Monthly Archives: June 2020

We Can Do Better #MFRWAuthor

This was first published in Perspectives, the newsletter for AKC Delegates

It’s been a roller coaster ride since March, with most of the track spiraling down. A 2015-05-02 agility 0448few slow upgrades then another wrench and everything feels out of control again, hurtling around one corner, then another, trusting in the science of the engineering of wheel to track. These times are trying our souls, challenging us to do better, to be better. Challenging us to help ourselves and each other.

To help each other our major task was…do nothing. Stay home. Lucky us having dogs to keep us company. Lucky dogs having their people full time. What a time to sit still, to contemplate who we are, where we’re going, what really matters. When we asked what you were missing most during this time of isolation, no one worried about cumulative points or high scores. No one lamented that they could be out competing. The major concern was the loss of camaraderie. No shows and trials meant not seeing fellow competitors. No classes meant missing the people with whom we have built connections. No one watching our dogs and each other improve from week to week. No one commiserating over a clumsy effort with encouragement to do better.

Dogs for the most part are social beings. They like to be together, they crave touch and feel comfort in their family groupings. Yes, there is the occasional curmudgeonly dog thatIMG_7578 prefers their own corner with their own bowl and their own toys thank you very much. But by and large dogs are happier in a pack.

We aren’t that much different. Many of us say we prefer isolation but still we are drawn to each other, to gather into groups, and organize ourselves. Now our groups are disbanded and we’re not sure when and how and if we can come together again. We know we weren’t perfect. We know the drive to compete, to be better than, has permeated every activity. We miss what we had, but do we miss every aspect of it? How many times did we allow the competitive drive within us detract from what could have been a pleasant experience?

We have a unique opportunity to try to make things better. To examine what we were doing and find ways to improve. Ways to reach out and help each other instead of trampling over each other in a quest for more. We can do better.

We will do better. 002

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What Makes Us Happy #MFRWAuthor

Smiles not only show the world how happy we are, they also contribute to our good health. Seriously, scientists have studied smiles extensively, and will tell us smiles can trigger the release of neural communication boosting neuropeptides as well as mood-boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Whew lots of big words! Here is some backup from Very Well Mind.

We smile when we are happy, and we can help ourselves feel happy by smiling…that’s kinda neat when you think about it! What makes us happy? Some people think they would be happy ‘if only’…if only they lived in a better house, drove a newer car, got a promotion at work. In my world of dogs, some think gaining titles or extreme wins will make them happy.

As wonderful as those sound, are these realistic goals? If you don’t title your dog in three events or you can’t upgrade your car, what can you do to put smiles on your face?

Years ago, my husband was in home hospice. When he died I called family and friends, letting them know, and told them I was doing fine. One of them called back, telling me she was coming and to deal with it. When she arrived, she asked what I wanted to do. We could clean out the garage, try to catch up on the gardens, or just go walking with the dogs. What would make ME happy.

I stopped to take a deep breath. After months of hospital visits, acute care visits, then home nursing responsibilities, I had forgotten how to be happy. What I wanted was a day away from responsibilities, from duties. We went to Madrid, a funky artist’s community with eclectic shops. We went to my favorite libations store in Albuquerque. Nothing fancy, we just hung out together, and she left the next day.

Over the next months…years…I kept her suggestion in mind. What would make me happy? Often it was little things, like new garden plants, washing dishes before the sink overflowed. Taking the constant pile of cardboard to recycle can often  soothe me for days. Little things but they helped keep me smiling. Whenever possible I share the question. Sometimes the wish is surprisingly easy to help fulfill.

So…what makes you happy?



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