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Cloud Animals Make Me Smile

Yesterday I needed a break.

I had been working on multiple projects, one of which required creation of specific policies and procedures for the operation of a new and exciting endeavor. Now, the idea of being a small part of something that will improve the lives of others, motivated me to put everything I had into the project. (along with all of the other irons I had in the fire). I loved the creativity of this particular project. However, the sheer act of starting from nothing and forming something of purpose can sometimes be daunting. A challenge I embrace, but also one that takes it's toll.

And Yesterday...I was tired. I felt myself going in the direction of burn out. Little indicators prickled my brain like pea-size hail during a spring storm. The signs were there.

  1. Irritability over the slightest mistake

  2. Finding fault in every document

  3. Re-writing, Re-writing, Re-writing

  4. Doubting my ability...even doubting my commitment

The self-doubt crowded my head, emptying negative waste into my psyche. I decided to recognize the storm warning and to walk away for the day.

Because Loki, my Welsh Cardigan Corgi, was at daycare, I swung by to pick him up before dragging my defeated carcass home. My pity-party plan was to locate a pint of Ben and Jerry's and bathe in more cognitive distortions about my inability to create the masterpieces I desired.

Now here is where everyone who has read my blog can say, ":Hey! Don't you preach on self-care (like all the time)? How can you allow yourself to give in to negativity?" To which I would answer, "Uh, Yeah, you are right. and I am human too." It is called the "practice" of self-care, because just knowing it is never enough. I have to remind myself constantly to replenish my bucket, because I know firsthand what happens when I position myself directly under the storm.

Yesterday, when I picked up Loki, I was dismayed that he seemed to exude more energy than usual. Usually his blatant excitement to see me, brings me great joy. But not yesterday. I really didn't want to deal with having to use all my Ben and Jerry's time, walking and playing with Loki. Ergo, the decision to take him to the local dog park was a win-win in my mind. He could run around burning energy, leaving me alone to wallow.

Once at the dog park, Loki frolicked like only he can do. I plopped down into a plastic chair, observing the antics and briefly mused on the social rules between canines. Loki's exuberance in greeting every dog like best friends, caused a slight niggle in my face. Dare I say, a slight smile crept upward as I watched.

I also noticed the periwinkle sky above me, broken up only by a smattering of cumulus clouds. The sun shone warmly yet the slight breeze tickled my face playfully. I stopped observing Loki and tilted my head upwards, enjoying the physical sensations of the spring day. I lost myself briefly in painting above: a soft blue canvas dotted by billowy entities that I noticed were moving slightly but perpetually.

The scene sparked a pleasant childhood memory of laying in the meadow with my friends and watching clouds form pictures. We would take turns finding images and pointing them out to one another. There were no pressing matters of importance crowding our brains back then. We just loved to watch God use his white fingerpaints to make us animal pictures. Little did I know back then I was learning to enjoy the grand design.

And, as I watched the gently swirling artistry, yesterday, the storm in my brain could not stand up to the beauty in the sky. I felt the negativity shift and rational thought return. The self-doubt eroded as I challenged the maladaptive thoughts. Being present in that moment and not fretting over the pressures of earlier in the day, my face relaxed, my body unclenched, and I allowed myself to drink in all that life-giving water as replenishment.

Lesson Learned: Practice what you preach. Yes, I am human and Yes, I sometimes don't immediately stop the spiral. When teaching Mindfulness and Self Care, I emphasize that Nature is a vital part of self-care. I can't give you the science as to why being outside can create calm. Maybe it's because we are such a small part of the grand universe, that our problems seem to diminish when faced with beauty and perfection of nature. I do know, firsthand, that it works.

After collecting Loki (no small feat) and returning home from the dog park, I no longer felt the need to binge ice cream. I had a peaceful night with my family. And the next day (today) I found my perspective again. The confidence, that things were progressing as they should, returned. So, I live to fight another day.

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