The Puppiness Project – Hold On To Your Heart’s Desire

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.

It Must Be Love.

Shortly before Honey came to live with us, our neighbors on the cross street got a Golden Retriever. When Riley (that’s his name) is out in the yard, we can see him from our yard. I admired him every day while we were waiting for Honey.

When Honey was a puppy, she didn’t really understand that Riley was so close. He saw her through the fence but she didn’t see him. But, as part of her socialization, we introduced the two.

Golden Retriever puppy meets adult Golden Retriever

You're awful cute but I'm not too sure about that breath, Riley.

Honey enjoys frolicking with Riley.

Now that she’s older, Honey spots Riley in his yard from our bedroom window and barks out a greeting. Of, if they’re outside at the same time, she’ll look longingly at him from her perch on the back porch.

Although we’ve been unable to take Honey to the dog park since we gave up the car, she’s never forgotten how much fun it is to play with a canine friend. And even though we don’t usually see Riley walking around the neighborhood, she always remembers the fun times she’s had with him and never gives up hope for the next play date. She holds on to her heart’s desire.

Searching for the Good Life.

Every job I’ve had started with me reading a description and then saying, “I could do that.” You couldn’t so much say that I’ve had a career path as I’ve had a career meandering.

My heart’s desire has been to have a good life: one where I can support myself doing something I enjoy and spend my non-working time doing other things that are meaningful and interesting. My job is only one piece of that life.

Several years ago, I started a business I called Spiral House. I taught personal writing workshops to encourage people to explore their lives and ideas through journaling. I loved the creativity. I loved teaching workshops. I loved the “aha” moments people experienced when they broke through barriers and came to new ideas.

I ended Spiral House when I needed better paying work to help support an ill family member. I was lucky to find work I could be proud of with a nonprofit that continues to have a major impact on our community.

But I continue to be drawn toward work that is entrepreneurial and creative. And I yearn to integrate work into my life in a way that makes sense, is flexible, and allows time for lots of different life experiences. I don’t understand the path I need to take yet. But I’m holding on to my heart’s desire.

A Dog’s Heart Desire

At the core of Honey’s being is a desire to be social with a variety of people and dogs. Nothing lights her up more.

And, since she can’t just up and go for a walk when she needs a little company, it’s up to us to give her the chances for friendship she needs.

Last weekend, my husband arranged a play date for Honey and Riley. They had a great time. We need to build it into our regular schedule.

Two Golden Retrievers

Thanks for framing the shot so I finally look bigger than Riley. It ain't easy being little all the time.

Honey makes her desires quite obvious. I just need to remember to respect them and give her opportunities to experience them.

My desire to do creative, entrepreneurial work has been around for a long time. I need to respect that wish and find a way to nurture it into being.

After all, if Honey can hold onto her desires even when she doesn’t always get a chance to express them, I can too.

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  1. I’m with you on this one Pamela. I too have a desire to have a flexible schedule, but the means to support our family.

    I hold onto that with all my heart, it’s what keeps me going some days. I hope soon, you get your heart’s desire. :-)

  2. Heart’s desire – sometime tough to define, even tougher to make happen. I have a friend who has done it, too, with horses and photography but she meandered through different jobs to get to her place in life now. I am ready to start riding again – horse is my heart’s desire. Yes, Honey needs to spend more time with Riley – and what a lovely photo. I enjoy the Puppiness Project :).

  3. Heart’s desire….what a great post! So glad Honey and Riley got to have a playdate! :)

  4. So important to hold on to those desires and keep finding ways to indulge them. Fulfillment leads to opportunity in a wondrous never-ending cycle!

  5. My dogs tend to be rather clique-ish. We don’t have play dates because they are afraid that another dog will join the pack. Rather than making me more outgoing, my dogs are making me more insular.

  6. I hope you are on the brink of figuring it all out and you achieve all of your desires. It sounds to me like you are on the right track. Knowing what it is you want is half the battle!

    • Well, I’m on a track. Is it right? I guess it hardly matters. The path we pick becomes our true path, doesn’t it?

  7. I wish I had a heart’s desire or 2. I used to (a couple achieved) but these days, I’m meandering worse than a drunkard. I think I see a sailboat in YOUR future :)

    You have to drive to get to a dog park? Aren’t there any parks where dogs play near you? I forget how lucky we are here. There are patches of green everywhere where any dog might turn up without having to make a date, and play!

    • Don’t let Georgia know she’s not your heart’s desire. What more could you want than to make her happy? :)

      As for the sailboat? From your keyboard to God’s ears…

      We have grassy areas nearby. But we rarely run into other dogs playing in them. We frequently take Honey to a nearby park to play fetch and never see other dogs.

      The “official” dog park is a short bike ride away but a bit too far to walk comfortably. That’s where the bike cart comes in… hopefully.

      I just made an appointment with a trainer to start getting some help working on this.

      • Oh say *blush* – I didn’t realise the dog was part of it ;p

        Grassy areas with no dogs on them? That would be unheard of here! Every park becomes a dog park here lol

  8. Ah, such wise words today! I enjoy my job, but it’s not my life, nor even my whole identity. I work with a person, however, who has no life outside of our school building. Her entire identity is rooted in being a teacher. As a matter of fact, after a rather harsh disagreement between her, me and another coworker, I found myself being accused of being a “crusher of dreams” because I don’t have the same opinion about kids with fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol affect. Nevermind that my husband’s family has been devastated in recent years by the daughter they adopted with fetal alcohol. The fact that I have firsthand, real experience means nothing, because this person wants to have hope. Gah! That’s more than you needed to know! But your words really resonated with me. There are times I think I’d like to have a job that involves me getting paid for the blog or for my photography, but somehow, I worry that would take the fun out of it. I do it for me, for my own approval and happiness, and I don’t answer to anyone about it. As long as the job I have that pays me money doesn’t intrude on my ability to do the things I love and doesn’t make me feel like I’m selling my soul, I’m content with that!

  9. Like others have said it is so important to hold onto those desires, but I have found that it does come with a bit of difficulty. Knowing what your desires really are has been a tricky one for me. Just when I think I know what it is, it changes!
    I agree with what Houndstooth said too, sometimes, for some people getting paid for your desires may take some of the spark away from it. I am trying this out now and will get back to you:)

  10. “Career meandering” . . I like that :) and I have done a lot of it! I agree with Kristine, knowing what you want is definitely half the battle! Hold on tight to your dreams!! (& Honey!)

  11. One of my former classmates was a professional musician. At least he was until he found that being paid to play sucked all the joy out of it, so he went back and got a certificate in human resources.

    There is a book out there. Alled Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow. It’s almost scary to read,et alone follow!

  12. I’m so with you… I’ve been pondering similar issues of late. What do I want to do with myself? How can I get there?