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The Best Thing to Do

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In the midst of revising two radio ads, editing a story for a magazine, writing a synopsis for a children’s TV series, running a load of laundry, and keeping track of when I needed to start preparing dinner, I realized my dog was not in his usual spot. Typically, while I work at my computer in my home-based office, Beau crams all fifty-seven pounds of his Labrador Retriever self into the small space between the paper shredder and the laser printer housed beneath my desk. He snoozes, occasionally shifting himself so his head rests upon my feet, until I get up for a phone call or fax or fresh mug of herbal tea, each of which he optimistically interprets as an invitation to go for a walk.

I got up, stretched my back, and, after a few minutes of searching, found him in the backyard, lying in the sun atop my recently planted flowerbed. Beau barely opened one milk chocolate–brown eye to squint at me as I descended the back steps and made my way down the garden path. Otherwise, he did not move a muscle, waiting to see what my next move would be. I was not going to chastise him for once again digging up my delicate seedlings and burrowing his freshly washed, tan-colored body into the newly turned soil; this time, I was inspired to join him.

I have a pretty good life, which includes a fulfilling career that supports a comfortable lifestyle. And working at home means I can enjoy simple luxuries that were unavailable to me in my working-in-the-office days, such as eating lunch at the bistro table in my front yard or meeting clients/friends for movies or leisurely meals when I start getting cabin fever.

But sometimes I forget to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes the deadline pressure is so great that I “forget” to eat lunch or I work until I’m beyond exhausted or I feel so frazzled and caught up in the busyness of the day that I forget to appreciate all of the blessings in my life.

So this afternoon, instead of nudging Beau out of his hole in the ground, I laid down on the cement walkway alongside him. Beau shifted himself slightly so he could rest his head on my leg. I draped an arm over my eyes to shade them from the sun, and I thought about nothing for a change. A slight breeze blew over us, transporting scents from the small potted herb garden a few feet away and the rose bushes just about to burst forth with new blossoms, reminding me of Nature’s glorious abundance. I also caught a whiff of dog piles warming in the heat of the midday sun, but I resisted the urge to hop up and scoop them into the trash or add “poop patrol” to my lengthy to do list. Chirping birds and buzzing bees softened the songs of whirring lawn mowers and leaf blowers from around the neighborhood, while the sounds of nearby traffic morphed into gentle waves.

Five or so minutes later it got too hot in the direct sun, and both Beau and I returned to our usual stations: me to my chair in front of the computer, he to his place under my desk. I felt calmer, more focused, ready to tackle the tasks before me.

Our days for enjoying these precious time-outs are waning, since summer, with its punishing heat and humidity, is just a few weeks away. Till then, I pledge to occasionally follow my dog’s lead when he heads out the back door to his own private Eden, because sometimes taking a “Five-Minute Nap” belongs at the top of my to do list.


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