An Old Dog with New Tricks

25 Apr

I never used to believe it, but it is truly possible to teach an old dog new tricks. I know this from my own recent experiences, because I’m that “old  dog” (in canine years, I’m about 215 years old—I actually looked it up on an internet website that calculates human years into dog years) and I’m astounded that I’m capable of making such great change in my life after so many years of persistent bad behavior. I’ve been stuck in my ways like a skittish mutt who’s spent most of her life cowering in the corner with her tail between her legs feeling worthless and ashamed, just waiting for someone to shout “Bad Dog!”  This fear of being chastised caused me to hide out in my smelly, self-imposed dog house, licking my wounds and playing the victim. I spent hours there, dreaming of the day when someone would come by and scratch me behind my ears and coo in a validating, high-pitched voice, “Oh my—what a good girl you are!”

Well, enough of that nonsense! I’ve always been a loyal and faithful companion, but I know when it’s time to take the leash off and run free. I’m done waiting around for the praise and approval because I’ve learned I can give it to myself. I now know that this here doggie is capable of learning new tricks, and with a little work and the right mindset, I’ve lost the urge to chew on old tennis shoes or bark incessantly at nothing. I also don’t need to eat an entire box of doggy treats in one sitting or drink out the toilet anymore. 

I’m letting go of my bad habits one by one, and it all began with a simple, yet essential change in the perception of myself—the realization that I’m intrinsically good, inside and out—just as you are, even if you don’t know it yet. This simple knowledge has been the key for me in finding the happiness that has eluded me practically my entire life.

I’m so grateful for all of the blessings that have revealed themselves to me over the past year as I’ve worked to stop thinking of myself as a “bad dog.” I’m especially thankful for all of you out there who have read my blog and posted comments and told me that what I’ve written has touched you in some way (pant, pant—yes, I admit the praise always feels good.) The support you’ve demonstrated to me means more than any of my written words could ever express. As I reveal my true self through this process of writing, I’ve been able to heal and grow in ways I never imagined possible, and you’ve been such a great part of that. Thank you for taking this journey with me as I hang my head out the car window, the wind blasting my face as I joyfully navigate down this wild and winding road of life.                                                                                

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13 Responses to “An Old Dog with New Tricks”

  1. Nora April 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Great post Mama. You are sooooooo inherently good that it floors me sometimes. I am so truly grateful to be your daughter… I mean pup… what? Anyway. Love you.

  2. Tracey April 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    Great post. I think a lot of us keep putting ourselves in that doghouse. Enough of that.

  3. Corrine Appelbaum April 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    Jessie, I think I enjoy your newest posting better than your last…each and every time. THANK YOU for opening up your innermost thoughts and feelings for the rest of us to reflect upon and in some cases apply to our own lives. Love you! Corrine

    P.S Those puppies are absolutely adorable!!

    • Allegro non tanto April 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

      Thanks, Corrine. I’m happy to share my vulnerability with you any time you need it! Love you back!

  4. Becky Green Aaronson April 25, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    Jessica, it’s wonderful to see/read your transformation through you blog.This is such a creative and honest post. I love everything about it and about you. Stay away from the doghouse, you hear?! Even if those puppies are irresistible!

    • Allegro non tanto April 25, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

      I’m never agian going back into the doghouse, my friend! It’s way too much fun being off my leash!

  5. debatterman April 26, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

    So glad you’re sinking your teeth into something other than tennis shoes. Let dogs be dogs (oh those delightful Dalmatians!) and powerful women emerge into the lives they were meant to live.

    • Allegro non tanto April 26, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

      You’re right, Deborah–we are powerful, aren’t we? I’m just sorry it took me half a century to figure this out!

  6. Charla Bregante April 29, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Jessie, you and I continue to travel on the same path. Recently I found myself bemoaning that I hadn’t reached the point I’m at now in self-acceptance and willingness to put myself out there with both my writing and my singing. Then I caught myself. Stop, I said to self, am I really gong to waste precious time grieving that I didn’t get here sooner? Or am I going to fill each day with gratitude that I got here at all, and joyful anticipation of where I’m going? Keep up the beautiful writing.

    • Allegro non tanto April 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      I will if you will! I mean, what have we got to lose? Gratitude is definitely the key to letting all that self-doubt go, but I’ll freely admit that it’s truly difficult to break all of those old habits. You keep writing too–I so enjoyed your latest post. And I would love to hear you sing sometime!

  7. happykidshappymom April 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Jessica — oh why would you have looked up your age in dog years? Yikes! 🙂 Remind me never to do that. But seriously, a beautiful and honest post. I am so happy that you are on this path to realizing your goodness. From what I know of you through your thoughtful blog, you are very good indeed.

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