Sunday marked one year since we brought Cassie home from the German Shepherd Rescue group. A lot has changed in our girl in that year. A lot has changed in us. When she came to us, Cassie was a shy, not quite nervous but very tentative dog. Her ears were close to her head a lot as though she wasn’t sure if something bad was going to happen to her or not. Her mouth was usually closed, no happy smiling doggy face. She jumped up so high and so hard when you came in the door that it’s a wonder she didn’t break someone’s nose and she always had something to say. She had pretty bad separation anxiety and when my husband would leave the house she would make herself crazy running up and down the stairs and in and out of the house looking for him. For a long time she just wanted to be in the room with us, not necessarily being touched by us. So we let her. She didn’t know what to do with toys so we bought all kinds of them and let her experiment and pick out her favorites. Some she goes back to every so often. Some never captured her attention. And some, like the egg babies, she plays with every day.

She didn’t know much when we got her. She was young and a stray but I don’t think anyone spent much time with her during that important bonding time. But in the last year she has learned the basic commands like sit, stay, wait and sometimes, come. She’s learned how to ring the bells to go outside and to ring the outside bells when she wants to come back in. She’s learned a lot of tricks like waving bye-bye, shaking hands, spinning, rolling over, find it, tell me a secret, and my favorite, peek-a-boo.

She’s come a long way baby.

None of these changes in Cassie happened to overnight. They took time. They took patience. And some of them took a large amount of “do overs.”

It’s been 9 months since I was laid off from the day job. I’ve been up and down. Twelve different kinds of nervous wondering if I could “make it” as a full-time writer. Make it is hard to define but for me it means not having to go back into the cubicle.

Because I was worried about all sorts of things I’ve spent the last 9 months focusing on doing as much freelance work as I could, wanting to prove that I could do what needed doing. The last few months have been hard, filled with a lot of work, a lot of deadlines, not much time for fiction, and no small amount of stress. I was whining a lot.

As I sat here tonight looking at my beautiful dog I realized how very much my life has been enriched in just this first year with her. I’ve learned patience as I’ve worked to get her to bond with me. I’ve learned how to laugh more because of her silly antics and funny noises. I learn love teaching her new tricks. I love watching her get brave in new situations. I love seeing her happy face staring back at me because she is just so happy to be here, now, living this wonderful life she is living.

And I started thinking about all I had done in the last 9 months. Designed and installed our wildlife garden. Taught social networking for authors in a variety of places both online and in person. Wrote a bunch of articles and a ton of WFH projects. Did a haiku a day for the month of April. And wrote a goodly number of new pages on Flyboy and Plant Kid. Nothing to sneeze at as long as I don’t fall into the trap of comparing myself to other writers who live different lives than mine.

I’ve come a long way too. I just needed to slow down long enough to recognize it.

When was the last time you stopped and really took stock of how much you have already accomplished in your writing? We spend a lot of time talking about goals and how we are always reaching for that elusive dream on down the road. I suggest you take a few minutes to just stop and turn around. You don’t have to let go of reaching for that goal but maybe you ought to take a good look at just how far you’ve already come.