I am practicing self-love.
With all the noise in my head, I need to remind myself of this pretty frequently.
Yes, I’m an over-thinking somewhat-obsessing wired-for-worry recovering perfectionist.
Despite that, I have dreams of my art bringing healing to the world in unique and beautiful ways.
I can see myself as the catalyst that brings ease to hearts and awakens wonder in those who have felt dulled by our sometimes-difficult world.
These are, I realize, some pretty big dreams that require consistent and loving effort.
There’s the hard work of digging deep into what this business of art and spirituality means to me and my people, the need to always be hustling, the jumping at the chance for greater visibility.
I see others doing it. I watch them promote and grow. I even get invited to be seen by their people.
Then why I am saying no to opportunities that will help me succeed?
Yes, the short answer is because of love.
Last year, my beautiful Diva dog found her wings to the Rainbow Bridge, leaving behind her older life-long companion, ‘Cuda. At 16 years old, his days of climbing trees and running down slides are a happy but distant memory – but he is still my loving, sensitive boy.
He still keeps us safe from shower ninjas, and barrells right through us when he wants to get somewhere.
With his worldly body now bony, lumpy and wobbly, I don’t like to leave him alone for too long and I want to be near him as much as possible.
Caring for an aging dog is not for the faint of heart!
There are all of the immediate needs – from preparing food that he’ll eat – because a steady diet of the pizza crusts he loves so much wouldn’t be good for either of us! – to ensuring he doesn’t fall down the stairs, to making sure he gets his meds – but there’s something much more energetically draining.
I know we don’t have a long time left together.
One day he will not be begging me to take him outside when I’m trying to get work done.
One day he’ll be with Diva again and I’ll want nothing more than to hold him in my arms again.
There is the knowing that this will happen. And there is the not knowing when or how.
This isn’t the vague existential understanding that we all face when we think of our mortality. No, this is knowing that sometime soon – and I dare not even utter a suggestion of by when – his body will be done and we may even have to make the heavy and difficult decision to release him from it.
Knowing and not knowing. These two things break my heart open again.
It’s not only my big dreams that hang there, on pause.
There’s the wood flooring that sits in boxes in the basement, ready to install. It’s too slippery for my ‘Cuda to walk on, so it can wait.
And the renovation we plan for the space those boxes are in? Yes, it can also wait.
And the new art, the summits, the books and the workshops can all wait, too.
Because my heart is breathless waiting even while it selfishly drinks in every one of these precious moments.
Everything else can wait.
The quiet whisper in my heart – the one deep down below the arguing voices who want to grieve now and who push me to not grieve too soon – says be still.
This is precious time.
No matter the delays, the frustrations, the weariness.
I have to remind myself again – each time the questions find their way to my heart: “What are you waiting for? Why aren’t you going big? Where are all of your customers?”
I’m living these days wholly and loving my ‘Cuda and myself. Fully.
Is it waiting? Or is it being?
The semantics of it matter not.
Whatever we call it, I let the worry and the almost-grief and the guilt flow through me, and
I love myself back to holding my ‘Cuda while he is here to hold.
I wouldn’t call it waiting, or hiding. I’d call it living in the moment. Making the most of the time you still have with him. I had to put a dog down because of epilepsy when he was 11. Up until then he’d been a happy puppy, with no signs of aging. I’ve had to make similar decisions for cats in the past. I hope I never have to make it again. Having those last years would be so much better.
Teresa, this is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. I put my whole life aside while I nursed my beautiful cat Ceci through cancer (she was the real version of Duchess from The Aristocats). The vet gave her 2 months. She lived for 18 months. I will never forget or regret that time. I learned so much about cat care and diet, the causes of cancer in pets and true love. A year later, two little brother kittens came into my life and I knew Ceci had sent them. They are seven years old now and the most gorgeous, healthy cats ever. Everything has a reason. Everything else can wait.
♥ Yes. Yes yes yes. Because what is all the art and spirituality for, if not for love and truly *being* with those we love?