Standing in Place, Past and Present

In November of 1997, a 6 month old pup was placed in my arms. She was tiny, soft and warm. She nuzzled under my chin and sighed.  She looked up at me, licked my chin and settled back into place.

In the early morning hours last Tuesday, my 16 year old pup was still tiny, soft and warm.  She nuzzled under my chin and sighed. She looked up at me, licked my chin and settled back into place.

A few hours later we stood together in her vet’s office.  The news was incomplete yet completely definitive: we could run a battery of tests to find out what has happened in over the past 38 hours but the prognosis was she would not get better.  She had stopped eating and drinking. One side of her tiny, soft, warm body did not respond. She would not be coming home with me.

She and I had come full circle.  Together we started a life that wouldn’t last.  We bought a house and moved. We married and divorced. We started and stopped 3 jobs.  We welcomed and sadly said goodbye to a cat.  We fell in love again. We married and moved again.

Our journey together began and ended with a nuzzle and a kiss.

Someone once said a person is in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Pets span all 3.  That little dog gave me a reason to get up in the morning when I felt life wasn’t worth trying.  She celebrated every time I walked in the room. She made friends with countless people who claimed they didn’t like dogs.  She offered comfort and love to a group of struggling divorcees.

Her reason:

to teach me

naps are restorative

nothing beats eggs for breakfast

roll in the grass

the sun there is bask in

greet each person like a VIP

examine every blade of grass

every petal

every scent

 unconditional love

Her season:

16 years, 2 months

3 homes, 2 marriages, 1 cat

enough life lessons  for a graduate degree

She’ll be with me for a lifetime.

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Thoughts on a fall-like Monday in August

I remember hating Monday.  The dread would start midday on Sunday. In the evening, I’d hear the 60 Minutes clock tick away my life, my weekend, my sanity.

That was when I was in a constant struggle between loving my job and hating my company.

The consensus of my friends and family is that this job “drove me crazy”.  My long time struggle with anxiety and panic came to a head and broke me into pieces. This is where my current state of disability started.  But was it?

No. I think it was just the proverbial last straw.

Throughout my life, I felt the pressure of unattainable expectations and reminders every which way that my best wasn’t good enough.  Some people see this as motivation and thrive on the challenge while others retreat a little to figure out why xyz wasn’t good enough only to become discouraged when the belief of “that was the best I could do but it still wasn’t right” sinks in to taint the next whatever.  I’m in the latter camp.  It’s a conditioned response. I know it’s in the past, but I still allow it to sabotage current life decisions.

Some people call it emotional abuse.  I have no clinical training but I’ll disagree with that label in my case. There was no malicious intent.  It goes with the philosophy of adapting the tools you learn as a child.  A person will employ the same tactics used by their own parents— unless said person had the advantage of therapy or some other path to enlightenment.

The shaming technique is bad.  I’m enlightened. I still stumble and find myself using it. I hope I’ve caught it each time and corrected its effects.

It’s the beginning of August, but I awoke to a morning more standard issue for mid-September. Mid-60s, breezy, sunny, blue skies, light dancing on the lake…  not a flicker of the dreaded Monday.

I did what any other sane person would do:  I sat outside with my morning coffee. I brought my book, a pad of paper and my phone. Mother Nature blew at my pages.  The wind carried a fresh scent and I stopped my usual morning bustle of catching up on the latest atrocities of the news and creating the day’s to-do list.

The only thing I wanted to do was experience this perfect moment.  I closed my eyes and listened. I heard birds and the water lapping on the dock. The air smelled like fall after a light rain. Sunshine warmed my face.

It all felt good enough.

How to harness this serenity didn’t feel like a mystery anymore.

Close your eyes and experience what is around you.

I’m going to practice this every day.