Put a stick in it

When walking my retriever, Bailey, she likes to set the pace. As she confidently trots toward whatever we may encounter, she rarely falters.

Except when we come to a fork in the path.

When a direction must be chosen, left or right, she hesitates often.

Roughly 10 percent of the time, though, she knows what she wants.

Illustration to magazine about animals. Labrador bringing a stickThe only difference?

A stick in her mouth.

When she is trotting while carrying a stick, she is on a mission. She is a retriever, after all. The stick gives her a job. She has retrieved it and it’s now hers to carry.

In short, with a stick in her mouth, she stops thinking and goes on instinct.

Smart girl.

She masters a skill I am still honing. And it’s not holding a stick in my mouth.

I follow my gut, my instinct, most of the time. But there have been times in my life when my gut seemed to make no sense to those around me, and their doubt caused me to doubt myself.

Thank God, most of the time, I risked following my inner voice and looking foolish to those around me. I’ve not regretted any of those choices, as temporarily rough as they may have been.

When my mother was set on me going to law school, when I scored well on the LSAT, I didn’t go. I told her I wanted to be a journalist instead. In her head, this didn’t equate. $15,000 per year starting salary versus, at the time, $60,000 and up. But my gut told me that while I would make a good attorney, I’d make a miserable attorney. Arguing does not make me happy. And yes, if going to law school, I was cut out to be a litigator whose primary job was to argue cases.

When in the corporate world and readying for a promotion, I decided to stay at home with my oldest son so as not to miss some precious days. It made no sense to my boss, my mother or many of my career-minded friends. But it was one of the best choices I ever made for our family.

When given the choice to go about my merry way, protecting my privacy, or put my thoughts and feelings out there in the world, I choose the latter, via my blog. Doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. People who only seem confident because of their big inner walls. People who don’t have the strength to put it out there and instead hide behind those walls.

But that’s ok. Because my instinct tells me a blog is just something I am meant to do at the moment.

I think of all the stories of 9/11, particularly the ones where people who never took breaks went outside to smoke a cigarette—and oddly, smoking saved their lives. The guy on his way to work who switched back to the local train because the one he normally took was making him feel claustrophobic. The local train made him five minutes late and saved his life.

I don’t know if any of these people were consciously listening to their gut, their inner voice—but thank God it won out, whether they were aware of it or not.

In short, we’re brought up to think. At least I was. Emotions are not always to be trusted, as they can change with the breeze. But thoughts are not much better. Intellectualizing anything is rarely hailed after the fact as a wise decision.

My gut tends to be a whisper of the divine. A strong feeling or sense usually leads me to a better outcome than all the pro/con lists and girlfriend gab sessions I could put together. You can call it whatever you want—a hunch, an inkling, a gut feeling—but recognize the wisdom in it. For many of us, on a typical Monday morning, wisdom is in short supply. Tap into the mother lode. And for you science-minded skeptics, research, study after study, back me up on this one.

Let’s start small. For this week, I’m going to stop overthinking. When tempted, I will remember Bailey and her sticks—and follow her lead.

Which will probably be the smartest thing I do all week. Or so my instinct tells me.




7 Comments Add yours

  1. markbialczak says:

    I agree with your instincts, Kay. Here’s a catch phrase coined from your dear Bailey: Stick with the stick! Great post, my friend.

  2. Absolutely! I have come to recognize this awesome connection to the divine that will never steer us wrong. Whenever I am struggling with making a decision, I make it a no-brainer (literally) by listening to my heart or intuition. Yay you!

  3. Chris Edgar says:

    Yes, it’s interesting how I, on some level, do tend to perceive myself as the “weak” one for talking about what’s genuinely going on for me, while others are “strong” because they aren’t “complaining” or “navel-gazing” by doing the same. I’m lucky,,I think, because I don’t think I have the choice not to share my experience — my face, at least in my own opinion, is very expressive and shares it regardless of what I do, so I might as well not cover it up.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah, the poker face gene passed you up:). I think, for me, it’s a fine line. I am there for my friends to listen if they have to wallow or sort it for awhile–but when it becomes navel-gazing or a steady pattern of self pity with no forward (or even lateral) movement, I tend to think the best thing I can do for them is step aside. The difference, I guess, between being a true friend and enabling? Not sure.

  4. “Go with your gut” is something I try to tell myself whenever others put doubt in my mind. You are so right…it nearly always is the way to go. You can tell when that feeling in the pit of your stomach either stays there, or vanishes.

  5. suemclaren24 says:

    Once again, this one is a true Winner in my book. Well said (as usual) – there are many who need to hear this.

  6. Wendy Kate says:

    Interesting! I think you are right in so much as in I think we pick up cues unconsciously/subconsciously that enable us to make the correct choices when going with our gut instinct. However, with regards to the people that morning of 9/11, they could not have picked up on what was going to happen so it is a happy (for them) decision that they made that morning, just as I am sure there were some people who would not normally have been there but sadly changed plans for whatever reason. (Yes, I am a skeptic 🙂 )

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