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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 September 28, 2020

      The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

      The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

      At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

      Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

      One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

      When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

      So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

      Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

      This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

      Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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      When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

      Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

      One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

      Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

      An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

      When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

      Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

      Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

      We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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      By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

      Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

      While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

      I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

      You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

      Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

      When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

      Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

      Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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      Con #2: Less Human Interaction

      One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

      Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

      Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

      This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

      While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

      Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

      Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

      This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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      For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

      Con #4: Unique Distractions

      Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

      For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

      To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

      Final Thoughts

      Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

      We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

      More About Working From Home

      Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

      Reference

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