Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Life Lessons and 1501

This is a whole post with no dog content. Beware. ;)

When I was in elementary school I had an awesome school counsellor. He always knew how to put things into perspective. I hated school and had a bad attitude even then. I had no friends, and was bullied often. Kids are mean. Maybe that's why I still don't like them. In any case, back to my awesome counsellor. I saw him once a week. Once a week I would tell him how horrible school was and how everyone was mean to me and called me names. Gently he would ask me how many people were included in the everyone? Was there not at least one person who was nice to me? I couldn't answer him so  he gave me a notebook. I was to carry this notebook with me all day at school and jot down when someone would call me a name. Not who, not even what, just a frowny face. The next week when we looked in the book there was just one frowny face. We continued with this for a few weeks until I stopped saying that everyone was calling me names. Don't get me wrong- I was still being bullied. But it was a far less number than it felt like.  Funny how bully's can have power without even saying anything. Sometimes an action, or a look is all it takes. We built on the frowny face notebook and for every frowny face I'd have to seek out a positive interaction- with either a teacher or a student. Soon my frowny face was being replaced by a smiley sticker.  The frowny face exercise has stayed with me my whole life. It really does make you stop and think about how little things can turn into something really big if you let it. I mean, I let those bullies define me. I let that happen. After that year in school I never let anyone bully me again. Ever. Their words stopped having so much weight on me. I learned to ignore most, and for those that didn't give up I'd give it right back to them. Through words and the occasional fist I was never made to feel like that again. (I admit that maybe not the fist was not best way, but sometimes there were no other options.)

Back to the counsellor, he talked a lot about positive thinking. How things are often not as bad as they seem. He made me do all sorts of mental exercises to learn to stop being so negative. Anyone who knows me in real life (and maybe my blogger friends can tell through my posts as well!) knows that I am not always a cheery person. I  can be moody, and downright bitchy at times. In elementary school I was way, way worse. Can you imagine? :) Thanks to the hard work of one school counsellor (well, two later on) I did learn to smile, and to let myself be happy, and to try to find the positives in every situation.

The point of my blog post is this. Right now some things in my life aren't going so well.  Rescue sucks. I almost hate it. I almost want to give up. There are a whole lot of bad people in the world. We have some awesome dogs, and no one is interested. It is emotionally draining. I've turned away three dogs for intake already this week. It's Tuesday.  I've been trying to figure out a way to put a positive spin on it. Maybe no one wants dogs right now because they are taking such good care of the dogs they have already? Due to the number of calls and emails I've had from people who want to ditch their dogs, and from the hundreds of kijiji ads I doubt that. Where have all the good dog owners gone? This is one of those things that no matter the angle I can't see the good anymore. It depresses me that I feel this way about something I was so passionate about.

I am also finding teaching to be a struggle. I feel like I am putting a lot of myself into teaching people who sometimes seem like they don't care. Of course we have some super duper awesome keener students who do listen, and practice, and who are just generally great people. But all it takes is a few bad apples to turn my mood sour. I used to love teaching, I looked forward to classes. I want that back. So I've decided to focus only on the people who want to be there and who are putting the effort in. Of course I will still teach the people who are paying for classes, but I won't let their negative energy wreck my night or my perspective anymore. They can get the same lesson, but I won't argue my point, or push them to be better. I will save my energy for those that want it. Because the good people are so awesome. I mean, we have a bunch of keeners who go out and practice a few times a week. There are a few people in our novice class who have already taught their dogs to weave! And they do a good job! It's refreshing- and that is what I need to be focusing on to better my own state of mind.

Family is another stressor for me right now. Everyone has family drama of course, but sometimes I just wish things could be normal. Just for a week, or a day even. I won't go into details, but I am watching first hand what happens when someone stops trying to get better. It's frustrating, and crappy, and really sad. But at least I have the rest of my family.  We can't change the giving up, we can't make it better. But together we can share the burden and the hurt. All split up it's not so bad.

Anyway, the lesson of the day- Think Positive. It's almost never as bad as it seems. Let the small things roll. Focus on the good. Find your smiley stickers- sometimes you have to look for them, but they are there somewhere. And generally things get better. I tell myself that frequently throughout the day. It helps to keep me centred. My dogs also help- a lot. They make me laugh every day, and since I have been better about managing my time I am feeling much more relaxed, and happy. Truly, I am a happy person most of the time (although in posts like this that is hard to see. lol), and I owe that to my dogs, and my friends. I am grateful.

On a side note this is my one thousand, five hundred and first blog post. It sounds impressive when you write it out like that. Apparently I have lots to say.


Jules said...

I hope you are able to find a balance with your stressors that leaves you with more happiness and energy and less drain.

Jules said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ci Da said...

Good post. I've been dealing with some pretty dire frowny-faces recently, so it's good to be reminded to keep looking for the bright side of things.

Anonymous said...


Don't give up the ship. You are doing what most of us only dream about. I would love to do rescue but circumstances at this time wouldn't allow it. You are the rock that keeps the rest of us mere mortals going. We live vicariously through you.

Jules said...

I also wanted to say I love how your counselor helped you with the bullying issue. Brilliant!

Koping Weims said...

Good post Amanda...and I admire all the time and passion you put into rescue...as you know I could no longer do that , although I still do help out on occasion.
Glad you have some smiley faces in your day you totally deserve them.


onecollie said...

I like this post alot :)

Judy said...

I kind of wonder if people (and dogs) are just a little more laid back in the summer, especially when the weather is hot.

Thank you for the pep talk on "positive " thinking. That has made a difference for my thinking right now

Vicky Bennett said...

Sorry things haven't been so great lately. I'll make a point of practicing lots with Claire this week so we are good students :) Virtual hugs! (because I know you don't want a real one ;)

Raelyn said...

"You have to search for the positives, because in life there are a lot of negatives." (This is a quote.... By retired MLB baseball player Mike Lowell.... But I probably have it all wrong!! ;-} Anyway, you get the point. ;)
I was made fun of and called nasty names too as a young girl. NO FUN!! But as resulted, I learned to NEVER make fun of anybody!! Never.
I am glad that you are staying positive!! :-D

Elf said...

You are not alone in sometimes letting the negatives overwhelm the positives. One exercise that sometimes helps me is the gratitude journal, like your notebook--right before bed, I write the things that I'm grateful for. Sometimes it's hard for me to focus on all the good in my life, and it might take me a few nights to figure it out.

I'm so sorry that rescue can be discouraging. I wish I had the time and energy for a boatload of dogs, but I don't. I don't know what the answer is for all the unhomed dogs, which depresses me if I think about it too much. The riding group of little girls where we had our last trial all fostered & trained dogs from the local shelter this year, and they weren't able to place the last 2 dogs. The instructor couldn't figure it out--she said they were great dogs, not too big, not too small, smart, learned tricks, friendly, but they still couldn't find homes for them. As trial chair for our agility trial at their facility, I talked to her about them, went and visited the dogs and really liked them, promoted them at the trial and in one email after the trial, and someone I know adopted one. I'm happy about that. I just keep reminding myself that even one makes a difference.

And I'm grateful for people who do rescue and foster dogs. For what it's worth.