My Dog’s Life

If you’re a regular reader, you know – nothing really surprises me. I’m very open and confessional. And here, you can be, too. What I like most about life is the imperfections in mankind…and that includes me. Enjoy my confessional…I find it liberating. When you do it, I find it endearing.

 

Nutshell my lifeI’ve always felt things deeply. To cope, I’ve devised a mechanism of sometimes simply observing the feeling, rather than reacting to it. This goes not only for the bad stuff, but also for the good. I’m really enjoying life this way, observing others and blessing them on their journeys. It’s a good thing I’ve figured this out, otherwise I’d be more a more cracked nut than I already am. So here is my story about something I KNEW would be a  cosmic 2×4 and how I came to build with it, rather than let it be used as a weapon against me. (Click to Tweet)

In our family we have 3 dogs. One of my main challenges, a pinnacle point of my internal contention, is one of our dogs. Our family has a terrier who’ll be14 years old next month. I’ll be upfront and admit she has not been my favourite dog. In fact, I don’t even really like her. I feel I’ve been tolerating her the whole time. She tends toward willful disobedience, isn’t particularly bright and she gets quite dirty of her own choosing – like rubbing along the fence outside after a bath. For someone like me, a former obedience trainer with deep relationships with my dogs, she is “a different breed.”

In our family we’ve always brought our dogs into the fold. They are part of our tribe and they receive proper respect, thoughtful feeding, are expected to have good dog-manners and we love them unconditionally. Well…except for this one – except for this one with me, to be more precise.

Mystic 4The main issue in this canine relationship is not with the canine at all. It’s all me….I know that. I feel bad about myself because of how I feel about the dog. I should be the bigger person, after all. But ,in my humanity, I’ve been waiting for the dog to “go.” Yep, I said it out loud. Dog, if you go, I’ll feel better about myself, because I won’t be struggling with negative juju involving YOU! It’s your fault anyway. NOW, before I start getting raving reply posts, let me say, I know this is wrong. The intellectual and spiritual part of me knows I’ll be dragging this distain like toilet paper on my shoe into the afterlife. Hey, I get this. But I’ve spent years trying to reconcile it, and can’t. I can’t come to terms because as soon as I let go and accept her, she goes off and does something so canine imbecile that I’m right back to square one. LOSE, LOSE!

She’s been getting frail. She’s slower. She doesn’t eat well. I’ve sworn not to spruce up the house until she’s gone. She rubs against the furniture and leaves whatever was on the fence on the sofa, after all. She has recently had “accidents.” I would be silly to invest in new furnishings…I’d be guarding them…like she guards her food she has no intention of finishing.

Mystic 5So, you get the picture. It’s a bad roommate with a 14-year lease. (click to Tweet)  Well…it could be longer…but after yesterday, I don’t think so.

Yesterday morning she wouldn’t get out of bed. She would barely hold her head up. She doesn’t seem to be in any pain, just winding down. Kind of like when my grandmother passed. Truly, the sadness and guilt flooded over me like a tsunami. I went to yoga and afterward spoke with the woman who owns the retreat center. They’ve lost 2 dogs in a short time. The dogs went naturally, in the grass, under the trees.

I came home and spoke with the dog. I asked forgiveness for my inability to move into a meaningful relationship. I. Did. Not. Know. How. I am a flawed human and I’ve missed the lesson entirely. I played gentle music in the house for her and watched her breathe. I stroked her. I cried. I ached. I gave her a little Reiki. I prayed for her peace and comfort. Her last visitors paraded through the house, to pay their respects.

It was so heart wrenching that when I could cry no more tears, I carried her on her bed to the beautiful, warm, light outside. It’s spring. The birds are chirping and the sun is warm. It was what I would want (I think, but not yet, please). When we got outside she got up! She ambled around slowly. She drank some water and ate deli turkey from Whole Foods – no nitrites, you know, because nitrites aren’t good for you. She enjoyed the rest of the day, receiving additional visits, cuddles and sweet murmurs from admirers.

As I write this she is resting peacefully in the other room. Gently finding her way through it all…as I am finding mine. Mystic 7Perhaps, I can’t find that deep connection I have with my other hounds, but by God, I can support her through a sacred  death. I can reach for the lesson, though it may slip through my fingers. I can be open to the outcomes, though they may not be the ones I expect. I can lean into the discomfort of these feelings and just BE with them. I can ask for forgiveness. I can share my story, because sometimes, when the light is shed on shame, it retreats into the shadows and leaves us with some acceptance and peace. (click to Tweet)

 

“You may think you need to find an answer in order to have peace of mind. But if you choose peace of mind now, you will have an answer. On a path of growth, we don’t get rid of chaos. We learn how to dance in the uncertainty, breathe through fire, and discover strengths we never knew we had.”
                                                                                                                                                                     Tama J. Kieves

Special thanks to Tama Kieves who is the author of This Time I Dance, Creating the Work You Love and Inspired and Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work. You can find her at www.tamakieves.com 

Deep Peace,

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leadsCoaching pic  - Version 3 straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter


Is Darth Vader My Totem Animal? (and Other Questions from the Galaxy)

(This post was originally published last August. Today, in the studio, I was working on another piece…same topic…Vader. I had a repeat of this incident. I wasn’t resistant to doing this piece, not at all. However, I had the same visceral reaction. I guess sometimes the Universe really wants your attention. Still…I. Have. No. Idea. What. This. MEANS. Maybe Darth Vader is my totem animal).

What makes you happy at work? Lately, I’ve taken ownership of finding ways to pump up the the happiness factor at work for others. I’ve been excising little actions and shifts in thinking that can make being at work not only more bearable, but actually exhilarating and FUN!!! No one wants to be miserable all day and studies show many with jobs, in this tough economy, aren’t grateful for them…they’re stressed!

Well, the power of intention, living in alignment with your intentions and practicing authenticity came home to roost last week. As you may know – in addition to helping individuals and teams reach their full potential, I’m also an artist. So, this is the story of how I caught myself, completely unaware, doing the very thing that squelches happiness and joy from work. This is the story of a monsoon of realization, cleansing and awareness that jerked me from my obligatory place, back into joy and fulfillment. You might find yourself doing the same thing at work. I think there’s a cure.

I was in my mosaic studio working on a commissioned piece…a subject matter I’d never choose to do on my own – Darth Vader. I hadn’t taken “ownership” of this piece, not really. I couldn’t relate to it. Now, I strongly believe that my artwork should be created with joy. Art is something I do to connect with my joyful, authentic self. Did I mention I’m not a Jedi Master? Yep – I was going through the motions, get ‘er done, cut, stick – DEADLINE. All of that is fine, but I was missing an essential ingredient that made my art, MY ART. I was missing the abandon, the connection with self. I was missing the permission of the essential “meism” that is allowed to flow when I’m in the creating process. The piece was fine, but the magic was just not happening.

Of course, I wasn’t aware of the missing piece – pardon the pun – until some music played that sent an arrow right into the authentic core of my soul. I – the essential “I” – was not invested in this work. There was no reason for me NOT to be, but I wasn’t, and I was not privy to this detail.

The waterworks began. Why do I not love you, Darth? Why can’t I need see it’s not the “thing” but the journey that brings the joy, that creates the happiness? My dogs, who were sleeping out of shot of flying glass, quickly came to check on me. Weeping, bleeding (because you bleed when you do glass mosaic, or you’re not having fun) and open to the world. Dogs know such things about openness. They assured me I was back on the true path.

My Teacher - Darth Vader
My Teacher – Darth Vader

Darth, I do love you! Thank you for the opportunity to create, to open my joyful self, to be with you. Isn’t that how life is? Sometimes the best thing for you is not what you would consciously choose? The shift came upon me, I yearned to do my best, to make it beautiful, to please my client, to bring it all!

The difference was I was showing up. The real me. The me who wants to change the world through bringing happiness to workplaces, the wounded me who understands how hurtful toxic workplaces can be…I peeled away the layers, I opened to myself, there I was with Darth, and I was there…all of me.

How often does that happen at work? How dangerous would it be to show up, connect with your core, bring who you are and let it shine? How can you do that regardless of the “subject?” It’s a tough calling to be painfully honest with yourself. Once you begin to do it, you find it’s miles deep, vast, wide. It’s a rich field of possibilities…and JOY!

May the Force be with You

Be Brave and Be Happy!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; Coaching pic  - Version 3the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her onFacebook