Transparent Journey

Live life with all your might. No matter what storms you encounter, bless them all. All of life is a gift. — Dottie

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been around souls in transition — souls that are growing beyond what they have always known. The catalysts that bump us forward are usually challenges or problems that appear in our lives in the form of relationship issues, health crises, career upheaval, financial woes, dying. Our lives can be humming along nicely, the forward momentum smooth and even — a nice ride. Then Life comes along and jolts your ride forward a little faster; like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney World (if it’s still there!), you’d better hang onto the sides because the ride just got a little rougher.

Dottie, enjoying the fresh air on 5/16/17

Dottie, enjoying the fresh air on 5/16/17

Animals seem to handle transition differently and have a much more grounded, graceful attitude toward changes. Recently, I wrote a piece called “Unbreakable Spirit.” It was about Dottie, a rat terrier who came to me when she was 13 years old. Though she had a lot of cards stacked against her when she arrived, she retained a strong attitude of independence and a will to live. She made a conscious decision to bend with changes rather than fight them, which allowed her to enjoy each moment of her life with a grace I envy. As she grew older, she kept her puppy-like joy, even though she slowly lost mobility in her back and front legs. When she could no longer pull herself forward, she would somehow maneuver her body into position to eat and drink.

As these “afflictions” debilitated her body, remarkably she became even softer and had the warmth of a favorite grandmother. Her eyes remained bright and luminous, almost as if she knew a secret the rest of us didn’t. And when she could only sit and watch the world go by, the other animals gathered around her. I’m sure she was teaching them how to live a fulfilled life. I know she was teaching me.

On May 22, 2017, Dottie, who was 20 years old, left her body gracefully and with great dignity. She looked at me with her big eyes, took a deep breath, and then she was gone. She left behind a legacy of independence, fierce determination, a strong will to live, warmth, humor and a message for us all: “Live life with all your might. No matter what storms you encounter, bless them all. All of life is a gift.”

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