The following piece was shared with us by Sara Lyford, owner of Green Mountain Canine Camp. Follow her journey on Instagram @greenmtncaninecamp or Facebook: www.facebook.com/greenmtncaninecamp/
It’s 3:00PM in the afternoon on a Tuesday. I’m home from work and I’ve already gone for a 3 mile run, chowed down on a delicious lunch, and taken a long and leisurely shower. I’m sitting on my deck letting my hair dry in the sunshine, thinking about grabbing my laptop and answering some client emails. But I’m also thinking about laying down out here and taking a quick nap with my dog who is lazily sun bathing next to me. These kinds of afternoons are the norm for me now. Loads of time for myself to do as much or as little with as I please. Self-care and happy times are a staple in my life now, but they haven’t always been.
In 2015 I was working in the digital advertising industry and feeling like I was stuck in a rut. I’d categorize myself as a “late bloomer”. I never really knew what I wanted to do for a career or really what the word “career” meant. I just wanted to find a job that paid me enough money so that I didn’t feel like I was living paycheck to paycheck, but at this point in my life I still hadn’t even found that. I was overworked, overwhelmed, and under motivated. Each day was a grind. My alarm would sound in the morning and it was one of the most irritating noise in the world. It meant that another day of executing advertising campaigns for products and brands that I couldn’t care less about was about to start. It meant that I was going to spend 8-10 hours sitting in a cubicle staring at 3 computer screens. It meant that the phone at my desk was going to ring off the hook, and the person at the other end was going to be a money hungry sales rep who wanted to close their deal NOW! Every day I would say to my co-workers “we’re selling online groceries, not saving lives.” Why did each day have to be so stressful and chaotic? Why was I working SO hard and putting so much time and energy into something that brought me so much misery?
It was at that point that I started to wonder… what if I used my work ethic and skills for something I actually liked doing?
Rewind to 2014 when my boyfriend and I adopted a puppy and named him Montego (after the Jamaican city). We decided to call him “Monty” for short, and with him came a huge swell of joy and happiness. He was a tiny, furry, sassy ball of fun. We can learn so much from dogs, especially puppies. They are vulnerable, unconditionally optimistic, and in desperate need of a strong leader who can guide them through their adolescence. I started using my lunch breaks to race home to spend time with him. Some days we would go for a short walk, or work on some obedience commands, or just laze about and enjoy 30 minutes of serenity. My lunch breaks started to be the best part of my day. I also noticed that having Monty helped me to feel happier in general. When I would finally get home at the end of the day, I didn’t feel as compelled to gripe and complain to my boyfriend about how awful my day was. Instead, we could share in the cuteness of puppy parenthood. My new outlook benefited me and my relationship. Releasing even just a small amount of negativity from my life felt like it was making a huge impact. “What if I could cut out all of the negativity”, I thought.
As Monty grew, so did I. I found myself seeking out learning opportunities related to dogs, dog behavior, dog training, dog health & nutrition, and everything in between. I was fascinated by how much there was to learn and found a passion inside me that I didn’t know I had. I started to realize that working with dogs might actually be the career I was always meant to have. The term “career” was still fairly foreign to me and didn’t really hold a lot of depth yet, but I knew that the idea of getting paid to do something that you love was a win win scenario. In my search for a path that lead to working with dogs professionally, I posted a services ad offering dog walking to people in my area. I started using my lunch break to walk other people’s dogs. I was getting paid to spend an hour hanging out with happy, sweet, loveable pups. It sure beat eating a crappy salad at my desk while I half worked and half ate lunch.
Since I was walking other dogs during my lunch break now, I wanted to find an outlet for Monty. I hated thinking about him sitting inside all day long, waiting for his dad and I to come home. A local trainer that we had worked with was running an off leash hiking camp for dogs in our area. She was amazing at what she did and so innovative. There was nothing else like it at the time. I reached out to her and she agreed to have Monty join her dog camp. I had never heard of a service like hers and felt like it was one of the most genius ideas ever. She would send me pictures or videos of Monty out in the woods. He was socializing with other dogs, hiking, playing, swimming, and learning. It looked like so much fun that I started using PTO days at work to go out with him and his new pack. The difference in my mood was incomparable from office environment to dog camp environment. I was smiling, laughing, and breathing in the fresh air all around me. I was watching my dog live his absolute best life, and it started to inspire me to think about living my own best life as well. The conversations I would have as we walked with the dogs were eye opening and motivating. There was a huge demand for a dog service like this in my area. I realized that this was the move. This was the career path I was meant to take.
My goal wasn’t to make more money. My goal was to start living life on my own terms. I wanted what I was doing every day to be getting me closer to where I wanted to be. My friend and dog trainer was instrumental in helping me tackle this new adventure. You see, successful people build each other up. They motivate, inspire, and push each other. I was missing a role model like her in my current career. I realized that working my butt off every day for something I didn’t care about was called stress, but working hard for something I love is called passion. They say if you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done. So in the winter of 2015 I took a leap of faith and opened Green Mountain Canine Camp.
Today, I finally know what the word “career” means to me. It might be my own definition of the word, but it’s everything I was always searching for. To me, a career is doing something that feeds your soul. It’s something that should create positivity in your life and motivate you to do things that make you happy. It’s reminding yourself that you don’t have to be doing what you see everyone else doing.
Passion is the fuel behind a successful career, and you aren’t supposed to wake up every day to feel mediocre. Pay attention to that little itch and that feeling that there might be something else bigger and better out there for you. I think that passion is really what separates having a job from having a career. Anything can seem impossible until it’s done, and every day I feel grateful that I found the courage to grow and change. Growth and change can be painful, but nothing is as painful as being stuck somewhere that you don’t belong.
“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” – Bob Dylan
Check out Green Mountain Canine Camp at www.greenmtncaninecamp.com