Life is hectic, there is so much I have to do today! Just thinking about my to-do list is getting me all stressed out! There are deadlines and appointments, paperwork and household chores. And, on top of it all, I have to walk the dog!
My little dog is impatiently sitting at my feet, wagging her little tail and watching every move I make. I am a bit grumpy, my head is full of all the important stuff I have to accomplish today. I throw on some walking shoes and absentmindedly hook her onto her leash.
Now her whole body is wagging with excitement! I find myself drawn in by her joyful expressions, and if only for a short moment, I forget about all the deadlines and appointments. Now I am smiling as we head out the door for our morning walk.
I am grateful for my little dog. Our walks together are more than just a few minutes of exercise and an opportunity for her to go potty. Every day, I can find little tidbits of wisdom from being with my dog. Sure, her life is much simpler compared to mine, but the lessons still apply. Let me share some of the wisdom of the paws (pause) with you.
Every day is a new beginning
Instead of jumping out of bed with my mind full of dreadful things that need to get done and anxious feelings about not having enough time to do it all, my dog meets each new day with a joyful expectation and excitement. What if I made my first few thoughts about things that are joyful and exciting? It's all about what I focus on, and my first few moments awake truly set the tone for the rest of my day.
So I tried this for a few days, and my world takes on a different look. When the alarm goes off, I stop myself from thinking about the stresses of the day, instead I take a moment to just sit up in bed and think of two things I am excited about. Just two small things I look forward to. My sister is joining us for dinner tonight and I am going to yoga class at 4pm. Next, I make a list of three things I am grateful for. Not too complicated, rather I think of simple things, like my health, the roof over my head, and my family that loves and supports me.
Be present in the moment
When I am out walking the dog, I find myself in thought about what to do next, I make grocery lists, plan dinner and think about my appointments. I notice my dog is jumping ahead, playing with butterflies. Her joyful play brings me back into the moment. Immediately my mood changes. My senses begin to fill with the world round me. I notice the sunshine on my skin, I smell the freshness of the morning breeze and see the colorful flowers by the roadside.
It's called mindfulness. Mindfulness has become a buzz word and many people think it is a complicated method to learn. There is a lot of research about it's effects on the mind and the benefits for health and well-being. It's proven to relief stress and actually, it is easy to do. I just slow down and bring my focus to my senses. I notice the smells, sounds, sights; become aware of my breathing and appreciate the world around me. Just becoming aware of one's breath is a mindfulness technique and will automatically switch the body and mind into a calmer state of being.
Trust your instincts
All of a sudden I notice that my dog is frozen and alert. Front paw up in the air, she cautiously sniffs the air in front of her. Now she is lowering her head and backing up slowly, as I get a glimpse of a snake slithering away under the bushes. My heart races and I call her over to me and swoop her up into my arms. I am so grateful that she knows to trust her instincts! I only saw the snake for a moment, but it surely looked like a rattlesnake and my small dog could easily have been bitten, had she gone after the snake.
After my heart stops racing and after we move on, I think about myself, and how I get into situations at work that don't feel right. Too often, I just push the gut feelings aside and rely solely on my rational thinking. Many times I find out later that it would have been better not to proceed so quickly. Sometimes it's in everyone's best interest to stop and back off for a moment.
Life is complicated and full of responsibility, but there are simple truths, that apply to all of us. I, for one, find myself contemplating the little life lessons I learn from my beautiful dog. I hope, you too, can benefit from the wisdom of the paws (pause). Celebrate each day as a new beginning, take time to enjoy life by being in the moment, and start to trust your instincts when making important decisions.
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Until next time, Keep Your Paws on the Road!
Until next time, Keep Your Paws on the Road!