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At this time of year when it is cold and gray and the animals have been eating the dead grass it is particularly hard to be around them. They get grain in the morning and nice green alfalfa in the afternoon but they have their mouths open complete with whinnies and bellows whenever you stick your head out the door. Morning feed is particularly dangerous when you appear with the grain bucket! There is no gratitude. Their god is the belly. It is so easy to wonder why in the heck I do this. And so I have been practicing the “relentlessly cheerful” attitude. The more they complain, the deeper my cheerfulness goes. It is really hard! As I get butted, climbed on, kicked at and smeared with dirt, it is so hard to not swear and cuff and kick back.
I tell myself that these are animals and they can be taught to respect you (to a certain extent) and not reasoned with at all. I tell myself to be the bigger one and just get everybody into a happy state as quickly as possible. As my mom used to say to me, “Consider the source.” I won’t make them happy for more time than it takes to get the food in the belly. It is never enough at this time of year and it will never be enough.
I am having a harder time (let us say close to impossible) being relentlessly cheerful around people. I am besieged by an undercurrent of anger, anxiety, fatigue and indecision. This makes it harder to deal with other’s way of doing things, other’s opinions and other’s ideas. Now I am not in any way pointing at others. I am trying to figure out how to be relentlessly cheerful amidst my interior bellow for more “happy food”. I am in pursuit of humor, lightheartedness and gratitude. I am in pursuit of an early spring sun and the green grasses of generosity, latitude and love needed to foster relationships. It is disturbing to find laughter so hard to find and so hard to cultivate. But for me it has always been so.
Where there is life there is hope. My churlishness doesn’t need to be a god I feed. So everyday I leave the house in the chilly dawn determined to be relentlessly cheerful, doggedly cheerful, no matter what cheerful, in hopes that by practice I might become the cheerful person I so want to be.
I guess the dogs help me. They are pretty cheerful whether I walk them or not. Resigned if they only get one meal a day. Cold or hot they adapt to the lawn or porch. After I have been gone they don’t forget to greet me when I come home. If I can at least do these things, perhaps the deeper stuff will take root.