Day 14 & 15 of 30: Standing in other people’s shoes + the gift of perspective

Both my mom and my brother are out of town right now, which has never happened at the same time. Both are the nurturing ones of the family. They are great at cooking and taking care of the pets and all that. And so, my dad and I are kind of lost without them. Which is weird to say, but true.

My brother has two dogs of his own, and normally watches my dog when I stay at my boyfriend’s house. Every other weekend, for 3 nights in a row, my brother takes care of my dog. I’ve gotten texts from him before about how Floyd (my pup) rolled in rabbit poop and he had to give him a bath. It was easy for me to be like, “Oh no! What a shit show! (lol) Thanks for cleaning him up.” And then to quickly go back to fun life with my boyf.

But never did I really see how much went into taking care of three dogs at the same time, all with different personalities and preferences and quirks. (And his two refuse to listen to me. They seem to be deaf to my voice only.)

My bro had been gone for 5 hours and already one of his dogs had escaped, rolled in some sort of animal carcass and/or poop and/or skunk juice, and then came back and jumped all over my bro’s clean comforter and pillows.

It’s been a day and a half and I’m still trying to get the smell out of the comforter and sheets. It took me over an hour to get the smell out of the dog. I tried special dog wipes, I tried natural dog shampoo (which was a joke—it didn’t help at all), I tried antibacterial hand soap and dish soap. Ultimately, I put the dog in the bath tub and my dad poured tomato juice on her while I rubbed it into the stench on her neck.

It looked like a massacre in the tub.

So there I am, in my work clothes, having just come home from work… And the plan was to relax and then go to 2 classes of Choi.

Buuut… Instead I spent the evening cleaning animal guts off my brother’s dog and then washing my hands fifteen (truly, fifteen) times to try and get the smell off ME.

And you know what I felt?

GRATITUDE.

BECAUSE HOLY SHIT. My brother has dealt with this crap (heh heh) with Floyd! I hadn’t seen the behind-the-scenes. I’d been the one away on mini vacays while he fed the dogs and made sure they didn’t eat each other’s food and all that jazz. And he never, ever, complained. In a year and a half, he hasn’t complained a single time.

This morning I woke up to one of the dogs somehow stuck in my mom’s garden. There was no texting my brother, “Your dog is caught in a barking loop in the backyard” and then going back to my baking shows. Oh no. There was putting on boots to go through the mud to get to the garden, removing said dog from the garden, making sure my mom’s pond fish were still alive and that the dog hadn’t eaten them, watering my mom’s tomato plants, and sheep-dogging all the dogs back into the damn house and wiping off muddy paws.

Getting a glimpse of someone else’s perspective is eye-opening. It’s stopped me in my tracks, really.

And… I’m normally kind of an asshole to his two dogs. Just… Indifferent. They’ve always seemed annoying and poorly behaved to me. But now they’re following me everywhere, asking for belly rubs, giving me smooches, and showing me the adorable L-O-V-E that resides behind the annoying barks and animal carcass smells and inability to listen to their Auntie Jen.

It’s causing me to open my heart, to appreciate everything my brother does behind-the-scenes that I’ve unknowingly taken for granted. And it WOWS me. It WOWS me to see how much other people do for the ones they love. And I wonder where I can improve on that.

See, I spent many years over-giving… And doing it from a somewhat selfish place. I wanted to be liked or I wanted to one-up the other in my invisible tally-mark system. Only recently – like in the last year – have I started to experience true selflessness of doing something for the sake of helping with zero attachment or expectation. And it’s one of the most heart-warming and settling and invigorating and at-times-exhausting-but-totally-worth-it experiences I’ve ever had.

It helps me love myself more, because I’m becoming the person I always pretended to be. The person I’ve always wanted to be but didn’t have the capacity to be. I’m becoming her. I’m becoming me.

And I really love this me I’m becoming. A me who takes care of herself and is thus able to show up for others in a healthy, balanced way. A me who celebrates her victories, who follows through on her word, and who takes ample time for rest and recharge without guilting herself about it.

I also had the privilege of helping my boyfriend with his daughters. I got to spend some one-on-one time with them and go through the nighttime routine. This is something many people do with their kids. But, as someone who never babysat and has never had kids or nieces/nephews, this was a first-time thing for me. Again, I felt compassion and gratitude in me grow as I got to witness first-hand how much my boyfriend loves his daughters… How great of a job he does taking care of them. I got to do bedtime snuggles and read a book using lots of different voices (and they pay attention, too – they had zero problem letting me know if I mucked up a voice). This is something I never in my life thought I’d do. I just didn’t think it was in the cards for me.

And yet, this is where life has led me. One heartfelt decision at a time, one day at a time, I’ve found myself in a wonderfully loving and healthy relationship, learning a new role with the kiddos, and also expanding in compassion toward my brother and his [adorable] shit-heel dogs. I spent fifteen minutes giving the 14-year-old Beagle a belly and back rub because he can no longer reach those places for a good scratch. I spent a few more minutes with the other one scratching her ears.

Just… Loving on others. Truly loving on them. Truly caring for them. And doing so in an open-hearted way with zero expectation for anything in return.

I feel tired, and in the best way possible. Like… I’ve done my part as a human today. I’ve spread love and I’ve helped others… And I’ve done so with the right intentions.

And for that, I’ll sleep great tonight.

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Some days, I paint. Other days, I write. And rap. And tell stories. And do comedy. And doodle. And [attempt to] bake. And, one week out of every month, I merge with my sofa and sob about mortality and things like the existence of air and how we can't live without it and how utterly claustrophobic that is to consider. I'm relatively particular. And this is a place for me to share ALL the quirks.

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