Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones SpeechIn our adult lives, we are faced with many crossroads. Decisions, mistakes, and consequences we are faced with every day for our choices. Sometimes, we are rewarded. Sometimes, we take the heat of the consequences like a stoning.

For every action, there is a reaction. If we wade through all the shit, all the hurt, and all the words, we come out the other side unscathed. Or do we? I believe we change. Permanently. Every time we are faced with a life-altering decision, we can go one of two ways. No matter which way you choose, there is a future. Sometimes, those crossroads and that future are hard to see. That’s what life is: Decisions, mistakes and consequences. That’s one way to look at it.

No one can change back time. If we did each time we made a mistake, we would never move forward. We would live out each section of our life, make a mistake, and then start over from a ‘checkpoint’. This isn’t a game. You can’t reset. Those decisions are permanent. If you don’t move on, you fall into a depressive state where you can’t get up. You will never see the good in those decisions. You will never get up and look up and realize the sun is shining. It’s a new day. Start again. There’s so much to do. So much left to live. Get up and get over it.

For each of those decisions that may have a consequence, there is also a blessing. I feel if we dwell and sink into the hole of lack self worth, we miss that blessing. We pass it and realize later and regret it. Then, there is more thing we have missed out on. Then, you are living in regret as well as wanting to go back and change everything. In those crossroads, there are the things that will try to hold you back. The people, the events, society, social media, whatever. Haters gonna hate. If you don’t get up, you can’t get stronger. Face it, you made a decision. Own it. For that decision gets put on your permanent record. But don’t forget about everything that goes along with it. The aftermath, but also the future. Good things can also come from shitty situations. Get through the shit, move on. Things will get better. And things are phenomenal for me now. I see that and everything else is sticks and stones.

One decision led to more serious, bigger decisions. Reflecting on these decisions, looking back only gets you so far. Moving on and looking forward is exciting. Black marks are inevitable. Make the best of your life, each and every day. Not everything is a pretty picture. Sometimes, things get dark. That’s ok. Learning to move forward and accept those black marks makes us strong.

In making these decisions, sometimes you lose people on the way. It’s all part of the game. You find out who you truly want in your life, who lifts you up and supports you in all the struggles you face. We choose our relationships based on quite a few factors. For me, I choose the people who make me feel positive about my life, who intellectually challenge me, share my same sense of humor or values, and who I can enjoy a good time with. I also want to try new experiences, and be with people who are willing to try things with me, make me laugh, support me, and who will love me for me. I want to treat them how I am treated. Making them dinner, helping them clean, move, shop, keeping them company when they are sad, entertaining their kids, meet their friends, WHATEVER. I want to be there for them. I want the same in my life.

I try to eliminate people in my life who are toxic. We all mislabel people on occasion. Sometimes, when we make these decisions, we make the wrong ones. We make poor judgement calls at one time or another. I have a hard time with this because I like to see the good in everyone. This is a fairy tale. Not everyone is good. And sometimes, it takes a while to see the truth. I have learned in my adult life, people are not as they seem. I’m having a harder time trusting people in my adulthood. I’ve been deceived, betrayed, lied to, played on, abused, and shot down. I won’t be making these same mistakes again. I ignored some red flags. I won’t make the same mistake twice. I’ll be listening to my instincts a little closer from now on. I will not be caught in anyone else’s web of manipulation.

This is my story. I’m the only one who can tell it.

Wrong Choices Bring us to the Right Places

Admitting It

Been at peace for a couple weeks now. My life is amazing. I have downs… and BIG downs. But my ups are HIGH ups too. I’m level still, and instead of feeling ‘meh’, I’m excited and happy. I’m focusing on the positive things in my life. When negative things happen, I’m just facing them head on, knowing they too shall pass. There is always an end to each situation. I don’t know what the ending is, and I don’t know how far down the road it is, but there is an end.

I have a really good life. I love my career, I love my dogs, I’m fortunate enough to make enough money to be able to live the lifestyle I want, as well as have extra spending money for fun things. I am in love with an amazing guy, and every day he makes me feel special. It’s hard to be depressed or sad, or even ‘down’ when you have someone who can lift you up without even trying.

I hear this sometimes when talking about relationships.

It’s easy.

When I think of that, I smile. Because this time, it’s easy. There’s no guesswork or drama. It’s fun and ‘easy’ and right. There was a time I fought this because I wasn’t sure I was ready. Each big step, I hesitated. I was scared to commit. Scared to love again. Scared to get hurt. I held back, and I was scared to admit I was having feelings. It took a while for me to admit to myself that it’s ok to feel. Each new step, I resisted it, I hesitated.

I’m not scared anymore. And I’m openly admitting it. I’m in love with him. I’m happy. Every day, I wake up happy. I wake up excited. I’m having feelings. Right after my ex husband and I separated, a medium told me I would find someone. And I would find someone sooner than I thought. I scoffed and thought why would anyone want me? I felt like I was nothing. I felt like I should be thrown away. I felt like my life was spinning out of control and I was making terrible decisions and losing everything. I thought she was saying that because she didn’t know me. She was just trying to make me feel better.

It wasn’t even that I was lonely.  I just felt like no one would want me. When I started dating, I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I knew I didn’t want a relationship. I just wanted to have fun, meet people, have a good time, whatever. I didn’t expect to actually find someone I wanted a relationship with. To make plans with. I didn’t want to see anyone else. I don’t want to see anyone else. I’m making plans. We’re making plans. And it feels great.

I feel good. I’m happy.

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Difficult Dog Workshop 2015

k9Lifeline__heather_beck_difficult_dog_workshop_heather_hamilton_projectk9After an incredible weekend learning new things at the Difficult Dog Workshop at K9 Lifeline, I’m refreshed and refocused. For some reason, this time was different. It seemed every single thing we discussed, every question, every demo, every quote meant something to me. I’m exhausted, but also re-energized and I’m excited to practice all the new thing I learned. I have picked out a few bad habits I need to adjust, and quite a few new things to add to my toolbox of awesome skills. This was quite an emotional weekend for me.

On top of learning a bunch of new things and attending this workshop, I had to deal with my first ever training dog emergency. Of course it happened on the first day of the workshop. I had a training dog, a boxer, who wasn’t doing so great. He started to get lethargic the morning of the workshop, and had refused food for the last few days. He lost some weight, and also had blood in his stool. He was also vomiting. There was blood in his vomit. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him for a few hours, so I called the owners to tell them about the situation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a hold of them. I made a judgment call, called the emergency contact, and got this kid to the vet. Pretty much all morning, I was on the phone with vet techs, my client, the emergency contact, and the vet, trying to figure out what was going on. I decided to send this guy home and we would do training when he was healthy. What an eventful way to handle the first day of the workshop. Updates on the dog now are looking much better, but we still don’t have any answers. We are unsure on what is happening health-wise with this guy.

k9Lifeline_difficult_dog_workshop_heather_hamilton_projectk9Alright, back to the workshop, I realized I do ask for advice, but I don’t always hear the answers. Some stories were shared today about mistakes other people have made, and there were consequences. And I realized all of a sudden, that can happen to any one of us. A little mistake can mean fatal consequences. As I have my own stories of things that have happened, some of the stories I heard were worse than my own.  I won’t get into details, but we all start to deal with the hard stuff at some point. I am changing the way I do things a little to make things even safer than they were before. Just in case. It wasn’t advice I heard in these stories… It was a warning. And I’m going to abide by it.

Whenever I hear other people’s hard stories, and realize I’m not the only one who lost something besides a very special dog… I feel a little less guilty. However, it makes me miss Ryder a lot. He wasn’t ‘just a dog’ to me. He was a milestone in my career. I fell in love with this dog, but I also took it upon myself to fix it. It was my mission, and I failed. I talk about my failures. I’m not ashamed. The scars are how we learn. Damn, this was a hard day. Being at K9 Lifeline, hearing about other people’s stories, remembering my own like it was yesterday… just too much. Lots of tears today. I was very close to having an anxiety attack. It felt like the wound of losing him was ripped open again.

I have to remember to put my emotional side on the back burner and buck up and make dog trainer decisions sometimes. One my clients struggle with is unnecessary affection. Affection is never the answer. I had to learn this too. No petting, talking, or food rewards for dogs who don’t deserve it. I learned this a long time ago, and it took me a long time to realize I wasn’t following the “you get what you pet” rule. Now, I love on my dogs, but only when they are 100% deserving. Just because they want attention, doesn’t mean they deserve it. I have learned to respect dogs’ space by not giving them eye contact, affection, or verbal attention until they are deserving. The hardest part is telling people to ignore my dogs. I have started teaching my clients the “no talk, no touch, no eye contact” when they walk into my house. It’s quite hard for the majority of my clients. Respect their space like you want them to respect your space.

I was able to experience what it feels like to be a decoy for bite dogs. It was AMAZING! It was so fun, and I learned so much about this sport. I have decided I want to get a few of my dogs involved in this, and play. Dante and Jinx. Dante loves any game, but he has a high drive, and a lot of energy. Jinx has the drive, the energy, and she loves to bite. Now, don’t confuse this with aggression. Dogs with aggression should not participate in this sport at all. I realized I don’t know much about bite work, but I’m going to learn. I won’t get too much into this, as that’s a whole new blog post!

Anyway, I’m feeling invigorated by this weekend, and today was the first day I was able to put into practice my new daily routine, the new skills I learned, and focus on my energy a lot more when I’m working with dogs. Today was exhausting too, but I’m so happy. Finishing the day off with what I love to do is the most rewarding thing I could ask for. I absolutely love my life!

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This Feeling

This feeling. I hate this feeling. I hate how much hurt I have to feel. I wish my wounds weren’t so deep.

Feeling of loss. The last 10 months have been so incredibly hard for me. It feels like I have lost so much.

Heartache.

My insides being ripped apart. They clench and tense, it hurts. Every muscle hurts.

I can’t think. I can’t focus.

It hurts to breathe. It literally hurts to be alive.

This feeling of wanting to shrink into the floor. I know people would miss me if I died.. but sometimes, I still don’t feel I deserve to exist. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to be. Sometimes. Like now.

Panic. Pain. Tears. Screaming.

I wish I could ‘snap out of it’ or ‘just smile’ or whatever else people say. ‘Just be happy’ they say. Oh, ok. Thanks. I’ll do that now.

It doesn’t work like that. It hurts to be alive. It hurts to breathe

Wanting to shrivel up into a dead husk. No one misses a dead husk. Lack of self worth. I’m not anything. Logically, I know that’s not true. I have these feelings sometimes anyway. There’s my second self telling me I’m nothing. That’s telling me every single hurtful thing anyone has ever said. Then there’s me. Telling me it’s not true. And then there’s everyone else. And they are telling me it’s not true. I believe them…but for a second, I believe I’m nothing. In that moment, I’m nothing.

IT’S SO FRUSTRATING! Sometimes, I have anxiety attacks because I can’t change this. I hate it so much. I can’t stop them, I can’t stop this feeling. It comes whenever there is a trauma or a trigger. I don’t want comfort or sympathy. I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I can do for myself to fix this.

I’m scared to sleep. Scared to dream. Scared to wake up to this reality. Scared to see the demons again.

I want to reset. I want to rest my tired body. Every muscle aches. But I can’t.

I don’t know what I want. I don’t want to sleep, but I don’t want to be. If I sleep, I cease to exist for a while.

I am so strong, and then I’m so weak. Feelings make me weak. Rip them out. Dope me up. Drug me. Stop the feelings.

I hurt so much. It’s like it will never end. I hate my world half the time.

Recharge time

Sometimes, listening to sad songs all day and reflecting is how I get through the day. I have pretty much avoided the world for the last week. Recharge time. Little to no human contact. I need space. I see clients, train dogs, and take care of business. I answer and return phone calls and emails, train, and do the minimum I need to do to heal. I need to recharge. I’m working hard, but not over extending. I’m not social this week. And I’m ok with that. I need a break from the world for a bit to heal. It’s too hard sometimes.

I’m avoiding some big decisions because I can’t trust myself to not be impulsive. Impulsive spending, reckless behavior, no consequences thinking. That’s what happens when I am manic.

When I’m depressed, I ignore big decisions. Seems either way, I’m avoiding decisions. One way, I get a super cool opportunity and maybe overwhelm myself. The other way, I miss out because I’m a responsible person.

My thought patterns seems incomplete. Scattered, too fast. I can’t keep up. But then I can’t complete a thought, so how fast is that? Or is it slow? I’m done thinking. Clearly, I’m not making sense.

Still rapid cycling, but it’s not as severe now. My heart still hurts. I’m seeing the demons at night again, and I’m trying as hard as I can to not shut down. Just give me a break.

How bad is it. Depression 4. Anxiety 3. Today was the first day both numbers were below a 5. It was a better day. No panic attacks. No panicking in general. I’m going to be ok. I don’t think there is a word for my mood today. Carefree, peaceful, nonchalant…

Rapid Cycling

We all make mistakes. We all sometimes feel stupid. We all sometimes keep doing things we know we shouldn’t. And eventually, it comes crashing down. Occasionally, this crash is life altering. We feel like we will never be the same. For me, this is a trigger. It triggers rapid cycling.

Rapid Cycling

Rapid cycling. What is this? Well, in my own terms, rapid cycling means I am swinging from one mood to the next with little to no warning. Manic hyperactivity, lack of impulse control, crazy happy, I can CLEAN THE WORLD attitude. That’s the fun part. Rapid cycling also includes incredible lows. This means lack of self worth, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, panic attacks. Let’s not forget the toll this takes on the body. The physical pain of being up and down so often. I get horrible stomach cramps, knots, I sometimes vomit, sore or tight muscles, irritability, and fatigue.

I’m experiencing all that pain now. Sore neck, sore back, tight shoulders, cramps, irritability, fatigue, knots from anxiety, can’t focus… I’m trying to just concentrate and get through it. But this part sucks.

Whenever I go through a trauma, immense stress, or a big decision, it triggers a cycle. I know I have one coming on when I can’t sleep very well, or when I have knots in my stomach. It also seems like my triggers come all at once. Not just one big event, but multiple.

I like to think I can handle it all the time. I like to think I’m a badass and I don’t need help. I don’t need people, I don’t need to be taken care of. I don’t need support or friends. I’m hardcore and can handle anything by myself.

I’m lying to myself. I do need help sometimes. I need support. When I’m in my ‘downs’ I want to disappear from the world. I want to hide and just wait it out. I also have to admit I enjoy the support. I appreciate it, and really feel loved. I feel guilty a lot when someone supports me, or when someone takes care of me. I should be able to do it by myself. Right? I don’t ever want to be co-dependent. I want to live my life without relying on other people to take care of me. I can do this. Even when I’m in my worst down peaks.. I can do it. I just have to wait it out. Waiting feels like forever. It’s exhausting. And yet… having to wait it out with someone who wants to be there for you makes it so much less daunting.

emotional roller coasterRight now, I’m ‘level’. In between a cycle. I had one of the most severe downs I have ever had… and I’m proud of myself. Yes, I had quite a few thoughts of suicide, but then I immediately thought “ok, stop. Go do something”. Almost a day after that cycle, started the rapid cycling of manic and severe anxiety/panic. After that… it’s always either full blown manic, or deep depression. I hate this part. I just wait for it…because it’s happening. And there isn’t anything I can do about it. Sometimes, my manic cycles are so much worse than my depression. But other times, the depression is suffocating. It’s like I’m getting on a roller coaster, and it’s different every time.

Welcome to the Heather Train.

Mamma

I have some catching up to do. I’m going to backdate this post a bit.

I adopted a dog from a rescue. She was a “hospice foster”. I knew that when I got her. Her name was Esther. She was around 8 years old, a beautiful, gentle pitbull. She was underweight, had poor structure, had a mammary gland tumor, and really bad teeth. She had clearly been used for quite a bit of breeding. I didn’t like this name for her. Esther just didn’t fit her beautiful personality. I renamed her Mamma.

project_k9_rescue_pittie_mamma_pet_lossThis girl came into my life around the end of September last year. She was a sort of impulse decision. Her rescue posted online she only had a few hours to live unless she was pulled. They claimed no behavioral issues, she was solid around people and other dogs as well as cats. Basically, she just had medical issues.

I thought, I have the finances, the resources, and the space. I can help her. So, I pulled her in hopes of fostering her until I found her a forever home. After just a couple days, I realized how hard she was going to be to place. She did have quite a lot of medical problems and she deserved to just retire. So, I decided to keep her. Make her a permanent member of my pack, and have her retire with me.

She had a skin issue, making her super itchy, so when you pet/scratched her, she actually twerked to get more aggressive scratching on her backside. She would wag her tail happily and rub her back all over your fingers. She would look at you with those big brown eyes and you just had to smile.

project_k9_mamma_pet_loss_pitbullsShe played tug, but was too old to have any force behind it. We took her to the park last week, and she played tug and was acting like she was a puppy. She enjoyed herself so much, and you could see her eyes light up when we got there. We got home, and she crashed. She was so tired from all the excitement.

The next morning is when the problems started. She couldn’t get up to go potty, and I had to carry her up the stairs. She had a seizure that morning. Throughout the week, she continued to have seizures, and couldn’t stand all the way to potty. She started to fall, or rest her knees on the ground to squat. She couldn’t do the stairs, and she stopped eating. I decided instead of pumping her full of meds, knowing full well she wasn’t going to get any better, I made the decision. I knew this time was coming, but I didn’t realize it was going to be so soon.

project_k9_park_day_mamma_pet_lossThe whole week, she got to spend time on the furniture, sleep in my bed, eat a cheeseburger, and go on a walk alone with me. Just me and her. She got playtime just with me. And the morning of her appointment, I let her shred her tug rope. I normally don’t allow any of those things. I wasn’t a trainer that day. I was a dog mom who was losing one of her ‘kids’. But I had to keep it together for her. I had to be strong. I couldn’t show her I was weak. Even though my heart was breaking, all she saw was my smiling face, and positive energy. I battled it all morning.

The vet gives her the pink juice… she’s gone before they even finish the injection. She was ready. I ordered a paw print for her. I hope now she doesn’t feel any pain.

I feel sad and heartbroken, but also relieved and happy. I was able to spend the last few months showing her what it’s like to be loved and cared for, and to be part of a family. The love of a rescued elderly dog is very much a different story.

I’m sad I had to say goodbye, but I’m glad she was with me for the final days of her life. Everyone who met her loved her. She loved people. I’m happy I didn’t adopt her out and the new family had to make this decision a few months after falling in love with her like I did.

Goodbye, Mamma. I love you always. Rest in peace now girl, the pain is gone.

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