As I was walking the dog this morning, for some reason, I just couldn't help but notice his shadow. Weirdly, when he put his head down to sniff, his shadow would morph from dog to wolf. Once it caught my eye, I couldn't stop watching it, or thinking of the classic story about the two wolves in each of us. Which of my wolves is being fed the most?
There was a time in my life where I have to admit, I didn't feed the good wolf near enough. I don't consider that I was ever a bad person, but I do know I spent a fair amount of time feeding my evil wolf. I'd like to think I don't anymore, but my ego is strong. It likes to be in control. It likes to tell me how inadequate I am. It likes to blame. It likes to hold onto things and get angry. Like you, I am a work in progress.
The good news is I am work in progress, which means I am still alive to keep growing and working. Even my morning walks have more meaning. I still often spend them listening to a podcast, but I often prefer to just enjoy the walk, marvel at the blue sky and practice presence. Presence is something I am not good at. I like to dwell in the past, or ruminate in the future, but being here, and only here, is quite a struggle. It's a weak muscle for me, but one I am developing.
My dog Theo is one of my greatest teachers on learning presence. Theo loves life and walks. It doesn't matter what the weather is, cold, foggy, rainy, windy, no matter, he is always excited to go on walk. He doesn't question the weather before we leave. He doesn't tell me he's not feeling it. He doesn't tell me he's been out three times already and he's fine. He doesn't say me he's tired, or give me any excuse, ever. In fact, if I took him on 100 walks a day, he would still nearly pee himself every time I get his leash ready. He is always ready and present, something I could learn from.
Theo uses our morning walks to simply enjoy life. He doesn't think about his to-do list for the day. He doesn't complain that it's too cold. He doesn't distract himself with a podcast or music.
So, I decided to try to stop multi-tasking. Stop "doing." Start being. How could I ever hear from God if I was always drowning him out? I loved nature, but I wasn't relishing my time in it. I wasn't looking in awe at the blue sky. I wasn't admiring the trees. I was biding my time until my dog did his business, or until my song ended or my podcast was over. I wasn't being present at all.
So, it was then that I stopped taking my phone with me on my walks. I stopped feeding my wolf's ego that I must make distract myself or make use of every moment. Now, I walk alone, or I walk with my husband and we pray together for everyone we love and the day ahead of us. You'd be surprised at how this simple practice changes your day and your outlook. Just getting present with God for 15 minutes every day is life-changing.
As I look backwards on my life, I realized I've fed my inner wolf way too many things he didn't need. I lived with bitterness and resentment and anger. I fought off anxiety, guilt and self-pity. I did as good as I knew, at the time, but the more guilt I fed my wolf, the bigger the dark side of him became. The negative thoughts would overtake me, leaving me often in a fight against myself.
As I've grown, I stopped feeding my wolf a victim mentality. I started feeding him positive thoughts. I became my own best friend. I stopped blaming others for my circumstances and started looking for the lessons in each storm cloud. I fed him kindness and peace and love and, as I did, the dark side of him shrunk and the good side of him began to fill me with enough.
This may be a weird angle to take from a dog's shadow, but we are all physical beings, united on Earth. God put us here with special and higher capabilities. So, if my dog can figure out how to enjoy the morning walk, I figure, I'm probably supposed to get present and enjoy it as well. It's amazing the ideas I come back with. The peace I am filled with after just thru 15-30 minutes of getting quiet, being present and opening a door for God to enter.
Try it. Feed your inner wolf a little quiet time today. I still enjoy walking with a podcast, but only if I've given God the proper amount of time beforehand. Do what connects you. Sit with God. Walk with God. Let him fill the emptiness. You won't regret it, and when you look forward, you'll notice that shadow you were watching, has returned to the loving being it was created to be.
Angela Miller is a Professional Life Coach passionately pursuing her purpose to help others remember who they are and how to become their best self. For more information, visit www.soaringforward.com.