Have you ever heard of “The Butterfly Effect”?
It has captured my imagination this week.
“It used to be thought that the events that changed the world were things like big bombs, maniac politicians, huge earthquakes, or vast population movements, but it has now been realized that this is a very old-fashioned view held by people totally out of touch with modern thought. The things that change the world, according to Chaos theory, are the tiny things. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, and subsequently a storm ravages half of Europe.”— from Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
The idea (really simplified) is that something really small can change the world. And my heart loves it deeply. What if, in the act of writing and journaling the adventures of #PoppytheProtege and #Lightinggirl, we are changing the world? Making it a little kinder? Providing an antidote to the anger and rage that fuels much of our world? It makes my heart sing just to imagine the possibilities.
Here is what I do know already: that this brown eared woof is changing my world for the better. But to be honest, I hadn’t thought any further about the idea that we might be helping others too.
That is, until someone (with a really big heart) sent me this message: “One day you will tell your story of how you’ve overcome what you’re going through now and it will become part of someone else’s survival guide”. Shew. It is almost too big to take in. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been scared to share my story. My vulnerability. My Self. My messy wholeness. To this day, every time I push ‘send’ or ‘share’ on another journal/blog entry —part of me shakes. I want to hold back. For I know that feeling so well of holding back my thoughts, my feelings, my truth, and not sharing myself.
I often think that to write a journal/blog entry about healing, I have to be inspiring. That so many people are invested in this journey between Poppy and I that I can’t possibly let them down. That the scene must be impeccably set, with a glowing candle at dusk, a soaring feeling under my skin and an optimistic tap-tap of the keyboard. And sometimes, it does feel magical like that. But sometimes, it feels like pulling teeth. It feels terrifying and tough. Sometimes, (like this week) I avoid sharing my words; I fear them; I am uncertain of them. Uncertain that I’ve made any steps forward this week at all. Truthfully, that it’s probably been a week of back peddling and wondering when (if at all) real change and healing will manifest itself.
A glowing candle at sunset? Even from here, I swear, I can hear Poppy laughing out loud. In reality it’s been a week of: a leaking house, pouring rain, damp dog, falling down, flashbacks and night terrors.
This weekend, my ever-active mind raced with thoughts, with stress, with the fear that I haven’t written in a while—and gosh! What if I’m not making sense? What if I’m boring? What if this is not inspiring? What if…? My anxiety really had me. I curled up in my bed yesterday hiding from the world, and the thoughts continued cycling around, in my favourite flavour of what-if variety. (My mind is a very busy place!)
I know what it’s like to be silent in the way that doesn’t feel good at all—it is such a familiar landscape. And in truth, it is scary to share ourselves. What will people think? And I can always vividly imagine all of the ways I will fail. All that could go wrong. Yet, I am realizing lately, all the vastness that lies beyond the fear. The courage. The beauty. The immense growth in being out of our comfort zones. The blooming. The heart-felt fields that expand into the horizon like a sea washed in an apricot sunset. All the ones we can connect with when we stand in our authenticity and in our heart spaces.
And inherently, it’s uncomfortable. There are still many days where I’d like to hide. Where I feel like it’s all too much. But slowly and gently, I am tuning into this brown eared woof friend next to me for guidance. And her blue eyes stare back at me: kind and bold, and she edges me gently forward: “let’s just try” she says. “Let’s experiment. Let’s explore. Let’s be brave” Okay, I think. I can do that. And that sweet almost innocent quality of curiosity is such a balm to my fear. I loosen up. I giggle a little and pet her on the head. I take things a little less seriously. And then, it all becomes a joyful experiment in the stumbling tenderness of being human and healing.
As I exhaled, I also realized something—even if no words or great insights came today, that it would be okay. That acknowledging this place this week would be enough.
This place of doubt, terror, and anxiety that feels like all I’m doing is taking gigantic steps backwards.
Acknowledge it. See it. But don’t live there forever.
Such a simple idea, but one that my mind would have never imagined just a few weeks ago! And it felt so liberating. Besides, I love writing from messy places. The ripped ones, uncertain ones, weird ones, the so-called broken, and doubting ones. The human, tender places that feel hard to lean into. Life, loss, love, joy, pain, sweetness, confusion—it can all fuel our healing. After all, I am an imperfect human being, not a 2-D fictional character. And neither is Poppy! Life doesn’t always line up perfectly to my expectations—and neither does healing.
And so, this week has a new mantra: ‘it’s okay’.
In this subtle sweeping of acceptance, I let go.
In letting go, I swear, every muscle exhaled. Even my heart.
Ahhh. And I find myself quite literally talking out loud to my dog: “We don’t have to fully believe in ourselves to do the thing we want to do. If we wait around until we love ourselves 100%, until we are sure of ourselves 100%, nothing would ever get done! We can do SO much—EVEN with doubt, fear, or pain there. We don’t need to sparkle with confidence at all times”. Poppy certainly doesn’t. 98% of the time, she is not sparkly. She’s a chewing naughty child testing every boundary possible and chewing her way through it at every step.
So, here I am, taking a leaf from her tree today, (and even though my anxiety tells me this is too hard), I’m getting out of bed to face another day. Writing this journal/blog entry. Because it’s okay. Where I am now is enough. It is so okay. Beautiful, in fact. Start here. Settle in. Reflect on the realness and truth of a hard week. Wrap it up gently in all its messiness, rawness, fear, excitement. No need for perfection. Just write for the truth of now.
And so, I want to propose a new idea: The Poppy Effect. I am witness, in the aftermath of trauma, to how 4 doggie paws can start my own healing. But maybe, just maybe, this journey is for others too, and in sharing our story we can give others some hope too. Even if we can remind them that all of us fall down at some point.
But most importantly that we get up again! What a beautiful space to hold this week. It reminds me simultaneously that I am not alone on this journey and that we really can make a difference.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out after reading these blogs and reminded me of exactly that. I am so grateful.
Poppy and I have a long road ahead together. Our training is probably not moving as fast as it should if I’m honest. But I’m bolstered by the idea that healing has no time frame. It’s been a week of falling down (literally) and taking a few steps backwards. Charnell gently reminded me that this is a journey and that there is no map yet for the road ahead. Poppy and I are breaking new ground together every day. And I’m holding on to that.
So here is to heart spaces, getting back up again and making a difference. Here is to being human and having all fall down days. Here is to not feeling inspiring this week, but to knowing that somewhere on the other side of the world, the effect of Pops can be felt too.
One paw print at a time.
Much love Tina.