26 Jun

I know. I know. You were expecting a long dissertation on program evaluation for grant writers. I wanted to write it. Truly, I did. But, it’s just so dang boring. In fact, I’ve been struggling with a little writing self sabotage. I had good news . . . or at least promising news. An agent requested a full; another asked for a partial. Yea!!

Yeah. Good news. So, naturally, I’ve been in a re-writing, self-doubting frenzy. And just as naturally (yes, pun intended, who could resist?)  I headed for the hills.  Not in a rough wilderness way, but in a visit-my-family’s-cabin-with-all-amenities way. For several days, I hung out with Nike and Daisy. I wrote, thought, ate chocolate, and wrote some more.

The girls are pound puppies, and their heritage is indistinct. According to their adoption papers. Daisy’s a border collie/aussie mix and Nike is a blue heeler. They are definitely working dogs and have distinct breed-based styles – Daisy handles perimeter and Nike circles me 24/7 as she would a cattle herd (I deny any resemblance to such).

While I threw a pity party, my canine entourage guarded the interior front and back doors (each took one), and monitored the exterior grounds from windows. During frequent breaks (I needed carbs and diet pepsi; they needed to mark territory), we took deck time and simply listened to the sounds of the forest. And let me tell you, day or night, the forest is a dang noisy place. Admittedly, we barred the doors when the stars hit the heavens. The girls were less eager – being intelligent breeds – to explore the howls of the wolf packs (apparently we’ve two in that range). But from sun to set, they were on recon.

And their diligence, their dedication, and heck, even their near-obsessive joy in the effort smacked me upside the head with an epiphany.

The girls didn’t need to know what might happen next. They didn’t even need a reward. They simply knew their purpose. They knew what they were born to do. And they did not lose faith in the possibility of realizing it.

It’s all about perspective.

What we see is a combination of what we have experienced and what we anticipate. What we see can be limiting. But what we do . . .  what we do is based on the promise.

You can see Daisy in the lower right corner. Nike is probably either laying on my feet or figuring out the most efficient way to trip me. I had no idea what captured Daisy’s attention. Her alert stance lasted a solid five minutes, time enough to watch her, fumble with my camera, and finally take a picture. Is it the bird feeder? The sound of the woodpecker from the far right. Something hiding in the brush?

This scenario played out on the first day. And every day thereafter, at approximately the same time (7a or so), she took almost exactly the same position and didn’t move – barely an ear twitch, and certainly no tail action (that dog’s tail could solve an energy crisis) for several minutes.

Once a fox ran past – nada. Squirrels did nothing for her. Birds, wind, trees creaking, brush cracking. Zip.

Until the final day.

I was packing up, rushing around, ready to give in and head home, hoping another change of venue would help when I saw Daisy do a slow belly flop. She kept her head high, eyes locked on the same general spot. Her only movement was the minute whump whump whump of her tail.

A doe picked her way across the edge of the property, followed by two more, just to the left of the small pine in the middle (the one with a few rusty needles).

Nike, like Daisy, had her purpose of course. She stood behind me, pushed her head between my legs, (thank goodness for yoga or I’d have broken a hip) and huffed out a growly sort of yip. No predatory herbivore was gonna make trouble on her watch.

The deer bounded off. Daisy looked behind (I swear she rolled her eyes). My sweet baby Nike withdrew, planted her furry little behind on the floor and waited for my praise.

Our lesson? Be patient. Take joy in the potential of something wonderful crossing our path.  Don’t forget what we were born to do. And do not lose faith in the possibility of realizing it. Even — and especially — if those around us don’t always appreciate our effort.


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23 responses to “Perspective

  1. Liz Flaherty

    June 26, 2012 at 5:14 AM

    This was a great post! Thank you. I’m going to go look for me some perspective now…

  2. Liz Fredericks

    June 26, 2012 at 6:07 AM

    Thanks Liz! You never know when it’ll hit you. I was checking this post to make sure it launched (and it still looks weird on my browser) and the answer to a plot twist (central to EVERYTHING) came to me. I’ve been struggling with this for weeks. Months.

  3. johannaharness

    June 26, 2012 at 6:17 AM

    I love this post. I thought you were just going for the value of staying focused, but staying focused when your efforts are unappreciated? That’s perfect. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Liz Fredericks

    June 26, 2012 at 6:20 AM

    Thank you, Johanna! It occurred to me that a person doesn’t always do a good job of appreciating their own (reflexive, I know) efforts. A friend of mine notes this as ‘not seeing yourself clearly’. 😉

  5. florence fois

    June 26, 2012 at 7:17 AM

    Liz, I so loved this post. Considering our similar backgrounds I remind you of a funny book written in the 70’s by Frederick Pearls … In and Out of the Garbage Pale … a funny tongue and cheek perspective on Freudians … in the cartoons he depicts the devil and angel arguing on our his shoulders about Freud, his past, his failings, or praising him.

    One line remains with me: “The problem with most people is that they expect either applause or rotten tomatoes.” That wraps up our challenge as writers … do we get a standing ovation for each line or will agents pelt us with rotten tomatoes ??

    Perception is our only reality and truly I do appreciate myself … honest I really do. I would even take the time to clap for me … but I have to keep dodging those darn rotten tomatoes 🙂

    • Liz Fredericks

      June 26, 2012 at 8:00 AM

      Don’t you love postmodern thought . . . we do have quite a few echoes don’t we? I’m lovin’ the tomato/clapping analogy. So, allow me to give you and all of the participants of GSW, bloggers, guest bloggers, & family members (cuz, I’m feeling we have a GSW family of sorts going) a huge round of applause! Do not pay any attention to rotten tomatoes. If only they weren’t bright red, and stinky.

  6. Janis McCurry

    June 26, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    And that’s why I’ve never understood the phrase “dumb animals.” Nice blog.

    • Liz Fredericks

      June 26, 2012 at 8:02 AM

      Thanks, Janis . . . I resolve to take more advice from them. Except in terms of hygiene. I’ve no idea why Nike likes to roll in certain things. I’m sure I’ll have an ‘epiphany’ but for now – ick. The baby’s gettin’ a bath today.

  7. Laura Dion-Jones

    June 26, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    Your girls are absolutely gorgeous. I see love and sensational spirit in their eyes. Thanks for a little slice of your life.

    • Liz Fredericks

      June 26, 2012 at 8:03 AM

      Thank you Laura!! And so good to see you on here. I think my girls are pretty special, but suspect that’s a ‘beauty in the eye of the beholder’ kind of thing. My ex thought they were quite unappealing.

  8. ValRoberts

    June 26, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    Wonderful post, Liz. Your girls are adorable. My dog taught me it’s also important to have fun while you’re doing what you’re born to do. What’s the point if you’re not having fun? It sure isn’t the rock-star adulation or the lucrative paychecks, LOL.

    • Liz Fredericks

      June 26, 2012 at 9:25 AM

      Thanks Val . . . though I’m predicting the rock star adulation is right around the corner for you on your books! Unfortunately, I don’t know that any of us will ever see the big paychecks from publication. This, is why the ‘having fun’ adage is even more important. Sounds like you have a pretty smart dog, too.

  9. Peggy Staggs

    June 26, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    It’s the whole, “be patient,” thing. Sigh. I’m losing mine. But I won’t quit. Bless those dogs!

    • Liz Fredericks

      June 26, 2012 at 9:27 AM

      Don’t quit, Peggy! So, I’m going to quote one of my favorite movies (and I’m not a cerebral moving goer) . . . ‘never give up, never surrender’ from Galaxy Quest. 😉

  10. marsharwest

    June 26, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    Well, shows why he’s your ex! IMHO and I have no right to comment on something so personal, so I apologize in the same breath.

    The girls are gorgeous creatures. Don’t you just love the “herding” thing? My Jack Russell does that. Bless her heart, she can’t hear anymore, but still jumps 3 ft straight up. When she wants me to do something, she’s at my feet circling and then nudging. She’s so determined, I give in. Guess we know who the boss is.

    Now to the post. LOL This is beautifully written, Liz. Congrats on the “applause” from the agents. It is indeed “good news.” Fingers crossed for you one of these will be the one. Faith is believing in what we can’t see. The “tomatoes” leave red splotches on us–so hard to ignore. The applause, which we treasure, we quickly forget at the first sign of one of those red things coming our way. Determined persistance is all that left to us. Keeping a positive perspective in the up and downess of this business is a challenge. One I believe we’re up for.

    • Liz Fredericks

      June 26, 2012 at 9:30 AM

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Marsha, and for the moral support for my dogs 😉
      I think JR terriers are amazing creatures, though kudos for you on keeping up with the little gal. They have boundless energy. I like ‘determined persistence’ . . . here’s to keeping it!

  11. Meredith Allen Conner

    June 26, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    Love this post Liz!!! I’m so glad you had Nike and Daisy to give you some perspective while you were at the cabin.
    My favorite part: The girls didn’t need to know what might happen next. They didn’t even need a reward. They simply knew their purpose. They knew what they were born to do. And they did not lose faith in the possibility of realizing it.

    • Liz Fredericks

      June 26, 2012 at 9:32 AM

      Thanks, Mer . . . I know you have a rather supportive little menagerie as well. I wonder if it is a common thing for writers to draw upon the unquestioning support of their pets? I know Peg’s cats are in residence when she writes . . . my dogs are never far . . . doesn’t your chihuahua sit on a platform behind your chair? Hmmmm. . . .

  12. Lynn Mapp

    June 26, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    I get to piggyback off of Meredith. Know your purpose. It’s easy to let “other” things get in your way. Other things like the “reward”. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

  13. Liz Fredericks

    June 26, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    The keep going part is a bit easier when other people are doing the same. I think these messages resonate with me to a greater degree when they come from writers because I KNOW they struggle with the same intellectual and creative vulnerability.

  14. maryvine

    June 26, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    Congrats on the requests, Liz! I’m very happy for you! Thanks for a great blog on perspective. Loved it.

  15. stephaniebergets

    June 27, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    Great post, Liz. Oh, Dottie sends an invite to Nike. She has discovered the worst smelling patch of… something and she delights in rolling in it whenever she finds time. Her day job is keeping the pheasants out of the grain field. She is one Border Collie who knows her purpose.


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