With summer on it’s way out and fall arriving, we are reminded, “Nothing lasts forever. Change is inevitable.” Bittersweet. When times are tough, this truth reassures and comforts us, “This too will pass.” Yet, when times are wonderful and you never want the circumstances to change, this truth tugs sadly at the heart.
And, of course, most of the time, we have a little bit of both going on with our present circumstances. It feels like we have to choose between wishing away the negative or challenging stuff and appreciating what you have that you want to enjoy as long as you can.
Knowing that something won’t last forever can really keep you on your toes being present and appreciating the moment, unless it is laced with dread. In that case, the underlying fear of abandonment and the end can keep you from truly feeling all the joy that the moment can offer. Ironically, you miss the moment before it’s even gone.
This sums up the attachment mindset I’ve struggled with as dog lover and owner for the last 13 years, and I’m sure it has trickled into my professional/personal life in other ways. Serendipitously, I recently wrote about how our cultural fear of abandonment plays out in business and sales. Yet, it’s only through letting go of Sadie, my soul-dog, also known by our clients as VP and Director of Relaxation at Bridgenosis, this summer, that I have been able to fully embrace a more simplified mindset that feels more peaceful in my heart. A peace that soothes the heartache and grief that still comes in small waves.
Sadie is light! Her last morning with us. “You better do it. Don’t be fooled by my beauty.” Her coat was shiney, soft, and beautiful, but, inside, her body was deteriorating.
Warning: As you can tell, this is even more personal than normal. Since my posts have been laced with lessons learned from Sadie, I thought it only fitting to honor her transition with a post on what she taught me in her passing. Perhaps these are universal lessons of the heart and mind that may be applied to your business and life as well and whether you like animals or not. Sadie didn’t discriminate in her teachings.
For the last 18 months of her life, I felt a strong tug in the heart center. I loved and cared for her even more during this time as she was facing old dog health issues for the first time. I couldn’t have prepared for the amount of worry that came with having another being’s quality of life depending on me when illness hit. I feared abandoning her before her time. Needed all stones overturned before giving up on her ability to heal. And, if there was no blatant stone to overturn, I researched, prayed and meditated for inspiration and resources.
I also feared not knowing when it would be her time to need me to help her transition to avoid needless pain and misery. Checked in with her to see if she was happy daily.
I found it incredibly difficult to take my own advice and trust myself to do the right thing in each moment under these circumstances. It seems that when the stakes get higher, it’s human nature to abandon our selves. The questioning, worrying, and self doubt kick self-confidence in the rear. I found myself facing the limiting beliefs:
- That things aren’t ok during transitions. It was painful to watch things break down. This is the dread that I was trying to ignore for 13 years.
- That I will let her down. Won’t be able to do enough.
- That she needed more than I was capable of giving.
- That the pain of transitioning her would be unbareable.
Can you relate to believing or feeling these when you have faced challenges in your life and business or career? Luckily, none of them are true. It’s just that our overall cultural belief around change is that it’s bad, and we waste a lot of time, energy, and money trying to avoid it. Yet, it’s inevitable. Transitions don’t look pretty, but remember “chaos makes the star.”
In July, her health took another dive, and she wasn’t happy. Normally acupuncture and chiropractor could keep her feeling good, so I took her extra as a last-ditch effort. She wasn’t getting better or happier. It was obvious then that it was her time. To be sure, I asked her, and she just gave me a look, like “’for realz,’ you need to ask.”
My stomach turned. I had never ended a life. It was Saturday night when a dear friend and I decided it was this was the best thing for her, and we would take her Monday, July 20th, to the vet. I prayed she would not have the painful health issue that had been occurring daily as of late and that her hind legs would be strong enough and with little pain between Saturday and Monday morning so at least her last day would be peaceful. Prayers were answered: Her health maintained without any episodes.
We had Sunday to spend with her. Friends who knew and loved her and helped me care for her dropped their plans to come by and visit, share tears, and bring us food. It was totally unexpected. I had dreaded this whole process from the first day we met, and yet I had more love and support from others than I ever imagined.
This experience of losing Sadie showed me proof that we are never alone. Even as loved ones come and go, we are always connected to the ones we need when we need them. And, I’ll be forever grateful for the acts of kindness, cards, calls, and of course my friend who came with me. Sadie was leaving, but I was not abandoned.
I waffled between streams of tears because our time together in this form was ending and a feeling of relief that she would be in peace.
For her final moment on earth, we sat on a bed of blankets on the floor with her at the vet, her head in my lap. My friend was petting and comforting her hind end. When they administered the first round of injections, she began kissing my palm until her muscles couldn’t move. Never before had she ever greeted an injection with a kiss. This sign of gratitude and reassurance was more moving than I can describe.
Then, it was taking longer than normal for the first phase to work. The doctor gave her more, and I played her a sweet spiritual song from my phone about dreaming till her soul releases. Still not working. Then, I had the idea to play, “And, I will be with you long after we say goodbye.” She moved into the level of sleep they needed to finish.
These were both songs I always skipped over before when listening to these albums because I didn’t want to think about parting ways with someone. And, yet in this moment, I had never felt so much love ever in my life. Still can’t believe she passed into the next world while kissing me and reminding me we don’t really leave each other. It was all her idea, and I was just tuning into her.
I had felt I was showing her unconditional love by taking extra care of her as an elderly dog when she couldn’t move as quickly as she could when she was a young pup. Yet, getting to show her I loved her unconditionally in the end by helping her transition before she suffered more broke my heart open.
The first morning without her I woke up feeling exhausted and incredibly sad. And guilty for feeling sad because I knew she was at peace. So, I prayed for help and said, “Sadie, if we are still connected, can you help me? I immediately felt relief in my heart space. Then, well, how do I explain this without sounding crazy? Maybe you have felt the presence of someone you lost-goose bumps or energy washing over you. And, you know how when you get an idea or thought or write something, you can hear your inner-voice guiding you? Well, I heard a very sweet and soft inner voice.
It said, “I’m hear, dear. You know, I’m not really just a dog. That was my façade. I came to you in the only form you would accept that much love at the time. Over the years, we knocked down walls, and I stopped being a dog when my work was done. I’m still here. Call on me for inspiration. Take me with you on the rest of your journey.”
I always knew there was more to her. I used to joke that “dogs are angels trapped in fur,” but I never imagined it like this. I will explain what she meant by knocking down walls in another post. Essentially, she taught me how to spot and transform limiting beliefs that keep the heart from being open.
Since this time, I have mostly felt joy as I remember all of our times together, and I have been inspired with ideas of things I can do that I couldn’t do while she was elderly and needed extra care. I also have moments of sadness when I do things that I used to enjoy doing with her. It’s taking practice to open my heart and let her in that way without being physically present with her.
I remind myself she’s still with me, and I have to consciously feel inside my heart instead of seeing with my eyes to connect with her. The connection was never anywhere but the heart, but it’s so easy to get lost in believing only what we can see, touch, feel, smell, taste and hear with our outer-senses. It’s so easy to get attached. But all love, energy and inspiration flow through the heart.
And so her passing has expanded my capacity to feel, listen and trust what’s inside as I navigate my life and business, to allow the energy to come and go. Not that I’m really “allowing” or controlling anything. Energy is going to come and go as it pleases, and the question becomes whether I create pain for myself by trying to hang onto it.
Her final lessons:
1) There is no separation. We are always connected. Energy comes and goes in many forms. No “thing” lasts forever. Our true essence and energy does. I came to understand this when losing loved ones in recent years. Yet, this experience of transitioning another being who had lived in my space and spared me from ever facing feelings of loneliness and fear of abandoment for 13 years took it to a whole new level.
2) So this fear of abandonment—this attachment to things, people, resources, opportunities, animals, seasons, jobs, careers, timelines, deadlines, and basically everything that comes into our lives…what does it come down to really? Remembering that it’s all made from an infinite essence. The underlying energy will continue as it just changes forms.
3) To avoid the fears associated with abandonment, don’t abandon yourself. Keep your heart open to yourself and trust that this infinite essence that keeps manifesting in different forms through you and around you will keep doing so in a perfect rhythm.
4) Instead of dreading the end and letting it “enhance” your appreciation of the moment: Embrace each moment and what exists in that moment like a child who is excited to play and look forward to what is coming in each moment, trusting and knowing that you will have everything and more that you need. This includes being inspired with the wisdom and strength you need to get through challenging times, as we are in constant transition. Don’t wish away the negative or challenging stuff. Ask your heart to show you the gifts that go with it.
5) Be easy on yourself when you are caring for others. Destiny is your partner, not the grim reaper, even when death is coming. Some things are not meant to be under your control. When you’re doing the best you can and it’s not getting the outcome or results you want, surrender. Ask yourself what you should be doing instead. In the end, I found that my dread and avoidance of change and transitions was more painful than the transition itself. In other words, I made it more painful than it had to be through denial. When finally facing it, the pain released faster than I expected.
Consider that there may be something bigger at play in our lives, careers, organizations, economy, and world. Transitions and challenges will continue, but what creates the “doom”? It’s the culturally engrained underlying mindset that we are all alone and destined for doom if we don’t grasp onto what we can see, touch, hear, and feel.
Our businesses, careers, services, and products are part of our purpose and help create prosperity. But, this week, as events unfold, don’t just go through the motions of focusing on the surface issues.
Ask yourself, especially if things are tense, “Is there another reason this person is emailing me or has entered my life aside from my “official” role? Is there something I can say or do that will help them?”
It’s safe to feel inside your heart and ask your internal compass how to respond. It may be different than what you see, touch, or hear. Try and see how things unfold.
Laura Palmer’s business, Bridgenosis® is a hypnotherapy program that helps you rewrite recurring thought patterns, or “limiting beliefs”, for the better. They create a bridge between the conscious and subconscious so that positive, creative suggestions can be communicated to your subconscious mind. Before starting her own company, Laura practiced as an attorney, focusing on labor and employment litigation and counseling. She also served as a political appointee to the U.S. Department of Labor and practiced as a transactional, corporate attorney. You can read her profile HERE.