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Practice Makes Perfect

Just a short entry tonight, because I promised I would write.  I really need to get back into the habit of writing every day on this blog.  I have so many things I’d like to share and many thoughts I’d like to try and work out, and this is the place to do it. 

This weekend I competed in my last sheepdog trial of the year.  I wasn’t going to go as it is a long drive, gas is expensive, money is tight, and I should really be working on my dissertation.  However training and trialing my dogs is pretty much the only thing that has been progressing smoothly in my life these days, and I feel that I should go with it.  Everything else is such a struggle, and in my experience – while struggle can be good – if there are too many roadblocks, you are going in the wrong direction.  I think the opposite is also true.  When everything falls nicely into place, perhaps there’s a reason for that too.

Things have been falling nicely into place with my sheepdog training this summer.  Hannah and I have now placed high in trial in every trial we competed in but one this summer.  We also won the provincial championship for the novice class.  As a result, today we had to move up to the next level and compete with the big hats.  And you know what?  We held our own!  We had two really good runs, we kept our calm and we kept our sheep.  And we placed 8th in both classes (out of 20 dog-handler teams), which astounded me to be honest. 

The reason we did well is because we really practice.  We practice and practice and practice. I go out three times a week, more when I can, and train my dogs.  I really love it.  I love being out on the farm, outside in the fresh air, and working with animals.  I’ve always loved these things, but have grown up pushing them aside, as something ‘quaint’ but not of great value.  It feels good to be putting this first and foremost in my life right now.  Yes, even over my dissertation, which has stalled out once again at the moment.  The dissertation will have its time: it’s called winter.  I like to hibernate and as the temperature drops, my writing will flow once again.  Starting probably this week in fact.  I feel ready for it now, with this championship in my pocket, a long-time life-goal accomplished, and new ones set for next year.

I keep thinking, if I only practiced at my school work as hard as I practice at training my dogs, I’d be so much farther along than I am!  But it has to come from inspiration, and that’s just so hard to find in this very nit-picky exercise.  So the farm time serves to clear my head so that I can force myself to sit down and read and write.  

I have long argued that if you don’t enjoy the path you are on, you will not enjoy where it leads you.  I am actually enjoying my academic path, but it has also been a very humbling and – at times (like the present) – humiliating experience.  Is that what lies in store if I stay on this path?  Is this going to make me happy?  I’m not sure.  I do need to keep a roof overy my head somehow, and academia will allow me the flexibility to keep training my dogs, and to run my own farm if I so choose.  Maybe the farming will be what keeps me happy enough to endure the frustraing and humiliating parts of this career.  

I really don’t know, but I do know that I was pretty darned happy and relaxed today, even though I was competing.  I felt in my element, outside in the rain and the brisk air and the falling, many-coloured leaves.  I need to heed this and understand what it means, and what I am meant to do…

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