"It's just not your dog!"
I have a short story to tell.
My Mom’s neighbor, Lonnie, had a St Bernard named, Bonnie, Every time Lonnie opened the gate to let her car in or out, Bonnie would run away. Lonnie, who was elderly, would call after her dog but Bonnie would seldom return. So often, I would stop what I was doing, jump in my car, get Bonnie and bring her home. Until one day when the daunting responsibilities of caring for my beautiful Mother with progressing Alzheimer’s, parenting a fabulous 5 and 6 year old, managing my thriving business and supporting my failing father, overwhelmed me. On that day, while I was sitting in my car outside my Mother’s house, stealing a moment to gather my thoughts, spirit and strength, Bonnie escaped, yet again. Only this time, at the end of my ‘taking responsibility’ rope, I calmly stayed put and found myself saying “That’s not my dog.”. I laughed out loud as I repeated the words in my head. It hit me in that moment that I had to start getting clear about what was mine to handle and what I just simply couldn’t or shouldn’t be handling for others. There is a fine line here for me. A line between being helpful and simply stretching myself to thin in order to rescue others from what is often their own opportunities to learn and grow. What became crystal clear was that I was stretching myself too thin. I was taking on responsibility for others at the expense of my own health and wellness. What was more disturbing was that I was doing this to avoid letting others down or running the risk of being seen as someone who didn’t care or worse yet, as someone who was selfish or unhelpful. I was burning myself out to protect an image of myself that I had spent a life time projecting. In that moment, sitting outside my Mother’s house, I learned one of my greatest life lessons...sometimes, it’s just not your dog!