Up the down staircase

The other day as I was on my way upstairs, I came upon Gus as he was on his way downstairs.  He looked at me, and then he stopped in his tracks.  He paused for a bit, as if to consider his options.  Then he watched me go past him.  After an awkward minute or so, half-sitting on the stairs, he maneuvered himself somehow, turned around, and then proceeded to follow me where I was going.

I captured this shot of him in that moment where he frozen halfway; neither up nor down.  I think you can see the awkward look on his face, as if he isn’t quite sure which way he should be going.

In a funny coincidence, I happened to be speaking to my Mom later that afternoon.  When I asked her how her day was going she said, “to be honest, I feel like I’m going up the down staircase.”  I laughed and told her of my experience with Gus.  I said that she wasn’t alone;  and that he was having the same kind of day.

They happen to all of us.  Those days where we just can’t seem to get it all together.  I’m sure you can relate, and can think of a day, perhaps even recently, when nothing seemed to go according to plan.  On those kind of days you often feel as though you’re spinning your wheels, or, like Gus, sitting halfway up the middle of the stairs trying to figure out if you should be going up or down.  They are often days that leave me feeling as though I haven’t accomplished much of anything, even if I’ve seemed to be busy all day.

The good news is that these days usually pass quite innocently. If we don’t get too stressed about them, we can usually get back into our regular mode pretty quickly.  I’ve learned to accept that sometimes there will just be days like these, for whatever reason.  Maybe we have too much on our minds, or maybe we’re just plain tired out.  Whatever the cause, the best thing to do is to just give in and cut yourself a little slack.

When I find myself feeling this way, I usually try to keep a low profile, and I try not to take on anything too demanding.  These are often great days to just treat yourself to a little indulgence – even if it’s only a cup of tea and a half  hour with a really good book.  With a little TLC, everything ends up going in the right direction!

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Lean into the wind

Watson in the wind

They’re here.  Those blustery days when we know that summer is most definitely behind us, and fall has truly arrived.  These are the days when you look out the window and see branches bending and swaying, and leaves flying off the trees and blowing wildly down the street.  The howl of the autumn wind can even be heard from inside the house.

For many, this is a time to begin the retreat indoors.  In Canada, a great number of people disappear from October to May, in order to avoid the wind and the cold, and everything else that gets thrown at us during our extended fall and winter.  If you do see these souls outside during this time, you will find them scurrying quickly from house to car, and back. Their faces are hidden under tightly gathered hoods and scarves; their heads ducked down to avoid the fury of the wind. When forced to be outside for any length of time, these folks will usually find a corner, and huddle with their backs to the wind, as if hoping that the forces of nature will somehow blow past them, and leave them alone.

Life with Gus means that behaviour like this is simply not an option.  Out we go every day, no matter how hard the wind is blowing.  It’s not just that he doesn’t seem to mind it; Gus loves to be outside on a cool and windy day.  The picture above was taken out in the field on the day I wrote about “slobbery balls.”  Gus didn’t stand still long enough for a good photo, so this is a great shot of Watson, doing what Gus often does out in the wind.

As you can see, there’s certainly no ducking or huddling going on here.  Like Watson, Gus will sit or stand tall, and actually lean into the wind with his face turned up.  Look how he’s  enjoying the feeling, as it blows through him; ruffling his fur.

Since I’ve noticed Gus and other dogs doing this, I’ve begun to try the same thing myself when I’m out in the middle of the field.  Of course, you have to be dressed properly, and be active enough to be warm on the inside.  If you are, and you try this, you will experience an exhilarating feeling as you lean into the full force of the wind; meeting it head on. You can almost imagine that you are a kite or a sail; feeling the lifting power and the promise of flight.

There’s an interesting analogy here that struck me the other day.  The wind can be compared to our life’s problems and challenges.  There’s no question that there’s always a wind of some sort in the air for us to deal with. When things are going well, we may only feel the gentle breeze of everyday challenges blowing softly by.  We scarcely feel our hair mussed, and we carry on with little concern.  But sometimes, when we are facing major issues and problems, we may find ourselves feeling like we are on the top of a hill, being buffeted by gale force winds.  It’s the wild, unpredictable nature of many challenges we face that leaves us feeling as though we are being tossed about, like a leaf at the mercy of the autumn wind.  Our inclination is to draw our hood around us and huddle; hoping that we can ride out the storm and be spared from its fury.

Research confirms that those who cope best with life’s stresses are the ones who, like Gus and Watson, choose to stand tall and meet the wind head on; leaning into its full force.  Rather than huddling like victims, those who sit up and take control of their situation tend to not only cope more effectively, but they often even emerge in better shape at the end of the ordeal.  When we are handed a challenge, there’s no question that we often feel broadsided, and blown off our feet by the force of events.  However, if we stop and collect ourselves, we find that there is always some element in every situation that we can take control of.

The next time you find yourself in a gale, stand tall and lean head first into that wind.  It will give you an exhilarating feeling of power and control.  If you manage to find a way to fashion a sail, you’ll do even better.  You might even harness the power of that wind and find that you can use it to carry you aloft.