My Dogs are Jedi Masters

mom and boys


Yoda has nothing on my dogs.  They really are the Jedi Masters of peace and tranquility.  They are so good, they taught me to chill out.


I got to the point in my life that chaos was the norm. My best friend and I used to joke about how we have this sick tendency to actually enjoy having a full plate. It makes us energized and even perform the competing tasks at hand better than if there was only one to do.


Chaos became the norm.  That was okay when it was work, I felt I could handle it.  But it never just stays at work.


I used to work for an organization that was simply exhausting.  Chaos would have been a welcome break.  I had over an hour drive from work and would use this time to ‘decompress’ and put myself in a better place for when I got home and was with my son.


When I quit that job the first thing he said to me was, “Thank you, you were always in a bad mood during the week when you got home.”


So much for decompressing and being in a better place.


I used to run around on the weekend trying to accomplish what needed to be done throughout the week in a day. Cleaning, cutting the grass, weeding, grocery shopping, laundry – and by the way, how do two people have so much dang laundry?  Chaos was becoming a norm in my personal time, too.


One night I was sitting down, exhausted, and over came one of my pups.  He nonchalantly plopped his head on my lap.  My first thought was “I am too tired to play” but then I looked down at him.


If you are a dog person, you will understand the look I saw in his eyes.  If you are not, just go with it. He looked at me as if to say, “really *sniff* you don’t have time to even pat my head?”


Guilt by dog.


Of course I patted his head, rubbed his ears, and gave him undivided “mom” time.  This brought one of the other ones over and it became a puppy love fest. For that period of time I did not think of any tasks or things left undone, I just enjoyed getting happy mauled by my dogs.  Once they had their fill of attention, they went back to sleep.


Just as easy as that.  Fifteen minutes of play time then so relaxed that they took a nap. Seriously?  I want that!


As crazy as it sounds, I studied my dogs that weekend.  I was like a modern day doggy Jane Goodall. When they had a task to complete (eat, chase, dig) they gave it their complete and undivided attention.  When they were done, they were done.  They did not go back to that hole and think, “I could have done more, maybe I should dig from the outside in next time.” The threw themselves into the task at hand.


Then they napped.


They enjoyed the outside, laying in the sunshine, soaked it all up until they sounded like they were about to pass out, then they went in the house and laid on the cool tile floor.


Then they napped.


On walks they literally stopped to smell the roses…and the grass, and the mailbox posts, and the other dogs poop, and the wind and their own butt…  Even if we just saw that mailbox post yesterday, they were going to sniff it again, you never know what could have happened in 24 hours. Every smell was awesome! They took full advantage of what was around them.


Then they napped.


At night they nestled close by, getting belly rubs, rolling their little puppy eyes back in their head from sheer pleasure then started snoring.


These guys know how to live! Besides realizing my dogs took a lot of naps, I realized they had taught me a thing or two:


  • Put all your effort in the task at hand; when it is over, it is over.
  • Enjoy your surroundings.
  • Rest and rejuvenate.
  • Move – play, keep your body active.
  • Every day is a new day, you never know if there is something new in your same old path.
  • Relax, it gives you more energy when you have tasks to accomplish.
  • There is great joy in the smallest pleasures.
  • Treats are good.
  • Take time for yourself.
  • Take time to love the ones you love.


I have incorporated my Yoda dogs teachings into my daily life:

meditation pup


I take breaks throughout the day to go outside and enjoy the sunshine, birds, clouds, rain – whatever the situation is, I do a mental break and immerse myself in the sights and sounds of the right there.  Recently I put up a couple hummingbird feeders outside my office – I am in heaven during these breaks watching those little guys buzz about.


When the work day is done, it is done.  Then it is time for the family, dedicated, quality time.


Sleep.  We get sleep now as a regular thing not as a so-exhausted-I-fell-into-bed thing and please let me get just a couple of hours.


Daily walks with the dogs and time at the gym to keep physically active helps reduce stress.


And treats, lots of treats.  A massage, a manicure, a day trip, a special meal – whatever it is, treats are good!


Try following a dog’s life this weekend and see if you don’t get converted by these Jedi Masters of happiness.



A little about me: I do what I love: help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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Work With What You’ve Got

Going outside your comfort zone can be overwhelming.  Even if the step you are taking is a tiny one, it can still cause quite a bit of anxiety.


I was asked to give a four-minute talk at a networking event called Sparks.  It is a similar format as the TED Talks with two four-minute presenters and a ten-minute presenter.  The talks are focused on ideas worth sharing – not about promoting your business. 


This would not seem like a problem for me, as I am a talker.  I love facilitating workshops and speaking so I was thrilled to present.  It also let me be creative in what I wanted to talk about.  I’m a creative person so again, this shouldn’t have been an issue.


I chose to talk about gratitude and for the metaphors use one thing I love: dogs.


It is all sounding good and I was getting excited.


But here is the thing: I wanted it to be good and what I found was I was running over on my time.


If that were to happen I would immediately be clapped off the stage – so it is a strict four minutes.


Now the anxiety started creeping in, it was getting out of my comfort zone because I was not able to control all the factors. 


Do I trim the talk to make it fit but loose some of the punch?

Do I start over thinking of a new angle but loose the excitement of what I want to use?

Do I adjust my talking speed in the middle to account for the timing?




That’s it!


I realized that there is no way that I could really say what I wanted, in the format and flow that I wanted in a “normal” way in four minutes so what I needed to do what use one of my other talents – the ability to talk really fast.


If I sped up in the middle of my talk the cadence would throw people off and possibly loose them.  But if I started and stayed at high speed it would be consistent and just might work.


People can listen to fast talking and get what is said.


The result – about an eight minute talk in four minutes that was very well received.  Oh sure, the speed talking was entertaining, but people also got the message; they heard it, they understood it and hopefully someone got it.


This experience reminded me of a line of thinking that I believe my dad instilled in me: use what you’ve got.


I was a short kid, a skinny kid and a girl.  I was also a tomboy so all the prior qualities were kind of detriments to that.  But he taught me to use what I’ve got to do what I want.  No excuses, just alternatives.


Instead of looking at a problem or goal and thinking about how you cannot accomplish it because you lack certain things, he taught me to look at it and figure out how I am going to succeed based on what I have or know.


Whether you are stuck in a situation, take a step back and think about using what you’ve got to solve the problem.  You may not have the education that a company is looking for in hiring for a position, but maybe you have the experience or life skills that compensate or outshine that diploma.  Use what you’ve got.


And use it to your advantage.


Here is a link to the video of the talk, I hope you enjoy it.



Lisa K McDonald – Gratitude: Three Legged Dogs and Piles of Poop



I think my dad would have, but he certainly would not have been surprised by the speed talking.  He got used to that many years ago.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


When the Dog Pees on the Bed



Overall, I am positive person.  I do not look at a glass half empty or half full – I look at it as I need more wine.  I have learned long ago that it is up to me to take full accountability for my life. I am solely responsible for my failures and my successes. 


Given that, I still have crappy days.  I remember one night I walked into my bedroom after letting the dogs out for the night only to watch my biggest pup jump up on my bed, turn around a few times and then pee on the comforter.  Seriously.  He peed on my bed.  Luckily, I was able to let out some sort of noise that interrupted the flow and it was only a bit, but still.


He peed on my bed!


I gathering my bedding and hauling it to the washing machine and, I will admit, cursing at the dog not so much under my breath.  I was tired, ready for bed and here I was waiting for the wash.  It helped a little when I looked over and saw the look on his face as if saying to me, “What, I’m doing this because I love you.  Rub my belly!”  Still, it was a crappy night. 


Luckily, it was at the end of the day and not the beginning or it could have possibly turned into starting the day with the dog peeing on the bed and ended with a full moon, mercury in retrograde, zombie apocalypse type of day.  


Lately I have been in a funk.  The dog hasn’t peed on the bed for some time, full moons have come and gone and I have no idea what Mercury is up to so what the heck?  I am being positive and yet I was feeling like the whole pack peed all over the bed and I didn’t know it until I climbed into bed. 


The positive in me was reaching for the wine.  But then that the little voice in my head whispered one little word:




What I realized is that in the last few days a couple of people in my life are going through a rough time.  As a recovering fixer, I was taking on their anger, frustration, heartbreak and sadness.  I was soaking up all that crap like a sponge and they were oblivious. 


Well, that is just darn selfish.  How selfish of me to assume anything on their account.  It didn’t help their situation and it certainly was not helping me. 


That is when I realized the positive in me wasn’t reaching for the wine to pour more, it was reaching for it to knock me upside the head with it.


I have had some big projects that I have been working on and soaking up their stuff was interfering with it. 


How many times do we do this?  Maybe we have a big project at work, are looking for a job or trying to position ourselves for a promotion at work and then all of a sudden we are completely side-tracked.


We start taking on other people’s stuff and start having the dog peed on the bed kind of days.


Stop it.  It isn’t your bed.


I am going to suggest something that will sound completely selfish: focus on you.


Yes, that is selfish, but that is the point.  If I had called you and told you the dog peed on my bed you would probably laugh.  You aren’t going to be mad at my dogs or take on my bad mood.  Heck no, you would laugh.  I would.  Maybe even tell me to have fun cleaning that up or better me than you.


So why do we feel it necessary to take the sheets of the bed for other people?  Now if I continued to go on and on and on about the dog peeing on the bed most people would probably start to limit their communications with me.  I would.  My thought would be, “for crying out loud, wash the sheets and get over it.”


But too often we allow other people to keep telling us over and over about the dog peeing.  That is when we need to put space between us, even if temporarily.  That is what being selfish is all about: giving yourself space.  They may get mad at you and call you selfish, but that is just because they are too wrapped up in the incident to move forward.  Leave them be.


It is like playing a game of basketball and sitting on the bench so the other guy can keep shooting because he is having a bad day.  No, you do not lower yourself because someone else is not able to raise his or herself.


The most important thing you can do for yourself is to be selfish in your commitment to take care of yourself, achieve your goals and be a positive world citizen.  This makes you a better leader, family member and candidate for a position.  Allow others to have their days while returning focus to yourself and your goals. 


It is okay to offer to help make the bed when the washing is done, just don’t let them bring the bedding with the pee on it to your house to wash. 


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach & Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer


Start Wanting What You Have

Luke and his toys (2)For some reason we seem to be stuck in a world of comparison.  We compare where we think we should be based on someone else.  “I would be happy if I had what they had” type mentality.  Never mind what we already have, we want theirs.


This thought struck me when I was watching my pups play.  I have two male dogs about 3 and 4 years old a Lab/Boxer mix and a Pit/Basset mix – Luke and Bandit.  Side note for all the animal owners – they came to me pre-named so no, I have no reason for naming them those names.


They had discovered two tennis balls that had been tucked away and were overwhelmed with joy in rediscovering these “new” toys.  All was bliss and happiness when they each first grabbed one.


Then it began.  The “I want what you have” game.  One would be happily chewing on his toy and the other would just stare at him, waiting for the toy to roll away so he could pounce on it despite having the exact same toy right in front of him all to his own.


This went on for quite some time.  There is no reasoning with this.  You could try to tell Luke that he has the exact same toy as Bandit but he would just give you that look like, “I know his is better, I want it.” Dogs don’t reason.


For some reason, we get in that same mentality.


In searching for a job we think that if we had the same type of opportunities that someone else has then we would be successful, we would be happy.


We stop looking at what is right in front of us and the possibilities that might exist within those and long for something else.


When you approach it in this way all you are doing is trading one slobbery slightly gnawed on tennis ball for another.


With the New Year approaching many are going to be tempted to make out their resolutions and on top of that list might just be to get a new or better job.  Before you put that down, take a moment to evaluate your current opportunity.


Is it possible that there are opportunities there that you have not identified, rather looked over because you have slobber toy envy?  Is it possible that if you approached your existing situation with the same enthusiasm and positive expectations that you would be able to see it as the right “next” move for you?


As soon as I started playing with Luke and his discarded toy he immediately perked up and decided he really, really wanted that toy.  Then a funny thing happened, Bandit decided he no longer wanted his toy, instead he wanted Luke’s because obviously it was better because Luke was enjoying it much more than he was.


It isn’t the toy or the job – it is the attitude.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Getting Just A Little More Than You Expected

Two of the pack Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW, Career Polish, Inc.
Luke & Brutus
So yesterday I told the story of timing and bringing Bandit back home, but there was one little fact I left out – I brought back a little more than I expected. Brutus. My pack is now up to five. My best friend Jackie said I had to stop because if I needed two hands to count my dogs then I would officially cross over into crazy lady zone.

I couldn’t help it! While I was finishing my paperwork for Bandit in walked this young man and said he found this pup under a car the night before. I looked over and saw the cutest, tiniest version of one of my dogs that I just looked at the kid, sighed, and said, “Oh, just hand him over” and that is how Brutus came home.

It hit me when I walked in my house that bringing home a miniature dog might not have been the best idea since I already had a very hyper year old boxer-lab mix, Luke, who is FULL of energy. Maybe he would squash the puppy or accidently swallow him. Luke’s favorite toy is Lexi, the puggle, he loves to chew on her and they happily tear at each other throughout the day. It was quite possible Luke would swallow Brutus if he tried the same thing, or at the very least snap him in half. And then there could have been the issue of a big dog not liking such a small dog.

As you can tell from the picture, I have no worries. Luke is in seventh heaven. To him, I just brought home two more playmates, and one is a real life toy. Not only did he like him, he loves him. At best I was hoping for acceptance but with the two new additions, I got so much more. What is the saying, hope for the best prepare for the worst?

As it is Friday I encourage you to look back at this week and find one thing that was a happy surprise, it doesn’t have to be anything huge, maybe just something as small as the perfect cup of coffee. I think sometimes we are so frustrated that when we look for something good we look for something big – we get confused. Now, having five dogs that all get along, that is big. But that is not the only good of my week. I also had a lovely surprise after the NAWBO Connections this week.

And that lovely surprise turned out to be more than I expected, as well. Looking back at my week, good and bad, I have decided the good outweighs the bad so I am going to celebrate. I will be finishing early today to go enjoy the Indiana State Fair, even though it is Purdue day, I’m an IU grad and I am going with a Purdue grad – this should be fun! I’ll be making up some lost time tomorrow, but for tonight, I think I will just simply enjoy a wonderful evening and be thankful that I have more than I expected.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Polish, Inc.