I was not a dog person for most of my life but I am now! We adopted a puppy, as many of you probably have seen on the socials. Mango, our beloved puppy, has been a sweet new member of our family that has added a lot of love and care in the home. It has been transformative in so many unexpected ways. It is the beginning of a new love story.

The last few years have been difficult for all of us but especially intense for Collin. As life and the world gets more and more complex, we as a family unit and community need to be more holistic about our love and care for him. I wrote about thinking in decades and the long arc of change but the HOW is the hard part. 

Also, being the only child can be a lot. Sometimes we get hyper focused on him. Sometimes it is 3 on 1! From constant dysregulation to getting stuck in a doom loop – it can all be A LOT.

It’s a lot on him too. Collin told me the other day that I give him “too much attention” (sometimes…) Now that’s a sign!!

Growing that family love and care

As my wise generative somatic coach would say, it is not just about doing more or less but HOW you do it.

One time out of the blue, Collin got really sad and said, “I don’t have anything to care for. I don’t have a purpose.” Now with Mango, even after a hard, stressful and confusing day, he looks forward to his “Mango time.”

Little and not so little things like keeping to the puppy routine, dog proofing the house from random lego pieces, constant belly rubs and making sure Mango gets the attention she needs, gives Collin and our household a larger collective purpose. 

It is less about dogs being “therapeutic” and more about giving him agency to contribute, to love and care for Mango that has been really transformative. AND the love and care is more shared across the family instead of just focusing on him.

And YES, that puppy life is no joke. I’m exhausted most days. It is almost like a newborn and we have 2 more years of it! Many warned us that it is A LOT of work and it’s true. Many also told us that it is great for awesome and autistic kiddos and that is true too. But I didn’t expect it to change our dynamic and recenter us in such resilient ways. 

Knowing my baseline while on the frontlines

The home front is not in isolation to rising fascism, multiple crises and the 2024 election. It is all connected. I always come back to a quote from a good friend and comrade, Kawal Ulanday, “Be mindful of your baseline while you are on the frontline.” To me, this means that we need to be self aware; constant aware of our limits and our capacity to give and grind (when necessary). 

“Be mindful of your baseline while you are on the frontline.”

Kawal Ulanday

I’m trying to be as purposeful as I can be and make the best contribution on the home front and on the frontlines. 

But how do we really “know” our baseline? It’s a dialectic and can change overtime. It’s a back and forth between self and collective assessments; it is a practice of being compassionate to ourselves and each other. It is a practice of learning how to love ourselves and each other – again and again toward our collective liberation. As I write this, Mychi and I are celebrating our anniversary and our love story. Our love is as much for each other as it is for ourselves.

Our love story continues with a new love story. Bringing Mango into our lives has transformed our family dynamic. It is another important reminder that it is NOT all about what I as an individual need to do per se but about how we can collectively and intentionally create a new conditions and shift towards greater resilience – day by day and decade by decade.

Here’s to the beginning of a new love story with Mango!

Image of the family (including Mango!) On the first day of 3rd grade!