Puppy Wisdom #1: Keep your crate clean.

Our house is a mess. I don't mean oh-there's-two-piles- of-paper-and-three-blouses-to-hang-up mess, I mean a bonafide explosion of useful, beautiful and another-woman's-treasure kind of mess.

As many of you have read here, a new puppy, who is also the return of an old soul mate, is coming home soon. And while Star Gazer's wise soul is returning in Lily's new and precious body, she will still have to learn how to be a dog and shamanic partner all over again.

Of course, I am expecting some synchronicities (after all, Gazer and I are beloveds and so his wisdom and knowing are bound to be present in one form or another),  but the first steps, first night, first everything are all still a month away like presents waiting to be opened (if you know shamanism, you love the paradox of welcoming back a cherished beloved AND delighting in all the firsts to come).

Puppies require room, and a kind of shakedown in the house before their arrival. Love the inherited bentwood Eames side tables? Store them. Really still love the wood coffee table because it has nice lines? Store it. Want to read those books on the lowest shelves of book cases ever again? Box 'em. Have a bunch of wires (and I already hate the look of wires stretching across the floor to the outlet)? Cover 'em.

But in a house with almost no storage that means only one thing; going to the storage unit.

Going to the storage unit is kind of like visiting your old self in a worm hole. Piled HIGH with boxes and plates from one grandmother, one mother and one step-mother  (I know, I know, but I'm sentimental!). Chairs that my mother loves (that she wants stored even though I have no idea if they'll ever see the light of day again). A fish tank which begs to be in a school somewhere. And all manner of thises and thats in mysterious boxes whose contents have little to do with their labels.

We approached our locked unit like a Mission Impossible script: go in with a target, get the target, get out alive in 1 hour or less. We gritted our teeth, invaded, and within 55 minutes we were bringing home a Suburu wagon full of boxes with the strict notion of give away, sell or trash all of it; we're hoping to regift/recylcle almost everything. That we barely made a dent could have been disheartening, but we didn't go there. We are smart enough to know that beginning is important so we were smiling as we left.

Our cheer lasted the 2.4 miles between the storage place and our home. The spirit of chaos was laughing her ass off when the new stuff for the puppy arrived just as we pulled up from the storage unit. Puppies, like all infants, need stuff. A crate. A pen. We needed to get a ramp for our car for US  (old backs + our old 45 pound dog = back pain) so our dear resident 14-year-old beardie can better negotiate travel. And  so the puppy can learn how to use the ramp while she's still young and agile.

It's a box convergence. A haphazard pile of cardboard and debris, the valuable and archaic, in one huge heap. Why one heap? A dog trainer is arriving any minute to help us work with Ariel because she can be dog shy and we REALLY want Lily and Ariel to thrive together. We need room to work and so the family room has become chaos central. In all fairness, we got a few things sorted, and some stuff sold BEFORE we began stocking old 1940 glamor photos of my mom on top of falling-apart old game boxes on top of a box of lamp shades on top of old tax records on top of the Xpen box.

Suddenly, as I felt an 11' wave of crap was breaking fast into a tidal wave of confusion, I had an idea, a teaching from the spirit of dogs: keep your crate clean.

Puppy crates seem mean to people who don't know dogs. They are large plastic or wire cages that hold a comfy bed, a toy or two, and your puppy. Crates serve many purposes. They give your dog a place to call her own when she wants to nap, play or just be by herself. And they give you a place to put the puppy when you sleep (Lily's crate will be next to my bed) or need 30 minutes away from your velcro companion.

Based on the notion that canines love dens, some pups adore their crates and others don't. Regardless, you don't put more in the crate than the puppy needs to sleep and perhaps play for a bit.

Thinking like a dog, which is what I am trying to do now, means that I suddenly realized OUR crate is a mess. There is WAY TOO MUCH stuff in it. Too much stuff in a puppy crate will make the puppy want to stay out of it. Which may be why I am feeling like fleeing to Tierra del Fuego and changing my name to Pascarel DeBaganucci.  I love spare, and by that I do not mean a spare sweater or a spare lamp, but serene and spacious.

By this point, you may be bored, almost ready to stop reading. A messy house? Too much stuff? Is this REALLY worth a blog post? I mean, we ALL do this, right? Or most of us have fits on occasion and clean out, clean up and release.

But it is deeper than that. We are not preparing for the crate and puppy stuff as much as we are trying to create a space of joy where our family can grow. In my shamanic explorations (and life lessons), I know that love is action, and action requires space. To move through. To move into.

The possessions that bind us make our home obese. When you are becoming obese, cookies taste like comfort or a way to get comfortably numb, which ends up causing more pain than you had to begin with. In truth, it just makes movement (of all kinds) harder. A house obesity dampens and compresses the energy and joy of the spirits of the house and land on which it sits. Although formless and invisible in ordinary reality, the spirits of home need room to celebrate life.

It will take us more weeks to clean our crate. To become discerning and to do the hard work of shedding possessions (many of which are serviceable, and could make a difference for someone else) can be a struggle if you're a sentimental mush like me. Remembering they will serve others far more than my sentimental heart is the key to balance here.

Because, when you really come down to it, having any more than you need means someone else probably has LESS than they need. In a world where resources are dwindling, we need to share what we have.

When our crate is in better shape, Lily will like hers better. I want my cave to match hers. In some ways, a crate can also be an altar. A place that fosters serenity and deep rest in a noisy and over-crowded world.