Lizzy Wisdom: What one dog taught me about life…

Lizzy is a rescue dog. She was a neglected dog, chained to a tree most of her life. While her owners agreed to release her, the shelter who wanted to take her in didn’t have room. So the shelter looked to find her a new home, and all the while she remained chained to that tree in the back yard, neglected of medical care and attention, with a stream bed for her water bowl.

When the shelter took her off that chain, which she had known for 4 years of her life, she didn’t know what to do. She was lost and scared. She was unsure of herself, how to behave, or how to ask for food. Lizzy certainly had no experience interacting with things like a hotel, a car ride, an elevator, or a parking lot for that matter, all stuff she had to endure her first two days of freedom as she made her way to her new home. That girl had been in the back woods her whole life, all 4 years. Her view limited by what she could see from the end of her chain. Her happiness limited by what she could experience from the end of that line, and her love limited by what her owners would dish out.

Even though Lizzy was scared, anxious, fearful, worried, and confused, even though she didn’t know where she was going, and while she was wondering what was happening to her world, she was still willing to re-adjust. Dogs have an amazing ability to do this…to be present to what is happening, let go of the past, and to look forward to what is possible from the new situation. They constantly re-adjust.

Amazingly, Lizzy, continues to adjust. She’s looking around herself for answers. She looks to us, her owners, and to her surroundings for new information. She also looks to our other dog, Luke, for guidance on how to behave and how to get love. And she just continues blossom the more she learns.

How many of you have ever felt like Lizzy?

I know I have. Confused, worried, fearful…not knowing what was happening to my world. Formerly confined to the limits of my (mental and social) chain, and not sure what to do when that chain was lifted unexpectedly. Two specific instances come to mind. When I was laid off from a job I thought I’d have for a long time, where I loved the people I worked with and what I was doing. And when I got divorced, from the marriage I thought I was supposed to have forever – because wasn’t that what you did once you got married?

I realize now that I had “chained” myself to an idea or ideal of what life was supposed to be, how it was supposed to play out, and just what I’m suppose to do with it. I’ve seen my life, only from the confines of that mental “chain”, thinking that my life was supposed to be that “Husband, Dog, 1.5 children, house with white picket fence” ideal. Even though that idea wasn’t mine, it’s what I have been working to live. My life defined by what I saw from a chain…an attachment to the ideal I thought I was supposed to have.

And just like Lizzy…I felt frustrated, nervous, fearful, and quite unsure of myself.

But unlike Lizzy who adapted beautifully to her new life…I was also angry…that someone had swiped this view from me. Jeopardized it. Risked it. Eliminated it. And wouldn’t give it back! And I wouldn’t let it go…even though somewhere deep I knew it wasn’t the life I wanted, I was angry and didn’t want to let it go.

I let that anger stop me from adapting…instead I continued to get increasingly angry, then sad, then just plain catatonic. I couldn’t function any longer. And since I couldn’t function, my situation just got worse and worse and worse. My house was compromised, my relationship was compromised, but most of all, my emotional health was compromised. All because I continued to look at what I had lost, an ideal I didn’t want in the first place, instead of looking at my new-found freedom and rejoicing, and discovering all the new things I wanted to explore anew.

I was stubborn…unwilling to look at other options or the new possibilities that lay before me. And because I was stubborn, I missed out. I missed all the opportunities that people offered, and jobs that were offered. And eventually, people stopped offering…their jobs and their support. Friends abandoned me. Not because they didn’t care, but because they lost hope for me. They didn’t know what else to do.

When I was finally willing to abandon my own frustrations, look beyond the anger and see what was in front of me, the cloud lifted. I realized that I had an amazing opportunity to start fresh, make new choices, and set off on another amazing adventure. Once I embraced that, I flourished, and continue to do so.

I get reminded, once again, that when something ends, it is something to celebrate, not fear. Endings come because that route no longer serves me. It no longer fits the grand plan that is my life. Loss is only a sign that someone (God, the universe, a higher power – call it what you will) is intervening on my behalf, to steer me in a direction that will fit me better and take me much further than I imagined possible.

What I try to keep in mind…
*Don’t let your view from your chain – keep you limited.
*Don’t let your familiarity with that chain, keep you from enjoying what’s coming.
*Don’t let your fear of change – keep you from adapting to your new situation.
*You’ve been freed…Take advantage of it.

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