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.
You want me to do what?
You never know what your dog doesn’t know until you need her to do something. In my case, a photographer recently asked if Honey could pose with her front paws up on a piece of furniture.
I had no clue. And no cue. For us, the cue “up” meant get up on the furniture.
Luckily, Honey is an amiable girl so we just arranged in the position the photographer wanted and said “stay.” She did fine.
But I decided to work on this pose when we got home. Armed with a clicker, a step stool, and a pouch full of liver I determined to teach Honey how to put her front paws on the step stool on cue.
I’ll spare you the details. It didn’t go too well. I’m a terrible trainer. And I just wasn’t able to communicate to Honey what I needed her to do.
So I let it go.
I can do that. Just watch me.
Saturday morning we took Honey for a long walk around our neighborhood which includes the beautiful Ithaca Falls. Although the falls once provided power for local industry, the area is currently ungroomed and features several fallen trees.
While we were playing, Honey set her front paws on one of those fallen trees and looked up at me as if to say, “Hey, where’s my treat?”
From that moment on, she knew to place her two front paws on a raised surface on cue. I guess she just needed some time to let things percolate.
Creative on cue.
I have no problem thinking of what to write at Something Wagging This Way Comes. I have more ideas than I have hours in the day. And of course, I limit my publication to the number of wordy, philosophically-inclined posts I think my readers can tolerate before surfing over to watch undemanding (and incredibly cute) puppy porn.
But Something Wagging is only one of my two blogs. And the current stress in my paid work is causing me to struggle with creating content for my other blog—which coincidentally covers the same theme as my paid work.
For me the best way to generate ideas is to steep myself in a subject. Think about it all the time. Observe it in other settings. Allow ideas to percolate until the good ones rise to the surface. And be patient with the process.
That’s why it’s easy to think of ideas for Something Wagging. Honey and dogs are in my thoughts all the time. I need to make room for other thoughts so I can move forward in writing for Hands on Home Buyer. Or decide to follow my puppy-infatuated heart and set help for home buyers free.
Sometimes it just clicks.
I know Honey wasn’t contemplating placing her paws up on a surface on cue for the past week. She is, after all, a dog. And she lives in the moment.
But I think that seeing the knocked over log triggered something in her brain. It looked familiar. And I was standing nearby with a pocket full of yummy treats. Why not just try something? And with my enthusiastic response, the learning clicked in.
We practiced a few more times. Now she owns it.
I need to put myself in a place where new ideas can just click. Maybe doing something different and shaking things up a bit will help. And, if not, I can always find plenty to write about Honey. She’s an endless source of inspiration.