I was walking my dogs the other morning when we came upon a sweet, young family who lives on my street. As we passed, the daughter asked if she could pet my the dogs. “Of course,” I said. The little girl introduced herself and her younger brother to me. I then introduced my dogs. “They’re beautiful dogs,” their father replied. “Thank you,” I said. “They are rescues.”
Upon hearing my dogs were rescues, the sweet and precocious older sister asked me a very simple and wise question.
“How did they rescue you?” She inquired, referring to my dogs.
I paused, then nodded and smiled. “As a matter of fact, they did kind of rescue me,” I replied. “I suppose it works both ways, doesn’t it?” She looked a little confused. I shared with her that one of my dogs had come from Nashville and the other found me at the Humane Society here in Charlotte.
That simple and wise question yielded a major aha! moment for me. It was a moment I knew was coming; I just wasn’t certain when or how.
I had been mulling over the idea of writing about gratitude; I just couldn’t find the right way to say it. Every Sunday morning, I usually bound out of bed, throw open my laptop, and draft a blog. This past Sunday though – it didn’t come. Instead of fretting about it or getting jammed up trying to force it, I put on my workout clothes and played with inversions. I then went about my morning, eventually walking my sweetest doggies when the aha! moment struck.
As we all know, dogs are intuitive and in amazing, lock step with their owners. Since gaining full, solo custody of these beautiful animals after the end of my marriage, they have grown even more in stride with me. As I write this blog, both are beside me. Just looking at them makes my heart smile.
Prior to the end of my marriage, my entire universe revolved around my now ex-husband and our three kids. As anyone who has been through a divorce or has watched someone close to you go through a divorce, it gets sticky quickly. It can be dark and lonely and challenging to stay courageous and strong. In the quiet, sad, lonely, frustrated, dark moments, these precious animals loved me hard. Beyond that, they sensed and continue to feel my moods; they insisted – and continue to insist – on giving me love when my mood is neither happy nor peaceful. Chloe, my female dog, senses when I’m off; sometimes even before I know it. She crawls into my lap, licking my face. She pulls me out of my head and brings me right back into the present moment.
So, yes, these sweet fur babies rescued me. I may have given them a good home, but no different than each of my children, they have become my greatest gifts and teachers. When I think of them and all that they have given and continue to give me, my heart overflows with gratitude and joy.
Those who read my blog, know that my first-born child, Lauren, was a surprise. She is the reason I married so young. From the very first moment I saw her, she rescued me. She taught me how to love and receive love. She taught me how to live in the moment. Her younger brother and younger sister taught me and teach me that, as well, in their own respective, unique, and beautiful ways. My kids changed the trajectory of my life. They made me kinder, more awake, and more self-aware. They rescued me. I gave them my heart and made them the center of everything; they gave me back so much more than I ever could have imagined.
I volunteer with an organization in Charlotte that works with the highest risk young adults in our city. They have just organized a mentoring program for which I will serve as a mentor. I meet my mentee this week. I hope and pray that I will be able to coach, support, and mentor; however, I know that I will learn more than I teach. He or she will be a gift – another great teacher.
The Prayer of St. Francis is true. It reads: “It is in giving that we receive.” When we give, be it in raising our families, loving our pets, or mentoring others, we are the ones that receive.
Your heart will get back so much more than you ever knew possible. It is in giving that we find gratitude.
And, that’s my not so sexy truth.