Usually, I would rank myself pretty well in terms of keeping things in perspective. One of my favorite life strategies to get me through something that is hard/nerve-wracking/intimidating/etc. is to think about myself after whatever the event or situation is. For example, when I was presenting at the National Council for the Social Studies Annual Convention a few years ago, I was a little bit nervous (okay a lot nervous!) for my presentation to start. I was also excited and grateful to be presenting, but nervous nonetheless. Whenever I felt myself getting nervous in the days/hours leading up to my presentation, I would picture myself 24 hours after the event (or even just 5 minutes after!). Hard things pass too, and it often helps me to picture myself going about my normal life even after going through something embarrassing, hard, or scary – because that is how it happens, you do go about your life normally after getting the hard thing out of the way! It’s my way of telling myself that it will all be okay.
This works in phases of life, too. Last year, at the start of my first year of teaching, I found myself staying late after school, bringing work home every night, working till bedtime, and even working through most weekends. As I created lessons and trudged through some of the challenging first-year work, I was able to think about how all of the work I was doing then would help me in the future. I knew that it wouldn’t always be like that and to appreciate it for what it was.
Today, Kato had a vet appointment. As the vet and I chatted, he told me that it was great to see me working so hard to give Kato a great life and that he really gives me credit for all I’ve been through with this dog. This really made me step back for a moment and think about our journey together. Even through all the times I contemplated whether my house was the best place for him, I always ended up coming back to the thought that no one else would put up with this craziness! The vet shared that this really is the case, and with a surplus of dogs out there, people would normally put a dog with this many high needs down and just get another and start fresh. Of course, this is not always the case, and there are a great many people who would probably go to much greater lengths for their dogs than I even have for Kato. During the last year, when I was really going through some hard times with him, I didn’t really have my perspective in place. Yes, I would often tell myself, “It’s just one bad year for 10 good ones,” which really is exactly that perspective I was talking about, but it wasn’t sinking in as much as I would have hoped.
A little over a year later, I’ve finally found that perspective that I was looking for. When I come home now, whether there’s a mess to clean up or not, I greet him with the happiness he deserves. When he randomly chooses a stranger to be wary of and growl quietly at, I sometimes think, “well, maybe you were creepy,” instead of, “GEEZE KATO WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!” Basically, I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt so much more. I used to really think in a ‘grass is greener’ perspective – thinking about all the other perfect dogs out there, and why couldn’t mine be like that! Now, there aren’t times that that thought doesn’t cross my mind, but I really have a new perspective on this little dog laying next to me right now. He definitely isn’t normal and he definitely has his own range of high needs, but who else could love him as well as I do?