My dog year and the transformation that followed

  • Getting fit: Fiona is what you call a high-energy dog, or to use a more politically correct term, she is “spirited,” requiring regular walks, averaging around three miles a day. And yes, the naysayers were right in this regard, as I ended up doing most of the work.
  • Meeting the neighbors: As we walked all over the neighborhood, I got to explore new streets and meet some neighbors I had never met before. Especially now that many are working from home, the neighborhood is buzzing with people walking around (with masks on) and eager to have some human communication amidst the lockdown.
  • Joining the dog owners club: As I strolled the suburban neighborhood streets, I also got to meet other dog owners, and oh my, there are so many. Fiona made new friends and got invited to playdates at neighbors’ yards. Every night now, after dinner, I walk Fiona with her best friend Sunny while I and Sunny’s owner (a fellow immigrant mom of three) talk about our days, motherhood, and pursuing the American dream.
  • Practicing mindfulness: When I walk Fiona in the morning, I like to go to the nearby woods, a gorgeous extension of DC’s famous Rock Creek Park. I marvel at that place’s beauty, breath, and clear my mind. I self examine, think about my life, where I am at the moment, and what I need to do to improve.
  • Listening to podcasts: When I’m not practicing mindfulness, I listen to podcasts. When I first started, I picked real crime, then moved to news analysis, and then finally entrepreneurship, and that when my life really changed. It all happened when I started applying the habits of successful entrepreneurs: Ample reading, exercising, building networks, focusing on relationships, effective time management, and sticking with a routine.
  • Subscribing to Audible: My addiction to podcasts led me to get a subscription to Audible, and I started listening to audiobooks, mostly non-fiction books about entrepreneurship and self-development; I learned, I got motivated, and I grew.
  • Getting inspired: When I walked Fiona, mostly amidst the stillness of the woods, sometimes I listen to the sound of nature, and I think about the plot of the novel that I’m currently working on. I solved many plot holes and developed my characters by walking, breathing the fresh air, clearing my mind, and thinking about the world that I had created.
  • Finding new meaning: After a year of depression and self-pity, I started to find a new meaning to my life, and as Austrian psychiatrist Victor Frankl eloquently outlined in his must-read book Man’s search for meaning, I did find meaning in the work that I enjoy, in loving others and in my own suffering.
  • Getting kissed: Finally, thanks to Fiona, I receive a million kisses a day.



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Natasha Tynes

Natasha Tynes


Writer. Journalist. Words in @washingtonpost , @ElleUK , @esquire . I write about: ✍🏼 Writing 📲 Creator economy 🌍 Mideast