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“Just like the lotus, we too can rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness, and radiate into the world.” –Unknown

Mabel and I left the car at our favorite park for our Wednesday morning walk. I’d read about flooding and seen photos of the aftermath of Columbus’ heavy rain. I was even in the downpours off and on all day Tuesday. However, I only grasped the water’s height once I attempted to navigate deep puddles and muddy paths with my wild girl in tennis shoes.

It was windy, and I was trying to divert Mabel from the park ranger cart with a massive piece of equipment, which I was sure would soon be noisy and scary for her. My only option was to walk through the grass.

Well, Mabel began belly-flopping, diving headfirst, and zooming in, out, and onto every dirt pool. I slipped (I’m still unclear why I wasn’t wearing my rain boots) and slid sideways, toe-to-head in the mud. 

Mabel stopped when she heard me thud. I likely proclaimed, “Ouch,” because my sweet girl immediately wiggled towards me, gesturing appeasement after I landed on my left shoulder, left pesky after years of holding strong, pulling dogs while they learned leash manners, and painful and still partially immobile after covering an employee’s kitchen shift a couple of weeks ago.

Thankfully, after pushing myself out of the freezing, soaked ground with my right hand, I noted that I didn’t hurt any more than before the fall, so Mabel and I continued our stroll. Despite everyone being on the same path to stay as dry as possible, we successfully turned and walked away from another dog (we can often walk for an hour, not passing any dogs). Just as I felt proud of Mabel, fall almost forgotten, I spotted one of her park nemesis walking towards us. I tried every “wee, woo hoo, yay” in my repertoire to encourage Mabel to move faster, but I was out of treats, and the poodle and its person came in too quickly for our escape.

Mabel planted and stared, and my only option was to clip her second leash to the front of her harness and ask from a distance for the person to “please stop staring; it’s not helping.” I thought we could shake it off and continue our walk, but Mabel started stress-gobbling grass, and even though we both live to move, I knew cutting our walk in half was the best choice. I strapped Mabel in the car, and she looked lovingly, softly, and sweetly at me while she drank water. Then we headed home.

As I drove, I passed a semi-truck with the following statement written on its side: HUGE, I might add, “If you litter, you yourself are trash.” The harshness of those words struck me. Mabel and I just had a not-great experience together, but I left the park for us both to feel better, not because I was mad about being drug through the mud. 

It made me think of the beautiful lotus flower and how much it teaches us about growing and seeking light despite darkness and murky times.

If we ignore or numb our fear, pain, and grievances, we stay stuck in the mud, never blossoming. However, if we trudge through the sludge of sadness, heartbreak, and mistakes and face them head-on, little by little, we rise closer to the sun’s warmth. We have the strength and stamina to do more for those we love, our community, and the world.

So, today, I offer us this: let’s dig into the mud. When we accept and work through our icky emotions (my go-to’s are feeling unworthy or overwhelmed), we no longer place our petty problems into other people’s laps or practice toxic positivity. We honor the humbling experience of being human for what it is, and if we’re lucky, we’ll find more love for ourselves that we can’t help but share with a world that desperately needs it.
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