by L.T. Force, Ph.D.
Across my life, I have typically been in the presence of dogs (and at times cats - as well). Dogs are special companions. I love the Bumper Sticker I saw that said: “Be the person that your dog thinks you are!" Dogs are fully accepting - they take you as you are - unconditionally. Today, and for the last 18 years I live in the land of the Golden Retreiver. Although, these Golden Retrievers came from different litters - they share many characteristics - loyalty, very playful, loving. great temperament and one very common characteristic of this breed - they SHED! in fact, as I tell my friends: “Golden Retrievers don’t shed - they tumble weed!” As a result, wherever I go - I take “Ryder” with me....he is always my travel companion - either on a lease or on my clothes.
Golden Retrievers....dogs are not the only species that shed....we shed as well....and we shed on a multitude of levels. When you look at the definition - of shedding:
shed 1 (shĕd)
v. shed, shed·ding, sheds
a. To have (a growth or covering) be disconnected or fall off by a natural process: a tree shedding its leaves; a snake shedding its skin; a dog shedding its hair.
b. To rid oneself of (something not wanted or needed):
c. To take off (an article of clothing).
a. To produce and release (a tear or tears).
b. Archaic To pour forth.
3. To repel without allowing penetration:
4. To diffuse or radiate; send forth or impart:
To lose a natural growth or covering by natural process:
1. An elevation in the earth's surface from which water flows in two directions; a watershed.
2. Something, such as an exoskeleton or outer skin, that has been shed or sloughed.
3. The space made by raising certain warp threads on a loom and lowering others, allowing the woof to be passed between them.
All species shed. Today in "COVID-World", a common phase is: "Viral-Shedding" For us. as members of the human species, not only do we shed from our bodies - but we also shed from: our mind, our attitudes, our habits and our practices. This “shedding process” occurs as a natural process of the rhythm of our day. However, now as a result of living in our ‘COVID world’ this “shedding process” is more intense and more deliberate - for sure.
The ‘COVID quarantine’ has changed the way we engage - and how we engage - not only with others....but with ourselves. Our need to: ‘socially-isolate’ has restricted us from some engagements - but has also provided the opportunity to enhance and promote other engagements and activities - especially the direct exchanges, engagements and conversations - we have with ourselves. As a result of this ‘COVID-isolation’, and all of us being ‘COVITIZED’ - we are forced to review and ‘see things differently’ - across all landscapes - including interpersonal relationships. In this type of ‘heightened reflection’ - I have come to a comfort level in the presence and process of: “shedding” .
In the early part of the: ‘COVID-quarantine’ I, like many, rearranged our day....rearranged our work schedule....rearranged meetings and commitments....rearranged our lives - and integrated the utilization of virtual platforms into our daily lives. As the ‘COVID-quarantine’ continued we made the necessary adjustments - and as Summer approached we looked to the outdoors.....and then the second wave in the Northeast arrived....days shortened....nights became colder and we headed back inside to greet the winter. And the ‘COVID-quarantine’ dialogue continued.....but this time it wasn’t about daily routines....it was deeper - it was about: “meaning and value in life.... and meaning and value in relationships”.
I came to the realization - that just as in Phase I of the ‘COVID-quarantine’ where "I shedded or discarded” items and clothing that I didn’t need - in Phase II of the “COVID- quarantine” I came to the realization "I needed to shed some relationships” - it’s a process - but it is a necessary process. For my Golden Retreiver - he naturally sheds - but when he goes to the groomer - he gets:
"a deshedding” - where excess hair is removed in a deliberate fashion - it’s healthy....it’s necessary....it’s warranted....it’s part of the grooming process....and when complete he looks better....he is lighter....and he will feel better. Lessons to learn from other species - "shedding can be healthy" - and as you use this opportunity, in "COVID-quaratine", to review what now really matters most ....and who in your social network really matters most - “shed away!”.....it’s good for you....it's healthy.