My Dog Taught Me to Let My Freak Flag Fly and My Life is Better for It

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My dog is “that” dog.

There is no mystery with her; she doesn’t play coy. As you come walking along with your tame dog, mine is doing aerials while wagging her tail so hard she’s smacking her own sides.

Your dog is thinking, ‘Really? Is this one of my own? I’m so embarrassed.’

My dog is the thinking, ‘I just want to jump on your face and smother you with kisses. Aren’t you so excited to be alive and friends with me? Let’s play with wild abandon!’

I get it. I’ve been that girl. I won’t smother you but sometimes I just can’t hide the excitement in connecting with a kindred soul. I have a hundred questions to ask and even more stories. And I’ve tried really hard to play it cool, wear my serious business, NYC subway face and hide the heart on my sleeve but honestly, it’s not me.

Watching this pup made me realize, my life needed more joy, laughter, and play. My life needed more of me and what makes me unique. Whether it’s a dog or a cat aged 17 or 3 months, she wants to connect with every single, one and have a party. I’m watching her learn who is for her and who is nothing more than a mere butt sniff. That alone is a life lesson worth noting.

So, how exactly do you allow yourself to play, laugh, embrace joy and be the most gorgeous, freak flag flying version of you without holding back?

Yes, I know that’s a challenge. I’ve held myself back in plenty of situations for fear of being judged. However, the reality is holding back hasn’t prevented me from being judged — sometimes quite harshly — by family and friends. So, here’s what I’ve come to realize. When people are in full-fledged judgment mode that is more about their fears than what you’re doing in life. So, let them live inside their fear while you live inside your joy.

What feels better — holding yourself back because you are worried about what other’s think or the joy you feel when you are being exactly who you are? Close your eyes, breathe deep for a minute and recall an experience of being you and the joy that brought you. If you were a dog, your tail would be wagging wildly, so find that wild wag inside you. Notice where you feel it. Now follow that feeling like the yellow brick road and don’t look back as it will lead you to the home of your heart.

You don’t need to think for other people. They have their own Universe to manage and you have yours. Your life is your business so focus on that and stop imagining what others might think of you. Think loving thoughts about you and let yourself shine. Make that your full-time job.

Before her, it would be easy to walk through the world preoccupied with my thoughts, missing most of the magic around me. Happily, she reminds me to stay present, connect and be myself — vulnerable, open, playful, curious. She reminds me that the excitement that bursts forth when I recognize a kindred or become inspired by a random person’s outfit or anything really that is born from good intentions is worth sharing with others. There is joy to be found in letting my freak flag fly. My dog is “that” dog and I am “that” owner and somehow that feels right in the world.

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Natasha R.

Creativity/Yoga Coach and Writer designing programs that combine healthy living practices with the the arts to ease anxiety and spark joy.