Firm. Fair. Consistent. Love.
I spent the first 3 years of my incarceration training dogs and it saved my life in a thousand ways. It helped absorb my grief when I felt like I would die from the separation from my children. I poured my love and time into their care, and in return, I received unconditional love and a sense of purpose, all of which I desperately needed.
Firmness is needed because a dog's nature is to establish pack order. A dog knows the moment you touch their leash who is Alpha, and if it's not you, you will go from being the trainer to the one being trained.
Fair, because you should not correct a dog for something they have never been taught or have unrealistic expectations or demands of him/her.
Consistent because it's critical to gain trust and for producing the results you hope to see.
And love, simply because every living thing needs it.
Let's linger in the firm for a moment. I spent most of my life wanting to be perceived as “nice.” I had a deep desire to be the good girl and a misperception that being one meant you didn't rock the boat, didn't go against popular opinion, and avoided making others upset with you.
I will spend my life advocating for a kinder world but I have learned that kindness sometimes looks different than you may think.
It's kind to say and do the hard thing when it's done in love. We all have a blindside and need people who will point it out, hold us accountable, keep us on track, and tell us the truth in love.
It's kind to have personal boundaries, to let people know what our expectations are and when they've been crossed.
It's kind to know your worth and not to accept less. It's kind to let go of people who don't see it or make you feel like you're not worth investing in or that you're too much. Patrick rode a bike up the largest and longest hill in Hamilton one time to see me. He was new to the area and didn't know the shorter route. I couldn't drive at the time and he was in between vehicles. But he thought I was worth it. It still heals me when I think about it.
Show the people who wouldn't ride a bike uphill for you to the door.
Firm, fair, consistent, love. Necessary in this life thing.
Thank you to Jeff Coleson for all you taught me during that season of my life. It saved me in a million ways you'll never fully know.