Sometimes You Have to Let Go (And Lessons from a Sheep)


One of the many benefits of being around animals is that they are a constant reminder of the true simplicity of life. The micromanaging we do of our self, our thoughts, and of our life is unnecessary. However, it can seem really difficult to step away and just be in flow. 

Recently, I was faced with a challenging behavior (that I had unintentionally encouraged) with my sheep, Igby. He playfully head-butts his sheep partner, Cindy-Lou, and as he has developed into his adolescence he started to head-butt me (and other people) that he sees as part of his flock. 

Co-living with other species creates certain challenges, such as this one, because we have different strengths and weaknesses. Igby doesn’t really understand that I’m a human and not tough enough to return his head-butting game, nor does he know that he could seriously injure me in the process. 

Now it has become my responsibility to teach him that this is not okay. Because of this recent new role I have to play, our relationship is going through a change in dynamic. This has been very difficult for me – because Igby has always been my baby – he’s extremely personable, and I have always showed him nothing but love, cuddles, and friendly hangs since day one of adopting him.

Moving into a new motherly role of setting hard boundaries and not always being “the friend” is a process I have struggled with for several reasons. For one, I was grieving the loss of our old dynamic – but more importantly, I was constantly thinking about it. I had categorized this as a “problem” in my mind – something I needed to fix, and something that was interrupting our harmony and life. 

I would burst into tears anytime he ran away from me or seemed confused by the training process and shift in rhythm. I felt like I was being a bad friend or losing something. Over time this story became a loop in my thoughts – and I realized it was doing nothing but bringing me suffering and pain. 

It was time to stop torturing myself. 

I can guarantee you that Igby was not spending time worrying or thinking about this so-called “issue”. He is naturally in the flow of life, from one moment to the next, and he has not stopped loving me because of a change in my boundaries. If anything, he needed my boundaries to be more clear and consistent. 

Once again, my animals were unintentionally teaching me another life-lesson.

I can’t say that I am always able to get back to the present moment and flow of life, however, since having this realization it has been easier. We have had more positive moments together and I have been able to see that our relationship and dynamic is not forever changed because of this one hurdle. 

The key that I’m pointing to is my self-micromanaging. The more time I spend looking at myself, thinking about myself and my behaviors, and stewing over them, the worse it all seems to look and feel. 

When I come back to the now, and see that it is all a story in my head (and no one else’s), I am able to return to my innate-wisdom. I can hear the birds chirping around me, I can smell the sweet scent of rain-covered grass, I can feel my love for myself and my animals, I can look into Igby’s eyes and see friendship and family. I can be happy. 

Try to notice the moments when a story has taken over your reality. What if you were to just stop repeating the lines and come back to your senses: what do you hear? what do you see? what do you smell? what do you feel?