This is Aspen. She is fifteen. I found her on a street corner in Kansas City when she was a skinny young stray, and she and my daughter have been inseparable ever since. It wasn’t an easy beginning. I was a frazzled single mom with an eleven-year-old, more house and yard than I knew what to do with, and four cats. Aspen was still a puppy, chewing everything and chasing the cats. I was overwhelmed. But Adair was in love, and she knew before I did that Aspen was the best dog on earth and she was supposed to be ours. 
Well, she still is. She lives with Adair and her husband, Nick, and has since they were married four years ago. They have a younger dog, Oliver, too, and they’re a lovely two-human/two-dog family. But Aspen is old. She’s on chemo for lymphoma and the cancer is in remission. When she was diagnosed in January, we wanted her to enjoy another summer, and with two days having reached 90 here in New York already, it seems that she is getting one. She has severe arthritis in her back legs, though, and the latest indignity of age is that her eyes don’t shift properly from shade to sunlight, so Adair ordered her these canine sunglasses, Doggles.
Today I went out walking with Adair and Aspen and Oliver to Riverside Park, overlooking the Hudson. Aspen’s glasses were such a hit. People stopped, commented, and asked questions. Everybody wanted to pet her. Three people asked if she’d pose for a picture. Now, this is a dog who has lots of gray in her fur. She has trouble with steps. Pre-goggles, the main question I got when walking her was always, “How old is she?” But now she’s a celebrity. I imagine she’ll show up all over the Internet in the spirit of the old ad campaign: “Who’s behind those Foster-Grants?”
Here’s the coachable piece in this tale of our dog’s reinvention as a fashionista: it doesn’t take much to get people to see you in an entirely different way. Aspen is still fifteen, and on chemo, and walking with less vigor than she was even a year ago. But with the goggles, nobody notices that. All they see is “dog in goggles; looks cool.” 
We can do that, too. It may come from some physical embellishment like Aspen’s—the power of a great haircut or a body after six weeks at the gym is pretty amazing—but it can be internal, too: something you learn or something you grow from. A man or woman who has had a profound spiritual experience—travel to some sacred spot, time spent with a spiritual teacher, a retreat, a fast, a sweat lodge—has the same ability to change the way others see them as someone who’s had a physical makeover, or a dog in fab red shades. Do something transformational, however tiny, and watch people overlook the rest.
Note: If you’re in the New York City area, you’re invited to meet Victoria at the launch of her latest book, Living a Charmed Life: Your Guide to Finding Magic in Every Moment of Every Day, at Barnes & Noble, Broadway at 65th Street, on Monday, May 4, 7:30 pm. 
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