Be more Labrador…

My boys on Morecambe beach last night in the sunshine

Its 3:30 am and I am nursing a cup of tea downstairs with my Labradors and both cats. Nigel had already been up and taken the dogs out about an hour and a half ago but Barney was barking again so I came down. He doesn’t seem to want anything other than my presence, but all of them seem restless and unsettled and there does seem to be a bit of a strange feeling in the house. It feels expectant, as though something or someone is due to arrive at any moment. Weird.

I am googling “older dogs who won’t sleep all night” or similar phrases. Of course older dogs do not have quite the same control over their bladders, just like older humans. But Nigel really does need his sleep! I guess I can grab a nap in the day time as I work from home! It used to be easy letting them out into our big garden. I will admit, I miss having a garden! But then we had a beautiful walk on the beach last night in really warm sunshine, so there are compensations!

Barney has always been a little needy. We nicknamed him Eeyore. He frets, and looks worried, as though he is about to, or has, lost his tail. He is partially blind now, so that may be a factor for him needing extra fussing. Ben has always been happy go lucky, a very easy dog, but he is now deaf and suffers a bit with his back legs. They turned 13 in November. A good age for Labradors, as everyone tells me when we tell them how old they are! It is usually accompanied by a bit of a concerned head shake! Sadly it is true, and I am horribly aware that they may not be with us for very much longer. We also have one cat (Cola) that thinks she is a Labrador!

This expectant feeling in the house may emanate from me.

I have had a busy couple of weeks with visits from my friend Claire, our first friend to come and stay since we moved here, and my cousin Aubrey, who comes regularly as he is setting up a business here in the UK (he hails from New Zealand) and I am helping him with some accounts and admin. He is a bit of a workaholic – and is often up at weird times as he deals with calls from the other side of the world!

I have had a lot of networking meetings too, loads of stuff going on, all good stuff, but not much time for reflection.

This afternoon after Aubrey departed I sat with the dogs in the sunshine and listened to The Corner House settle. It was a bit like tuning in a radio which has been churning out static. Suddenly you find the perfect spot on the dial and the voice or the music comes through loud and clear. I had a few moments of clarity, where my mind wandered to all the things I have been learning over the last few months, and I checked in with myself to see if I was still connected, still in tune with all that good stuff. Looking for that beautiful feeling that washes over me with each new experience.

I have not always been someone that enjoys solitude. My busy mind needed noise, movement, occupation and distraction. I could find the beauty in a peaceful moment out in nature, on a beach or in a forest. Or even in a really good book. As I grow older I have grown to appreciate those quiet moments and actively seek them out. At any time of the day. Early on a summer morning, gazing out at Morecambe Bay or late at night when the world is asleep, but the Labradors are awake!

The truth is that the solitude and stillness are now inside me. They are not external. My mind quiets down and in those silent moments there is room for beautiful thoughts and ideas. I find myself smiling and filling up with love. For my family and friends, for places, for kind strangers, for people that are showing me a better way to be.

Creating space in our busy lives is a challenge, I know. But it is so rewarding. Whether it is for meditation, mindfulness or just some quiet breathing, the rewards are amazing.

Today, I felt as though I had stepped off a treadmill. I love having people in the house, cooking for them, spending time in conversation, but I also relish my alone time, or time spent with Nigel in comfortable silence. In those first few quiet moments I could feel something coming. I am not sure what it is,  or when it will arrive. I can just sense that it is hovering on the periphery of my perception. Waiting for its moment. I hope it will be another one of those life-changing insights that I am experiencing as I follow this new path. It might be a small popcorn moment. When I am ready it will appear! I just need to keep tuned in, keep the static to a minimum.

As for the Labradors. Barney is now snoring gently in the hall, the cats have got bored and gone off somewhere else. Ben is lying at my feet gently huffing at me, wagging his tail every now and then.

I have always said that we can learn a lot from a Labrador. They are the most faithful of dogs. Their capacity for joy and love is overwhelming. I have owned many dogs in my life and they have all been amazing. But there is something about a Labradors attitude to life that is unique. They have large hearts and seem to understand exactly what you need when you need it. Its why they make great guide dogs. There is an emotional intelligence in them that you can see in their eyes. And they know about the stillness. Well Ben does. I’m not sure about Barney!

The song for this blog is from my lovely Joni

“Who needs the static
It hurts the head
And you wind up cracking
And the day goes dismal
From “Breakfast Barney”
To the sign-off prayer….”

See…even she knows about Barney!