The way is love

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Consciously acting: Being outside our comfort zone teaches us about ourselves

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It’s bitterly cold today, very windy with big grey-white clouds moving quickly past my living room windows. It’s rather foreboding actually, if you’re not used to winter that is.

This is pretty typical for the end of November in Montreal, Canada though.

It makes going outside a more conscious decision. There’s always that, “Do I really need to go and do this?” question before we venture forth.

And it’s too cold for my dog. The wind is too brutal and she’s not very large, so we walk around the outside of the building on days like this and that’s about it.

I do need to go to the European grocery store in the village. I need a few things for dinner. So I have made the conscious decision to expose myself to the elements, eventually.

And isn’t every decision that is difficult or unappealing or outside our comfort zone a conscious venturing forth? At a certain point we decide we have to do it anyway, even if it stresses us out or causes us emotional pain or just downright frightens us.

I have been “overly concerned” about taking my dog out. It has been stressing me out, and sometimes it has actually scared me. There’s nothing scary where I live, quite the contrary, most people I meet on our walks think she’s super cute. She does tend to bark and isn’t always friendly towards other dogs, but honestly the way she is isn’t unusual. If she gets out of hand I can pick her up and that usually settles her down.

I have come to realize that taking her out is about the issue of me not being invisible. She takes her space (and sometimes more than her space!) and it brings me into the forefront. And I’m not always comfortable with that.

I feel more comfortable not being singled out. However, I am learning something very valuable from my dog, it’s about time I took my place too. Not just here in my new neighbourhood, but inside myself. I need to have some real conversations with myself to know who I truly am and what I want for myself from my life.

Being here has been really helping me with that. I have lots of time to think and make decisions for myself. I don’t have any relationships close in my life that are very demanding like I used to. And my space is only mine, so I can do with it exactly what I want to. I don’t need to answer to anyone.

And I have noticed that I have learned to stand up for myself surprisingly well. It has happened more than once that I have spontaneously argued my case without feeling demanding or unreasonable. It’s quite shocked me actually.

I stand there wondering who’s talking. It’s almost as if another voice is coming out of my mouth. Afterwards I’m like, “Hey, you go girl!”

And so I am.

It’s getting easier to take my dog out I’ve noticed. Sometimes she’s incredibly barky, and one woman even said to me, “There’s nothing worse than a yappy dog!” I decided she was bitchy and continued on my walk. I mean if there’s nothing worse in your life than a yappy dog then your life’s pretty f**king good if you ask me.

And that helped me put things in perspective.

Our animals can be teachers just like anyone else, and mine definitely is.

The janitor here said her barking means she’s happy. And that’s how I’m choosing to look at it. She’s feeling her oats and I’m glad, and I’m coming into mine as well.

I noticed I started singing again around my apartment, a clear sign that I’m feeling more secure. And that’s a very hopeful sign. I’m learning that I can be happy and secure and take my space totally on my own, without anyone nearby to validate my importance.

So I’m thankful today for my barky dog. Where would I be without her? I’d be less loved, and less confident and be more afraid of taking my place. Who needs that?!

Barky dogs rule!

Hear me roar!

 

woman green dress arms wide

From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor

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