A Royall Juggle

Archive for the ‘Personal Blog Posts’ Category

Just a few pieces of my family's pug collection

The title of my post was taken from a quote on my monthly pug calendar, just one of the many pug accessories my family has purchased over the years. We’ve had three family pugs, all of which were full of personality yet very unique. Our family pug tradition began during parent’s honeymoon, or lack thereof. Their honeymoon was cut short because they spent all their money on a pug puppy they couldn’t resist. They brought him home to start their life together. Soon after, my sister and I joined the family and grew up alongside their pug, Butchie (the strong-willed adventurer). From the day I was born, I was raised to view animals as an important part of family. Yes, my sister and I came before the pug, but Butchie was a close third. He taught us important life lessons growing up including perseverance – he spent the last few years of his life blind and deaf but always managed to sniff his way around and find his way back home. I still remember the day we got the phone call from my grandparents who were keeping him at the time to let us know Butchie had passed away – I was on my way to the pool but spent most of the afternoon in bed crying instead. It was only the second time I’ve had to deal with death as a child (the first being my grandpa when I was only two).

Millie was the best tailgating buddy even in her final years

Our second dog came as a Christmas gift when I was in middle school; ever since Butchie died, my sister and I had bugged our parents for another pug and we finally got our wish. Our second pug, Millie (the wise and loyal companion), helped me get through my awkward and rebellious teenage years. She could always sense when I was upset and stayed by my side through all the dramatic break-ups. Even though I have a wonderful family and friends, there is something about a dog’s enduring love and loyalty that is comforting. Millie also added lots of humor to my life – I remember laughing hysterically every time she welcomed someone to our house with a song (she had a funny howl and would sit on the steps and “sing” for each person that came into our home). She also loved to take road trips to our grandmother’s house, turn “gremlin” on my dad when he played just a little too rough and burrow every time she found something to crawl under. Once I headed off to college, I always looked forward to my welcome home song from Millie – I didn’t feel home until I heard it.  

Daisy Mae's first trip to the beach

After nine wonderful years with Millie, she passed away at an early age with pneumonia due to a misdiagnosis from a vet. This time I was an adult, and my poor boyfriend had to sit by my side and watch me cry for hours. My family had it even worse than me. They had to come home to an empty house, and my dad struggled to even walk through the door knowing that Millie wasn’t waiting for him on the other side. We didn’t wait as long this time to start looking for our third family pug. Just about a month after Millie died, my family brought home a little angel from Serenity Haven Kennel, Daisy Mae (the bubbly socialite). Daisy was tougher to raise than the first two; I had the luxury of just visiting her on my trips home from Northern Virginia. My sister was living at home at the time, and had to switch between “Daisy duty” with my parents because Daisy was always getting into something. Every time I called home during that first year, I was interrupted by someone screaming “DAISY NO” on the other line. Daisy has calmed down some since then, but still loves to get out and really enjoys the company of other people and dogs. She made it on the Serenity Haven website with her first fall calendar shot playing in the leaves in our backyard and took her first trip to the beach with us this year in which she loved all the attention she got from the beach bums (they all got out of their chairs to greet her). Now that my sister also has a dog, they have many play dates.

I’m definitely not alone in my love for dogs. There are many other families and pet owners out there that treat their dogs like family. In class, we took a peak at a couple of the social media sites for pet lovers, Dogster and Catster. In Dogster there is even a section dedicated to avid pug lovers like me. I should mention that we also had two cats growing up, one that was born in our closet when I was four and lived to be 20 years old (I’m a cat lover as well and animal lover in general). I usually can’t control my “dog talk” every time I see a cute dog on the street, and I speak to anyone I pass who is walking a pug because I feel an automatic connection. According to many studies, 60% of Americans own pets and those people are more likely to live longer than the other 40%. Why? Pets are good for your heart, motivate you to be more active and get outside, boost your immune system and reduce stress levels, among many other things. The love and laughter they bring into your life is irreplaceable. Unfortunately the apartment I live in now doesn’t allow pets, but I always look forward to my trips home to reunite with Daisy Mae, and I plan to convince my boyfriend that one day we should have a pug family as well :).

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The closing keynote at my company Forum last month, Dan Clark, gave one of the best speeches, or should I say oratories, that I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing (thanks to Georgetown Professor Mike Long, I now know the difference between the two). To engage the audience, Dan asked everyone to raise their hand if they think they are a good multi-tasker. About 25% of the audience proudly raised their hand (including me) and then the punch line… “You just admitted to being really good at doing a lot of things bad.”

Like most of the points in Dan’s oratory, he wasn’t telling us something we didn’t already know – he was just reminding us of the obvious (which surprisingly, we sometimes forget when to-do lists and stress start to take over).

The juggler story

Dan went on to tell a story about a juggler. When he asked a juggler, “How could you possibly juggle all eight balls in the air at once without letting one fall?”, the juggler replied “Because I’m only holding one ball at a time.” What he meant was that most of us have a lot to juggle in life, but if we don’t give our full attention to what we are doing at the moment, one or more of the balls could drop. We all know we can’t be at more than one place at a time physically, but since many of us live in a fast-paced world, we try to be at more than one place at a time mentally so we can finish that to-do list or fit it all in one day (one could argue the “fast-paced world” is a perception usually based on where you live and who you hang out with which I can relate as I grew up a country girl and have since migrated to the city).

On the topic of sleeping in, my boyfriend’s dad jokingly says “Don’t let them get ahead of you son.” Although he may be joking to some extent, I think competitiveness is what motivates a lot of people to multi-task. Other possible reasons: there are some things that we don’t think are worthy of our full attention and sometimes we have a hard time deciphering what’s truly important and focusing in on that.

Regardless of our motivation to multi-task, the problem with it is that people recognize when you are fully engaged or not, as referenced in Cluetrain Manifesto, Chapter Three: Talk is Cheap. One of my pet peeves is when I’m out with my friends and some of them are looking down at their BlackBerry or iPhone every few minutes. It’s hard enough to get my girlfriends from college all together since our lives are pulled in so many different directions, but when it actually works out, we can’t go a couple of hours without checking to see if we are missing something else! I always call people out for that and remind them of the message it sends (yes, I am guilty sometimes too).

I’m not saying that all types of multi-tasking is bad (I am at my boyfriend’s condo right now watching the Eagles game while I’m writing this post – Eagles football is something I can usually zone out pretty well unless they are playing the Cowboys), but I do think we should take some time to reflect on Dan’s juggler story when we start to feel overwhelmed. Whether it’s missing a meeting at work, losing touch with an old friend, or forgetting a family member’s birthday; we only have so many hours in the day and when we try to focus on too many things at once, something is bound to drop.

A wedding lesson we could all learn from

I just got home from a wedding this weekend in Williamsburg where the preacher gave advice that related to the points Dan made. Before the preacher started the ceremony, he unexpectedly asked the bride and groom to turn around to the audience in the church and look around. He told them to take in one of the most important moments in their life, “Look at all the people in the crowd who have been major influences in your lives and have helped guide you to where you are today. Appreciate them and remember their faces when you go through the best and the worst times in the future.” Then he reminded the bride and groom to always focus on what’s truly important, “This relationship is worth fighting for.” Although the preacher was offering this advice to the couple at the front of the altar, it resonated with me as well.

When we don’t feel like there are enough hours in the day and we are wearing ourselves too thin, maybe that’s the time to take a step back and think about how we are spending our time. Decide what’s truly important, spend more time nurturing those things and begin to zone out unimportant distractions. What’s worth fighting for in your life?

Although this is my first blog post, I’m definitely not new to writing about my life and expressing my point of view – I’ve kept a journal since third grade which may seem a bit ridiculous to most, but it’s a hobby I’m glad I started at an early age. Plus, the elementary and middle school journal entries never fail as a comic relief on a Friday night :). My friends always get a good laugh reading about why I chose to buy a journal instead of a George Strait country tape in 1992 or what I thought about Kelly and Zach breaking up on the latest “Saved by the Bell” episode. Although what I wrote about then may seem silly now, those journals hold little pieces of my past that keep me grounded and help me keep things in perspective.

The journal entries got few and far between as my life and technology changed. By college, I was much more concerned about planning my social calendar with friends on AIM and about who was “tagging” me in photos from karaoke last night on Facebook than I was about recording my life by pen and paper. Yes, things have changed drastically since I made that life-changing decision to buy my first journal. Now I’m working full-time, pursuing my master’s in PR and Corporate Communications at night and making sure my relationships with family and friends don’t suffer too much along the way. Trying to maintain a healthy work/life/school balance is definitely a juggling act – so is keeping up with all the technologies and tools that can help me do that more productively…


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