blog-8-tuesday-the-pug

Just over a week ago, my beautiful little 21-month-old pug, named Tuesday, died after being hit by a car. She was being her normal, spirited self, egged on by her little pug buddy, Foxy. Thankfully, she died instantly. And even more thankfully, I wasn’t there to witness it happen. I don’t have those images racing around my head to make the loss even worse. Instead, I saw her lie peacefully on the vet’s bench, without a mark. My daughter, Georgie, and I gave her a burial amongst the gums and the magpies. A bush burial.

I don’t write this piece looking for sympathy, or attempting to reach out for some form of emotional help. People have been sufficiently generous to me already. We live in a world where people are suffering far more trauma daily, than I could ever imagine. It can be cruel, unkind, unimaginable, random and relentless. Christmas comes as no relief, and can sometimes make it worse – for shouldn’t we be happy?

However, I would rather turn my sad story into my Christmas message. A message I was considering anyway, but with a totally different beginning. The first thing I did on Monday before heading out was to cancel my meetings and commitments for the next couple of days. I realised that I was hurting physically and mentally, and there was no sense in trying to fight it. It was time to practice what I preach. The only item I left on the table was my twice-weekly gym session with my trainer, Emma. After 12 years, she has a fair idea of what makes me tick, and her counsel and friendship were as important as my stretching and straining. It was more of the former and less of the latter.

blog-8-tuesday-the-pug

Just over a week ago, my beautiful little 21-month-old pug, named Tuesday, died after being hit by a car. She was being her normal, spirited self, egged on by her little pug buddy, Foxy. Thankfully, she died instantly. And even more thankfully, I wasn’t there to witness it happen. I don’t have those images racing around my head to make the loss even worse. Instead, I saw her lie peacefully on the vet’s bench, without a mark. My daughter, Georgie, and I gave her a burial amongst the gums and the magpies. A bush burial.

I don’t write this piece looking for sympathy, or attempting to reach out for some form of emotional help. People have been sufficiently generous to me already. We live in a world where people are suffering far more trauma daily, than I could ever imagine. It can be cruel, unkind, unimaginable, random and relentless. Christmas comes as no relief, and can sometimes make it worse – for shouldn’t we be happy?

However, I would rather turn my sad story into my Christmas message. A message I was considering anyway, but with a totally different beginning. The first thing I did on Monday before heading out was to cancel my meetings and commitments for the next couple of days. I realised that I was hurting physically and mentally, and there was no sense in trying to fight it. It was time to practice what I preach. The only item I left on the table was my twice-weekly gym session with my trainer, Emma. After 12 years, she has a fair idea of what makes me tick, and her counsel and friendship were as important as my stretching and straining. It was more of the former and less of the latter.

The more I think about it, and the more I read, the more convinced I am of the importance of slowing down. We hear about it, but we don’t heed the message. At this crazy time of the year we tend to notch up the pace to ever more stratospheric levels. Making unrealistic deadlines, over-offering and under-delivering, breaking promises, feeling guilt, fretting about presents, asking things like, “he’s not coming on Christmas day, is he?”, parties on parties, drinking, gorging, rushing, bullshitting, collapsing, recovering – well, sort of. I’m out of breath just thinking about it.

Rushing to the line. But there is no line. It’s Christmas day. There’s noise, screams, histrionics. Feuds erupt, tempers flare, little hats are stuck on our heads (dunces for a day), and whistles are blown in our faces. Whoa, take it easy.

Of course, it’s a celebratory time of the year, and I’m not here to be Scrooge. But somewhere in the hurly burly, I recommend trying to give yourself a break. A rock idol from back in the day sent me a text message this morning. He made plenty of noise back then, but in reaching out to me his words were timely: “I am learning more and more that acceptance and stillness are crucial to my wellbeing.” This isn’t something that just popped into his head – his whole life has been directing him towards this understanding.

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The changes that men – and women – can make in their Life Again stages of life (ages 30-55 approx.) don’t have to be massive. They can be incremental. Skip a party, arrive late to a few parties, slow down the drinking, stop trying to shout over the others, take a break outside and talk to the trees, don’t be the last to leave, don’t smoke, respect yourself, respect others. Eating well and exercising are harder to do, and easy to put off, but there is no excuse for putting it off.

I believe I know what I’m talking about. I did all the above, and the festive season was only the beginning. It continued. Though I was totally functional; my internal engine was gradually becoming clogged. The little bird on my shoulder was chirping away but I wasn’t listening. When I hit the wall, it was like a bolt out of the blue.

The death of my pug, Tuesday, has taken me back to that place. My doctor once told me that if I broke my leg, I wouldn’t walk on it. So why would I keep pushing if I had a broken mind? My heart is severely hurt, and I must take myself off the ground for a while. We all should try to get a better understanding of our minds and bodies, and know when to give them a break. These are more challenging times than Man has ever encountered.

Get excited about 2017, but also get ready.