By Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist
With the advent of the Spring Equinox this Monday, March 20th, we begin to shake off our hibernal urges of deep winter and celebrate the season of renewal.
What a joyous time it is when “Spring has Sprung.” And, the perfect time to create new beginnings in our being about how we might keep an eternal spring in our step.
With this in mind, what I would like to share with you are some Lessons from Lucy. She did a lot of joyful living in the 15.5 years she traveled this Earth. We were together for nearly 15 of those years after she adopted me when I met her at the animal shelter in New Orleans.
I could write a whole blog post on the wellness benefits of pets, but today, I am inspired to share the inherent wellness wisdom I learned from one of my most gifted teachers about her way of being in the world that supported a good life.
Lucy was a 50-pound border collie and black lab mix. Her head was all border collie and heart was all lab so I always said she tried really hard to be good, but found it difficult. Upon meeting her, the vet proclaimed “she had a BIG personality.” Lucy had a rough start to life. Abandoned. Left short tied. Beaten and shot with BB’s. Yet, her zest for life never wavered.
Lucy was more than a beloved companion. As a working dog, she needed a purpose, and she appointed herself as my guide dog to be sure I was ok and on track. As such, she was passionate about getting me through some of the biggest challenges of my adult life.
She was at my side during a hellish divorce, unexpected job changes, several health challenges, and surgeries. With a deep empathetic connection, she comforted me in ways that were profound, got me out of bed when life seemed a bit overwhelming, dried my tears, and always made me laugh out loud with her comedic antics. But, mostly, she had the most amazing ability to actively listen. We had a lot of talks about deep stuff and she kept my secrets safe.
Throughout her lifetime, she was also very adaptable. We made many moves through several states. If she had her favorite bed and toy, she was willing to go with positive outlook and a sense of adventure for whatever awaited us.
Lucy was willing to forgive. We were inseparable except for two occasions. After I broke my neck, I remain eternally grateful to the friends and caregivers who kept her safe and well for those first six months away from our home. And, though Lucy was clearly ticked at me when I could finally retrieve her, she forgave me after a short bit and a long hug. And, then, she became an emotional support dog thereafter before I knew what that was — really illuminating the lessons of unconditional love. Three years ago, this summer, it was finally her time finally time to pass into the great beyond for a well deserved eternal rest. And, for her sake, I learned the grace of letting go.
Lucy was hale and healthy keeping a spring in her step right up until the end when nature just finally took its course. Her life expectancy was 10-12 years, and yet she lived a quality life for several years beyond. And, I think, this was in large measure because of her optimistic outlook, zest for living and joy in small things daily. She didn’t dwell on the past, or worry about the future. She lived in the present and taught me how to get the most out of how to be.
When we lived in New England, spring was one of Lucy’s favorite seasons. There was always an extra spring to her step, especially when the sunshine was melting the last of the snow and just as the daffodils — those happy, hardy harbingers of spring — were making their reappearance.
What was best of all was that the squirrels were once again active. In her later years, chasing the squirrels became more of a game. She didn’t have an expectation of catching them, she just used them as incentive to run short sprints (with me attached at the end of the leash). She didn’t get frustrated at the outcome, but rather, took joy in the madcap journey of the moment.
On another March day four years ago, in what turned out to be her last best spring season, we made her annual checkup visit to the vet.
I recently came across her exam notes and am reminded how profoundly she shifted my awareness about how to live the good life. I had recorded them to share someday.
It feels like that perfect someday is now — a synchronicity to reviewing them again this March as gift during her birthday month for us during this season of renewal.
Notes from the visit:
“Today was Lucy’s 98,000 mile check up. She turned 14 this week (98 in dog years)! Her vet continues to be amazed at her excellent health. Heart and lungs pronounced “gorgeous!” Strength excellent. A bit of arthritis — just a little creaky in the back hips. No pain management needed at this time. Loss of peripheral vision, but otherwise ok. Some possible hearing loss, but had wax cleaned out of ear. Hearty appetite and digestion excellent, but adding some Pepcid for some occasional reflux at night. May have a possible touch of dementia, but it could also just be her big personality coupled with age. A few skin tags and fatty tumors, but muscle tone excellent.”
So, in observing her lifetime of near perfect health here are:
Lessons from Lucy
- Eat a nutritious diet.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Take your supplements.
- Enjoy yummy, guilt-free treats on occasion and be excited about them.
- Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Generally at the same time, and get at least 8 hours of sleep.
- Take naps.
- Get outside in the sunshine.
- Have structure to your day, but allow flexibility.
- Exercise at least 15 minutes daily.
- Engage in a brain game daily.
- Be curious about the world around you.
- Use your noggin to sort things out.
- Trust your instincts.
- Be bold but know when to retreat.
- Give and receive love unconditionally.
- Find your purpose and live it. It’s OK if it changes over life stages.
- Be in social relationships with others and understand the boundaries and roles of each.
- Manage your stress by having outlets for it.
- Push yourself to do more, even if you are unsure if you can.
- Ask for what you want or need.
- Accept loving help from others.
- Be yourself.
- Allow your personality to shine.
- Don’t grow old because of your chronological age, or physical limitations.
- Live in the present and treat each moment as a gift.
- Enjoy the world around you.
- Spread happiness, laughter and joy.
As a nose hound, scent was incredibly important to Lucy. She literally took in the world by smelling everything she passed. A jogger’s dog she wasn’t, because she stopped so frequently, suddenly, and randomly to be able take long and deep sniffs of whatever pleased her senses. Though she loved to be active, the best part of her walks were to “stop and smell the roses” all along our path.
Though Lucy is no longer physically here, her spirit and teachings remain. In this season of renewal I hope you find the Lessons from Lucy helpful in keeping your own Eternal Spring in Your Step.
I have included these blends to support you on your path. You can add to your diffuser, triple the recipe to add to an inhaler stick to take along, or add a drop to a diffuser necklace to always be with you.
Lucy’s Love of Life Blend
2 drops mandarin
1 drop bergamot
1 drop coriander
1 drop elemi
This is playful, joyful, zesty blend that also helps us support peace and clarity.
I have also included a repeat of a crowd favorite from a previous blog, The Sunshine State.
2 drops grapefruit
2 drops mandarin
1 drop spearmint
This blend helps lifts the spirits with child-like joy and optimism.
Kein, Joni, and Ruah Bull. Aromatherapy & Subtle Energy Techniques: Compassionate Healing with Essential Oils. N.p.: CreateSpace, 2015. Print.