Join the Party and Get Happy!

You may have noticed that I haven’t sent out a weekly email in a bit.  I often teach, talk and blog about strength, courage, fear, gratitude, overcoming obstacles and other topics close to my heart.  However, over the past several weeks, I haven’t been able to take any of my own advice.  To be honest, I’m a blubbering mess that can only hold it together for a few hours a day when I’m teaching.  The reason?  I lost my best friend, my teacher, my comforter, my supporter, my soul mate–I lost my everything.  My beloved 15-year-old dog, Winnie, died.  I know for some, the fact I’m grieving so hard for a dog will seem silly, and feel free to stop reading now.  But I’ve learned so many valuable lessons from her both while she was here in the present world and in her passing, and I thought I would share with you what I’ve learned to honor her spirit.

First, I’ve been struggling with how to be a positive force and motivator in the midst of being crippled with sadness and depression.  When you have a job that is designed to make people feel better, how do you go about doing that when feeling like a complete mess yourself?  Well, I’ve realized–wholeheartedly–what I always preach in my classes: We are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for.  Just do it.  Just keep moving, even if it is painful. The only way out is through, as they say. I didn’t know how I would get through teaching, but somehow that inner strength came through, and so much positive motivation that I needed to hear came out in my classes–things like celebrating your life and loved ones, being fully present and grateful for the amazing relationships in our lives (human and furry), and recognizing that our strength cuts so much deeper than we can imagine.  Even though that strength is limited in my daily routine right now, it’s important to remember that it’s there when I need it.

So here are my top six lessons I learned from my dog:

  • Always greet the ones you care about with love.  Every time I came home, Winnie greeted me with excitement, kisses, and hugs like I had been gone for an eternity.  This love-filled greeting always brightened my spirit, brought joy to my heart and made even my most horrible days much better.  In fact, I try to do it with my friends, loved ones, colleagues and clients because you never know how a warm greeting of love will change someone’s day.
  • Every day is a new beginning.  Dogs don’t hold grudges from years ago or even a day ago.  Winnie didn’t hold it against me if I took her on a lousy walk because I was tired or busy.  Every morning she woke up with energy and excitement, nuzzling me with joy to get out of bed and conquer the day.  She reminded me to start fresh each and every day and to not bring yesterday’s worries into today’s adventures.
  • Appreciate the simple pleasures. Winnie never wasted an opportunity to take in a nice roll in the grass, jog in the park, snuggle under a tree or warm nap in the sun.   Winnie forced me to get outside, slow down, and be present for the simple pleasures that are everywhere, if only we took the time to enjoy them.
  • Show compassion.  Dogs are truly kind souls.  Winnie was always the first one to show me compassion, lying her head on my lap, cuddling closer when I was going through rough times and just listening intently as I told her my troubles.  Her compassion toward me has helped me be a better listener and more receptive to others in times of need.  Everyone around you is going through something.  Be there.  Always.
  • Things don’t matter.  A dog can have the best time with an old, worn-out ball.  Winnie didn’t care that we lived in a small studio apartment.  She cared about playing and experiencing life with me.  She cared about love–being loved and showing love.  Her favorite toy was one she had for 8 years–new ones never compared.  Relationships matter, material objects don’t.
  • Love unconditionally.  Love yourself, your friends, your family, your environment, and your pets.  Show your love every day because you never ever know when one of those precious things you love will be gone forever.

I hope these lessons resonate with you in some way.  Hold your loved ones a bit closer this week and make sure to tell them how much you care for them.