Monday, February 4, 2013

When You Feel Like Giving Up

For much of January, I was in a rut. I was unmotivated. This tends to happen this time of year, when Michigan winters blanket us with grey skies, cold weather, and icy roads. I'd rather hole myself in my room, under my heated blanket, with Jax curled up in the crook of my knees.

It's tough, because it's so hard to get out and TRAIN my dogs. I have a tiny house, so I have limited indoor space to train in. The dog club I train out of has limited nights that I can stop in to work him, and it's 45 minutes away. And this is the first time that I've had scheduling conflicts with the local training club that is only 10 minutes away.

All excuses. None of them good.

I have never been much of an emotional person - except when I over-react. Except when I work myself into a panic over nothing. But over the last year, little things make me cry. I blame the residual baby hormones that haven't left my body (and probably never will, because I cried when my baby said "Mama" for the first time, and when she toddled toward me, taking her first steps). I cried at last night's Super Bowl Clydesdale commercial, choking back tears.

This morning, I was fighting back many urges to just give up and quit. This is hard stuff - being a grad student, working full-time, being a parent, AND trying to advance in dogs. Most nights, I just want to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a warm blanket, but a baby needs tending to and a dog needs entertaining and homework needs to be done.

You might not have heard of Lauren Sprieser. She's a horse trainer who has been successful from a young age. She's inspiring, for having reached such high levels at a young age. Last night, she posted a blog titled "Before You're Good":

"I don't want to go through the learning part, the part where you futz around, making dumbass mistakes, then fixing them only to have something else go, and then try to fix that while the first mistake you made comes roaring back. I want each movement to feel easy, not like a mechanical process, where I'm reading myself a checklist in every corner - off my hand, legs forward, prepare, right bend, left thigh, neck down, eyes up, GO, repeat. 
And that's just too damn bad, because there's only one way to the other side of Being Good, and that's by Not Being Good for a while. 
... when the promise and the mission become really annoying, I will remember that everyone who's any good at anything was, at one point, not."
In addition to this little bit of enlightenment I had reading this this morning, I had an amazing training session with Jax last week before getting hit with the stomach flu for a second time this year. Jax loves to learn, and I love teaching him. he can be frustrating, because he is SO EAGER to do whatever it is I'm asking him to do, but this same trait is why I love working with him so much. What Lauren posted last night hits home - Sometimes it's frustrating to go through all the practicing of Being Good. A lot of times you want to throw in the towel. Often, there are very few people who are willing to give you a good kick in the pants to keep you moving along. Because sometimes, it is so frustrating that it just stops being enjoyable.

And who wants to do something that isn't enjoyable?

But the thing is, everything is not enjoyable sometimes. The key is remember all of those good times, all of those moments that make this all worth it - whether those moments are winning ribbons or "lightbulb" learning moments or great times with friends, or simply cuddling on the couch with your best friend. We all have off days. We all have hard days.

The key is, having the strength to push through, remember the good times, and get to the point of Being Good.

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