Once Upon a Time
Third time’s the charm
I was thinking about Goldilocks the other day. While I can’t endorse her lawless ways - I assume she was eventually arrested for breaking and entering - I like that Goldilocks gave herself permission to try and fail, experiment and adjust, until she found what was right for her.
Funny how we so rarely give ourselves this same grace.
So, a new year has begun. I’m not going to lie, there have been years that were so difficult I was happy to see them go. I would celebrate the new year coming in with gusto, hoping against hope that this year, this one, would be the one that would see me flush with cash, happy in love, living my best possible life.
These days, I’m a little older, occasionally a bit wiser, and I know that life, every year, comes with good and bad. Looking back at 2023, it was full of many challenges: recovering from injury, changes at work, the death of loved ones. But through it all there was so much growth, so many opportunities to heal some very ancient wounds. And with each challenge addressed, I was discovering a new aspect of myself and realizing how much I actually like me.
And that, my friends, is an incredible gift.
As we roll into this new year, I finally feel like I have come into my own. Truly finding the best parts of me and embracing them. And maybe even more importantly, after all these decades, letting go of some judgements of myself, feeling them float away. It is so freeing.
Having said that, it was easier to revel in that freedom during the holidays, but trying to resume a regular work schedule again is a bit of a…well, challenge. Not just for me, but for my new dog, Alya.
It was clear to me when she came into my home as a temporary foster, she was fearful. I knew I was her third stop on her journey, and she needed to be approached slowly and gently. The way she would jump at every unfamiliar sound reminded me of a spooking horse. When the sound of the ice maker in the refrigerator made her hop and splay all four legs out and freeze, I could have sworn I was watching Trudy spooking last week when someone slammed a door behind us as we were riding by. She hopped and stopped so fast, I almost bit my tongue.
Alya has been through some stuff, and it hurts my heart to see her frightened and anxious. The first night she was in the house, we didn’t yet have the crate set up but I’d created a space for her and a comfy bed. I went upstairs to bed, and she followed me but then went back downstairs. For hours she was pacing and would start to come up the stairs but turn around at the landing and go back down. Neither of us were sleeping.
Finally, I went downstairs, put a leash on her and brought her upstairs. She hopped onto my bed and while it might not have been the right thing from a training perspective, I let her stay. I crawled into the bed next to her and she immediately calmed down. Laying her body against my legs, she fell asleep. Like Goldilocks, she’d found the bed that was just right.
Every day, she engaged with me more and became more relaxed, less jumpy. After a week or so, she was playing and even breaking into bouts of the zoomies. I worked with her on walks,and she was easy to train and really such good company. Having that living being, that friend that looks out for you, the buddy to talk to, was comforting for me as well.
Even though it was supposed to be just a temporary foster, I couldn’t bring myself to part with her and the thought of sending her off into the unknown yet again was too much. I like to pretend that I thought it over very carefully and weighed all the ramifications like an actual adult. But in all honesty, that first night when she finally fell asleep, leaning against me for safety and security, pretty much sealed the deal.
And here is the challenge: having a dog at home, particularly as a single person, means all the responsibility for her welfare and care lands on me. So, no more twelve-hour days at work or the barn. I must come home. Practically, I do work long hours so I need a dog walker. I accept that. But Alya has to accept it, too. However, while Alya has grown to love and trust me, her trust does not easily extend to others. So we will all be working through that.
As I sit here petting Alya, we welcome in the new year, good and bad. Ready to face our challenges together.
Come to think it, this was her third stop and now she’s home. Maybe I should have named her Goldilocks.