Throughout my life I both choose and am handed challenges. When I get too set in my ways, something seems to come up, or I stir something up. I never run from a challenge, even though I don't sometimes embrace them tightly. Often when I'm in their midst I falter, feel not up to the curves thrown, but somehow I power my way through, even on low, and when the challenge is over, I look back and reflect, noting how the challenge has strengthened me and, in many cases, changed my perceptions. This is so even if I have gone through the challenge on survival mode.
Retired now for ten years, part time job teaching online, writing novels, playing in many ways, teaching creative writing, so much else, enjoying life and me being with me. But something is missing, I know. I am not in love. I am ready for a relationship, but one is not forthcoming, where do I meet someone? I've been patient, but so far, nothing has arisen. No hints, no possibilities. Life is not bringing me that piece. So, I need a challenge. I'll find my own sentient being to love.
I set up a new aquarium, but the fish only care that I feed them. I am not a cat person really, although I have had cats. I am a dog person. My dog is 12 and she and I had settled into a comfortable routine. She didn't demand much, except to be near me, and I didn't demand much of her.
This year I'll celebrate my 70th birthday. I am energetic still and decide that my challenge will be a new puppy. By the time I get her all trained, she'll be a great dog when my energy may not be as high as it is at this point. The inevitable loss of my senior dog will be tragic, but my new dog will be at my side. I romanticize this notion. I decide to get on a list for a golden retriever puppy. The puppy is born, I'm excited, I look forward to when I can bring her home at 8 weeks. The time passes and I bring my cute puppy, Cali, (aka California Sunshine Cali) home.
And then I realize I am alone. With Cali. All day. All night. She doesn't know not to pee in the kitchen or on the way out to the backyard to pause in the living room. She doesn't know that sleeping through the night is a great way to honor her keeper. And so, here I am, not enjoying the runs out to the backyard every half hour or hour or maybe two. I am not enjoying waking up in the (relative) California cold in the wee hours, sometimes more than one wee hour, to pick her up and race outside into a backyard where I have seen raccoons, skunks, squirrels, snakes, opossums, feral cats, owls, hawks and other critters I know are there but have not seen. I take my older dog and my flashlight as I slip on my shoes and coat. I muster, "Good girl, Cali, get busy" at every squirt and squat. I carry her back inside and slip back to sleep myself.
What was I thinking? I feel sorry for myself, but what are my options? Power through, girl, power through. I think back to when my children were babies and I was up in the middle of the night and so tired during the day. I am sure this time is never going to end. I asked for the challenge of raising a puppy, but I got a challenge I didn't think through.
And then, about ten days in, something flipped. I could see incremental change. She was beginning to learn a few commands, not perfectly, but enough to give me hope. She played with my senior dog, as well as me. I tried to establish a rhythm to our days. She slept more during the day and a little more at night. And for me, I began to enjoy her more. I accepted the responsibility of being for her.
As I enjoyed her more, she became more enjoyable. She allowed me to cuddle. We played games. And my heart opened more.
Cali has been here two and a half weeks and it seems like she's been here forever. In my acceptance of our building and future relationship I've had to cancel a play, change a vacation, and rearrange what I take for a good night's sleep. But all this is temporary. I am in the forest and I'm beginning to make out the trees and that is a positive to any challenge. In this case, it bodes well for our future together. But I still wonder...what was I thinking?