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What I Learned from Going to the Dogs

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This winter when the Arctic Blast took New England by storm - literally - a dream at the top of my Bucket List was achieved. With a speaking job booked in Rutland, Vermont, I Googled "sled dog rides Vermont" and struck gold with Braeburn Siberians, a mom-and-pop mushing outfit. Clicking on their site I discovered their dog teams were 100-percent Siberian huskies. My heart began to pound. I'd found my pack.

Over the years, I've met three of my winter-themed Bucket List goals: 3.) Ice-skating outdoors in Central Park -- check! 2.) Surviving giant inner-tube downhill races -- check! And, at last, 1.) Mushing with Siberian huskies -- big check!

Clad in layers of sub-zero temp wear, I thought I was ready for anything. Then the professional musher leading our team called, "Everybody Ready? Let's go!" The sled launched with the zeal of twelve excited dogs and I was nearly left behind on my snow pants' padded tush! I grabbed the bar for dear life and got both a huge laugh and huge lesson. Never let go!

2015-03-13-1426215687-1741803-IMG_2689.JPGBraeburn Siberians dog sled team

Back home, three other Siberian husky dogs have made Team Conway and been my intimate companions on the trail through adulthood. Being the musher to a pack of fluffy-tailed Nordic dogs is my joie de vivre, but probably not everyone's. Why not take the plunge and pursue whatever makes your heart happy? It's the medicine to heal what ails you, the balm to soothe the inevitable aches of daily life, plus I guarantee it will light you up and help you through even the roughest patches. Science supports this. What makes your heart content helps keeps your physical heart healthy, too.

2015-03-13-1426215860-879358-IMG_2713.jpgThe author meeting her dog sled team

Check your bucket list. Maybe your heart's desire is lurking in there. When I discovered mine it offered a map to navigate all my relationships. Here are some things that have enriched my life and made me healthier and more peaceful by pursuing my passion:

Release your Inner Mush(er):

• Lots of praise and reinforcement makes for a happy and eager relationship.
• A positive but firm voice equals respect.
• Kisses are encouraged, if not downright mandatory.
• Share the load fairly.
• Be aware of others on the trail.
• Trust and support your team.
• Allow for mistakes along the way.
• Sometimes you have to run with your team, not simply ride on their effort.
• Make time for play and silliness.
• Protect those you love.
• Celebrate regularly.
• You can use a light grip, but never let go!

Tracey Conway is an Emmy-winning actress and former writer/performer on the Comedy Central sketch comedy series, "Almost Live!" She speaks about surviving Sudden Cardiac Arrest in her humorous program, "Drop Dead Gorgeous?" For more:

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