Reasonably Nice

It’s been very hot and humid here for the past few days, and I don’t seem to be coping with it very well.  Part of the problem is that I walk dogs at a local animal shelter, which means that I’m outside a lot, no matter what the weather.  (The fact that I’m no longer a “spring chicken” probably also has something to do with it, but I prefer not to think about that.)  The upshot is that by the time I was done with my walking shift yesterday morning, I was hot, tired, and and sore.   All I wanted to do was go home, take a cool shower, and lie down.

Then I discovered that there were some dogs in another part of the shelter still waiting to be walked, and that I was the only person still around to walk them.  I’d like to say that I accepted the situation and did my duty cheerfully, but I did not.  I was angry, because now I was faced with two unpleasant choices:  either stay and walk some more dogs, or go home, knowing those dogs wouldn’t get walked that morning.  And like most angry people, I immediately looked for someone to blame:  Why hadn’t someone else walked those dogs?  Why had they “saved them” for me to take care of?   Obviously, someone wasn’t doing their job, or so I told myself.

Luckily, I shared my frustrations with a staff person I trust, because venting sometimes helps.  She listened calmly to my rant, and then gently pointed out that sometimes there just aren’t enough people to get everything done, no matter how hard they try.  No one had “saved” any dogs for me to walk, they just hadn’t been able to get to them all.  Everyone, she reminded me, was just doing the best they could.

It took me a few minutes to stop feeling sorry for myself and to realize the truth in what she said.  It took a few more minutes to actually be grateful for her honesty, because it was something I needed to hear.  When times are hard, it’s only natural for us to react with disappointment and anger, and to look for someone to blame for all our troubles.  But doing so doesn’t help anyone or anything.

I think it’s especially good for us to remember that now, because in these crazy and turbulent times we’re all struggling, one way or another.  And the last thing struggling people need is someone lashing out at them in anger.  What struggling people need, which means what all of us need, is a little bit of patience, kindness, and acceptance, I think.

Or at least that’s what I needed yesterday when I complained to that staff person.  She could have taken my rant personally and reacted in anger, but she didn’t.  Her calm and reasoned response was a gift to me, because it helped me calm down and look at the situation much more rationally.  And you know what?  I did stay and walk those dogs, and while I was doing so, someone else came along to help.  I may have been even more tired by the time I finally got home, but I wasn’t angry anymore.  Instead, all I felt was gratitude……

79 thoughts on “Reasonably Nice

  1. well done Ann, sharing does wonders and right now most are very fragile so we need to be far more patient and kinder than ever … lucky dogs! And I bet that shower and rest felt even more satisfying 🙂

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  2. Animals for me always bring a calming effect. Sometimes even folk [written with tongue in cheek]. Good to hear you had a positive response, there are many wonderful and kind people, some days we just have to take and keep breath and find them.

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  3. I love this courageous admission of how we all feel right now, just down right fatigued for so many reasons. Glad your worker gave you a different perspective. Now you have given me the desire to volunteer in this way once we get past our own difficulties. God’s blessings Ann for always giving us your honest and timely lessons.

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    • Thanks so much, Cecilia! I know the difficulties you are facing now, and how hard it can be to see your way past them. But I also know you have a strong faith that will see you through. Hang in there: one step at a time, one procedure at a time, you will get through this. And meanwhile, you are always in my prayers.

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      • Wow it’s been a tough day so thank you for those loving words. Not going to lie I’m thankful the day is almost over, it’s bedtime, Danny is finally asleep and I can bawl and pray (because I’m mature like that🤪). I’m thinking of Patty’s words: there is beauty in the storms we face and although I am tired, I believe and trust that truth as I prepare to pray. You have encouraged me so much. Thank you.

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  4. Sometimes we just need to ask the right questions and listen to the answers, before we respond. We are all guilty of that. Especially during these trying times and summer’s heat and our years of experience only serve to make it worse. I’ll bet those dogs were glad to see you. You were the person they were waiting for. Thanks for sharing your story Ann. Allan

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  5. It is so easy to lay blame because that delegates responsibility elsewhere, which relieves us of any. It is also so easy to take a rigid position without trying to find out what other parameters were impacting the situation. It reminds me of a (apparently)Toronto Subway System story (from memory!):

    The subway car was fairly empty, so the dozen or so passengers had lots of space. So did the man with the two unruly boys. Those boys were running back and forth the length of the car, and generally making a lot of noise. The (presumed) father did nothing. He was clearly preoccupied.

    The other passengers were complaining among themselves about the father abdicating his responsibilities. Did he realize the lesson he was teaching his boys? How will they grow up to be respectful of others? The conversations escalated to the point where one of the passengers decided to confront the man.

    The passenger apologized for the interruption as he was clearly absorbed with something, but did he realize how annoying it was to have the two boys running around and making all that noise. It was the evening and some peace during the ride would really be appreciated after a day at work. He also told the father that he cannot just abdicate his responsibilities and should take charge of the situation.

    The man looked up at the passenger and apologized. “I am really sorry for the disruption caused by my boys, and take full responsibility. The thing is (he paused) … we’re on our way home from the hospital. My wife, their mother, passed away about two hours ago now. The boys don’t know, and I am trying to figure out how to tell them when we get home.”

    The atmosphere in the car changed completely.

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    • Thanks for sharing that story, Colin! That’s a perfect example of what I was trying to say, and it gets the point across so much better than I could ever hope to. EVERYONE is struggling right now, just in different ways. We need to be extra kind, not extra judgemental…..it can make all the difference, for everyone!

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  6. What a good reminder, Ann, that we can de-escalate and diminish anger by not responding in a knee-jerk fashion, and by offering the benefit of the doubt. Most of us are just doing the best we can—in incredibly trying circumstances.

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    • Exactly, Donna! The circumstances are really, really, trying us, and it’s so easy to lash out. But that just makes a bad situation worse. The attitude of the staff person I talked to make all the difference, and gave me the strength I needed to just keep on walking dogs until everyone got out!

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  7. Ann, you are such an honest person. I am glad for the way the day went, that it ended well. I completely get not being able to tell a dog you aren’t going to walk it. They look at you with that pleading in their eyes…

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    • Exactly! It is so hard, because all they know is, “there she is! Yeah! Now I get a walk!” And I don’t want to disappoint them. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my moments of anger and weakness, because I certainly do. It just means that I’m very lucky to have people around me who helped me see the truth!

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    • Her words absolutely refreshed me, and gave me the strength to keep on going. And thanks for your compliment….I honestly believe more people have big hearts than we realize. It’s just hard to know, because we don’t see evidence of it as often as we need.

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    • Thank you, Peter! I’m not sure if my initial anger helped or hurt either, but I was glad that I talked to someone who helped me get a better perspective on the situation. And I’ll be forever grateful for that!

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  8. Wow, Ann – I love your honesty and I completely understand. I get very cranky when I tired and I rely on a nap almost every day. It’s not just about age, because I’ve been that way my whole life. So I get it, how you were ready to go home. Good for you, for pushing through.
    I have a suggestion for the heat and humidity. I do this whenever I play tennis in the heat. I take a handkerchief and fill it with ice cubes. Then I twist it closed and tie it around my neck. It’s fabulous and even though it drips, the coolness saves me! Just an idea. There’s a lot of cooling things available out there that you can wrap around your neck.

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    • That’s a great idea, Judy! And thank you. Because sadly, where I live, summer days are often hot and humid, and it can be just plain exhausting. I wouldn’t mind the ice dripping at all, because we all get rather messy at the shelter and wait to take our daily shower after we get home. Thanks again for suggesting that!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re so welcome, Ann! I’ve never forgotten my tennis friend who showed me, because it makes all the difference with playing in the hot weather having that ice on my neck! It’s better than a lot of the stuff they sell, where you put it in the freezer ahead of time.

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  9. That was such a humbling experience. Out here in my incredibly crazy corner of the planet, people such as those are an increasing rarity, but I do envy them when I come across such tranquil minds. Yes, she is certainly an example to emulate.

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    • She was what I needed that day, absolutely. And I hope I remember to respond that way the next time someone comes to me all upset about something that really can’t be helped. If we could just focus on helping each other cope, rather than arguing or egging each other on, I think we’d all be better off!

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  10. I know how it ended, but I’m glad you communicated your feelings Ann. All too often, people (particularly women) simmer in anger, but don’t say what’s bothering them and then things get weird, grudges are carried. You expressed yourself and got the answer you needed to put things in perspective. Communication is the key.

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    • Thank you! Honestly, that’s why I spoke to her…I knew there wasn’t anything she could do about the situation, but I needed to vent. If I don’t articulate my emotions, they just simmer away and get worse, as you said. But once I can verbalize them, I can often move on to thinking about how to solve the problem that has upset me in the first place.

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  11. This is such a great reminder to all of us Ann. Sometimes when our own resources are feeling depleted, we need to just take a moment & listen to a voice or reason before allowing that frustration to escalate further. Thank you for sharing today💕

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  12. I can only hope the shelter dogs don’t yank you around the way Monkey does me! By the time I’m finished walking him, my back is protesting and so are my shoulders. You have a big heart, Ann, for volunteering this way. I just know the dogs love you and the staff appreciates your efforts. You’re right — we all need to cut one another a little slack, especially in these pandemic times. (I was going to say “post-pandemic,” but it’s not really past, has it??)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, it’s not. We’re better off than we were before the vaccine, but we’re still dealing with far too many cases of it. And we’re all beyond sick of it, which doesn’t help at all.
      As for the dogs, oh yeah, they do drag us dog walkers around….and sometimes jump on us and one even peed on my leg one day, quite casually and openly. (There’s a reason we shower after our walking shifts, not before!) The dogs give us a work out for sure!

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  13. It’s been very hot and humid here too, and I can imagine how difficult it was to walk the dogs outside in this weather. I am glad you were able to talk to the staff at the shelter and see the situation differently without assigning any blame. That is wonderful of you to volunteer with the dogs and do such a good thing 🙂

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    • Thanks, Svet! There’s a whole group of us who do it, and by working as a team, we are almost always able to get all the dogs out for at least one daily walk, and often two. It makes such a difference in their quality of life to get a break from their runs! I admit I enjoy walking them much more in good weather, but we know they need to get out (and sometimes potty) no matter how hot or cold it is. In extreme weather, we just do a much shorter walk.

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    • I see it too, and it makes me so sad! We may not always understand the choices other makes, but there’s nothing to be gained by getting angry about it. Here in the US, we tend to see it as a political thing (because here we reduce almost everything to a Democrat vs Republican thing, as inaccurate as that is), but it seems that other countries are having the same problem.

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  14. This is a great example of how we all make up stories about situations based on our limited knowledge. It’s always best to find out the circumstances and then go from there. I’m glad you found out the truth!

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    • Exactly, Kathy! And it’s sad how often we get ourselves worked up about things that aren’t even true. As you say, figure out the facts, and then proceed. And even then, I think kindness and compassion are always good things….

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  15. Everyone has a story, which I think we will not understand until we put on their shoes and walk their paths. But it takes time to do that and that’s why some of us often don’t. I’m glad you wrote about this experience, Ann. It was good and timely to be reminded to wear shoes other than ours!

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  16. I think you were wise to vent your frustrations a bit. Sometimes, we endure things and no one even knows that we are upset. Honestly voicing how you feel opens the door to greater understanding. We see things from our own perspective, but unless we communicate that perspective no one else knows how we feel. So much wisdom here…thank you for sharing this post with us! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Linda! And that’s a good point. I actually thought, at first, that maybe I shouldn’t have said anything to her, worrying about what she thought of my complaining. So your comment helps me see that it really was good that I spoke up, because otherwise I would have continued to feel “put upon” that no one else had walked those dogs. Speaking up, as long as we don’t also attack others, is actually a good thing!

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  17. I like this post; the dogs got walked, a real blessing for them, and you changed your outlook when you talked to the lady and she explained in a calm manner. I am usually understanding of other people’s reasons. Recently a plumber came out to my house four times to try to fix a leaky faucet, and each time I was kind to him, he was surely frustrated too.

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    • That was very nice of you, because I know that when things go wrong around the house, it’s very easy to blame the people who are supposed to fix them when it doesn’t go well. I’m sure the plumber really appreciated your attitude. Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves that most people really are doing the best they can. Thanks for the comment!

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    • I like “vent without sinning!” It gives us an outlet to express our frustrations, but it doesn’t give us permission to take our anger out on others. (Which is a very disturbing trend lately.) Believe me, you are definitely not the only one who vents! Thanks, Alan.

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    • Thanks, Barbara! It is hard to walk dog after dog in the heat, especially when some are big, strong and rowdy. So after a couple of hours of that, I’m not always my best self, which means I can be impatient and cranky. I’m so glad that staff person knew how to deal with it, as that was a gift to me!

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  18. You’ve shared such an important life lesson as well as such a great lesson for Christians…and everyone…today. Anger seems so rampant. All of us need to practice showing love and care, and deep breathing 🙂 Thanks for a great reminder of how to handle difficult circumstances, Ann.

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