Like many of my peers, I easily stress out. I worry about waking up earlier than usual for appointments of any kind; I cannot stop thinking about tomorrow’s “to do list”; and, I fixate on papers I must write. Based on the stress I put on myself, what I do not need are unexpected delays.
The delay… those of us in Los Angeles are all too familiar with the freeway system. I spend over two hours a day commuting from El Sereno to UCLA. On the exceptional days, it takes over two hours in one direction. I go through a series of emotions during my commute as I wonder how an accident, stalled car, or road repair can completely derail my carefully planned route.
While not proud of it, I admit that I shout at slow drivers in the fast lane or the driver on the phone whose left blinker is on for two miles. When I find heart rate increasing as I yell at a car, I try to take five deep breathes. However, pending on where I’m at during my emotional roller coaster, I do not always catch the biofeedback.
I wish my loud futile expressions were limited to the automobile but it is not. My expectations are even higher in the confines of my home. In a simpler time when files were stored in file cabinets and phones were hooked into the wall, I did not stress about the inability to “access the network” or whether or not my landline would temporarily lose audio. But today, we engage with new technologies everyday and for some unknown reason, I flip out when technology responds against what I expect.
My partner reminds me that shouting at inanimate objects like my laptop, television, or cell phone does not help any situation. As expected, my partner’s reminders have done little to change my behavior for the last 12 years. However, what has worked is the magic of my two little terriers: Meet Octavia and Butler (seen at top).
When I noticed my dogs react poorly to my loud reactions, I quickly began to check myself. The dogs not only provide me a gauge for my behavior (which I call “doggie-feedback), they also distress me. Octavia (the white one) is four years old and just loves lying next to me. Butler is only a year old and is willing and eager to play whenever I want.
So when I’m stressed, I can always rely on Octavia and Butler to help me on a stroll around the neighborhood, a game of fetch or a shower of kisses. On top of that, they’re too cute!
Octavia and Butler are both rescued dogs and named after the same extraordinary author