During a recent Group coaching call, Kelly (my coach — and you know with that name she must be awesome!) asked us whether we choose a word for the upcoming year.
This is a practice in which you pick a word to focus on during the next 12 months; it can be used in place of New Year’s resolutions or to support them. Some people call it a power word.
I’ve never really done this before. Perhaps in a flighty sort of way, but never with real intention. But I love this idea and thought about it for awhile. The group had a great discussion about a couple of different words and what they mean to us, and Kelly described a vision meditation she experienced with one of her own coaches awhile back.
During this discussion I blurted out, “Community!”
It was like, Duh! Every time my sister talked with me about what I want with my physical barkery, and what I want to create more of around me, that’s what it always comes back to. Community. How did I not realize that was my word right off the bat? I was thinking too hard. I was making it complicated for myself — an anxious person’s automatic go-to. Overthink. Stress that it’s not perfect.
But it was actually quite simple. I want to build community.
This is what I promised all of you when I put myself out there a couple of months ago. I plan to share tips, experiences, stories, and more about dogs and their absolute wonderfulness, as well as mental health stories and tips — living with it, getting through tough times — and of course, how dogs help us deal with a multitude of mental and physical health challenges.
I am still learning how to do all of this — how to be consistent and engaging on social media and with my blog and emails — but this year, my focus will be on my commitment to this community and building it into something you all will enjoy and learn from.
So how does this tie in with dogs? Well, community! I meet people because of dogs and through dogs. It’s easy for me to start talking to people when they have a pooch with them. Or when I have one. Or most especially, when we both do (assuming both canines are friendly with one another – always check and be safe!)
Dogs are the best ice breakers. I go to trails and to parks where dogs are welcome, and I get to talk with people. Even during this pandemic, we can safely socialize because we are outside and spaced well more than six feet apart. I bring my mask in case I can’t avoid physical closeness.
This reminds me of a recent trip. A little girl, maybe three years old, came in with her parents. She loves the dogs that are sort of chillin’ out on their own, away from the pack. My Jackson is the BEST when it comes to little kids. He lets anyone pet him, and he is a dog who allows hugs and can be trusted if a child forgets their manners and gets in his face. She had her mask on, and wanted to come to him. Of COURSE I allowed it. I put mine on, and totally enjoyed the moment of absolute wonder between a child and a dog.
It never gets old for me. And I so appreciated those parents who were teaching their daughter at such a young age the proper way to be around and approach other dogs. About asking and waiting to be sure it’s all right. To not fear dogs, but to be respectful of them and the different temperaments. I eat those moments up.
But I digress.
For me, those parks and those walks have been a true life saver during this year. Yes, I like my alone time, but I NEED community. I need to be with others at least occasionally. This year, I’ve had to find very intentional and safe ways to be around others. For awhile it was just video calls with other humans, and visiting the very few clients (eventually one) I still had during the thick of things.
As we started to learn that outside activities were pretty safe with distancing measures, I was able to take my dog and head out into the wilderness. We’d see other people and he’d see other canines. We both needed it. We needed some sense of community.
So that is my word for the year. Community. I’m learning creative ways to develop it, and I invite you to join me.
And I want to know what you want from me.
I also want to know, do you have a word for the year? Or even a short phrase? Is there something you want to create more of around you? Or maybe less of?