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June Newsletter: "Life Lessons by Petey, The Mayor"

As you’ve probably gathered from May's newsletter, I have two dogs, both Boston terriers; a boy named Petey and a girl, Sophie. They are our furkids. Having no children, we’re the kind of people who channel that maternal/paternal energy into our animals. Afterall, the basic fundamentals of the energy exchange are comparable; we are committed to taking care of our dogs by feeding, teaching, and nurturing them, and they, in turn, endlessly supply us with adoration, entertainment and lessons.

Petey, the eldest, is an interesting personality. He acts his age in both dog and human years. He’s nine, which means he’s about sixty in human years. As a nine year old, he is scared of the dark, scared of thunder and loud noises, loves to cuddle, will still sneak into bed with us when he thinks we’re asleep, he is eager to please, and is a bit of a mama’s boy. As a sixty year old, he’s stubborn, listens only when he wants to, only goes where he wants to and clearly lets you know it, he sleeps a lot and he farts and snores like there’s no tomorrow.

To us, Petey is more human than dog. My friend and fellow dog-lover even labelled him, “The Mayor”, because at the dog park, he ignores all the dogs and marches directly to the first human he sees as if they were his long lost friend who he’d been waiting on pins and needles to see. The unsuspecting dog owner’s reaction usually is, “Oh what a friendly dog!” and with no will of their own, they promptly bend down to give him a pat and a scratch until finally, their own dog comes up to see who the intruder is. Petey then skillfully dodging the other dog's butt-seeking nose, trots off to the next unsuspecting person.

I’m in the habit of walking my dogs every morning and most afternoons except when it’s very cold, very hot, or very wet. Petey will not go the same way twice in one day. For instance, in the morning, if we go left at the driveway and go to the park, in the afternoon, we have to go right and walk around the neighbourhood. Even more amusing, if we go one way around the neighbourhood one day, we have to go a different way the next day. Whoever said that to a dog 5 minutes is the same as 5 days doesn’t know my Petey. Petey also gets very frustrated if you try to cut his neighbourhood walk short. He communicates his frustration by simply stopping. Petey is only 33lb but when you’re walking at a good pace, and he suddenly stops short because he doesn’t like the way you’re going, your arm feels like it’s being yanked out of its socket. As you can probably imagine, after a few times, this can get pretty annoying. In a stern tone I say, “No Petey. We’re going this way”, or, “Petey, let's cross (the street). ” He won’t budge. Then I have to lean down and nudge him along by lightly pinching his butt or when that doesn't work, pulling him from his underbelly. After a few stops and starts, he will eventually start moving while still pulling to go his way as I yank him the other way, which only servers to escalate my frustration. With my hyper-awareness of emotional states, I know that getting annoyed at Petey is detrimental to both him and me, and it shouts at me the absence of mindfulness and harmony. What happens next is that I start getting annoyed at being annoyed.

Now, someone like Bijan Anjomi (author of the Effortless Prosperity books) touts releasing control of everything and that includes your pets (and I suppose children). In one seminar I attended recently, he worked hard at convincing the audience of the spiritual benefits of releasing your need to control things around you. He told the story of how a friend had called him up late at night very upset that his cat had disappeared. Bijan light-heartedly responded, “Well, that’s too bad. Get a new one." As cruel as this sounds, his point was that having an attachment to other people or things can prevent you from staying true to your own spiritual path. You’ll be too distracted by what’s going on with them to follow your own intuition. His next analogy was a group of crabs (he has an accent, so I kept thinking he was saying, "craps") in a puddle who cling to the side (i.e., what they know) and to each other (i.e., who they are trying to control), and even though the tide rises, they refuse to let go and follow their own flow and so end up drowning. His summarizing piece of advice was that if your dog or cat wants to run away, then let it! While I understand Bijan's point, it is not, in my opinion, practical.

In my lifetime, I would like to find a happy medium. The other day as my appreciation for the beauty of the early morning rays shooting through the trees, the fresh smell of dew on the grass, and the delicate sound of twittering birds in the trees was screechingly interrupted by Petey suddenly braking, I realised that when Petey resists me like this, he is expressing a need that I am not helping him meet. Perhaps he has a stitch, or he’s mad at Sophie for incessantly darting in front of him or behind him which sometimes causes her leash to catch on his stubby little tail (ouch!). So this time, instead of pulling his leash and pinching his butt in irritation, I sat down next to him in the middle of the side walk and give him a good dose of loving with a dollop of Reiki on top. After a little while, I felt that he was ready to keep going, and when I got up and started walking , he walked happily along beside me the rest of the way home.

Ok, so now let's consider these points:

This first point follows a similar line of thought to point 3 in my May newsletter. Petey helped me realise that when people, animals or situations challenge you, they are sometimes asking for the opposite to what you feel. It’s no secret that animals, children and many adults will act out to get attention. You’ve heard of the adage, “Bad attention is better than no attention.” When you experience another’s ‘acting out’ your immediate reaction is often annoyance followed by the thought, “I would never do that,” dusted with a sprinkling of disgust. How about this though: What if you’re being called to love them anyway? Think of it this way, if they were getting what they needed, whether it be love, nurturing, compassion or empathy, there would be no need for them to act out. I challenge you then to the task; the next time someone acts out (be it human or animal), ask yourself, “What are they really saying?” “How can I serve them in a way that would meet their need?”

Now, you're probably thinking, "well, that makes sense for animals and people, but what about situations?" Ah, I'm so glad you asked. Assume that all challenging situations are, on some level, self-originating. This being the case, how can you meet your needs? Despite the lost job, the crashed car, the fourth brownie, the rude comment, how can you love yourself anyway? How can you get back to feeling positive about yourself?

This second point touches more on Bijan’s point. While the examples he gave in the seminar were extreme, his point is still valid; release your need to control people and events that are not yours to control. One motto that has helped me exponentially is this:

Follow the path of least resistance.

You know you are resisting when you feel angry or frustrated, defensive, guilty, vulnerable, or the need to point a finger. When you notice these feelings, take a break. Step away. Breathe! You are struggling because you want to change something that can not be changed. The only thing that can be changed is YOU. And the way you change is by changing your perspective, refocusing your attention and taking responsibility for the emotion this resistance has inspired.

Most of the time when I am trying to control Petey in the direction of our walk, it is because I am operating from the mindset that I have too much to do, there isn’t enough time, I’ll never get what I have to do done, or I’ll be late. The feelings of annoyance are a reaction to those thoughts. How counterproductive is this thinking? It's in complete opposition to what my Spirit, Higher Self, or Divine 'I' wants, and is directing me (through Petey) to feel. Do you think my Spirit, my Higher self, my Divine ‘I’, wants to rush back home and do bills and laundry, or tear up the street doing 40 in a 25 mph zone mowing down old men and school children along the way? Or do you think my Spirit wants to take a nice, long walk with my dogs who I love, amongst the nature and community of my neighbourhood that I love, and to feel peace and joy and gratitude in the process?

So next time, when you feel yourself resisting, ask yourself, what would my Spirit, my Higher self, my Divine ‘I’ want me to do? In what emotional direction is my Spirit directing me? Then, all you have to do is take a deep breath and slacken your hold on the leash, or if you're like Bijan, let go completely.

Ok, folks! As we conclude this newsletter, let me leave you with this thought for the rest of joy-filled June;

"Letting go is to grow."



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