Saturday, February 19, 2011

Loving ourselves as our neighbor

Thank you AGAIN for all the love you have been sending me. It feels wonderful. And happily so does the ever present soul of my dog who is showing me on a daily basis that there is a reason "God" and "Dog" are made of the very same three letters! Bruno taught me so much during the final year of his life. THis sweet and gentle soul turned into such a cantankerous spirit. Thankfully most of the time I was able to see past the stubbornness, the hollering, and the tantrums and know that he was just a proud spirit who really hated dealing with the physical limitations of his aging body. At times I lost it but more often I was able to really be sweet to him and take care of him and give him huge overdoses of love, until, in stages, he surrendered to the process of his metamorphosis.

I'll never forget when he finally surrendered to allowing me to help him up, rather than howling in mad frustration and banging his head when he fell back down. He sat there one day, hollering at me, "Come get me," and when he saw me running down the hallway, he smiled and waited sweetly for my assistance. Helping him rather than watching him struggle, although physically challenging, was emotionally satisfying because I wanted to share my love. I wanted to assist him. I didn't want to be turned away. The closer we got to the end of his physical life, the more deeply we both surrendered to the situation at hand, and the sweeter and more deeply we fell in love.

Now that he is on the "other side" I no sooner think of him with love or humor, that my entire body heats up. I kept his paws warm when he was old and cold, and now when I shiver, I feel his energy warming up my hands. He liked to put the top of his head on my heart when he was in body. Now I feel his spirit putting his heart on the top of my head. It is as if, I am now the cherished pet and the one being cared for. This has truly been a remarkable two weeks and I'm looking forward to even more love and interaction as we both continue our soul's journey on other sides of the proverbial veil.

So when any being (furry or human!) is difficult and you must be around them, choose the only things that really work. Love yourself first and take care of yourself, set good boundaries when you can, and then realize that they are just scared, lonely, tired, angry, frustrated, or in need of acknowledgment and understanding. That doesn't mean you have to take on their pain, fix them, or martyr yourself. There were nights I was too tired to give in to my dog's tantrums and he had to sit where he landed and holler for a few hours while I got some sleep. There were times when he wanted his snacks NOW and I had other things to do first. He didn't like it, and I didn't particularly like being hollered at. However, it wasn't about me, and by taking care of myself first to the best of my ability, I was able to be more loving and caring for him as well.

Two days before he died, I went up north for some fresh air. I knew his ending on earth was near but I was desperately in need of a little time off. I had not planned any, and yet I woke up on a non-client day, the angels suggested very strongly I take a little time off. As I peeked out the curtains right before getting in the car, I clearly heard Bruno say to Lucy (my remaining girl dog), "We finally got rid of her!" They were smiling like two conspirators! As a result of my day off I was able to be fully present for him a space of unconditional love in all my spare time during his last two days on earth. It was after I finally took care of myself that he gave me permission to have the vet assist him to the other side. He was teaching me to remain in balance no matter what. I give thanks every day for his teachings, and I hope in sharing them with you, those of you taking care of others will also learn to care for yourselves as well. We can only "love our neighbors" as much as we choose to love ourselves :)

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