The Puppiness Project – Be Kind To Yourself

Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.

Golden Retriever and Wobble Board

When I'm feeling good, I bring a little mischief to my training. Like my fancy between the legs move?

I just don’t feel up to it

When we returned from vacation last month, Honey was down for a couple of days.

Her appetite was good. She showed no signs of illness or pain. But she looked like her spirits were a bit low.

Was it because the house she returned to smelled of floor finish and none of the rooms were arranged as usual (we had the floors refinished in our absence)? Or was it because Honey could no longer count on us being around throughout the day because we had to return to work?

Whatever the reason, we ramped back on our training activities to give her a break. It’s hard to develop confidence and learn new things when you’re not feeling your best.

Even if we hadn’t spent less time training, I think Honey would have been reluctant to train.

Honey is very eager to please. But if we had pushed her, I think she would have been kind enough to herself to do a lousy job training until we would have given up in frustration.

She likes to make us happy. But Honey is no fool.

Pet bloggers are mean

To themselves, I mean. To everyone else, they are angels of mercy.

People who go out in the middle of the night because they hear an injured cat, spend hours trying to find lost dogs, and each week, encourage people they’ve never met in real life can really beat themselves up.

Bloggers feel bad for

  • not reading and commenting on more blogs
  • responding too slowly to awards and comments made about their blogs
  • missing writing about an important animal welfare cause
  • and basically, just not being perfect every day in every way.

If you heard my talk at BlogPaws or read the presentation Making Time to Blog over at the BlogPaws Community, you’ll find no magic tricks to make your day last longer so you can get more done. Instead, I share the tough news that you can’t do everything and you’ll have to make some choices.

The message I tried to leave behind with the people who heard my talk was that every one of them was already amazing, already doing incredible things, and already managing their time better than most other people on the planet.

It’s the message I also need to hear myself. Beating ourselves up for not doing more or doing things better never made anyone more productive or more awesome.

Golden Retriever lying on the grass

Some days are made for loafing by the water. This is one of them.

Learn self-compassion

Honey has never read the Bible. She does not practice meditation. She doesn’t listen to self-help books on tape. But somehow she’s learned to be kind to herself.

When it’s hot, she lies down on the cool floor in a shady spot and rests. When her spirits are low, she doesn’t push to make all kinds of awesome advances in her training. When she needs comfort, she sits beside me with her head on my knee.

I’ve never once caught Honey writing a “to do” list or expressing guilt that she didn’t run better zoomies or eat her dinner more neatly.

I could use a dose of Honey’s self- kindness. And I bet you could too.

There are all kinds of smart, productive, and ambitious things I could do today. Things that would impress other people. But I think I’m going to spend it puttering around the house, bringing a little neatness and order to my life. Having a clean house is a gift I don’t often give myself although I work harder to give it to visitors.

I’m going to learn a lesson from Honey, work with my feelings, and be kind to myself today. I hope you do the same.
Monday Mischief Pet Blog Hop


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  1. Pamela, you always seem to write blogs that echo and salve the frustrations in my own life. I do spend too much time forcing myself for others. While it’s a worthy and noble task, I definitely need to do something just for me. Thank you! :)

    • I hope you enjoy a little bit of bliss. It’s wonderful to do things for other people. But sometimes we’re more helpful when we take the time to care for ourselves.

      Or, as the flight attendants say, “Put on your own air mask first before assisting others.”

  2. Wish I could have heard your talk. I love that message. I know everyone benefited from going to your talk!

    • It was amazing Peggy! I’m pretty sure she watches me struggle each week to get it all done and just her telling me it’s OK if don’t has been a HUGE stress reliever! I’m going to woof all about it in one of my BlogPaws posts this week.

      Pamela – so enjoyed the session and ‘m already doing so much better at handling my drift (by far my biggest time waster. Compiling that Weekly Woof is a drifters nightmare!) I’ve also stopped obsessively checking analytics. I don’t know why I did that n the first place, since I don’t know what any of it means!

      • Thanks for the kind words. It’s very nice to know you found the topic helpful.

        Of course, then you just go and do even more productive things miring the rest of us in jealousy and amazement. :)

  3. Terrific post and a great reminder! Sorry that I missed your presentation at BlogPaws, thank you for sharing the Prezi, very well done!

    • Glad you enjoyed the Prezi, Theresa. For me, the hardest part of BlogPaws is trying really hard to be in two places at once. :)

  4. Wonderful post. I’m sad that we couldn’t hear every single class at BlogPaws! It sounds like yours is just what all bloggers need to hear. We should take cues from our pets more often, they really know how to live. :)

  5. Woof! Woof! My mom totally agree with this … so true. She often says she continues to learn from me. I am Golden Happy to provide her guidance. Lots of Golden Thanks for sharing. Happy MM! Lots of Golden ALOHA n Woofs, Sugar

  6. Perfect post Pamela! I am on vacation this week to spend some time with the kids. Normally I would be visiting blogs first thing in the morning and doing computer stuff until at least noon. This week I am devoting the time to the kids and limiting my time on the computer until they are in bed!
    I think you are tuned into my house somehow!

  7. Not genetically designed to be kind to self…much easier to be kind to others.
    Thanks for the reminder to chillax from time to time :-)

  8. I wish I could have been at BlogPaws to hear your presentation. Setting priorities for our time is something that concerns us all. Personally, housework is the first to go since I am the only one that thinks it is important.

  9. Jeez, are you talking to me here. I try not to beat myself up when I don’t reach a goal for my blog or an assignment, I spent too many years working 2 jobs or going to school and working full time to know I need “me” time. I’m getting better as I get more organized with my blogging.

  10. Wish I could have heard your talk too (although the video presentation was awesome!). I also am guilty of wanting to do everything and then beating myself up for not getting it all done. Perhaps if I were a bit more kind to myself I would be happier. I think the part of your post that resonated with me most was – “I’ve never once caught Honey writing a “to do” list or expressing guilt that she didn’t run better zoomies or eat her dinner more neatly.”

    Great point.

  11. I am sorry I wasn’t able to attend your session. I am sure you had some good tips I haven’t thought of. I DID realize that I can’t do it all. I feel bad for not doing some stuff too. I LOVE writing for my blog and connecting with other people but because I run my blog as a business (even though I don’t make much money yet) I have to put my efforts where it makes the most sense. I have to let some “feel good” things slip through the cracks. The new technique I am trying is setting a timer – a chunk of time in the morning and a chuck of time in the evening. When the timer goes off it is my cue to put the computer down and attend to other part of my life. I haven’t perfected that technique yet :)

  12. Today Pamela I agree with you. Any other day I’m a mass of guilt for not doing this and that. But today I did what I needed for me and the dogs and it was nice. Really nice to just take care of myself and the ones I love. I too always feel bad not visiting blogs and commenting enough. It’s more than guilt though, it’s my ‘me’ time, like catching up with old friends and I miss that down time. Being a stay-at-home-dog-mom I’ve been learning quite a bit of flowing with the packs through the quiet times and the high. And it’s true what they say, let sleeping dogs lie, cause when their up, they are ALL up! :)

    Thank you for your comment and seeing the growth in us. Some days it is difficult to see, we have so far to go with certain things, but there have been so many times I sit back in awe at the leaps and bounds we’ve made together. It has been such an incredible journey and I’m so glad you have been a part of it. I had to read your comment a few times to let it soak in. Thank you for the recognition. I really appreciated your words. :)

    I’m sure Honey is probably going through ‘Mike and Pamela’ withdrawls, but I’m sure she’ll come around. The heat probably isn’t helping much either. None of my dogs want to do a thing, even after it cools down in the evening and then only a walk or simple games will do.

    Sounds like you had a great time at Blog Paws. One day it would be great to meet. :)

  13. Great post – I’m all for realizing that we don’t need to beat ourselves up for not being able to do it all. How do we get rid of the “itty bitty shitty committee” in our heads that is always telling us that we need to do more? The great thing is, when we DO take the time to take care of ourselves, we feel so much better and things seem so much easier :) Thanks for the reminder!! Give Honey a big hug for me!

  14. What a great post, Pamela! It’s come on a day when I’m feeling bad about having missed some blogs and posts, and for not being long winded enough in my comments lately. Could you please do me a favour and forward this post to Georgia with a personal note? She’s been giving me the evil eye for slacking off. Thanks! X

  15. I’ve been trying to do more things for myself, but it’s difficult. I’m still struggling to get a daily post up, read and comment on blogs. I’m hoping I have time this weekend to sit down and watch your presentation and work on some other things I WANT to do. :-)

  16. I can’t see your Prezi :( (why does it sound like an Aussie invented it!) is there any other way to access your presentation? I could read the forum though.

  17. Perfect – just what I needed when I’ve been letting down any readership I have; some medical issues are consuming me and I just don’t have the oomph to lightly blog at the moment. Your encouragement is timely and kind. Honey is a wise dog :). Thank you

  18. Roooo this was exactly what my human and I needed to read today. We were both feeling tired and the rainy weather suggested we staid indoors, so we curled up in the sofa and I rested my head on her leg as we enjoyed a cozy afternoon nap together. Thanks for the reminder that there’s more to life than to do lists *waggy tail*

  19. I definitely intend on checking out your presentation since I couldn’t get there to see it live, though I am sure it would have been worth the cost of airfare to Salt Lake!

    These days I am feeling a lot less guilty about blog-related things. Since I recently came to a decision about the direction of my blog I have been a lot more relaxed and don’t worry if I don’t get to things as I’d like. A year ago I would have been panicked about three whole days without an internet connection. As much as I joked about it on Facebook and Twitter, I really could have gone three more.

  20. I always seem to have a to-do list. I guess I could use some of Honey’s self-kindness too. :)

  21. Hi Pamela,

    When I read your blog posts I sometimes think about Dean Koontz and how his Golden Retriever Trixie changed his life. If you haven’t heard the stories or read any of the Dean Koontz books about Trixie you should check them out.

    By the way, I do need a few extra hours in the day that way I wouldn’t be reading and writing blog comments at 2:30am.

    Take care,

  22. I need to have what you wrote about Pet Bloggers Are Mean printed and stuck on the wall above my computer instead of writing myself lists of things to do. And I need to stop spending so much time on Facebook. Why is it so addictive?

    Hope Honey is back to her normal self. Probably just a bit of post holiday blahs?

  23. What would a Jewish mother be without her guilt?


  1. […] Pamela from Something Wagging This Way Comes wrote last week, “Pet bloggers are angels of mercy.” “You are amazing and already […]