I'm no stranger to dips in motivation, or struggling to persevere through difficult life circumstances. I view the times where life gets a bit more challenging as a good opportunity. They can create periods of immense growth; they can be amazingly affirming if they entail being abstinent from something - say a physical yoga practice, or our work - by helping to reaffirm our passion and desire for what we choose to pursue. More often then not, even when I want to berate myself for not finding a way to push through and do what I want to be doing, versus what my body/mind/life circumstance are dictating I can do, I can find the bright side to where I'm at, or at least acceptance of that place, and end up the better for having the chance to practice yoga off-the-mat, a much harder endeavor than anything I've worked towards in asana. But this streak of lows culminated in something I was not ready for, when I suddenly lost my dog Dakota at the beginning of the month.
Anyone who knows me at all knows about Heidi and Dakota. Undoubtedly after any amount of time in conversation with me they will come up. The reason for this is quite simple: I have never been loved by any human being -ever - as flawlessly as I have been loved by those two dogs. Don't get me wrong, I love my people. And the dark times in my life have served as opportunities for me to realize exactly how blessed I am to have, and have had, so many amazing people in my corner. But dogs are not like people. They do not stumble over things with the wrong words marring their way. Their own feelings do not muddle the support that they give, or how they give it. They do not judge, or grow tired of you, or ever - ever - stop thinking, even for a second, that you are the best thing on the planet. And it is because of these qualities that my dogs came to be the light that pulled me out of the darkest, hardest time in my life. Because when I didn't know where to look for the light in myself, they still saw it. And their belief in me, their love for me, forced me to start believing in myself.
Losing Dakota has been a challenge.
It has been a lesson in checking in. In learning a bit more about the places in my life where I forget relying on "happiness within" and instead place it on others. Because losing him felt like losing a piece of myself. A chunk of my history and yes, some of the strength that built up in me as I bloomed out of the dark places I have faced in the past.
It has been a practice in letting go. Because I was not ready. And I did not want to. But I loved him too much to put him through anything unnecessary in order to try and keep him here just for me.
And it has been the ultimate test in looking for the light. In finding happiness in memories, and in celebrating the time that we did share, in celebrating everything that was amazing about his gentle, strong, loving, protective, intelligent and infinitely giving soul instead of getting stuck in the sorrow of not having more.
But I will not lie to you. Grief is the hardest yoga I have ever done.