Two years ago, my dog, Ranger, came into my life. I was not prepared. I was only looking at dogs to appease those around me who really wanted one. I was just “fine” without a dog, after the loss of my beloved Lily, and was now use to a lifestyle that allowed me to pick and go whenever I wanted, for however long I wanted to be gone. Now I had not only a dog, but a puppy, and a puppy with a LOT of energy. I had given away everything dog-related and literally was not prepared. It was a big adjustment and forced me out of my comfort zone in a whole lot of ways. It also led to me to where I am today, and for that I am truly grateful.
I was thinking about this as I was walking Ranger this morning (another perk – now I do a lot of walking). Two years ago, I was “that crazy lady in Little Falls”, who would hide behind parked cars, taken sudden route changes, and hide in my parking garage until the coast was clear. You see, Ranger had this “exuberance” around other dogs, and quite a reputation for it. Today as I calmly walked him down the street, stopping to talk with my neighbor with her dog, while Ranger stood calmly by, I could appreciate how far we’ve come.
And then there was a little white dog. I want to believe that the Australian Shepherd genes kick in when he sees a small white creature and thinks it’s a sheep he needs to herd. I’m hoping he’s just not biased.
So, I took a turn to avoid the inevitable. I walked down a street I’ve walked down many times, but I was walking the opposite direction I usually go. I was a little confused, as nothing looked familiar. When did THIS house get here? Was there always that car in their driveway? I was completely befuddled until I finally saw something I recognized, at which point I relaxed and carried on. I then realized that what had happened was that I was seeing something from a whole other perspective. And while nothing had really changed, it was the way I was perceiving it that had. Much like my life when I went from dog-less to dog-loved.
And much like the world today.
There have been events in both my personal life and the world that have rocked me. They cause me to look around and ask “Where am I? I don’t recognize this. This is not how it was yesterday.” It is forcing me to look at things differently. I’m off kilter, I’m uncomfortable, I want it to go back to the way it was. And it won’t ever be the same.
When speaking with my therapist about another situation, she gave me wise advice:
- Feel the feelings. Don’t go to the “spiritual bypass” and immediately look for the higher ground. FEEL it – even the ugly parts.
- Talk about it, write it down – and then burn it. Do NOT go back and reread it because it will bring you right back down. The same with social media: put your feelings out there if you feel compelled, but be warned that comments that may come at you can pull you right back down.
- Ask Yourself THE Question: When you have talked and written and cried it all out, when you come to a more neutral space, ask yourself this: Where is the good in this? How has this served me? What I have learned from it?
Maybe all that is happening is forcing us to look at things from a different perspective. To find new ways of relating. To take action. To understand what you truly believe and how to be anchored in it. To see things from another’s perspective and to develop empathy. To be a listening ear to those who need it, and the strength when others can’t find it.
Life is not the same as it was last week. As it was yesterday. It never will be. The challenge is to look at this new landscape with fresh eyes and to find your place, using all the beautiful tools at your disposal. Take a deep breath. Exhale. And walk proudly into the day. We all need you.