There’s no rushing in parks

            Earlier in the week, I had a pending zoom call at 12:00 on a Saturday.  It was after 10:00 am, and I thought I could squeeze in a good ninety minutes at the park.  We generally had the luxury of two hours, so ninety minutes felt tight.  Yet, I was determined to do this.  I would rush to the park, find our spot and blanket in the sun, restore, then zip back for the call.  But how we plan things does not always equate with what arises. This is particularly the case when you have a 15 year old British bulldog in a stroller and a 13 year old pug/chiauaua mix who walks at a different speed.

            As we began our walk to the park, the sidewalks were crowded, as it was the weekend.  We passed a cheerful homeless guy, who I see daily and always wants to greet my chug.  But so many people were around, and I couldn’t seem to back track to return to him for his daily pet.  I mouthed “later.”  Shortly after, an elderly female who also was a dog owner stopped to talk to us at the light in French.  I tried to answer in French, “il est vient, il est quinze ans.”  He is old, he is 15 years old.” She spoke in English.  I wanted to try to cross the sidewalk while it was green, but Puzo began to stand up in his stroller.  I pushed him back down.  The lady then proceeded to carry her dog up to Puzo height and practically in his stroller to smell him.  I was not going to make the light, it seemed like a comedic scene from a sitcom.  I was in a rush, and the world was not letting me go at that fast pace.  I then stepped in a puddle on the street from the street cleaning. 

            We eventually made it to the park, found our spot in the sun and sat.  As I looked at the Eiffel Tower, I realized I was living the life I had planned for one year earlier.  I was in France, all this work to get to here and I have arrived.  My dog park was the Champ de Mars, but was I really present?  Was I living here truly?  Time passed, as numerous dogs and their owners came over to sniff my dogs.  

            As we walked home, I seemed to time it perfectly.  I didn’t factor in these triplet five-year old French girls who wanted to pet my dogs.  One girl tried to take the leash out of my hand, asking in French to walk my dog?  I didn’t know how to respond, until her mother came over and told her no.  The girl removed her hands from Bella’s leash.  They individually wanted to pet both Puzo and Bella.  I realized all of my interactions today were friendly and kind, but my sense of being in a rush could ruin this experience.  

            This was such a metaphor for my life here in Paris.  I came here to write my book, but I have yet to be signed by publishers.  My agent is encouraging me to pause until I am signed.  I must be patient with this process of a book being developed.  Originally, I wanted to be in Paris for one year, in and out with a book completed.  But this year is not looking like that. It’s delayed. I’m learning to slow down, and luxuriate in pleasures.  Learn to appreciate my time here guilt free. Somehow this is tough for me to do. To unlearn. 

            But if I am honest with myself, another reason I came here was to ease the transition with my dogs.  They are older and Puzo would not make it back to fly to America.  Our move from the UK to France, was smoother via car rather than plane.  I’m able to spend more time with them, without the confines of a commute or regular job.  Our pied-a-terre has turned into an elderly dog nursing home, and I have transitioned from being a psychologist to one who is a caregiver for my dogs.  The frequent accidents that occur in the home, the slow strolls, and the somatization of physical issues when I travel are all a reminder for me to live in patience.  I have to remind myself that my life right now is a living breathing loving kindness patience meditation.  This is where we are at, and what is required of me at the moment is unconditional love and care. 

            Perhaps this is what I am meant to learn here in Paris.  To slow down, practice patience, and pleasure.  I am to learn what it truly means to be present in my day to day life, not just as a mental construct.  Let go of what is next, because the reality is I do not know what that entails.    

“If when you look at me, you only see a white face and cloudy eyes, a burden or a hassle…you’ve missed out on the best part of me…Love me until the very end, for I am a gift. With each wag of my tail, I say thank you.”– Bacardi Reynolds

Puzo’s New Lease on Life

            Recently Puzo had a near death experience.  Or at least so I thought.  Puzo is my English Bulldog who was extremely sick days before his 15th birthday.  I had gone away to Majorca for 6 days, and he developed diarrehea when I left.  When I returned, his illness would not stop.  He would not eat, and everything was coming out of him.  Pure incontinence.  I was preparing for the worst with each day.  Would I have to put him to sleep the next week?  With each area I cleaned up, I reminded myself this was a meditation.  All my love for him.  I distracted myself by binging on the Netflix’s reality show Love is Blind, just to not have to think of the horror awaiting me.  

Luckily I was able to secure medication for him prior to his vet appointment, and we celebrated his birthday in pure doggie style, with rotisserie chicken.  The day after his birthday, we even made it to the Champ de Mars with his stroller, as his incontinence stopped.  The vet confirmed his prognosis.  Nothing was wrong with him, he’s just old.  I made the realization, that when I go on holiday, his anxiety exacerbates and he somaticizes his stress.  The other two times earlier in the year, something similar happened and he acted out.  We picked up anxiety meds for my next vacation.

             Since his illness has worked through his system, he seems to have a new lease on life.  He’s been given another chance, not even a second chance.  At this point, it’s easily his fourth or fifth chance on life.  He seems to be appreciating life more.  I know I am anthropomorphisizing him a bit, yet I can’t help and notice shifts in his behavior.  He is waking up earlier in the morning, as soon as the sun rises.  He is wanting to take in more of the day.  He soaks in all of the rays when we go to the Eiffel Tower, and sit on blanket in the grass. I swear this Parisian monument and park inspires him.  People wait their whole lives to visit here, and this is the park we go to several times a week.  Puzo tries to get out of his stroller as we near the park or when we leave, his excitement on his wrinkled face shows.  He wants to prove he can walk further than I let him.  Even on our tiny promenades in our tiny passage, he is walking more with ease and down the hallway.  I am witnessing his exploratory nature increase, he is showing me he is not ready to give up.  He loves his wanderlust life too much.  A dog who my mom purchased for me when I was in my 20s from Amish country to Ohio.  He’s jetsetted with me to New York City, California, Hawaii, back to California, the United Kingdom and now Paris.  He has a new perspective on life, and so do I .  

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace.” – Milan Kundera

What are you waiting for?

            Yesterday I wore a dress for no particular reason for the first time.  There was nothing special about the day, an impromptu market stroll, lunch, and beach time.  But I decided since I’m on holiday, why not?  I had brought the dress with me, what was I waiting for?  So often with “premiering an outfit,” (as my friend Erica says), I feel it must be for a particular occasion.  But why?  If this is the case, I may be waiting for a day that never arrives.

            Last year, I had gone shopping at a vintage shop in Bury St. Edmunds, and debated to by a fascinator for my hair.  I didn’t think I had a fancy event to wear this to, and said it aloud to a friend.  The store worker said, “every day can be special or fancy.”  Her words of encouragement stayed with me.  I bought the hair piece.  She was a great sales lady, but also spoke poignant words.  I need to remind myself this.  It’s like when people are deliberate of what dishes to use for guests or themselves.  They wait to put out only the good silverware or expensive plates for guests.  Aren’t we enough to celebrate? 

This may seem trivial to think of our precious belongings we own, and our desire to savor them for the right moments.  But expand your view of what this is representative of.  The time is now.  Life is short and if we take this mentality, there is value and worth in every moment.  It doesn’t have to be captured on film or be filled with other people wearing expensive attire to count.  Our life is full of moments available for us to participate and luxuriate in.

 “One can make a day of any size and regulate the rising and setting of his own sun and the brightness of its shining.”

– John Muir.