Thursday, November 17, 2011

1000 Moments

I'm sure we all have those days where more seems to go wrong than right. Recently I've been feeling like I've chalked up more losses than gains this year and it can be overwhelming when the hits just keep on coming. Some of those losses I've shared with you but for the most part it seems my mini life-crises don't need to be plastered around the internet.

That said, the best lessons are usually to be learnt when everything is going wrong and, after a few very tough months, I'm hoping I've hit my "last straw" and am ready to eke out a little wisdom from the floundering.

The last straw of course is the one we nearly all go through at some point - the breakdown of a relationship. It seems they get harder as I get older (aren't I supposed to be wiser by now?!) but the extra twist this time around is new to me. Billy is my first dog, but before there was Billy I met a grumpy old man called Buster and I loved him dearly. Now that his dad and I have parted ways, the loss of a beloved pet is added to the familiar pain of separating from a partner and the family and friends you have learned to care for along the way.

Of course, Buster isn't gone forever and I know that in time I'll get to see him again. But still I find myself regretting the things I didn't do with him when I had the chance. He was always the "good" dog in my life, just wanting a quiet, comfortable existence with none of the daily antics and struggles that I share with Billy. I feel guilty that I haven't written more about him, regretful that I don't have more good photos and videos. In the past few months, after he recovered from his operation he's gradually shown a more playful - sometimes a bit naughty! - side of himself. It's been such a joy to watch it develop and I'm sad to miss out on more. I almost never managed to catch him playing on camera, it was always so unexpected and so joyous - and usually very short. I caught a little on my iphone just a few weeks ago, the last time he stayed at my house.

After I uploaded this to youtube I watched it again. Billy jumped up and stood with his paws on the windowsill for 10 minutes, waiting for his dad and his best buddy to get home. He could always tell the jangle of Buster's collar from any other dog. It made me cry.

If there is something you've been meaning to do with the dog in your life - go and do it now! We often talk of how short life is. How much shorter is the time we have with these furry beings that share our lives and our hearts. Too often I bemoan the fact that I have no decent photos, actually almost none of any quality, of myself with Billy. Before the end of the year we'll be going to a professional photographer to have our mini-family portrait taken, and on my wish list for Christmas is a gift voucher to have a portrait of Buster and Billy created by Yellow Brick Home.

But the larger lesson I've come to accept recently is that sometimes there is very little to be done about the way life runs. If I wait for the "big stuff" to reach some magical stage of perfection, I'll miss an awful lot along the way. And I imagine I'll be pretty miserable while I'm at it.

Today I bought a notebook. It's bound in soft brown leather with 288 pristine ivory pages. It will sit on my coffee table until I have filled it with 1000 moments to be grateful for. Every day it will remind me that the contents of my bank account, the job I do, my relationship status or any of the other trials I meet are not all that make up my life. Because if all I ever focus on is the big picture I will miss the beautiful details that remind me of everything I have that makes me lucky. Sharing a drink with a friend, the color of the leaves in the park, the kindness of a CTA driver who waits to make sure I don't miss my bus, a smile from a little girl on the train or a warm welcome home from my Billy - if these are the moments that make up my day, I'll have a lot to be thankful for. And instead of a blank page, I see a world of possibilities.


  1. I know exactly how you feel. I'm sorry about Buster and I know you'll miss him tons :( I think the idea of having a pro-photographer take your pictures is great. I told myself I would get some photos of myself with the dogs but I still haven't done it yet. You've reminded me to get a jump on it already because these moments only happen once!

  2. That is such a great idea! I know I often forget to appreciate the little things that I should be grateful for - writing them down is a great reminder when I start to feel sorry for myself!

  3. That is such a great idea, and I really hope you have the opportunity to see your little guy again real soon.

  4. Oh Helen, I do know this feeling. Having lost 2 dogs in breakups it's harder to figure out what hurts more missing the person or the dog. I love the idea of a professional photographer capturing your family. Billy is incredibly handsome and you are gorgeous so you make a great pair. Let me know if you ever need an ear to listen or a hug.


  5. What a nice reminder to appreciate the times we have, while we have them.

    I'm so sorry about all the rough times and I think you are dealing with it brilliantly by getting that notebook and remembering to be grateful. Every time I just remember that I need to feel grateful, before I even get to the thought of what I need to feel grateful for, the mere thought of feeling gratitude fills me with lightness and strength. I hope your notebook is a similar gift to you. Your post is a gift to me!

  6. I love the notebook idea and just may steal it. sorry to hear about the breakup though. :(

  7. This is such a wonderful, thoughtful post. I actually left right in the middle to go play fetch with my dog who was at that point dropping her Kong at my feet. Thank you for the important reminder to value those important things in our life and to treasure them while we're lucky to have them.


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