• Jenn Gillihan

Letting Go, When You've Held On Too Long

So the original title for this post was going to be "Letting Go Of Buddha" (not the religious version), and I was super excited to write it. When my coach pointed out to me that some may not read it because of that title, my heart sank a little, because "Buddha" was my pet rooster. Yep, you heard me right, my rooster.

Now before you jump to the "she's a crazy chicken lady" conclusion indulge my brief storytelling. Last year (you know...the one we no longer talk about), was tough. Quarantine was weird, everyone in our neighborhood was at one end of the extreme or the other. My husband was on the road for work and I was thousands of miles away from the rest of my family. Work was awkward, how do we pivot, what do we do...the whole world just felt upside down and out of whack. So in the middle of all of this chaos, I stopped in to a farm supply store for dog food and somehow came home with 4 of the cutest baby chicks you've ever seen. Unbeknownst to me...one was a rooster.


Over the course of the next few months these little companions hung out in a metal trough beside me. I'd pick them up and set them on the desk, watch them waddle back and forth through my zoom meetings, watch their tiny heads bob as they fell asleep in my hands...the whole thing was immensely peaceful, endearing and nurturing...at a time when calm and kindness were desperately needed. Keep in mind, this city girl had never had chickens before, so never did I expect that they would have such distinct personalities! Before I knew it, I was WAY more attached than was reasonable and when my husband would return for the occasional weekend, he was definitely checking the crazy meter.


Seriously though...watch this video and tell me that's not the sweetest thing ever!

Now we live in city limits, and although you're allowed to have chickens, roosters aren't on the list pets that are warmly welcomed. It wasn't until about 5 months in that the scratchy pre-teen attempted crow of Buddha was heard at 6 am. Luckily my neighbors were super chill. We took them eggs and quiche and since their retired lives allowed for mid-day naps, there were no complaints. Fast forward 3 seasons and not only did we have new neighbors, but Buddha decided that 4am was the new 6am.


Now this loving chicken mama (maybe a little bit crazy) literally went out in the snow and ice, off and on for most of a week at 4am, bundled him up and brought him inside so the neighbors wouldn't be upset. We worked together, he crowed a little, but overall I was delighted to have this time to watch his antics and he seemed more than happy to hang out in the warm heat of the house. However...after a week, the lack of sleep caught up with me. I felt super guilty about putting my new (non-retired) neighbors through the persistent crowing till I was able to get him, and quite frankly the last thing I wanted was some cop poking around telling me to get rid of all of them for some reason I didn't know about.



I'd already reached out at other times to 4H groups, homesteading facebook pages and our local "chicken coup group"...people were more than happy to take people's hens, but nobody wanted roosters. So with a heavy heart I called animal control (a no-kill shelter) and asked if they'd take Buddha. They said yes, and the appointment was made to drop him off.


The way I cried, you would have thought this rooster had been our beloved family dog since childhood. Normally the obstintent, sometimes aggressive, occasional bordering on jerk rooster, stood in my lap and nuzzled my chest and made the cutest little cooing sounds all the way to the shelter. Damnit. As I passed him off to the attendant at the desk, she chuckled at me "are you really that upset about this rooster?"...SHE was a jerk!


I left knowing I'd done the right thing but with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes, I drove home to feed treats to my three remaining girls. As we sat in shed, the girls playing at my feet, the guilt started to melt away slowly. I'd held on too long. I'd made my husband and my neighbors (not to mention myself) endure sleepless Saturday mornings and sometimes annoyingly long afternoons. I'd held on knowing that sooner or later someone was going to say something and he would have to be rehomed. I held off doing the right thing, because it was the hard thing. But in the end, I still had to do the hard thing.


It's typical isn't it? We stay in the toxic relationship...way too long. We stay at the job we hate...way too long. We put off healing our hearts...way too long. The hard things are well...hard to get rid of. But when you do, when the weight is lifted of guilt, of worry, of anticipated drama...it's so so freeing.


So heed this crazy chicken mamas tale....there are lessons to be learned in Letting Go Of Buddha.


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