Today, Merlin came home to me by way of a UPS truck.
My beloved, forever shedding Great Pyrenees partner in crime these last 11 years passed on to another form of life. He died because half of his heart had given out, proving my suspicions from his puppyhood that he, like the Whoville Grinch, had a heart that was simply several sizes too big.
After I kissed his nose for the last time at the doggie hospital, I arranged to have his ashes delivered to me, which was supposed to take a day or two at most. Instead, they called me yesterday (14 days later) to tell me they’d accidentally tried to deliver him to another family and that he was still on the UPS truck, on his way to me this time.
Today, true to form, a sweating UPS truck driver sprinted to my door with Merlin solidly lodged under his arm.
As I carried Merlin (in his new state) upstairs, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Nothing in the entire world caused greater gnashing-of-teeth for Merlin than the UPS truck and its attached men in brown. It was the only single thing that taunted him into trampling down fences and sprinting for blocks down rush-hour traffic streets … and here’s how he ended up, lodged in the bowels of the evil incarnate monster itself (AND during the holiday season to boot) in herkyjerky, stop-and-go fashion for two full weeks.
That, my friend, is Karma. Take it from Merlin: If you’re chasing after anything in life with some level of misdirected anger, that very thing will likely get the better of you in the end.
That being said, I’ll give Merlin credit for helping me maintain misdirected frustration and hurt over the last 11 years – even this last year. Merlin was a high-spirited, conniving creature who liked to skitter around on his tippy-toes and create instant wainscoting in every home by sliding drooly, dirty tennis balls along the wall. But he’d also follow me from room to room when he knew I was upset until I’d finally flump down and throw my arms around him. He loved me unconditionally with great warmth and a giving soul that knew no other way to be. And that was a lesson I did, indeed, learn from Merlin.
This last year didn’t start well.
As the New Year began, I found myself struggling with a business I didn’t really like, recovering from a lost love I really wasn’t recovering from, and paying ridiculous rent I didn’t really want to pay anymore. So, ’round about March, Merlin and I had a talk and decided to stop with the misdirected frustration and start creating a better story.
And so we did. As I say in all the stuff I write, “If you don’t like the situation you’re in, recognize you created it and fix it.” It was time to take my own medicine.
Mer and I drove all around the town of Laguna Beach in my little convertible until we found our new home.
With the move made in March to a lovely place just a block from the beach, I then tackled the not liking-my-business issue with renewed determination. Fact is, if you’re not doing what you love to do every day, you’re cheating yourself. I knew there were too many good and exciting people out there to work with, and as I focused on THIS fact, those very people started coming in the door.
It wasn’t until July that I got up the nerve to e-mail the one person I wanted to work with most – my most favorite past client. This client and I have tried and failed at working together twice before, and hitting that initial “SEND” button this time around wasn’t easy. Ten minutes later, however, we were on our way to working together again and now we’re back on track and working quite harmoniously. (Can you imagine? I waited all that time … well, ok, waited and worried all that time with a host of negative scenarios drummed up in my head … and it really just took a little bit of love and a single action step on my side.)
I delight in what I do every day for this man’s company. It’s not easy and it has its tenuous, warbly-chin, pounding headache moments. But, I delight in it. Pure and simple as that. It’s supposed to be that simple, I believe.
On a connected note this year – I also “happened” upon an entire web programming team that’s proven quite capable of handling all my client urgencies. I’ve since added the entire lot to the Armitage, Inc. fold, and as my in-house web team tripled in size, the subsequent client list began to grow, and business is bustling.
What I find most amazing about my new web team is that I was solidly prepared to NOT like working with them after all the experiences I’d had through the years with not-so-great programming teams. But, again, it’s all about focusing on what I want to expand, not on what I don’t want to expand. Fortunately, somewhere along the way, I also realized that chasing programmers down rush-hour streets while barking my fool head off was only going to succeed in getting ME killed – yet another lesson I learned from Merlin, who always and eventually gave up the chase with a shrug and, instead, nosed an easy path home.
On the opposite end of the work spectrum, I somehow ended up in an outrigger canoe club on the wild ocean this summer. How a landlocked Denver girl ever found her way to jumping in and out of a Hawaiian-style 6-man canoe is something I still can’t quite fathom myself, much less explain to anyone else. My friend, Deb, a fellow spin-class victim, made me promise to try it and, after my first grudging day, I was hooked. Line and sinker, I might add.
What I thought would be something kind of friendly and social and interactive . . . like a bowling league on Monday nights … turned out to be a highly competitive 7-month season that entailed at least 20 hours of weekly practice and full days of racing just about every weekend. I was the “stroker” – the Seat #1 gal – for my novice team and we surprised ourselves by winning more than we lost. In August, we were imported into the “big girls’ boats” – the gals who’d been paddling for years. In our last race of the season, we paddled 31 miles to Catalina Island.
Aside from this odd sport opening up a host of uncommon injuries and new battle scars, it also opened up a whole new community of fun, athletic people to me – people from all walks of life who would have never crossed my path otherwise.
I figured it was Merlin’s affable spirit guiding the way. After all, he was the one compelled to wander the neighborhood, moseying into open garages and neighbors’ family rooms (for criminy’s sake) to welcome newbies to the neighborhood or obligingly stand for a friendly ear scratch. When his frantic Mom (me) would finally track him down, my extraverted pup would have a whole new set of friends for me to meet.
Merlin only expected to find love, and his expectations always rang true.
My new outrigger community, coupled with my ever-lasting friends in Denver, work cohorts around the continent, and my growing community of buddies in my new town of Laguna Beach has made for a most enjoyable and busy year. I can’t say I remember enjoying myself so much – ever.
As I’ve spent the last few weeks packing away Merlin’s food bowls, leashes and palm tree-woven collar, I continue to come across drifting Merlin hairs that waft and swirl in the breeze. I grab at them and stuff these precious few hairs into a silver box on my dresser. (They even smell like his doggie shampoo.) I wipe tears away and then laugh at my pathetic-ness: I’m now desperately saving the one item that used to drive me to the brink of insanity.
As a fastidious (aka: clean freak) Virgo, Merlin’s hair, hair and MORE HAIR was initially a frustration. When he was a puppy at our first house together, we got into the habit of sitting together for hours on the patio as I brushed him and gabbled about my day, piling the new haystack of captured Merlin hair in a basket nearby.
I can still remember the spring day when Merlin and I were out on our daily walk and I realized that the birds in the neighborhood were padding their dear nests with Merlin’s soft hair. Telltale tufts of white would peek at us from this branch or that bush, a downy welcome gift for their tiny baby birds.
The discovery stopped me in my tracks. All this time, I’d been bothered about something that others considered a luxurious gift. I never looked at Merlin the same way again.
Indeed, Merlin was my luxurious gift, all gentle eyes, gray-tipped ears, endless shedding hair, drooly chest and giant soul of him.
So, here I sit with Merlin perched on my lap. (This must be nirvana for Merlin – he is, at last, a lap dog.) And his lessons are here in my head:
- If you chase after something in anger, it will find a way to bite you back.
- Be sure to follow your closest friends from room to room when you know they’re upset.
- Give generously of your warmth and soul. You’ve got more where that came from.
- Be the first to press the “SEND” button when you haven’t talked to someone in a while.
- Be the first to wag your tail and say “HELLO,” too.
- There is something about the very essence of you that, while normal or every day in your own opinion, is considered a magical and gracious gift to others.
- Delight in your days. It’s supposed to be that simple.
- And lastly, never lose sight of your family and friends. They’re the home you want to return to, even if the only way to get there is by UPS truck.
After 25 years of writing for Bob Proctor, Diane Armitage is releasing a new book on Dec 1, 2019: “Conversations With Bob: 25 Years of the Most Memorable (Sometimes Super-Whacky) Chats with my Mentor Bob Proctor that Transformed my Ordinary Life to Spectacular.” Read a Sneak Peak Chapter and be the first to order and receive a signed copy by clicking: https://armitageinc.com/conversations-with-bob/