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BaxterI don’t know about you, but I like to move fast. I like to run fast, walk fast, talk fast, work fast. I’m good at cranking out high quality work quickly, and as a result, I can be uber productive in a very short period of time.

But this week, I got a big message that it was time to slow down. The message came from Baxter (that’s him to the left).

If you know me, you know that Baxter is one of the most important things in my life. He’s my office mate/running partner/best friend/angel. So when I found out last Friday that he had several tumors on his spleen and that it had to be removed immediately or he could bleed out and die, my world came to a screeching halt.

The emergency clinic where we’d done the ultrasound pushed for surgery right then and there. But that was moving too fast for me. I need to slow things down — wrap my head around what was happening, make sure we were making the right decision, get to spend the weekend loving on my dog. I scheduled the surgery for Monday morning and brought my guy home, hoping we’d get through the weekend without any problems.

I struggled throughout the weekend, doing the “what ifs.” What if he doesn’t survive the surgery? What if it’s cancerous? What if my time with my 10-year-old pup is over already?

I was in a serious spin cycle of panic and the only way out of it was to stay in the present, as much as possible, and as deeply as possible. I knew I didn’t want to send Baxter off to surgery while I was freaking out. Dogs know when something’s wrong. My panic could make him panic.

So I focused on the here and now as best I could. And as I sat in my office on Monday while Baxter was in surgery, the space under my desk glaringly empty, I got through my day moment by moment, breath by breath. I worked when I could, cried when I needed to, even went on a half-assed run. And when my mind started to wander about what I might hear when the phone rang and I felt the panic in me start to rise, I reminded myself to come back to the present. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Baxter is home now. He’s lying under my desk as I type this, a giant cone on his head to prevent biting at the stitches. His surgeon used the word “exquisite” when describing how cleanly the spleen removal went. We’ll find out the pathology results in 2 weeks, but I’ve realized the results don’t matter right now. As I was powerfully reminded this weekend, worry is a choice. So I choose to not do it. I choose to slow down…to spend as much time in the present as I can. With my work, with my family, with my friends, and with my Baxter.

Just one more lesson I’ve learned from my furry teacher.

So how about you? Are there areas in your life where you’re moving too fast? Can you see how slowing down might be a good thing?