A life lesson from my self-empowerment guru: my dog

I’ve been thinking a lot about dogs recently. I love dogs. They have it all figured out:

Love big, eat often, play hard, then nap. Repeat.

Talk about self-empowerment.

They know what’s important, and that’s where all of their energy goes. I could learn a lesson or two about focus from these furry gurus. Someday, I hope to live with a giant, lovable pup in a space where we both have the freedom to roam.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about stories. I feel like I’m always trying to evolve my story. It’s natural, I think—I want to grow. But I spend a lot of time envisioning the future (with a dog, of course), and maybe not enough time just owning where I am now. I want more this, less that. More space so I can have a studio and a big dog, less squeezing myself into tiny, city-sized spaces. And the more I try to change… the more I feel things stay the same. Arrgghhh! That sense of stuckness and stagnation is so frustrating. What gives? If we have the power to change our stories, why is mine still looking reeeaaallly familiar?

Where’s my giant dog, already?

And it occurred to me that the stories we are living—not the ones on the shelf we’ve tucked away to read later, but the stories we are inhabiting right now—are like our dogs.

Our dogs and our stories are patient, watching us from the corner as we move around our lives. They are ready for us to acknowledge them at any moment. Often, we decide the timing’s not quite right for us: It’s too cold out, or too early in the morning, or we’re feeling burnt out. When we ignore them, our dogs and our stories will go about their business (sometimes quietly, sometimes destructively), but they’ll keep an eye on us. And they’ll keep coming ‘round from time to time to nudge us until we spill our coffee all over our pajamas.

Or, until we’re ready to play.

And at that moment we turn to them and say, “Okay, let’s go!” they spring into exuberant, bounding life. It is time! This is what they live for. To be in it, fully, with us.

“This is the best moment of my life,” they bark. “Wait! No, this is! Here’s what you need to know: Just jump up and down and shout with joy! That’s all there is! Oh, and food! Oh my god is that a BALL? Life is so fantastic! We have everything we could possibly need! Are you with me?”

This is where we get to choose—we can engage as much or as little as we want. We can lean into the story and get every bit of life we can squeeze from the moment. Or, we can push it aside and say, “You play, I’ll just watch.”

This is where we get to choose creative self-empowerment. Or not.

So. What if I need to just honor the story that IS, right now, and live that story for all it’s worth? What if I need to just play with the tiny, yippy, city dog?

Yes, I DO live in a small apartment and my artwork IS all over the floor! Yes, the upstairs neighbor DOES make so much @%!$#% noise! Yes, I can have Indian or Thai or tapas or WHATEVER for dinner tonight! Woohoo! I claim the life of a city woman.

Love big, eat often, play hard, nap, repeat.

If I fully embody what is—lean into my story right now and really play ball—perhaps then my current little story will tucker itself out and go take a nap so I can evolve.

We’ll see. Whatever happens, I think the lesson is to always play with the dog—no matter its size. That’s all there is.

Love + courage,

>> Need some help getting your play on? I'd love to hit the playground with you! Drop me a note and let's start the adventure of YOU!

Related content: My imaginary conversation with the Dalai Lama, in which we (well, I) discuss how stories are an invisible essence that connect us all. Cool.



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