There is so much about this year that I don’t even know how to put into words. It has been one of the toughest years for me - and for many others, too. There has been a lot of loss, a lot of release, a lot of transformation. I already wrote about the process of losing Lady and how that has affected me. Naturally there have been other losses and changes too, all very personal. Changes in my business, changes on this blog, changes within family, changes within friends and most of all, changes within my soul. I am not the same person as I was a year ago, not even close. This year was all about letting go and moving forward.
Throughout this year, I have held onto my love of dogs more than ever before. Dogs understand me far more than people do, I believe our souls vibrate on a more similar frequency. It has been like this since I was a child. My connection with Bailey and Chilly has always been very healing for me and this year has been no exception.
Every day my two furry children teach me about life, unconditional love, surrender and purpose. They are the two souls that love me at the end of the day no matter how shitty that day was. They are my anchors. My sweet duo. My family.
I have learned a lot this year and my two little munchkins played a role of being big teachers! Sometimes it might seem like I am teaching them, but it’s quite the opposite. I only raised them; they teach me. Here are some of the most powerful lessons that my dogs have taught me this year in the midst of troubling waters, heavy hearts and utter chaos:
1. THERE IS NO SHAME IN REST
Bailey is really big on resting. She can be curled up next to me sleeping for as long as I need her to. If I decided to sleep for 24 hours she would happily do it with me. Sometimes I am running around all day, trying to outrun my own emotions and when I finally collapse into bed at the end of the day and she curls up next to me … I can feel it in my bones that I should have done it sooner. We exhale the day together and I am reminded in that moment that rest equals self care. I’ve been practicing taking naps now. During the day, if I feel exhausted or upset, instead of pushing through or burying my head in a giant bowl of pasta just to cope, I’ll simply lie down on the bed and let Bailey snuggle with me.
It helps, sweet friends.
Rest really does help - and the world does wait.
2. SLOWING DOWN MAKES YOU MORE MINDFUL
My daily walks with Chilly are my favorite thing. Due to her reactivity, Bailey’s outings and exercises are a little more work for me and have more structure to them, which is absolutely okay, but with her I am always in “work mode.” It’s different with Chilly. I can put on my headphones, turn on the epic Game of Thrones soundtrack and just take a slow walk with my mind turned-off. Chilly loves to explore his surroundings and he is never in a rush. He has taught me how to be more mindful. How to explore every inch of a meadow, how to sit down in a park and just … be. This stillness is something I didn’t know before. Our mornings have now turned into that part of day when we just explore nearby parks and meadows, do some socialization work with him and proof behaviors or tricks. I am totally present in the moment, I forget about time, I remind myself to walk in a slower pace. Chilly loves it and so do I! I used to rush everything in my life, but since I have slowed down, my days have been a lot less stressful, my mind more clear.
3. FIND YOUR BALANCE AND TURN IT INTO A HOME
I know that some people don’t believe in balance, but I have found that finding balance within my days keeps me healthy and happy. Chilly and Bailey are polar opposites; they balance each other out. Bailey can sleep the rainy days away and Chilly could be in constant movement if I didn’t stop him. Bailey is fearful and Chilly is curious. Not only do they help balance each other, they also help balance me. I am a total introvert hermit and when I want to spend the day in bed watching TV shows, Bailey is always up for the job. But when the time comes to be more social, to go out and take a long walk throughout the neighborhood, Chilly can’t wait to tag along!
I have learned that it’s totally okay to mix down days with adventure days. To mix being careful with being brave. Our souls don’t have to be just one thing, you know?
I have also been implementing this balance philosophy into how I feed, exercise and train my dogs. I don’t strive for perfection anymore, like I used to. Some days we are more active than others. Some days I can prepare fresh food for them and some days it just doesn’t work out. Some weeks we are really good at proofing tricks, some weeks we forget about them altogether. Consistency is important, but it shouldn’t be an obsession. This new-found balance in our rhythm has helped us become more connected and excited about life. After I spend some days being lazy, I can’t wait to be more adventurous. After I spend a whole day working, I can’t wait to take a day off the next day. After we skip Frisbee for a couple of days, the dogs go bananas when they see it again! Thank you, balance.
4. ALL IS WELL - EVEN WHEN IT'S NOT
Like my darling Bailey, I am also prone to anxiety. I always consider everything that could possibly go wrong and have over the years accepted anxiety as my general state of mind. This year has really pushed me to my limits and put this to the test. Dogs are far more mindful creatures than humans. At the end of the day, when the whole day is behind them, my pups curl up on my bed and fall into sleep so peacefully. They surrender to life, they leave the day behind. They trust the morning is bringing new adventures. All is well - this is what I’ve been saying to myself lately. At the end of the day, when the lights are out, I can hear my two favorite souls on this planet breathe right next to me. No matter what has happened that day, all is well. I can leave the day behind. I can sleep soundly knowing I will wake up the next day to their cute little snouts nuzzling me awake. And whatever that day brings … at the end of it, I will still fall asleep to the sound of them breathing peacefully. All is well.
How has this year been for you? What trials have you experienced and most importantly, what have you learned throughout it all? What is the greatest lesson your dog has taught you? Leave a comment below and let’s support each other through this year of loss and transformation.♥
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