From time to time I like to relax by writing about the things in life I treasure.
Today I honor my pets.
Less filling; they're great! No, not beer. Even though I do enjoy the beverage I'm referring to my darling greyhounds, Nevada and Lexi. The tan boy and the black girl dog; the old and the young. These days seeing the world through the eyes of my senior dog Nevada and my vivacious little Lexi has been an education. A study in contrasts. Together they teach me to savor the moment and to relish spontaneity.
I began looking for my first canine companion several years ago. How does a first-time dog owner choose a breed? There are so many different breeds! They say that dogs resemble their owners but what draws a person to a certain dog? Or, maybe the question is: what draws a dog to a person? I did an awful lot of research; but my mind was made up when my son and I went to the dog show. As soon as we walked in the door of the arena we saw the greyhound ambassadors from my local greyhound rescue organization
. The dogs were so still and quiet. I fell in love with their gentle manner and their incredible physiques.
I started the adoption process and was lucky enough to be matched with the perfect first dog. Nevada joined our family on Labor Day weekend seven years ago. He's been the most patient dog teacher for me. And a happy-go-lucky goofball. The sweet old guy will be 13 next month.
I never planned to have more than one dog, but a female greyhound came two months later as company for Nevada. Solo was one of those dogs that just happen to show up when you didn't even realize how much you needed them. My sensitive little shadow who seemed to understand my every emotion. Even though it seemed far too soon to say goodbye she left us in August last year.
This time we needed a companion for us as well as for Nevada. The hole Solo left was just too big for us to bear. Enter Lexi. Lexi was adopted in November, a baby at just three years old. She's full of energy and enthusiasm and curiosity. And she's a sweetheart who likes to cuddle and bury her head under my arm to get as close as possible. Lexi is always a step ahead of me which keeps me on my toes.
These days we take lots of walks. Slow, plodding walks that exercise Nevada's nose more than his legs. And then one, or even two more extended walks to wear out my energetic little girl. My dogs teach me to stop and smell the grasses....or at least to hang tight while they water them. They teach me that a straight line may be the quickest, but it's not always the most interesting path. My gorgeous greyhounds--built of muscle and sinew, speed and strength have taught me that inside their athletic, muscular chests beat the biggest hearts I could ever imagine.
My hope is by writing this down I can rework some old and outdated wiring inside me. I've been thinking about my reluctance to embrace all of my emotions. When my son called yesterday and asked how I felt the words got stuck in my throat. Even though I know that it really is all right to feel sad or angry, a lot of times I feel afraid to say it. My sense of appropriateness (a word that usually makes me cringe) thinks it might be too much information. As if I'd prefer to present the dressed up, made up, cleaned up, polite and pretty version of myself. The Barbie version. The problem is--she's hollow inside.
Me? I feel full of conflict. What's so wrong with mad and sad? Is this a uniquely female way to deal with the darker side of emotion? Or something I learned a long, long time ago? I tend to gloss over angry or sad emotions with juvenile language--"I feel icky." Or skirt around my feelings, "I feel not so good," or "I feel ok." It seems easier to answer in a cheerful yet robotic voice, "I'm fine. How are you?" Or even worse, sit in silence with a painful lump in my throat.
But then I might miss out. I might miss having a real conversation with a friend. I might miss the closeness that comes from being genuine with my mate. And I would miss sharing honesty with my sons in the face of heartache. I owe it to myself to be truthful with the ones that matter most to me.
What if I trusted that the folks I love want to know the real me? What if expressing emotions came with a request for help? "May I have a hug? I feel so sad today." Or, "I need to vent because I feel so angry." That might make it easier for me to talk. And easier for others to listen.
"Feel and deal." I see this handwritten message on my friend's fridge every time I visit. It's catchy. Even though it sounds simple; it's certainly not easy. The reality seems messy and difficult. That's the challenge--accepting reality. Accepting the day no matter what it brings.