It seems bad things happen all at once. I even read an article in Oprah about it once aptly called “Surviving Rumble Strips”. The article suggests that bad things all happen together to push us over an edge or out of a comfort zone to help us grow and learn. They offer steps to help survive these series of catastrophes and learn to cope better in the future. In summary the steps are:
Step 1: Apply the Breaks. Slow down. Do only the basics.
Step 2: Was everything really bad or was there something good to learn? What was the good thing?
Step 3: Sleep on it. Some days are not great for making decisions.
Step 4: Recognize the enjoy life’s surprises (like finding an article on coping with stress while under stress).
I’m sharing this because I’ve been going through my own speed bumps between health, family, Splash and the rescue. I’ve hit the rumble strips frequently in the past week and I kept trying to apply the steps to learn and grown. In a moment of weakness I thought: why am I working so hard? I could be at the beach drinking wine with my toes in the sand rather than sweating in the mud and heat covered in dirt.
And then something small and wonderful happened:
Taz verses Mush
I was tired and fighting a throat infection at 1 am while dragging my green rubber boots out to the barn to clean stalls and care for the horses after I got off working my twelve hour shift at midnight. I usually take Taz (my eight pound shih poo) with me when I work on stalls because she likes to stare at the cats, she has too much energy and she makes me laugh.
I crouched down to pet one of the barn cats when Taz charged up from behind me and came face to face with a cantankerous old neutered male we call Mush. The big grey cat was laying on his side in the driveway letting me rub his belly at the time of the insult. Several moments after having a Taz’s face push into Mush’s face, Mush leisurely stretched and stood up to give Taz a big cuddle.
He rubbed his head into Taz’s face and then rubbed his whole body along Taz’s whole body ending with his tail going around her neck ending with the tip tickling her nose. The funniest part was Taz froze in shock. She didn’t move. She didn’t whine or bark. She stood stock still under the feline hug and I laughed. I laughed hard because Taz is the mighty cat hunter who spends all her time staring out the window barking at the cats, because Taz firmly believes cats are on this earth to be chased and not cuddled.
Taz will run up and down the fence line as Mush rolls around a foot from the fence. She’ll race through the house from one window to the next tracking kitten treks, like the cats should file a flight plan for walking. Taz is obsessed with cats, until the night the cat came and gave her a cuddle. My mighty hunter quivered once and froze. She held her stance tall and straight while feline whiskers ticked her nose. After Mush walked away Taz looked in me in exasperated delight and if she could talk I’m sure she’d tell me: I finally caught one!
The next morning I was feeling tired as I let the horses out into the paddocks for the day. Turtle and Splash were already outside when I brought a lollygagging Autumn to the fence. I let her go and she ambled peacefully into the “Rock Paddock” just west of the main gate. Splash was starting to follow her when Turtle shot out of the shelter at the far end of the field and raced over to join Autumn nearly clipping Splash along the way. Well, she must be feel better because once Splash was carefully through the gate she tossed her head, kicked up her heels and trotted vigorously around the Rock Paddock. I’ve never seen Splash kick up her heels before and I laughed as she dropped her head to graze. So many wonderful thoughts filled my head: the medication is working, she’s happy in her home, she’s familiar with her environment and she loves her equine family.
We’ve been talking to our vet Matt a great deal over the past week and I’m sure he’s getting tired of seeing our number pop up on his cell phone, but when we told him about Splash kicking up her heels he said she’ll be 50% happier after her painful eyes are gone. She’ll be a new horse. A new horse without any eyes, but the point is she’ll feel fantastic and she already has a leg up (ha ha horse jargon) because she’s used to being blind.
These are the little moments I treasure working with animals. When you ask why I expend all my energy and money towards them I will tell you they are my morning smiles.