rescued dog

Would you answer the call?

It is said that when a person makes plans, God laughs. Last week, my week was planned. I knew what I would be doing and when. Over the years, I have become more flexible with my schedule, but I still have a schedule. Tuesday morning shifted my schedule. Most mornings my adopted dog Güera and I meet up with a neighbor and her dogs to walk. Tuesday was no different, until the dogs stopped by a field. When we came to the field, we found a severely dehydrated and malnourished dog.

Day One

We could have left. We both had work. We both had plans. We both had busy days. None of that seemed important anymore. A meditation teacher from Myanmar once said, “When the sunshine of loving-kindness meets the tears of suffering the rainbow of compassion appears.” The rainbow of compassion took hold of us, and we could not help but assist this dog. A mutual friend was called and arrived with water. Cautiously approaching the dog, for we did not know if it was vitious or diseased, we gave it two liters of water which it greedily ate up. The dog could not stand. It stretched with its neck to get to the water. Food was also brought but untouched. Later that day I returned with water which again was met with approval. The dog was about two feet from where it had been, but again showed no signs of being able to stand up or move freely.

Day Two

I had plans the next day, which were rearranged again to bring food and water to the little girl. Day two she was up a bit on her front paws, and she greedily ate everything we brought to her. Two meals were consumed within minutes. We were glad that she was looking a bit better, but she was obviously dragging her hind legs. We didn’t know if she was in an accident. We didn’t dare touch her, because we had no idea if she would bite us to protect herself.

Day Three

Day three, after again adjusting my plans, I fed her in the morning then returned in the afternoon with a different friend. We were thrilled to see that she was now using three of her legs. Having planned to bring her to a veterinarian that day for examination, when the time came, we did not have the courage. If her one leg was injured, it was quite possible that she might defend herself if there was pain when we picked her up. The trip to the vet did not happen, but I did get close enough to her to pet her. She accepted it calmly. Her eyes and demeanor clearly showed that she was not a threat.

Day Four

Friday, day four, after again shifting my schedule to accommodate this injured dog’s needs, I was accompanied by a dog trainer and some lovely people who often rescue dogs. We were all surprised to see Boxie, who had been named day two because she looked part boxer, was up on all four legs. Compared to how she had looked only a few days before this seemed a miracle. The current helpers were skillfully able to transport the dog to a very accommodating and supportive veterinarian who checked Boxie out. She did not have any major diseases and was just suffering from malnutrition and the normal bugs one would expect to find on a dog that was left in the wild. That evening Boxie came home with me because she had nowhere else to go. She is now recuperating at a shelter, as my own adopted dog was not adjusting well to our houseguest.

Besides a plug below requesting your help to find a home for this sweet girl, I also wanted to share some of the lessons this experience gave me.

The Pause: In my old Type A ways, had I rushed to get Boxie to a veterinarian the first day they may have put her down because of her condition, I would not have found the right people to help me move her, and I would not have found the shelter who took her in. Although it took conscious effort to not rush into things, every time I allowed myself to pause, the next right step appeared.

The Ego: I felt so much guilt the night after I brought Boxie to the shelter. It was not because she was not being cared for, but because I should have done it. I should have rescued her and taken her in. I was a bad person. All the guilt and remorse I felt was my ego taking on a role. I knew in my heart, not keeping her was the right thing for Boxie, my dog Güera, and our family. When I took away my expectations and judgments, I found serenity in my actions.

Purpose: My life had become pretty routine lately, and I felt trapped and unsatisfied in that routine. When faced with an opportunity to do something new and to help someone else, it gave my life purpose. When I could put aside my schedule, the flexibility gave me the ability to connect with others, help save a life, and bring together a community of support. #TeamBoxie

As you go about your week, keep your eye out for opportunities to help others, act as guided when you receive intuition, remove egoistic expectations and judgments, and rediscover your deeper purpose for living.

If you are interested in helping Boxie find her forever home, please contact me or Rescate Perruno. Rescue dogs are routinely sent from Los Cabos, Mexico to the USA and Canada. We’d love to show you how easy it would be to have this darling become part of your family.

angry sign

Acceptance Sucks

My life seems to be one of constant learning. Recently themes of connection, service and compassion have been prevalent. And Acceptance. Lots of acceptance. I am not very accepting of my lesson in acceptance. In fact, I am resisting and very much not accepting my lesson in acceptance. Unfortunately, it is this same resistance that is causing me more pain.

Acceptance comes in different forms. One can struggle in accepting themselves and their human body. Perhaps it is accepting bad situations like an impending natural disaster or disease. Sometimes it is acceptance of others who are, think, and believe differently than me; I have worked hard at not imposing my expectations on others which makes it easier to accept them. The acceptance I am struggling with now is not when my expectations are off, but when people can not act with common courtesy.

I am, of course, talking about my chain-smoking neighbor who I have been writing about ad nauseum. He is my current teacher, and I can’t wait to get this lesson, really get it, so I can be free of him. The acceptance he is teaching me is accepting others, even when their behavior is harming me. Phew. That is a hard one. In the past, my expectations of others were based on my selfish wants and needs, and I could see how I needed to release those expectations to find peace and acceptance. In my current situation, it is hard for me to release the expectation that my neighbor not carelessly poison me with his smoke.

Can you relate? Many of us are losing our shit because we feel the actions of others are infringing on our health, wellbeing, or freedom. I saw a video the other day of a man on an airplane insanely freaking out because he did not want to wear a mask. Others are upset that those around them will not mask and get the vaccine. It seems we all have a definition of freedom and safety that contradicts the wants and needs of others. In many ways it is more than just our expectations; it feels like others are purposefully attacking and harming us and not allowing us the freedom to live the life we want.

The question remains, what do we do with people who appear to be causing us harm?

We accept them.

Damn, I didn’t want that answer, did you? I want to fight them, publicly shame them, be as harmful back to them as they are being to me. But where does that get me? It just makes me more angry and resentful – and then I would have to deal with the repercussions of my “Karen” behavior as well. Instead of going ballistic and acting in a hateful, self-righteous, and self-focused way I would regret, here are a few things I am trying.

Stop Fighting Reality

A hurricane just passed through our town recently. The hurricane did not form with the intention of hurting me. It did not have the choice to just be a light breeze but instead decided to have 100 MPH winds just to be a jerk. The same thing with my chain-smoking neighbor. He is living his life the way he chooses. He is not doing it intentionally to me. I can’t want and expect him to be any way that he is. A dog is going to be a dog. Expecting him to be a cat only causes me pain. We can not blame or attack another for their behavior. We can not change another’s actions or behavior. We can’t. Instead of being upset that people are not acting in a way we deem as appropriate, we need to surrender to the truth that they are acting in the only way they know how to right now. Until I stop fighting, I can’t be open to finding solutions to get me closer to what I want to experience.

Focus on What I Want

I have spent way too much time obsessing over the pain and inconvenience my neighbor is causing me. I find myself upset about his smoke in my house, even when there is not smoke in my house. Instead of feeding my anger and victimhood, I am beginning to focus on what I want. Serenity. Peace. Fresh air. When I have those things, I am grateful. When I don’t, I see what I can do in the moment to make changes that will get me closer to what I want.

Stop Trying to Win

If I went to court, I could have a good case as to how my neighbor was infringing on my right to clean air, good health, and full use of my home. But winning that battle does not give me clean air and good health. It would only create animosity and more conflict. There are no winners and losers. There is no good or bad. If our world is ever going to heal, we need to release the concept of duality. We are not separate. It is not us versus them. We are not separate from each other but connected parts of a whole. Until we stop fighting the non-existent separation from each other, we will not come together and find peace.

Pray

It doesn’t matter what or who I am praying to, but I need to remind myself that this problem is bigger than me. I am powerless to change the views and actions of my neighbor. By praying I turn the problem over to whatever is larger than me in universe which can possibly affect what is happening. This is an act of detachment with love for myself and for my sanity. The other piece of prayer is compassion. “Bless them, heal me” is a great prayer of compassion for others, and ourselves.

It is not hard to look around these days and find others who are in acting in ways that feel like they are infringing on the life, liberty, and freedom of others. Fighting them directly only feeds the fire. We need to try new ways to heal differences in opinion and lifestyles. I hope that finding acceptance can be the foundation to help make a positive change for us all.

conversation

Healing Differences of Opinion

I remember a time in the past when friends of mine talked up a restaurant for weeks. When we could finally have dinner together, my friends were enraptured by the atmosphere, service, and food. Before, during, and after the meal their exuberance and praise was over the top. When my critique of the meal was given, it was lower than theirs. What astounded me was not only our difference of opinion, but my friends’ reaction. They took my honest experience as an afront to not only the restaurant, but to them. They had tied their self-worth and self-esteem to their belief about the restaurant. When I was less than praiseworthy of the restaurant, they felt I was insulting them.

Sound familiar? In the heightened political climate over the past years, do you or those around you take differing political views as a personal insult? I believe one of the reasons there is so much political tension is that we have moved away from honest discussion of issues and instead are defending our political affiliation as our sole identity. We no longer lean right or left, we ARE Left or Right. When our identity and self-worth are tied to something outside of our self, it leads to insecurity, fear, and either fighting for our ideology or becoming depressed and insecure when our ideology is attacked.

conversation, listening
Photo by Joshua Rodriguez on Unsplash

A recent Fast Company article explored the concept of our values being tied to our worth and how to have honest conversations. It states, “Yet hanging out with like-minded people is the opposite of open-mindedness. It signals a reluctance to learn and grow, and a false sense of security about your own values, perhaps because you are afraid to have them challenged as they are the core definition of yourself, or you fear that they are too fragile to hold when exposed to a different form of thinking.” The article has some terrific advice around this subject that I would like to share and expand upon.

Be Teachable

The article brought up the importance on continued learning. It is the concept of remaining teachable. When anything stops growing, it dies. Such is true with our minds. When we think we know it all, we have closed off and killed our minds. As I get older, I have learned that the only thing I know for certain is that I don’t know anything. By staying in an I-don’t-know mind, I strive to see situations without filters, I try not to judge based on my experience, and I have an openness to see things anew.

Listen

Listening is a key component of learning and understanding. Hearing out another’s view does not mean we agree with them or that one party needs to convert to the other’s beliefs. Instead of cutting off someone with your thoughts or attacking them for theirs, listen. Listen to what it said. Listen to what is not said. Listening leads to understanding which leads to acceptance.  To accept is to stop fighting reality. The reality is that someone has a different take on a subject. Peace is found in accepting the reality that not everyone thinks like I do. Accepting is not choosing who is right and who is wrong, it is listening to, comprehending, and understanding each other.

It Takes Two

You can be open. You can be a terrific listener. You can be accepting and willing to come together. The other person may not. It is important to have healthy boundaries. If the other party is not willing or able to listen with an open mind and only wants to attack, you do not need to continually expose yourself to that abuse. Move on to the next person who is a bit more openminded. You can not repair a relationship on your own. Both parties need to be willing to come together.

It is not always easy to hear out someone else’s views, especially if the views are very far away from our own. But to heal our country and our personal relationships, we need to become open-minded and accepting. Little by little we can begin to feel confident in our own self-worth, remove our fear, and come back together.

charlie brown and lucy

The Dangers of Expectations

Last week I wrote about wanting things to go back to how they were, and how that expectation is unrealistic and unhelpful. This week I want to take this one step further and explore how our expectations of others and our desire for specific outcomes leads us to resentment, anger, and hopelessness – and what we can do about it.

Expectations

We view the world and others through our own perceptions, beliefs, and mores. Consciously and unconsciously, we expect people to think and act in the way we believe others should act. It is not bad to have our expectations, but assuming others can, will, and desire to live by our standards is unrealistic. I would hope that everyone would see the world the way I do and treat each other kindly, but if I am being honest, I can’t even live up to that perfectly every day.

Our expectations are not only about the actions of other people. Our expectations are also about the environment, politics, society, and every circumstance that touches our lives. Most of the North America is currently experiencing severe cold and snow right now. Many are angry or disheartened by this fact. Their expectation is that it should not be cold, but it is winter and Mother Nature does what Mother Nature does. Others are having trouble accepting election results or the seriousness of the Coronavirus. Just because we don’t want to believe the facts, does not mean they are not facts. Our expectations of people, the environment, and the world can not control the reality of any of those things.

Acceptance

Instead of stubbornly holding on to our expectations in the face of reality, we need to accept reality. The image of Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football comes to mind. Charlie Brown constantly expected Lucy to hold the football for him. And Lucy constantly pulled the football away before he kicked it. If Charlie Brown decides to believe each and every time that Lucy will act differently than she has consistently acted, who is to blame for his pain?

As I have said before, “Pain comes from expecting a dog to be a cat. A dog is going to be a dog.” People are probably going to do what they have done before. The weather is going to be the weather. The results are going to be the results. No matter how much we believe or insist, these facts will not change. Our desire for reality to be different from reality only causes us pain, anger, resentment, and disappointment. Acceptance is the key to peace.

Boundaries

Bear in mind that acceptance does not mean we allow ourselves to be continually hurt. It is important to create boundaries and to voice our needs. Charlie Brown needs to accept Lucy will remove the football – and then he should probably find someone else to hold the ball for him in the future.

Acceptance does not mean we excuse or accept the actions of others. Acceptance simply means we stop fighting reality. When we can accept the reality of the situation, we are then empowered to do something about it. If we are around people or circumstances that do not serve us, instead of angerly attacking reality, it is best to accept the reality of the situation so that we are then empowered to change the situation or remove ourselves from it.

Much of our anger and resentment is because we are playing the victim of some person or circumstance. We are giving them our power. It is important that we set healthy boundaries and clearly voice those boundaries moving forward.  

Be Kind

As Robin Williams is quoted as saying, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” We can only the do the best we can do that day at that time. We can encourage, hope, and pray people will act better – but on any given day they are only going to be able to do what they are capable at doing. Know that even when someone is seemingly intentionally being mean, it is usually because of their own pain. That doesn’t mean you need to take their abuse, but it does mean that you can still give them your empathy.

Where are you fighting reality? What do you need to accept? What boundaries can you put in place? Instead of playing victim to circumstances or others, empower yourself through acceptance.

mended heart

Our Role in Healing

Last Saturday, Joe Biden made a call to the country to unify and heal. He pledged “to be a president who seeks not to divide, but unify. . . We need to stop treating our opponents as enemies. They are not our enemies. . . This is the time to heal in America.” Hopefully, the Biden administration will lead the way to heal the country, but he can not do it alone. We all have a responsibility to heal our nation, our communities, and our families.

Stop Spreading Hate

The easiest route to take is always one of blame and attack. No matter where you stand, it can be easy to attack “the other.” Instead of pointing out the wrongs of others, be aware of how you are adding to the distrust and distress. Are you adding to misunderstanding and separation? Are you spreading misinformation? Are you sharing negative attacks on others? Or are you seeking to understand and accept?

Stop Labeling

No one is solely a Democrat or a Republican. We are women, men, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers. We are multi-faceted individuals. When we label and attack “the other,” we are being close-minded and closed-hearted. Seeing others one-dimensionally keeps us stuck in duality. When we can begin to look at people fully and completely, we can begin to have understanding and compassion.

Photo by Ante Gudelj on Unsplash

Reconnect

During this election and over the last few years, I have emotionally lost friends and family members to differing ideologies. Somehow our opinions on one subject became more important than the lifetime of experiences we had together. When did a political ideology become more important than family and friendships? We need to look at each other as friends, family, and people again, instead of boxing someone into this or that label. Stop using labels for groups of people and remember that the person you see is not a snowflake liberal – it is your loving Uncle Ted. That woman is not a crazy conspiracy theorist; it is the sibling you spent your entire life knowing. If we are going to move forward, we need to move out of rhetoric and into compassion for humanity on a person by person level.

Be Open

Much of the pain these last years is due to isolation and close-mindedness on all sides. I believe Biden calling us to “give each other a chance” applies to each of us. We need to take off the blinders of our viewpoint and be open to learn about others. Start by not just reading what agrees with your narrative. Look at multiple sources of information from liberal, conservative, and international viewpoints. Be open to what is written and draw your own conclusions. Don’t only listen to one source. Don’t negate immediately what does not agree with your view. Be open to new points of view. Knowledge is power and wisdom is how we use that knowledge.  

Choose

Each of us has the power in each and every moment to make life better – or worse. Biden beautifully said, “It is a decision, a choice we make and if we decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate.” Are you choosing to make things worse, to keep us stuck, or are you choosing to act in ways that bring us all together?

Walk the Talk

If we want to be accepted, we need to accept others. If we want to be understood, we need to seek to understand others. We can’t expect someone to accept us as we are, if we won’t accept them for who they are. If we want inclusion, we need to include. We need to walk the talk and lead by our example.

Be Compassionate

I don’t know anyone who wasn’t emotionally engaged in the past months, if not years. We all have an emotional hangover, no matter where we stand on the results. Change – whether it is our address, our spouse, our job, or our political leaders – is difficult. As humans we like consistency, and any change is challenging. When we can move past the fear and anger of change, we can begin to build together. Even if we want things to go smoothly and we try to act our best self, we may not always. As we hope others will have compassion for us in our struggles, we need to show compassion to them as well.

Remember No One is Perfect

Biden used a very interesting quote in his speech, “We must restore the soul of America. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darker impulses.” None of us are all bad. None of us are all good. We are all a blend. We are all human. As we begin to rebuild together, seek to find the good in everyone. It is there if we take the time to look for it. “Spread the faith.”

A Need for Balance

One of my favorite finds this year is the book and series called, Good Omens. In it, the earth’s birthdate is uncovered, and it turns out the earth is a Libra. At the time, this made me laugh as I too am a Libra. However, with all that 2020 is challenging us with, I am discovering that both I and the world are being asked to find more balance, which is both a core challenge and passion of we Libras.

Photo by Evan Clark on Unsplash

Balance is not a fixed location but a constant readjustment. Think of someone riding a unicycle. They do not get the unicycle upright and then stay in that perfect state of equilibrium. To stay balanced the cyclist – and we – need to make constant adjustments in how we think, how we act, and how we interact.

Balance Your Time

Much has been said about balancing our time between work and home. Balancing time is also finding the present moment. Staying in the past brings regret. Focusing on the future brings fear. Being in the present moment is the point of balance between negative emotions of the past and future. It is also the space where we are empowered to act.

All or Nothing

Much of our pain these days in in taking sides and seeing issues, people, and situations as clear-cut dichotomies, which they never are. All-or-nothing thinking makes us lopsided and off-balance. Through my own life, I have found that nothing is absolutely black-or-white, right-or-wrong, true-or-false. Between all people, issues, and ideas there is always gray. When we can find that gray, we can find balance.

Action and Inaction

Where all-or-nothing exists in our mind, the concept of Yin-Yang expresses balance in action. Yang gets the limelight for me personally and much of society. Yang is aggression, action, accomplishments, and holding to beliefs. Taking action is not bad in itself. The trouble comes in when this is all we have and when we don’t make space for the Yin. Yin is about flexibility, adaptability, and flow. Yin is about strength through bending and humility. You can learn more about these concepts in this great video.

For me personally, I usually lead with the Yang. I am the bull in the china shop trying to fight for what is right and make things happen. Again, this is not bad, unless action is all I have. Sometimes the best solution is in the pause, in acceptance, in flexibility, in humility, in the Yin. The key to peace is not to choose Yin over Yang or Yang over Yin but to discern when to use each.

Equality

Equality is finding balance between people. Nothing, read that again, nothing makes one person more important than someone else. Not money, not beauty, not nationality, not gender. We are all equal. The only inequality that exists is based on our own judgments. I have experienced inequality growing up a woman in a man’s world. I have being perceived as “the other” being the only Caucasian in an African American History class. I have felt superiority bestowed upon me due to my education, position, financial status, and skin tone. Through all of these instances, I see that the differences, the inequalities were all in someone’s mind. To find balance between us and others, we need to release the false sense of separation. We need to seek to understand and accept the other, instead of spreading and continuing prejudice. We need to release our fear of loss as meeting others as equals (raising up others) does not minimize ourselves. Together we are both stronger.

Steadiness through Constantly Changing

Where are you feeling off-balance? Is time making demands you can not meet? Is your thinking skewed? Is the imbalance between trying to act when the best option is to wait? Is it in feeling that you are due more than you receive or a fear that others are taking from you? Take a few moments to close your eyes. Breathe gently in through your nose and out through your mouth. Find the balance and peace of this moment. Then examine where you feel off balance. What needs to shift to help you find serenity?  Throughout your day check-in and make minor adjustments to help you maintain stability in balance.