“Just is”– my new motto. I would have it tattooed on some part of my body if I were brave enough. As it is, I will probably just settle for embroidering it on a pillow or other inanimate object. This concept of “just is-ness” seems new to me. As part of an internally driven life-after-cancer protocol, I have been encouraging myself to diminish the amount of stress and anxiety I carry within my head and body. Actively seeking feelings of gratitude and appreciation for the beauteous life I lead, a life filled with animals, is a big part of that process. Also, laughter; as much laughter as possible, please. Thank god for Maizey. And Giada. Molly, too. Well, you know the list. I laugh, chuckle, chortle, or grin a thousand times a day because of them.
So, I’m off to a pretty good start, right?
Unless I don’t get something done that I really know needed to get done. Or I mowed the pasture and left a noticeable unshaven strip down one side. Oh, and when something goes “wrong” with one of the animals, like today, when the vet came to do maintenance dental work on the horses and discovered that Legs had a fractured tooth, now infected and requiring extraction. On. My. Watch. Deep recrimination. I should have done better. I could have done better. Next time, I will do better.
Now there’s some stress for ya.
In our end-of-workday phone call — the one that is not time limited because Gord has to run off to another meeting, I spilled over myself, confessing to him every gory detail of Legs’ dental drama and admitting to my utter bewilderment and horror at having missed noticing that anything had been going on. And Gord said, “some things just happen, Lisa; it just is.”
Epiphany! I have been working on building up my happy, bubbly self, while letting worried, anxiety self clump along without recalibration. These are not great and catastrophic worries; no, more of the pecked to death by ducks variety. Every day. A LOT of pecking. A LOT of packing expectations and judgements into the payload of a train that has my name on it — the one only I can (and must and should) stand in front of and with steely conviction, stop from raging down its tracks.
So, I’m unpeeling things and becoming aware of the great part of a day’s events and a huge number of the thoughts and feelings and opinions traveling through my head and body that just don’t matter, not in the personal way I often view them. That strip of unmown grass? Nope, not a statement of my value as a farm hand … just is. That pile of unfolded laundry? Not evidence of my diminished work ethic….just is. Giada barking her head off out in the darkened back yard as I seek to write this next brilliant line? Not a reflection of my job as a dog-parent…Just. Is.
If my friend, Shannon, were sitting here right now, she would cock her head and arch her eyebrows in that certain way of hers while reminding me that she has advised me of this life lesson numerous times.
“Shit happens, Lisa. You don’t have to take it all home with you.”
Shannon was a cop and so she knows exactly what she is talking about. I guess I didn’t think it applied to duck pecking, but it most certain does. You don’t have to take it all home with you. Leave it lay where it is. Your name doesn’t belong on everything. It isn’t yours to do, or fix, or be judged by; it just is. Do you feel the relief in that? I do.
I’m not sure I have the fortitude to apply this new motto to everything though, not quite yet. The laundry and that damn unmown strip of grass were low bars (not sure I’ve quite let go of the grass one, actually); Legs’ lost tooth may take a bit more work. Guardianship is a fierce energy. I want my animal partners to never suffer and I have charged myself with the noble task of standing between them and that possibility. Still, I have made mighty progress in holding myself away from self-blame around the whole cancer thing. I am hopeful I can build on that. Besides, I do not believe Legs is capable of thinking badly about me. Not because he is “only” an animal, but because he is a kind-hearted, deeply committed soul who places great trust in me. The tooth thing just is and in a week’s worth of time, it will be healed and behind us. He will enjoy the extra treats I give him to sneak his medicine in. The mouth flushing part may not be the best experience, but I will be sure to rub his ears afterwards, just the way he likes it and that is what he will hold to his heart. The rest just is.
We had visitors yesterday. Melissa, who runs the Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier Rescue (yup, the group that helped save Molly and Maizey) came up for the afternoon, bringing her husband and a friend and — most importantly — her two wheaten terriers, Wilson and Shea. Her pups are rescues with a capital R, which makes Melissa and Steve dog-parents of the most golden variety.
If I did get a tattoo to forever embody the “just is” message to myself, I would put an image of Wilson in it. Wilson lost a hind leg to cancer, but Wilson doesn’t care about that. Galumphing along on three legs is a “just is” thing for Wilson who blithely devoured play time with 7 new doggy friends, explored the farmyard, and barked down horses with great doggy glee.
Now, how great is that? ‘Cause, if not having a leg doesn’t matter, I suppose not having a “real” breast anymore doesn’t matter that much either. It just is. Move on. Roll in mud. Be happy.
So a great big thank you for that life lesson, Wilson. Thank you, thank you, my buddy, Shannon. And thank you as always, Gordy. Oh, and, Gord, wanted to let you know — the grass needs mowing.