Taking a Good Look at Yourself

A vineyard's winter
A vineyard’s winter (Photo credit: JMaz Photo)

Winter is a natural time for reflection.  The time when I can take stock and inventory of my thoughts, my drives, my actions.

I ask what gifts of presence have I offered this year?  And what unconscious hurts have I caused?  My hope is that I have given more than I have hurt.

Recently, I adopted a six month old, female German Shepherd puppy, that in the end, I could not keep.  I rescued her from a home that could not care for her, and brought her to mine only to quickly discover, that I was in way over my head caring for a puppy.  I also realized that practically speaking, I had no way to keep her safe on my property.  The only gated area I had, had been our pool area  in which she could easily dig her way out, or jump over.  My past dog didn’t need a fenced in area, but this puppy did!

I knew I had to find her a new home.  I had made a mistake.

The guilt I felt for bringing this puppy home and then giving her up so quickly, thereafter was more than my conscience could handle.  To make things worse, it looked awful to my family, friends and community to take in a loving dog, only to abandon her myself shortly afterwards.  I looked bad and it was bad.  But the truth is, I wanted this puppy.  I had already fallen in love with this puppy.  I wanted her with us in our home.

Despite the truth, I did everything I could to find my dog a loving, ‘fenced in yard’ home.  And I did, with the help of Pets Lifeline, a local animal shelter.  She is in a beautiful home.  However, with this event, I had to look at the temporary damage I had caused.  At what I did to her, to myself, to my children.  The forgiveness is embedded in the word temporary.

What are the life lessons?

1. Do your research.  Ask others who have had puppies what it requires.  Be realistic.

2. Make sure you have everything you need to keep the puppy safe and happy.

3. Don’t be over 50 when you get a puppy!

4. If you wrong someone/something, make right.  Restore the relationship if you can with self corrected actions.

5. Forgive yourself.

I also realized that when I have the time, and the space, I think well, I act well.  I have an incredible energy, a natural power from within to offer more of myself.  When I am impulsive or reactionary, I retract in my thinking and decisions, ping pong back and forth and come to change my course of action.  When my heart is bigger than the reality of the situation, I make poor decisions and bad judgements (sometimes, not all the time), but I set myself up for failure.  I fall.

But can I just say that I love with all my heart?  I love with all my heart.

New experiences and chosen risks may give me the hard knocks sometimes, but more importantly, they help me grow.  They take me out of my comfort zone, they make me stretch, I become more honest.

The power of truth cuts to the core of our being.  When we live in truth, we feel the universal qualities of humility, humanity, and love.  We feel peace in our soul.  It is Walt Whitman who wrote, Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.

How we express our honesty–with practice, eloquence and kindness is when we can change ourselves for the better, and perhaps even change the world.

I am taking in the beauty of this wintry day.  The vineyards are dropping their leaves, baring themselves naked to the world.  I do the same metaphorically by living more honestly with myself and others, continuing to learn from the mistakes I make along the way.  I take a good look at myself and remain forever human.