Happy Holidays!

I can be a little grinchy sometimes…

But Max continually teaches me to endure the not so pleasant moments and to look for the little joys in life.

He is my guide into opportunities in which my heart can be enlarged and my faithful companion as we journey into a world full of wonder not only during this holiday season, but everyday.

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Thank you Max, for teaching me to embrace the unexpected joys in life and in so doing, allow my heart to be full of ever increasing love.

And happy holidays from both of us!!!

Star Wars: A New Pup

In honor of the return of Star Wars to the big screen, here is a short tale of young Max Tailwagger, a jedi pupawan. Don’t worry, no spoilers for any who have not yet seen the new movie.

Meet Max Tailwagger, one of the bravest and most loyal jedi in the galaxy!

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Though he is still a young pupawan, he is excelling quickly in his studies under Jedi Knight Patrick. He is often overeager and rash, but what he lacks in patience and thoughtfulness, he makes up for in quick action and enthusiasm. Not to mention the force of cuteness is strong with him.

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Pupawan Max and his mentor have been on several daring missions to scout out those causing mischief and to keep peace throughout the galaxy. Through their journeys, Pupawan Max has taught his mentor that such peace cannot be kept from a distance. Rather it requires actually getting to know other beings and being open and friendly with all. Establishing and protecting peace requires the initiative that this young pupawan naturally possesses.

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And Max has learned that sometimes one has to go to great lengths to bear that peace in all circumstances. Establishing peace involves not only breaking out of one’s comfort zone, but also laying down one’s own comfort to help other creatures. It can even feel like carrying around some strange green being on your back through a swamp…

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Young Tailwagger knows that this hard work cannot be accomplished alone and has wisely demonstrated that he needs the support of many others, even those with whom he is very unfamiliar. And so, he is (usually) pretty open, even to pushy droids.

Max tailwagger has a long journey ahead of him, but with further training, good friends, and trust in the force, he will establish peace in the galaxy and one day become a jedi knight himself…

Keeping Clean

Max has taught me the importance of regular vacuuming and sweeping.

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It is a lesson I try my hardest to ignore, though. It’s not that I dislike vacuuming, I’m just lazy and don’t want to have to do it as often as I should with a dog that sheds lots of white hair all. the. time.

And it is easy to convince myself that it is pointless, because an explosion of hair will fall across the entire apartment the day after I clean it all up.

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It’s the same lesson I learn this time of year when I pull out my black fleece jacket that is still covered in white hair from last year. Anytime I go into public my darker clothing becomes a declaration to everyone that yes, I do have a dog and no, I do not use a lent brush. I have a brush to wipe away all the hair, but it seems pointless, because the second I return home (or, realistically, in the time it takes me to walk from my bathroom to the front door) I will again be covered in hair.

So, I have learned that it is very easy to live with a mess of dog hair. It is easy to get into the mindset that because it will get messed up again, the constant upkeep is pointless.

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But maybe it’s not so pointless. Though I still don’t brush the hair off of my clothes, I have found that I can use the chore of vacuuming as a means of reminding me that there are so many things in my life that require consistent upkeep. It is a symbolic reminder not to give up on those things I keep messing up over and over again.

Max has taught me that I can regularly examine my life and clean up those personal explosive, hairy messes that seem to be crowding and cluttering my heart.

Max has taught me that it is important to continually address whether I am being compassionate even to those with whom I disagree, to go back and listen more carefully when I was too busy to pay attention, and not to pass by opportunities to show a little extra kindness. He has taught me not to let the dust of ignorance or complicity in unjust social structures settle in my life. He has taught me to pick off (one by one if needed) the stray hairs of self-absorbed, greedy decisions and apathetic inaction.

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It’s frustrating that my heart and mind so easily get cluttered and unkempt, but I have learned that even though it will likely happen again, the work of examining and cleaning is valuable. And each time I do that work of cleaning, I am hopefully becoming a better person and more receptive to the good, loving influences in my life.

So thank you Max for teaching me the importance of regular cleaning, both in our apartment and in my own heart and mind. Thank you for teaching me that such renewal is valuable, even if I have to address it over and over again. (But don’t expect me to brush your hair off my clothes every time just yet…we’ll take baby steps on this one).

Dreams Do Come True

Max has a habit of falling on his back when I bend down to pet him. Sometimes, it happens even before I touch his head. He falls over and rolls around so that his belly is easy to scratch.

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And because I’m a sucker, I usually give in and give him a belly rub.

Max has modest dreams – getting the occasional treat, having a fun run every now and then, and, most prominently, getting as many belly rubs as possible.

Even though these dreams are modest, Max has taught me how to make them come true. He does not just sit around waiting for the belly rubs to come to him. Rather, he creates opportunities and takes advantage of the best times to flop on his back.

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I, on the other hand, too often sit around hoping my dreams will magically come true. Or, I wait for just the perfect opportunities. And so I wait and wait and wait, and those dreams get polished and fine tuned, but do not become a reality.

To be honest, though, Max’s dreams do not always come true. He flops down for a belly rub a lot, and he only gets the desired results about half the time (that’s actually also his posture when he knows he did something bad). But the fact that he fails about as much as he succeeds does not deter him. He knows that his dream of constant belly rubs is worth the failures, and he is sure not to miss any opportunities.

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Max has taught me that if the dream really is worth it, I just have to go for it. I have to trust that even if I am not fully prepared, even if it doesn’t work out sometimes, or even if it takes a few tries, that I have to flop over and go for it. And he has taught me that if I never try, those dreams will certainly fade away unfulfilled.

Max has also taught me that striving after dreams is a vulnerable thing to do. In rolling over and exposing his belly, Max puts himself in a very vulnerable position. And though following my own dreams does not always leave me physically vulnerable, it is usually a scary thing, because something I really care about is on the line. And in sharing my dreams in order to try to make them a reality, I have to share a deep, meaningful part of myself with the world.

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Despite the possibility of failure and the vulnerability inherent in following dreams, Max has taught me that they do come true when my effort and the right circumstances align. And even if they don’t always make it, it is worth trying.

So, thank you Max for encouraging me to follow my dreams, even when I am likely to fail. Thank you for teaching me that expressing vulnerability in following those dreams can be meaningful and powerful. And you are welcome for my role in helping to make your dreams come true!