Eva moved in on March 27.
Expectations, meet 8-week-old puppy. Prepare to be dashed.
Eva likes to flip her food bowl upside down, scattering food across the room, most of it ending up under the heavy kitchen appliances. She likes to sniff around in the yard for 20 minutes while we all get soaked by the cold spring rain and then come inside and immediately pee in the media room. She prefers chewing on expensive chair legs and spendy catnip-filled cat toys instead of the huge box full of dog toys left to her by Sydney and Grady. When she does pick up a dog toy, it’s always one with a loud squeaker or one that plays Christmas carols when squeezed (thanks Grandma). She broke through a barrier to the basement and went truffle mining in the cat boxes. She pooped on my favorite pillow. She found a hole in the fence and escaped to chew on rusty bits of things in the neighbor’s garage.
These are her habits.
Then there are her needs.
Puppy needs to go outside every 60 minutes during the day to do puppy business. And she needs to have her mouth removed from a chair leg every ~20 minutes (and a chew toy placed into it at roughly the same rate). Ok, that one might be my need. At night, she needs to go outside every two to three hours, and she has the energy to play loudly for at least 30 minutes each time before she drifts back to sleep. These are not really negotiable things. They are what teething puppy, with little puppy bladder, needs.
And they are our new schedule now, whether we like it or not. And more often than not, I DO NOT. I do not like this schedule.
Last night some visiting friends said “Oh, she’s so wonderful! Has she brought a new energy with her into the house?!”
Um, yes, she’s turned me into an exhausted, half-brained, slow-moving zombie. I have zombie energy now. woo hoo.
Good Lord, how do you people with children do it? You all deserve medals and adulation and parades and buildings named in your honor. And spa gift certificates. I keep thinking about our friend who has two sets of twins. I would lose my entire mind.
I don’t think as quickly. I snap into anger more easily. I’m not as forgiving as I used to be.
And I’ve been burdened with a surprising new guilt that I’m not doing anything right anymore—not puppy parenting, not cat parenting, not being a good spouse, not being a good creative partner. Bleh. Guilt sucks.
Did I mention that the day Eva moved in was the same day that my partner on our brand new June 1st neighborhood event—Hopscotch CD—left for a month to visit Argentina? “Sure!” mid-March Lori said to Knox. “I’d love to cover for you. Will be no trouble at all!”
But neither of us had any idea how big the event would grow. How many neighbors would want to be involved. How many groups would like us to come and talk to them about the event. How many hoops our dear City of Seattle would need us to jump through.
How actually kind of hard it can be the first time around to co-imagine and create 1.8-miles of neighborhood family fun.
I’ve responded to more email in the past 3 weeks than I did in the previous 6 months. And again, these are kind of not negotiable things. They are what’s needed right now to make the event what the neighborhood needs it to be. I love my neighborhood, and this is what I am called strongly to do, and I’m doing it, and I’m grateful.
And I’m kind of a total mess right now too.
All of my dearly beloved, energy-giving creative work—the Collective Self blogging, our Different Office story gathering, and most importantly the new book Bas and I are creating about (irony anyone?) savoring transitions—has been unceremoniously dumped on the back burner while I’ve been trying to dig my way out of piles of email and meeting invites and washing puppy poop off a pillow again.
I thought I was managing pretty well until I had a full-scale meltdown to a wide-eyed Daniel on Sunday—sobbing and questioning every life choice I’ve made in the past five years. Not my finest moment.
And then yesterday this image for me from Bas, all the way from The Netherlands, showed up in my email Inbox, just in case I needed it.
That’s me in the middle there shaking my fist at the universe. Thanks for the image, Bas. Without it there would have been zero Collective Self blog posts this month.
Hmm, so not only have I not been holding it together pretty well, like I’d hoped, but the fact that I’m not holding it together well is so obvious it can be felt all the way to Zandvoort.
Good Lord. I’m writing a book about savoring transitions, and I’m too exhausted to write it because I’m going through multiple transitions at once and can’t savor anything right now.
I’ve spent three weeks angry that I can’t even write for the book, let alone finish it. A little angry because I fear I’m letting Bas down, but mostly angry because—while I cannot speak for the rest of you—I really need to read a book about savoring transitions right now!
My universe has a seriously weird sense of humor.
Surviving several transitions at once is what I’ve been doing the past three weeks. On Sunday afternoon, post meltdown, I thought, “Enough. Time to get to the savoring part already!”
So I began thinking about my own go-to question for moments like these.
What am I learning right now?
I think I’m learning what new parents and new event planners the world over must eventually learn to have even the remotest chance of thriving during transitions: how to find stillness in the middle of real life.
For at least another few months, I’m not going to get the 6-hour chunks of empty time that I’ve needed in the past for writing. I’m not going to receive stillness in the way my soul longs for. But I still want to write. I’m not me unless I’m writing. So what the #!$@ am I going to do? (Hmm, this may be my new go-to question.)
A few things are happening to me this week—good things, I suspect, now that I’ve had a nap and am willing to honestly admit it. I am…
Saying NO (thank you) even more. Letting go of anything that is an energy drain or that even has the potential to be an energy drain (well, except puppy, of course, and meetings with the City that we need to do for the Hopscotch event to happen: this is not my moment to let go of ALL energy draining things).
Asking for, or at least accepting, more help. Taking Daniel up on his offer to work from home on Fridays. Taking Ben up on his offer to come wear the puppy out a few times a week. Next week, perhaps puppy-play-time happy hour at our local dog center that Fisher told me about.
Learning to be ok with the mess. For example, I used to get the house into tip top shape for coworking Wednesdays. I used to empty my office of clutter before sitting down to dream and think and work. Now, 40% of puppy toys into the basket and the big pieces of food off the floor count as a thorough cleaning. I’m becoming adept at finding spinning galaxies of wonder within dust bunnies and deciding that it’s a better karma move to just let them be.
Accepting feeling like a mess and learning to share it. I’m tired, I’m cranky, and I’m on edge right now. This is what I am at the moment, not always. Do I really think all the amazing people around me can’t deal with that? Oh ye of little faith!
Learning what it REALLY means to offer my entire self and schedule to the universe. I’d thought I’d done this years ago when I said “I will move where I am pulled to move.” and then began giving ample time to listening and going in the direction of my energy and joy. But when the universe tugs at your pant leg and wants something of you every five minutes—and you respond with love most of the time—that’s giving yourself fully. Each time you respond in love that’s a selflessness guru in action. I’ve done it 70-ish% of the time for just three weeks. I’m exhausted. This is really hard!
Finding stillness in smaller moments, like…
In witnessing Daniel’s total-bad-ass puppy parenting skills.
In watching Bas become a world-class artist.
In watching our new girl grow confident in her fur and wiggle with glee as she makes friends with new people in the coworking space. As she goes out to explain to the birds in her yard who’s boss.
Or in the email messages from neighbors planning to have yard sales, and photo-snapshot stalls, and food stands, and glitter tables (glitter tables!) along the Hopscotch CD route.
Asking for forgiveness more. Bas, I’m sorry I’m so distracted right now—I had no idea what I was getting myself into this month. Daniel, I’m sorry I’m such a mess right now—I had no idea what we were getting ourselves in to.
Forgiving myself more. Instead of guilt, yesterday I began again to treat myself like I would my best friend. Giving myself pep talks and cheering myself on. Celebrating the little victories: no puppy accidents in the house for 3 days in a row! Holy crap we’re a bunch of geniuses!
Letting go of the guilt of not being the perfect mom, spouse, and creative partner. Guilt serves none of us well. Perfection is ridiculously overrated.
I am writing this as Eva sleeps below my feet, right where Grady used to lay. She got her first set of shots this week and the ok from the vet to be out leash-walking now. This morning I walked her in a circle up and down the block until she passed out cold.
I am a genius.
Because there she lies: stillness with a pink and black speckled nose.
Stillness in the middle of real life is a nap.
And it is a peaceful, forgiving, cracked-open heart.
It is an embracing of what is even when what is isn’t exactly what you had in mind.
An offering and acceptance of friendship instead of guilt.
It’s giving yourself over, in love, every 5 minutes. Forgiving yourself when you forget the in love part.
It’s a way of being, and then a daily practice, and then a way of being again, and then a daily practice.
I’m not making it to yoga class quite as often as I’d like to this month. But I caught myself chanting “Om shanti, shanti, shanti” as we staggered haltingly down the sidewalk, learning the feel of the new collar and leash, figuring out how to walk, in step, together.
It’s so easy to recognize the shakiness of now as me.
A bit tougher to recognize the stillness of now as me as well.
But the stillness is me too.
The stillness is us too.
To all you other busy humans and puppies out there.
Om, peace, peace, peace.