Stepping out of assumptions to enjoy the playful possibilities with another

Bill’s tip for August: Enjoy the Dog Days of Summer

Many of you have felt the unconditional acceptance of Joey, the Therapeutic Assistive Animal that teams with me. However, my rough beginnings as Joey’s guardian nearly cost me (and all of us) the opportunity to learn and grow from this special dog.

When I first rescued Joey, he was “a runner.” Almost daily for much of that first summer I would find myself furiously running down neighborhood streets panting and yelling after what I considered my very naughty escape artist.

Finally, having poured through all the dog training manuals and at wit’s end, I fastened Joey in, grabbed a suitcase, a dog dish and a guide to dog-friendly beaches and pointed my car toward northern California. I was enacting a drastic plan that would determine the future of “us.”

Sun setting and exhausted from the drive, I carried Joey to the ocean’s edge and gazed down the long expanse of deserted beach. Settling us on the sand, I hugged Joey, took a in deep breath, then let him go.

Joey bolted like a racehorse released from the starting gates, but this time I didn’t chase after him. I had realized that our power struggling wasn’t healthy for either one of us. As his image grew smaller and smaller, I became willing to accept -whatever the outcome.

I smiled, then laughed as the furry dot on the horizon grew larger and larger: Joey, for the first time, was running toward, not away from me!

In retrospect, I realize that Joey’s natural intention was never to escape me but, rather, his instinct was to play with me. I had misinterpreted his behavior because I wasn’t open to accepting Joey for Joey – I was trying to make him fit into what I and the training manuals imagined he should be.

To this day we share the game Joey taught me so long ago – alternating roles of the chaser and the chased and enjoying this exhilarating exchange.

As August marks the Dog Days of Summer, please step out of your assumptions, consider another’s perspective and enjoy the playful possibilities.

Phillip’s tip for August: Deadlines!

55August signals the end of summer and, for many, the beginning of a new school year. Lazy beach days are replaced with stacks of books, increased expectations and deadlines!

How do you cope with rapidly approaching cutoffs – Slam caffeine and press through the night? Are you working harder and faster to finish without realizing that you are making time-consuming mistakes?

Do you experience elevated pulse, heartburn, stomach aches and dread as deadlines approach? Do you avoid a healthy diet, opting for the quicker fix of fast food? Do you find yourself snapping at your romantic partner?

How we view deadlines affect how we feel about and approach our lives. By methodically dividing up the task at hand and settling into a manageable pace our breathing returns to normal, our stomach settles and we can focus. Studies show that allowing calm and peace to coexist with your deadline will actually increase your efficiency in attaining it.

This is your one precious life. Allow yourself to find the joy and meaning in small tasks as well as large deadlines. Challenges, if approached thoughtfully, can keep you mentally sharp and moving ever-forward.

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