The Atlas

Dog is my (accidental) co-pilot

Most of the time, I sit down to write my weekly email and have either a really strong idea what I want to write, or have to whittle down a long list of potential topics to something to focus on just one. This morning, I had the opposite problem: I haven't been able to focus enough to find anything appealing.

The truth is, I know who blame: my new 10-week-old Golden Doodle puppy, Macallan Roosevelt.

I know, it's kind of a cop-out to blame a puppy for my inability to focus. After all, it's not like he has any control over being ridiculously cute. If anything, that is technically his job. And he's absolutely nailing it.

But as I sat at my desk this morning, going through the motions of working, I started thinking of the things that I've been noticing for the past couple of days:

  • It's been more than a year since I had anyone else at home with me during my workday. I nearly forgot how much I missed it.
  • Having to take a puppy down nine floors to go for a walk every couple of hours is getting my ass moving far more consistently than I have managed in the past month-plus. (Which my Fitbit has enthusiastically confirmed!)
  • Crate training and house breaking is bookending my daily schedule, and has almost instantly put me back into a routine that I've been struggling with since mid-March.
  • In a list of my Top Ten Favorite Things in the Universe, I'm pretty sure that puppy tummies EASILY beat out really obvious items like a comfortable bed or really amazing scotch.
  • Training a puppy is about a bunch of tiny little milestones -- like sleeping through the night, or tackling a staircase -- and when you look at them up close, none of them feel overwhelming by themselves, but accomplishing one feels like a great victory.
  • Being in the middle of something only to suddenly have a puppy tongue licking your toes or a sneaky set of little needle teeth grab the hem of your pants is a fantastic reminder for mindfulness.
  • It's nearly impossible to go outside with a puppy and not interact with people. Perfect strangers who are typically hidden in their own world inside their headphones suddenly emerge and interact.
  • When you are genuinely curious about things, you are open to being amazed and delighted in ways you never could have predicted.
  • Enjoying a sunrise over Miami Beach and the Bay, with a tennis-ball-chasing pooch bouncing around like an over-caffeinated Tigger is perhaps the best way to banish a bad mood ever.

A couple of weeks ago, in our episode of Grow or Die, Lawrence picked a topic of honoring the small things. I said that, for me, that was about gratitude. I missed an important piece, though. It's also mindfulness -- after all, you can't stop and be grateful for something if you aren't first paying enough attention to recognize it.

Like a lot of hyper-rational people who live in their heads, that's been an ongoing struggle for me, especially during high anxiety times. I retreat to my head, where I can try to order a disorderly universe and make all the edges line up properly, and neatly so that I can feel in control.

Of course, then he just pees on the floor because I was not paying attention to him trying to tell me he wanted out.


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