dog magnus

The newest love of my life is named Magnus. Magnus is a dog – a puppy, to be precise.

This morning, far away from the cuddles and licks I’m greeted with every morning in my own bed, I am missing Magnus and our morning ritual. 1. Magnus, patiently waiting for me to rouse from sleep, then joyously, eagerly bouncing around the bed like a fox bouncing through deep fluffy snow 2. Followed by copious licks, cuddles and kisses 3. Then, Let’s eat breakfast, Mom! He ignores the puppy chow and awaits fresh, buttery scrambled eggs -divided by two. So I scroll through Facebook. Even the video of the cat caught in a mechanical spring, freed by a strong fireman who turned out to be more tender than tough didn’t do it. My next plan of attack was to cajole John back into bed. For a few minutes that worked. Magnus is still not here.

I’m in paradise, Hawaii, feeling sad. But my heart is so. full. Since becoming my constant companion and supplier of playfulness and cuteness, my emotional well-being has improved immeasurably. He is, by all accounts, my emotional support dog. When I’m anxious, he soothes me. When I’m lonely, he’s there. When I need a receptacle for my overwhelming love, Magnus.

I cannot imagine this transit of Uranus, and now Pluto, to my sixth house (incidentally the house of pets) Moon without him. Magnus has taught me the power of unconditional love (which is the territory of the Moon) in only ways that animals can. He pees on my carpet: I’m mad for a second… then let it go. It’s storming outside, I’m tired, I don’t feel like moving and I have to take him out for a pee paus (paus, we learned in Sweden, means break) and I don’t begrudge him one iota. For our pets, we have no expectations and oodles of forgiveness. If only we humans could love each other so unconditionally.

I’ve been interviewed a lot lately, and asked why I write about love. Attempting to verbalize why I write about love is a little like asking a bird why it flies. Why does something so natural even require explanation? I love. I need love. Love is what we are. Love is behind everything we are. Like the stars and planets surrounding us. In the way the Moon cradles the Earth, her gentle orbit holding the ocean tides accountable. Love is the gravity that holds us here, through its loss, confusion and redemption. Love periodically transforms and heals us.

It’s Valentine’s Day. The subject is love, but really, it’s about connection. You don’t have to be in a relationship to appreciate that it’s important. Why? Love makes you a bigger person. In A Love Alchemist’s Notebook, I wrote: “To become a spiritually larger, self-actualized, more magnificent individual who is capable of living her dreams, you’ve simply got to be loved. We know this is true because we can feel this truth residing deep within our hearts. An inner knowing lets us know when we’re feeling unloved: when we’re with the wrong partner, we begin moving away from our self-knowledge, our wisdom, our dreams, and our authentic power.” As a person who has received benefits and pain from loving others, I still stand by this statement. I’m not alone. In her book of short stories, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Anne Patchett writes about the one piece of advice that took years for her to understand. Unsure whether to leave a relationship, a woman asked her: Does he make you a better person?  Seeing her bewilderment, she continued: You know, does he make you a better writer, a better friend? To Anne, in one of those “it’s complicated” marriages, this question seemed utterly beside the point. Eventually, after finding someone who did just that, she realized, it was the entire point.

I do not believe it’s necessary to have a relationship with a romantic partner to be happy. However, my heart says if you want to be the kind of soul happy that hums to the beat of the celestial Wow, you probably need to have a tender, loving, devoted relationship to someone or something other than yourself. Why? You will be immeasurably enriched by this contact. It/they will make you a bigger and better person. Life partners are awesome conduits of this amazing all-encompassing field of connection, but so are best friends, sisters, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sons, grandpas, gurus, gardens, horses… Whether it’s making the best apple butter, growing the most magnificent roses or nurturing greatness in others, there’s nothing holier than the experience of stepping outside your self and communing in that energy field we call love.  Plus, unlike careers or money, it’s one of the few things you can take with you.

This Valentine’s Day, give the devotion of your heart to something or someone who moves you in a way that nothing else does. Strip Valentine’s Day of its shadowy, hokey marketing agenda, and pare it down into something far more essential and holy for you. We all know how to do this. To paraphrase Mary Oliver, just allow the wild animal of your heart love what it loves. For guidance, look to the Moon in your birth chart to more deeply contemplate the source of what will bring you enduring happiness in life. Look to Venus to become more aware of the values preferences and desires that motivate feelings of connection, joy and love -just for you. Connect with your garden, your art, your music. If you’re wondering whether you are with the right person, ask: Do they make me a bigger, better person?

This is love, to me, in no particular order. Magnus. John. My family. My tribe. Nature. Astrology. Writing- to you. Love comes so naturally that it arrives like rain and my heart leaps rejoicing in the recognition that what most matters is ever-present. This.