Max’s All You Need to Know Guide to “Laying” on the Couch

Yesterday was a busy day. You had food to prepare, guests to entertain, and maybe even holiday decorations to put up…not to mention you are stuffed with turkey and whatever other delicious food you enjoy.

So, you need a place to unwind and rest. Well, you are in luck! Max has been working for two years to compile this All You Need to Know Guide to “Laying” on the Couch! So, sit back and enjoy these many new ways you can find that rest you’ve been looking for.

First, even before you can fully unwind, you can hone the art of the “half sit.”

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You may have forgotten that one last thing you need to do, or you may still be up and down to get your guests that one last drink, but don’t worry – you can still enjoy the couch while in limbo.

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If you are worried about getting bored, you can even bring a toy with you!

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Next, just don’t try to fight it.

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We all know you are tired from a long day, so just prop your feet up and get comfy!

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You may need to give a glare to those kids to keep it down, so practice that piercing eye a bit.

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If the couch by itself is not quite enough, you may need some accessories.

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So cuddle up with your favorite blanket,

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Or, your favorite toys!

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If you are still having a hard time getting comfortable, try to find the crack in the cushions.

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The double crack is even better.

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Maybe you are getting a little restless, or like to live on the adventurous side…

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Don’t be afraid to move some cushions around,

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Or even find some alternative uses for cushions.

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After all, there’s no wrong way to “lay” on the couch!

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Just watch out for what is under there!

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Or maybe the cushions are just too much for you and you want to enjoy the bare bones of the couch.

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You could even make a sort of fort around yourself.

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Or maybe a hybrid model – head on, tail off…

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Or tail on, head off…

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Or maybe the cushion is just fine, but the couch is too much.

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Ultimately, though, you just need to sprawl out. It’s your couch and it’s your time to rest!

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Don’t worry what others may think,

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Just find that perfect spot!

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Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

After apologizing to Max last week for forgetting his birthday, I finally gave him a new toy that I had been saving. It was a plush penguin (and I use the past tense very intentionally).

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Needless to say, he enjoyed it immensely. And in the first couple hours he had already torn off the nose and was pulling the stuffing out of the head. The toy wasn’t even stuffed all the way through – just in the head. But somehow he found the one way to make the biggest mess with that toy possible.

This tends to be the way he treats all his toys. Even tug toys that seem very sturdy come apart much more quickly than I’d expect. Max takes some strange pleasure in ripping things to shreds.

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I am very glad that he is obedient enough to shred mostly his own toys, and not my belongings. If I leave out empty bags that had food in them while he is home alone, those usually get destroyed too, but he has never chewed up any actual belongings.

Still, I can’t help but think – was that really worth it? Did you really have to destroy that brand new toy? This is why we can’t have nice things.

But in tearing up the toys, Max also keeps me grounded and teaches me that maybe having nice things is not the best goal in life. Maybe a better goal is enjoying what we have. Max is like the little brother who takes the G.I. Joe out of the packaging to actually play with it, instead of leaving it in the packaging so that it will retain the highest value. But I think there is a lot of value in playing with those things the way they are meant to be played.

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Max also does something else with his newly destroyed toys that is weird to me. As he is pulling the stuffing out of the penguin’s head, he often stops, looks at me, and then brings it to me and drops it in my lap. I, of course, want nothing to do with that slobbery toy anymore, but Max wants to share the joy.

Max has taught me that one of the true joys in this life is not having nice things, and it is not even centered on what he has at all. Rather, it is enjoying what he has with the people he cares about.

And Max has taught me that things are not for admiring, but rather they are tools to create joy and goodness in the world. And that understanding means that it can be a very valuable experience to give up something I treasure to someone else who could benefit more from it, even if that person does not use the thing in the right way.

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While we may not be able to have nice things, we can have a robust relationship and experience some joyful fun with whatever we do have, especially when we don’t get hung up with the value of the item and instead pay more attention to what is really valuable in life.

So, thank you Max for teaching me that there are many things more important that having nice things. And thank you for wanting to share those not nice things with me.

Birthday

Max’s birthday was this week. He turned four years old on November 8.

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And for the second year in a row, I completely forgot until several days later. This year I even thought about it the week before and double-checked the day, but when Sunday got here, I did not remember at all. And it shouldn’t ever be a difficult day for me to remember because it is the day before my sister’s birthday.

You can see how sad he is that I forgot.

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Actually, if he was disappointed, it was probably just because Sundays are very busy for me and I don’t get to spend much time with him on those days. I’m sure if he understood or cared about his birthday, he would let me know. Either way, he seems to be fine with a little extra attention and treats whenever they come his way.

But Max did teach me how bad I am at remembering important things like birthdays. While I don’t care much for celebrating my own birthday, I do like celebrating with others. I never intentionally put those things out of my mind; I just have a terrible time remembering them.

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So, Max taught me that since I can’t remember these things on my own, I should show I care by doing whatever I need to remind myself of these special days. I can be more intentional about putting them on my calendar and taking time every now and then to think forward and backward in time to see what I recently missed or what is coming up.

Max has taught me that such effort is a form of caring for those important people in my life and it leads to powerful ways of expressing that care.

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He taught me that remembering what is going on in people’s lives does take some extra time and thought, but that it is worth it to show the people in my life that they are important.

He taught me that celebrating others, like any form of expressing love, requires some effort. And the effort does not detract from the authenticity of the celebrating, but rather adds to the expression of care.

So, thank you Max for teaching me to put in a little more effort to remembering the important people in my life and the significant things about them. And I am very thankful that you have been on this world for four years and in my life for most of that! Happy Birthday!

Balcony Life

Max loves sitting or laying out on our balcony. At our previous apartment, the balcony was so tiny that he could barely fit out there by himself, but he still tried to get out as often as he could. Now, at our current place, he as plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy, and he makes even more effort to constantly be out there.

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Since we are in that little window of time when the temperature outside is actually pleasant, I have been leaving the door to the balcony open whenever I am home. That means Max can go in and out to his heart’s delight. And when I forget to open it, or I close it because it is too noisy, Max notices. He gets a little upset and bothers me until I open it again.

I don’t know why he likes it so much. Perhaps he enjoys seeing all the things going on around the apartment (though the view is not really that great). Maybe the concrete floor and the breeze blowing by make a nice, cool environment. Or maybe there is just something about being outside that soothes him.

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I don’t often accompany Max out there. I usually have too much to do between cooking, eating, working, and watching TV. I like the idea of going out there and sitting with him, but it just does not happen very often.

But when I do follow Max’s lead, I learn again how important it is to go outside and sit and listen.

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Max has taught me that I need those breaks from all that I am doing (especially breaks from sitting in front of a computer or TV screen). And he has taught me that sitting outside and listening is far from a waste of time.

He has taught me to pay closer attention to the beauty of the sounds of life – whether that is birds singing, squirrels rustling in trees, wasps buzzing around, or even the distant drone of cars on the road. All those sounds remind me of the beauty of this world. And as I rest and turn my attention to those sounds, I experience that soothing feeling that Max must experience too.

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Max can be a very hyper, active dog, but in these moments he teaches me how to be still and restful. He teaches me how to better attune my senses to the world around me so that I can better appreciate all that is going on. He teaches me a practice of peace that I desperately need in my sometimes chaotic life.

So, thank you Max for reminding me of the need for rest. Thank you for leading me to be better attuned to the beauty of this world and for sitting with me out on our balcony.