The New Year allows people a time to reflect on the events of the past year. Although many may find heartache in a difficult year, or not being where ‘you thought you’d be at this stage in your life’, the secret to living is responding.
Maggie was always alert to her surroundings. I would hear her snoring in her bed, but the UPS truck would arrive, and before the doorbell rang, she would be at the door barking & claiming her territory. Whenever I mowed the lawn, Maggie would bark at me while she was sequestered on the deck. However, after realizing I wasn’t going to stop mowing the lawn, she would go in the house to avoid the noise & heat.
Most people are more than willing to reflect on their actions. The difficulty arises when one is asked to respond to those actions to help improve them self, or help other’s in their life. It is difficult to admit when your actions are not supportive to your mental health. Even more so when loved ones or colleagues are impeding you to reach your fullest potential in life.
Maggie’s reflection on an event always triggered a response. As humans, we need to focus more on the response to our reflections- it is our response that defines our character & the worth others will see in us.
Paws & Reflect: A Journal of Inspiration & Reflection
We like to believe if one works hard and lives an honest life- hardships will be minimal and every problem will have a quick solution. However, when life is like a roller coaster with heart-stopping dives and slow crawling climbs back up, how does one find the strength to keep believing this ride will end?
Maggie enjoyed her daily routine. The occasional hardships included trying to poop during a blizzard, or getting a very large stick into her dog house. At times, she had some dives when visiting veterinarians who gave her shots or forced pills down her throat. Maggie always remained calm during these ‘dips & crawls’ in life. She waited for the uncomfortable situation to end, as if knowing ‘this to shall pass, better days are ahead.’
We all experience highs and lows in our lifetime. Sometimes we have a strong support system, and other times we must overcome struggles on our own. In either situation, it is with determination and grit that we survive life’s hardships. It is our faith that allows us to understand the lesson- even when that lesson might not be answered within the time frame we would like.
When you are down to nothing, God is up to something.
I’ve heard the secret to living your destiny is to stop asking other people for directions. Everyone has an answer when helping another find the ‘right’ path in life.
Maggie was a wanderer. She loved to go hiking, and venture off the marked paths. Her tail would wag with delight, while her legs moved swiftly to keep up with a scent she was following. During these detours from the path, I often found the best landscapes to photograph. Maggie never hesitated to walk the unknown, and she always enjoyed the journey.
Our world seems to be filled with people that follow a traditional path, or those that want to pave their own way. From my experiences, people following the untraditional path get asked a lot more questions. Maybe our world can also be divided by people who fear the unknown, and people who crave the excitement of the unknown. The times in my life when I didn’t know my destination, resulted in the most memorable experiences & life changing opportunities.
Everyone is unique. Follow your own path. It just may lead to your destiny.
All too often we try to make everyone else around us happy, and our own happiness takes second place. We play a tug of war in our mind- should I stay or should I leave.
One of the things I admired most about Maggie was her ability to make a decision and stick with it. Once, she waited a solid fifteen minutes until a toad finally came out from hiding behind the steps. She was staying until she got that toad- it made her happy. Other times, she would get bored with the other neighborhood dogs and just walk back to her yard. She didn’t care if the other dogs started to bark, she just kept walking back to her blanket & chewy toy.
During our lifetime, we will meet an eclectic group of people. All of the people we meet, whether we realize it or not, serve a purpose. Some people will provide the words of wisdom or physical materials we need to get us to the next step. Others will stay a little longer; helping us stand tall, and provide constant reminders that we are going in the right direction. At times, it will seem like we will never be able to survive without their presence. Eventually though, only a few will consistently remain in our lives for our time on Earth.
How do we know when it’s time to say goodbye, or feel okay when someone says goodbye to us? I’m not sure what the correct answer is, but I do know Maggie had the right response when the decision was made- don’t look back.
In the movie, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, Clarence reminds George that ‘no man is a failure who has friends’. Is it possible to have a friend who isn’t good for you?
Maggie enjoyed visiting with the other dogs in the neighborhood. There was one dog that she loved to playfully fight with, and roll around on the lawn of this dog’s property. They would dig in the lawn together and tear at the toys. However, Maggie would never allow this dog into her yard, or play with her toys.
I was always told to choose my friends wisely, as they are a reflection of who you are or what you will become. What about that one friend who is always the daredevil -constantly pushing the boundaries, and difficult to eliminate from your life? What if your spouse provides more of a toxic relationship than a healthy one, but the good times are so much fun? Do we need to have every person we love also in our life?
Maybe Maggie knew it was okay to show her love to that rambunctious dog, as long as it was outside of her own little world; her back yard. Maybe setting boundaries for friends & loved ones shows our love is strong enough to keep them in our hearts, even if we can’t keep them in our lives.
Growing old can definitely guarantee two things: you will encounter the responsibility to make difficult decisions, and you will learn to trust your heart more when making those decisions.
Maggie, as a dog, didn’t have the responsibility of making many decisions. Her choices typically comprised of choosing a toy to squeak & chew, finding a cool spot in the house to take a nap, or deciding which squirrel to bark at in the tree. One thing, however, was very noticeable about her decision-making process. Once she made a choice, she was content.
Adults, when making decisions, like to have all the information regarding the pros & cons. We ask ourselves what may happen with a different choice, or how other people may respond- or think of us. As we grow older, life experiences help us to reflect on past choices & their outcomes. Often, we reach out to friends, family, or mentors for guidance and support.
When a difficult decision is made, it is our heart that gives us a feeling of relief & inner confidence that the best choice was made. Our heart reminds us of unconditional love, pure joy and feeling alive in the moment.
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I recently attended a conference on how the brain works. I learned we gravitate towards events that stimulate our brain to become aware of risky behaviors, distrustful people or the possibility of extinction. We enter a fight or flee mode-used during primitive times to protect ourselves from the enemy. Unfortunately, reality television has brought us back to this primitive time.
If you enjoy the Kardashian’s, Bachelorette, or Survivor- consider yourself a sucker. You have been brainwashed by Hollywood to return to your primitive life-style. People who watch these shows are allowing their brains to connect neurons with experiences that validate it is okay to use others for personal gain, view intimate relationships as something that can be shared with millions of people, or justify that how you win isn’t important- it just matters to win.
I remember a time when television informed us of these primitive behaviors- it was called the news. We were aware that mean people exist, and sometimes bad things happen to good people. However, our entertainment shows reminded us there are more good people in this world than bad, and being good should be everyone’s purpose in life. We laughed at the comedies of Carol Burnette- yet she never had to swear or insult anyone’s lifestyle. We admired the love shown between the actors portraying Charles & Caroline Ingalls and John & Olivia Walton, yet they never made a sex video. Even MASH showed how people placed in catastrophic environments still tried to maintain civility, and hoped for a greater good to come from a place of tragedy.
Today, I have over two hundred channels to choose from on my television. However, I am finding the majority of the time, there is nothing ‘good’ to watch. I don’t care to see people shoot, insult or have sex with other people. I don’t believe vulgarity or nudity in a film makes it more dramatic or ‘plot effective’-as I heard from one director being interviewed after his film won a Grammy.
I understand that Hollywood is all about the money. After all, they cancelled Cedar Cove, but have no reservations in allowing the next generation of decision-makers to grow up with the Kardashians. I wonder what type of imagery is created when neurons are connecting, while watching selfish people make a lot of money?