I’ve been volunteering for the Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue (GGLRR) for nearly five years, fostering rescued Labs and conducting home visits.
After I had adopted one of my fosters two years ago, my involvement with the rescue slowed considerably, yet I still take in the occasional senior dog.
Right before Thanksgiving, I decided to foster Sterling, probably a Lab-Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix.
All I know is that Sterling is your dream dog. He loves to play and chase the ball, and he also enjoys curling up at your feet if you’d rather spend a few hours writing or reading.
Basically, he follows his caretaker’s lead.
I’m telling you this story because while I was meeting virtually with my business coach, I hugged both dogs and said, “This is what inspires me.”
I surprised myself.
I keep reasoning that I need to stop volunteering now that I have a dog of my own and focus more on my business. The truth is that I work long hours every day and on weekends, and I need a respite once in a while.
The other truth is that I love dogs, and I especially love Labrador retrievers.
So I volunteer because I enjoy giving back to my community; I adore this breed, and because I want to give dogs a second chance.
In Sterling’s case, his former family tied him to a pole and abandoned him near a parking lot with a sign that read, “Can you give me a new home? My family lost their home and can’t keep me any longer!”
Animal control picked him up, took him to an overcrowded shelter that might have euthanized him had GGLRR not stepped in.
Sterling is an awesome dog, and I’m glad he’s alive and in my life.
Do What Inspires You
Sure, the time I spend walking dogs, taking them to the vet (they always arrive either ill, malnourished or needing surgery) consumes time when I already am strapped for it.
You know how it is. Do you ever have enough time to write books and blog and market your books?
Add running a business to the equation and we can both understand how busy we are, right?
But I love dogs. I love giving dogs a second and third chance, and I love getting them healthy and ready for a family that we carefully vet.
Don’t Be Afraid to Unplug
People think that because I work in and write about social media that I’m always online.
Today, a Sunday, I didn’t post anything on any of my social media profiles – not even Facebook. I did thank people for retweets and took a quick glance at my Facebook news feed but aside from that; all I did was check email.
The Fear of Missing Out is always there. What if Twitter changes its platform? What if Facebook makes a huge change? There’s always the pressure of what if …?
What if I miss a big change in social media? I’ll get over it, and I’ll be able to catch up.
Or I’ll be online when the next big change happens because something is always changing on social media.
I don’t stress about it anymore.
And I make more time to take long walks most days because the dogs need it, my body craves it, and my brain rejoices in it.
Walking the dogs always inspires me. When I’m walking, I hear birds chirp, notice a little water in our drought-ridden creeks near our home, feel the sun on my face.
It’s while I walk that I always come up with new material for blog posts and ideas and titles for books.
Whenever I’m sitting in front of my computer, and I feel stuck or don’t know what to do next, I step away from the computer.
I may do some pushups, squats, or leash up the dogs for a stroll.
Or I stare out the window or go to the gym.
When I walk, I let my mind wander, and as it does, ideas come to me.
A 2010 Harvard study on daydreaming concluded “a wandering mind linked spacing out with unhappiness.”
Harrumph to that!
I am so glad scientists recently debunked that study. An article on the Huffington Post titled How Daydreaming Can Actually Make You Smarter noted:
“In a radical new theory of human intelligence, one cognitive psychologist argues that having your head in the clouds might help people to engage better with the pursuits that are most personally meaningful to them. According to Scott Barry Kaufman, NYU psychology professor and author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, we need a new definition of intelligence — one that factors in our deepest dreams and desires.
“We all have goals and dreams in life — things we want to accomplish out there in the real world,” Kaufman tells The Huffington Post. “And while the kinds of skills that are measured on IQ tests are important … there are so many more characteristics that come into play in helping us to reach those dreams and goals in a long-term way.”
In addition, according to a 2012 study daydreaming may seem passive but on the contrary, it can involve a highly engaged brain state.
That study noted that:
“… daydreaming often leads to sudden connections and profound insights because it correlates with our ability to recall information in the face of distractions.”
Furthermore, in a 2011 study neuroscientists discovered that daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with creativity.
So you can stop feeling guilty about not writing, not marketing your books, not doing whatever your brain tells you that you “should be doing.”
Take an hour or longer, walk the dog, go to the gym, or sit and stare out the window. Daydreaming may be just as important to your creative process as writing itself.
About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by signing up for her newsletter. Connect with Frances on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+.