Uphill Battle

Depression is debilitating. Literally, you can’t work through it. Motivation goes out the window, your body hurts, you can’t focus, you feel like crap, and you just want to sleep. It does go away, it does get better. But in those moments, you feel like you will never be happy again.

You try to do things that make you happy, but all it does is just makes things worse because you are forcing yourself to do something. I find it’s easier to do something you don’t want to do, because you’re not going to like it regardless of your state of mind.

Everything is negative. Everything is stupid. And you don’t want to do anything anyway. Just sleep. Well, guess what? You wake up and you still feel the same. Doesn’t help anything. Everything in life is dull and you fail to see beauty and happiness in the things that used to make you happy.

Getting past the hump of when depression is the worst is the most challenging task I think I have ever done. You just have to keep truckin’ and not let the darkness take over. I have mentioned before what it’s like when the demons take over your conscious as well as your unconscious. It’s terrifying, and I won’t let it happen again. So, I’m fighting this uphill battle with trying to stay on top of my emotions.

jainismI attended a chakra and archetype class a few months ago where I started to learn more about the religion of “Jainism”. I started researching, as it sounded very similar to what I believe in, and it’s very in line with my deep morals and beliefs. I feel I have become less spiritual lately, and want to focus again on bettering myself and rising above all this negativity in the world. If you are interested in learning more about Jainism, it’s basically the principle and practice of nonviolence. They don’t believe in a single God, but they do believe in many Gods who have achieved enlightenment. I don’t have the mental capacity yet to say I want to achieve enlightenment. I mean, that sounds great, but I can’t grasp that concept in my real life. What I do really appreciate about this particular religion is the atmosphere and feeling that we should fill the world with love and peace and not even let our thoughts be negative towards another person or thing. To just love. Not that I’ve entirely forgotten about that, but I notice I’m not actively practicing it, and I am allowing the energy of outside influences affect my inner peace.

Some of the things that almost always interrupt my peace is what’s happening in the world. A big one right now is the political debate. Voting time is upon us, and the news, the internet, social medias, and everyone’s thoughts are a revolving door of new, negative, and heated things about each candidate. Personally, I feel politics are out of the scope of what I’m here for. I stay out of it, not because I plead ignorance, but because I feel there are bigger problems of the overall mindset of the country. Placing law after law, and solving the symptoms of a bigger problem will not resolve anything. Take for example a dog who pulls on the leash. Putting on a harness, a prong collar, or any other training tool will not solve the issue. What is the issue then if it’s not pulling? THAT is the right question, now isn’t it? It’s the mindset of the dog who thinks it’s ok to pull on the leash. Stop the mindset and it doesn’t matter what tool (if any) you have on the dog. It’s not about the tool, it’s about teaching the dog pulling isn’t an option anymore. All behavioral issues have solutions if you change the neurological pathways on how they reach a decision. Which means teaching the dog to think. Teach people to THINK instead of REACT to everything and you have a solution. Fix the bigger problem, not the symptoms.

jainism2Anyway, struggling with motivation to work today, and I just need to buck up and get ‘er done. I don’t have a lot of on my plate work-wise right now, which is nice, because it seems I can’t handle much more than what I have now. We are working on the dog house this weekend, and the project seems very daunting. I’m sure it won’ be that bad, but this is work I haven’t done before, and with very little mental energy, I’m hoping more than anything I won’t just get in the way. I’m going to have to be taught, which means it will take longer to get things done. And constant teaching and supervising is exhausting, so I kind of feel like I have to be a fast learner. And in my current state of mind, I’m hoping I can pull it together.

Practicing lots of calming breathing exercises today, and listening to my meditation mixes. Just doing the bare minimum so that everything that needs to get done, is done, and then taking time to uplift my spirit today. For every one task, it seems it’s taking me so very long to prepare. I have used schedules in the past for myself to keep myself on track so I don’t become unproductive. That helps if I actually care. It’s when I don’t care that it’s a task to even follow a pre determined schedule. So send me positive, happy vibes and maybe I’ll have enough in reserve to come up with some positive, happy thoughts for myself today. I am trying my best.

Realigning with Mind, Body, Soul

I’ve forgotten about balancing all areas of my life. And in each big area, there are smaller areas that also need to be balanced.

My mind is constantly enriched by what I do. I have to think, I have to focus, and I have to teach. I’m honestly on intellectual overload most of the time for what I do and what I’m helping people learn. I need to dial this back so that all of my different areas can thrive. I need to give my mind a rest, and focus on a few other areas as well. I need to learn to ‘turn off’ when I’m not working.

mindbodysoulMy body has definitely taken a backseat lately. I have started to neglect my body’s wellbeing by not working out as often as I need to and not eating as well as normal. I rescheduled my 1/2 Ironman race due to all that’s happened within the last few months. Buying a new house and making sure my business is still successful has been my priority. Moving in, organizing (which I also feel I’ve fallen behind on), and making sure every single dog gets their needs met every day has been where my focus is. So, I want to get back to working out 3-4 times a week to make sure I’m ready for my tri in St. George in October. Still going to Australia, but not for the race. Which means now the dates are flexible, and we can spend time exploring and having fun. We need a vacation, and that’s going to be a big one.

Ah yes,, my soul. There was a weekend recently where my boyfriend and I connected very deeply, and I made a realization about myself. I realized I actually AM amazing. I do amazing things, and I help a lot of people. Even though I am very proud of how far I have come, I guess I never really realized how much good I actually do. I know I’m awesome, but I didn’t realize I was anything super special. I’m just me. I mean, I live a big life, but I’m still just me. I didn’t realize how far I have come, or how the things I’ve been through have shaped me, or how many people I help every day. I also do what I love. Every single day, I get to work from home, hang out with my dogs, help other dogs who need direction, teach people how to be stronger pack leaders, and enjoy being in nature every single day. I live a pretty awesome life, and I want to get back to feeling the balanced zen feeling.

I’ve forgotten to watch the sunrise. I’ve forgotten to listen to the rustle of the leaves in the wind. I missed the lightning in the rain. I’ve been too busy to notice the birds are having babies in my trees. I have been blinded, and missed the beauty. Again. This time, I haven’t been lost. But I’m not paying attention. I haven’t meditated in way too long.

Again, I missed something that’s right in front of me. I got caught up in daily life and forgot to stop and pay attention to the beauty of the world. I started to care too much about everything else, and not enough on where my attention is most needed.

I desperately need a nature day. I feel like I’m getting closer to having the freedom to take one when I need one, but I’m just not there yet.

I live an extraordinary life. I’m amazing, and I built this life. I want to get back to feeling amazing every single day. And that means I need to reconnect with my mind, body, and soul. It’s easy to get off track when something in your life pulls all your attention to one area. I need to keep balance and focus on each area equally.

And that means I’m going into the mountains today and meditating. When I started my healing journey last year, that’s where I started. And that’s where I’ll start now.

Fall Aspen trees and Maples. Mt. Timpanogos, Wasatch Mountains, Utah.

Fall Aspen trees and Maples. Mt. Timpanogos, Wasatch Mountains, Utah.

Reminders of Loss

The hardest part about loss is the constant reminder that something is gone. The little moments that didn’t used to mean much, but now leave a dark empty hole where they used to be. Little memories create stabbing pains. Like little flashbacks, then the teasing little hurt that comes after reminds you there is now an empty space.

recoveryNothing really helps. Nothing really makes this feeling go away. Distractions ease the pain for a minute, but it always comes back. At least that’s how this is going for me. Start to sleep, wake up and realize it’s not a dream. This really did happen, and the pain isn’t fake. The loss is real. I wish it wasn’t. I wish I could turn back the clock and enjoy the little moments again because someday they will be gone.

Distractions do take my mind of off the suffering for a little while, and I try to do all my favorite things. Watching shows, working, video games, snuggling my dogs, being outside, and enjoying friends’ company only helps for a while until I realize this is real again. The only thing I need is time. I don’t really want to do much of anything. Cuddled up here with my dogs, staring off into space is honestly all I want. I don’t need chocolate or conversation, just company. Seems my dogs all know that. They can’t make the pain go away, but they know I need them to just be here. They’ll lay with me all day without complaint. They won’t try to push to talk about it. I don’t feel like a very good leader for my dogs this week. I can’t be a leader for them right now, I need them to make some good decisions for themselves right now.

Time seems to be moving faster than me. Where did the week go? Last I remember, I was talking about if the prednisone was working.

If I needed to start thinking about options for Napoleon.

If we were at that point yet.

Then, he declined rapidly. I watched as he started to lose his motor function. The light in his eyes went out, and he was telling it was time. He started having accidents in the house. He couldn’t hold his weight sometimes when he was just standing.

Then, he was gone. He was just gone.

soulhurtsNapoleon was a special dog for a lot of people, and I really love that everyone who knew him got a chance to see how special he was. He shared his happiness with the world, helped me through hard times, helped me teach other dogs, and helped clients learn some new techniques as well. It makes me happy to know so many loved and cherished him like I did.

The hardest part about loss is the reminders. I can’t stop thinking about it. My soul has a dark, empty space. There isn’t emotion there. No anger or sadness. Literally, that piece of my soul feels like it died. A little piece of my soul went with Napoleon. He left a little piece of his soul with me, but also took a little piece of mine.

I will heal. With time. But time has to slow down for me to catch up. I feel like it’s moving too fast, and I can’t keep up. I just want to lay here with my dogs until I feel better. Do absolutely nothing until my soul has started to heal. I’m trying to be happy and live, because that’s what he would have wanted. He was a very happy dog.

My heart and my soul hurt so much. But I will heal. I got this….

RIP Napoleon

Nappy and Heather

July 2013

My stomach is in my throat, and tears stream down my face as I’m grieving the loss of one of my oldest partners. Napoleon was my first dog, and my sidekick for the last 7 years. He helped me see the love of training dogs and helped me make the dream of owning my own business a reality. He was my demo dog for my clients and my service dog for working through PTSD. He taught me to be softer and how to ‘wait’ for what I wanted rather than to increase the amount of pressure I was applying. He taught me to trust, and he taught me what the human-dog relationship was all about.

The loss of my dog is that of the same as a loss of a child. An innocent, pure soul who we helped become something in the world. My heart is broken, but I feel it all throughout my body. Words are hard to form, and it’s difficult to get anything done. To find the motivation to even move or talk. This is a deep, deep loss and it feels like I left a little piece of heart in the vet’s office.

Milkbone NappyNapoleon lived with my mom since I broke my foot at the beginning of April ’15. She fell in love with him, just like everyone who met him. He was an amazing friend, and I enjoyed doing everything with him. He was an “American Dream Dog” as one of my client’s described him. After he had some training, he always listened, he was spot on with every command, he was 100% off leash reliable, and was polite with other dogs. I used that example with a lot of my clients because I believe any dog can be your “American Dream Dog” once you achieve this type of relationship with them. This won’t take the dog out of the dog, or change who they are.

I feel I have this type of relationship with all my dogs, but the one I had with Napoleon was different and special because he taught me this was possible. He taught me about living a life with a dog is one of the most fulfilling adventures. He was the reason I was introduced to Heather Beck from K9 Lifeline, and that started my entire journey on the path to becoming a dog trainer.
He stuck with me through flooding in my brand new house, the journey of me figuring out how to handle my PTSD, anxiety, depression, and my bipolar swings. He was there when I needed to get away from the world. He always greeted me like I was the best thing since sliced bread. He went through my divorce with me. I used him to help with evaluations and dogs who needed help. I used him as an example for nutrition, obedience, and behavior stories.

CGCnappyJust like all dogs, he has all kinds of happy, silly stories. I’m trying to remember them all, but the hurt is too much right now. Give me time. I feel this in my bones. My muscles hurt everywhere,  my head is going to explode, and my heart is in pieces. I hurt everywhere and all I want to do is sleep. But I have to be strong. The world keeps turning, and he wouldn’t want me to shut down. So, I’m working. Slowly, but I’m doing what needs to be done, and I’m teaching. I may break down in front of everyone, but I’m not stopping.

I don’t hide how I feel very well because it’s exhausting and takes way more energy than just being honest. So I’m being honest. My heart is broken and I’m on a roller coaster of emotions. I’m raw and fragile and I’m not a rock. I can’t be anyone’s rock for a while. I need to take care of me, and I promised I would be strong.

dirtynappyIf I didn’t make the decision, he would hang on as long as possible to be there for me, and he would be happy about it until the very end, regardless of how he felt. Rob told me Nappy would tell me when he was ready, and so I made the decision that as soon as I “heard” that, I would make a decision and I wouldn’t waiver. So, on Saturday night, he showed me. It was really hard all day watching him, and that night, it was unmistakable. I didn’t know if I would see him again when we went to sleep. I made the decision I would call as soon as everyone had a chance to say goodbye.
NappyHappysept2015This dog was very special, and helped me get over a lot of baggage. And maybe, he did his job. He helped me release a lot of things I was hanging onto and taught me how to handle emotions a little better, how to let things go a little faster, and how to teach everything I learned to others. And I absorbed that information, so his job was done and now it was time his soul went elsewhere and helped others learn.

I don’t believe in a Heaven or Hell. I don’t believe in God or Satan. I believe that when we die, pieces of our souls go where we are most needed. Usually to another broken soul, or to a new life. Napoleon has a pure, happy soul. He helped me realize I am also in charge of my own happiness, and external influences shouldn’t affect my happiness. I am in charge of my state of mind, and I can fight anxiety, frustration, anger, and sadness. I can choose to be happy. Right now, I am choosing to grieve the loss of my friend. Don’t worry, Poly, I’ll be happy again.

I miss you so much, and I’m so happy you chose me for a few years to teach me everything. I’m lucky to have had you in my life. You’re so special, and I hope your soul finds peace and happiness wherever it goes.

I love you, buddy.

Nappy 2013

December 2013

This Old Dog

Napoleon, December 2015

Napoleon, December 2015

Napoleon and Mia -June 2012

Napoleon and Mia -June 2012

It’s never easy when your kids are sick and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s never easy when it’s your dog and they can’t tell you how they feel either. You know they aren’t doing well, but you can’t ask them what’s wrong. Your heart breaks, but you have to be strong for them. They stick with you for everything, and they love you no matter what. You sometimes lash out against them when you are upset, but they love you right after anyway. You teach them how to behave.

So when they are sick and you can’t do anything, it breaks your heart. At what point do you step in and start interfering? In the wild, animals would suffer for days, weeks, months, sometimes years until the reaper finally takes them. It’s “humane” to step in and prevent that from happening, right? Isn’t it? It feels like the “right” thing to do, but you don’t know when it’s the right time to make the call. You don’t know when. Unless they tell you. But listening to them say they are done is painful too. Because then that responsibility is yours alone. You have to take on the choice and make it for them. You would want that done for you, wouldn’t you? To be put out of your pain, or prevent the suffering from getting worse.

The day we brought him home. Fat Napoleon! May of 2011

The day we brought him home. Fat Napoleon! May of 2011

Every time for me is different. This isn’t the first time I’ve been in this position, nor the second or third. I’ve been here a lot. This seems harder for some reason. I’m losing my very first dog. He’s been through a divorce, a horrible breakup, job losses, me starting up my business, the sale of my old home, the purchase of a new one and everything in between, and he’s been my guinea pig for so much that I’ve learned. I made so many mistakes with him, but he was also the reason of why I even got started in the first place. He was my service dog. He got me through an incredibly difficult trauma, but also taught me I can’t use dogs to replace human relationships, and I needed to be strong for him. Weakness in a leader isn’t a good trait. So, I learned to be stronger. I learned how to protect myself, and how to handle my emotions and my bipolar better. I am the person I am today because of what he taught me.

Napoleon and Me

Napoleon and Me – July 2013

I’m watching him get old. Not only just get old though, but literally lose motor function every day. You see it in his eyes. You see it when he looks at you. And I am seeing what he’s showing me. I’m not being selfish here, I’m deciding what I want to do for him. Which course is the right answer for him? What can I do for him to make him happy at this point? The doctor thinks it’s a brain tumor at this point. Called him today and gave him an update on some changes since we started treatment. If it was what we originally thought, this wouldn’t be happening. We thought it was because he had distemper as a puppy. We thought this treatment would help. Every day, I visibly see him getting worse. It’s not a slow progression anymore.

Everybody

Right to Left:
Mamma (RIP), Marshall, Dante, Napoleon, Jinx
Dec, 2014

I want to be fair to him. I want to make the right choice for him. I’m stuck, I don’t know what to do. So I’m getting information. I won’t just give up. I don’t do that. But I want to make whatever decision is in his best interest. And I have a feeling I know the answer, but I’m not ready without all the information. The doctor said to wait until after the weekend so we can see if the new treatment is working. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m waiting. I hate waiting…

Napoleon and Jed

Jed (RIP) and Napoleon, hanging out while I shower.
Jan 2016

Learning to Live Again and Letting Go

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small. The fears that once controlled us can’t get to us at all. It’s time to see what I can do. To test the limits and break through. I’m never going back. The past is in the past.

Sound familiar? I hope so. If not, you need to update your Disney song library. Anyway, there’s a reason I’m quoting this song. It’s really relevant to my life currently. I haven’t had balance of life and work since before I opened up my company. I haven’t known how, or wanted it. I do now. I’m taking a lot of joy in yard work, playing with my dogs again, doing normal house chores, planning bigger projects, cooking, reading, playing video games, watching shows, and yes-taking weekends. I wish there were more hours in the day, but I would fill them with more things. I’m also learning it’s ok to not fill every second with something and to just sit and not do anything for a while.

I’m setting up more appropriate boundaries with work vs. personal life like business hours and taking actual weekends to not answer client phone calls or emails. I’ve hired someone to help so I can leave town on my days off and not worry about everything. I mean, I still probably will in the beginning, but she’s shown great promise so far. She’ll be great.

I’m learning more about my walls, and where my internal boundaries lie. Some I need to let down, and others I need to adjust when it’s appropriate to keep them. I guess I didn’t realize how deep some of my wounds were. I’ve set up an impenetrable fortress. Some of it is a pride thing, sure. I don’t want to be used, hurt, abused, or used as a stepping stone again. But some of if is totally misplaced and hurts the people I love. I catch myself when I’m riding on a wall, and I’m actively letting it down for specific situations. This is kind of interesting to me because this is totally different for me. I haven’t let my walls down…ever, I don’t think. Learning curve for me.

I’m in a great place, but every once in a while, I get a pang of something I’ve lost along the way. Some things I’ve dealt with, some I haven’t. Small words, images, sounds, smells, sometimes they bring it back. Sometimes, it’s a bunch of things that remind me, and then all of a sudden, it’s like I’m reliving it.

My heart races, I can’t breathe, and all I can think about is going through all those feelings again. I’m carrying it around still. I’ve shoved a lot into a box, and I’m having to go through it now.

Speaking in literal terms, it started with opening up a box. It had reminders of parts of my life I’m needing to move on from. Not necessarily letting go of the death of my marriage, but letting go of a lot of guilt. Things that even though I had no control over, I blamed myself. This is a habit I get into when something doesn’t go as planned. The following few days after I opened that box there were signs that I hadn’t totally forgiven myself, or dealt with some emotions. I was just watching a show, and it hit me. I couldn’t breathe. And I was consumed by guilt and fear, and overwhelming sadness. I didn’t realize right away what it was, I just thought I was having an anxiety attack. (Yeah, I’m being vague, sorry.)

I needed to get away, I wanted to run away from everything. It was too much and I was afraid. Then I realized what it was that was bothering me. And once I realized what it was, I could calm down. I chilled out, I settled, and I also realized I’ll be stuck here unless I set down this baggage and move on. Acceptance. Before, it was flight. Now, I’m avoiding. Because I’m scared. But I don’t want to be in my fortress anymore. Buck up, Buttercup. It’s time to open the metaphorical ‘Pandora’s Box’ and deal with the unbalance, emotions, and really let it go. It’s a good thing. Because it means it’s holding me back, and I’m ready to face it and move forward with what the future brings. Still scary though…

Life is Great!

forestI love my place! That isn’t just referring to the house though! I love the property and the house, and I absolutely love the plans that are starting to form to make it really mine ours. But what I love more than all of that is where I am in my life. I found ME and what that means. Of course, I’ll always still be learning about myself, and how to improve and make life better and more balanced. But where I am, what’s happening, what plans are being made…I’m so happy with my life and where I’m going. And because I’m in that place, I’ve attracted the most amazing person I have ever met and get to share all that happiness and excitement with him. Little things every day remind me how far I’ve come, and where I want to go. I wanted to find someone who could handle my hectic lifestyle and keep up with me, but also slow down and just enjoy each other’s company when we have a few minutes. He’s a perfect match for me. He compliments my strengths and brings out the best in them. He also helps me with the things I struggle with and makes me want to be better. Every day, he silently reminds me I had to go through what I did to be where I am. I would never have been able to fully appreciate him and love him the way he deserves to be loved. I truly see him, and appreciate everything about him. Even doing yard work together is something I enjoy doing with him because we are building this life together. Life is good, and I see it getting even better.

Something I have struggled with since I started my company was the work-life balance. I’ve never actually had ‘balance’, but I never really felt I needed it…until now. I knew it would be tough, but I’m over the “new business struggle” and now I’m an established company who is growing, needs help, and I desperately want to have parts of my life back while still enjoying and loving what I do. I’m now working towards that ‘balance’ that I now realize I need to be happy. Not only do I need this for me, I need this to nurture all the other areas of my life. I devote a lot of time to one area, and another one is neglected. I want to give enough that all areas can grow and be ok. I want to LIVE now that I have sufficient means to do so.

robheatherRecently, there have been many events that have brought the sting of being ‘married to my business’ to the surface. It hurts. A lot. I want to go on vacation; I have to plan months in advance to go. I want to take a day off; sorry… no, you have a company to run. I’m sick; buck up, Chuck. I work anyway or nothing gets done. If I’m not here, I don’t get paid and business stops entirely. I want to take a break; sorry..no. You can’t because then I work until 10:00. I’m hoping with some new plans I have brewing, that will change within the next six months or so. Doesn’t stop the ‘now’ from reminding me there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do everything I need/want to do. But I’m working on it. Patience. I’ll get there. Just keep truckin’.

Also realize I don’t have the ‘unwind’ time from leaving work and transitioning to home. Another battle of the ‘working from home’ mindset. Thinking after I lock up for the night, I need to find a transition activity. Most people’s activity is driving home from work, I need something else. Maybe that’s a good time to go running or biking. Huh..food for thought.

Anyway, haven’t written in a while, and needed to update. So, in short: Life is good. And it’s getting better.