Love more

Memories can give us so much joy.

If we let them. They are the times we can think back on where we have been to places that impressed us in some way or shared events with people or pets that brought us joy. But often we get sad when thinking back because we want that time to stay. We grasp for what is no longer there. Or when the people or pets are gone, we mourn the loss instead of celebrating the time we had together. I have lost so many loved ones in my life and I have learned that not only is it a blessing to share the end of life with someone, it is also the memories of those days or months that linger the most and give me even more gratitude for having them in my life. I know it might sound strange that I appreciate the more difficult memories, but hear me out.

We often wear a mask, we try to be on our best behavior, or we assume that someone will not like us for who we are (because we might not ourselves) and we end up being more who we think will be loved, than who we really are. Those are the moments we get to be the closest we can be.

It is the vulnerable in us that is the most beautiful

Yet the vulnerable is what we defend and hide but when we have nothing left to loose, we no longer hide. We get closer if we dare, we see more of who they are if we dare, and we open up ourselves to the hurt if we dare… and that is where love lives.

So to love more we have to dare more!

Today I think back on Mr. Bailey who taught us so much about love in so little time. This gentle giant came into our lives to stay only for two short years. He taught us about being humble, loving without fear and letting go without regret. Ok I am not saying he actually put the intention out there to teach us that, but he somehow made those he met to feel and be like that around him. For being the huge Rottweiler (130 llb) that he was, he in seconds disarmed everyone he met and it ended up in a cuddle on the floor. He made me want to be a better person, he made me want to learn how to be more human.

These are some of the lessons from a dog that I wrote last year after he passed:

Enjoy the memories – they are there for us to cherish.

1. Dogs only care about the relationship they have with us. It’s all about the heart, not the ego.

Each day could be the last, so don’t waste it with unimportant concerns. Make the day matter with something that you care about. Let your intentions and actions be guided from your heart, not from your ego.

2. Dogs only care if you’re going for that walk now; promising it will happen tomorrow doesn’t count today. 

We only exist in the now. Tomorrow is a story, and yesterday is a memory. We humans are so attached to fixing our mistakes (which causes us to dwell in the past) and controlling the outcome of what tomorrow brings (when we can’t ever really know what will happen). It’s part of our survival instincts to stay on the lookout for danger, but don’t make it how you live your life. Allow the moment to be what guides your choices.

3. Dogs don’t care if their dog bed is more expensive or their car (your car) is bigger than the neighbors’.

They only care if you spend time with them. Love is all that matters in the end. The times to remember and cherish are the moments spent sharing love.

4. Dogs don’t have a concept of planning their time.

They would never choose to take care of an impossibly long list of tasks at the expense of living, and enjoying, their life. Time is the most important when life is running out, so be here now and make the best of it; you will never get this moment back. We cannot control time; we can only control what we do with it.

5. Dogs don’t have a concept of holding back their love until they make sure you love them.

They just go for it. The more love the better. Loss and grief is all about love. The more love, the more loss — and somehow knowing that makes the grieving process gentler. So give it all you got. The loss will be meaningful, but only because the love was.

6. Dogs will be hurt, ignored, and even neglected, and still just show surrender to love when offered a belly rub.

Being vulnerable is a gift that brings more love. Everybody wants love, and being vulnerable makes us able to receive it.

7. Dogs are the best partners in sadness.

They just snuggle up with you while you cry and are ready to lick your face afterward. Being sad is OK. Sadness helps you open your heart and feel the love the surrounds and support you.

8. Dogs mourn too, but they also accept what is.

They mourn loss, but not a lost future. Being stuck in grief is not OK. Acceptance of what is and appreciation for what was help us mourn and move us through to the love and memories, which are what last.

9. Dogs are the best at self-care.

They will curl up and retreat when they need to self-soothe. No self-judgment — just a good snuggle up will do. Self-compassion is essential.

Dogs are our supporters and teachers on this journey called life. First they need us; then we need them!

If you’re considering getting a pet, please rescue one. So many animals are in need of a home and what they give you in return is unconditional love, gratitude, and many lessons of being mindful and living in the NOW.