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Feb 16

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Dragon husbandry

I’ve been wrestling with one of those 4am problems. It’s frequently waking me up in a cold sweat. In those dark nights of the soul, the problem assumes the proportions of a large and unfriendly dragon, breathing icy fire down my neck.

The dragon is so intimidating, unmanageable and downright nasty I am forced to practise the ancient and sophisticated art of avoidance. Tame the dragon, or check my email? Tame the dragon, or do the washing? Tame the dragon, or read the newspaper? Erm, let me think…

And so the hour, days, and (let’s be brutally honest) weeks pass. With neglect, the dragon grows wilder, with sharper claws and rancid breath. Then a compelling event countermands the strategy of avoidance (ancient and sophisticated though it may be).

Sometimes it’s a deadline, an ultimatum or a catastrophe which provokes a change. On this occasion, it was the unsustainable consumption of illuminating concealer make-up that was required to disguise my panda eyes. Sleep deprivation had left me at the end of my tether.

So I take my dragon to visit an accredited dragon whisperer, aka my business coach. She asks a few simple questions about the size, characteristics and typical behaviour of my dragon. I am embarrassed to admit I’m so busy being scared, I haven’t thought to check whether the dragon is in fact really big, or just standing extremely close to me.

With a bit of poking and prodding, deep breaths and gnashing of teeth (mine), it turns out the dragon is small enough to fit in a gerbil cage. And not nearly as bad as I’d imagined.

The moral of this story is that dragons are helpful creatures. They pick up on problems early on, when we’re in denial phase. And they try to alert us. The prickling on the back of the neck, the quiet nagging of distant dread. If we get quiet and listen, dragons can help us avoid a lot of pain and sleepless nights.

When ignored, the dragon continues to pursue its mission to protect us. It gets all medieval and starts attracting attention through more draconian measures (4am awakenings and icy fire breath). Which, ideally, are to be avoided.

The trick is to get quiet and listen. So to ensure proper dragon husbandry, I’m spending more time sitting in the coffee shop thinking, with the companionship of my journal. Rather than busying myself into denial and avoidance, and trying hard to make sure my dragons stay small and friendly.

If your dragon was currently trying to tell you something, what would it be?

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