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Archive for December, 2007

Just breathe.

Seems simple enough, right?

I mean, we do it an average of 20,000 times a day (yes, I actually looked that up . . . I was curious) and we don’t even have to think about it thanks to our miraculous bodies.

So, why is it so difficult sometimes to just remember to focus our energy on the breath? To just be there and breathe.

I suppose there are so many other things that occupy our senses throughout the course of the day. Not to mention the crazy stories that hijack our minds and attempt to make meaning of the world around us. I mean, we’re creating reality through our own minds on a moment-to-moment basis, all the while really believing that it’s some external person, event, or situation that’s creeping into our reality.

And the reality is . . . we’re it. We create it. We own it. We invite or disinvite all of it.

And then we blame it for what’s wrong in our lives, what should be better, what isn’t enough. And all the while, we’re making it happen over and over again.

It’s fascinating really.

I’m a master at the whole cycle. And can I just say: what a crappy thing to be good at. (I’m happy to report that I’m also good at some useful things, so thankfully this isn’t my one shot at talent.)

I know the answer even if I choose not to use it. And how ridiculous is that, I might add? “I know the answer even if I choose not to use it.”

Ridiculous. Just more of the crazy.

I guess we all do that on a regular basis. We eat things we know aren’t good for us. We sit on the couch more than we engage in active and creative pursuits. We allow the stories in our minds to create an active, fantasy-rich life that runs away with itself, creating suffering.

There is an answer though. Not to the stuff of life. That is what it is. And it will always be there.

But how we relate to it, how we engage or disengage it. How we choose to be in relationship with it. That’s all ours.

And the best therapist for our relationship to life is the breath. It mediates like a good family counselor all the craziness happening inside and outside and allows us to touch truth, even if only for fleeting moments.

And touching truth feels so good, because it’s just pure and real and, well, true.

My previous two blog entries have focused on my (not so successful at times) adjustment to Henry, our new puppy. I have been fighting with reality for the past week because of the obvious changes a puppy brings to your life.

Today I touched truth for a moment, and I remembered who I am in my truer moments.

An animal lover.

A kind and generous person.

A flexible person.

A person who values life over a clean rug.

A person who knows that mud washes out of jeans.

A person who can look with compassion at the world around her and feel connected to all living things.

A better person than I’ve been in the last week. Certainly a better mom to this puppy than I’ve been in the past week. And a better wife than I’ve been to my ever-patient husband.

All thanks to the breath. It’s like a time machine back home to me.

I hope to be there more often.

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One week. Seven days. Since Operation Puppy began.

I kept going over it in my mind: seven days, one week.
That’s it?

Seriously?

Because it felt different. It didn’t necessary feel longer like it was more than a week ago, but it has felt more, well, condensed, segmented, full. Like each day has been measured out by specific, smaller increments. Minutes, I suppose.

I think I’ve been more aware of minutes and time this week than in a long time, maybe ever. So 10,080 minutes feels appropriate, like I actually became aware of 5,000 of each of them instead of just breezing through half-days unaware.

This week Kyle and I became–at least (god, I hope) temporarily–the people who measure life’s little successes in micro-wins and micro-losses.

Example of phone call on any given day this week:

Kyle: I just left the puppy. He did poopies and pee-pees.

Me: Yeah. That’s great! Good puppy.

Or:

Kyle: I just left the puppy. He wouldn’t go. He just wanted to play and bark.

Me: Oh, really? (disappointment dripping off every word) What was that about?

It’s pretty funny, really. I mean, what did we do before? What were those conversations about pre-puppy? I can’t answer that definitively. Probably work or what we had for lunch or what was going on that evening at home. Maybe nothing except to say hi.

But it’s still just details. Now it’s the puppy, but it was always something before. Maybe nothing consistent or regular, but it was something.

So, here is where I’m landing with all of this now. It’s just another something that’s filling time. It’s what we attend to. Because if it wasn’t this, it would be something else. And that makes it a lot less stressful I guess, because it’s only what we choose to attend to that we talk about, ruminate on, etc.

I’m going to try to remember that when I’m frustrated. That life is just a series of minutes and moments that we fill with whatever we can think of. I guess the trick is to fill them intentionally with things that matter. The old saying “it’s all in the details” is maybe not so appropriate. Maybe we need to make things matter more than just the details.

Another lesson courtesy of the puppy.

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I’m a new mother to a three and a half month old puppy named Henry. As a mother I’m four days old.

Henry Winston Grimes

It’s kicking my ass.

No, seriously. It’s kicking my ass. Life as I know it is has ceased to exist.

Now I’m not saying it’s the same as having a real, live child. But I have to think that for two people who have lead pretty independent lives with only cats to be tethered to (not a difficult task for the most part), the amount of change this little guy has brought into our lives in the last four days has been, well, monumental.

It’s been fun in many ways and hard in many more. I love the little guy, and we’re slowly becoming a new family unit. The cats are adjusting ve-e-e-e-ery slowly, which is disheartening to me. And I’m adjusting at different paces: sometimes showing grace and rising to the challenge and other times falling to tears and frustration.

You see, life before the puppy, well, it was easy. Nights were spent on the couch with the cats cuddling and just being easy. Going out to dinner was, well, easy. We moved when we wanted to without any problem or thought. There was no cause and effect really. The world we lived in didn’t really respond when we made a movement. We came. We left. We stayed. We went. The cats met us at the door, and I think in their own way missed us. But they were fine if we left too, as long as there was food, water, and clean litter.

I’m not sure that’s the way to live either, no cause and effect. But it seemed to work for us pretty well. I think I’m mourning the lost of the easiness of life.

Now, easy isn’t a word I’d use to describe anything related to the puppy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s moving more quickly than we would have imagined toward being housetrained. He seems to do okay in his crate and sleeps well at night. He’s a love. Very cute.

But he’s intensive in every way. Every second of my life is spent checking around the corner to see if he’s into something, if he’s biting something, if he’s peeing or pooping on the floor. “No” has become a part of my vocabulary I hate. My “positive” reinforcement seems to lack positivity most times. I try. I really do. But my frustration seems to be much more present.

I haven’t eaten a real dinner since Sunday night. The last two days, my hair has looked like shit, and I can’t put an outfit together to save my life, unless it consists of jeans and an oversized sweater.

My acupuncturist says that often people who are trying to get pregnant do so quickly after getting a puppy. She says it happens for two reasons:

  1. You don’t have time to worry all the time about getting pregnant, and you’re focused on other things.
  2. You’re being a “mommy” to something that needs you in a different way.

Here’s my fear. This dog might be sucking the fertility right out of me. Okay, probably not, but I’ve had moments of thinking, “Is this what it’s like to have a kid? Am I up for this?” I’m sure I am.

But here’s my thing. I miss my life. I do.

I mostly miss the easy parts of my life. I miss my cats. Every night I don’t get to cuddle with them is a sad night for me. I could cry just thinking about it, and I have many times in the last few days. I miss spontaneity. I miss not being a nag. I don’t like the me that shows up for the puppy. It’s not a fun one. It’s a burdened one. An irritable one.

But I do love the puppy. I do. This is a work in progress for me for sure. Add another issue to the list of things to talk about in therapy.

It’s just a new life right now. And I don’t do new easily.

So, tomorrow’s day five, and we’ll see how it plays out.

New life, take five. Stay tuned.

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