June 28, 2017

Joy is one of my greatest teachers. And today she taught me a huge, inspiring lesson.

About myself. And life.

If you've followed our story before,you know that my dog Joy had a peculiar blood condition + internal bleeding which we remedied with herbs + food. Then in April and more recently, she's had a series of strokes.

After her most recent one, we had her on a harness + a short leash, because the first few days after the stroke she was super wobbly + risked doing face plants on the hard floor. After several days of her wanting to walk NON-STOP, it got intense, meaning walking her non-stop, including in the wee hours of the night.

katie hess joy LOTUSWEI flower essences

Nothing like sleep deprivation to drive me to my personal edge of insanity.

Last night at 3am I let her off the leash and go in circles in my room until she fell over with exhaustion. Then she whined for a long time, frustrated to be stuck in that position. Eventually I helped her up + we went outside around 5am to do our walks outside in the driveway + front yard.

I was so bleary-eyed + exhausted, on the edge. Here’s a random sampling of my mindstream:

What am I going to do? I need to work. I need to function. Hire a full-time dog babysitter? No. Stop. Take it one moment at a time. Enjoy each step. Feel your feet on the pavement. Hear the birdsong. Feel the birdsong in your body. Notice the sacred thinness of the atmosphere so early in the morning. Feel the trees supporting you. Feel at one with Joy as she walks in circles.


I knew with all this movement that she was rewiring her brain all by herself after the stroke. I also knew that she was mapping the house, inside and out, feeling it all out with her body, storing it in her wordless body memories.

She’s mostly blind now, but yesterday I noticed her head move when a lizard ran by. Then another time as a bug ran underneath her. This morning, she saw another bug. Okay ... her eyesight is slowly coming back.

katie hess joy LOTUSWEI flower essences

At 6:30 my roommate woke up + I asked her to take Joy, so I could sleep for an hour.

While I was asleep, my roommate took the leash off and let Joy get into her typical post-stroke jams, like sticking her head into a corner and getting stuck for 10 minutes. {As a result of the stroke, it’s hard for her to walk backwards/back up, turn her head to the sides + switch directions.} This time instead of helping Joy out, she remained curious about how long it would take Joy to figure her way out.

katie hess joy LOTUSWEI flower essences

When I woke up, I watched Joy. Holy marvelous.

This. is. life.

This is a metaphor for life.

As she’s mapping the house, she’s looking + seeking out all kinds of obstacles to put herself in, so she can figure out how to get out of them. Sometimes it takes her 5 minutes. Sometimes almost a whole 10 minutes to figure out how to contort her body to get out of a jam.

And each time she ups the ante. I took her outside, and realized that where before, she was lunging toward the steep concrete drop-offs of the edge of the patio, it was because I had been pulling on the leash - guiding her away from them. When she was free + off the leash, she knew exactly where the edge was.

Okay, there’s a huge bundle of lessons here.

Without even knowing it, I was being controlling. In my efforts to be protective, I was hampering her freedom and ability to figure it out herself. Overprotective.

katie hess joy LOTUSWEI flower essences

One thing I know to be true is: how you do anything is how you do everything.

It makes me wonder how many times in life, we are controlling with ourselves. We protect ourselves from pain + suffering, instead of letting ourselves fall off the [emotional] cliff. And in watching Joy, what I see is that the ‘protection’ is more dangerous than the actual possibility of falling, because we have far more ability to map the edges than we realize.

In life we get ourselves into jams + we find our way out if we are determined.

Joy is on the obstacle course of her life. She is seeking it out - literally she is seeking out every possible jam, dead-end, and tiny spot she can get herself into, to teach herself how to get out of it. And each time she does two things:

  • She continually seeks out new knots, jams + tight spots that are more + more challenging.
  • She continually revisits the original puzzles, getting herself out of them in a tenth of the time or less.

It makes me wonder if this is what we do in life - constantly. We move through space, we map our lives, we go through our patterns and we look for sticky spots. If we’re not looking for them, life brings them to us. If we don’t learn the lesson, we get it presented to us again and again.

We are in an obstacle course of jams + dead-ends, that if we allow ourselves to get stuck momentarily, we find the way to get unstuck. Once we get unstuck, our body + mind has mapped the way to get unstuck, and we can look for more and more challenging ways to get stuck, so we can again - get unstuck.

katie hess joy LOTUSWEI flower essences

Yet - we can be so controlling and so protective. Just as we want to prevent our child or dog or loved one from getting hurt, we want to prevent ourselves from pain, from hitting the wall or making a mistake.

Our fear prevents us from freedom. If we let our fears of what bad things might happen rule us - our mindstreams + our actions - we may be preventing ourselves from actually mapping the edge and finding the line between perceived danger + safety, between taking a risk + positive discipline. We may be keeping ourselves from the exact experiences necessary for growth + awakening.

How we do anything is how we do everything.

Love + flower petals,

katie hess