Guilt, you sneaky devil you!

If you were to ask me if I operated out of guilt, I would have said no way! I’m a pretty independent, thriving person. The only guilt I have would be the obvious of not visiting my mother often enough. But I would never have guessed my day-to-day decisions would have been influence by guilt. Not at all. Recently I have become more able to stand aside from it to recognize it—by shopping for dog food.

Guilt is harder to recognize than you might think. The good news is it’s almost relief to figure it out. Being recently unemployed I needed to downsize everything. My budget had to be totally redone. I can no longer afford to give to charity monthly. I cancelled photo websites, services, magazines and newspaper subscriptions. Everything non essential came off the grocery list. It was time to change from the very expensive dog food I was buying to something more reasonable.

Over and over we are told we are not a good parent if we get our pets anything cheap, or if we don’t buy them the latest doohickey. That’s B.S.! This sounds like small potatoes, but $36 savings is big. Bigger still is my new awareness of how sneaky guilt is as a driving force. I will know how to look for it in future. It slides right in there and manifests as a physical feeling in the core of my body. This insight lead me to other insights. The domino effect. That’s always a good thing when change begets change.

When it comes to my dogs, sky’s the limit. But I could no longer afford the best food. I won’t feed my dogs cheap grocery store food either, as some brands are harmful. As I went shopping for different dog food with my new out-of-work budget, I did my homework on different brands. I bought a brand that is grain free, highly rated, but affordable. I’m totally happy with the switch. It was as large a bag as my old brand, and almost $18 cheaper! That’s almost $36 a month savings, and the dogs love it.

It occurred to me that I don’t have to give them the very best brand. It certainly doesn’t hurt, but I realized in a flash as I drove home it was guilt that drove me to do what the commercial world tells me is best for my pet. Guilt! Such a sneaky thing I didn’t even realize that was the driving force. I was so shocked to realize the expensive dog food I was buying for years was a guilt based action. Me? Really? Hmmmm. I would have sworn on a stack of bibles that I was not driven in any way by guilt.

After the dog food shopping incident, I realized in a flash the feelings of losing my horse Silver were also mostly guilt based. It struck me like lightning. I though I was the reason he left. Maybe I had not kept his water clean enough for him to drink? What did I do wrong? And why was I punishing myself with pain and guilt all this time? I couldn’t even think of my horse without getting a lump in my throat. I realized that was not just sorrow, but guilt as the driving force. It was so freeing to realize I was not the reason my horse died. In an instant I was able to release my feelings of Silver and let him go. Guilt is terrible at helping you punish yourself needlessly. It’s freeing to be rid of those feelings.

If in doubt, ask yourself what you do out of guilt. Trying to please others too much is guilt based. I’ve been a big people pleaser for many years, and overly so. Think doormat. That mindset is one of almost pure guilt married with trying too hard to be accepted. If the guilt involves your parents or kids, I assume there is going to be some guilt there that may be normal. That’s not what I’m talking about. Doing what we feel invisibly pushed to do can be out of a sense of guilt. It sneaks under the radar. My experience shopping for dog food taught me it can be there, subtly, in the background, driving daily decisions.

Try and find where you might be experiencing guilt as a subtle driving force, and kick it out of your life. Begin to recognize those vibes and pay attention to what really drives you to act.

Comments are welcome. “Likes” tell me someone is listening. Love and Light, ❤ Patty

Losing a horse helped heal my heart

My horse Silver left the morning after a blood red moon this past January. I had to make the difficult decision to have him put down after two days of pain, confusion, and chaos. His leaving had me totally spent physically and emotionally. I was gutted. My goofy, silly, drama queen horse and loving friend was gone. He was 22 years old and I only had him for four and a half years. I expected him to live to see 30 and be a gentle old bag of bones wandering around my property keeping me company in my upcoming retirement. My soul dog Google died in March 2017 and my first horse, Scar, died three months after that. Only seven months had gone by. This was heavy. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

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Horse people will tell you that they cannot imagine a day will come when they lose a horse, much less don’t have any horses. It does not seem conceivable. It is a way of life that gets into every pore. My horse dream was not realized until I was in my mid 50s. This was so rich and beautiful a life! I recall every morning before the sun was up I would walk out of my home in the darkness with the yard light on. My two large horses would be standing at the bottom of the steps waiting for me. I’d throw my coat on and walk down the four steps and reach out my arms and run each hand along the side of my horses tracing a line all the way to their rumps. I would think, and sometimes say out loud, “I am such a lucky lucky girl!” I could not believe my luck and my life, with these two huge galoots as partners in crime. Scar, the 1400 lb. overly muscled quarter horse who I referred to as an old war horse, and Silver the 900 lb. skinny but fast off-the-track thoroughbred. They had spent much time together before they came to me. Scar always protecting Silver. They were without a doubt brothers from another mother. Horses are the best of companions! I can tell you, it’s not about the riding, it’s about the companionship and the horse soul you get to share.

A week after Silver died, I was still in shock. Walking to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee I heard myself say out loud, to no one, “I feel like I was slammed to the ground again. Unexpected loss can hit hard. I started writing this post in January and needed until October until I could even look at it again. In fact I quit blogging altogether. The feeling of abandonment over losing him is there, but muted with some distance now. Time is your ally when it comes to loss. When I think of him I still feel a stab of pain. I wish I didn’t feel so vulnerable. So hurt. There are friends of mine that have lost people, and all I lost was a horse. Who am I to grieve so much? So deeply? Why am I so hurt at being left here, feeling abandoned? That is sometimes how the mind thinks, trying to minimize the loss of a pet. No, not a pet, a companion, a kindred soul. Matters not if it be clothed in fur or skin.

This reminds me of a chant to honor the animal kingdom. Citing: Sable Taylor in her interview in Ellen Evert Hopman’s “Being A Pagan”. You can listen to a lovely rendition of it here. 

Fur and feather and scale and skin,
Different without but the same within,
Many of body but one of soul,
Through all creatures are the gods made whole.

When I lost my dog Soul Dog Google, I knew he was leaving for many months. Over time his aged body would freeze up with arthritis. He wore neoprene hock braces and took pain meds. He would not eat unless I cooked him something soft and hand fed it to him. He gingerly took the offering and politely nibbled it. Then that look of “Gosh I sure do appreciate the home cooking darlin’ but I just can’t do it no more.” Since his decline was natural and slow, there was time to plan his last days. I would snuggle with him in his den outside, a 10×10 enclosure filled with straw under my porch. On his last day many friends came over to say their goodbyes. I had him from almost day one, to the last day—his entire life! Losing him was a natural part of his life, and our time together. Everything about it felt good.

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My heart and body have been bombarded with physical challenges, losses and change for many months. It is a time of great personal change. Constant pressure is part of making stiff leather into something soft and pliable. Another example is a caterpillar in its cocoon magically transforming from a worm to a beautiful winged creature, resembling nothing of its former self. Humans and science still marvel at these transformations shrouded in mystery and magic. We don’t know what is going on inside that cocoon. This time of personal change is a time of transformation and opening for me.

Through Silver, I learned that I’ve had a closed off heart to protect myself, and I didn’t even know it. Now I understand I no longer need to protect my heart. But you can’t open your heart by wishing—it is a process. Silver knew exactly what he was doing by leaving how and when he did. He timed his exit just right to be part of helping open my heart and my transformation. You can still see the hoof print and cracks on my heart from his dramatic exit. That reminds me of Leonard Cohen’s lyrics,  “… There is a crack, a crack, in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”  

There is much more in this that I would love to explore. Many more paths of healing have opened for me and this excites me greatly! Imagine a lotus with a thousand petals. There is magic yet to come! Silver was a gift I treasure on my path to living much more openly. What a great message and parting gift from my friend Silver. What a lesson! Long may you run!