This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Motivation for Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for week 6

My dog Clooney, not George
So if last week wasn't stressful enough, this one topped it. My own progress here has been stifled by my dog's poor health. Last night, I made the painful decision "put my dog down," as they say.

Euthanasia. That's the word that had been pummeling around in my mind for the past two weeks, since my dog experienced her latest bout of cluster seizures. Yesterday, when she experienced yet another, and even before that -- because she warned me what was coming with her labored breathing -- I knew I'd be taking her in to see the vet again, the vet specialist. And I suspected I'd be making this heavy decision very soon.

What I didn't expect was the latest diagnosis?

"Were you aware that Clooney has heart problems?"

I said I was. "She has a heart murmur. Yes, I know."

"Yes, because of that, it seems her seizures may have brought about heart failure. We believe Clooney is experiencing heart failure. That's why she's been having trouble breathing. The fluid in her lungs is the result of that."

The vet went on to explain how blood travels through the body, which way it's supposed to go, what happens when a heart murmur interferes with that, how Clooney's heart had been working way past overtime to try to keep up, and on and on. I tuned most of that out. I just heard: Seizures. Fluid in her lungs. And now heart failure!

You can imagine why I'd have to finally realize I need to come to terms with something: My dog IS going to die. Either I let her go peacefully, or she continues to suffer. When you look at a precious life that way, the decision is already made.

So, I rounded up support -- my boyfriend, my daughter, my pet sitter who has become the surrogate mom for Clooney. We all went to the vet clinic together, and we all said goodbye to my pet. And we all watched her peacefully slip away. It was very fast, seemingly pain-free, and I think she was ready. Before her final minutes, when we were still hanging out with her in the patient's room, she had yet another seizure, albeit a small one, leaving a puddle of pee on the floor because she'd lost control of her bladder. It was as if she was telling me something I already knew. She was ready.

I took her for one last walk in the parking lot. She didn't really seem to be there, or know why she was there. She was moving back and forth, not going anywhere. But it was something she loved to do, and the vet suggested it might be a good idea for me. This was Clooney's life: Walk. Eat. Sleep. Walk. Eat. Snack. Sleep. Some playtime in between. Her favorite things. Oh, and eat some more.

That dog could put away the food, up until her very last day. The morning of the final seizure that had me placing her on the beach towel, the one I used to dry her off after her bath, on our final road trip to the vet, she had had no problem eating. She took her medicine easily, especially since it came with a big slice of banana, and she ate her breakfast -- in seconds, as always. You'd never know she was as ill as she was. You just wouldn't suspect it...

Until a few hours later when she came hunting me down, trying to get my attention. I was upstairs looking for a photograph I needed for an essay I was writing. And there she was, out of breath -- or having a hard time breathing. I told her I'd be right there. She left to go lay in the sun but couldn't get comfortable and came to me, scratching at my leg, trying to get my attention again.

She was experiencing the beginning of what would have been very painful heart failure -- a slow death. I didn't know that then, but I knew she was not feeling well. I picked her up and took her downstairs with me and laid her in the hallway, cupping her furry face in my hands, telling her, "I think you need to go to the vet. But Mommy has to get dressed first." I left her there while I dressed in the other room, and must have gotten up, because then I heard her collapse seconds later. She was near the front door. When I reached her, she was in the middle of a seizure that left her screaming for help. She'd had so many of them by now, and there was nothing I cold do. I was used to those. But her breathing. I could tell it was so difficult for her. I watched her rib cage move in and out, pushing her body so far away from itself that I thought she might explode. I waited for her to recover enough that I could give her another dose of Phenylbarbitol -- the drug I was told to give her more of should she seize again.

I then called the vet and let them know I was bringing Clooney in. They were ready when we arrived. It would be hours later, after they'd had time to examine her, do more x-rays, and get her comfortable, when I'd be told that she was in heart failure mode. At that point, I knew what I would have to do. But I wanted someone to tell me. I wanted to be sure.

You can never be sure. You just have to do what Cameron discusses this week in Chapter 7: Trust your intuition. You just have to take some risks in life. Last night, I did that. And now I believe my dog is at peace.

What does this have to do with The Artist's Way? Not much, other than this is what I've been coping with this week. And that is why I've barely written a single sentence of Morning Pages. And I only had my Artist Date because I was out of town on a shortened visit for an assignment to write about Civil Rights. So I guess you could say I lucked into that.

So this will not be the week that I motivate you. It was not the week that Cameron motivated me. It will be known as the week I survived the death of my dog. And that's pretty much it. Chapter 6 discusses Recovering a Sense of Abundance. And I did experience that on an assignment level this past week. One of my editors sent me 4 assignments in one day. But that's hardly anything I care about right now.

In Chapter 7, which maybe you've read by now, the focus is on Connection. What an appropriate topic for me this week -- a little serendipity there -- as I am reminded of how our connections with our pets can sometimes supersede our relationships with our human companions.

In the weeks ahead, it will be a challenge for me to focus on those assignments I was given. I will be missing my dog. These will be the days that I notice she is no longer sitting at my feet, underneath my desk as I type. She will no longer jump up and paw on my lap to get me to let her outside for a potty break. She will no longer escape the front door and run down the street to our friend who watches her when I am out of town. She knows exactly how to get there and will go there, if given the chance, as it's there that she gets to socialize with her other doggy friends. But she will no longer do that. And she will no longer be waiting at the door for me when I return home from a hike or a meeting or a bike ride. She will no longer jump in the shower after me so she can lick the shower floor. When she was younger, she'd lick my legs dry first. Funny dog. And she won't be there wagging her tail when I open the pantry door because she thinks she's getting a treat. She always got the treat. But I won't be buying doggie treats anymore. These are things I will be thinking about in the weeks ahead. Probably not too much about what Cameron has to say, though I will continue the reading and do the work as best I can. And I will post here. I will go through the motions, because I'll probably need it. Please continue to post your own thoughts so we can keep the dialogue going. I'll probably surprise myself with how much happens, because, life will still go on for me.

I will not be getting another dog, so don't ask. Clooney was an unexpected guest, the pet someone else had tossed away. She'd been a street dog when she was put into our backyard more than 11 years ago. We had a good life together. She was fun. She was obnoxious. She was sometimes aggressive. Okay. A lot of times. She was feisty. And when my divorce happened, I got custody of her. She was a very true companion during some very difficult days of my life. She experienced anxiety when I did. She was happy when I was--and even when I wasn't. She slept with me. She ate some things she wasn't supposed to eat. She dragged in mud when I'd rather she didn't. She once brought a few dead birds into the house. Ewwww. She signed the wet concrete slab I mixed and poured to hold an outdoor water fountain with her paw prints. She was always there, waiting for hugs and kisses and loved to be held. She was a pretty faithful companion, and I'm certain she won't be replaced. I've no need. Because of my traveling schedule, it wasn't always easy to leave her, especially in these last months. And it was often quite expensive. So, no new dog for me. I'll spend my extra time with my grandbabies now, because that's what I've been told I'll do. :-)

And, today, despite my intense desire to go curl up in my bed and hug a doggie toy, I have a deadline to meet.

I hope your day and week gets off to a much better start. Keep progressing. There's no good reason not to.

(Photo of Clooney above was taken two days ago at my neighbor's house; we both knew it might be the last)

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.


wizardofwords said...

Clooney was a looker, Jackie - right until the end.

Cherish the memories. And one day ... you may be ready to get another furry friend. I know I did.

Irene S. Levine, PhD said...

Your beautiful eulogy brought tears to my eyes. May he rest in peace.

Kate said...

Wonderful post. Wonderful dog. Beautiful relationship. Thanks so much for posting, and I'm thinking of you. It's a tough road, losing a beloved pet.

Susan Weiner, CFA said...

Very touching, Jackie.

Cindy White said...

Jackie you made me weepy remembering my experience with my wonderful little dog of 14 years. I never replaced her either...
Love to you.

Teresa Bitler said...

Sorry to hear about Clooney. I had to put down a dog this past year, and I know how difficult it can be.

I'm having some positive experiences with The Artists Way, but I'll share those next week. A lot of things seem to be surfacing right now.

Karen said...

Jackie-that was a beautiful eulogy. Thinking of you this week. RIP Clooney. Karen

Diane Faulkner said...

It was so hard to read about Clooney. I've had to put down three of my own animals and one friend's in the space of six years. Now, I have one who's been stolen.

Our animals are such good friends - our best friends, really, because they can only love us. Their need of us for basics, their willingness to accept our foibles and still love us is unimaginable in a human. I cannot live without them in my life. To lose one, to have to put one down, is heart-wrenching, but to know he knows you loved him and cherished him does help take away the sting, in only infinitesimally.

I'm glad he's at peace. I hope you will be, too, soon.

BIKE LADY said...

Thank you for all of these very kind comments. That was really hard to do, but as my friend told me, I had to step up to the plate and think of my pet and what she was going through. But why do they come bouncing back the day you make your decision? That's the hard thing. You question your own judgment. But I know what would have happened next. She would have been in distress again. I do beleive she's at peace. I'm getting there. Thanks, Diane.

Diane Faulkner said...

Part I

Week six was interesting. I started out the week finding an ad for a vp-hr at my credit union. I used to be a vp-hr at another cu here in town before I left to take care of my dad.

I applied for the job.

I started thinking about how it would be great to have that money coming in, to have benefits. I loved my job when I was at CFCU. Loved it. The only reason I left was because I was offered twice my salary to revamp an hr department at an arch/eng/design/build company. Not only that, I needed to change the culture from a good-ol'-boy environment to one that was more inclusive. In the then 62-year history of the firm, I was the first woman to head a department.

All the other people who headed departments were vps. When I learned I would not have that title, but Director instead, I should have walked away, but I didn't. I hated that job. I knew better than to take a job based on money alone, and I did it anyway. I stayed for 13 excruciating months and left. Within two weeks, my puppy died. Two weeks later, I took a spill in the grocery store that left me in therapy through the summer, and when the summer ended, I had a dad problem. Flew up to Michigan to care of it, two weeks later, had to fly up again to move him down here, because he was beat up (for the forth time that year) and in the hospital. The next few years were spent taking care of him and building my writing career. Once he was done with all his hospitalizations, I moved him out of my house and into the apartments that are on the other side of my woods. I had several months of great writing work, and then I burned out. A ghostwriting gig fell in my lap, and I moved from publishing articles to writing and editing books and haven't been able to publish an article since (2003). Have had no ideas. Have had no energy. Have had no drive to research and write something for myself. Now that I want to get back into it, I'm faced with another dad thing, which is killing me.

I wonder if my punishment from the universe for quitting my vp job was my experience with the following job. I wonder if my ability to write for myself was lost to me as a punishment for moving my dad closer to me and taking over all his affairs, setting aside everything that was important to me. I shouldn't have done it.

I wonder if this job opening is the universe tempting me to step away from publishing altogether and get back to doing what I loved?

Maybe. But I was thinking about that last night. I did love what I did at CFCU. I loved it to the point where I was done with it and needed more than the job offered. I started writing for a magazine while I was there. Actually, I wrote for two magazines. I started speaking at conferences on what I wrote. When I left, I had already started a side consulting business. I wanted to be in and around what I was doing, but I wanted to show other people how to do what I did, in person or in writing.

Diane Faulkner said...

Part II

So, maybe what I need to do is write about those subjects again. I get to that place, and then I realize that, because I'm no longer a vp, I don't believe I have the same expertise or perceived expertise that I once did as I'm not a practitioner, but a theorist. It was my theories, though, that I put in place; and my results were what people wanted to copy. I found that my lack of belief in my place as an expert is what keeps me from believing an editor will buy what I'm selling. I have to get over that if I want to be as successful as I was before I started writing and editing books.

I've put the notion of that job out into the ether. I applied, and either I get an interview, or I won't. If I get the interview, I know I'll get the job.

I don't know if that counts as a synchronicity.

I do know, though, that meeting this guy in the grocery store was synchronicity. I had read chapter six Sunday night/Monday morning, which is all about religious-type crap and money from what I got out of it. I have a negative view of both - obviously. My biggest problem with organized religion is that I find the "true believers" are quite the haters. If you don't conform to their norm, they treat you as worse than second class. They would never admit so, but they do. They speak out against LGBTs and many won't allow them to worship in their churches, which is against the teachings of their Christ who welcomed all "sinners." Most treat women as second-class. Pedophilia is rampant in every religion, as is adultery. I find these people fake and have no respect for them. I don't find myself anywhere and don't learn anything when I attend Mass. I stopped going several years ago.

I studied religion for nearly six years at college, by the way. World religions, history of religion, Protestantism, Catholicism, Paganism, Confucianism, etc. You name it, I studied it. I'm also related to Bl. Edel Quinn who is on her way to becoming a Saint and have a priest and/or nun in nearly every generation save for my dad's and mine on his mother's side of the family. It's not like I have no experience. Oh, my mother's brother is a Baptist minister, too.

Meeting this guy made me realize how far away I was from my own spirituality. He was a skinny black guy with his front teeth rimmed in gold. He saw me on the scooter with my crutches rising out of the basket, and blessed me and said I would be made whole. Not just healed, but whole. He then explained the difference, and then started telling me things about myself and what was coming up for me in the near future. He told me I should do certain things that I was thinking of doing for myself, things I had spoken to no one he'd ever known, I'm sure, since he'd told me he didn't have a church, but preached on the road in other churches and to preachers themselves. He actually gave me a bit of hope - a word I hate - and inspired me to take many items off my to-do list that very day, which I did. One large thing was to close out the latest book I was ghosting, which I hope - there's that word again - will lead the universe to fill that huge gap with something big that I can't wait to start on and will enjoy that will make me good money. How's that for turning around? Hating on religion and money to turn around and be exciting about something spiritual and potentially money-making?
I'm looking forward to the next week/this week's reading and exercises. I want to see what comes next.

Diane Faulkner said...

I know what you mean, Jackie, about them bouncing back just when you're taking them to be put down. It happened with every one of my pets. I have to tell myself it's that they're excited that they get to go to that next place and that they know they're not going to hurt anymore. It's what I hope. It's what I have to tell myself to make it through the next days until I find that I can live beyond them - never without them, though, as they are always with me in my heart and thoughts.

Paul Vachon said...

Jackie, I feel so badly for you I don't know what to say. Please know that both you and Clooney are in my thoughts and prayers, and that I wish you peace.

Paul Vachon

BIKE LADY said...

Thank you also to Paul and Diane. Diane, I hope you find what you're looking for. First, you have to figure out what that is, but then, I hope you find it. I believe in hope. Sometimes, it's all we have. And when that's the case, it has to be good enough -- for the time being. Hope, by the way, can lead to positive action. So keep that in mind this next week, as you work on your Connections. It is interesting that you encountered this man. That could very well be serendipitous.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you have lost your friend and companion.

Diane Faulkner said...

I wish I believed in hope. I always believed that hope represents the lies you need to tell yourself in order to get through something difficult.

Lorrie said...

I'm so, so sorry to hear of Clooney's passing, Jackie. I'm thankful that she isn't suffering anymore, and that you followed you instinct to do what you had the ability to do. Things like this are never easy, but you did the right thing and reached out for support -- equally important.

May your memories of Clooney bring you joy. I know that she taught you a lot.

Kim said...

What a beautiful tribute, Jackie. You mourn and deal with this as you need to and don't worry about encouraging or inspiring the rest of us. Although you did just that by sharing this. Here's my week 6 check-in: