With Lily -- 200 pounds of dog that proved a great grounding instrument for me

With Lily — 200 pounds of dog that proved a great grounding instrument for me

I’ve been in a season of grounding for close to 50 years and, while most of my contemporaries were focused on moving up, I was geared to the earth, the pavement, the sidewalk and the grass.

Since I’m a self-avowed expert on the subject of being grounded, I figured it was high time to share some pearls of wisdom on this generally unpopular topic.

Dictionary Meanings for Grounded

Grounded – 1. In touch with reality; 2. Based on evidence; 3. Confined at home as punishment; 4. Connected to the ground.

Though I’m aiming for definition #4, I must admit I’ve often related to definition #3. I’ve often felt confined and not living in my place of favored choice. In fact, I recall telling my husband more than once, “I need to get out!”

Always kind and supportive, Jimmy would eagerly respond, “I can make arrangements for you to fly to some exotic destination.  Where would you like to go?”

“Jimmy, it’s not that I want to go to a destination, it’s that I need to get out!” (Admittedly, I am a bit passionate.)

Abstract explanations would eventually stump this linear, logical and pragmatic man. My oriental reasoning couldn’t adequately communicate to him how “getting out” was more a state of mind than something identifiable by longitude and latitude coordinates on the world map.  

For almost as long as I can remember, I’d felt like I was confined and dwelling inside a box.  Surely, I reasoned, if I could feel the presence of a limiting box, there must certainly exist a freer life outside that box – somewhere! 

Grounding Through Life 

Back to the original subject of grounding. While much of the world around me was seemingly climbing upward and onward, I’d been stepping down to the ground.

Here are several examples:  

As a transfer high school sophomore who realized I wasn’t understanding much of Spanish II (my previous teacher was a recent transplant from Cuba who had no knowledge of English), I asked to repeat Spanish I without credit – and I did. Several times a week, I sat with freshman students to learn basic lessons that were necessary for my future growth. 

Later, despite having served as editor of our high school newspaper and being advised first semester in college that I didn’t know how to write, I diligently met with my instructor for composition tutoring sessions every week for the rest of the school year. 

As a young adult in the corporate world, I declined job promotions in Chicago and Manhattan, preferring to remain in sunny Florida instead. Better titles and the promise of higher incomes would have taken me away from the lifestyle of warmth I adored.   

Years later, tired of the corporate treadmill and realizing I was comparing my self-worth to my income, I resigned to experience life without a paycheck. In an odd move, I gave up an ever precarious position and paycheck to discover a personal worth that could not be so easily challenged.   

There are plenty more examples of how I’ve “stepped down” to the ground over the years. I’d chosen to  be a stay-at-home housewife (ugh!), a homeschooling mother (double-ugh!), and became Pooper Scooper Extraordinaire to the canine members of our family.

These absolutely adorable pets included Buster, a 75 pound boxer beset by separation anxiety and Lily, the English Mastiff and 200 pound ball of fur who my daughter and I were convinced should have qualified for Ripley’s Believe it or Not! fame for such scientifically impossible feats of shedding.

During an era when other women in my neighborhood were tooling around in Lexus sedans, playing tennis at the local country club and trading up on their engagement rings, yours truly became the spectacle best known for her multi-bag poop maneuverings (Buster, the other biological marvel, was frequently a 4-bag-a-walk poop producer). A clean freak armed with an ever-present bottle of Windex, I tackled low-lying window pane smudges, captured low-hanging slobber before it flung awry to unintended walls and scoured paw prints from seemingly endless square feet of Florida floor tile.

Some Lessons Learned from Grounding

Right about now, you’re probably wondering, Is this woman going somewhere with her endless diatribe?

Absolutely! It’s taken me nearly a half century to reap the benefits and wisdom of this seemingly endless experience known as grounding. So indulge me a little while I relish in the absolute absurdity of these lowly dog years. (Truly, they really were rather epic. Passers-by would often slow their vehicles to a crawl, wondering if the yellow beast I was walking might not be a small pony.)

Getting back to that grounding thing . . . .

Getting Left Back in School 

My repeat year in Spanish so equipped me with the fundamentals of the language that I grew to love it! I went on to take a second major in Spanish Literature while in college and spent a semester abroad studying in Madrid. Years later, I traveled as a Spanish interpreter for fun and was once asked where I’d lived since I spoke Spanish like a native.

Remedial Training in College

What about that very humbling, but determined, year of sitting for remedial lessons in English Comp at college after serving as editor of our high school newspaper? All that tutoring yielded a second semester B+, truly one of my greatest academic accomplishments, even if not counted among my best grades.

That professor’s assistance with phrasing, symmetry and logic helped prepare me for my present career as publisher, editor and writer. Without grounding myself with the basics, I could never communicate as effectively as I do today. 

Passing Up Promotions

What about the declines in two job promotions to big cities and corporate headquarters? They enabled me to maintain the sunny lifestyle I’d yearned for as a child. After all these years, I still marvel at the incomparable beauty of our Florida West Coast beaches and realize that no pay increase could have ever compensated for this home and lifestyle I enjoy.

Saying Goodbye to a Paycheck

What about the loss of a generous corporate paycheck tied to prosperous overrides? What loss could there possibly be to my personal value when I learned to discover my own self-worth! Today, I’m as comfortable sporting a dress from Marshall’s as I am wearing a fine designer brand. External symbols of worth no longer decide or determine my own. 

Playing Housewife and Homeschooling Mom

And what about the I-hate-housewives-and-homeschooling-mothers-even-more attitude I carried? As it turns out, I had plenty of humble pie to eat, realizing that being at home allowed me not only to educate my daughter but enabled me to further educate myself. I actually learned things I never picked up the first time around in school! Through parenting a child, actually learned to have some fun — an attitude and disposition sorely missing in my previous life. I’m grateful for the unexpected gifts from that era. My daughter and I read, travelled, explored and bonded as I could never have imagined and we’re both uniquely enriched.

The Dog Years  

And what about those dogs, the ultimate credits to my grounding?  Well, Buster and Lily eventually took a walk into greener pastures (with hopefully someone else to shovel all their deposits) to a place we lovingly refer to as Doggy Heaven. The two dears lasted just long enough to keep us at home till our daughter was ready to go away to college – and my husband and I were ready to fly anew!

And guess what else?  After all these years, I feel like my box has been opened and I’m naturally GETTING OUT!

Grounding. It’s not a bad thing after all. 

The way I figure it, the Earth and I are pretty good friends right about now.  And with all my experience at grounding, I can’t possibly be afraid to fall!

Wishing you the benefits of grounding, too! 

NOTE: If you’re on a path to getting grounded and want more inspiration, click here for an updated blog and podcast on the same topic. 

Maura4u Podcast Cover

Maura Sweeney is a Podcaster, Author and International Speaker

Her mantra is “Living Happy – Inside Out!”

Find her podcasts on iTunes and Stitcher

Fan her on Huffington Post

Follow her on Twitter

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This