinky little pup on my lap – now, he’s INCREDIBLY tall as you can see by him giving me a cuddle, here.)

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Bluebells. I’m fortunate enough to live near a bluebell wood, and May is an utter joy. This year, they seemed to stretch on for ever and ever and ever. It was glorious. (This was taken without a filter, btw. It really was that magical.)

imageTell me what you love, and share a picture – I’d be thrilled to see it.

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets, The Writing Life

What a difference two months make…

kate hardy sept 2015 400pxTwo months ago, I talked about losing my lovely old boy – and about our new little bundle of joy who’d joined our family.

What a difference two months make. When Archie first came home, he was tiny and could fit on my lap.

 

 

 

 

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Now, he’s a whopping 15.9kg (about 5-9kg less than his full adult weight), though he still is a lapdog and he’ll hop onto my lap to have a snooze if I sit down in the evenings. (Otherwise he’s doing what a Proper Author’s Dog does and sits by my feet.)

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He’s still at the toddler stage of being into everything and can reach almost to the back of the kitchen worktops (you would not believe how tidy my house is right now). You cannot leave newspapers or shoes about, or they *will* be trashed. He is completely banned from my office!

I have a string of very clashing deadlines at the moment, so I’m desperate for him to sleep in the day so I can work. The way to achieve this is to take him for a very long walk (he’s getting so much better at walking on a loose lead, thanks to puppy classes), and then he naps for an hour and a half and I can focus.

Obviously, being on deadline means that I’m a tiny bit stressed (!) and I’m eating way too many biscuits (shortbread being my favourite – but gingerbread men will do very nicely, thank you). But, because I’m going on all these long walks, my weight is staying the same. (Result!! Thank you, Archie.)

He’s quite a character – one of my friends captioned this pic “Cool Paw Archie” (aka Cool Hand Luke).

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In fact, he’s been a total joy, and I think the thing that put the biggest lump into my throat when taking my son back to uni for the second term was when he sat on the kitchen floor hugging the puppy and they both looked so sad. (They’ll be reunited in the Easter holidays.) My Facebook feed is full of pictures and videos of him – and he’s got a starring role in both my current book and the book after next. Whether I manage to get a spaniel on the cover is another matter entirely… But I’m trying 😉

So my question for you today is: what’s your biscuit of choice?

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets, The Writing Life

Saying goodbye… And hello!

kate hardy sept 2015 400pxThis year has been a bit of a rollercoaster year. We knew we were on borrowed time with Byron, our beloved Springer Spaniel – he was 14 1/2 and, considering that he’d had a heart murmur as a puppy, he’d done incredibly well.

But we had noticed him slowing down a lot over the summer and he tended to sleep all day. To be honest, I feel as if he was waiting for our eldest to be settled at university and then for our youngest to  come back from a school trip to Berlin before he’d admit that he’d had enough. We’d always said that we would do the right thing by him when the time came, and we did.

imageBut it totally broke my heart, and I discovered that I just couldn’t function when the house felt so wrong. There was a massive dog-shaped hole in the house. I couldn’t get used to not hearing the thump of a tail as I walked downstairs, or the patter of paws across the floor, or just gentle doggy snoring at my feet while I was working. I spent most of the day sobbing my eyes out.

When we lost our previous spaniel in 2006, we had planned to get another pup (we were using to having two dogs), but we were remodelling the house at the time and it wouldn’t have been fair to bring a pup into the chaos. Byron got used to being an only dog, so we decided to leave it. The breeder we’d planned to go to had a very long waiting list – so quite what possessed me to look up their website when Byron died… (I think my parents and my old spaniels had a hand in it, but that’s another story.)

But there were pups for sale. Three boys. I got in touch, we went to meet them and played with them, and one of them climbed onto my lap and fell asleep. We’d clearly been chosen. It was too soon for our youngest and she felt we were being disrespectful, but Gerry and I felt it was fate – especially when I recognised names on the paperwork and we realised that the new pup was actually related to our Byron.

imageSo Archie came to join our home nearly 3 weeks ago. He’s a very bright, funny, affectionate little chap. He hasn’t replaced Byon, but is a gorgeous addition to our family. He is a bit of a shock to the system after an elderly dog – he’s absolutely full of beans and it’s like having a toddler in the house again (even down to putting him in time out when he’s overexcited and nippy – puppy teeth are like razors and the ‘ow’ thing doesn’t work because he thinks we’re playing). I can only really work either when he’s asleep or when someone else is home to puppy-sit, but it has focused me. And, most importantly, the house feels right again with four paws and a waggy tail.

Even if he does rearrange my kitchen cupboards for me and find odd places to nap…image  image

Do you have pets? I’d love to hear all about them!

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets, The Writing Life

Puppies, Puddles and Pant legs

I’m away at a horse show today, but while I’m gone, I’ll share some pictures of our newest addition to the family. A puppy! A cute, uncomplicated, well-mannered little doll. Okay, so none of that is true except for the cute part. You can guess from the title of this blog post that a) we have a puppy, b) she makes puddles in unfortunate places, and c) she has a penchant for grabbing the hem of our jeans and letting herself be dragged along (no matter how many times we tell her that it’s simply unacceptable).

Yesterday I was texting my husband about the puppy’s latest escapades, and he finally texted back: I thought empty nests were supposed to be quiet (we just sent our youngest off to college last year). Hmmm…he had me there. I finally responded: Well that would be true, if we actually left it empty. Score one for me. Or maybe that point goes to the puppy.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite puppy moments:

  1. The day we brought her home from our friends’ house, where she was born. One would never suspect the changes that would soon befall our little household, where only a cat, a chinchilla, and an elderly pug reside.img_0195
  2. . This is our pup’s normal routine: Find stuff. Chew stuff. Make puddles and piles. img_0220
  3. Redecorating the house. Every home needs a dead tree in it, according to Miss Puppy. And yes she can fit through the cat door. For now. She’s only nine weeks old and growing fast!oreos-tree
  4. Getting ready for bed. My favorite time of day. She loves her pillow. And we love that she loves her pillow.oreos-bed

What about you? Any funny pet stories you would like to share? Or training tips that have gotten you through the worst of the worst?

And because I also have a book being released this month, I’ll share my cover. I can’t help but wonder what this sweet scene might look like if our puppy had her way! a-daddy-for-her-daughter