“People almost never change without first feeling understood.” Douglas Stone, author of Difficult Conversations
I thought I would start the New Year volunteering with animals as part of the “I Dare Me” Challenge that I created for myself. In essence, the “I Dare Me” challenge is to do one new thing every single day of 2016. I have not had a relationship with an animal since I was about 15-ish. We had a dog, the neighbors shot him in the eye, he lived, and we continued to love him. When we moved, the new tenants begged us to let the dog stay because we were temporarily moving into an apartment until our house was ready (no pets allowed). This was 1986. Oakland in 1986. We let them keep the dog (the one-eyed dog) and then they poisoned him – on purpose. That dog had a lot of karma to work through in this life, apparently. I was crushed – to say the least- so I just never gave my heart to another animal ever again, partly because that one sort of ripped it out. Not his fault, like so many of us, he just grew up in the ‘hood.
So my grand plan was to start the New Year volunteering with animals in a shelter. Tall Handsome Son is an animal lover. Older Charming (and also Handsome) Son actually has a dog whom I love, so I thought this would be the perfect entrance into a New Year and to do something for the first time. It didn’t work out smoothly. My first First was not volunteering at an animal shelter (will re-visit that one some other day as a First, for sure).
My first First actually looked more like this: I had to have a difficult talk with a difficult someone for the first time about possibly stepping back and/or down from something that was going to be very difficult to give up. It went sort of like this: “You are slipping in this one area of your life and it’s best if you re-evaluate things.” What could go wrong with THAT statement????? The “who” of this conversation is not someone who has ever stepped back or down from anything. This did not go smoothly and it wasn’t pretty. But I had to start somewhere. And it had to be done. I Dare Me, Difficult Conversation, Day One. Check.
Would I have preferred to play around with cute little homeless animals starved for my affection? Yes. I would have even preferred doing the Polar Bear Plunge, which I fantasized would be my first First when I brainstormed this whole plan to change up my life and invite in excitement and spontaneity. But “planning” a First isn’t really exciting or spontaneous. Hello. I do have a list of things that I have never done, to whip out at a moments notice in case my brain gets stuck on: “Can’t Think of Anything New Right Now, Please Hold….” but the REAL challenge is going to be to allow my new experiences to develop organically; to become exactly what they want to be without me messing with them too much. Let’s see what happens, shall we?