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Sunday marked one year since we brought Cassie home from the German Shepherd Rescue group. A lot has changed in our girl in that year. A lot has changed in us. When she came to us, Cassie was a shy, not quite nervous but very tentative dog. Her ears were close to her head a lot as though she wasn't sure if something bad was going to happen to her or not. Her mouth was usually closed, no happy smiling doggy face. She jumped up so high and so hard when you came in the door that it's a wonder she didn't break someone's nose and she always had something to say. She had pretty bad separation anxiety and when my husband would leave the house she would make herself crazy running up and down the stairs and in and out of the house looking for him. For a long time she just wanted to be in the room with us, not necessarily being touched by us. So we let her. She didn't know what to do with toys so we bought all kinds of them and let her experiment and pick out her favorites. Some she goes back to every so often. Some never captured her attention. And some, like the egg babies, she plays with every day.

She didn't know much when we got her. She was young and a stray but I don't think anyone spent much time with her during that important bonding time. But in the last year she has learned the basic commands like sit, stay, wait and sometimes, come. She's learned how to ring the bells to go outside and to ring the outside bells when she wants to come back in. She's learned a lot of tricks like waving bye-bye, shaking hands, spinning, rolling over, find it, tell me a secret, and my favorite, peek-a-boo.

She's come a long way baby.

None of these changes in Cassie happened to overnight. They took time. They took patience. And some of them took a large amount of "do overs."

It's been 9 months since I was laid off from the day job. I've been up and down. Twelve different kinds of nervous wondering if I could "make it" as a full-time writer. Make it is hard to define but for me it means not having to go back into the cubicle.

Because I was worried about all sorts of things I've spent the last 9 months focusing on doing as much freelance work as I could, wanting to prove that I could do what needed doing. The last few months have been hard, filled with a lot of work, a lot of deadlines, not much time for fiction, and no small amount of stress. I was whining a lot.

As I sat here tonight looking at my beautiful dog I realized how very much my life has been enriched in just this first year with her. I've learned patience as I've worked to get her to bond with me. I've learned how to laugh more because of her silly antics and funny noises. I learn love teaching her new tricks. I love watching her get brave in new situations. I love seeing her happy face staring back at me because she is just so happy to be here, now, living this wonderful life she is living.

And I started thinking about all I had done in the last 9 months. Designed and installed our wildlife garden. Taught social networking for authors in a variety of places both online and in person. Wrote a bunch of articles and a ton of WFH projects. Did a haiku a day for the month of April. And wrote a goodly number of new pages on Flyboy and Plant Kid. Nothing to sneeze at as long as I don't fall into the trap of comparing myself to other writers who live different lives than mine.

I've come a long way too. I just needed to slow down long enough to recognize it.

When was the last time you stopped and really took stock of how much you have already accomplished in your writing? We spend a lot of time talking about goals and how we are always reaching for that elusive dream on down the road. I suggest you take a few minutes to just stop and turn around. You don't have to let go of reaching for that goal but maybe you ought to take a good look at just how far you've already come.

Read the rest of the posts in the Of Dogs and Writings Series

There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 8 comments — Leave comment )
July 30th, 2009 12:14 pm (UTC)
I just can't tell you how much I love these posts. They say so much about you - and about Cassie - and about life. They teach me and help me. I love them!!

p.s. What are egg babies? (I got a bully stick, btw....she LOVES it but I have to be careful about my other dog - who can't have one and is way jealous. Ruby gets it in her crate when Matty is not around.)
July 30th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks Barb. I have to tell you I think of you when I write them.

Egg babies come in these toys that have a slit in the bottom where the foam eggs (with squeakers) slide in and out. They are actually called egg babies. I see them at all the pet stores and around here, even at the garden store! And at Amazon. Here's the post I did on them.

Cassie is very gentle and doesn't chew hers up. It all depends on how Ruby is.
July 30th, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC)
Another beautiful post, Susan. You and Cassie have had a rich, productive 9 months!
July 30th, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC)
Slowing down and taking stock are always good. It's funny you post about this, because I was having a conversation along these lines with a musician friend just yesterday afternoon.

A gut level of satisfaction tells me that I'm doing what I should be doing, and that's what I rely on more than any other measure.

July 30th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
Those moments come in the shower, or at three a.m.
July 30th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
This is a beautiful post! It's amazing how much we can learn from animals. I really enjoy reading about you and Cassie.

I need to learn to be more patient with my writing, too. I've been guilting myself for not getting much done in July, but I did, um, buy a house. That's a pretty big life step.
July 30th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
Your post made me think of an old game the kids in my neighborhood used to play called "Green Light, Red Light." Do you know that one? It was all about moving while seemingly standing still :) It's been a pleasure 'watching' you and Cassie's progress this past year. Kudos to you both!
August 1st, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
"for me it means not having to go back into the cubicle"

I think, even that can make me get nervous and anty and want to push too fast. Although, this is pretty much my definition, too. :)

I can't believe it's been a year. Cassie is such a sweetie.
( 8 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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