|The Four Agreements ~ Don Miguel Ruiz|
We live in Maine, and we share the woods with sportsmen of all kinds - 4-wheelers, snowmobilers, fishermen, hikers - and most importantly, from mid-October until the end of November, we share our woods with hunters.
I have always respected hunters. They help thin our deer herd, keeping down population and disease, and responsible hunters use the deer meat to stock their freezers. The challenge is sharing the woods with people who are in hot pursuit of big game, who are carrying big guns. I would say (if I had to guess) 95% of Maine hunters are responsible. They follow the rule books. They identify their targets before they shoot, and they pay attention to no-hunting zoning and houses. But its the ones who aren't as responsible that you have to trust your life with... and the life of my dogs. Even if you are walking in a "no hunting zone" all it takes is one wayward hunter to take you down. To take personal responsibility for my safety, and the safety of my dogs, we wear blaze orange from day one of hunting season until hunting season is over. I've had hunters walking on the trail thank me for wearing blaze. It's common sense to protect the safety of everyone so we can all enjoy the beauty of the Maine woods.
So, when we discovered we couldn't find our dogs vests from the year before, we decided to go buy new ones. Unfortunately, everyone had the same idea we did because the dog safety vest shelves at Pet Quarters were empty. A trip to the pet department at Walmart turned out to be a bust as well. Getting disappointed that we weren't going to be able to take the dogs out that day, MyHoney suggested small kids t-shirts. For $7.00 each, we walked out with an extra small toddlers shirt for Lexi, and a small for Derby. I had my doubts whether they would fit, or the dogs would want to wear them, but we went for it. Turned out, they loved their shirts - and oddly enough, were the best behaved I've ever seen them on a walk.
Just four short weeks ago, MyHoney was still in the hospital. Four weeks ago, a walk like this one - out in the glorious sun, out with our two dogs, out holding each others hands as leaves drifted down from the trees, would not have been possible. Because of the bargain at Walmart, and our dogs willingness to participate, we could safely share the woods with the hunters on a glorious Saturday in October.
So, when I read the comment from my "friend" about how ridiculous she thought it was to put clothes on a dog, and how I should just have a baby if I wanted to dress something up so badly ... it hurt. I took it personally. I got upset. I got defensive about my choice to stay childfree, and angered that she didn't even know I had a choice. What if I couldn't have children? Her insensitive comment would have cut to the core. After a while, I was not only angry how her comment effected me, but I was angry about how her comment effected every woman I knew. I have close friends who are desperately trying to have a baby, only to have their dreams crushed each month.
Then I got upset for my dogs. Of course I love my dogs. I dote on them -they are my joy. They lift me up, they are by my side, they are my constant companions. And you know what? Even if I had kids, I would still love and dote on my dogs. There is enough love in my heart for every member of my family.
spent so much time and energy chewing on this comment (that may have been written in jest, or as an attempt to be funny) I realized that I wasn't doing myself any favors. I was creating drama and needless suffering over something someone said - I was taking it personally. I sat for a few minutes this morning - practiced the Metta Bhavana, and blessed her for teaching me this lesson. I then sat in gratitude for my life, gratitude for my choices and decisions, gratitude for MyHoney, my dogs, our life. Gratitude for our lovely walk on a beautiful Autumn day. I closed my eyes and imagined holding his hand, feeling the joy in my heart, and hearing his laughter as our dogs joyfully bounded through the trees.
Paradise is here, Paradise is now.... Paradise is not taking anything personally.