Most of us learn in our younger years that the world is unsafe and we need to protect ourselves against it’s dangers.
I did. I learned men would leave you. Money was really hard to come by. People would take advantage of you. No matter how much I tried, I still wouldn’t be good enough. The world was unfair. And, love had to be earned.
Over the years I’ve worked with many of these limiting beliefs to live into a different story for my life. And, when I look back, I see how many of my choices were made from a place of avoiding pain and discomfort. Sometimes those choices were big—like staying in a relationship way longer than the expiration date because I didn’t want to feel lonely and alone. Other times the choices were more subtle. I wouldn’t speak up for myself for fear I wouldn’t be liked. Or, I would say yes, when I really meant no. Or, I would get defensive and run before ‘they’ could hurt me.
The older I’ve gotten, the more willing I am to risk the pain. I’ve seen how it doesn’t last, and it doesn’t break me.
The last few weeks have really brought this into perspective. Vince and I have opened our home (off and on) to a shelter dog, named Tyson. (See him here and here.) He’s a little over a year and has been diagnosed with a very aggressive type of cancer. Because of this, even with treatment of intense radiation and chemotherapy, there is still a 50% chance the cancer will come back, making him highly un-adoptable. The oncologist believes the cancer will return within two months, and then it will only be a matter of time until he becomes symptomatic and has to be put down.
As heart-wrenching as this is, I’m still saying yes. I’ve dropped my guard and opened my heart fully to this experience—the good and the bad.
I cry almost daily knowing that he will likely die before the year is out. I judge myself for not being able to take him into our home full time. (We already have three dogs, where our newest is still adjusting to a life outside the shelter.) And, we are committed to taking Tyson as much as we can.
We’ve started a Bucket List for him. On it so far:
- a full-time hospice foster
- a day at the dog beach
- eating a cheeseburger
- having a birthday cake
- getting groomed
- all the toys
- lots of hikes, snuggles, play and love.
If you have suggestions to add to this list or are able to give him a home full time (or know someone who can), please comment below and let me know! Our intention is to make his remaining days as joyful, free and fun as possible.
Because this is what Love would do.
My unguarded heart is teaching me how to be with sadness, grief, and pain. That I can do it. I can welcome those parts of me like they are old friends. They are not to be feared. They merely reflect the depths of my love. And the more willing I am to embrace them, the richer my joy becomes.
This is a lesson for all of us. Disappointment, sadness, despair, doubt—these aspects of ourselves don’t have to be avoided or feared. In fact, when we’re willing to feel them instead of deny them or push them away, they tend to move through us more quickly. Think of them as secret heart expanders. They mean you care.
No matter where you are on your journey, may this writing inspire to let down your guard a little more today than yesterday.
Thank you for reading—and sharing your loving with me and Tyson. I appreciate it and you.
With Fierce Loving,