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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.


Like dogs and like children.

One of the best things that happened to me in Taos was meeting Joseph.

Joseph was oh, probably eight years old. And a wild towheaded cutie. We sat near each other in a restaurant one early evening and became … co-conspirators of sorts.

He had superpowers and I am interested in superpowers. Oh, how I am interested in superpowers.

And he had them.

Get this. When he transmogrifies into Green Chile Man, he can shoot chile juice right out of the palms of his hands. And he can climb buildings. And be invisible. Ohmygod.

It was grand.

I’d love to tell you more. In fact, I really just want to write ten thousand blog posts that are just transcripts of our long and convoluted conversation, but he kind of swore me to secrecy.

Actually, he said it was cool if I shared our conversation with you guys, but then he added that it was opposite day.

And it might really have been opposite day, so I will respect his wishes and only tell you the teeniest bits and pieces.

But he did say quite definitely that I could tell you about Green Chile Man and his awe-inspiring chile and non-chile related powers.


You cannot imagine how enthralled I was. How refreshing his way of being in himself and being in the world was.

Especially as I was teaching at a writers retreat, spending a week with thirty women who were agonizing over their process and how to find their voice.

Process process process. Voice voice voice.

And I was teaching them how to access their superpowers and conjure their force fields and fill their space with their them-ness and their suchness.

Teaching the lost art of superpower-finding to people who aren’t sure if they have any (or if they even want them).

And then meeting this delightful boy who was completely matter of fact about his and about how awesome they were. Who already instinctively knew the stuff I was there to teach.

We talked force fields. We talked spells and wands. We talked about ways to invoke protection and how to take care of our powers and ourselves. It was great.

Like children.

Sitting with Joseph (or rather, sitting with my drink while Joseph climbed the wall next to me, talked my ear off and occasionally ran off to the bushes to deter his invisible archnemesis), I felt so alive.

And so bored with my blah blah process and this blah blah work.

Kids don’t need help with “process”.

They don’t need help finding their voice. They just have it. It’s their voice.

That’s what’s needed. The thing we need to remember and re-find.

The place where play and freedom and curiosity and wonder aren’t things you need to learn, uncover or access.

To know:

These are just the qualities of being alive. These are the secret allies who hold our billowing superhero cloaks out behind us and stomp with us through puddles.

The next afternoon the focus of the yoga class I taught was to see if we could do yoga like that.

Like children. And like dogs.

Dogs, like children, don’t need anyone to tell them to come out of an uncomfortable pose.

Dogs don’t need anyone to tell them when to exhale.

They’ll never wait, puffing up until some external authority in tight pants gives them permission to let go.

Dogs don’t move a certain way or another way because they care about alignment, or how something looks.

They move because it feels vital and alive and good. To go from comfortable to more comfortable. From engaged to more engaged. From resting to more resting.

To get inside of the spine and be that movement.

Paul, of non-sucky yoga fame, once said: “I worship at the altar of my spine.”

I hate to put words in dogs’ mouths, but I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re doing.

Curiosity without dogma. Receptivity without needing to receive one right way.

This is what I want to say about my time in Taos:

Like dogs and like children.

That’s how we wrote.

That’s how we danced.

That’s how we stretched.

That’s how we rested.

That’s how we played.

Three postscriptings

1. This post brought to you by Joseph, his alter-ego Green Chile Man, his sweet, sweet dad, and all the wonderful dog-friends I met in Taos, but especially Remy and Monday. I adore you all.

2. If you do get bogged down in the process process process, maybe you can come Rally it up with us. We will process the process in ways that are safe and fun and delightful, like dogs and like children.

3. If you are moved to do something doglike or childlike in the comments, that is welcome too.

27 Responses to Like dogs and like children.

  1. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    Oh, this is marvelous! I think I’ll try being a puppy tomorrow, and see how it goes.
    .-= Kathleen Avins´s last post … In which Kat is loved =-.

  2. Megan Lubaszka
    Twitter: toacircus

    Transmogrify! Fabulous. I want that (temporarily) tattooed on me. Until it comes naturally and easily.
    .-= Megan Lubaszka´s last post … How to Make a Healthy Lunch Your Kid Will WANT to Eat =-.

  3. Leila Lloyd-Evelyn
    Twitter: LeilaLEvelyn

    I don’t know dog talk. Please can you teach that too?
    But what I can say is YUM YUM YUM. Deeeelicious post.
    Joy, peace – it needn’t be an intellectual affair I say. It’s in the moment baby. In the simplest of moments and kids, dogs, nature – so profound, direct and simple reminding us of just that. Let’s follow our sniffly wet noses and see what we can find. Weeeeeeee.
    .-= Leila Lloyd-Evelyn´s last post … Noticing the moment &amp pockets of inspiration =-.

  4. Amy Martin
    Twitter: playwithamy


    From the sentiments you express in this post, I believe you would be enthralled as I am with the street dogs of S.E. Asia!

    It was one of the first marvels that caught my eye, that first day in Bangkok, when I noticed a dog reclining in the middle of a busy road, and all the traffic obliging him! And now that I am in Indonesia, the dogs continue to amaze me.

    They are VERY different from dogs in the States.

    Here they are respected individuals who fend for themselves, party all night, and nearly always look wildly happy.

    Oh to be a dog in paradise! (let’s ignore for a minute they are often infected with rabies :)

    Relating back to your story of Joseph, I am reminded of childrens’ incredible ease in moving through emotions. How they can have an anger burst, then quickly move to joy about a p&b sandwich, then be annoyed and then joyful again all within five minutes!

    They let go easier than most adults, who get stuck in an emotion or pattern…for days…or years.

    So here’s cheers to children, their wisdom, wild dogs and…watching cartoons! (a sure recipe for invigorating magic powers)

    .-= Amy Martin´s last post … The Real Bali- Cheat- Cheat- Love =-.

  5. Nicola says:

    “I worship at the altar of my spine” Oh man, Mr Grilley is a genius. That one’s going in the mantra book. xx
    .-= Nicola´s last post … Monday Mantra- Fail Again Fail Better =-.

  6. ShimmerGeek says:

    Thinking about dogs without dogma really makes me giggle.
    .-= ShimmerGeek´s last post … A Recipe for Balance =-.

  7. Andi
    Twitter: annaline_39

    Ah “transmogrify” always takes me to Calvin and Hobbes. The wonderful snowman tableaus, the dinosaur adventures. And my favorite comic, where he declares, “why should I clean my room, it’s only going to get dirty again” and ends with him walking out starkers to the horror of his mom.

    I joke about the Quentin Tarantino movie in my head. I think today it will be the Calvin and Hobbes movie in my head :)
    .-= Andi´s last post … The Sketchbook Project- Week Two =-.

  8. mariko
    Twitter: marikooosceola

    Thank you for the first laugh of the day:

    “Dogs don’t need anyone to tell them when to exhale.
    They’ll never wait, puffing up until some external authority in tight pants gives them permission to let go.”

    tight pants = high wedgie potential

    Such an interesting thing that desire to ditch our own power and fling it into the hands of someone else who may or may not be wearing pants….

  9. Chris Anthony
    Twitter: noellejoyeux

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Thank you.

    (My ten-year-old comes home today from a summer in California! I can’t wait. :)
    .-= Chris Anthony´s last post … No one is alone =-.

  10. kerri twigg
    Twitter: kerritwigg

    I took an acting theory course and we watched video footage of a scene with a cat in it — we were told — the only authentic being in that scene was the cat.

    It could have been a dog we were talking about.

  11. Hiro Boga
    Twitter: HiroBoga

    Woof! Wiggle-waggle. Woof! :-)
    .-= Hiro Boga´s last post … Remembering Hiroshima =-.

  12. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    Whee! I will stretch and run around with you. I may also make noises.

    @kerri – awesome. OF course the only authentic being is a cat. That’s hilarious and wonderful.

    @mariko – oh yes. And thank you for making the connection I was going to make and didn’t: that when we STOP being like dogs and like children, we invariably start handing over our sovereignty to other people.

    In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s handing over our sovereignty in various forms that takes us away from all of those instinctive fun playful ways of being.

    @Andi – calvin and hobbes! That IS the best one.

    @Leila – sniffly wet noses indeed. Yay.

  13. andrea
    Twitter: gocreativedream

    i love joseph.

    and last night i was in the mood for some ridiculousness and ended up at the dance up 3d movie… holy MOLY! those kids can super dance. just to watch people MOVE like that was so awesome. i am so inspired to just dance and dance and dance today. but it’s very very hot here so i am lying down and being cool instead. but the dancing is coming…
    .-= andrea´s last post … fire starter sessions =-.

  14. Elizabeth
    Twitter: elizabethhalt

    @Andrea, I watched Step Up 3 last week. I was inspired to dance too. :)

    One of the things that I eventually want to write about is how very much I learned about be-ing from the pup, which is totally not something I expected when I got him. Truthfully, I probably would’ve thought that there wasn’t anything I could learn from a dog (for which I apologize to the dogs of the world).
    .-= Elizabeth´s last post … ode to joy- volume 31 =-.

  15. Dayna says:

    I think this is my very favorite post ever! It’s so very simple, really. I have super-powers.

  16. Anna Barnett
    Twitter: annabarnett
  17. Josiane
    Twitter: kimianak

    @Anna: Mute again? ;)

  18. Heidi Fischbach (@curiousHeidiHi)
    Twitter: curiousHeidiHi

    Humming “Your rocky spine” by “The Great Lake Swimmers,” thinking about superpowers… thank you, havi ;)
    .-= Heidi Fischbach (@curiousHeidiHi)´s last post … Wherein Hot ‘n’ Steamy Monday Momma pays me a visit And writes a guest post =-.

  19. i love him! I hope you got a picture!
    I thought I was just ADD. Sometimes I can be super mad about something, but then OH SHINY and then I can be giggling about something. and then can’t remember what I was mad about.
    But that’s better than hanging on to the mad, I suppose.
    Except some people LIKE you to hang onto the MAD. and get confused when you move on.


  20. Rupa
    Twitter: theyogaofliving

    It moved me that you spent the time to really listen to Joseph, Havi. I’m sure he got as much from you as you did from him.

    On dogs: One of the “24 gurus” listed in the Bhagavat Purana is the dog (not Purina –Purana.). Because of her loyalty, yes, but also because she sleeps when tired and wakes up like a bolt. BAM. None of this lolling around stuff.

    Alas, cats didn’t make the guru list, master lollers that they are (indeed, a fine art in itself), but…tra la la…children did! :)
    .-= Rupa´s last post … Love Sells =-.

  21. solidgoldcreativity
    Twitter: solidgold99

    Hi Havi,

    Great post. You make Joseph vivid. Like especially “… sitting with my drink while Joseph climbed the wall next to me, talked my ear off and occasionally ran off to the bushes to deter his invisible archnemesis.” Thanks.
    .-= solidgoldcreativity´s last post … The photograph not taken =-.

  22. Emily
    Twitter: emilyroots

    Yesterday I did yoga with the Little Bird (4). We have one yoga mat (and a hardwood floor, so we need the mat), so we took turns. I would do a pose, she would do a pose. Each of us came up with silly descriptions for what we were doing.

    But the awesomest part of the whole thing…was when she guided me with her incredibly imaginative chatter while we rested at the end. She had us riding a breeze through trees and becoming a giant sun…

    Her superpowers amaze me all the time. And your post reminds me of one of the things that worries me…Does she have to lose her superpowers as she grows up?

    I hope not.
    .-= Emily´s last post … Call It What You Will- I Just Can’t Help Myself =-.

  23. AnotherBeth says:

    Here’s hoping the ascii comes through!


    ^ ^^^^^^^
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    ^ ^ ^^^^^^^^ ^ ^ @ @ ^
    ^ ^ ^ ^^ >^< ^
    ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^
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    AKKK there's DOGS here!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  24. Ealasaid
    Twitter: ealasaid

    Oh, man! This post went all CLICK in with things I’ve been thinking lately about process and avoidance and and and.

    Sometimes I feel all trapped under layers of judgment and analysis and and and, and it seems like a lot of my attempts at process are just dealing with the layers by making MORE LAYERS. But all I really want is to help the layers get out of the way of the me that’s in the middle! The me that used to be like Joseph.

  25. Susan
    Twitter: susangiurleo

    My son is 6, I work with kids. My hope is they can express their superpowers their whole lives. I think it’s so sad that adults spend 18 years teaching kids to “fit in” and then they spend at least those many years unlearning what gets in the way of their re-discovering the 6 year old that’s always been in them.
    .-= Susan´s last post … Four Steps to Your Next Generation Health Care Practice =-.

  26. Clarisse says:

    I love this so much. *HUGS* <333

  27. […] a post from havi brooks on the wisdom of dogs and children […]

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