“You will discover that you have two hands. One is for helping yourself and the other is for helping others.” – Audrey Hepburn
See this dog? His name is Andy and he came to me at a time in my life when I needed something to save me. I had lost hope, faith and belief, and I was rapidly losing courage to continue.
Two brain tumours and a cardiac arrest, plus a rare disorder are a lot for anyone to survive and thrive after.
As a result, I put a call out to the Universe, via the wonderful method of falling to my knees, on my own – just touching the ground and screaming,“Help me God! I can’t take it any more!”
My mind was torn between begging to live and pleading to be let die again. Nothing had worked. I was not getting better. I had lived through virtual hell, and felt I was still only halfway through, when I reached this stage of desperation. I had never suffered in a way like this felt before. It was excruciating, nauseating, unbearable emotional pain, so deep that it would make me feel like vomiting.
That was the point in my life when I made my plea to the Universe.
Strangely, I had put my hand up the week before to be given a rescue German Shepherd. The anguish I witness in abandoned and abused animals was hellish. I felt that, even if I could do nothing else with my life, I could rescue a dog.
My family all objected. How would I manage it? they asked me. Could we afford it? Who would exercise this hypothetical dog? I couldn’t. I could barely walk upright for more than a few hundred yards, and we all knew that I was failing fast. I had done too much, seen too much, given too much and I was an empty vessel. I was numb or weeping in extreme emotional pain. Between grief and nothing, I didn’t know which I preferred.
Then I received a call from German Shepherd Rescue Victoria. They asked me if I would look at a dog that was in poor shape. I looked at the photo of Andy. He was ragged, messy, underweight, unfriendly to other dogs, and a notorious escape artist. He ran from everything and everyone.
“Yes”, I said, without much hesitation or thought,“Yes, I will”, and so Andy was driven to my home to meet me. He came in through the back gate to my yard and upstairs to my patio where I sat and waited, in front of the spot where I had fallen to my knees in my lowest point of my life.
He looked at me and I held out my hand. Then he walked up to me and laid his head in my lap.
I could feel the bones in his body, smell the disorder of his health, but I could feel a heart inside him that beat and longed to be loved, a heart that had been almost as trammelled as mine. He was giving up, but he had not yet quit.
So, full of fear, I accepted. “He can stay”, I said. “We’ll see how we go.”
The rescue lady commented to me that she had never witnessed anything like that before. He was my dog, she declared; he had decided.
Then she left, leaving behind few instructions, a bag of dry food, a dog bowl that looked like a baby bowl it was so small, and an old sleeping mat that was so thin that the sun could have shone through it. Andy obviously had been a hobo, because there was nothing in these few little belongings that spoke of love or care.
He did not know how to play. Balls were a mystery, soft toys a threat. Our cat was to be feared, as was our son, whom he viewed as a dog assassin. Andy would tremble with fear at almost everything. A towel being shaken was clearly a nightmare, and baths were something designed to torture him. He would vomit when he ate, run and bury what food he could, hide his bowel movements, cry when I washed him. Every night he had nightmares, crying, yelping and shaking in his sleep. This big – bigger than average – German Shepherd was a mess.
I started to take him for walks as best as I could. I got him a new collar that didn’t choke him, and a new lead, and a lady I met online sent me a panic vest.
Together, we began to walk, every day, as far as both of us could. Then slowly, Andy and I started to run, 20 feet at a time, then stop and walk for a while, and then run again.
Together, we built up our endurance until we have reached this day. Today, Andy is fit, healthy and muscles are showing in his body. He is about 15kg heavier than he was, and he sticks to me as close as he can at all times.
Now I too can run. From staggering in despair, barely making it three hundred feet, I now run with joy. Over a year has passed since Andy came to me to be rescued, and I have found that, truly, Andy rescued me.
I expected nothing. All I wanted was to help another soul with the little I had left, and it was very little. What I got in return was a life that I enjoy waking up to if Andy is asleep on the floor next to me. I love his enthusiasm when I grab his leash, his pride when I buckle him up and head him out the door, and the complete magnificence of his uncrushable soul.
He has been a magnificent teacher. I expected nothing. I gained everything, and that is the spirit of generosity. You give when someone needs. You expect nothing in exchange and you may find that your cup overflows with the benefits.
8 steps you can take when you feel overwhelmed by your life
- Take a deep breath and allow yourself to feel what is really going on.
- Consider this possibility: are you doing what you have to do to get by, or is there something or someone in your life who inspires you to care more about your welfare; someone, be it a person or an animal, who needs you? If no, rescue an animal.
- Are you exercising for joy or necessity? It does not matter what you do for exercise as long as it makes you feel great, and is not a duty.
- Are you eating healthily? Sugar is a depressant. Natural foods will make you feel better.
- Sunshine is needed, even if it is through clouds, dampened by rain, or dappled by trees. You need sunshine and the feel of the earth beneath your feet. Walk outside for at least a few minutes every day.
- Every time you feel down or depressed, remind yourself that this is a hibernating period and that this kind of emotion will end. Then you will be able to use the lessons from it for a greater purpose.
- Find a cause or a way to help others. Be on the lookout for an opportunity to smile at someone, or give a compliment. Every positive act you take has a rebound effect on you.
- Crying is a great release. Hug yourself and let yourself cry, without guilt. You don’t have to know why you are crying. Sometimes being alive is enough of a reason to cry.
A self-taught medical intuitive, Carmel Bell is a highly sought after international speaker and teacher of medical intuition. She is the author of ‘When all else fails’, which tells how she foresaw her own death and that she would be revived and then able to heal herself.
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