You know how puppies in a box sleep? In a big snuggly heap, all piled on top of each other and nuzzled in?
Shauna Niequist wrote my favorite ever thing about moving and change – she said it felt like someone had taken her out of her puppy box. That she felt cold and lonely and just wanted someone to put her back in her box, with all of her puppy friends, safe and warm.
(It doesn’t help that 3 days ago Madeline added an icicle to her collection of nature treasures on the porch and it’s STILL THERE, CHILLIN’. Pun intended.)
Maybe you need to be put back in your puppy box, too. Maybe you feel lost and drifty, or maybe you’ve moved, or maybe you are lonely, or carrying secrets, or you just need a safe space.
I’ve found that the fastest way to make myself feel at home is a routine, a beautiful space, and one safe friend.
1. Routine. When every single big thing in life is in flux, the more things that can stay the same, the better. They’re your constants; tiny anchors. It’s easy to see it in babies, because babies wear their great, big hearts on their tiny, little sleeves. When babies move it’s World War III; they can feel it in the air. This is why vacations with babies aren’t vacations. They are crisis-management operations on beaches. Babies need tiny anchors – their bedding from home, their favorite towel, their lunchtime plate. They need a nap at the same time every day. They need a meal with a plate and a napkin and a cup and a vegetable.
You do too. You need to make your bed every day. You need to eat lunch on a real plate with a real napkin and a real fork. You need an evening routine, your bedding from home. Routines keep you from having to think too hard. They let you spend your mental energy on something other than just getting through the day. Take care of your heart like you’d take care of a precious baby. Lots of constants, lots of tiny anchors.
2. A beautiful space. I wrote about this a few years ago, and the longer I live, and the more change I experience, the more deeply I know it to be true: when there is beauty in the details, when routines become experiences, when you touch something sacred once or twice every hour, you are happier. Walk through your day, replacing your pillow case with one you notice, your coffee mug with one that means something; replace your pen with one that writes perfectly and your ordinary handsoap with soap that makes you inhale deeply – suddenly your whole day is full of delight, no matter how much chaos abounds. Tiny anchors.
3. A safe friend. It’s dumb and self-defeating to tell everyone who asks exactly how hard life is. Complaining is ugly. But if you don’t have one safe friend, one person that knows, you’ll start thinking crazy things like, “I’m alone.” ”Nobody really knows me.” ”I’m the only one dealing with this.” ”Every one else has normal lives.”
You need to hear about somebody else’s bumps and bruises to remember that we’re all people; there is no “Get out of humanity free” card; no one’s exempt. And you need someone to see you, because…well, because you need to be seen.
These things don’t make a puppy box by themselves, I’m sorry to say. But if you start nestling into a great routine, in a beautiful place, with a safe friend at your side, you’re well on your way to warmth – even if life is very, very different from what you imagined it would be.