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Personal Development, Canine-Style

Personal Development, Canine-Style
Bloodhound

    It must be morning; I’m hungry.
    Then again, I’m always hungry, so it could really be any time.
    I can hear the shower and feel the sun on my back, so I’m guessing the Boss is awake.
    I lift my head off my bed and look down the passage.
    I want a shower too.
    Sometimes I try and get in but he won’t let me.
    Boring.
    He’s not so happy in the mornings any more.
    He used to be, but things have changed.
    I think it’s stress.

    Not really sure what that is, but I know it’s not good.
    It’s a human thing.
    I’ve heard him talk about it on the phone.
    Don’t really know what a phone is either, but I know they’re good to chew.
    Chewing’s one of my favourite things.

    In the old days we wrestled every morning.
    He’d pull my ears and I’d jump on his head.
    These days, not so much.
    Before he went to work, we’d play ball.
    After work too.
    He’d throw, I’d fetch.
    He’d throw, I’d fetch.
    Forever.
    What an amazing game.
    Such fun.
    He’d laugh and talk human. I’d growl.
    I’d laugh if I could.
    Mostly, I’d just wag my tail.
    I think it’s sad that humans don’t have tails.
    Sometimes he’d lose focus, so I would nudge him.
    Maybe a little nip on the hand just to keep his head in the game.
    How much fun can one Golden Retriever and one human have?

    But lately he seems grumpy.

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    Sometimes, I wonder if he still loves me.
    I lick him anyway because he’s my favourite human in the world.
    I get so excited to see him.
    When he hugs me, my tail wags all by itself.
    I wonder why my kisses don’t make him happy like they used to.

    In the good old days, we would walk to the park every day.
    We’d hang out with other dogs and humans.
    I mostly played with Kelvin the fat Labrador and the Boss would laugh with Kelvin’s human; a female who smelled like vanilla.
    I licked her once.
    She didn’t taste so good.
    We don’t walk together much these days.
    And when we do, he talks on the phone.
    I hate that phone.
    I’m gonna eat it when he’s not looking.

    I liked it more when we lived in the first house.
    The little one.
    Three houses ago.
    He played with me the most in that house.
    I loved that place.
    He was happier and he didn’t yell at me for getting on the couch.
    Or chewing his shoes.
    We used to watch TV together on the couch every night.
    Well, I slept, he watched.

    He would rest his hand on my head.
    I like that.

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    Now we live in a big house, with a big stupid couch.
    A stupid couch for humans only.
    Not dogs.
    I don’t like the big house or the big couch.
    He makes me stay down on the stupid slippery polished floor boards.

    The other day I slid into the table and hurt my nose.
    Stupid floor boards.

    Walkies

      When I was puppy we used to go everywhere together.
      We would both ride in the old station wagon and I would put my head out the window.
      Or on his lap.
      It was the most fun ever.
      I don’t know why humans don’t do it.
      Head out the window, that is.
      Don’t they know?

      No more head out the window action for me these days though.
      Mr Serious has a new fancy schmancy car.
      Apparently, it’s a dog-free zone too.
      On the rare occasion that I do get a ride, I have to lie on three blankets.
      And no wind in my face.
      What’s the point of that?
      Like having a bone you can’t chew.
      Stupid.

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      We used to go to the beach every weekend in that old station wagon.
      We surfed together.
      Well, he surfed, I chased seagulls, played in the waves and rolled in the sand.
      He liked talking to the girl humans who wanted to play with me.
      They only talked to him because I was there.
      Sometimes he got kisses but I always got more.
      On the way home I would put my wet, sandy, hairy body on the front seat and he was happy I was next to him.
      I loved that car too.
      Those were the days.
      We haven’t done that since I was four.
      Five years ago.

      Too busy apparently.
      Too busy being successful and important to have fun with me.
      Glad I’m not successful, it doesn’t look like much fun.

      But I’m so adorable, I don’t understand why he doesn’t miss me.
      In fact, I don’t really understand him sometimes.
      He’s meant to be smarter than me but lately, I’m not so sure.
      I know I’m just a dog and I don’t really understand a lot of human stuff, but I do know about fun and happiness.

      He’s rarely happy these days.
      And he’s always too tired to do anything.
      Even when I pull his sleeve.
      Or lick his face.
      If he got rid of the stupid slippery floor, the dumb couch, the dumb car and played with me more, then he would be happy.
      Me too.
      I used to sleep on the end of his bed.
      Used to.
      (heavy sigh)
      But now he has a new dog-free bed too.
      Of course.
      It’s expensive and apparently I moult.
      Whatever that means.
      I hate that bed.
      I chew the legs when he’s not around.

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      Next year we’re moving to another house.
      A bigger one.
      Maybe that will make him happy.
      Hope so.
      Doubt it though.
      If I could speak, I’d tell him that too.
      I don’t get the big house thing; there’s only him and me.
      Us dogs don’t really care how big our kennel is, we just want to be near our human.

      Anyway, I’m very excited about today.
      I’m gonna hang out with Charlie for a while.
      He’s my buddy from over the fence.
      We made a hole so we can visit each other.
      I’m not really sure what kinda dog he is, but it doesn’t matter.
      He’s pretty smart but not quite as handsome as me.
      We do fun stuff together every day.

      Mostly we chase birds.
      I hate those birds.
      And we chew old lady Jacobs’ laundry baskets.
      We’ve eaten three of them.

      Baskets not birds.

      Then I might lie in the sun.
      And chew my foot for a while.
      I might have a power-nap too.
      Chasing birds makes me tired.
      I reckon the Boss should lie in the sun with me.
      And chew his foot for a while.
      It’s relaxing.
      It might help with his stress.

      Whatever that is.

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      Craig Harper

      Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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      Last Updated on July 8, 2020

      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

      The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

      1. Understand Yourself Better

      Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

      Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

      2. Keep Track of Small Changes

      I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

      Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

      3. Become Aware of What Matters

      As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

      You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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      4. Boost Creativity

      The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

      When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

      You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

      5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

      A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

      Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

      6. Process Life Experiences

      When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

      Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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      7. Stress Relief

      In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

      Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

      8. Provide Direction

      Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

      One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

      9. Solve Problems

      Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

      Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

      When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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      10. Find Relief From Fighting

      Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

      Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

      11. Find Meaning in Life

      Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

      12. Allow Yourself to Focus

      Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

      13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

      When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

      14. Let the Past Go

      I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

      15. Allow Freedom

      Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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      16. Enhance Your Career

      Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

      Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

      17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

      All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

      18. Catalog Your Life for Others

      No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

      We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

      Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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