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Mist swirls through my flashlight beam as fog descends onto my pasture. A pale moon glow has painted a corner of the predawn sky.
A chill niggles at my cheeks, damp and prickly. Leaves crunch underfoot.
Black tree silhouettes emerge like stoic statues of ancient warriors. A quick rustle and crash of palmetto briefly scare me with mental images of “The Blair Witch Project.”
More crashing and thrashing, and then stampeding feet coming near. A startling half- growl half-cry, then a disturbance in the mist.
A beast appears, eye shine ominously white from my flashlight.
Daisy, my blue-tick heeler, drops her Frisbee at my feet, tongue lolling and vapor rushing in streams from her mouth.
Her anticipation is focused at my next throw into the night.
This is our morning ritual. I do it for her — to bleed off some energy before heading to work so she won’t tear up any more pillows, or couch cushions, or the rug, or clothes, or whatever she can drag through the dog door while we’re all gone.
Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer) says we don’t get the dog we want as much as we get the dog we need. Until recently, I thought this was doggy psychology crap.
As much as Daisy needs to chase Frisbees, I need a stress reliever. Through her, I’ve found a great “de-stressifier.”
Trekking in the predawn hours, soaking up the nature around me (and throwing a soggy canvas dog Frisbee) is immensely soothing.
When we’re done, I’m refreshed and energized, focused and calm. She lays down panting, and I get ready for the day.
My new job has me on a sharp learning curve.
It’s the Stairmaster of learning curves, as it’s almost vertical at times. With the Stairmaster comes stress, my memory (what little of it that’s left) is taxed.
I carry a list of Centers’ acronyms and their definitions so I don’t look like I just arrived from Mars (where I think they did find some hint of life).
I find that I get fatigued, have confusion (senior moments), have a lot of trouble sleeping (mind racing off without the body) and go on afternoon sugar safaris when sleepiness slams me between the eyes.
Many people don’t think they can have negative stress responses from things they enjoy doing. O contraire, stress responses can creep up on people in the midst of very positive circumstances. And I have that in my job!
I’ve been warmly embraced by everyone, from the clients to the staff, from the administrators (they call them Chiefs) to our community partner agencies. The staff counselors and support personnel have shown professionalism and extreme kindness toward me — even, upon occasion, pointing me toward my office without laughing at me.
My Chief, Diane Daniels (I haven’t seen her headdress yet) is exemplary in both wisdom regarding my orientation, and in her clinical take on things.
Our HR Chief, Wendy Fletcher, is a vault of information and expertise.
Our CEO (the Chief Chief), Charles Powel, has a clearly visible heart for our community and our clients.
Everyone needs to have a couple of ways to dispel stress: walking, exercise, boating, birding and fishing are some examples. Even in the midst of very exciting and positive experiences, we need to take time to refresh and recalibrate our stress levels. I wish you many enjoyable misty morning treks!
Yvonne Hess, M.S., LMFT,CAP, is director of Citrus County services for The Centers. She can be reached at 352-628-5020, ext. 1013, or firstname.lastname@example.org.