The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Have you ever spent time at an airport, shopping center or other event just watching people? It’s fascinating. Doc and I try to figure out where they are going, what the relationships are with the people they are with and other wild tales we concoct in our heads. This is all done with minimal information of course. Did you know scientists have estimated that we form impressions of others within the first 30 seconds we meet someone? So think about how those initial impressions impact the way we treat others. Then take it a step further and think about how we were treated growing up and later as adults, and how we have absorbed those stories others created about us. Then, ask yourself if the story you believe about yourself is true and how it may be limiting you from living up to your full potential.

” I’m the black sheep of the family.” the patient said out loud in our weekly group counseling session. I knew exactly what Doc was going to reply when he said that and she did not disappoint me. ” What makes you the black sheep? ” she asked him quietly. ” Well because of everything I have done since I was little, that’s what my family calls me even to this day.” Doc looked him right in the eye and asked ” Did you ever think that your family might be wrong? That’s just a label they gave you. Is that really who you are deep down inside, a black sheep? ” The poor man looked so shocked, as I don’t ever think he had even considered that his family may be wrong. He had owned this label into his adult life to the point that at times it had become a self-fulfilling prophecy. ” Labels belong on cans, not on people. Doc said. Now tell me more about who you really are.”

I am not sure why humans feel the need to assign labels, they even do it to different dog breeds. It’s as if some are uncomfortable just allowing others to develop and be themselves. Because in reality, we are all unique with our own set of special talents.

Doc understood that about me from the beginning. She had a vision that as a therapy dog, I would help children that were struggling with reading by sitting quietly while they practiced reading a book to me. The only problem was that I thought it was a game and I would steal the book so the kids would chase me. That certainly didn’t work out like she had envisioned, so instead of trying to force me to do what she wanted, she worked to find out what I was best at. That turned out to be working with adults in recovery and with cancer patients and I am very happy doing that.

It just goes to show you that everyone has a unique path they should follow, but that will only happen if we let go of the stories that limit our potential and stay open to what our heart leads us to do.

I Love You Just the Way you Are

” When you love a person, we except him or her exactly as is; the lovely with the unlovely, the strong with the fearful, the true mixed in with the facade and of course the only way we can do it, is by accepting ourselves that way.” Mister Rogers

Everybody probably has that one friend that you love, but they can get out of hand sometimes and work your last nerve. For me that is my furry friend next door named Frankie. He’s a bit hyper to say the least. If patience is a virtue, I need to keep working on that with him. For example, the other day Doc was nice enough to take him on a walk with us as his owners were out of town and the lady taking care of him could not handle his energy. Boy did that turn out to be a wild adventure.

For a little guy he is strong and for whatever reason he does not like to be on the leash. First he pulled to the right and then to the left. When he wasn’t trying to pull us down the street he was inappropriately trying to sniff my privates, trees and any human or dog that passed by. Who does that? After about two minutes of him trying to control the walk both Doc and I had had enough and we started setting some boundaries. I tried to set the example, but Frankie follows to the beat of his own drum. As a result, Doc shortened the leash so he could only go so far and I gently put my paw on top of his head when he got out of line. And you know what? He started acting like he had some sense and stayed right next to Doc the entire walk. We looked like a professional dog walking team coming down the street. By the time we got home poor little Frankie was all tuckered out. I guess it was exhausting for him trying to behave.

The next morning Frankie came over to play and was back to his old wild self again. I guess a good nights sleep helped him to recuperate. When I told Doc he was acting like a wild Tasmanian devil in our yard and that I didn’t want to play with him until he could straighten up, you know what she said? ” Guess who use to act like that Grover” she said looking me straight in the eye. ” What? I responded. I haven’t always been perfect? ” I was astounded as she told me about my younger out of control self. ” Just like I was patient with you, you need to set an example and be patient with Frankie. That is what a good friend does.” she said with conviction.

So of course she was right. I don’t want to be a fair weather friend and I do love the little guy, so I promised Doc I would remain patient. Maybe Doc could send me to school with the Dali Llama. He seems pretty chill from all that meditation and could probably give me a few pointers. Until then I will love my little friend just the way he is, hoping he will grow out of this wild stage soon as this old dog can’t hang like I use to.

I Don’t Want to Spring Forward

What human had the big idea that we should change the clock twice a year? And why does an entire nation go along with it like you are captive to the rule? I’ll tell you one thing, messing with all of our circadian rhythms would never be a thing a dog would come up with. It just makes no sense., especially when I have to rise an hour early to use the bathroom in some snow that fell overnight. The humans are grouchy, and I am too. Loosing an hour of sleep is never a good idea. They say this was originally done to help the farmers, but have you ever seen a cow or a goat wearing a watch? The only thing that I can figure is that this stupid rule has to be part of some bigger conspiracy and this dog is going to get to the bottom of it.

The only thing that appeased me was that I did get my breakfast an hour early and that woke me up enough to think about who could be behind this plot to mess with people’s sleep schedule. The first thing I did was call one of Doc’s relatives that is heavily into conspiracy theories, hoping he would help me find some answers. Walter, ( not his real name) answered the phone on the first ring but was too nervous to answer my questions in person. ” The phone could be bugged, he said in a low whisper, meet me in the park.” So about an hour later I arrived at the park and was surprised to learn from Walter that interstellar Lizard people are running the government and have secret societies that control everything, even the time change. Why they would want to control the time change he could not explain, but is was an interesting conversation none the less and I did get some exercise.

Back to the drawing board, I decided to do my own research and came up with a more probable reason than Lizard people. This time I called one of the history professors Doc and I know. Even though his explanation was not as interesting as Walter’s, it sure made more sense than the extraterrestrial theory. The professor said that the first real use of Daylight savings time came about during WWI and then was used again during WWII thinking it would help save fuel for the war effort. It did not. After the wars were over we went back to standard time. It wasn’t until 1966 that it was reintroduced as the Uniform Time Act. As of today, no one I know likes it, including the farmers and so we are back to the original question. Why do you allow yourselves to remain captive to a rule nobody likes. Rise up people!

Reminding myself that Doc has always told me that you can only control your own behavior I have decided that I will no longer follow this asinine rule that no one seems to agree with. And if Doc keeps offering me my dinner an hour early now that we have sprung forward, I will protest and not eat it early. Wait who am I kidding? Have you ever know me to pass up a meal?

Breaking News! Yesterday the senate approved the Sunshine Protection Act making daylight savings time permanent. If approved by the house the president can then sign it in to law and will start in 2023. I must not have been the only one to complain.

Letting Go and Finding Peace of Mind

Last week Doc and I took a much needed vacation. She went to the beaches of Florida while I stayed with my favorite veterinarian. Please don’t think I got the raw end of the deal because not only was I thoroughly pampered, but I think it is actually good for us to be apart for awhile. What ended up being interesting about the time off is that both of us came back with a different perspective about our daily lives and as a result decided to make some changes.

Its hard to know that you are in a rut until you get out of it for awhile. While I was eating up the attention and accolades about being the most perfect and polite dog staying at the veterinarians, Doc was finding out that after she got away how exhausted she was. She said she slept, relaxed and didn’t pressure herself to do anything she did not want to . After all vacation means to vacate your current situation. And what did we find out while we were gone? That we both needed to make some changes to support self care. As a therapy team it is important to not only practice what we preach but to model it as well.

We realized we are both way overscheduled and decided it is time to let go of a few things that were weighing us down. Doc started by resigning from some committee she was on. I was glad because that meant I didn’t have to go to the meetings either. It was boring to this dog and I had to be extra quiet during the discussions, so I support her on that decision. Next it was time to evaluate some relationships in our lives that were emotionally exhausting. Doc calls those people vampires, because when you are around them you feel like they suck the life out of you. Doc let go of her vampire by setting some better boundaries and limiting the time spent on the relationship. For myself, it was the dog up the street that I have tried to befriend for years but he always growls at me like he is the superior canine. So rude! Doc said to me ” Grover as cute as you are not everyone is going to like or appreciate how sweet you are, so let that dog go.” She was right, so now I stay on the other side of the street and walk on by.

What is strange about making these changes is that you would have thought that it would have been harder than it was, but you know what, it was just the opposite. We both felt a sense of relief, like a weight had been lifted. I do think wisdom comes with age and since both Doc and I are getting older, you come to a place that you need to decide how much more of your life you want to waste on situations or people that leave you feeling worn out or anxious. We all make some bad choices sometimes, but the good news is that we can also choose to learn from our mistakes and then move forward.

So here’s to letting go of toxic thoughts. people, grudges, or situations and embracing more peace and tranquility.