Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chaos Is Just Alright With Me

I need to write a lesson to myself.  Today's lesson is: find your peace within the chaos.  If you can't experience peace within yourself right now, irrespective of conditions, then you will never experience true peace.  Just as real love is unconditional, so it is with real peace. 

I have written about my new Alusky puppy, Basil.  My husband and I are attempting to housebreak her.  We always said we would wait until our youngest child was potty-trained before getting a dog.  That was smart, because not only do we have to teach this dog to do her business outside--we also have to completely domesticate her.  That was the part we hadn't thought much about.  Our heads were lost in toddler-land, thinking the pee pee and do-do would be the bulk of the work.  Evidently, teaching a dog not to chew on every plant, animal, mineral and vegetable in sight is at least as important as the housebreaking. 

Basil is already 19 pounds, at 11 weeks of age.  She loves to play with everyone, but back in her litter, play mainly consisted of pawing and mouthing.  So we all have a lot of scratch marks right now.  We need new socks.  And when we yell, "Owww!!!" it sounds a lot like the canine word for "Play!!!!"  When I am getting my boys dressed for school in the morning, Basil sees this as an invitation to play tug of war.  She is very taken with our clothing, in general.  She can't resist sinking her teeth into shirts, jackets, pants, shoes... in fact, she loves our clothes almost as much as she loves our furniture and car upholstery.  She is gaga over textures and fabrics.  We knew she would be a diva!  She's been making lots of wood shavings for us out of our dining room table, since that's her favorite flavor.  It's Hemlock, in case you're looking for a new pet treat.  For Basil, the icing on the cake is houseplants.  The leaves and wood are delicious; throw in some dirt for digging and it's a puppy panacea!

A now common scene from our house is an enraged three year old running from a dog who has him by the arm and won't let go for love or money.  The screams from the three year old are more rage than pain, although there is some of both.  I have no idea where he picked this up, but the three year old actually screamed, "fucking dog!" this morning.  After we pay a dog trainer, we'll be investing in some preschool anger management classes.

Before we ever got Basil, our house was somewhat of a revolving door for family and friends, and that's the way we like it.  Auntie Ellen and her Maltese will be sleeping here tonight.  We recently hosted our baby niece for eight days.  We love to have our parents stay with us.  We're also getting more involved in our community and just being generally social.  Our Hemlock table usually has church financial documents all over it.  My seminary books are in every room, next to Disney, Dr. Seuss and Game of Thrones.  We don't even clean up as much when we have people over now, because it matters less to us.  We are getting more comfortable with chaos. 

I said when we got Basil that she was my new animal guide.  I was looking forward to the lessons she would teach me.  So far her biggest lesson is one that I hadn't mastered having my two boys:  life is usually a complete mess and happiness is getting your hands dirty.  Babies teach us this.  If they could talk, babies would say, "I'm screaming at you and it's OK.  You're OK.  Take a deep breath.  Smile.  Because this is your life."  Toddlers would and do say, "I'm running around naked with cake on my mouth and I threw your keys in the toilet.  Love me!"  I am done with babies and mostly out of toddler days, so my puppy is here to let me know, "You may have a to-do list, but I just peed on your floor, I'm humping your leg and chewing on your pants.  You may think you're going somewhere, but I know you feel it when my teeth sink into your thigh!" 

It is that old familiar feeling of resistance to what's happening right now, and wishing I could be somewhere else.  Moments like these make me wish that I was sitting alone in an empty house, walking alone on a nature trail, or getting blissed out in a yoga class.  But life is not a retreat center.  When I feel myself getting worked up about the new level of chaos in my life, I need to remember that I can touch peace anywhere, anytime.  Just today I was making out some bills when Basil came over and bit my ankles, and my son started whining for his Batman flip flops.  I felt the stress in my body, and then I just said, "It's OK.  It's OK. It's OK."  I took a deep breath, and I smiled at the chaos. 

Chaos is just alright with me.  Chaos is just alright, oh yeah!


  1. Oh Michelle, thank you for the laughter- Lance laughed so hard he started complaining his side hurt. I cried I was laughing so hard. What a joy to laugh today- only sorry it is at the expense of a teething puppies family.

  2. The 2nd to last paragraph is perfection. We have to learn to laugh more times than we get frustrated in a day. We need to think of the smile of our child or the sunshine on our faces when times are tough...and everything will be alright.