The New Year is here and in forward motion. Things are getting back to normal after the holiday season, which is often confusing and hectic! Resolutions have been made and broken, and Valentine’s Day merchandise is already showing up in the retail isles. While I am not a “resolution” kind of girl, I do sometimes get an itch to try and change something in my life for the better, and I use the word “intention” instead. Even though the year isn’t shiny new anymore, it’s still plenty early for an intention or two to be made!
Having been a full time pet sitter for nearly 4 years, I have been around many different pets, all with different personalities and living situations. Even though each pet is different, they all have the same basic philosophy about leading a simple life, and I have modeled my intentions this year to follow suit by taking the following actions:
Live in the Moment.
While some pets get ready for dinner time, walk time or other special time earlier than the actual event, I haven’t ever noticed a pet looking much further ahead than an hour or two. While I have a bit more on my daily schedule than the typical pet, as long as I have everything on my Google calendar and can view my appointments the night before and then scan them as the day goes by, I don’t need to be looking too far ahead myself. I have started to just “be” whenever I am, and try to experience the specific moment as it happens. For example, this morning I had about an hour between my first and second dog walk visit, so I wanted to go to the store and pick up some groceries. I stopped at Sam’s club, but it didn’t open until 10 AM, so I was frustrated as I started to drive off, but then I noticed a squirrel hanging out on the shopping carts. There wasn’t anyone else in the parking lot, so I just stopped the car beside him, put my window down and watched him for a few minutes. He wasn’t too worried, and just sat there looking at me while munching on what looked like a cheese ball. As I drove off, I was no longer frustrated, but amused! If I hadn’t been open to just living in the moment, I would have missed that! Get Enough Rest.
Pets spend a lot of time sleeping, or at least resting. That could be why they are always ready for whatever might be in store for them. When I show up at a dog walking visit, usually the dog is snoozing away in his or her favorite napping spot, but once I announce my presence, excitement ensues and the dog is ready to go outside to potty and sniff, and maybe even take a nice walk. At kitty visits, cats are almost always sleeping, but once I arrive, kitties wake right up and either demand snuggles or food or want to be let out on the screen porch, depending on what the normal routine is. The lesson here: get rest when you can so you are awake and ready to take on whatever life might throw at you! I have become an “at will” napper, meaning that if I have an hour or more between visits and feel sleepy, I will go home, stop at my parents’ house or even park the car in a shady spot under a tree somewhere quiet for a nice nap! I also make sure to get to bed early enough to pop right up when the alarm goes off in the morning. (Ok, that was a lie, no matter what time I go to bed, I never pop right up….I hit the snooze at least 2-3 times, but at least I get up!)
Embrace Activity and Take Care of your Body.
Pets are almost always willing to get involved in whatever activity is going on around them, and they always make sure to stretch on a regular basis. Most pets consider activity as fun, and are happy to just randomly get up and go!! When I arrive at a pet visit, the dogs are usually excited to get outside and run around a bit, or take a walk. One of our customers, a border collie, would play Frisbee all day long. Cats ALWAYS stretch, and are often ready to play with toys, chase the ever elusive laser light, or at least roll around on the floor for some tummy rubbing. I’ve always been a mostly sedentary type of girl; the daydreaming “bookworm” type, but after spending so much time with pets, I have started to try and enjoy being active. If my brain suddenly thinks “I should go for a walk,” and if I have time, I have started go at that very moment. When I wake up, the first thing I do is stretch my arms, legs and back. I even got a jump rope at the thrift store the other day…boy was my body surprised when I tried that one! MaLord and Bright Eyes, our dogs, weren’t quite sure what I was doing either!
When I walk into a pet’s home, whether for a visit with them or for a first time consultation, there is always a lot of sniffing involved as the pets check out what I’m all about and where I’ve been based on how I smell. Some pet owners call this “reading the paper” as sniffing is an animal’s way of finding out what is up. While I am not one to get carried away with politics, economics or the latest bad news happening in the community, I do think it is important to be somewhat aware of what is going on in the world, in the community, and, since I care for pets for a living, to also stay up to date on the latest in pet health, products and behaviors. So listening to the news or reading the latest on the local news website is something I try to do at least once a week.
Finally, and maybe the most important intention I have for this year is :
To My Own Self Be True.
In my opinion, animals have a greater grasp on what is important than humans do. They have a basic set of needs and desires, and for the most part, when allowed to do so, they work to attain their needs and achieve their desires. I find it hard to imagine that pets mentally torture themselves with things they want to do but don’t think they should do, and I find it hard to picture a pet arguing with itself to do something they should do but don’t really want to do. They are honest with themselves and with others. Any pet owner knows that pets are pretty darned good about making it known if they want something…and often about continuing to make it known until said pet owner springs in to action to do whatever it is the pet wants!!! It seems like a simple thing, but humans seem to have a very hard time taking the time to really focus on what they want, and even more trouble actually going after that want once they figure out what it is. In our fast paced, chaotic, networked world, most people are so caught up in the latest trends, movements and societal expectations that we don’t have any time to be alone and figure out what is really important on a personal level. I have really started focusing on my true interests and listening to myself to find out what activities really make me happy, and then shaping my life so I can incorporate more of those interests and activities into each and every day.