Lessons From My Dog: What Mila taught me about mindfulness and money
Just a few short days ago, my sweet French Bulldog, Mila, passed away. On Monday, we found a lump. On Wednesday, she had surgery to remove it. But by Friday, it was already too late. The cancer had spread to her lungs, and we had no choice but to say goodbye to our brave girl.
It all happened so fast– I have never felt such sadness, and I have never felt so helpless. In that moment, I would have given just about anything to keep her healthy and to bring her home. I would have tried treatment, I would’ve seen specialists, I would’ve paid thousands… only, none of that would have saved her.
In those awful moments, I was desperate to find a way to help. When I couldn’t find a way to save her, I felt like I lost control. By the time the weekend was over, I’d managed to rack up an additional $1,500 in credit card debt (and that’s not counting vet bills). I willingly made poor nutritional choices, consisting mostly of pizza and wine. And ultimately, I used ways to cope that were completely outside of my normal behavior.
Some might say, “Oh, that’s normal,” or “Oh, that’s natural. Everyone responds differently to stress or trauma.” And yes, that’s true, but as you can probably guess: it didn’t help. Because of the ways I tried to cope, all I was left with was a nasty hangover, a nice little acne breakout, and a $1500 lawnmower (that isn’t paid for, and we don’t really need, right now). And still, Mila was gone.
We all experience instances in which we allow ourselves to give into our emotions, or shut down and revert back to an autopilot state. This isn’t just during periods of grief or sadness, but also when we’re angry, stressed, and even happy! How about the, “Screw it, I’m on vacation!” or “I’ll worry about it on Monday” scenarios?
This is where — even though I wasn’t able to apply it, myself — I know that mindfulness can help.
Mindfulness isn’t just about being present and living in the moment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings, without judging them. It’s tuning into what you’re sensing or feeling without being overly reactive or overwhelmed.
If I had been more mindful over the weekend, I would have realized that I did the very best I could for Mila, and it was okay to let her go. I would have acknowledged that alcohol is a depressant, and over-indulging would only intensify my feelings of sadness. I would have remembered that greasy pizza makes me feel heavy and causes me to break out. And– I definitely would not have encouraged my husband to buy a new, expensive lawn mower after spending so much money on vet bills. 😒 Turns out retail therapy isn’t really therapy at all.
The thing is, if you wait until tragedy strikes to try to start being mindful, it might be too late. You could end up feeling worse than you did before, and you increase your chances of making impulsive, careless decisions that have very real consequences. Like going into debt over a lawn mower. 🤦♀
That’s why it’s important to pursue mindful habits, all the time. Think of ways in your day-to-day life that you can pay more careful attention to what you’re doing. Give meditation a try, or start slowly by simply bringing attention to your breath in stressful situations. Listen to music when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Actually think before you swipe that credit card. Take breaks, go on tech-free walks, or try yoga. Not only will this help to reduce your daily stress and increase your overall happiness, but hopefully, you’ll be able to avoid making some of the same mistakes that I did.
They say all dogs have a purpose, and that they are here to teach us things about life and about ourselves. Mila taught me so much, but one of the most important lessons of all was the importance of mindfulness. She taught me to be more present with the ones I love, to be patient and not overly reactive when things don’t go my way, and she taught me to be kind, loving, and accepting– not just to other people, animals, and creatures– but to myself, as well.
Even though Mila is gone, her purpose lives on. I hope you’ll be able to learn some of the lessons that she taught me, and take the necessary steps to living a more mindful and intentional life!
What kinds of habits have you tried that make a difference in being more mindful? I’d love to know! Please comment, below!
In loving memory of Mila Cox 🐾