Sunday, August 10, 2014

8/11/14—Taking a Sabbatical


I've done way more with this blog than I ever thought I'd do. When I first started, I promised to do it for a year. I've kept it consistently for about four years now (including many months of pre-blog blogging, just on Facebook). For three of those years, I wrote six days a week. This year, I've done three days a week.

The long and short of it is that, for now, I'm burned out. I need a break. And I don't know what this means...whether it means this blog will slowly die or whether it means I just need a break. One thing is for sure, it has really been a fulfilling ride for me, filled with all sorts of personal and professional growth. So I'm hoping that, after a week or so, I'll miss it or have something compelling to say. But after more than 1000 posts, I feel fresh out of things to contemplate for the time being...haha.

Anyway, for now I'm just taking a week off. That week may stretch longer. I've always worried if I didn't do it on a regular schedule that I'd lose my momentum, so I guess we'll test that theory. For those who automatically check in every few days, you might want to join the mailing list at That way you won't have to check the site if my postings become more erratic.

It's not often that you do something in your life that is met with only positive feedback. This blog has been that for me. Not once in four years have I heard anything but supportive, kind words. I thank you all for that. It means more than you know.

I don't know where we'll go from here. Maybe I'll just snap right back into the routine after a break. Maybe I won't. But I plan to leave my blog URL up indefinitely at this time, so the posts will always be here. You can pick one at random or put a keyword into the search box and find something to read whenever you like.

Until we meet again!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

8/8/14—Exploring Love and Fear

Consider for a moment that there are two dominant things human behavior is made up of—love and fear. And every choice you make is either one, the other or somewhere on the spectrum between the two.  

Why love and fear? Because love embraces and includes and fear pushes away and separates. Fear exists in those place love is lacking. Love is a divine trust that everything is beautiful and perfect as it is. Fear is an absence of trust that everything is beautiful and perfect as it is. 

That person you hate? It's not really hate. It's fear that what you dislike in that person is also within you...fear of what you'll do with that realization...fear that you are not yet who you wish to be...fear that you are not who you represent yourself to be. Love understands that person came into your life to challenge you. They are an opportunity, not a curse. Love is grateful for their teaching.

We all contain the capacity for the full spectrum of dark and light within us. Whenever we see a behavior in a person that we don't like, we say "that is separate from me." But there is nothing in god's universe separate from you. There may be behaviors you don't exhibit or places you don't go, but the capacity is within you. And denying that what you hate in others is not within you fractures you, holds you captive, keeps you separate from god and keeps you from loving and embracing yourself. And the more you deny containing that which you hate, the more loudly you become that which you hate. That is the power of fear. 

If you can't see those dark parts that are mirrored back at you from your "enemy" with true understanding and if you can't look upon people you judge with the genuine grace of "there but for the grace of God go I", then you're not just in denial, you're choosing fear. And when you're choosing fear, you're choosing to distrust that everything is perfect as it is, you're choosing to distrust god's plan, you're choosing not to love, and as a result, you're choosing to live in the darkness within you and not in the light. When you live in the darkness within you, you're just a shade or two or three from the unspeakable atrocities you witness on this earth. 

The Westboro Baptist Church? Just a darker shade of fear than the shade you choose when you hate and separate. The KKK? Just a darker shade of fear. Hitler? Just a darker shade of fear. All, by the way, have some love mixed in and you should be able to see that, too. But all began as all babies do, with pure love. I always make allowances for those with the kind of genetic anomalies that cause mental illness. We all have genetic anomalies, though. Ours just resulted in funky ear lobes or a tendency to heart disease instead of mental illness (there but for the grace of god...) While some aspects of fear are innate and protect us, the fear that leads to hate and separation is learned. And when we turn toward fear instead of love, we run the risk of traversing into ever deeper shades of darkness. 

Beneath most negative emotions and states like hate, depression, anxiety and anger is fear. Behind happiness, joy, trust, acceptance and peace is love. When you fail to embrace the beauty of what "is" in the moment, you are experiencing some level of fear. The traffic jam that makes you feel impatient. The person whose lifestyle you envy. The homeless person you judge. The weather conditions that "ruin" your picnic. Or the obstacle that vexes you. All of that is fear. All of that breeds separation. All of that exhibits a distrust in the your god. 

So as you walk through your weekend, consider the choices you're making. And when negative emotions well up, trace them back to the fear within and consider what a loving choice would be instead. And if you're reading this on Facebook, consider clicking through to my blog where you'll find more thought-provoking quotes on the topic of love vs. fear. :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

8/6/14—Eating Boogers and Farting

A couple of weeks ago I posted that one of my best kept secrets was that I liked to do ceremonies. To that, someone quipped that I have fewer and fewer secrets all the time. It seems as if my evil plot may be working. :D

When I'm not being jibed for over-sharing or sharing the obvious, I hear people say I'm brave to post about my fears, anxieties and inadequacies (as well as more positive stuff) online for everyone to see. You wouldn't know that just a few years ago, the thought of doing that was too scary for me. In fact, for most of my life I felt I had to contain my more negative or weaker aspects, lest people would think differently of me or change the way they saw me. I had a lot of fear around that. I guess I wanted to look like I had things all together. But I also feared that if I ever tried to do anything notable, someone would stand up and expose me in some way...mar some image of myself I had tried to create.

Unlike most issues that people would rather keep hidden, when you're overweight most of your life, one of your biggest issues is right there for everyone to see and judge. So appearing otherwise charming and pulled together was also kind of like damage control for me. It protected me from further hurt. Or so I thought.

But the fact is you can't control what others think of you. Whether you're a mass murderer or Mother Theresa, you will always have people who dislike you for one reason or another. Those people will always whisper behind your back. Some will tell hurtful lies about you. Some will tell painful truths. And most will be doing it in their own effort to make it look like they're more pulled together than you.

Putting it all (well, not ALL) out there has actually proved to be very freeing. I don't have to worry about people saying, "well, did you know she sometimes wears her pajamas all day and into the next?" Or "she acts all happy, but I'll bet she has problems with depression." I don't have to worry about anything like that and, in retrospect, I wish I'd never worried in the first place. It has held me back in some ways. But now if someone were to accuse me of, say, losing my temper with telemarketers, I can just point them to a blog where I've already admitted it to the world. :D It's not news. Coming out as flawed and neurotic is very freeing. :)

But there's another reason why I open up about fears around mammograms, inner conflicts around moving on from friendships, anxieties around writing, sad moments from my past, internal fears and all the other stuff I've written about in over 1000 posts. I write about it because it's not stuff we talk about. It's stuff we keep inside because we're ashamed, have nobody to tell, or think we're the only one or whatever.

Remember when you were a kid and the most horrific thing you could be accused of was farting or eating your boogers? I was never able to understand why that was, because doesn't everyone fart? And doesn't every kid sup on a booger or two? So why all the shame around it? Why all the mockery and meanness around it? Even in kindergarten, I understood the unfairness and hypocrisy of it all. We were all booger-eating farters! And yet some kids got branded with the scarlet B or F, while the accusers (who often went home to a large plate of boogers, followed by a bonfire fueled by nothing but farts, btw) came out looking like they had no adverse bodily functions at all!

So this idea of shame and separation and limitation at the hands of things we all have in common has bothered me for a really long time. We all have dark moments and times when we weren't at our best. We all have self doubts and crap we kick ourselves over. We all have bad habits and blind spots. We all have guilty pleasures. And yes, we all fart. And I'll be the first to admit that some of the things I've talked about on this blog have held me back. In fact, this very thing—the secrets we keep, not because we cherish them, but because we have shame or embarrassment around them—has held me back...kept me in the shadows and contributed to fears around being all I can be.

So I say stuff here and, instead of being judged, people thank me because they no longer feel so alone. They no longer feel like a booger-eating farter. And the thing is, I still have private things. And  you'd think I feel more vulnerable because of all this sharing, but I actually feel less vulnerable. By the time something makes it to the blog, I've come to terms with it. The blogging actually helps me work through it. Pushing "publish" is like getting another stamp on my passport to freedom on the matter. 

Opening up your baggage and placing it on display like this isn't for everyone. But we're all carrying stuff around that imprisons us. Maybe we drink too much. Or our marriage isn't as idyllic as it's portrayed. Maybe we've got a kid who's struggling in some way. Have a lot of debt. Are afraid of the changes ahead of us. Or maybe we're a fully grown adult who doesn't even have the first idea of who we are. There's nothing in any of that that can't be understood and felt by people around us.

Maybe they don't drink, but they work too much and see valuable opportunities to bond with their family slipping away in the same way you do. Maybe they feel the same lack of control over their issue. Maybe they understand what it's like to hide away in a toxic behavior because life can be just too damn hard sometimes. I think most people can connect with any of those things in one way or another. But we don't know if we never talk about it. Someone's got to talk about it so people can see that you can talk about it honestly and not be labeled a booger eater.

So today I just want to say that, whatever it is, you're ok. Your issue is understood and shared in some way by more people than you know. And that it's ok to find someone you can trust to confide in so you don't have to carry the secret on your shoulders any longer. It's ok to take that weight off your shoulders and move on.

I suppose there's some value to being more of a woman of mystery. But I'd rather be a woman of truth. Illusion takes a lot of work to maintain and you don't even realize how much until you start letting it drop away. Let's face it, we can't run from ourselves. We know who we are. To hide it from everyone else just keeps people from understanding you, seeing you as you are and loving you regardless. It just makes us feel alone. We're so much more alike than we know. And the fewer and fewer secrets we keep, the thinner the wall is between ourself and the rest of humanity. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

8/4/14—Changing Your Mind

One thing finally changed the way I feel about de-mucking my office. I got the idea from Facebook. 

If you're not aware of the Humans of New York page on Facebook, you might want to check it out. It has over 8 million likes. Every day the guy goes out on the streets of NYC, photographs random people and gets a little piece of their story to post online. This blog is so popular that New Yorkers WANT to bump into this guy and get their picture taken and talk to him. The posts are sometimes sweet, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking and pretty much always wise. 

So a week or two ago there was a guy on there who said "change your mind about something that's important every day." This seemed like a cool bit of advice, even though I think I'd prefer to pull the idea of importance out of it. I'm also not sure I could realistically change my mind about something every day, especially if it had to be something different every day. But the advice is brilliant if you change your mind about something once a week or so...haha. (I feel like one of those people I HATE on the recipe sites that say "I really loved this stir fry recipe, but I substituted the tofu for bacon, all the vegetables for lettuce, added tomato and put it on bread. No need for rice!" They never even tried the recipe. They just made a BLT.)

The good thing about his advice, as given, is that it puts the pressure on to make you think of something "important" you could change. Should I change my stance on the death penalty, perhaps? Perhaps not. But I could examine it and make sure it still feels right with who I am. I could walk around for a day calling for murderers to be electrocuted, just to see how that feels. I can ask myself if, even though I don't think the death penalty is good, is there some other way to single out the most heinous criminals? Or, looking at it from another angle, how do I feel about the whole eye-for-an-eye thing? Does my opinion change depending on what happened to whom?

And it doesn't have to be your opinion about something, necessarily. When it comes to de-mucking my office—a room nearly worthy of an episode of Hoarders—it's less about an opinion than it is about how I see the task. I've gone years seeing it as a horrific chore that looms large over my head and drags me down. That hasn't really helped me make any progress in there. Seeing it that way makes it too large and unpleasant. 

But recently it has occurred to me that if I'm ever going to realize my dream of moving and becoming an author and all of that, I'm going to need to clear out that room. You can't show a house with a Hoarders room. And you can't just move and leave all that crap in there. So I started seeing it differently. So now, each weekend, I spend an hour or so in there "moving toward my dream" instead of "mucking out my Hoarders room". I've been pretty consistent with my efforts ever since.

You could translate this advice to a lot of things. You could change the self-talk that happens in your head when you make a mistake, for example. The way you see yourself in the mirror. The things you're willing to put up with in your personal life. You could change the way you think and see everything everything in life...or at least think it through again. After all, if we're constantly changing and growing, then chances are some of the ideas we have about things and some of the hair-trigger responses we've developed over the years should change too. 

Even more than that, though, is that it's a good exercise for keeping your mind open. One of things I like to say is "only a fool thinks they've got it all figured out." Truth is, the more you know about things, the more you realize how much there still is to learn. I think after 27 years in both advertising and as a tarot reader, it's fair to label me an expert in both areas. And knowing what I know, I know I'm not even close to knowing it all. One lifetime is not long enough to know it all. So to me, a closed mind is one of the most unappealing qualities a person can have. It says their ego is so tied to being "right" that they've become blind to what's going on around them. It also says they're missing a whole lot along the way. When opportunity comes up against a closed mind, it dies. 

Of course, we all have that in some places. Like right now my mind is closed to wearing one of those wing suits and jumping off a mountain. But for the most part, an open mind is the sign of an intelligent, vibrant and alive mind to me. And spiritually speaking, an open mind is key. I mean, nobody has THAT figured out for sure and anyone who thinks they do is a fool. 

So what can you re-think today or this week? What one thing can you change your mind on, even if you change it right back? Just the act of changing your mind about something puts you in different shoes and shows you the world from a different angle. We feel safe and comfy in the cave of opinions and stances we build for ourselves, but safe and comfy don't lead us to growth. What are you willing to re-think today?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

8/1/14—Contemplating the Veil

Something happened this week that changed me. 

Maybe it's something in the air. Summer in Washington, DC is known for its oppressive heat and humidity, but this summer isn't so hot or humid. Sure, we've had our days. But this week has been in the low 80s, breezy and not so humid. In fact, the other night I went to sit outside with my dogs and I had to grab a wrap to keep me warm. I don't get cold easily, so that was definitely something different. For July. 

The change is that I felt like a thin veil had been lifted off me and my mood was somehow lighter for it. The funny (sad?) thing is that I didn't even realize the veil was there, weighing me down, until it came off. I don't think it was depression as much as maybe stress. Summer tends to sort of pull down my energy, as if the heat sits upon my shoulders with everything else, making life more of a drudge. 

But like I said, the veil lifted. And I think it's the weather. I usually feel much lighter and more optimistic in autumn. It's like each falling leaf and each lowered degree of temperature comes right off the top of my head and shoulders where it's been perched all summer long. 

I never seem to feel the veil arriving, but I do feel it leaving. And so do my dogs. I'm not so grumpy in the fall. I have more patience for their obsessive behaviors and make more time for their gestures of love. This builds on itself and makes me feel even lighter. 

It could also be that this July has been particularly stressful, but the stressful parts are now in the past. It could be that and the weather combined. Regardless, I hope it stays like this for a while. For all I know, there's another veil on top of me that could also break free at any moment. It might just sweep me off my feet.

I didn't remember until I wrote that last sentence, but in my music healing visualization this month, I was both the person and a veil. The images that came to me were of a woman in a diaphanous gown holding a long, silken veil that undulated and danced in the breeze. At times, the woman and the veil moved as one, at times the veil had a life of its own separate from the woman, and at other times, the woman lay dark and prone as the veil tried unsuccessfully to fly free of her. Throughout it all, it occurred to me that the veil was what moved with life's changes and only the woman resisted. 

If I can see any message connected to both my healing session and what I experienced this week it's to fly free, regardless of what stressors may weigh you down. I'll be the first to admit that I indulge my grayer emotions too much. Working on that has been a lifelong project. And sometimes you have to feel the fear or work through the disappointment. But if the veil in my visualization is my spirit self, it's telling me I can be a drag...haha. Just like the veil that lifted this week was a drag on me.

I have two different veil metaphors working here, so sorry if it's confusing. Another possibility is that both veils are the same and my human self and spirit self dance about together and each of us brings light and clouds to the landscape of life. I'm not really sure what it means. But life feels good and on the upswing this week, so I'll take that. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

7/30/14—Thinking About The Future

So I overheard a conversation over the fence a few weeks ago. My neighbor was talking about me.

One of my next door neighbors is a stay at home mom. She has three kids and often hosts throngs of children in her backyard. Well, maybe not throngs. Maybe just a few on top of her few. Whatever. There are often extra kids over there.

I'm outside a lot, often on my deck box, meditating. You wouldn't necessarily know I was out there. So my neighbor is talking to a kid who is poking his hand through the fence to interact with Mystic and the conversation goes like this:

Neighbor: Quit playing with the fence.
Boy: But I'm talking to one of her babies.
Neighbor: Those aren't babies, they're dogs.
Boy: But my mom says they're her babies.
Neighbor: To HER they're her babies. But they're still just dogs.

My neighbor is, of course, right. In a way. That's not really why I'm telling the story. I don't really have an issue with what she said. I'm telling the story for two reasons. great is it that the kid's mom has an open mind like that and is teaching that to her son? These might be the kids that belong to the dogs that sometimes visit my neighbor's yard. So they get it.

But the second reason  is, just because they're not actual human children, doesn't mean my choice to have them and not humans is any less worthy of an endeavor. (Not that my neighbor was saying that, but more that it made me start thinking of that.) Moreover, remaining childless is no less important to the future of humanity than having children is. There's been a snobbery in the world for tens of thousands of years that favors those who "multiply". People truly believe it's the only reason humans propagate. But there's a growing problem with this mindset. Today's big topic of discussion is climate change and how that will affect future generations. Our grandchildren's big topic of discussion will be population control. 

Just for fun, here's how quickly people are propagating at this time. ( Check the difference between births and deaths. If that rate continues, some projections say the population will grow from 7 billion to 10.5 billion by 2050. What sounds like "just 3.5 billion" can also be stated as "half again as populous as it is now." That's 3 billion more people needing food, energy, infrastructure, medication, land. (Some may understand it better as half again as many cars on the road and people in line at the Safeway.) The more of earth's resources we use, the less resources there are for other species to use (species we call "food", for example), the more carbon dioxide that goes into the air and the faster we hasten along climate change.

Someone living in the midwest of the US might say "hey, there's plenty of room for everyone." But that's only because they live in a happy place with lots of land. For now. There's not plenty of room for everyone, especially if the temps around the equator get hotter, making that area unlivable and unproductive, and the polar ice cap melts, wiping away vast areas of land as water rises. Everything is connected. For example, the better medical care gets, the longer people live, the more populous the world becomes, the more overcrowded things get and the greater the risk for disease. For every action, there is a consequence. Or "no good deed goes unpunished," as people say. The more people there are on this earth, the more tension there will be between them as they fight for increasingly limited resources. The outlook is not pretty. 

Before anyone loses their top, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with having children. Clearly the future of our species depends on continuing to have children. What I'm saying, however, is that now, more than ever, the future of our species also depends on more and more people NOT having children. We're partners in this thing—not adversaries, not "greater than" and "less than"—equal partners. 

Very few people have children for the noble reason of supplying a future generation for humanity and very few people abstain from having children for the noble reason of containing the world's population. We all do what we do because it suits us....for what might be called "selfish" reasons. None of us are doing what we're doing as a favor to anyone other than ourselves. So why the superior attitude when it comes to parenthood? Why do we consider that the most noble thing a person can do with their life?

For tens of thousands of years, a human's ability to create and bear children has been an integral part of their worth and identity on this earth. A "barren" woman has, at various times, been cast aside in society. Or killed. Or pitied. Or a point of concern. This stigma has held over time to the point that childless people are paid less, worked more and given less consideration. They're also often judged as "less than" by many people who have children. They are, in every way from tax benefits to societal attitudes, second-class citizens. You may not even realize this is happening and/or that you're doing it unless you're the person without the children. It's that ingrained in our society. It's that accepted...that taken for granted.

So my neighbor is right. My "children" are not human and it's not the same thing as raising human children. But not necessarily for the reasons she might think. And her choice is no more noble or worthy than mine. Nor does it contribute to society any more than mine does. They are simply different choices, each with different, but equally important impacts on the future. So it's time for the snobbery and judgment to end. 

It's also time for people to realize that people who choose dogs over human children don't necessarily do so because they can't have babies or aren't married or are settling in any way. Some of us—myself included—do it because, like people who have children, it was what we dreamed of as a child and young adult. I played with stuffed animals far more than dolls as a kid. Back when I lived in an apartment and couldn't have pets, I went to dog parks a few times a week just to be around dogs. When I bought this house, I bought one with a large yard and pre-adopted a dog so it would be ready to move in the day after I moved all my crap in. Five years later I bought a new car that I didn't need other than the fact that it was bigger so I could transport another dog. There are vacations I will never go on and things I will never do...happily, because my first thought in life is always my dogs. I never wanted human children for even a split second, but my entire life I have ached to have dogs. 

My dogs ARE my children. Most people who have ever owned dogs understand that sentence and don't feel a need to say "my dogs are LIKE my children" or "my dogs are like children TO ME." I know many people who have both human children and fur children who also get that statement. For the people who have dogs and don't get that statement, I feel bad because seeing them as "just dogs" or as a security system or whatever is overlooking a lot of love and learning, imo. And just as my neighbor might think I have no idea what I'm missing, I can think the same thing of her. They're different levels of obligation and carry different levels of consequence and reward. Neither is "better" than the other when all is said and done. Neither is trivial or less than. Both are expressions of love that can sometimes overwhelm and always improve the kind of human being we, ourselves, become. If there's any more noble pursuit than that, then I don't know what it is. 

That said, I really don't have an issue with anything my neighbor said. I get it. I get her perspective. She is a very good mother to her children. But her comment led me to think of the attitude in society that dog parents or single people are contributing less than anyone else...that our quest is somehow trivial when held up against human parenthood. I agree that it's harder to raise a human child. But that's all part of the cost/benefit decision people make. To then hold that up as some badge of honor after you've decided to pay the cost to receive the kind of benefit you receive is a little martyred, imo. 

It's easy to focus on the positive impacts we have on society, but harder to see the negative impacts. In our lifetime, population won't be an issue. We'll die before the big issues caused by largely by population, industrial growth and the over-use of resources really hit. But, barring a disaster that wipes out huge portions of the earth, there will come a time in the not-too-distant future when it will be THE issue. And nobody will be looking to the Duggars as an example of how to proceed. Maybe then, people will finally get it. Everyone, no matter what the topic is, is here for a reason that moves the earth forward and none of us can lay claim to the higher ground. 

PS. Cats are babies too. I don't know anything about cats and the cat/parent relationship, so I didn't mention them. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

7/28/14—Moving Toward a Harmonious Whole

I can't remember the context, but I remember at some point in my girlhood someone told me that in friends groups of three, one person always felt left the third one time or another. And that would eventually cause conflict or hurt feelings. 

I have to say that, in my life experience, I've observed that to be true. I'm not sure whether it's just natural insecurity or what. The threesome can come together and have fun, but at some point someone tends to feel like the one liked least by one or the other party. Which isn't to say it can't work, but just that the dynamics change back and forth a lot, disrupting the whole. 

As you probably know, I have three dogs. It's hard to love equally with three dogs. For one thing, you only have two arms and, invariably, someone will get left out. When Mystic joined us, I gave her extra lovin' to the chagrin of the others, because I wanted her to feel welcome. But I could tell she felt left out, regardless. And how could she not? Kizzie and Magick and I had had five years together as a family. We had a groovy thing going and she, for no reason other than being new, disturbed that balance.

I've also always been concerned about Mystic fitting in because she's a bit of a square peg in our round hole. The other two dogs are very low key and can be a total spazz. So in the dog portion of the family, she often ends up being the third wheel. For example, if all three of them decide to wrestle together, Kizzie and Magick invariably end up double-teaming Mystic. Which she LOVES, actually. But she gets singled out in all sorts of other ways, too, that make me sensitive to her position in the family. 

Anyway, over the last six months or so, I've noticed some very interesting changes in the dog portion of the family. Each of them has found a way to spend one-on-one time with each build their individual relationships. Kizzie and Magick go outside every evening without me and Mystic and hang out together. Kizzie and Mystic often sleep together downstairs at night. (Because Kizzie is older, he can't come upstairs anymore.) This really warms my heart because Kizzie did NOT want a third dog and was annoyed about the situation for some time. He's very Zen and her energy is just too much. Finally, Magick and Mystic engage in fisticuffs with each other every night and usually also hang out outside together each morning after Kizzie comes inside. 

I didn't really notice this until recently, but I love how they all see their individual relationships as something important and worth nurturing for the sake of the whole. I've always made a point of forging individual, one-on-one relationships with each of the babies, too. These strong individual relationships seem to make the family stronger. Everyone manages to have their alone time. And everyone manages to have their buddy time. But most of the time we're all peacefully together in the same room. It just all feels very healthy and balanced to me. I worried about this for a long time because Mystic goes from 0-60 in a split second and doesn't seem to care who she tramples along the way. But it has worked itself out. 

We've all probably been Mystic at one time in our lives. For that matter we've all probably been Kizzie, Magick and me at some point. I remember having friend groups where there was someone I didn't like. So I would just avoid getting together when that person was around or whatever. But I never lived the role of the person wanting everyone to get together and work things out until I got my dogs. 

I've always been very compartmentalized with friends, rarely letting "worlds collide". It has been interesting to watch how these creatures that we deem inferior to us handle stuff like this. I grew up in a family of humans twice as large and, while some of us had individual relationships with another, for the most part we never even got to know each other on that level back then. The same can be said about neighbors, coworkers or another close group of people. We tend to separate, sort and filter when it's human to human. 

While we focus on ego concerns like who is liked the best or who said what to who, dogs just slowly shift and move themselves towards a harmonious whole. There is so much wisdom in a dog. So much of everything they do is love-motivated. What I've learned from dogs over the course of my lifetime is easily on par with what I've learned from my parents and other teachers. When I was growing up, there was a sense in society that they were "just a dog". But that's changing. The more time I spend with my dog family, the more I realize who the inferior beings really are.