Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Grace (the dog) = JOY

I’ve been writing and talking and reading a lot about joy over the past several months. Joy [joi] –noun 1.the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
Joy is available to all of us. Joy is a choice. Joy is a gift. Joy is all around us. Joy is free.

When joy is evoked and acknowledged, all sorts of wonderful physical benefits occur in the body. Many of the positive changes are connected to the resulting decrease of circulating adrenaline and catecholamines (stress hormones): a relaxation of the blood vessels, leading to lowered blood pressure; a decrease in cell wall inflammation, which may decrease the risk for some cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease; and a measurable balancing of brain chemicals, leading to a sense of well-being, just to name a few.

Grace the dog brought me to a place of pure JOY today. For those of you who don’t know her, Grace is our rescued/adopted Border Collie. Two years after our beloved black Lab Mack died, I began to long for a dog again. One Wednesday, I went to the animal shelter, “just to look”, and fell in love with Grace–a short-haired Border Collie with expressive eyes and a sleek body–a real beauty. The shelter folks were calling her Spot because of her coloring, but this undignified name did not suit her! All they knew of her was that she had been abandoned in an adjacent county and had spent a month in that animal shelter before being transferred to where I had found her. She had already been taken home by one family locally, but had been returned due to her “skittish” personality and inability to get along with the other dog in that house. It was inferred to me that if she couldn’t find a good home, that the choices for her longevity were limited…maybe it was knowing that, or her soulful eyes, or her gorgeous coat…yes, you guessed it, home she went with me later that week. I renamed her, choosing to call her Grace, which seemed so fitting for this fragile creature.

What a handful! She was so incredibly nervous, her ears seemed permanently plastered back and her tail threatened to poke a hole in her stomach, it was kept so far between her legs. There was general consensus that she had been abused in her past life, which was manifested by the sheer terror she exhibited when a man would approach her. When Grace was outside, she would press to the back of her doghouse if a man was in the yard. Inside our house, any stranger–men in particular–would cause her to shove herself into the 6-inch gap under our bed, hiding and shivering all the while. Our hearts went out to Grace, to witness the fear and anxiety that had defined her life thus far, and we were determined to right her life through love, patience, and structure.

We just celebrated 3 years of Grace being in our lives. Gracing our family. Today, she is a completely different dog. She is happy and animated. She had filled out in body and is a super athlete–leaping into the water, chasing balls at the speed of light, and bounding through the woods where she walks with us twice each day. She is well trained (most of the time) and follows commands (um, well not always!). She smiles. She wags. She plays. She has transformed into a loving, bright, affectionate dog that brings so much to our family.

Grace = JOY. We feel this daily, but I was especially invited to acknowledge this today, during a visit to the vet. Our vet had been wary when she first met Grace, seeing her fear and distrust, and mentioned the potential for aggressiveness or other alpha manifestations. She has seen Grace several times over the past 3 years; today Grace trotted in, tail up and wagging, smile on her face, and spontaneously licked the vet’s hand. Our vet was so pleased and impressed with how far Grace has come. She went out of her way to thank me for having been so diligent, loving, and patient with Grace as she found her place in the world.

At that moment, with Grace sitting by my side, looking at me with adoring eyes, relaxed and settled, my heart filled with JOY, for this wondrous animal and our love for each other. What a gift.

Robin Mallery

Robin Mallery

Robin Mallery is passionate about food! Starting from where and how it's grown, to how far that food travels to the dinner table, to how it is prepared and savored...Robin blends shopping, cooking, and eating tips with her unique Kitchen Zen and mindful meals approach to enjoying real food.

While you are waiting for her to finish the upcoming book, "Kitchen Zen: The Journey to Nourish Body and Soul in Our Changing World", you can find Robin's sporadic blog posts here or on FaceBook.
Robin Mallery

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"The Holiday Survival Cooking and Eating Class exceeded my expectations. It was so enjoyable to learn new ideas for healthy snacks and meals, taste the delicious treats we created and leave with an inspired hope that this will be my healthiest holiday season yet! I am impressed with the knowledge and care that Robin (and Wendy from In the Kitchen) both possess and I look forward to taking more classes in the future. Thanks again!"  --Rose M.   “What a wonderful, yummy class! Not only did we participate in creating several easy-to-make, delicious, nourishing dishes for the holidays and every day, we also learned strategies for surviving and enjoying the upcoming holiday season. Both Robin & Wendy were delightful and imparted their cooking and eating knowledge with love, humor, and enthusiasm. I highly recommend their classes to anyone who is interested in developing a better way to look at food, using thoughtfulness with mindfulness to learn some very valuable strategies for eating any time of the year!” --CAM   “I found the class delightful with great ideas for the holidays. In the Kitchen is a warm and welcoming place and you and Wendy were great teaching collaborators. Good new recipes. I appreciate your healthy eating information. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to enjoy the holidays without stressing over food. Actually, the information isn’t just for the holidays. I want to stay healthy all year and eat well.” --Pat B.   "I’ve participated in several classes at In the Kitchen, enjoyed them all immensely, but it is always a special treat when Wendy teaches a class. The recipes offered in The Holiday Survival class were easy to make and so delicious. And what a plus to have Robin co-teach the The Holiday Survival class with Wendy. Thank you, Robin, for all your great information on healthy eating, which was delivered so professionally, dovetailing beautifully into Wendy’s presentation. Hope you two team up again for more classes of scrumptious, healthy recipes. What a fun evening!!" --Carol B. _______________ I love this positive feedback! How gratifying it is to touch the lives of others in a meaningful way…and to be able to do so around a topic that is so dear to me, is just the icing on the cake (right—pun intended!). Wendy Van Wagner and I will continue to offer seasonal cooking classes in addition to the occasional specialty class…stay tuned!
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