Sunday, November 18, 2007

Is There A Pug Or Three In The House? And, Living The Wabi Sabi Life...

From left to right: Sampson, Babs & Coco,
and Maitri with her lopsided Bell's Palsy,
Wabi Sabi smile in the back!

Truly, I think it was all Molly's fault. She is the one who, with her wonderful husband Chad, said, as they left after bringing my first rescue pug from Mid Atlantic Pug Rescue, "Pugs are like potato chips, you can't have just one..." Ahem. Apparently not. And I am usually very careful not to show pictures of my Bell's Palsy lopsided face that started the wabi sabi of it all as Niecy Nash from one of my favorite shows, Clean House, might say, which I was blessed with in June 1995, but it's hard not to giggle with 3 pugs in your lap. And blessed by Bell's Palsy, you betcha!

Now, it's not that I like to look lopsided, but I'm a sort of lopsided, cattywompus person to begin with, and after having three babies and gaining weight, my last vestige of pride, what everyone always called "My beautiful smile," had gone all funny, as well as my eye and pretty much everything on the left side of my face, well, after the pain, after the shock, after a year and more, I realized that it was with me for good, and I kind of shrugged and went on. It taught me a wonderful lesson, it taught me compassion.

Bell's Palsy was the beginning of my learning the true meaning of maitri, the Buddhist teaching of loving kindness and compassion, that you must first have it for yourself before you can give it to another. I had to come to terms with the fact that I would always be lopsided, but life goes on and so did I. In fact it moved me to dedicate myself, my life, and my work to maitri, and ten years after I got Bell's, I got divorced, and I went straight to the courthouse and applied for a legal name change. Maitri is now my legal name, and I changed it to have a reminder all of the days of my life to continue the practice of maitri in every single moment. It, like meditation, is a practice. We forget, and then we remember, and it goes on like that. We keep practicing. It's hard to forget when you've taken it as your name. Which leads me back to the pugs...

Let me start by saying that I have had, loved, and felt closer to animals since childhood than I have to other people, and animal welfare and animal advocacy are the most heartfelt causes that I support, and I walk my talk. For several years I ran a non-profit shelter for disabled parrots and other domestic birds that were unwanted. Today I live with 5 parrots, 4 beta fish, one dog, and three pugs. You have to understand that pugs are not dogs, not really. They'd be the first to tell you so! And while I have loved all of my dogs dearly, most especially my big lab-doby mix, Moses, whom we adopted from the Humane Society at 3 months and who is now twelve years old, there is just something special about pugs that you can't deny. They are the first dogs I have ever had that have turned me into the kind of parent you run from when you see coming, as they flash out 78 pictures of the new baby. I blush, but it's true.

And I am now running kind of an Old Folks Home For Pugs. No, there won't be any more, not now, but trust me, 3 pugs are more fun and more trouble than a barrel of monkeys! Leave it to the woman with the lopsided face to fall in love with 3 funny-faced little creatures. And fall in love I have. I am, in fact, smitten.

Babs is 12 and deaf as a door. She will sleep any old where as long as it's on the bed with me. Coco is 11, hard of hearing, and sleeps under the covers all the way down to my feet, as I was told she would, but it's a bit startling, I mean, you wonder how she can breathe down there? And Sampson is the youngster of the group, being somewhere between 7 and 8, and sleeps next to me with his head on the other pillow. He's my Velcro-Pug. They told me he had Abandonment Issues. I said, that's okay, so do I. Babs came in August, Sampson in September, and Coco just yesterday, the November Newcomer. I'd say that Moe is the Alpha dog, but he is so laid back, as they all are, that I think he's just confused.

Moe says, "You're kidding, right?"

What I figured, after walking with Moe and the first two pugs for awhile, was that I could handle one more, 2 on each side, and it would be a more balanced walk, so in came Coco who needed a home and we are a downright spectacle walking down the side of the street. People's mouths drop open. My biggest fear is that we will cause a 15 car pile-up because people just stop and stare. And they shout things out, anything from "That's so cute," to "LADY, how do you DO that???" which is what I hear more that anything. And people just can't help but want to look at the pugs. Moe is a sweetheart and will be the great love of my lifetime, but the pugs, well, they're funny, and adorable, and charming. Right now Sampson and Coco are snoring. Moe and Babs are asleep as well. And don't tell me your sorry tales about having a spouse or partner that snores. Try sleeping with 3 pugs that do. Now that is something to write home about.

In 1995, just three days after Bell's Palsy changed my life, I learned about the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi. Wabi Sabi is the imperfect-perfect. It comes out of the Japanese Tea Ceremony and is about compassion, and about the reality of life, and that there is perfection in imperfection. All of my work became, in that moment, about wabi sabi, and maitri. And so it shall be.

So with sleeping snoring pugs around me, and a grey parrot named Henry (Now there's the Alpha male of the house!) on my shoulder where he spends much of the day, I will head into the kitchen and make my protein shake and latte. And I will watch the outside birds at the 7 feeders on the patio (my other flock!) and enjoy this beautiful, crisp, cool Sunday morning, and I will thank God for this beautiful day and all of my many blessings, and I will look at my funny faced dogs with my own funny face, and we shall have a splendid day.

Maitri, the five parrots, the four beta fish, the one dog, the three pugs, and I'm quite certain there's a partridge in a pear tree here somewhere....


Star Gardener said...

Oh, my! What a inspiring and delightful crew, Maitri! (And such a empowering post!) Blessings and treats for all ... Big Hugs to you (tummy rubs and gentle strokes to your babies!)

a hu-mom to three canine kids, one moody kitty, one koi (who is not so sure about kitty drinking from his home) and numerous wild birds

Maitri Libellule said...

Hello and thank you lovely one!

They are a heck of a crew alright! I am needing to use my best gentle "Dog Whisperer" tactics on Coco who won't budge on the leash and she is doing much better today. She is such a sweet little love and this is a new place. One simply has to be patient. And there is lots of love for all the babies, Big Moe and the three little nibblets! I hope your crew is doing well, as well as their hu-mom too!

I have a pug sleeping on my bare feet as I write this and he is as soft as a velvet teddy bear. So sweet...

Blessings to you, and take care,

Maitri :o)

Incognito said...

The pictures didn't come up on my computer, for some reason... but this actually has to do with the Bells Palsy.

Last week I was talking to a colleague and she was telling me about a friend of hers who got tremendous help from Acupuncture for Palsy. That you can only tell when she's a little tired. You might want to consider it, if you already haven't.


Maitri Libellule said...

Hello Dearheart...

I got Bell's Palsy in June of 1995. I saw 3 medical doctors who, in the weeks and months ahead said it was the worst case of Bell's they'd seen. Most people recover completely in 3 months. If you go past there you're pretty much going to have it for good.

NOW, as I have always been into natural healing, I had chiropractic care, accupuncture 3x a week for a year, deep tissue massage, homeopathic remedies and everything else you can imagine.

My best friend Jeff always tells me that you can tell when I'm really tired or stressed because it shows up more and at other times isn't very noticeable. But if you pop out with a big smile that goofy grin is just going to be there.

As I said in the piece that I wrote, it's not that I would have wished to have Bell's, but I did, and I do, and it is a constant reminder, like my name Maitri, to have compassion for others. We are all wounded in some way. Maybe in the end when it's on the outside and more visible it's easier to deal with.

In any case, thank you for writing, you are very dear...


Incognito said...

Hello Maitri...

I understand because I got very sick with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Dec 2003 and am very grateful because I learned many lessons from it. I've been blessed to have recovered, relatively unscathed, from it.. I still have my moments when I get a little achy.. but the deformity my rheumatolgist predicted hasn't happened. I'm on a ton of herbs and supplements, but it's worth it.

I still aim for 100% recovery, but am satisfied with my 95%.

Maybe some day it will happen for you. You never know!! I'll hope that for you.

Liudmila said...

You are right, it's unpossible to have them only one. Maybe they know about it too. I have actually a dog and 5 wild cats. And about 10 hens.Mmmm...

Maitri Libellule said...

Dear Liudmila,

How nice to meet you! I have loved seeing your blogs!

And yes, I live with 5 parrots, 4 beta fish, and 4 dogs -- Moe, a sweet sweet lab-doby mix, and 3 pugs. I also have 7 feeders and a water bucket I keep clean with fresh water on my patio and I watch the wild birds all day from inside too. Such Joy! I like to say that I have a flock inside and outside!

I will look so forward to reading more about you and your animal family on your blog!



Maitri Libellule said...

Hello again Incognito!

And I meant to say the other day that I don't know what happened but I reloaded those pictures and they went rght back up, and no other pictures on the site were affected. Blogger has been VERY strange lately!

You know, I am not being pessimistic when I say this, but the facts are that most people recover in the first 3 months, others keep improving up to a year, but with every known treatment in the universe it's been 12 years for me and truly there is little chance at this point of the Bell's disappearing. If it did that would be great, and I'm always open to all possibilities, but if this is the worst of what I have to live with, when so many suffer so much, I shall continue to feel very blessed, as I do every day.

I hope your Thanksgiving is lovely and full of joy,


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