Calm down.

That’s what the note says in my bathroom.

I wrote it down and I stuck it to my mirror a week ago when I officially adopted Poppy.

Sometimes I forget, but it serves to remind me every day that she needs me to be calm.

At 6 months old, any parent of a toddler (or in my case a doggie) will tell you anxiety can’t be allowed in.

My heart and my head space laugh and laugh when I forget – because Madam Poppy quickly gives me a sideways glance as if to say “Hey human, boundaries? You think you got this? I’m going to test every one!” – And then her beautiful blue eyes look up to me for reassurance.  I’m momentarily as overwhelmed as she is, but then I remind myself that I’m the human here and she needs me to step up.  Leave my anxiety at the door.

This week, in the midst of me running around and doing at a rather frantic pace (shopping for doggie things and fixing gates! I had no idea!) , I had to stop and exhale and just play with my dog. Show her love and give her security.  Things I’ve longed for in my own life. Reassure her that we can do this together. One day at a time. I don’t have a master plan Pops, but I promise I won’t let you down.

Just a week had gone by but it feels like learning a new pace already.

Yes, it is a slightly frustrating invitation to do that very thing that hangs in my bathroom, written in my scrawled handwriting, a gesture to be kind to myself:

Calm down.

Two words. Infinite, wide-open meaning.

Because the world moves fast. We barrel through our days. There is so much to do. So many places to go. And when my anxiety wins, so many things to be afraid of.

Calm down.

What would that be like?

When I move really fast, it’s often because I’m holding it tightly together. I’m afraid that if I stop, I’ll fall apart. Then, I would have to taste the tangled messy tenderness it is to be human. I would have to taste my tears and fears and actually be here.

When I move really fast, it’s often because I feel not enough so I want to be the best. Or I fear that I am too much.

While doing more seems appealing, it is often cast in avoidance.

And the richness we often seek is found those sweet moments in between

When we breathe

And sit down for a second

And feel the breeze swirl on our cheek

And play with the dog

And notice the flowers in our yard

And we let our nervous systems settle.

Calm down.

It’s so simple.

It’s magical. It’s potent.

In a world that moves so fast and urges us to be so many things

One of the most deliciously rebellious things we can do

Is calm down.

And feel.

In this, time expands. We expand. We can find a new pace, perched in gentleness. A way of being that isn’t exhausting. We get to know who we really are: our depths and wounds and glittering beauty.

Oh, the fresh freedom in those two words:

Calm down.

And I will forget.

But I hope to remember again and again. And I hope that remembering gradually colours both our lives in a new hue. A hue that is delicately powerful, like how the sunset bathes the whole world in a subtle rosy pink glow.

So maybe today, I will remember as my doggie invites me to carefully feel the textures of each step and I’ll exhale as my cats slowly show me forgiveness for bringing this bundle of energy into our lives.

Maybe today, I will remember for ten minutes as I write this and listen to the birds and feel the thick sunbeams, golden and innocent, crawling through the window and dissolving the bitter cold.

And that is so meaningful.

It feels like saying yes to being human.

Yes to the sublime tenderness, adventure, awe, uncertainty, and messy beauty. All of it.

Yes to really being here and healing

Yes to Poppy – my heart dog.