My favorite conversations always start with, “I don’t want to offend you, but…” When one of my coworkers said this to me, my ears immediately perked up and my tail began wagging.
Then she continued, “…I saw a dog with its head out the window and it was so happy. It reminded me of you. That’s how you live your life. You have such a zest for life.” Soon, Amy and I were sitting in the team room at work, my shift close to ending, hers just beginning. And we were both crying.
How could this ever offend me? Amy comparing me to a happy window dog made 2017 a very memorable year. When I look back on this year, I will say, “Oh, yes. That was the year Amy compared me to a dog hanging out the window of a car.”
And, again, I will probably tear up.
This is exactly how I want to be remembered. With my head out the window, hair and flabby skin rippling in the wind, and a huge smile on my face. Melissa the Window Dog.
You may wonder how I go about my happy little life. It may surprise you, but I wasn’t always this way. Years ago, I hated Christmas, thought birthdays were stupid, and did not have the positive attitude I do today. This is what depression and anxiety can take away from a person.
If you let it, that is.
When you are consumed in negative thinking, it takes a lot of practice to shift your perspective. I can’t identify a single moment where the magic switch flipped because I don’t believe there was one. It was not overnight.
There are a few key components to go from Grumpy Cat to the tail-wagging window dog.
Whenever the opportunity presents itself, take the time to show appreciation. Thank the person who held the door open for you. Tell your mom, dad, sibling, or anyone else in your life who has helped you along the way how much they mean to you. Not only do they need to hear it, you’ll feel better knowing you let them know. If I have learned anything along the way, life does not promise another day to anyone. I’ve also learned that the more you seek out moments to be thankful for, the less you’ll have to look. Even the smallest gesture, the morning song of a bird out the window, or another sunset will seem like a gift.
Enjoy All the Good Moments
“Every day may not be good, but there’s good in every day.”
Sometimes I have to remind myself of this. I have to enjoy all the good moments. There is an overwhelming abundance of tragedy, sadness, negativity, and heartbreak in this world. When I take the time to enjoy all the good, it makes everything else easier to handle.
There are people who can tell you about their awful day. I got pulled over on the way to work. The barista gave me the wrong coffee. Work was so busy that I didn’t get a full hour for my break today. I lost five dollars somewhere between work and my car.
And then there are people who can tell you about their not-so-awful day. I met a cop before work today. The barista gave me the wrong coffee and it was delicious. I used my whole half-hour lunch to practice beat-boxing in the break room. Then, on the way to my car, I found five dollars.
There’s a quote in a documentary I show patients at work. “Everything happens for you, not to you.”
I want to enjoy every good moment in life like this dog is enjoying his moment with his pizza. This is my goal and what I strive for.
Why is everyone always so busy? Dogs don’t live attached to a Google calendar. They know how to get their business taken care of, but they also know a good rug to nap on and when to do it. They take the time to stare out the window. Dogs know how to live.
Go the speed limit. Go somewhere without your phone. Spend a little time everyday doing absolutely nothing. Let the sun shine on your face, if you can handle that sort of thing. Watch the sunrise. Breathe. Don’t think about the to-do list. Think about the moment. Enjoy it. Live it.
Wake up earlier so you don’t have to rush. I allow myself way more time than necessary to drive two miles to get to work. My mornings are a part of my routine and I love them. The coffee. Rolling my window down with upbeat rock-the-day music blasting out the speakers. Playing on Snapchat in the parking lot. I know I’ll spend my twelve-hour shifts running around, so I take any opportunity I can to chill out.
My grandparents had a kitchen table and door everyone knew was always open. As a kid, I would go over for coffee mornings and there would be a small gathering of Grandma and Grandpa’s friends sitting around the table, drinking coffee and enjoying conversation. No cell phones. Only small talk, a lot of laughter, and no hurry to be anywhere else. I didn’t know it then, but those really were the good ol’ days.
Find Your Pack
Everyone needs a pack. The people you go to when you need to talk, laugh, or cry. Wealth and status have nothing to do with happiness. The people we love and care about are the people who love and care about us. They are the ones who contribute to our happiness. Check out this TED Talk by Robert Waldinger on What Makes a Good Life to hear what I’m talking about.
I am so blessed to have my family and friends pack in Wausau. My friends and work family are part of my La Crosse pack. The love/hate relationship I have with social media and Facebook aside, it has kept me in contact with the packs I’ve been apart of, but due to life’s constant changes, I had to move on.
Side note: these golden retrievers remind me of my sisters.
Enjoy the Ride
Whether they are going to the vet or the dog park, dogs enjoy the ride. After Amy told me I remind her of a window dog, all happy and loving life, I am more aware of my canine friends. Whenever I see a dog, whether it’s enjoying a car ride, chasing a ball, or sleeping on a front porch, I ask myself, “What are you doing today to enjoy the ride?”