Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Leader of the Pack

Last week I was lucky enough to manage to get a ticket to see Cesar Millan live. I have often watched The Dog Whisperer and been amazed by what he can do with a "problem" dog, but I am always skeptical about reality TV and usually scoff and say there must be so much that happens that we don't see. So I was a fan, but not A Fan. Turned out the rescue group I volunteer with had an extra ticket, so I snapped it up and joined the pack. And am I ever glad.

Cesar taught this old dog a lesson.

He had several real dogs and their parents come on stage and exhibited their issues - and then Cesar did a quick diagnosis and showed another way. We could literally see these dogs change their behaviour before our eyes. It was great because one of the dogs he used had almost the exact issue as one of my own dogs (leash pulling) and she was even the same breed.

The biggest takeaway for me, however, was how MY own attitude and behaviour affects others. We had extremely good seats, and I swear that being that close to him allowed me to actually feel his calm energy. It is clear that the dogs feel it too, but for me it was quite profound. My life is the furthest thing from calm - with two preschoolers, a husband, two dogs, a full time job, a hobby business, and also trying to maintain some semblance of physical health, oh and possibly a thread of a social life - there are not a lot of opportunities for calmness. However, if I let myself become stressed and upset and screechy, that clearly affects my children - the ones with and without fur. I've been making a concerted effort to stay chill since the show and I have absolutely noticed a difference in my family. There has been more cooperation, less arguing, and if things do start to get out of hand, getting back to calmness is easier.

But it's a constant challenge for me. I am passionate by nature. I was raised in a family that liked to get loud, get emotional, and be right. Going with the flow is not natural for me. But even after a week's worth of feeble attempts, I see how much better my life would be if I could nail this.

So in no particular order, here are the things I am going to do to continue to get better at Calm.

  1. Get my butt back in a regular yoga class. I spend too much time in my lulus but not in a yoga studio.
  2. Let my standards slide. Seriously. I've said this before, but I still obsess about having things just right and always my way.
  3. Stop, breathe, and pause before reacting.
  4. When I want to shout, try whispering instead. 
  5. Radiate the love I feel rather than resentment and frustration.
  6. Keep in mind that one day, this time in my life is going to be a distant memory and I could regret not enjoying it more.
  7. Prioritize myself a bit more. Visit with friends. Take a class. Do things that make me happy. A lot of my life is about my family now, but I'm part of that family too.
It may be odd that a seminar in dog behaviour could spark a personal revolution like this for me. But I have always thought of my dogs as my children too, and really, the principles of teaching, communicating, and shaping applies equally as well to parenting children as it does raising dogs. 

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