Goals, baby!

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This picture perfectly captures how I feel the vast majority of the time. How did I get four dogs and why do I have four dogs? Also, in what direction are we going?  Youke’s expression perfectly captures how I overcome these questions most of the time. Squeeze your eyes shut tight and hope for the best or for it all to go away.

I decided somewhere between my birthday in 2017 and the beginning of 2018 that this had to change. Although obviously only to a certain point as the above picture was taken in October 2018.

Therefore, while I really intensely despise the whole New Year’s resolutions thing and the accompanying quagmire of overwrought emotions, I decided that I had to set some goals for 2018.

It worked out to so well that I’m doing it again for 2019.

But first – and let me warn you ahead of time that some of this will fall into the TMI category (that’s Too Much Information for those of you not familiar with this ’90s speak) – let me explain my philosophy about goals.

For me, goals are targets really. They are not set in stone, but rather are fluid. While I may target for something to happen or to accomplish a particular something within a certain time-frame, I am never disappointed when that does not happen, because I think of goals as moving targets. I often find I have to stop and reevaluate or analyze. Sometimes I need to see the target more clearly, sometimes I see I need to make it smaller or break it down into more manageable bite-size pieces. Sometimes I realize my target needs to be bigger. Often, I fathom that the target may take a long time, often years, but I keep it in my sights and know when it is within my grasp. Goals, to me, are like lights at the end of a tunnel. Sometimes they are a tiny pinprick and you wonder if you are having a delusion about what it is. Other times the light is huge and bright and right there for you to grab and burn your hand. But they are also fluid and can morph and shape shift like a body of water, be it a small stream or a huge wave.

It was only very recently that I realized this about myself in terms of my philosophy about setting goals and it explained a lot. I’ve always set targets to reach for pretty much as long as I can remember, and certainly since the time I entered high school. And, I always reach my goals. Even if it takes years.

I am a pretty classic Type A personality and have been described by more than a few, including some significant others, as being intense. But I’m not a perfectionist. I also adopted a shift nearly ten years ago to be more mindful of stress in my life and to focus more on quality rather than quantity. More gentleness and less competiveness.

So, although I’ve been enjoying life and launched a business, it dawned on me that some of my focus was actually lacking. I was a bit like a boat at sea with a faulty rudder. Or a captain with a poor sense of direction.

For whatever reason, that changed in 2018. So I set some goal/targets for the year.

1) Attain Youke’s NATCH (NADAC Agility Trial Champion) by 10 years of age.

2) Get closer to Brady’s NATCH (NADAC Agility Trial Champion) to earn it by 2019.

3) Grow my business and achieve $X as a year-end financial goal.

4) Get laid.

That was it. Fairly simple goals that I deemed with a little focus could be reached.

So, let’s review. And remember I said I it worked out pretty well.

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Mission accomplished. Youke earned his NATCH in March 2018.

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It was my first targeted goal of 2018 that was achieved. Better yet, Youke earned his NATCH before became 10 years old. Okay, so he turned 10 a month later, but damnit! Mission accomplished!

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More where those came from. This is only a few of them.

And I had to make good on my promise of a lifetime supply of orange chuckit Balls for him.

Once I established that goal – and let’s not pretend it was for Youke, because he didn’t care one iota, although he did and continues to care deeply about orange chuckit Balls – I wondered why I had not set it with more determination earlier. I’m not gonna lie. I actually set this goal when Youke was a puppy. Somewhere between four and six months old I vowed this dog was going to get his NATCH. But I realized when he was about two years old how much pressure I was putting on him in trials and in training and since I’d already shut Jasmine down and was working to build her back up, I wisely toned down my ambition. When he was injured before he turned three – non-agility related – that helped set the tone even more. So while it was always in the back of my mind, I just didn’t push it. I even stopped entering Chances for nearly two years with him until we could improve our skills for that particular special class. The, I realized in late 2016, after I lost Jasmine, that Youke wasn’t getting younger and it was time to start honing in again. Our countdown began in earnest in 2017 and when I sought some improved training and advice for distance handling.

And it’s sort of weird I suppose, but his NATCH means more to me than the five CATCHes he earned in CPE. Maybe because we worked so long and hard to get it.

Then I took a look at Brady’s points and recognized that he was accumulating points at a faster rate than I had previously thought.

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So this happened in September 2018. Brady’s NATCH and his Versatility NATCH on the most perfect of Chances runs.

I think I sobbed for three days after this. I truly probably will write a book about Brady one day. Suffice it to say that considering that I thought I would never be able to compete with this dog due to his reactivity and environmental sensitivities, this was a gigantic deal to me.

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I first knew that Brady could achieve a NATCH about three years ago and established it as a long-term goal. In fact, I joked with The Relationship Counselor that we could go back to trying to teach him how to do a teeter when he either turned 10 years old or got his NATCH, whichever came first. She upped the ante by surprising me with her determination to teach Brady the teeter and have him overcome his fear of that obstacle some 18 months ago. So I decided we needed to ramp up the NATCH target. And man! Once we started focusing, the Chances points started coming fast and furious, although we did have a drought over the summer for the last two we needed. Then, bang! we got the two we needed in one trial.

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By the end of September, I was feeling pretty fierce. My horoscope for 2018, if you believe in such things, kept basically saying it was my year. My perfect year where everything was in planetary alignment and the sun and stars were shining on me and I could basically do no wrong.

Not exactly true and there were definitely some significant bumps for my business in 2018, including a really bad few weeks where I almost convinced myself to fold it all in. I’m grateful to have wonderful friends and sisters who listened to my woes and convinced me to keep at it and not let the potholes derail me.

By September I had reached my income target and at year’s end I had crushed it. I’ve gone with a fairly conservative approach in regards to my business and its growth. I’ve tried to be realistic and brutal with myself regarding expectations. I investigated and wrote about failed businesses for too long to be anything but conservative and realistic, things I’m ordinarily not in all honesty. Not gonna lie, the first two years, while according to plan, were uphill and hard. Not saying it isn’t still, but at least I saw some really good things in year three and year four is already dawning fairly brightly.

Which brings me to me fourth goal for the year. That one turned out to be the hardest. Who knew?!

I suppose in this day of Tinder, Zoosk and all the other easy and sleazy dating apps it shouldn’t have been difficult. But I chose a different path. I chose the devil I know rather than some random stranger.

I was inspired to make this a target for three reasons. First, it had been a while. Quite a while. Second, some friends and relatives were hooking up which was vaguely encouraging. Third, I know a guy.

Much like the book about Brady, I’ll probably write at least a chapter about Tex. That’s a code name by the way. And the reason will be in the chapter I someday write. Actually, it will need to be a few chapters because Tex has been and out – often out – of my life for nine years. He reappeared with some more consistency in 2018.

I actually have no present desire for anything resembling a relationship. I’m usually too busy and too stressed and I really don’t want to change my life in some way to make someone fit into it. Plus, let’s look at the fact that I have FOUR DOGS. And let’s be very clear. My dogs come first. Let’s be clearer. Three of them sleep in the bed with me. And let’s make it crystal clear. There’s a lot of dog hair at my house and that’s not about to change.

So while people around me are playing with Tinder, I’m out hiking and playing with my dogs. I rather like it that way. I’m also walking an average of eight miles a day walking other people’s dogs and when I’m not doing all of that, I’m playing dog agility on the weekends or training agility on weeknights. And if none of those things are happening, I’m napping.

Tex and I were texting back and forth for months in 2017. Flirty, silly texts. Then, he disappeared. I wish I could say that was unusual, but it wasn’t. Se la vie. I’d pretty much written him off several years ago. Then he got back in touch in 2018.

I decided I wasn’t playing anymore. I’ve never gained anything in my life by being timid. In fact, I am that uber bitchy aggressive woman that is somehow seen as uber, bitchy and horridly aggressive. I put her on the back shelf for a few years, but in 2018, she made a bit of a comeback. And foreshadowing here, she’s back baby for 2019.

When Tex texted me some sorta sexy, friendly but harmlessly flirtatious message, I sent him a two-word response. Okay,  the first word was a contraction of two words and the other word is the most useful four letter word ever devised by humankind and in this case I used it as a verb. It wasn’t exactly a demand, but it went a bit beyond an invitation.

He was a bit shocked and asked if I was the same person. Hell, yes and this woman 1) knew what she wanted, 2) and knew who she wanted it from.

Thus began months of torture.

I am not big on words when it comes to romance or fornication. Actions speak louder than words. I spelled this out a number of times. I am also not into dick pics or sending selfies. What if I ever want to run for public office? It’s like the Internet. Those things are forever. So while I was looking for a big YES, I was also saying a whole lot of NO to the stupid things that seem to define flirtation, dating and sex in today’s world.

I thought I’d get laid finally in July. But Tex being directionally challenged ruined that. In other words, he not know that while he was traveling north on Interstate 5 from a town south of me to get back to Seattle that he could have simply veered off the interstate slightly east and arrived into my freshly bathed and dog hair-free legs. I’d also shaved my legs. He also didn’t take into account the heavy traffic that is every Sunday, coupled with the added morass of a major weekend construction project, despite it having been advertised on television, radio and other media for weeks.

I was furious. I made it obvious that I was furious in some scathing words.

Nothing.

I evaluated and analyzed my goal and my target. The target was proving unsatisfactory and unreliable. Time to adjust my goal. I did just that by opting to refocus and by altering my time-frame.

In October I received a text. “Still mad? There are only 78 days to make your goal for the year.”

I burst out laughing. As in loud, tears streaming down my face laughter. See, the thing about Tex is that he completely gets me. I received regular countdowns until we could finally choose a date that worked for both of our schedules a week and a half later.

I kicked ass on my 2018 goals.

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So now it’s 2019 and in the past several weeks between mid-November and now I’ve been thinking about 2019.

Ya’ll be happy to know that I’ve decided to return to blogging. Yup, it’s been a year and a week since my last blog post. I stopped blogging mostly because I just have been so busy. But I also stopped because I really did not have anything particularly nice to say for a lot of the year. Funny and biting, yes. But definitely not nice. Although it was a fantastic year in many respects, I felt just plain black and blue more than I’d like to think about. I did most of my writing in my head while walking and the really good stuff, and the nasty stuff too, just never saw the light of day. I’ve decided to change that.

Of course I have business and financial goals for the year, including eating as much rice and beans as I can and dreaming up new ways to make that interesting in order to dig out of some of my debt associated with starting my business while also being a sparkling personality. Perhaps a bit less sparkle in 2019.

Youke and Brady have done everything I’ve ever asked of them. I’d like to see them both earn their NATCH 2, but that may be in 2020. Youke is also slowly, but surely headed toward some agility retirement as he’ll be 11 this year. It likely won’t happen this year as I’ve decided to cut back on agility competition for financial and sanity reasons, but I’d like to see Brady progress to his first CATCH in CPE, now that he does the previously super scary teeter.

I also think that Camm could possibly get her first CATCH by the end of the year. It would be her first major championship title and possibly her only one. She has everything she needs for a NATCH and a Versatility NATCH, except those pesky Chances qualifications. Ironically, she has great distance, but she also has even bigger opinions. She did turn seven years old though a few months ago and it may have been a magical turning point for us as a team. More on that in the future.

I have zero aspirations for Rhys at present. Rhys had his second birthday two weeks ago. While I had planned to start trialing him regularly this month, I’ve come to recognize that he is simply not ready. He did a soft debut at the end of October in Canada at one of my favorite trials and was surprisingly fairly good. But I entered him in a few more runs here and there and he doesn’t have the skills and maturity yet to cope with a trial atmosphere. I’ve also realized he is a sensitive guy and I do not want to overwhelm him and place him in situations he’s just not ready for .

Hiking with my dogs is big on my list for 2019. I felt I neglected them a lot this past year, particularly in the last quarter. Hiking is also the best therapy for me. So for the sake of all of our collective sanity,  I am cutting back on agility to see where the paths in the woods lead us. I’m also going to be just plain nicer to my dogs and not let stress get at me as much.

Perhaps my most significant target though is to summon the return, and foster, my inner tiger. Sounds sorta paradoxical, but I’m looking at a year of laser focus, passion, acceptance and reflection.

And maybe some more of Tex.

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The road ahead leads to ….

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