Deer of the Rings

Deer Raymond,

It seems like it takes forever for Christmas to get here!!! I hate waiting. What can I do to be more patient?

Signed,

Hurry up, Already

Dear HAL,

I know what you mean about patience! When I watch Lord of the Rings, I don’t want to listen to the Hobbits go on and on about second breakfast or watch those stupid orcs building things out of mud and nasty wood. I want to see some Ents kicking butt, and Aragorn winning the battle. So – when I put the trilogy on, I start with Return of the King. My human says that’s not the best way to watch because while I’m rushing to get to the end, I miss the beautiful part where Arwen gives Aragorn the Evenstar, and cool stuff like when Gandalf stand up to the Balrog. Turns out, by racing to the end – I lose a lot of good experiences.

Patience isn’t a word most people like very much, but that’s because they don’t understand it. Patience doesn’t mean just standing around waiting for something to happen. Patience means that even when something is challenging, or isn’t happening at your pace, you stay with it and you work with it. Patience is a form of acceptance. When you open yourself up to other people and situations as they are (not as you want them to be), you develop patience and get wisdom in return.

So this holiday season, instead of rushing through to the 25th – eat some cookies, watch some movies, give to other people, and sing some songs. It won’t make the wait any faster, but you’ll get so much more in the long run.

Your Fighting Friend,

Raymonden of Rohan

I Need a Hero

Deer Raymond,

I always want to do something really powerful at Christmas. If I could rescue a homeless cat or dog, or give presents to kids who don’t get any or save someone from a burning Christmas tree, I would feel like a Superhero. But I don’t have very much money or space in my house, and I hope no tree actually burns down cause I’m kinda afraid of fire. How can I save Christmas if I can’t do amazing things?

Signed,

Normal Old Stanley.

Dear Stanman,

Did you know I was awarded the Deer Medal of Daring for my work guiding bunnies through the forest during a paintball fight? Not one bunny turned green or blue under my watch! Actually, that’s not true. This is my human’s medal for walking around some weird neighborhood in the freezing cold, complaining and drinking cider. But it makes a good story, right? Wrong. Problem is, when we look at those big stories it makes everything else seem boring and not helpful. But in reality- there are heroic things happening every day. We just don’t see them.

To me, the most heroic thing you can do at the holidays, or any day, is be generous to other people. I don’t mean give them money or big presents. I mean being present for people – listening to them, caring about them, waiting patiently when the person in front of you is taking a lot time, listening to a story the second or third time instead of saying “You told me that one.” or telling someone how much you get from knowing them. Anyone can do those things and our world really needs it.

So don’t try to be amazing. Just be you, and give all of you to the people around you. You’ll be more than a superhero. You’ll be a generous person. What’s more heroic than that?

Your Super Friend,

Raymond

The Thought Does Count

Deer Raymond,

I just found out my friend is going through a hard time. There’s nothing I can do to make it better. The things she needs aren’t things I can give her. I feel really helpless.

Signed,

Empty Pockets.

Dear MT,

I’m sorry your friend is having a hard time. I hope things get better for her. I had a hard day today too. Today was the day my human picked to put up the holiday lights. I was soooo excited cause I wanted to help. But nothing went as planned. The roof was wayyy too high, so I couldn’t help hang them. Then I tried to set the light timer but I did it wrong and the test lights were going on and off every 5 minutes. How was I supposed to know it wasn’t set in Deerlight Savings Time???

Then I tried to untangle the lights and ended up getting wrapped up in them myself! My human had to save me.

She put me on the patio and I felt really sad. I wanted to help but I was just in the way. Then she said, “Hey Raymond, why don’t you pick some Christmas tunes to make this go faster?” So I got the phone and my DJ (deer jockey) set up and had the place jumping. It was soooo much fun and it really helped my human.

See – sometimes it seems like nothing we can do will make a difference. But, telling someone “I”m here for you” or asking if they remembered to eat that day or sharing a song they really like can make a world of difference. There is no such thing as “small gifts” or “little kindnesses” – there are just gifts and kindness. You are never helpless as long as you care.

Your rockin’ friend

Raymond

Made in the Shade

Deer Raymond,

I look around and see people going on big trips and getting their kids tons of gifts for holidays, but my family doesn’t do anything like that. We do a quiet family thing. Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out, but I just don’t have the energy for all this running around. What can I do?

Signed,

Small Fry in Tinsel Town

Dear Tater Tot,

Meet my friend Boomer. When a day of being cute and learning things gets me really exhausted, I just go sit under his shade and everything seems sunny. The thing about Boomer is – his brothers are like 10 feet tall. He’s called a Money Tree plant, but his birth name is “Pachira aquatica.” He’s actually part of the Bonsai family. If left to grow outside – they get really huge. But in the 1980’s people in crowded cities in China and Taiwan started braiding the roots and pruning the trees, like other bonsai trees, so they could be kept in small places. See, he could have been a really big tree, but then I wouldn’t be able to know him or sit in his shade. So, he’s just the right size, for him and for me.

Every life has a size. Some people live big lives and do big things and they thrive. Other people have small lives where they do meaningful small things each day and they thrive. We have a tendency in the west to think “Bigger is Better.” That’s just not true (look at me!). What comes naturally – what fits your heart – is better. If you’re happy with your life – it’s always big enough.

Your little friend,

Raymond

Rebel with a Cause

Deer Raymond,

Since we had leftovers from Thanksgiving and I had the day off, I had so many things I planned to get done today. Now it’s afternoon and I haven’t done any of them, and I just discovered my family ate 3/4 of the leftovers and I have to cook dinner. How do I handle this and not yell at my family?

Signed,

Really Mad Mom.

Dear Maddy,

Last night we ran out of pumpkin pie and we still had a ton of whipped cream left over. This morning, I just opened up the container and started eating it. All by itself. Then, my human walks in and she’s like “Raymond! What the heck are you doing?” I’ve got a mouth full of whipped cream. What does she think I’m doing??? At first I felt bad, then I realized there’s no law about whipped cream. In fact, I could sit down and eat a bowl of it for dinner and no one would stop me. It’s not a house rule. It’s not ANYONE’S rule. So I didn’t need to feel bad. I tossed my human a spoon, and she had some too. We didn’t even get arrested.

You see, sometimes we make rules for ourselves. We might call them plans or goals or lists – but they are really rules. Then when something comes up, and we can’t meet those rules – we get mad or feel nervous like we’ve done something wrong. But – WE set the rules and the only one making feel bad about them is ourselves. You had a plan for today that didn’t work out. Change the plan. There’s no reason to feel anxiety over it. The only person beating you up about it is – you. Be kind to yourself. Admit the plan just didn’t happen, and discover what you can do from here. Don’t box yourself in. Give yourself the freedom to be human.

As for your family, if they ate that much, you are a really good cook! Tell them you weren’t prepared to cook today, and ask them to help you come up with a solution. Maybe they can cook. Maybe you can order a pizza. Maybe you can eat a bowl of whipped cream. Whatever you do – be flexible and forgiving, and you won’t need to yell at anyone.

Your sugary friend,

Raymond

Horn of Plenty

Deer Raymond,

I really love Thanksgiving and I’m thankful for all I have, but I never know how to feel about this holiday. One on hand, I love all the food and traditions that go with Thanksgiving. On the other, I see all these things on social media about the truth of what happened to native people, and how it’s a national day of mourning to them. I see news stories about people who don’t have enough to eat or are missing a loved one. So should I be happy, or sad?

Signed,

Thankfully Confused.

Dear Connie,

That’s a great question. The easy answer is “turn off social media and have a piece of pie.” But the better answer is this: You can be happy and socially aware at the same time. Thanksgiving isn’t really just about eating Grandma’s stuffing recipe and saying “Thanks.” It’s also a time to be awake. You realize that the old Pilgrim story isn’t accurate, and there is a lot of pain associated with that they did to the First Nations. That didn’t happen on just one day. You understand that whatever you have may be something other people don’t. That doesn’t happen on just one day either. So the best thing you can do is learn from our past, every day, and feel your connection to other people – be generous, present, and mindful of them – every day. Then you can set aside this day to enjoy who you are, what you have, and be thankful. Then, have a piece of pie.

Your happy friend,

Raymond

Feeling Overwhelmed

Deer Raymond,

I love all the food and fun of Thanksgiving, but I just get overwhelmed because there are so many things to cook, and chores to do, and people to talk to – I get tired before the day even gets here, and then I run around doing things at the last minute and something gets missed. How can I do better?

Signed,

Don’t know where to start

Dear Start Line Staller,

It’s really easy to get overwhelmed when there are a lot of things to get done at one time, especially food. Always put food first. The best thing to do when you have a big project – whether it’s cooking or something for work or planning your future is to concentrate only what is in front of you. If you are making cinnamon rolls (mmmmmm), don’t think about how you have to put the turkey in the oven in 30 minutes or listen to your relatives talk about awkward political opinions – just make cinnamon rolls. Then, move to the next thing. Step by step all the things will get done.

My human says the definition of “personal discipline” is not “doing something you don’t want to do.” It is doing exactly what each moment requires and nothing more. If the moment requires work, be at work. If it requires cinnamon rolls, get the frosting! If it requires attention to a loved one, be with them. One thing at a time. Personally, I make a list so that when I finish my one thing, I know what thing is next. That helps a lot.

Get ready, Get set, GO!

Your friend,

Raymond

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