Little did I know what I would discover in doggie obedience training. Somewhere between “SIT” and “WATCH ME” I discovered some universal truths and one of the greatest secrets to success in life!
The whole process of the eight-week course Rex and his human parents have enrolled in revolves around commands, obedience, rewards and a magic clicker.
The moment Rex does what I want him to do I press the clicker. Then I give him a treat.
Now Rex is so smart, he got the Command “Sit” before I learned how to teach it to him. It was pretty funny watching him wait on me. Finally he nudged my hand, the one holding the clicker, like: “click, Mom, click”,
“FOCUS” however, appears to be his challenge. Of course it is. Since we know this can’t be genetic, I fear it’s environment and his mistress is rubbing off on him. Trying to get me to focus on getting him to focus ought to keep the Petsmart trainer in therapy a lifetime.
Let’s just say Rex is better at all this than I am. No one can accuse me of being particularly compliant, but I can see how I might have gotten a lot more of what I wanted out of life if only I’d had a clicker early on.
Can you imagine how effective they’d be in all our human interactions? When Mom and Dad said you could stay out past curfew? "Click". When the guy you had a crush on gave you a compliment, “Click”. When your boss said, “Good job”. “Click”. When your child looked up at you with all sincerity and said: “I love you!” “Click”. The applications are limitless.
Clickers. They should be issued at birth.
So. If you really liked this post today, go ahead, post a comment.
No one will ever accuse ME of being a proficient or speedy text messenger. I haven't even learned the shortcuts, much less the two finger twirl. But I do know and love the message: 831. I send it all the time. It means: Eight letters, three words, one message. "I love you."
Now I've got a new one: 931. Same concept. Nine letters: "At Your Age".
"At Your Age”. Trust me, those aren’t those three little words every woman loves to hear, but I must have heard them a dozen times during my visit to the Doctor yesterday. Sigh.
As someone born somewhere between cavewalls and moon launches I don’t think I’ve exactly reached my dotage. In fact I’d say I’ve scarcely breached the half-way mark, at least according to genetics and most actuary tables. But the way he entoned, “At your age?” Well it gave me pause.
Turns out I developed a reaction to statin medications, the latest, greatest weapon in the arsenal battling the cholesterol monster. Despite my exercise regime, diet, and generally great physical health my DNA predisposes me to be a cholesterol-making machine. Both the good and bad kinds, my numbers are still too high.
I’d tried Crescor half a dozen years ago and immediately developed the muscle aches they warn about in their commercials. “Tell your physician right away iff you have any unexplained muscle weakness or pain as these good be symptoms of a rare but serious side effect.”
Well, when I don’t know how rare it is, but when I took Crestcor, it felt like I’d been slammed in the glutes with a baseball bat. Pretty novel, unexplainable muscle pain – not a baseball bat in sight. They took me off of it immediately.
Here I am six years later trying Lipitor. The advantages of these particular med are notable. I was hopeful. Within a week I developed leg aches – almost constant aching in my thighs and calves unrelieved by ibuprophen. Crud. I stayed on the drug four weeks hoping my vigorous walks were to blame, though I knew the aching coincidentally developed after started on the med.
Yesterday the Doc pulled me off the Lipitor, warned me off all statins, and will try me on a more homeopathic niacin program. We had a rousing discussion involving warnings, admonitions, and the words “Cardiologist” and an EKG.
On niacin I’ll have to watch for flushing. I thought he said “flashing” and my head started to revolve. He said flushing. I can live with that. So, if I’m a little red, maybe it’ll give me that girlish glow of my first couple decades. At my age, it’s pretty cute to blush!
Seems my puppy Rex is learning patience while mine is sorely being tested. Not that I had all that much to begin with. Rex is having to learn to wait – wait to walk, wait to eat, wait to go out. It’s all part of the dominance, alpha thing, I s’pose, but he doesn’t like it. I’ve not so keen on waiting myself.
I think it’s about trust. Right now he doesn’t trust that food will come again. And again. He’s not certain he will have another play time. Another walk. All he knows is when he is really close to getting what he wants he wants it and he wants it right now.
(I’m going to pause here so all my nearest and dearest can make sarcastic comments that it sounds just like me).
My point is, Rex hasn’t had enough life experience yet to know that food will come again and again. He hasn’t been with me long enough to know that I am as faithful as they come. My devotion unfailing. I’m going to be there for him when he wakes up. I’m going to meet his every need.
He hasn’t figured out yet what makes the food come or the walk started, so he’ll manifest all kinds of crazy behaviors trying to bring them about. And no amount of food is plenty and no walk is long enough. There is no enough in Rex world. (Excuse me, time for another pause).
I don’t know how much time it takes to learn trust in doglife, but he’s not there yet. So we just keep going over our lessons, which are: 1) the good stuff is really worth waiting for, really. 2) Everything he needs will come to him in good order, exactly on time. 3) We live in a world of abundance. There is plenty to go around. 4) The fun is just getting started! We haven’t even warmed up!
Turns out there’s a perfectly good reason Rex tried to dislocate my arm from my shoulder on our walk this morning. Jack Rabbits! Two of them, frolicking and cavorting about the fairway. Rex had never noticed them before. I guess over the past four weeks he’s been too busy exploring other scents, sounds, and vertebrates.
Or, perhaps he’s only just discovering the things he can do with his rapidly growing, well-muscled, sleek puppy frame, like chase, run, dislocate body parts. Ah, the joy of discovery!
I confess when I first moved here, I didn’t notice the bunnies either. I was too busy with life and relocation to attend to their antics. To me it’s just a golf course; to them it’s a nine-holed nirvana!
Funny, how we often miss what’s right in front of us. All the new scents, sounds, and vertebrates. If we’ll pause there are a myriad of delights just awaiting us. Plenty to pause for, attend to, and chase after! Ah, let the chase begin!
Have you ever felt that you didn’t get the best start in life? Me too. And, when I am super honest with myself, I can admit I haven’t always helped things along with the choices I have made. Fortunately, with determination, perseverance, and a whole lot of grace, I can say not only have I stayed in the race, I am in the best place I’ve ever been!
Now I don’t know for certain about all that “Happily Ever After Stuff” but I am living proof there are “Happy Later Ons”.
Because I believe so passionately that we can have a great later on, no matter how we start and because I believe the secret lies in setting goals and not giving up, I am ready to launch a new community – one that will specifically address setting goals and attaining them.
Does this resonate with anyone?
I’m thinking of calling it: “Laces Up! Soldier On! Setting and Attaining Your Goals”
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please post a comment here, or send me a message, I’m all ears!
A good friend of mine is under the gun today to meet the infamous extension deadline for filing federal income taxes. Yippee. I would surmise he is, in this present moment, consumed with a keen sense of urgency!
A deadline junkie myself, there’s nothing like a ticking clock to get my creative juices flowing. Not that I’m suggesting my friend should get creative with the IRS, that’s not my point. There’s just something about the pressing-ness, the compelling-ess, of having to get something done rightnow that almost ensures its fruition.
Earlier I wrote about how happy I am when my willing to, able to, and get to all come together, like some neat conjunction of planets. I know for me it is about as rare as getting to see Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn frolic in the heavens in close proximity.
Deadlines just seem to kick start that alignment. I know my friend is willing to get his taxes off his desk and off his mind, no question there. But I imagine he’s had to make an effort to get his able-tos and get- tos lined out.
You know, my tendency to wait until the last minute to get important things done has labeled me by some as a procrastinator. That’s so silly. I just happen to work best under pressure. Yep, I’m a big old lump of carbon until the pressure is applied – then just wait until you see the diamond!
It takes my puppy about an hour to settle down when I come home in the evening. Apparently, when I’m at work all day he and my husband go about their business – calmly.
Then I hit the door and all you-know-what breaks loose.
The half-angel, half dog trainer from PetSmart keeps telling me that dogs pick up on their owner’s vibe – their energy. Seems I have a lot of it.
This week we spent our hour of Obedience Class working on getting Rex comfortable with having his leash put on and taken off his collar. With him in it. I guess in dog code, my attaching his leash means “let's get ready to rumble” -- he goes berserk. (And, no, since you asked, he doesn’t go crazy when my husband puts the leash on or takes it off).
Early on we made this house rule that every time Rex goes in his crate the leash comes off, so there are several blood-letting opportunities each evening. We were taking off his leash to protect it since Rex likes to chew on it. A lot. Last night it finally dawned on me, “What?” I said. “We are protecting the leash?!? Sure! Okay if I sport Band Aids all over me, by all means, protect the leash!”
Isn’t it funny, we create rules for ourselves and then hold ourselves to them even when they no longer make sense – even when they never did. So we’ve amended that house rule. The leash stays on. We can always buy another one. Heck, I’ll buy them by the case. Leashes are easy, fingers and limbs are so much harder to come by. He can chew to his heart’s content. In time he’ll learn not to chew and I’ll learn how to exude a calm vibe.
We speak so often of making forward progress – and we know I am a believer in that. But I think we need to also remember it’s okay to double-back, retrace our steps, pull a 180.
Blessed with dogged determination, I’ve always thought that when you make up your mind you need to keep it made up. So usually, once I’ve set my course it’s nigh unto impossible to get me to veer. Stubborn? Oh, yeah.
I’m a great starter; it’s my stopping that needs some work. I’m not really sure when to “Say When”. But that very “winners never quit” philosophy, taken to extremes, can really take its toll. Several times in my life I have found myself digging my heels in on a relationship or business enterprise that had run its course.
My point is it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. Sometimes when we lose our way, the very best thing we can do is turn around.
If you are looking for a turn around, or you’d just like to head out in a new direction, I encourage you to join my new Brave Heart Women Community: From Can’t to Can, where we’ll be exploring goal setting and achieving. All brave and earnest hearts are welcome!
I’ve been especially grateful lately for the members of Team Ellen that work so diligently to keep the cheese on my cracker! I’m not especially a NASCAR fan but I can certainly appreciate how happy those drivers are when they limp into the pit and find their trusty crew awaiting them will all the tools and talent needed to get them back out and into the race.
It taken me almost this entire life to date to learn to pull the Ellen car over and get some help. Guess I always thought I could go on a little longer, get a few more miles under my belt, keep going somehow.
Now I’m learning the pros – the folks that win the Daytona’s and the Indy’s are not just incredible drivers, they’ve learned how to pace themselves and plan their stops. They strategically map out points in the race when they will deliberately pause and regroup – air up – check in.
Those that are particularly skilled at taking their pit stops don’t always win but they usually stay in the race and see the checkered flag.
If you’ve been trying to do this life race thing entirely on your own, may I suggest you consider availing yourself of some time in the pits? You know. Get some support. Pause. Regroup. Check in. Air Up!
I wonder... When I was spending all my time studying in the school of hard knocks, where was the line to enroll in the soft ones?
Truth be told I bet there are a lot of classes out there I could have taken but never knew about. Somewhere, I just know it, there was one called Patience 101!
When you think about it, there are probably all kinds of secret seminars we don't know about. Maybe bureaucrats go to school to become deadpan and obstructive. Maybe politicians have to take Obfuscation 300 before they can run for office. Do you suppose starlets study vapid?
Come to think of it, there are several courses that should probably be mandatory – maybe not Crankiness 200, but how about Grace Lab 202? Maybe two-year degree programs in child rearing, dating, and marital harmony.
Just fantasy, I know. My perfect world view ended when they took Drivers Education out of the high schools. There was a dream strategy. Take the one period in time when teenagers and their parents are their closest (?!) and arrange for them to spend quality time together learning how best to maneuver a moving half ton of metal and live to tell about it. Genius.
Sigh. Guess we learn best by doing. Trial and error. Heavy on the error. I still think there's an easier way. When you hear about it? Please sign me up.
Speaking of school, Rex and I are going to Obedience Training again today. Some classes ARE mandatory. Wish us luck!
I really envied Rex the puppy last night at obedience class. Right now, with just four and a half months on the planet, his world is comprised of single-syllabled commands: Stay. Take it. Leave it. Drop it. How simple.
As Rex was wrestling with that term, I realized they’ve usually marked my biggest life choices – the very same words, just punctuated a little differently. Stay? Take it? Leave it? Drop it? Notice the difference? Question marks. They take the same letters from certainty to, well, un.
It has been suggested I over think things. I suppose. On the other hand, maybe Rex is just a faster learner. Or maybe in dog world decision-making the choices are easy. At least the outcomes are immediate. Comply with the directive, get a treat. Were that life were like that in humandom.
In dog training we learn the reward should be proximate and immediate to the command and desired behavior. Which is why my new persona is that of a human treat dispenser. I am always packing, ready at a moment’s notice to reward.
In our human lives, when we are trying to make or break a habit, wouldn’t it be delightful if the rewards were immediate too? You know, pass on the cookie and a giant scale appears over your head proclaiming: “Lost one pound.” If you exercise twenty-minutes a roaring applause machine would sound. None of this wait and see stuff.
I guess Rex has already mastered the art of keeping it simple. Command, obedience, reward. Still, if you know where I can pick up an applause machine…
I’m not sure any little girl, playing dress up or preparing for Hallowe’en, said to herself, “When I grow up I want to be a phlebotomist”. When it comes to the blood-letting department I am fairly certain most would go with Vampiress every time. Still, thanks to the heavenly employment counselor, some good souls are selected for the occupation.
I myself was not chosen. I wouldn’t make a good blood drawer and I’m not especially good at having mine taken. My father and sister were both card-carrying members of the American Red Cross “Ten-gallon Hat” club. Each has donated more than ten gallons of blood for the organization.
So we know, Miss Competitive here, I just had to be a member too. (With a higher contribution card) Those lofty aspirations were quickly thwarted by my aversion to, well, blood. Apparently it’s a pretty autonomic response. Three for three, each time I tried to donate at blood drives I passed smooth out. I am at the top of their do not call lists.
Recently I needed to provide a sample for some nice insurance underwriters. They try to make the process as painless and convenient as possible, even dispatching mobile techs to the workplace to get it done. You can imagine my excited anticipation.
Gratefully they sent out their A-team – Elena. She’d helped me before a couple of years ago. My eyes lit up when I saw the familiar petite form enter the office.
Elena has “the gift”. If she’d wanted to, she’d be an awesome vampire. When she sets about her work you’d never know she was there. I don’t know if she’s really that adept (you do not feel a thing) or she is just so mesmerizing by her demeanor. She has a light about her, it just radiates from her. And her eyes. She could quite be the gentlest person I have ever encountered. I am quite certain she’s an angel.
When she was finished I complimented her on her skill, and asked her how she came to be a professional blood drawer?
She told me she just wanted to be a medical assistant in a doctor’s office doing the paperwork. She never wanted to do the testing part. But when she was in her training program all of her classmates encouraged her to go ahead with the necessary courses. Reluctantly, she did. She found she was an excellent phlebotomist, especially good with the patients and enjoyed her job immensely. She was employed right away and quickly promoted to Regional Director for a mobile laboratory service.
Elena may not have known her calling early on, but when it came she answered. She found the perfect spot to use her unique talents and brighten the lives of everyone she helps. Which only proves to me, reluctant or otherwise, there are angels among us.
When I was seven, my mother picked out Hallowe’en costumes for my sister and me. My sister was given the Pretty Princess ensemble. I drew the Wilma Flintstone getup. That was the last time I let my mother pick my costume, and may well have been when I decided nobody was going to tell me who I was going to be in costume or otherwise.
I remember her reasoning had something to do with sizing, “it fits you”. All I knew was it didn’t fit me at all. A lesson learned that roles, facades, parts, can be assigned or chosen – but often they don’t fit at all.
I’ve picked out my own costumes out since then. The witch sophisticate was always a hit, I think the credit goes to the black wig and false eyelashes. I made a spot-on Lucille Ball And I had some fun with an authentic geisha outfit and white face paint. Sometimes it’s pretty great to be unrecognizable.
This year I’m going as The Spider Woman, which looks amazingly like Stevie Nicks on an old album cover. Hey, we all get our inspiration somewhere.
My point is – it doesn’t matter what you used to be like, or what others thought of you or even what you thought you should be when you grew up. All that really matters is who you are now, and being your very best “you”.
Since the middle of May, I have tried to spend thirty minutes every morning, writing. I find that right when I first wake up, and during my morning walk, I am full of thoughts and ideas.
Before Rex came along in September, the “trying” part was easier. Now, some mornings are just trying. But yesterday morning, after a lively round of “No, Rex” – “Stop, Rex” – “Enough, Rex” - I looked over and there he was, standing at the computer next to mine, big old paw right on the mouse, staring at the screen. In that moment the screen has come alive and the puppy was transfixed.
Now puppy mommies, especially naturally nocturnal ones, don’t respond nearly as well in the early morning hours, so I didn’t grab my cell phone fast enough, and missed the best picture. It took several minutes before he repeated the move, then several attempts before I got off a snapshot that wasn’t pure blur. C’mon, have YOU ever tried to photograph wind?
So this is the best we came up with, my collaborator and I.
Like my most significant others, he seems to spark my best material. And, while he is NOT as well behaved as I would like, let me be clear – I found that he shares something in common I’ve found in my most precious relationships: I am my very best me in his company.
Only a couple more days until Hallowe’en, and if I close my eyes real tight and concentrate I’m six again and I can hear my Daddy’s voice: “Last night, as I was coming up over the hill, SUDDENLY, out in front of my car, flew a witch!” My sister and I would cover our eyes and shriek: “No-o-o-!” He would pause and just wait for us to both holler: “Then what, Daddy, then what?”
Wow, are there days I miss that level of excitement and anticipation. I miss the certainty of age six, when something wonderful was always on its way, it could only be good, and the waiting-for-it was most of the fun. Counting down days and looking forward both.
I credit my Dad with instilling in me all the wonder of life that I have. He was a moment-builder. He loved preparation much more than execution and he was a pro at building excitement in others. Guess that was why he was such a tremendous leader and manager in the workplace.
In grown-up-world, I do try to live in the moment, be grateful for the now. I practice a discipline of living in what Dale Carnegie called the day-tight compartments, focusing on today, not the past nor the future. And yet, there still resides in my core the six year old. The one full of “Then what? Then what?
Not tonight, not tomorrow night, not the next night, but the NEXT night is Hallowe’en… And tonight, when I am driving up over that hill, who knows what I will find…
And, if you'd like to take a more active role in planning, "What's Next?", may I suggest you join me on the new Community: "From Can't to Can!" where we will be focused on setting and achieving our goals.