I hold my pen wrong.
My grip evolved uncorrected, and now, in my 40s, there’s nothing I can do about it. The muscle memory is too strong, the habit too ingrained. If fact, the bone on the fourth finger of my right hand malformed because of my grip.
And that’s fine… except that I decided to ask for a fountain pen for Christmas this year.
Fountain pens, it turns out, are a thing. There are blogs, YouTube channels, and Instagram accounts dedicated to these pens, the ink, the nibs, the works. I found a great guide to beginner pens, selected one, and sent the link to John.
I was thrilled to open the box on Christmas–with a box of additional ink!–and start writing. I pulled out my journal and got to work.
After the initial excitement wore off, I realized I had a problem:
I couldn’t hold the pen correctly. The barrel is shaped for a “normal” or typical grip, and the nib had to face one specific direction in order for the ink to flow smoothly. With my grip, the nib was sideways. When I wrote, ink wouldn’t flow at all or it would pool out and smear.
For three days I tried to get it to work because I wanted that pen. Finally, I threw in the towel. I explained the issue to John. He tried to exchange it, but the pen company wouldn’t switch it… so, now, John is the new owner of a very lovely fountain pen and I went back to my beloved, plain old Ink Joy gel pens. They fit my hand. They write smoothly. They come in fun colors. They work for me.
Why did I ever want to switch in the first place?
Well, because I’m human, and that’s what we do.
We see something different, new, shiny, fun, “better,” and we want it.
Isn’t that what drives this whole “new year, new you” business? We see people who are fit / successful / stylish / accomplished / rich / whatever and then we strive to turn ourselves into those people.
When you’re not those people. You’re you.
Sure, you might need to change something in your lifestyle to live the life you want, but that’s not turning you into a whole new you.
And yet. We are dog people.
We love our dogs.
We know they’re imperfect. We know there are things we need to work on to help them live healthier, happier, fuller, safer lives… but could you imagine wanting your dog to be a whole new dog?
Cooper requires a lot of special care and attention with his food, his behavior, his comfort. It takes time and effort to feed him foods that don’t make him sick, to help him behave safely in public, to keep him happy and comfortable at home. It’s everything from the right allergy medications and whole food to opaque window clings to block troublesome spots.
We take those little steps to make things better for our dogs, not to change them into new versions of themselves.
Trying to change into a fountain pen user did not work for me, so I let it go.
Trying to change Cooper into a restaurant patio dog would never work for him, so I never tried.
Trying to change yourself into anyone other than exactly who you are? Why bother. You’re great as you are.
I know we’re already a couple weeks into 2022 (how?!?!?) and I’m woefully behind on any discussion of New Year’s goals or ideas, but may I suggest that this year you try to treat yourself as well as you treat your dog?
Maybe this year set a goal to love you as you are just as you love your dog as he or she is. If a little tweak needs to happen–you need to apply a proverbial window cling to social media or shift your eating habits to include foods that don’t irritate your body or you need to get more rest or whatever it may be–if you need to make a little tweak to improve your lifestyle, go for it.
And also be kind and tolerant with yourself just as you’re kind and tolerant with your dogs.
You both deserve it.