This here is my new journal. Black and white on the outside.....clean slate on the inside. So much responsibility......I hear Jack's voice saying "don't you spoil her!"
None of the dogs particularly like her....they don't dislike her either. Although Snook is frustrated beyond her evil bitch face, Sis tries hard to win her over and over and over. I have Bella and Dot spend one on one time with Sis; I supervise. Bella and Dot love practicing their recalls, name recognition and have their sits and lie downs down pat. Sis is getting lots of tips on how to be a good working sheepdog.
With the help of friends, I am enjoying this new ride. Sis is clever and cute with a dash of very ornery and a hint of naughty. Me, well, I am writing in ink......
I have a new journal. The outside is familiar; contrasts of black and white giving an idea on what might be found inside. The pages are blank for the most part, although the Master Creator inserted some basic foundational truths..."I do not bring back from a journey quite the same self that I took" ~ W. Somerset Maugham I feel such huge responsibility, though that might not be the correct word, as I put pen to paper and begin the first line of the first chapter of this new book. So many details to pay close attention to; as the story unfolds I do not know, in advance, which aspects will impact my adventure's map.
I am a perfectionist while loving routine. In the past, mistakes have been avoided. I've written in pencil to make for easy correction. Not this time, this time I write in pen. I'm doing my research, asking questions and evaluating what might work best for me as I begin to write my next novel. Mistakes will be embraced and learned from, while attempting to minimize them, I will fold the story around the ink's permanence. Opportunity to learn and make the most of all that unfolds on this magical journey of bringing forth what I've been working so long to attempt.
I dig deep looking for courage to face down that perfectionistic demon that whispers in my ear. If life is not to be outcome oriented, then the process must be embraced for what each sentence brings to life. I just got done listening to, what has now become, one of my favorite books. The book is Dr. Sleep, written by Stephen King. I'm not a real fan of scary so it has taken me months to get through the listening. I would have been better off actually reading it so I could skip ahead. The way Stephen King puts his words together, making me friends with the likable and dreaming about the whispering demons, made me sad to see the book come to an end. My favorite part though, was the insight Mr. King gave at the conclusion about how the book unfolded for him. He knew the story had to be told but I'm pretty sure he did not know how it would end until it came to him.
I have dreams and aspirations as I begin to write. The blank pages filling in as the story unfolds. I remind myself to not wish away any moment, embrace the process, be open to the magic of a wild, amazing, twisting, perfect journey....there is no skipping ahead to find out how it ends......
That sure was a week in the book of my life! As I look out the window today, it is almost as if it did not happen. Only the piles of remaining snow keep the evidence of the past week physically real. It started Wednesday with my formal meeting up with the man who haunts me; hoping it is the final meeting and I can move on. Then Thursday, the lambs starting showing up right along side the big, fat, wet snowflakes. Almost a foot of snow out at the ranch mixed with not many snowplows in the county and I was ranch bound for four nights. Most nights I stayed at my neighbors; they graciously offered me a bed, shower, food and COFFEE! One night, the snow was so deep and two mamas looked to be quite ready, I just stayed in my truck. That allowed me to get up a few times in the night to check for lambs without worrying I'd wake my new roommates or not be able to open their electric gate to get out.
The whole experience wasn't that bad. Every day, as I hauled buckets of water for the mamas and their new babies in the barn I found a lot to be thankful for. 1) I had electricity. That meant I could run my heater in my pump house and have water. It also allowed for stock tank heaters and lamb heaters as well as barn lights so I could see. 2) I have fabulous neighbors! Most days I walked down to get coffee and find companionship. They fed me and checked up on me and have one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in! 3) I got a fantastic workout every day! Hauling water, shoveling snow, cleaning jugs, walking for coffee......oh and limited food from the backs seat of the truck kept me headed in the right direction.
Yesterday, Bella and I had to sort off the three ewes that were sheared in hopes that they actually were bred. They have been living high on the hog eating at the buffet with those who actually were growing babies. Now that the mamas are getting big and clumsy, the unbred ewes have become quiet sure that the food is all theirs and, feeling great if not barn bound, those open ewes have been pushing my getting ready to lamb ewes around. Bella and I had the task of sorting the two groups and putting the open ewes out with the school sheep. It was hard work, those open ewes seemed to know that the buffet was closing and they did not want to be outside sheep. In the frustration of the moment, my raw, tired, truck slept emotions were showing, and Bella let me know she did not like me one bit. It was not the task at hand but rather me and my temper and choice of words. I think I could say f*$k in the sweetest of voices and my dogs would all know that I am not happy!
Funny, there has been a big discussion on Facebook about "sulky" dogs. I've read most of it and have my own opinions. I do not want my dog quitting me, nor being sulky. I most certainly will not apologies to the one who haunts me that my dogs are a mirror to my soul! My life, dogs included, is about me finding myself. My dogs are the best friends to me...showing me where I need to work on myself. I can yell, swear, be unfair and hold grudges to people. I could surround myself with doormats and people who can not set healthy boundaries that take my poor and despicable moods. But not my dogs......my dogs tell me, in no uncertain terms, to get over myself. My dogs show me that, this is a job and if I dig deep, work hard and not allow emotions to get in the way, the job gets done. There are days when the job is very hard, those are the days that I need to dig deeper and be the kind of partner that I would want. I most certainly would not want to work for somebody who is yelling, swearing and blaming for a job that is hard by no one's fault.
When the going gets tough.......the toughness can mold us into warriors and badass survivors. That molding does not just happen though. For me, it takes work digging deep and really sorting myself out: discipline, self control, supportive communication, holding up my end of the partnership.....funny how that looks a lot like life!
Now the rains come......and more lambs. Better get my badass toughness on.......
Dot and I have made progress over the year, yes year, I have had her. I think back to those wicked first days and shudder. I'm thankful for all she has taught me, I am not bothered by her age, and I'm up for sorting me to be the trainer Miss Dottie Jean needs. That said, we have gone backwards.
I look back over what I might have done different. Was trailing her to see what she brought to a different field with different sheep and people and dogs on the field, when she was not quite ready too much for her little tri colored head? Did that rattle her, or maybe create a sense of her starting to buy into her super powers that now she feels the need to blow me off? Have I been consistent? All those questions, plus many more, rattle around in my head as I continue to work on developing a healthy relationship with Dot. I believe the answers are not as important as the fact that we are right where we are, which is a place for me to learn more about this dog and my approach to her.
Maybe going one step backwards is not really going backwards. Maybe it is just a turn in the road of becoming that looks quite similar to what has been seen before, but it's not exactly that scenery. Even though there are days where I feel like I am living Groundhog's Day, the Movie.....I take Dot to the filed, we drive for a little while, I ask for the big flank and BAM we are back to tension, reaction, mindless movement......I know deep inside I need to sort myself for some answers that, Dot is showing me, I have not found just yet.
Winter weather and pregnant sheep allow me the privilege of focusing on myself and my dogs; improving my skills of training and teaching. I've had the rare opportunity to work with two trainers I have longed to work with but the timing was never right. Since Dot is complicated and I'm need to re-evaluate my approach to her, she has been the dog of choice at my lessons. Funny how each lesson ended with the same thesis: respect. And so I find myself working through process over outcome, this chapter's topic: the training of a dog.
I've begun a new journey outside of sheepdogs. It can look like a hard journey; my progress is slow and measured in miniscule almost undetectable change. There are days when I wonder what the hell I am thinking. Every time, thoughts of quitting come to visit my head and tagging along are Quit's friends, Not Good Enough, Who Are You Kidding, Can't, and Impossible. In the beginning, I would fight but now I welcome them along for the ride. I don't fight them any more than I fight the dog training ideas and grocery lists that come along for the ride as well. Those thoughts don't bother my so why should I allow Quit's posy to carry an more weight than mindless chatter, or ah ha ideas? I soldier on, thankful for my new journey as it reminds me of how sheepdogs began for me. All the things I say to myself to soldier on, look for the joy and reward in the process, I say to my friends that are starting out with their dogs on sheep. And all of this, dogs and new journey, serve to remind me, this journey of life is about growing and becoming ME! I'm up for the challenge!!