The Paff Zoo

There are days when this house feels like a three (or eight) ring circus. We have dogs that bark at everything, play by snorting at each other, and ring in circles around the house. There are also cats that demand food 24-7, knock things off of every surface imaginable, and like to make paper turn into confetti. Most days I want to lock myself in my bedroom and just give them run of the house. Also on most days: I want to snuggle the shit out of them.

“My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog thinks I am.” — Author Unknown

enhanceGus Gus, named after the mouse in Cinderella was our first pet. We adopted him after our honeymoon from a shelter that was showing at PetSmart. He was a tiny little guy,  named PhanTOM. Hated the name, LOVED the little fur ball. He is my little Tony Soprano, a giant (22lb) that runs this house silently from his safe little corner. He is scared of just about everything, but loves his people and tolerates the rest of the animals. He loves to hang out in high places where the dogs can’t bother him – the cat tree, kitchen counter, dining room chair, or any ledge he can find. His favorite thing is getting brushed by Justin and scratches on his head.

27709866_10104626449789634_2518932883472809262_oAllie was adopted in a rather interesting way. She was a test animal for the veterinarian technician school my sister was attending – she even has her ID number tattooed in her ears. At the end of the semester she was the last one left for adoption, if she didn’t find a home should would have been put down – we picked her up the next day. With of all of her experience with humans she was so friendly and sat comfortably in my arms on day one. Allie is the welcoming committee for the Paff house – always the first at the door to demand  greet visitors for some scratches and pets. She is the one that wakes me up every morning around 4AM to eat, and will knock over everything we own to do so. I consider her Gus Gus’s enforcer – she has no problem batting the dogs in the face when they want to play or standing next to them to look out the window.

IMG_2090Bruno is my first dog. Quite frankly, I had very little desire to have a dog until we adopted Bruno. Justin grew up always having a dog, so I knew it was important that one day we welcomed one as part of family. When my cousin had adopted a dog that they couldn’t keep, we jumped at the chance to bring him home. His past is a mystery, but as soon as I saw him I fell in love. Bruno is the sweetest soul I’ve ever met – as I type this he is laying next to me, with his head resting on my knee. He helped comfort Justin and I as we went through our most difficult phase of life and can melt both of us with a single head tilt, wag of his tail, or command executed. If Justin is my human soulmate then Bruno is, most definitely, my animal soulmate.

IMG_2601Winnie (the bish) was named after my favorite character on the show New Girl. She is quite a character herself. She was found on a cold November morning, chained to a fence in a park when a coworker’s husband was walking his dog. After waiting an hour or so he brought her home and took her to the vet to see if she was microchipped. After a day of trying to find her owners Justin and I decided that we would bring her home. She was tiny, malnourished, skittish, and attached to her new humans. I compare her to the Sour Patch commercials where the giant candy goes from sour to sweet and the human falls in love with them all over again – that’s everyday with Winnie Girl. She definitely challenges us more than any other animal we have, but she is making progress. She jumps when we ask her not to, she eats our privacy fence to see her friends next door, she has eaten numerous Christmas ornaments, and has left proof of her house-training process all over our living room carpet. But she snuggles like a champ, gives the best kisses, and picks up on commands quickly.

This house is full of craziness, animal fur, dog toys, and furniture that has been worn in faster than necessary. But this house is also full of love. A lot of love.

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2019 Goal Setting Series: Reflection

Reflection is a powerful thing.

As individuals we have the ability to make significant changes to how we life our daily lives, but I believe, in order to make progress reflection is necessary. It’s not an easy process, reflection brings up the good, the bad, and the ugly, and in order for reflection to be successful you have to be brutally honest with yourself. That takes guts.

This December was the third year in a row that I used the Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner to reflect and plan for the year ahead. As I started this year’s reflection process I was coming out of a relatively negative space, personally. The path that the PowerSheets “prep work” takes you through requires you to actually sit down and identify (and ultimately, fight) your demons. This was the first time in three years that my demons were of my own making. I wasn’t planning for or recovering from a year that would be associated with my husband’s bone marrow transplant.

2017 was all about preparing for and getting through his bone marrow transplant.

2018 was all about recovering, dealing with trauma, and getting back to “normal”.

2019 will be about me.

Ultimately, the last couple of months have been about really figuring out who I am without my trauma branded on my forehead. Going through the prep work made me realize how in 2018 I was doing anything I could to cover up my true self. It will take me more than a couple of weeks to figure out the root of that, but I have a theory:

Blending in and getting other people’s approval is easier than figuring out who you actually are and following your light. Fitting in is easier than being an individual.

In 2019 I am saying NO to:
COMPARISON, not prioritizing my health, blaming others for my feelings, gluten (LOL), trying to be someone else, gossip and fake relationships, sharing only the “highlights” on social media, making excuses for laziness, and buying shit I don’t need.

In 2019 I am saying YES to: Hobbies (whether or not they turn into a business), volunteering, positivity, loving my people well, reflection, writing, growth, listening to my body, social media detoxing, pushing myself, time with family, honoring who I am, self care (and self love), trying new things, saving money, spending time outdoors, creative projects, honoring and celebrating my marriage, and celebrating people, occasions, and progress.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing some of the themes and goals that were built out of the reflection and prep work process with my PowerSheets. I am hopeful that this will not only bring me a sense of accountability, but will also strengthen my passion for progress over perfection.

Upcoming Posts: Me, Home, Community, Career, Creativity, and Marriage

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TBT | One in the Crowd |

“Standing in a dark, crowded room you can feel the anticipation from the crowd. People are filing in, slowly staking claim on their spot on the floor. You watch the room fill in around you, as the lights go down and suddenly this room full of strangers are instantly connected as  the atmosphere in the room is directed toward the stage. Your favorite musician has taken the stage.

Usually, I am not one to enjoy a concert experience. Crowds make me anxious, the words “General Admission” just make me think of sweaty crowds of people spilling beer, and most of the time the music doesn’t sound nearly as good as it does on the record. There is one exception to this, for me. I will travel far distances to be in the crowd at an Andrew McMahon show. His music has been a huge part of the last ten years of my life.

It started with one song, showcased on my favorite television show and a trip to the music store, back in the days we had music stores. I bought the Jack’s Mannequin Everything in Transit album and it remained in my car’s CD player for the majority of the life of that car. I knew all of the words to every song and felt a connect to the music that I had never felt before. When I realized they would be in Detroit for a concert that winter, I immediately bought tickets for my sister and I for Christmas. Little did I know, she had the same idea. Thankfully my mother managed to make sure only one of us purchased the tickets.

Waiting in line on that freezing February evening, in downtown Detroit, saying I was annoyed would be an understatement. We were in line blocks away from the venue surrounded by screaming teenyboppers. It was the first concert I had been to in a venue that primarily had general admission, no chairs or tables, just a room full of bodies. We found an elevated spot to call our own and waited, for what seemed like hours, for Jack’s Mannequin to take the stage. The crowd erupted once Andrew walked to his place behind the piano and before I knew it I was in for the most impressive show of my life. You can tell, by the way Andrew performs that he loves what he does, he has fun, he jumps, dances, and practically beams from behind his mic. I was hooked.

I didn’t realize at the time but, later my connection to this man and his music would only strengthen as I learned about his battle with leukemia. In his early 20s, Andrew was diagnosed with leukemia and ultimately underwent a bone marrow transplant. Before a few months ago, I had no idea what that meant and couldn’t relate to the year his life was put on hold.

Since that first show I have seen Andrew McMahon perform three other times, once just this last weekend in Grand Rapids. My sister and I drove the 143 miles on a Thursday evening to pack in with the rest of crowd to see Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness perform, and for a couple of hours we were all transformed to an alternate universe, listening, singing, dancing, and laughing.

The week before we left, I found myself sitting at home browsing the list of documentaries available on Netflix. I came across “Dear Jack” the film about Andrew’s battle with leukemia. I spent the majority of the following hour crying as I watched this musician that I adored go through this fight I knew inevitably would be something I’d watch my husband go through. I was thankful for the opportunity to see it, but also terrified. Everything became very real, very quickly.

It was oddly comforting to see that the man who made my favorite music knew about this world and used his experiences to push forward in his art. It wasn’t a coincidence that I found myself, new concert t-shirt in hand, standing in a room full of people listening to his story all over again. Eleven years post transplant and I was one of the many in the crowd, cheering him on. As usual, there was a table in the back of the venue taking registration for bone marrow donors. With tears forming behind my eyes, listening to the music of my favorite musician, I joined my sister at the table and officially became a member of the bone marrow donor registry.

I turned back toward the stage just in time to hear his final song, one of my favorites and savored the moment. The moment my love for music became a little bit more.”

This post was originally posted in July 2016, to read more about The Dear Jack Foundation, go to my Product + Causes page.

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Let’s Do This!

Let me set the stage for you a little bit.

It’s a gloomy, December Saturday morning. I am settled in the corner of our sectional in our living room. I’ve always had mixed feelings about this room. When my grandma lived here, she never really used it except for company, so making it cozy while also not feeling like we’ve disturbed the perfect room has been difficult. The baby blue carpet is covered in urine stains from the puppy we brought home a year ago, the front window is covered in dog nose smudges, and there’s little chunks of sticks hanging around because Winnie (said puppy) sneaks them in with her after she plays outside.

Bruno, our almost four-year-old, pit mix is cuddled up at my side, trying to catch some relaxation before Winnie runs over to force him to chase her. The Office is playing on the TV, the Christmas tree is lit in the corner, and the dishwasher is running behind me. I’ve got a cup of Trader Joes’ Wintery Blend Coffee sitting next to me in my “Everyday I’m Hustlin’” mug. My bangs are sticking straight up because they’re fried from my crappy old hair straightener.

This is not your picture perfect, curated photos, search engine optimized, influencer blog.

I’m just a human, who wants to empower other humans to live their best lives, and sometimes that means sitting in a day-old t-shirt, with your bangs sticking up in the air, not worrying about the old pee stains on your carpet that you can’t get out.

Life is about balance, and feeding your soul. But, in order to feed your soul, you have to know what it needs. I’m still figuring that part out, but that’s part of the fun.

So, while I’m figuring it out, here’s me:

IMG_2600I’m Emily. Detroit-ish born and raised. I was born in 1985, the year of Back to the Future and The Breakfast Club. I have a degree in social work, but I translate that into a passion for story-telling, empowerment, and kindness. I have a Master’s degree in sarcasm and afternoon naps.

I knew I was going to marry Justin at 16. We were hitched 9 years later and adopted endless (four) animals in the following years. I take my coffee with a little bit of cream and sugar, but can also slam a Grande Nonfat Caramel Macchiato like it’s nobody’s business.

I love: road trips. diet coke. graphic design. tacos. the office. northern michigan. notebooks. instagram. dry erase boards. crystals and oils. muted colors. thanksgiving. Andrew McMahon. milk chocolate. snarky coffee cups. tv quote conversations. brainstorming sessions. yoga pants. crafting. avacados.

I hate: glitter. cottage cheese. lies. updating apps. grocery shopping. fake tv drama.

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