This morning I was thinking of how much I have learned from my dog, Joni. Joni is a beautiful white German Shepherd with big, brown eyes. She is nine-years-old and we will soon be celebrating our second anniversary together.
Because of my living arrangement, I had to wait several years to adopt a dog. During this time, I created all kinds of scenarios of how things would be when I had a dog as a beloved companion again. When I adopted Joni, I quickly realized that some of what I imagined would not be. Due to neglect or trauma (or both), Joni is scared of people and certain noises. She sometimes has what resembles extreme anxiety. We have also been through three surgeries to have tumors removed from her belly.
During all of these experiences, my love for Joni has only grown stronger. She is well-loved and happy and healthy. I let go of the expectations I had and replaced them with love and acceptance of who Joni is and not who I wanted her to be. For all I know, there may be things I do that drive Joni crazy, but she always shows me love.
My relationship with Joni has made me more aware of how real love is a fluid experience. Real love is open to change. Real love can let go of rigid expectations and scan the landscape for "what is" and not "what we want."
You can see a photo of me with Joni on my contact page.