As some of you may know, I have once again stepped into a journey of companionship with a new puppy. The beautiful relationship I had with my last companion Marzie helps shape and make clear what I want and do not wish for in this new life with Carlie. I hope to have Carlie work together with me eventually so our training and socialization in the here and now is very important.
The other morning I took Carlie for a wonderful morning walk. Carlie already walks well with me off leash. What a gift. And yet, in a moment of enjoying a beautiful morning, I stopped to incorporate training. Using my trusted treats, I asked Carlie to ‘come.’
Carlie was enjoying what she was sniffing. Interesting information was wafting up her nose as she begins to explore the big back yard of the river flats nearby. We had just been instructed in puppy class the night before to only call once and then positively reward when they come. In that moment, however, I thought ‘she didn’t hear me’ and so I repeated myself. Immediately, I caught myself and knew she had heard me the first time. I stopped myself from repeating her name again and bent down with a tasty treat. She kept sniffing and looking around her. I waited.
As I waited the minute and a half it took her to make eye contact (which is what I was waiting for), I realized the learning moment for me. She had a choice to make. She could come to me quickly or it could take a long time for her to come. She was independent from me, even though I am responsible for her well-being and good socialization. She is not me, nor is she the source of my success or failure in this moment. Her identity and my identity are distinct from each other. Yet, I seek deep companionship with this little blessing.
I realized that in the midst of all these natural and amazing distractions, her choice to come to me is determined by the choice of treats I offer (so yes, very tasty) and second by who I am. Yes, in that moment, I realized I needed to BE someone that was very special and attractive to her regardless of her enticing surroundings. My attitude, my intention to be a positive and secure leader and companion, my energy, my heart’s openness and presence were all necessary to help Carlie make the choice that would create happiness for us both.
I also realized that I would need to create space and time for this new relationship to evolve with respect, gentle confidence and harmony (what all family members, including our cats had requested with the presence of a new puppy). My schedule, my self care needs, balance between work and life all need to be re-adjusted if I want this relationship to develop positively, increasing the moments and expansiveness of our happiness. If I do not make these adjustments, and lack the patience for her development as a separate being, we both will end up frustrated and stressed (resulting in behavioural issues). If I do not make the effort to train with respect for my boundaries and teach her healthy personal space and boundaries of her own, we could end up in power struggles with each other. I cannot imagine the stress and ‘upsetness’ that would create for each of us.
All these thoughts flashed to me in a moment and I waited with happy heart, clear of what I need to do and WHO I need to be. Carlie looked up at me and made eye contact. I was so delighted that she chose to acknowledge me and look to me for direction and connection in that moment. She came running and we celebrated together and she got her treat. Throughout the walk we practised again, only the next time I only repeated her name once.
That moment made me realize how often we drive ourselves from our own happiness simply because we are unclear about what we want, because we forget to respect our needs and/or because we step in too soon to ‘fix’ or control the outcome and get on with the moment. Too often, our sense of self and our sense of happiness is determined by the externals in our life because we are empty of the knowing and habits of what makes us happy, joyful and healthy.
This February I am offering a 2 day workshop on Cultivating a Joyful Life: Health and Vital Self Care (please see program section) and I invite you to attend and step forward in becoming the person that makes you happy and the person you respect! If you are doing and being someone who you no longer wish to be (i.e. unhappy, stressed or unhealthy), then write out a list of characteristics or traits that a well-balanced ‘being’ would be happy to be around (including you). Begin with one trait and one baby step towards developing this positive trait. It begins with one committed step forward, no matter how small it may be. If you are unsure how to find that positive baby step, then call for a soul coaching session and/or register for the workshop.
Enjoy this month of living love in your life. Do the self care that improves the quality of your happiness and be your own valentine this entire month!!
©Shirley Lynn Martin, February 2012