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Summer Days 7

September 15th, 2014

Summer has been the one teacher in my life journey who has taught me the most about valuing life’s moments, expressing gratitude and being happy. Of everyone I’ve encountered in my life, from strangers to those who know and love me, my 12 ½ year old black and white border collie/lab, girl’s best friend and canine constant companion, Summer, is the one who has taught me my most valuable learning in life.

Of all the lessons she has tried to convey in her special doggie way – show love first thing each morning; be joyfully exuberant when doing what you love; delight in the now; always show appreciation to others; work and contribute; and, presume friendshipit is lesson #7 that could just possibly be the most meaningful teaching of all; the one that may very well change my life.

For my life, “being” is not something I’m very good at. Staying busy? Yes. Doing? Achieving? You betcha. Doing for others? Absolutely. But “being”? Not so much. And “being Susan”? Whoa! Now you’re talking crazy. I can only do that with a few people!

The one constant that Summer has exhibited in attitude and actions over the years is that Susan is good enough just as she is. Summer has never expected me to keep her entertained for hours; she hasn’t looked for me to put into action a five-year business plan. I haven’t had to set, meet or exceed a goal; she’s never asked that I put on a smile or pretend interest for the sake of furthering a cause or making nice. I haven’t ever had to put on masks or be anything I’m not. I’ve always just been me.

For Summer, “me” is enough.  She is happy to simply be in the same room with me. She is content to be near me whether we’re interacting or not. With her simple presence, she has communicated:

Lesson #7: Just be yourself. 

IMG_6033As I’ve pondered this lesson over the past month, I’ve realized what a great truth Summer has tried to convey and demonstrate. I’ve repeated the words “Just be Susan” often in my head when faced with moments where I might want to act differently in order to please someone else or put their desires above mine. “Just be Susan”, I’ve come to realize, holds a key to tell me how to live freely. It begs me to be confident that who I am is a gift – as is. Summer has challenged me to trust “me,” to trust myself that I am good. I am enough.

And this unbelievably wise, four-legged, tail-wagging guru – who has the brain of a four-year-old, I might add – has passed on this most valuable, personal lesson by simply embracing and enjoying my presence without me having to do anything to earn her affections and friendship except being myself.

Today, be grateful for the gift you are. Journal about the things that make you uniquely you and that you appreciate and enjoy about yourself. Be proud of who you are. When challenging situations arise and you start to get anxious over how to respond, remind yourself to “Just be you” and then trust that you are enough. Then act from who you are and see what happens. You are good. You are enough.

Summer Days are a 12-part blog series focused on lessons of gratitude passed on from dog to human. This human is still trying to embrace daily the lessons of gratitude, so much so that gratitude gets an entire chapter in the book I wrote with Ann Saylor for educators, youth leaders, and parents called Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working With Youth. In there, lessons of gratitude are shared as a tool for maintaining personal power and strength . . . and teaching youth to do the same.


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