Life with Livvy, LottaDog and Challenging Parent Situations
Sometimes it surprises me that I’m 55. I guess I never expected to be changing and growing so much at this point in life. As I write, I’m evolving my overall career, continually working on ways to have a bigger impact protecting this planet I love, and continuing to rebuild a great fitness level after knee replacement (which is doing awesome!).
And, of course, there is the new passion/addiction of dog agility. I still find it surprising to have found this totally new thing that is so utterly compelling -- feels like it came out of the blue. I started doing agility just to give the newly adopted LottaDog (AKA Freya the middle-aged Ridgeback) some much needed training, socialization, and confidence building. Then COVID hit and agility was one of those things we could keep doing when gyms and other places were closed because we could stay distanced from other humans while working/playing with our dogs. The bug bit and, as I’ve reported before, I got Border Collie Olive and we’ve been rocking the agility scene.
I don’t know if everything happens for a purpose, but I do believe we can find purpose in everything that happens. Turns out agility is a great classroom for me to practice boundaries and being fully present. While running an agility course I have no thought of work, challenging things that are happening, etc.; Instead, I am fully present. Sometimes, in between runs I’ll start thinking about checking emails or texts or the “Do List” for the coming week and I just pull myself right back and get to the intense but fun task of planning out our next run. If I do get distracted and fail to fully connect with Olive, I mess up our run and I don’t think it’s fair to ask so much of her and not be fully focused with and for her. This truly is priceless therapy and therefore, both dog agility and spiritual agility.
The other major unexpected new activity that has popped up in my fifties is acting as my mother’s executor and power of attorney. Like many of us in “middle-age” we find ourselves navigating our own lives and trying to help parents navigate the final years of theirs. Winding up in this position surprises me because, to say the least, ours was not a “Leave it to Beaver” type of scene. I was on my own at 16 and have never been super close to my mom since I was a child. However, over the past decade mom and I have both matured and released a lot and formed more of a relationship.
Currently, we’re in the process of making arrangements for her to sell her home, get into temporary assisted living and then relocated near my brother. We tried to get her to work on this years ago but she wouldn’t cooperate. Now, due to health issues, it is really challenging. Dealing with the various pieces of this has been surprisingly stressful and scratched open some old wounds. Like many from families with struggling parents, I was one of those kids who had to step into adult roles too early. The term for this is “parentified” and it usually comes with having to take on too much responsibility and never being fully acknowledged for our role. I’ve done a lot of therapy and have genuinely dropped most of the crap associated with the past, but this current situation with my mom shows some remnants remain. It’s another one of those lovely “growth opportunities”! I am pulling many tools from my spiritual toolbox to stay centered while navigating this.
Bringing the two together, this past weekend, during the agility trial, my mom’s situation continued to demand time and attention and I was speaking with her after I had completed Livvy’s final agility run of the day. Mom was stressed and got pretty snotty with me, telling me she didn’t want to deal with it just then and that I needed to call her back the next morning. I said, “Mom, I can’t do that. I have my agility event in the morning. I will call you in the afternoon.” She got pretty huffy and basically hung up on me.
That evening my brother and I spoke and he called mom the next morning and I then called her in the afternoon after my event was finished. She apologized for being snotty and thanked me for all the help. I told her I appreciated that and I appreciated how hard it must be to have to be so dependent on someone else for these kinds of decisions and big life changes. It was a sweet conversation.
Being generous and loving also applies to ourselves and setting healthy boundaries in challenging situations is another aspect of spiritual agility as well as self-care.
Back to the dog part of agility, I am delighted to report that Team Olive had our most accomplished trial to date. She advanced into the Masters level in the Jumpers event and is now running Masters in all events. She took first place in several master level events against older, far more experienced dogs. She is a rock star and I am very blessed.
While Livvy was rocking agility, Freya was rocking a comfy couch and slobbering over a nice big chewy.
My whole pack wishes all of you a great week and tremendous feats of spiritual agility.
Cylvia, LottaDog and Livvy
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