In my last blog, I shared my hopes for my soon-to-be empty nest. In case you missed it, here’s a little recap.
My youngest daughter is about to move out and start the next chapter of her life. It will be sad and exciting; I’ll miss her, and at the same time, I have great hopes for her future. For my part, I’m looking forward to devoting more time to my mission, helping women cross the territories of midlife. I’m imagining a house that, once picked up, stays that way. That things will be where I left them. That after years of hustle-bustle and not a little chaos, I will be able to find my internal rhythm again. Me. That elusive, ever-changing idea of who I am and what’s the most authentic way to live my life now. But, life has a way of reminding us that meaning that rests in our deepest connections. It has a habit of washing away the “I” in my plans like footprints on the shore. As we were busy packing and planning for my daughter’s big move, our 4-month-old puppy, Frodo, became ill. He's a doodle mix. We hoped he would be a good companion for our older, lonely, cocker spaniel pup, Sam. As it turns out, this old, middle-aged dog loves his routine, and a puppy was too much action for Sam. So having fallen in love with Frodo, my daughter and her fiancé offered to take him as their own. Ok. Good, that’s perfect.
As you may have guessed, we're dog lovers in our house. We believe that once you take a pet, it's for life, to the best of your abilities. Of course, our vet is closed on Sunday nights, so when Frodo was vomiting and in pain, off to the emergency vet we went.
Swerve and a plot twist!
Forty-eight hours later, we come home with a post-surgical puppy, who, as it turns out, had a congenital defect; his internal organs were poking through two holes in his diaphragm! This little guy now needed even closer 24-hour monitoring than he needed as the average 4-month-old puppy, full of piss and vinegar. No running, jumping, playing, stairs, or climbing of any kind. Quiet time all the time, exception— going to the dog run to relieve himself. My daughter's and my plans were upended, like watching a jigsaw puzzle slide off the table and fall to pieces when it's almost finished.
It was this plot twist that reminded me of the depth, love, and soul that rests in our most profound connections. All of the changes around this event: delaying moving, delaying independence, delaying a return to personal sovereignty, delaying financial independence, delaying the launching of new lives—all of it—were caused by this one event. Six people's lives were affected; their schedules and plans had to change. (Can I just say not everyone does well with this kind of disruption?) It soon became apparent that keeping this 4-month-old active, goofy pup quiet would be a tough task. My daughter and I decided to tag-team his care so that we both could continue to work on what still needs to be done, even though it would allow us only to keep stumbling forward at best. From the start of the big swerve, it was clear that though this was delaying my plans, I would just have to surrender to what was happening. If I chose anger or disappointment for myself, and my plans, I would only make us all miserable. I love the puppy and the older dog. I love my family, and I knew that focusing on what is happening now and being the most loving caretaker and mom possible in this moment—was the only way to get through it sane. It's been a long stressful couple of years, and surrendering to what is, with a hopeful eye on what could be soon—is my new personal survival and happiness strategy. A version of, "This too shall pass." It's another mini-serving-others session. Only (4-6 weeks) of tending other gardens, helping us all toward a wholesome harvest. I try to be mindful of how my perspective on— and participation in— what is going on will influence the outcome. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but the more I practice it, the better I get. Maybe this is what they mean by the wisdom of the elders! LOL!
My plans are still bright and shining. The logistics and planning of my daughter's move got knocked off track, but in terms of the length of a life, it's a bump in the road. She's planning to wait and move when Frodo recovers. It gives her a few more days to pack and get organized, which is not a bad thing. I see the same thing happening in many of my friends' and clients' lives. When there is an unexpected event tied to love, devotion, family, relationship, and deep soul connections, we are called to that bright thread of love and hope that weaves us all together. Answering this call is not easy. Sometimes it feels like we lose the thread. It makes me think about how difficult long-term caring giving is, how many challenges people live through, and how heartbreaking life can be.
My wish for you is that when life throws you a swerve and a plot twist that your well is not dry, you can create a new perspective and find some strength from that deep well of soul, where the bright thread dwells. Namasté,
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