My Heart’s in Oklahoma

oklahoma home

MayzieMom here again today. I’m not sure I’ve ever taken over the blog twice in one week; but it felt important after the events that recently unfolded in my home state of Oklahoma.

While I have not lived there for over 20 years, many friends and family members still do, and much of my heart remains in the Sooner state.

So it’s no surprise that I was glued to TV footage on Monday. It’s hard to be so far away when something like this happens. I couldn’t help the tears as I watched the utter destruction of a place I know like the back of my hand.

Downtown Oklahoma City. Photo courtesy Urbantive.

Downtown Oklahoma City. Photo courtesy Urbantive.

By now, you’ve all seen the images and heard the stories. They’re brutal. The houses. The stores. The schools. The animals. The children (oh, God, the children). I am so incredibly fortunate that all my friends and family were unharmed and untouched; yet my heart breaks for my extended Oklahoma family. I may not have met them but I know them and I ache for them.

Here is what else I know: Oklahoma and Oklahomans are strong. These are people who have not only survived but thrived in the aftermath of devastating events like the Dust Bowl, the Murrah Building bombing, the May 3, 1999 tornado which produced the strongest winds ever recorded on earth. Each time something terrible befalls my home state (and far too many terrible things have), I wonder how we’ll make it through. But we do. We always do. We Okies are tough.

The Philbrook Museum. Recognized as one of the top 50 museums in the US. Photo courtesy Dustin M. Ramsey.

The Philbrook Museum. Recognized as one of the top 50 museums in the US. Photo courtesy Dustin M. Ramsey.

However, I would ask everyone reading this to please also remember that these terrible things are not all we are. Oklahoma is so much more. It is the home of an extraordinary number of famous artists, singers, athletes, dancers and actors: Maria Tallchief, Garth Brooks, James Garner, Reba McEntire, Jim Thorpe, Ron Howard, Will Rogers, Woody Guthrie, Mickey Mantle and many, many more. The yield sign, parking meter, shopping cart and electric guitar were all invented by Oklahomans. Its museums include the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, the Red Earth Museum and Gallery, the Philbrook Museum (pictured above), and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, which houses the most important collection of Impressionist art ever donated to a university. Speaking of art, for almost 50 years, the Oklahoma Festival of the Arts has been an annual rite of spring, attracting around 750,000 visitors each year. And while the musical “Oklahoma” sings about how the “wind comes sweeping down the plains,” the state boasts beautiful mountains, lakes, trees and rivers.

The Wichita Mountains

The Wichita Mountains

And the people. The everyday people of Oklahoma. Sure, they’re tough. But to a person, everyone I’ve ever met who has visited Oklahoma has talked about how nice Oklahomans are. I always hate to lump an entire population of people into one category but dang! Those people are seriously nice. They’ll give you the shirt off their back, they’ll extend a helping hand, they’ll greet you with a smile, they’ll (over)feed you and they’ll make you feel like part of the family.

So while you’re watching the news, just know that there’s so much more to this place and its people than the horrific images played out over the course of a few days or a week. Once the cameras are gone, the real work of healing and rebuilding will begin. And, like they have always done, Oklahomans will bounce back…stronger, better and nicer than before.

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To help the human victims of the tornado, please visit the Red Cross, Central and Western Oklahoma Region.

To help the animal victims:

Oklahoma bloggers Susie, Sidebite and Shadow are hosting a fundraiser.

MOORE, OK

In addition, BlogPaws has teamed up with World Vets to collect donations through May 28th. This collective donation will go to the World Vets who are assessing the needs on site to make the best decision on where the money will go – based on their work in past disasters.

Team Up For Oklahoma

 

MayzieMom: The Power of BlogPaws

MayzieMom here! Mayzie was kind enough to loan me the blog today to tell you about my Big Adventure to BlogPaws last week.

blogpaws key

Well, I’m going to try anyway; BlogPaws is an overwhelming sensory experience that’s difficult to describe. But I’ll give it my best shot, both in words and pictures. So here, in no particular order, are my…

Top Four Takeaways from BlogPaws

1. Pets and Their People Rock

I’m an introvert. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t like to talk to people or socialize. I do. However, I usually prefer one-on-one conversations, rather than large groups. And BlogPaws was LARGE! Over 500 attendees this year. That’s enough to make any introvert want to curl up in the fetal position.

But guess what? People who love their pets are really, really nice. And pet bloggers are especially supportive of each other. Everyone was there to learn but also to give back. In the moments when my inner introvert started to feel frazzled, it seemed there was always someone (either human, canine or feline) reaching out to me with a warm smile or a kind gesture to pull me back from the brink of fetal-position-curled-uppedness.

The incomparable Garth Riley! (http://theworldaccordingtogarthriley.blogspot.com/)

The incomparable Garth Riley! (http://theworldaccordingtogarthriley.blogspot.com/)

nitro

Stunning Nitro from Deaf Dogs Rock (http://deafdogsrock.com/)

thing

Thing 1 and Thing 2

2. Connection and Common Passions Create Change

As many of you know, I took a journey from believing the media hype about pit bulls to being a staunch advocate for them. Although we only occasionally address these issues directly on the blog, it is my hope that we are changing hearts and minds by showing Mayzie and others like her as what they are: wonderful family dogs. And I certainly know that there are many others out there with the same mission.

I was fortunate to meet and spend time with some of these individuals at BlogPaws: Imelda from I’m Not a Monster, Frankie and mom from Frankie, I’m a Lover Not a Fighter, Lucy and dad from Lucy’s World, and Zoey and mom from Wishcuit and Zoey Says Stick It to Cancer. This was not planned. I just stumbled across them during one of the social events and Imelda graciously  invited me to join them for a happy hour. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by this amazing group of people, sharing stories about our four-leggers, discussing the challenges we face and how we can make the world better and safer for our dogs. I felt  energized by these inspiring, funny, passionate people, and it made me feel so hopeful about what the future holds for these kinds of dogs and their families.

Frankie I'm a Lover Not a Fighter

“Look deep into my eyes, lady, and gimme some of dat ham sammich.” ~Frankie

Adorable, adoptable Bullasset Moses. Available from the SPCA of Anne Arundel County (www.aacspca.org)

Adorable, adoptable Bullasset (pit bull/basset), Moses. Available from the SPCA of Anne Arundel County (www.aacspca.org)

3. The Importance of Purpose

There were many great sessions with an incredible amount of useful information. But the ones that stayed with me were the ones that emphasized the importance of purpose.

Steve Dale, a pet journalist and author, gave a keynote address in which he spoke about how wonderful things are for pets right now, but also how much work there still is to do. For instance, while people own more cats than any other animal, they don’t get the respect that dogs do. As a whole, they don’t receive the same level of veterinary care, and when cats go missing, only 2 percent are returned to their owners, versus 20 percent for dogs. This is the type of thing that we bloggers can help change. Whether we realize it or not, we are powerful and our voices have influence. Did you know that more people rely on bloggers for veterinary advice than on their veterinarians? We owe it to our animal companions to at least occasionally talk about these issues and to ensure that the information we’re putting on our blogs is accurate.

Carma Poodale (www.carmapoodale.com)

Carma Poodale (www.carmapoodale.com)

A Bunny Blogger

A Bunny Blogger

Along these same lines, Iain Langridge, the GM of Petfinder,  presented a session about being purposeful in the things we undertake. In other words, what is it that drives your blog, rescue or  business? He made the argument that being purposeful — instead of just having a purpose like making money — is the secret to success, and this clarity of purpose has helped make Petfinder what it is today. I have thought about this constantly since his session. I am purposeful when it comes to my volunteer efforts and this blog. But what is the larger purpose of my own business? After the session, I spoke with Tom Collins, one of the founders of BlogPaws, and he helped me begin to crystallize the purposeful direction of my business. I still have some work to do on it but I am grateful that this session started me down that path.

Petfinder

Don’t build your business around a purpose. Build it to be purposeful.

4. Cats and Their Bloggers Are Taking Over the World

I was astounded at how many cats were there with their assistants, and I think they took home the majority of the Nose-to-Nose Blogging Awards. However, BlogPaws is noticeably dog-centric and I’m pretty sure we dog bloggers think we have the corner on the pet blogging market. Nope. Uh-uh. It’s just what the cats want us to believe while they quietly work toward their goal of world domination. BlogPaws (and the rest of us) probably ought to start sucking up now.

triscuit

Adoptable Triscuit from Random Felines (randomfelines.blogspot.com). Resting up for World Takeover Day.

I want to thank the team at Pet360 and BlogPaws for creating this incredible event and for helping make change happen, one blogger at a time. I also want to thank, sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, the truly wonderful people at Nutrish for giving me the opportunity to attend. It’s an experience I’ll treasure forever.

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PeeS from me, Mayzie: I would also like to very much thank BlogPaws and Nutrish and all the other super cool sponsors from the bottom of my tummy for sending home this humongous bag of DEElicious goodies! YUM!

mayzie blogpaws bag

 

mayzie in bag

 

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