An encounter with unwavering optimism

As I walked the dog the other day, I ran into my neighbor Ed and his new puppy, Mango. If you knew Ed, you’d know he is an unlikely muse. But this week, he was just that for me.

Ed’s dog Ginger, a standard poodle, died last year at just three years old—very suddenly. He is a tough but tender Southern gentleman with a Texas twang—not one to show much emotion. But when Ginger died, Ed was heartbroken. He swore to me he would not get another dog.

Enter Mango. Another standard poodle, Mango stole Ed’s heart and within just a couple of months of losing Ginger, into his life she came.

Mango’s energy makes a volcanic eruption look tame. She is being professionally trained to no avail. She jumps, barks and yips uncontrollably whenever she meets someone new.

As my dog and I approached Ed and Mango, I had to yell over the din of Mango’s barking. “How’s it going, Ed?”

“Oh, just great, Kristine. She is really coming along.”

“That’s wonderful, Ed,” I said as I disentangled my dog from the tangle of leashes, petting her as Mango tried to jump on her back.

The yipping and barking got louder and the jumble of leashes felt like a Rubik’s cube I could not master.



It was all I could do not to laugh. He was serious.

“SHE IS A BUNDLE OF JOY, THAT’S FOR SURE,” I said, waving as I tried to pull my shell-shocked dog back onto her walking path.

Ed sees what he wants to see. Or, perhaps he just has faith in the future version of Mango. Either way, the pair trot happily along together day after day. The difference in him is amazing.

His unwavering optimism made me smile.

I decided to take a page out of his book this week, and look for the good. Living in the United States right now is challenging because we are so divided. I think we could all use some focus on the good.

Here, a little bit from my world to make you smile:

Jerry Sprecher. I have never met Jerry Sprecher, but I guess he is the village manager in a nearby town. I know this because I saw a message congratulating him on his retirement on the village sign. It seems he is retiring after 155 years of service. Wow. With people like Jerry in the world, the rest of us will be free to retire early. Score. Thanks, Jer. Although I am sure your coworkers forgot the decimal point in those years of service, your retirement made me smile today.

Tobey. At the vet this morning so my dog could undergo routine grooming, I waited and waited. And waited, wondering what was taking so long. Then I saw multiple vets running down the hall and an owner crying. This poor woman, ready to go to work in her scrubs, lost her dog this morning and was overcome with emotion. I know, I know. This is supposed to be a bit from my world to make you smile. Here it comes. As a few of us sat in the waiting area, somber because we had just seen this woman break down in tears, in galloped Tobey. Tobey is a golden retriever puppy, all of about 14 pounds right now. He approached each of us with a wagging tail and a big, wet kiss at the ready. As he bounded around the waiting room, unaware of what had just transpired, I literally watched the energy in the room shift. Tobey had us all smiling through our tears in seconds flat.

My friendly, obtuse neighbor. As I walked my dog this week, one of my female neighbors approached. I was trying to have a cell conversation and keep Bailey under control. She was yelling a greeting as she approached, already asking me questions. I waved my phone so she could see I was having a conversation, but to no avail. As I politely and with some difficulty extricated myself from that conversation and hung up to speak to her, her phone rang. “Oops, I have to take this!” she exclaimed cheerily. And off she went. Sigh. I actually did smile when I was done gritting my teeth. Because the Universe often sends me just what I need—and it’s usually people who require I learn patience.

Ordinary people. A Facebook friend posted this message the other day: “What are you doing to make the world a better place today? I know you are!” The responses warmed my heart.

“Monday I passed out some extra foodstuffs to the homeless I walk past every workday. – Today I’m doing the same. We are a family of four, my wife is a ‘Foodie,’ so we always seem to either ‘happen to come by food” or ‘have a bit that we can’t finish/more then we need’ so I sometimes (e.g. once, maybe twice every other week) have something I can hand out. It’s not ‘a lot’ but it’s still a contribution.”

“Volunteering at Rainbow Community Center, an LGBTQ support & advocacy org.”

“Reaching out to a couple colleagues needing extra support these days. Because when I lift others up I usually feel better too.”

“Making art.”

“Signed petitions for good causes and donated to a politician who needs support.”

“I held my baby while he napped because he has a cold, and sometimes the most good I can do is to try to raise a compassionate and thoughtful man.”

Man, do us ordinary people rock. In so many small ways that add up to a big change in the energy of the world.

And a few other tidbits, a bit farther afield, bring me joy today:

Homeless men who walk the runway to raise money for their shelter

A seven-year-old who already knows the power of the pen and individual activism

Kids who give a rescue dog a second chance

Babies who come at just the right time to the right person

Without getting schmaltzy, if Tobey can work his magic in a matter of seconds in a veterinary hospital waiting room, imagine what we can do in our own lives.

I think Ed is on to something.


28 Comments Add yours

  1. These days because I miss my dog so much that I am always ready to pet any dog. The sunlight seems brighter afterwards

    1. candidkay says:

      They add so much to our lives, don’t they? That unconditional love. As I type this, mine is laying by my feet after a walk:). I hope you’re able to see yours again soon.

  2. Kay you are so right, if we find the good in ourselves and others then offer it up, we lighten our own lives and those of everyone else around us. The only response to negativity is to shine the light of optimism. I’d rather be Pollyanna than the Wicked Witch of the West.

    1. candidkay says:

      Me too! Except for the ruby slippers. Can we be Polyanna but still keep the ruby slippers? 🙂

  3. Cindy Frank says:

    As always and ever, lovely and inspiring. Nailed it!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Appreciate you reading:).

  4. cristi says:

    I will carry this with me today…Thank you for making me smile!

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, that makes me happy:). Thanks for reading!

  5. The skeptic in me wanted to conclude that I’m not sure the universe has been sending me just what I needed. Then I reconsidered, realizing how much I love Ed’s optimism and how glad I am that I only feel like I’ve been working for 155 years. It seems especially important right now to find joy and a kinship of sorts with those who people our days in wonderful ways. Thank you so much for highlighting the good, the great and the special that can get overshadowed far too easily by the dire and overwhelming Big Picture.

    1. candidkay says:

      “Those who people our days in wonderful ways.” What a gorgeous way to put it!

  6. srbottch says:

    Nice observations. As for dogs, I’m convinced they are critical to a happy existence. We love our new Daisy, our first female of four dogs. She makes me laugh just to watch her pee. Yup, it’s the simple thing lie a dog peeing that can lift my spirits. Shoveling the snow from around out fire hydrant makes me feel good, too, even if it’s across the street. Have a great weekend! 🖖

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, it’s true. I think if we–per Gabe’s idea below–gave politicians each a puppy to carry on the floor of the House/Senate, it might make everything and everyone a bit lighter . . .

  7. You always create a wonderful understanding from honest real life stories Kristine. I Always enjoy reading your posts 💕

    1. candidkay says:

      Aw, thank you:). Warms any writer’s heart!

  8. Isn’t it amazing how quickly a rambunctious puppy can shift the mood?

    I can already hear the backlash and very reasonable arguments against it’s efficacy, but the playful optimist in me wants to sit back for a minute and imagine fairytale endings after making March a “Puppy-per-Politican” month…

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah, yes:). Perhaps we could get a certain world leader a puppy and see if that unconditional love changes anything . . . but I’m not sure I could do that to a puppy:).

  9. momnomsweb says:

    Go Ed! lol I love optimists!

    1. candidkay says:

      I think we are all secretly rooting for Ed and Mango:).

  10. Really enjoyed reading this! Full of positvity 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Hope it seeped into your bones:).

  11. Thank you for the chuckle. The description of your encounter with Ed and Mango was perfect. I’m sure we all have been in similar moments where the parent/owner is beaming with pride and hope for the endless possibilities ahead and oblivious to any possible logistic hurdles. You describe it with such humor. Thanks again for the smile.

    1. candidkay says:

      You’re welcome! Glad it gave you a chuckle:).

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I hope you’re finding some optimism in your corner of the world today:).

  12. suemclaren24 says:

    155 years. Wow. That’s impressive. Longevity of job aside, this morning I called to schedule a test at a local hospital. By the end of the conversation, the gal I was talking with was laughing so hard that she had a cough. We had a really nice exchange of information and when she commented on my making her laugh, having already established that I am retired, I said “that’s my job”. The day for each of us was lightened simply with conversation, and I’m still smiling.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I love exchanges like that! And it’s true, you retired folks hopefully are a little more Zen then the rest of us :-). Glad you’re sharing it!

  13. Bernadette says:

    This is a wonderful post filled with positive energy. Just what the Doctor ordered for the times.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). I hope it gave you a lift today!

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