Monday, December 30, 2013

2013...That's a Wrap!

This morning, I wish I had some of Eminem's word magic so I could weave some wicked lyrical pictures for my 2013 farewell party.  No such luck, and maybe for the best anyway! 

Erin Stutland encourages me to make a top five list of what I loved about 2013.  I find it hard to whittle 365 days of experience down to a top five list.  I look to my vision board and find a year well lived with intention and purpose.  I qualified both Nell and Bella to run at the Finals.  I found personal courage to dig deep and face life head on.  I've found the most amazing support system of friends that not only encourage me to be more (or less as the case might be) but come along side me to see me through: helping at the airport so I would be comfortable flying dogs, driving days on end, welcoming impromptu visits, listening and talking through stinking thinking, trying to understand my college football passion all the while supporting the crazies......the list goes on. I've re-carpeted some of the house and actually made a guest bedroom with newly painted walls and a comfy bed. I've found some bones.

Danielle LaPorte's Desire Map is what's been in my mind as I look towards 2014.  I've never spruced up my vision board using "how do you want to feel" as any sort of reference point.  That idea is a little uncomfortable to me when I look at the question from a first glance, superficial point of view.  I've spent my life trying to feel comfortable, liked, pain-free.  I've wrapped myself in a protective covering, built walls, and a list of other actions that really did not actually make me feel a certain way nor did they keep me from feeling anything. I've been digging a little deeper on this "how do you want to feel" question and find that the answers I am uncovering aren't about NOT feeling...which is sort of what I was trying to do if I really look at things. 

How do I want to feel?  Healthy, strong, hungry, learning, drama-free, adventurous, focused, mindful, sharp, prepared, BADASS, improved, authentic.  For the things I long for, I know I need to be; so instead of building walls, maybe I'll build a small bridge with discernment as the gatekeeper. I also know I can risk, all the while checking in for function and health.

I know the thoughts I think are the sails filled with the wind of life, directing my boat.  My muscle memory of self talk needs positive core strength development.  I know, too well, I can be my hardest critique and my own worst enemy, which has allowed for some boundary-less endeavors.  I wonder if 2014 might be about quitting.....letting go......trying the drama side of life.  Having a bit of an overthinker side to me, some of modern technology seems to create or, at the least, allow more compulsion.  I ponder cold turkey or healthy boundary...but wonder if Facebook, with its competition posturing side, might be like sugar or crack.....better not even sampled as that one taste becomes a whole cake day after day.  I believe for 2014 I will follow some of my friends in the path of deeper relationships, even if it means fewer superficial. 

I've two days left to finish thinking about what I'd like to write on my blank pages of the coming year.  The opening line will type itself if I'm not diligent to living a life filled with my dreams unfolding,  The feeling words: healthy, strong, hungry, learning, drama-free, adventurous, focused, mindful, sharp, prepared, BADASS, improved, authentic, leave plenty of room for creativity to the dreams the words are attached to.  I say....bring on 2014! 

Seize the Day!!!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Muscle Memory

I pulled my dog from the truck Friday morning to find, together, we had reverted back a few baby steps; darn muscle memory!!!  Dot was lit, pulling on her leash while trying to greet anyone or anything that might look like it wanted to meet her. For her, on this day, I was just the driver; 'thank you very much for bringing me to the party but you can go home now!'  Any correction I could dish out was met with indifference. I looked around for something, anything really, that could carry some respect.  I found a flag laying amongst the grass, becoming one with the terrain from lack of use.  I pried it up out of the grass's frosty grip and quickly reminded Dot of all we had been working on.  "Get behind", I quietly reminded her, her body complied while her mind teetered on that edge of wild, thoughtless abandon. 

Always after the fact, there at things I remember to remind myself about.  Just a few weeks ago, after trying with everything in me to get Dot to sort something out, I put her away and the next day she came out talented and gifted as if we had been doing that all her life.  After the fact, I remembered: Dot is a latent learner!  Much in the same was, I've seen and sorted over the past month that a flag creates tension in Dot.  I've stopped using a flag, or a whip of any fashion, at home because of this.  I'm a slow study, or maybe because I was hell bent on getting a few of my questions answered, I had a flag in my hand as I walked Miss Dot out into the clinic field. The Universe seems to always dish my plate with what I am to learn in the moment if I am willing.  Willing or not, as I walked up with my dog on a leash, her mind whirling a thousand thoughts a second, me feeling all that Dot was thinking mixed in with all my clinic anxiety creating one big huge toxic cocktail, I did indeed have a flag in my hand; all the better to stir with, baby!  I also did not put it down as I headed out to work her on the sheep. Old muscle memory: so many places where I could have made a different decision and the outcome might have changed.  I clung to the flag.

I look at Dot and see myself.  There are days where she is brilliant, a team mate trying to sort out the relationship heading towards understanding.  At home, I change the picture with different fields, different tasks, mixing up the sheep, we are finding that heady journey of partnership.  Then I take Dot to a new place, new sheep, different environment and she falls apart. She reverts to muscle memory: turning into that crazy, scared, reactionary, hell bent on beating, 20 month old girl that entered my life  Funny how I always fall back into wondering if we will ever "get this", Dottie Jean and me.  Will she every lose the tension? Will she trust me, trust herself, relax, mature?  I shake myself by the scruff and know of course she will....look at how far she has come for goodness sakes.  I'm back to being late to the party and have to yet again remind myself to remember this is a journey; it will happen. My attention leaves Dot and my doubt of what might lie ahead and I look at myself.  I'd  like to learn to let go of some of my self doubt....maybe find some trust in myself.. Will I ever get this?  Will I ever do what my dogs needs right as it happens?  Maybe one day, I can work a dog at a clinic being the exact same person I am while working a dog by myself anywhere else. Dot and I both need to strengthen our new, healthy muscle memory.

My clinic experience was priceless.  I got what I was looking for: watching the natural come out in Dot, the melting away of tension and finding a bit of trust in herself is one of the reasons I like working Dot with Jack.  I then work on the same for myself, letting go of some of the disappointment in my taking a flag out with me.  I know it creates tension in Dot, she needs to be able to trust that I will do what she needs to be tension free.  As I help Dot to develop new muscle memory, I wonder what I can do to join in her journey for myself?  I do know that if I were not on a good road with Dot, she would have never been able to settle in and find her method at the clinic for Jack in a minute's time.  As I sort, I find myself laughing; it's easier to make plans to help Dot with muscle memory.  I'll be sure to keep getting her new places, make sure I am consistent in myself and what I get from her every time I do, diligently watch to see if I am creating tension or relaxing her into suppleness, allowing her to find her answers.  The real question might be: How am I going to find a new muscle memory for me? How can I lose my tension at clinics?  How can I stay true to myself and not fall back into old habits?  I wonder if the sorting of me is the key to my dogs. I think somehow, this clinic was more about me than it was about Dot. So I soldier on, looking at myself, digging deeper, this journey certainly seems it might take a lifetime......

Seize the Day!

Sunday, December 1, 2013


As I settle into my morning routine of coffee, Facebook, and blog rolls, I see the results from local trials start to make their appearance.  Scores are posted, run stories are recounted dressed out with a bit of embellishment, award pictures with handlers, dogs and esteemed judges provide proof.  I look over at the faces of those who don't understand why I can't get my hinny into the truck for a drive to spin some sheep around a course, and feel torn.

That's just where I am in life right now...."Hello, my name is Lora and I'm an addict".  If I could, I would trial every single weekend from now until Jesus comes back again. Living in the Pacific Northwest while coupled to the fact that I am not afraid to drive, days on end if necessary, I can legally and healthily feed my addiction.  No one would be the wiser because there are others that are addicts too; which helps in my justification and makes me look a little more normal (just a little). Oh, but I did not start out this life of mine as a dog/sheep/trail/clinic/lesson addict; which makes me wonder about the genetic makeup of my disease.  I can't slip into blaming my parents for this one.

This weekend, my son came home from college.  Thanksgiving was the first time since August that both of my boys sat on either side of me. I felt complete, there with my husband across the other end of the table.....adults all of us, conversing, laughing, sharing stories of lives well lived.  I'm getting better at management; family time is precious and football games a finite number when it comes to my flesh and blood in pads on the field.  Finding balance requires great imagination as well as patience from my friends.  I still chuckle about the day I listened to a football game while taking a break from a shedding son catching a touchdown pass and me going game day crazy.  I'm sure it does not surprise anyone that my game day crazy is CAARRRAAAZZZZYYYYY especially when its my son catching the touchdown pass!  But I missed it in real life.  Friends stood in the gap, posting the clip of the catch on Facebook for me to watch (time and time again) while another friend watched the rerun that night with me. If I had to do it again, knowing then what I know now, I'd do it just the same (other than I would have begged the gal living next door to let me watch it on TV)  Balance; I'm not sure there is any "program" that uses the word BALANCE...but I'm balancing.

"I can't; God can; I might as well let Him" becomes my mantra second to Seize the Day.  Then I dig deep and work at finding balance between the things that ignite my passions: family, friends, dogs.  I'm thankful that worlds collide: circles over-lapping circles as my family "gets" my dog passion and all of my besties understand my life outside the dogs. Next weekend, there is a local dog trail that I will miss.  Instead I will drive up north for some dog work and dog friends then cross the mountains heading east to a play-off football game and family.  Weather and roads cooperating, it will be the best of my balancing act.  Today, I'm missing yet another trial down the road.  I'm staying home to help pack my son's ride as he's heading back to college today.  I always feel a little sad in the hours and days after he leaves. I will not miss his send off.  I know too well, there will be a day where my home won't be his home and he will just visit me. 

Gyp and Nell have come in and put their heads in my lap.  I scratch them with deep affection, glad they don't have computers with Facebook or blog rolls. Thankfully, they don't know they are missing a local trial. Once the boy is packed and headed on his way, I think I'll take the girls out to feed my addiction, give them a spin on sheep while filling in the bit of void left behind by my boy and the unattended trial.  I'm balancing my addiction.....I'll let you know how that works out for me!

Seize the Day!