Just Chillaxing

Photo by Angela Kirk

Lets face it, we all have busy and sometimes stressful lives. Luckily Doc knows the importance of relaxing and having a good time. You can often hear her preach on the importance of having balance in your life. So that is just what we did on Saturday night, Doc practiced what she preached by taking me to see a jazz concert at the outdoor amphitheater in the park.

It was a perfect summer night. No humidity and not a cloud in the sky. Doc placed her folding chair on the hill as I laid in the cool grass beside her. As we were listening I could feel the stress leave my body. What does a dog have to be stressed about you may ask?  Plenty. Doc had me doing some chores in the morning like going with her to the pet store and getting the car washed. The car wash always freaks me out. Too much water and too many spider-like things rubbing all over the car. Then there is the left over stress from the work week as I do have a job trying to make people feel better. So like the kids say it was time to chillax.

It’s easy to get frazzled from too much worry, overwork, and lack of self-care. Sometimes it sneaks up on us without us even realizing it and hits us right between the eyes. The father of Stress Management, Hans Selye explained that stress causes wear and tear on the body. That’s why we get sick and fatigued. When we get out of balance, out body keeps count.

So what ‘s a person to do? Prevention is the key. Doc said she had to learn the hard way in her youth and suffered the consequences of getting burnt out. Now she makes sure she manages her stress ever day by doing at least one thing a day that she looks forward to, we both get plenty of sleep, don’t over schedule ourselves, stay away from junk food and my favorite, taking a daily walk. Self care needs to be your #1 priority. You can’t function or help others if you are exhausted. It really is ok to have some fun in your life, you deserve it.

Photo by Angela Kirk” Self-care is how you take your power back.”

— Lalah Delia

A Lesson in Tolerance

My friend Norman stopped by the other day to spend some quality time together. We played and hung out but he started getting on my last nerve when he was trying to get Doc’s attention every time she came into the room. After all, she is my human mother and he has his own family that will pay attention to him. I noticed he was using his cuteness to get Doc’s attention. I don’t want to accuse him of being manipulative but you know how the saying goes “If it quacks like a duck…”

After Norman left I decided to have a conversation with Doc about how I was feeling. She sat quietly and listened as I went on and on about how I wasn’t happy about Norman’s behavior.  When I was finished Doc  looked at me and said, ” psychiatrist Carl Jung once opined that everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ” What are you saying? ‘ I asked Doc. ” When some other human or dog’s behavior irritates you, use it as a mirror. Maybe you are judging Norman so you don’t have to look at your own insecurities, anxiety or whatever it is that you are really feeling. Only you can figure that out by being honest with yourself” she said as she walked out of the room.

Doc may be right, but I hate it when she points things out and then I have to go and think about it. After some reflection I realized that I was jealous of poor little Norman and the attention Doc was giving him. It just stirred up my insecurities and fear that Doc would end up loving another dog and replace me. I know that’s not even close to true because I know Doc has enough love for many animals and that I am always her #1 but that’s what fears often are, irrational thoughts.

Later in the day I went back to Doc and told her I had figured it all out. “When I learn to understand and accept myself including all my flaws and feelings it will also help me to tolerate and allow others to be themselves too” I told her with a smile. “Grover, she said, you are one smart puppy!”

Photo by Angela Kirk” Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

— Thomas Edison

Learning to Draw a Line in the Sand

Photo by Angela Kirk

Isn’t it always easier to complain about how others treat you instead of looking at why you allow it? From this dog’s observation I do believe that we need to own our lack of boundaries in certain situations and how it contributes to the problem. We really do teach other what we will tolerate by how we respond.

I have to admit that even I don’t confront things directly at times. For example, there is a dog in the back alley where I work that tries to act like a tough guy by barking and growling at me from behind a six-foot chain link fence. Now I don’t really have anything against this poor beagle mix, but for years he’s raised a big stink every time Doc and I walk by.  Well lets just say he’s annoying. And how do I respond? I pick up my hind leg and pee on the corner of the fence as high as I can. Marking my territory is equivalent to a human’s nasty hand gesture if you know what I mean. Doc tells me in her psychobabble language that I am acting passive aggressive and that I should just tell the poor dog how I feel and be done with it, but I have yet to evolve to that emotional level.

In spite of my lack of maturity I am lucky to have Doc to consult with to help you. So here are some helpful hints she passed along: First you need to start being aware of the people in your life that are vampires ( those that suck the life out of you) and figure out what boundaries you are allowing them to cross. If someone in your life is very toxic it may be time to move on from that relationship. Second, whenever someone asks you to do something, before responding really examine if this is something you want to do. If you don’t say no. The world won’t end if you decline and you will be honoring how you really feel. 3. Communicate in a calm and respectful manner how you are feeling when a person crosses one of your boundaries. The other person may not even realize that you don’t like their behavior because you never said anything. Doc also wanted me to add that it is important to stay safe by trusting your judgement. If you think someone could become abusive toward you, ask for help from a professional.

As an adult you get to decide how you allow others to treat you. Have enough respect for yourself that you learn to protect your time and emotions.

Photo by Angela Kirk“Stop asking why they keep doing it and start asking why you keep allowing it.”

— Anonymous

The Butterfly Effect

Photo by Angela Kirk

The other day when Doc and I were out at the horse farm, one of the patients found a butterfly in the corner of the barn that was lifeless. The patient was taken by how the beauty of the butterfly and carefully brought it to Doc to watch over until it was time to leave. Gazing upon this beautiful creation made me think about how the butterfly symbolizes change and self-transformation. It is such a metaphor for our own lives if we look closely enough.

Often I hear people say that they don’t like change, but like it or not it is part of our personal evolution. Some change is forced on us and some we choose. We can fight against it or see it as a way of letting go of the old to make way for the new. When struggling with change I often ask myself what the change truly represents in my life and how I can use the experience to grow stronger.

Like the butterfly as we move through our cycles of life, we must trust in our ability to weather anything that we encounter, knowing that with courage and patience we will once again emerge with beautiful wings and fly.

Photo by Angela Kirk” Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did do.”

— Mark Twain