Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sophy and Challenges

Yes, I'm still learning from Sophy. One of the things that's clear to me is that while she likes to climb in my lap and she likes hugs and being petted, what she needs from me even more is to have me keep her safe.

I know she'd love to eat dead birds or chase rabbits and birds we find on our daily walks. But that wouldn't be a good idea and could be really bad for her health—especially if she dashed into the road, not understanding how dangerous that could be. Just as I had to keep my kids safe when they were growing up—even if it made them angry with me—I have to keep Sophy safe. What she thinks she wants isn't necessarily good for her.

I also need to be careful not to become hostage to what she wants and needs. I have to remind myself it's okay to take time for myself to do things that are important to me even if she's not happy being left home alone. And gradually she's learning that I always do come home—sometimes sooner than she expects.

I'm learning to let go of some things. To accept that there will occasionally (less and less often now) be “accidents” and that some things might get damaged as she and I learn what limits need to be set and precautions taken. And that ultimately life is sometimes messy but the joy that comes with having Sophy far outweighs these little setbacks.

As the rest of the country seems to spin into panic over the financial situation, Sophy helps me keep focused on the things I can take care of and to let go of what I can't. That's a very useful lesson right now. She reminds me that there's no point in wasting my energy trying to change what I cannot change—whether it's companies failing or Sophy's need to chase birds and rabbits—and to focus on what I can do—whether it's make sure I pay my bills on time or keep her on a short leash when I know there are likely to be rabbits and birds which could cause her to suddenly try to take off chasing them. Doesn't matter how much harder it makes my life that something is happening—the only useful focus for my energy and attention is on what I CAN do to ameliorate the situation.

And she makes me laugh. Every day. Several times a day. She reminds me that no matter what is going on in my life or the world, there are reasons to smile or laugh—if we look for them—and that when we do smile or laugh, it helps to nourish our resilience and ability to cope with those things that might otherwise knock us down.

Here's hoping you have someone or something that makes you laugh every day. And that you are finding ways to do the things you can and to let go of whatever might be out of your control. Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs))))))),


Here is Sophy reminding me that there are some things one just cannot change--no matter how much one wishes one could. Like fitting through an opening that's waaaay too small....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Unexpected Hassle

I'm a bit behind on everything. I discovered this past weekend that there are things one needs to watch out for with dogs in warm climates that one doesn't worry too much about up north. Sigh It was a weekend of cleaning everything washable and shoveling unpleasant medicine down her throat. But the medicine worked and apparently I caught it right away and we're back on track.

I'm finding—big surprise!—that the more consistent I am, the clearer the boundaries are, the calmer and safer Sophy seems to feel. Gee, does that sound familiar anyone? I've come to realize that efforts to be too soothing and kind can misfire badly so that neither she nor I benefit. Does that sound familiar? She is supposed to be a year or a little over that. Perhaps. But clearly, emotionally she's younger—probably due to being swapped around a different bunch of homes to be fostered so that she still has huge abandonment issues though that's getting better, too. Again, sound familiar anyone?

I'm probably repeating things I've said before. But it's useful to understand that there are consistent patterns because a) it encourages us to look for currently dysfunctional patterns we might be playing out and to create new and healthier patterns in our lives and b) it takes away any guilt that we feel what we feel and need what we need.

Fortunately Sophy seems to be a very quick learner. She's also brave. Even after a bath that left her shaking with fright the whole time, she willingly came back into that bathroom later in the day to see what I was doing. Which means that if things have scared her in the past, she can learn to get past them now and discover they don't always have to be scary. (I'm not saying she'll get to like baths, but I'll bet she doesn't shake nearly as much next time.)

I don't know if I'm making a whole lot of sense. I've had a ton of work suddenly land in my lap this week and that combined with the extra work with Sophy has my head spinning. Hope that all of you are having discoveries of your own and reason for laughter because in the end, the more reasons we find to laugh, the more we realize that NOW we can be happy.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurricane Missed Me

Just a quick note to let anyone know who was worried that Hurricane Ike missed where I am completely. Not even any rain out of it! Meanwhile, I'm dealing with Sophy having stuff she probably picked up in the shelter so...lots of laundry loads, trying to give her a bath and get foul tasting medicine into her and deal with her reaction to said medicine.....

Hope all of you are doing well. Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 and Hurricanes

We might be getting a hurricane here. We'll know more a day from now. Meanwhile, it brings back memories of the year my daughter started college. She was trying to pack, her dad and I were frantically trying to keep up with the water seeping into our family room from the hurricane outside, and we didn't know if her flight would even take off in the morning.

A couple of years later, 9/11 hit shortly before my daughter was supposed to go back to college. We had family and friends in NYC. We talked about her options to get out to college if the planes stayed grounded and we talked about life and what mattered and of the grief we felt over all the lives lost in the twin towers.

If the current storm continues to head our way I'll bring in all my potted plants and anything else that could be tossed around by high winds. I'm ready if we have a few days without power.

When I think of 9/11, when I read about or experience things like a hurricane, I remember not just what went wrong, but also the things people do to help each other in such times of crisis.

Every crisis is a chance for each of us to rise above our fears. Each crisis is a chance for us to look at our lives and decide what matters most. May we always remember the lives lost on 9/11 and may we always celebrate the courage and concern for others that we also saw that day.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More Lessons Sophy is Teaching Me

You'd think that would be a short list. Well, maybe not if you've ever had a dog. But I'm surprised at how much Sophy is teaching me.

This past weekend my daughter brought a friend with a dog over to meet Sophy. The two dogs got along fairly well though there were some rough spots. At first Sophy was a bit too aggressive then when the other dog snapped at her she got very, very submissive. When my daughter brought out one of Sophy's toys (I'd put them away) for the dogs to play with, Sophy got very, very upset at the idea of the other dog having her toy.

What I realized was that Sophy must have encountered some very aggressive dogs in her short life. And my heart hurt for her—knowing what it's like to not be sure how to interact in ways that are neither too aggressive nor too submissive. It took me longer than I like to remember how to figure out what was appropriate.

I also realized she may never have had anything that was truly hers—that couldn't or wouldn't be taken away from her. I understood what that fear was like, too. And that desperate desire to have some things that were one's own to keep just for oneself.

I understood that cringe reaction when someone's hand came too close and she was afraid she would get hit.

I understood in the way she kept climbing into our laps, her desperate desire to find someone who would represent protection, safety and love and never, ever being abandoned again. And I recognized that desperate desire to please in hopes of gaining that safety.

I bought a retractable leash and discovered she's better on walks now than she was when I used a short fixed leash. She can run ahead or back and explore and keeps coming back to me in between. When she was on a regular leash she always pull too hard, as if afraid otherwise she'd never get a chance to explore all the things she wanted and needed to see and smell.

I don't feel that desperation any more. I know I'm safe. I know that I can have things I love that are mine and if for whatever reason I lose one or more of them that there will be others just as good. I know now how to be at ease with almost anyone. But I remember. And so I am taking care to make sure Sophy can feel safe, can feel loved, can know that her things are hers.

What it did for me was highlight the expectations I once had and echoes of those expectations I might still feel in certain situations. It reminded me that I may still limit myself needlessly at times because of what once was my reality—if I don't consciously challenge the assumptions I still carry inside.

Watching Sophy duck a Frisbee rather than running to catch it, I see how fear robs one of joy one could be having playing.

When Sophy dashes out the front door and into the street before I can catch her, I realize that her fear of being abandoned causes her to do things that put her in harms way—and I am reminded that I need to be sure that a fear of being abandoned doesn't cause me to act equally dangerously.

I know that in the days ahead, the time I'm taking to help Sophy feel safe and secure will pay off. And I am reminded that the time I take to make sure that I feel safe and secure is just as important for me.

Here's hoping all of you are able to find ways to feel safe and secure a little more than you have before. Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))).


PS Here's a picture of Sophy in front of the gate she's pulled open at one side....