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  • November 25th, 2009 | 12:52 AM
Of Dogs and Writing - What did you bring me?

Whenever I come back from being away from home, (whether it's hours or days doesn't matter) Cassie has to give me the one over with her nose, gathering up all the scents from where I've been. Usually it's a quick sniff because I haven't been gone too long. And of course anything that comes in the house with me needs to be sniffed out as well. Sometimes I'll take an old toy with me and put it in my purse so she can sniff it out and be reunited with an old friend.

She'll be doing her sniffing routine and suddenly smell something that she knows, without a doubt, belongs to her. There's such joy for her those moments. She races to her rug with little yips of excitement and then waits, tail wagging like crazy, for me to give her the toy. Once she has it, whatever it is, she runs off to the library to toss it in the air a few times then pounce on it, pinning it to the ground with her paws.

I have something that belongs to her and she wants it back. She doesn't wonder if it is hers. She KNOWS. And once she has that toy back she gives it all of her attention, lavishes it with loving enthusiasm and then, once that reconnection is confirmed, she gives a loud sigh of contentment, dropping her head to the floor to rest upon the toy.

I just got home from a few days away at an informal writing retreat with a group of woman that have had a tremendous impact on my life. Some of that impact was apparent right away. Other pieces will make themselves known over time. And that's as it should be. Not all gold is mined from veins close to the surface. Sometimes you have to put in the effort to dig it out.

When I came home I had a plush toy waiting to be "reunited" with Cassie. I tucked in the pocket of my sweatshirt before I got out of the car. My husband let Cassie out front to meet me and she did her normal Cassie inspection, sniffing me up and down and all around. Then suddenly, she found the toy in my pocket. When I told her she could have it she gently tugged it free and then carried it back toward the house, her tail held high with pride, as if she had just scored a great kill in the forest.

And I guess she had.

By the time I got into the house she was contentedly resting in the library, one paw over the stuffed toy, the other tucked under her chin. She raised her head as I came in the room and then, in that way that big dogs do, she smiled her thanks to me.

Over the years, pieces of me have gone missing. Confidence has faded around the edges of my dreams. Chunks of self-esteem have been lost on the road to survival. My sense of self has been buried under a mountain of "would-ofs," "could-ofs," and "should-ofs."

I want these pieces of myself back.

But I can't expect to pull them out of my pocket unless I promise that I will accept these pieces of me, (however battered they might be,) with joy, that I will lavish them with love and kindness, that I will believe again, in my right to claim what's mine.

I want to smooth the jagged edges and polish them until they shine. That's where the real joy comes from - taking something not so pretty and believing in it enough that suddenly, it transforms right before your eyes, into a thing of beauty.
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 16 comments — Leave comment )
November 25th, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)
I love love love this piece. And that last line? I want it written everywhere.

November 25th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Jeannine. It's amazing the perspective a few days away with a supportive group of people can give you.
November 25th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
Lovely post.

I want to smooth the jagged edges and polish them until they shine.

Of course, jagged edges are beautiful, too. (Says the dark fantasy writer.) The trick for me, in fiction and in life, is polishing, but not polishing overmuch -- letting the imperfectness of who-I-am show through without apology, too.
November 25th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Janni.

Yes, jagged edges are beautiful too. But I'd like them not to prick me so much when I reach out to hold them. :) and yes, "letting the imperfectness of who-I-am show through without apology, too," is absolutely it!
November 25th, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC)
Susan, you are a treasure. I'm struggling with this, too. It's scary to not only claim the missing pieces but to accept and love them.

Thank you for putting both the fear and the joy into words.
November 25th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Amy. The claiming, the accepting, and then that loving...so darn hard. But I am getting little signs lately that those pieces of me that I thought were too ugly to use are exactly the pieces of me that other people want and need to hear about. So I will try.
November 25th, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
Wonderful post!
And I believe, our dogs nudge us in the right direction when it comes to accepting that we are valuable beings, regardless of our flaws.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and to and Cassie

From Ravenlaw and her three dynamic pups, Abend, Matrix and Tally-ho!
November 25th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Wonderful post!
So true. Our pups know so much if we just slow down and listen to them.
November 25th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
Great post! And what a great retreat we all had!!!
November 25th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
It was a terrific time, Linda Joy. I loved every minute of it. Okay, except for that not sleeping part. How is your ear?
November 26th, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)
I took a nap today and that helped. My ear is better today, finally. Thanks for asking.
November 25th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
Our dog Sam has given me a lot of happiness over the past 8 years and he has been the only thing that has kept me going I am sure,

Everything sounds so easy when you put it into words but I too struggle for my confidence and self esteem and live in conflict with myself everyday. Somehow I keep going.

For probably the same reasons as you. In the hope that one day I can find whenever it is I am looking for so that I can feel like the person I want to be. Whoever that is. at the moment I have lost that connection to myself the thing that makes me whole. It is a battle I face everyday trying to get over my past and being scared of the future. Instead of just being able to enjoy the present.

- Anne McKenna
November 25th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
Nothing is ever really easy, Anne. But the journey really is worth the struggle. Give it a try.
(Deleted comment)
November 25th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
November 27th, 2009 04:28 am (UTC)
These posts are so beautiful. I love the connections you draw with Cassie. I struggle to claim & accept those broken pieces sometimes, but it helps knowing that others do too, and that we'll get there.
November 30th, 2009 07:39 am (UTC)
Thank you for the kind words, Jessica. It's hard, isn't it, to accept those broken pieces but they are all just little jewels waiting to shine.
( 16 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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