Uniqueness: Accepting and Celebrating Individuality

At the beginning of April, we went to meet a dog we were considering adopting through a rescue group. My husband had his heart set on a husky, which naturally conjures the image of a thick-coated black, white, and grey sled dog with piercing blue eyes and a graceful stride. This dog turned out to be the complete opposite, and he completely stole our hearts.

Someone found Sid in a parking lot when he was about 5 months old. He was with another puppy, and both of them were extremely sick. Sid was diagnosed with parvo (a deadly contagious disease), pneumonia, worms, and a hernia, and it is a true miracle that he survived. Unfortunately, the other puppy did not.

We met Sid and his foster mom at a local dog park. Sid had been in foster care for 8 months at that point, which is a long time. We recognized his red coloring when he got out of the car and soon after that we saw the reasons for his delayed adoption.

Sid has some developmental issues both from birth and from his early struggle for survival. At a year old, he weighs only 30 lbs. He is underdeveloped, his feet seemingly too bloglarge for his slim gangly body. He may fill out more over the next year, but it’s not likely. His back legs are turned outward instead of forward, so he moves with an awkward gait, his back legs not always able to keep up with his front. He also has a substantial overbite. Eating is a slow process for him since food continually falls out of his mouth. His overbite also causes him to make frequent snorting noises and hang his tongue out more often than not.

Perhaps Sid’s physical anomalies are the reason he was abandoned. At the dog adoption events, standing next to a stereotypical husky, he didn’t stand a chance. Once we met him though, we fell in love with him and began the adoption process the same day.

Sid’s nuances contribute to his uniqueness. He doesn’t see them as negative. They are a way of life to him, and he accepts things as they are. He doesn’t compare himself to other dogs and wish he were something else. He is not worried about what he is not. He simply enjoys life and is happy to be alive.

We all think about the ways in which we don’t like ourselves, how we wish we were more like this person or that person. We focus on our faults, our weaknesses, the ways in which we think we don’t measure up, and we yearn to be different. We do not focus enough on how our differences make us unique, let alone celebrate those differences. We often see them as setbacks when we should be embracing them.

I am enamored with and intrigued by Sid’s individuality and character. I love when he licks my face and makes his infamous snorting noises that have earned him the endearing nickname of Piglet. I laugh when he talks to his toys, adds to his pinecone collection with treasures from the yard, and lazily snoozes on the couch twisted with his legs in the air.

IMG_7069He doesn’t let anything hold him back, adapting to any challenge he faces as part of who he is. When he’s running through the house and loses control of his back legs, rather than falling, he now sits down and slides across the floor until he comes to a stop. Haley (one of our other dogs) steals the food that falls out of Sid’s mouth and onto the floor, so Sid has learned to keep his face deep within his food bowl while eating so the food that falls out of his mouth lands safely back in his bowl. His back legs keep him from jumping onto the bed, but he knows that if he gets halfway up and then gazes over at me with his sweet golden eyes, I’ll boost him up the rest of the way.

We can all stand to take a page from the book of Sid and appreciate who we are, improve what we can, accept and adapt to what we can’t, and have fun playing and enjoying life in the process.

What we each offer and bring to the world around us is truly unique. Too often we focus on how we are not like other people and mourn the ways in which we are different. We should worry less about what we are not (or what we think we are not) and focus more on celebrating our individuality and all the things that make us who we are.

Sid loves life and is happy with who he is. There is no other dog like him, and there is nothing wrong with him. There is nothing wrong with any of us. We are fine just the way we are.

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Admiration

Happiness Is a Risk

“Happiness is a risk. If you’re not a little scared, you’re not doing it right.”
-Sarah Addison Allen, “The Peach Keeper”

I hold my breath as I click “send” on my work email. It is out of my hands now. I have sent my project to the senior leadership of my division. I glance periodically at my email throughout the day, waiting for a response. I reassure myself that I did the best I could, and I remind myself that constructive criticism is not a bad thing. When the response comes, I am both surprised and relieved. The email begins, “Love it!”

At the end of last year, I initiated a serious job search. I had been with a company for 4 ½ years. I was loyal and committed to my team, but I no longer felt I was making effective contributions. My growth had stagnated, and I was simply maintaining my responsibilities. I made decent money and knew what to expect every day at the office, but I was utterly bored. My mom pointed out that there is something good to be said for a cushy job, and while she is right, I was unhappy in my complacency. I had potential to be doing something more, something bigger.

After applying for jobs for a couple of months, I got an interesting offer. I’d only ever worked for small start-ups, but this offer came from a well-established international corporation. I had no experience in this particular industry, and I had little to no experience with some of the responsibilities associated with the position. It was unfamiliar territory.

I spent hours thinking about it and conferring with my husband and my parents. Was the job the right fit for me? Would it be better stay where I am in the realm that I know? Ultimately, I knew what to expect in my current role where I wasn’t happy, and I knew I needed a change. I accepted the job.

I was terrified to submit my resignation. I had anxiety all day, waiting for the moment I could talk with my boss. We were close, and I dreaded telling him I was leaving. It was hard, and there were tears on both sides of the table, but I did it.

The things that excite us are often the things that scare us as well. We change jobs, get married, have kids. We change cities, move out on our own or move in with someone new. All of these things are scary because they involve risk. They change our direction and send us towards the unknown where many things can go wrong. But so many things can also go right.

My job change could have been a disaster, and I was prepared for that outcome. I am now three months into it, and while it has been hard, I am enjoying the challenges. I am setting higher standards for myself and the work I produce. I am developing new skills and abilities that contribute to both my professional and personal growth. I am navigating these new waters and making my way towards a more gratifying professional life.

We take risks in our pursuit of happiness. We consider our options, and when the potential rewards outweighs the potential consequences, we take the plunge, hoping the outcome leads to better quality of living in some way.

The biggest and scariest decisions I’ve made thus far in my life are the ones that have led me down a path to a happier life. None of them were easy. All of them were terrifying. All of them required change. Change is hard, regardless of your willingness or your adaptability, but we do it in pursuit of better lives for ourselves.

We know what our lives are like currently. We can stay complacent or we can pursue happiness.

If it’s worth it, take the risk! Take it and don’t look back.

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Photo credit: aspearing via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

Risk

Blogging Recognition

I never anticipated a readership of any kind when I starting blogging.  There are so many talented writers in the blogosphere, so many voices. I am truly grateful that anyone glances at the words I put out there.  A huge THANK YOU to Brooke at The Utopia Universe for nominating me for the Blogging Recognition Award.

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I have been writing since I was able, writing stories when I was a little kid and journaling since I was 12. I became interested in other things and lost my motivation to write for a while, but now I’m back at it and it’s a powerful thing. When I write, I can get the chaos of thoughts out of my head and make more sense of the world around me. I started my blog to recapture that. I think harder and deeper about life since I started blogging, and it is making me a more mindful person.

In my short time as a blogger (3 months), I have learned a couple of things:

1) Trust that inspiration will come to you. When you struggle to find the words, to say what you really want to say, go easy on yourself. Don’t force yourself to spit out words. I find that they come more easily and honestly when I give myself love and space.

2) Be open to new ideas, about yourself and your messages. Do not worry so much about falling into a certain subject-matter category and achieving a certain readership, but instead write what feels true to you.

I admit that I have not been exploring as many new blogs lately like I should. I am dedicated to my craft and envy those who show an almost daily commitment that I have yet to achieve. Here are the blogs/bloggers that I enjoy reading regularly and that I believe deserve recognition for their dedication, positive messaging, and/or their ability to write from the heart:

Spiritual Journey
Music Teacher Lifestyle
Writing the Girl
Tippy Tales
Making It Up As I Go
Greater Than Gravity
The Seeds 4 Life
Behind the White Coat
Books, Music, Photography, & Movies
Happy Days of Life

Thank you again! I am truly honored.
Love and Hugs

 

Power of Fear

The more you fear something, the more power you give it.
-Ben Harmon, “American Horror Story”

Fear weighs you down, makes you feel trapped, makes you feel dread in the pit of your stomach. It hinders you. You make decisions based on it, limiting your life experiences.

When you face your fears, you begin to take back the control and your own power. Face them and you can become free of them.

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In response to the 3-day Quote Challenge (Day 3)

I nominate the following bloggers for the 3-day quote challenge:

Katie Kuo
HomeHugsHuskies
Making It Up As I Go

If you accept, post 1-3 quotes for 3 consecutive days, and nominate 3 fellow bloggers to do the same each day.

Accepting Love

We accept the love we think we deserve.
– Stephen Chbosky, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Give love freely to yourself and to others, and embrace love in return.
You deserve it.

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In response to the 3-day Quote Challenge (Day 2)

I nominate the following bloggers for the 3-day quote challenge:

Greater Than Gravity
By Brighton Beach
Dream Bigger

If you accept, post 1-3 quotes for 3 consecutive days, and nominate 3 fellow bloggers to do the same each day.

Every Life Needs a Little Space

Every life needs a little space. It leaves room for good things to enter it.
– Sarah Addison Allen, “The Peach Keeper”

We fill our homes with stuff, our heads with worry, our hands with tasks, and our schedules with obligations. We all need space to breathe, think, and dream.

Have some space in your life – whether it’s a physical space to write or meditate; a space in your heart for new love or compassion; space in your calendar for activities you enjoy; or a space in your mind for creativity and ideas.

If you find that you don’t have the space that you need, create it. Do it for yourself.

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In response to the 3-day Quote Challenge (Day 1)
I nominate the following bloggers for the 3-day quote challenge:

The Road to There
Music Teacher Lifestyle
Tippy Tales

If you accept, post 1-3 quotes for 3 consecutive days, and nominate 3 fellow bloggers to do the same each day.

Topic of Conversation

You are with a group of people, at lunch or at a party, and there is a lull in conversation. Then someone brings up her favorite TV show. Suddenly there is energy and everyone has something to say. They talk animatedly, interrupt each other, and raise their voices in excitement.

A co-worker of mine recently posed this scenario and subsequently asked, “Why is this happening?” It was an interesting question that got me thinking.

Why do we default to this topic of conversation? Surely we have something more to talk about than the TV shows we are watching. Why aren’t we talking more about our own stories and connecting through personal experiences? Have we all become boring and uninteresting?

Don’t get me wrong. I like TV. It’s a form of storytelling that we all connect with and understand. There is nothing wrong with the bond we experience over our “shows.” I have my own indulgences (currently House of Cards, Girls, and The Walking Dead). We all need to escape reality sometimes, but when the credits start to roll, our real lives are still there.

Perhaps we are struggling to lead more interesting and passionate lives. We all fall victim to the doldrums of routine and obligation. It quickly becomes boring and uninteresting. Perhaps we would benefit from spending more time creating and improving our own lives so that we can live out and tell the true stories in which we are happy and proud to be the main characters.

We are meant to experience life, not simply observe it.

Observation means you are sitting on the sidelines while the action is happening without you. There are so many adventures awaiting us outside our front doors. Every passing moment is part of our story, so what are we doing during these moments? How are we spending our time?

The characters we love on TV aren’t sitting around watching TV (an observation by another insightful coworker). There is an incredible flow of things happening all around us that we can experience and share. We can actively pursue lives of passion and interest or we can sit passively by while the clock continues ticking away.

We are all unique and interesting, and we all have something to say. We can tap into that by spending more time exploring life, trying new things, and experiencing the world for ourselves.

Maybe we are scared to share our stories, to share our passions and interests with others. It makes us feel exposed and vulnerable. TV shows are neutral territory. But passion and interest are contagious and can ignite that spark in others and even inspire others as well.

What are you contributing to the conversations around you? Are you sharing personal joys, trials and tribulations, epiphanies, ideas? The next time there is a lull in conversation, are you going to relay an episode you watched on TV, or are you going to relay an episode of your own life?

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