Last week was my birthday week and was capped off with a litter of six Berner babies from Indie. So I’m not going to bother explaining why this post is later than it should be.
Yet with my birthday comes a whole Yew Year vibe as I wrote about on JBDC. As it would happen, my personal anniversary comes towards the end of the year so not only am I thinking of my personal goals, but I’m focused on the year ahead with my dogs.
Before I can plot out the year in my shiny new planner, I take a moment - and a glass of wine - and look back. I go month by month and look at my notes, my schedule and travel. I celebrate a lot and I beat myself up a little. There are always some things I wish I had done differently, some goals I left on the table.
The looking forward is easy, fun and hopefully motivating. Recalibrating my 3-12 month goals for each dog brings renewed focused on training in the coming weeks. Indie will need some serious conditioning soon; Moxie is still getting introduced to everything; Specialty in April … All positive, all a clean slate.
The looking back is where things get tricky. Sifting through the planner for trends and training hints is constructive, but hanging on to baggage and lost goals, not so much. Sometimes the focus on what we didn’t do becomes so intense that we need a whole ritual to process it, and we realize as we look back that feelings are still a bit raw.
Letting go and grieving is something I have talked about on this blog before, but something else that can come up is the need to forgive - ourselves, another person, even our dog. Forgiveness is a concept we tend to tie to people who cut the line at the holidays or take our parking spot. Those moments are easy.
It’s harder to forgive a dog for dying too soon or for suffering a career-ending injury. Or forgive a vet for a misdiagnosis; a friend who was on watch when your dog got loose. As hard as those things are to forgive, forgiving ourselves is still the worst.
We choose to forgive ourselves so we can find peace and let go of a moment or “thing” that still haunts us. You’ll know you have something that needs to be forgiven if you still look back in your journal to a moment and the emotions flood back - you’re not done processing it yet. You haven’t forgiven yourself for costing you and your dog a trip to the finals or for screwing up your handling on the way to that tunnel. It doesn’t matter if someone else thinks it’s a small thing, what matters is how you are still holding it.
So this season as you look back at the year, celebrate more than you cry and forgive all those moments so you and your partner can move forward as a team into the new year. Write them on a piece of paper and set it on fire, or flush it - whatever burial is deserves (viking or sea). But let go. Let it all go and let love lead :)