Cover image for Out a leash [exploring the nature of reality and love]
Title:
Out a leash [exploring the nature of reality and love]
Author:
MacLaine, Shirley, 1934-
Personal Author:
Edition:
Unabridged.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2003]

â„—2003
Physical Description:
4 audio discs (approximately 4 hrs) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Subtitle from container.

Compact disc.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780743535601

Available:*

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Summary

Summary

From the internationally bestselling author and beloved actress comes a brilliantly fun-loving and inspiring story of unconditional love. Shirley MacLaine has found a perfect love in the furry bundle of irresistible canine charms that is Terry. With her winning terrier ways and an endless wellspring of love with no strings attached, Terry has succeeded in doing what no one before her ever has: slowing Shirley's peripatetic travels, shifting the actress/author's global axis to hearth and home. Now there are few greater pleasures for Shirley than being with Terry on her ranch or on a New York street, romping on the beach together, or sharing a long plane ride to a new location for making a film. With Terry by her side, Shirley sees the world in new ways she never thought possible. As we join Shirley and Terry we see through their eyes how they each provide a window for exploring the nature of love. Together they shared at least one past life in ancient Egypt, and possibly more. Together, too, they seek to understand world events today: Are we beginning to fulfill the ancient Biblical prophecies? Is Armageddon looming? And of course there is Terry as a constant gateway to spirit, to being fully in each moment, to that boundless love that surpasses all understanding. In a unique twist that makes this audiobook such a delight, we see Terry's point of view on Shirley's domestic and inner life, as the terrier's mistress continually questions the deeper nature of reality. This audiobook is an utterly charming, witty, and ultimately wise memoir of one of the truly remarkable women of our time. Out on a Leash is an irresistible bonbon for the legions of MacLaine listeners, and for dog-lovers everywhere.


Author Notes

Shirley MacLaine, Oscar, Emmy, & Golden Globe-winning actress, has appeared in more than fifty films, been nominated for an Academy Award six times, & received the Oscar for Best Actress in 1984. A longtime outspoken advocate for civil rights & liberties, she is the author of eight international bestsellers--"Don't Fall Off the Mountain", "You Can Get There from Here", "Out on a Limb", "Dancing in the Light", "It's All in the Playing", "Going Within", "Dance While You Can", & "My Lucky Stars". Shirley MacLaine was born on April 24, 1934 in Richmond, Virginia. She is an American film and theater actress, activist, dancer and author. In 1983 she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Terms of Endearment. She has received five other Oscar nominations and five Golden Globe nominations. MacLaine made her film debut in 1955 and has starred in over 50 films since then.

MacLaine has written a few books about her spiritual belief in reincarnation. She also authored a book about George McGovern in 1972 when he was running for president. The book is entitled, McGovern: The Man and His Beliefs. Together with her younger brother, Warren Beatty, MacLaine used her high-profile status to raise funds for the McGovern campaign. (Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The latest addition to actress MacLaine's New Age/autobiography oeuvre (Going Within; My Lucky Stars, etc.) is an excellent example of what can happen when a book exists because of its author's fame instead of her dedication to the craft of writing. Wandering, incoherent and self-congratulatory, MacLaine's 10th book will not earn her new fans. The book alternates between MacLaine's own voice and that of her dog, Terry, with whom the author communicates in "humanimal," which, she says, is a "purer, more direct form [of] language" than English. Her devotion to Terry is somewhat unnerving; she calls the pet her "heart" and her "new daughter"; later she explains "I know Terry senses my thoughts" and avers that Terry is "holy." MacLaine uses Terry's 'voice' to point out what a good actress "Mistress Mother" is, to reveal their past lives together in ancient Egypt, and to articulate the opinions that "we never die" and that "nothing is evil." In her own voice, MacLaine shares more of her belief system-an apparent combination of Nostradamus' predictions, Hopi and Mayan prophecies, Edgar Cayce's channelings, Egyptian mythology and the Bible. Along the way, we get brief glimpses of MacLaine's life that might have proved interesting if they had been developed (e.g., "I missed a lot in my daughter's life but I did it to avoid imposing on her"), as well as her disconnected musings on nature, the Iraqi war ("I see signs that we are on the cusp of a new and devastating reality"), and dog and human sex. MacLaine's books have consistently sold well; no doubt those readers who enjoyed her previous volumes will find Terry's musings on life fascinating as well. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Introduction When our children grow up and leave home to raise families of their own, and the past becomes a memory of things we are no more, we are faced with inventing a new future. This is the moment when we are finally free to make choices outside the powerful tug of expectation, ambition, and struggle. We have reached what I call the age of reason. Now we can choose to live not for others, but for ourselves, and we can take time to explore a life of inner knowledge for which we were always too busy. For me the chaos of city life, heightened by the fear of terrorism and the culture of technology that forced me to remember codes and numbers to access even my own personal information, further pushed me to reevaluate what life should be about. I realized I was inundated by information and misinformation from our leadership and the media -- and that it was slowly eroding my spirit. I was falling out of touch with my own inner truth. These realizations were slow in coming, but the important thing is that they finally did arrive. So several years ago I decided to make my year-round home on an 8,000-acre Spanish land grant that used to be an old cattle ranch just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It's a peaceful place, and sometimes deafeningly silent, with ancient energies that communicate to me in nameless ways. I live there with people who take care of me, and friends who come and stay, as well as nine dogs, three horses, ducks, platoons of birds, a pond, streams, deer, elk, bears, mountain lions, coyotes, and a host of spectacular plant life. But the most important being on the ranch is my little dog, Terry. I "acquired" Terry in Malibu, California, where I lived for fifty years and still keep a place for meetings. She and I grew closer and closer during the few years it took me to distance myself from Malibu, with its easy access to the movie business, and to shift my life to the high desert wilderness. But as with all events that are life-changing, I woke up one morning and knew in my soul that the city part of my life was over. I was moving on to a new adventure that would lead me to realize that perhaps Terry had acquired me . This book is about hearing a deeper song of being that has made me more optimistic about what the future of life on this planet could be. It is based on the truth as I see it, and as it has been shown to me through the eyes of a dog. More to the point, I'm having a new experience with love. I have deeply enjoyed the love of children, friends, lovers, a husband, work, creativity, fame, travel, success, money, politics, controversy, and even struggle. But the love that has come to me through Terry is an exultant confirmation that love exists in many realities and forms, all of them longing to be acknowledged through wisdom, humor, simplicity, silence, and the wordless language of the heart. Here is an account of what Terry is teaching me, now that I am taking time to listen. Her thoughts as they come to me are not articulated in English, but in a purer, more direct form, in a language I call "humanimal." I know that I am touching deeper truths because of the knowledge Terry shares with me, so I've set down those insights into words here, in hopes that you may benefit from them as well. This book, then, is a rumination, a conversation between Terry and me. Those of you who have an animal and live in close proximity to nature will understand immediately. If you haven't allowed an animal or nature to "acquire" you, the journey through yourself will take a little longer. Either way, this journey is the only one worth taking. The answers we seek are ours to create. Copyright (c) 2003 by Shirley MacLaine Shirley Have I discovered that I am capable of unconditional love? Sometimes I lie in bed, holding Terry, overcome with the wonder of it all. She has slowed me down, letting me understand that time is just an invention of man as she takes me to a world where everything is known concurrently. Her tolerance gives me peace. Her free spirit gives me courage. Her playfulness entertains me beyond all comedy I've ever known. Terry negotiates my life as though she has traveled it before, and she knows my thoughts as though she were part of me. We communicate in a game that is sometimes playful and at other times profoundly serious, because we both realize it is the basis for my newfound ability to feel and accept love without reservation. I have had many female friends whom I enjoyed because they understood the power of allowing others just to be, the power of patience, and even the power of subservience at certain times. But I've never had a girlfriend like this. She is my confidante, my sense of home, and my deepest venture into the intimacy of myself. She has taken me on a road away from this world into a new world of happiness and inner peace. The happiness comes from what I've found; the inner peace comes from what I did not even know was there before. I lie with Terry and understand for the first time what it means to weep for the sheer joy of it. Her purity humbles me. Her warmth brings me comfort, and her breathing is a reminder that God has created involuntary acts so that we need not always control and manipulate our surroundings to survive; simply by being we can also evolve. When Terry stirs in her sleep, it always makes me smile. When I hear her moving through her dreams I long to join her there, and I wonder if she can remember her dreams in the morning. I wish I could understand the dimensions of her life that she seems so fully able to appreciate in mine. She always seems to be telling me something, something that I haven't yet touched, or something that I am unwilling to embrace in the world I understand. When I'm away from Terry I'm back to square one. I want to return home, where I know she waits to give me the secrets of the night, to share her knowledge of the moon. She waits for me to understand what it is to be female. She wants me home from the yang world, and I know the wait is sometimes too long. I wonder where she is. Is she sitting by the front door? Lying on the bed with her feet up in the air? Is she feeling alone? Why did I leave her to come out into a world that is so confused, so upset, and so off balance when I can be with Terry in a state of bliss, where another living being accepts me totally and I accept her the same way? Terry weaves her bouncing spirit through the threads of my life. I hug her with my heart. She is my heart and part of my soul, playing through the shadows of all my concerns and lighting them up with her bubbly prancing. Why have I never felt this way before? I am at once exalted and ashamed because I have known so many, have given myself to and taken from so many, and yet this is the first time that I feel peace. My old world sometimes wonders where I've gone. What am I doing? Who am I with? Why have I disappeared? Why do I not seem to mind that I have disappeared? I feel removed from all but my closest friends. As for the rest, I find I have nothing to contribute to their competitive conversations. I am not particularly interested in their moneymaking prowess, in their overachieving, and their living by the rules. I am even beginning to be bored by their favorite topic: aging. I am not much interested in gyms and workouts, or even vanity, anymore; my face is becoming prettier to me as I learn to love myself. What I am interested in is taking a walk for the sheer pleasure of every step. I'm interested in eating much smaller amounts of food and exercising moderately, because I feel better when I do. I'm interested in caring for my skin and my face because it loves attention. And yes, I am interested in loving the space in which I live and the person that I am in this space. Here Terry loves me and accepts me, sometimes with hints of sadness for what I don't understand, and with steady joy for what I might someday come to know. Terry My Mistress Mother can be so serious sometimes. She thinks too much. She asks too many questions. My canine mother let me join my MM so I could teach her that she already knows much more than she thinks she does. On the bright side, my Mistress Mother does call me Twinklebutt, Sparklefeet, and Honeyhunk. And she can just let herself have a good time with me, even if she wants to know why . I try to tell her that when she's happy, that's all that matters. I have a wonderful time with my MM. She hardly ever scolds me. When she does it's usually because I have decided to provoke her. I like to stir her up, and besides, she can be really cute when she's upset. She does feel guilty about it afterward, which I love to put to good purpose -- along with all the other emotions that a child can bring out in a mother. My MM truly does care for me. She feeds me whatever I want, which is why my Twinklebutt sometimes won't fit under an airplane seat. She also takes me almost everywhere. She drives me in the car, which I love. I chase my shadows in the car. I chase shadows anywhere, which really intrigues MM because she doesn't really understand what a shadow is. I will have to teach her. When I'm in the car, I love to hurl myself against the windows, barking and snarling. None of this has anything to do with my real feelings, but it entertains my MM and it tests her ability to focus when she's on the road. I notice that she's very careful to take my leash off when I'm in the car, so I don't accidentally hang myself. I know we never die, so that wouldn't be a problem for me, but she carefully avoids anything that could be dangerous to me. I have known my Mistress Mother before, in an Egyptian lifetime, when I was the animal god Anubis, and she was a minor, mortal princess. As a deity who had knowledge of the afterlife in ancient Egypt, I presided on a throne decorated with animals and hieroglyphs, and my MM sat at my feet inquiring incessantly about the nature of life and what happened after we died. I tried to teach her then, but she never really understood, so I'm going to try to teach her again in this lifetime. (In those days all Egyptians were grappling with the same questions, although I must say they were further along in their understanding than people are today; now people are too cynical and suspicious.) I have told MM that I'm going to live eighteen years in human time. That's a good number because eight and one is nine. I don't know if she knows that's the number of completion, but I do. She's going to live much longer than that, and one of the reasons she will is because I am going to bring her the gift of simplicity. That is why I am in her life: to cut down on everything but the simple joy of being happy. I watched my MM for a long time before I decided to be born, then I began this part of my journey with MM in a pet shop in Malibu. I don't really remember how I got into the pet shop, but she was walking by on her way to do some shopping. I could see that one of the big questions in her little human mind was: what is love? I felt that it was time for her to buy me, so I called her in. "Come into the pet shop. Come into the pet shop." When she walked in I began my little sparkle-footed, twinkle-butted dance around the cage. I knew that she had been a dancer, so I put on my best prancing steps and they definitely got her attention. My Mistress Mother likes to think she is practical. When she learned that I was a rat terrier she thought I could help with mice on the ranch where she lives. Concerned that the other dogs on the ranch might kill a cat, my MM had been looking for another ranch dog, which was good. She was ready to hear me want her, call her, and demand to be owned and brought up by her. My Mistress Mother doesn't do much of anything that doesn't have practical use. Some think she is a good actor. Others think she is a good dancer, or singer. For my MM, none of these measure up to her sense of being a practical person. I have watched her choose to play theaters that are closer to the freeway turnoff instead of theaters that have good acoustics or even a great stage. No, she would rather be practical. My MM did, after all, have a Canadian mother, and Canadian people tend to be practical. Her father, on the other hand, was a dreamer, although sometimes the dream was no fun. He grew up in a small town in Virginia, and looking down on him I saw that he used to tie dogs' and cats' tails together and watch them fight (which may be why my MM has this fascination with inner peace). Also, she was born at the end of April, which makes her a Taurus, an earth sign, so she likes having her feet planted solidly on the ground. Some would say her head is now too much in the stars, but she even looks at the starry aspect of things in a very practical way. Although she seems to be one of the free spirits of the planet, she never really has thrown caution to the winds. She has always had a way of making sure her survival was ensured. She thinks that is her job in life. I know that mine is to help her get over that. Not that I don't want her to survive, but I understand that she should have more sparkle-footed, twinkle-butted moments. Shirley Terry is part of my destiny. She drew me into her life because it was time. In fact she imposed herself on what I thought was my well-regulated time. She insisted on giving love to me, on being so adorable that I had to welcome her into my life. Terry has given me a new vista, full of flowers, bees, birds, and worms. She has brought new kinds of play to me. She has given the chase new meaning. She makes frolicking with insects an alert game. She even gives begging dignity. She begs for play, food, touch; she begs for my arms, my lap, my warmth, at times my love itself. And all the while she is teaching me by example. Terry lives in profound honesty. She lunges and grabs at life with barks and snorts and kisses and jumps. She asks for love unashamedly and returns it without reservation. She is my teacher, my friend, my sister, my daughter, and my mother. She is now part of me. I cannot leave her alone for more than a few hours. I know that she is self-sufficient in her own soul, but I also know how much she enjoys being with me. When I'm away, does she wonder whatever happened to me? I think so, because I feel the same way. Time doesn't matter anymore, except to remind me to come home to her. How is it possible that Terry now rules my schedule? How is it possible that through the merging of our souls she now dictates where I live? How is it possible that I am no longer free, yet I know that I have found true freedom? I no longer travel unless Terry will be happy with it. I won't stay out all night with friends because I know that the other half of me is waiting. I'm much more meticulous with my habits because I have to be careful about hers: I have water with me at all times because I know Terry needs water at all times; I brush my hair more frequently because I like to brush her hair more frequently. How is it possible that another little soul could have so imposed herself on my life that I have changed the very fundamentals by which I live? She has made me read differently, think differently, and act differently. I feel that I am loved without judgment, without boundaries, and without blame. In response to Terry I am loving unconditionally for the first time. I think I may have known Terry throughout the ages. She may even be here to teach me that I can satisfy my incessant search for truth and meaning before I die. Perhaps she is a messenger from God. Perhaps in her warm little body and soul lies all I need to know of life and death and spirit. Perhaps it is all a joke that the universe is playing on me. The truth is hiding in plain sight. Perhaps the TRUTH is my dog Terry, and the joke is that dog spelled backward is God. Terry My MM keeps asking herself, What is love? From what I can see, most humans don't know the answer to that question. They don't know how to love, or do it for the wrong reasons, and what starts out being about what they think is love and romance usually ends up being about money. My MM's questions about love are the reason I'm in her life. Interestingly, male canines and male humans don't have much to say on this subject that's helpful. It's the female of the species that seems to be most profoundly interested. I deeply love my MM and she deeply loves me too, but she doesn't know how to deal with it. Every now and then, to snap her out of confusion, I will spring myself up into her arms, drag her shoes around and use them for chewy toys, or stare at the Milk-Bone box, all to distract her. My favorite trick, though, is to refuse to get out of the car in the middle of a snowy winter. I will sit in the car, shivering in the cold, just so she will worry about me instead of her own problems. Sometimes, if she wants to go for a beach walk in the warm sun, I will wait until the sun goes down before I'll say, "Okay, now I'm ready." This doesn't seem to really bother her, but it does bring her back to thinking that I am a God posing as a dog. Sometimes I like to play princess. (I wouldn't dare play a god in this lifetime.) My MM has arranged with a half-dozen restaurants in various cities to allow me to sit beside her in a booth when she's having a delicious seven-course meal. Whether I'm in a restaurant in Santa Fe or a hotel in New York, people might say, "Oh, here comes Princess Terry again." I sit there exactly like royalty and refuse any meat bones that the cook might whip up for me in the kitchen so they'll know that's beneath my dignity. They all think it's charming; I know it's absurd, because I prefer people food. It is often said that dogs have masters and cats have staff. I am a dog that has a staff. Of course, even a princess like me has to be careful not to be too aloof, so I insist on greeting every human I see, regardless of who he or she may be; an upright statesman or a beggar lying on the street both get the same greeting. I jump on them and kiss their faces. Most of the time I lightly nip their noses too, and whenever I do that they always say, "Animals love me, especially dogs." Whenever I want people to pay more attention to me, I assume a dignified seated position and then I shiver. Then they all come over to me, sometimes as many as a dozen people at once, and say, "Oh, the poor little thing, why is she shivering?" They give me a treat or they pet me, or they chastise my MM. "Why is she so afraid?" Of course I am neither cold nor afraid. I'm ready to start teaching my next lesson. I also love to twirl for people. I twirl around two or three times and they think I'm so talented. Then they give me treats and fuss over me. I don't remember how I learned to twirl. It might have been from watching MM dance. Whenever we have company I twirl. My Mistress Mother once took me to a very fancy party where several elderly women, covered with expensive glittering stones, thought it was shocking that a dog should be in attendance, roaming between legs and feet under the table. I heard my mistress say, "Well, just wait, soon you'll be feeding her off your plate." And, sure enough, before long I was being fed from a half-dozen laps. I twirled many times that night. I enjoy being adorable, but it's difficult with the harem of dogs at my mistress's ranch, because the females are on to me. However, I control every new environment I'm in, within about, I would say, three minutes; one for mind, one for body, and one for spirit. My favorite environment is my MM's bed, where I love to sleep curled up in her arms. I also enjoy pushing her out of bed with my legs, which are very strong because she takes me on long walks. In Malibu we walk on the beach, and on the ranch we walk in the mountains. I also like to put my head up above the covers so that I can snuggle against my MM's cheek. She loves cuddling me. She buries her face in my fur and squiggles around with her nose. She loves the way I smell because she puts parsley in my water to prevent the doggie smell that most humans don't like. I smell very sweet. I've heard a lot of MM's friends say that. I like to protect my MM, and sometimes I even protect her in her sleep. I can enter my Mistress Mother's dreams, so if she is dreaming about something scary, I sit on her stomach and bark to wake her up. Without a wake-up bark, my Mistress Mother is a late riser. She likes to go to bed around two in the morning and get up about ten, so now I've made that natural for me. When the clock squeals for no good reason, an appointment or something, I ignore it. I crawl farther under the covers, exactly where my MM would like to be if she wasn't so anxious to do what is expected of her. When MM begins her morning exercises that's when I like to sneak out, jump on her back and nip at her hair, or lick the nape of her neck -- anything to turn her away from the boring drone of that CNN. Then I will go grab a toy. I know where I've hidden everything in every single room; I have toys under every single pillow or table. I rotate my toys, finding the ones most difficult for my MM to locate. I will then jump in the air and throw the toys, knowing MM will turn away from the news to catch them. I never understood why it's so important to know what's going on in the world every single day, especially when most of it isn't exactly true anyway. But then I suppose my MM has no idea why I stop dozens of times every fifty yards when we walk. No matter how many mornings we walk the same path, God gives me more to see, and smell, and understand. I love it when my MM notices some small thing in my world, freeing her from hers, even if only for a breath. I take enormous pleasure in making her stop many times, knowing this keeps her from being so goal-oriented. When my Mistress Mother wants to take me out in the snow or the cold, I'm perfectly happy to go, but sometimes I don't want to wear the coats she buys for me, which include a beautiful yellow wool coat, a plaid coat, and even a raincoat. But if I just want to go out in my own natural coat instead, I simply crawl under the middle of our big bed where she can't get me dressed. She always waits for me and usually when I come out she doesn't force me to wear anything. I hope you don't think that I'm poking fun at my Mistress Mother's love for me. That's not it at all. What I am really doing is trying to teach her to be simpler in the ways of joy, simpler in the ways of love, simpler in the ways of life. One of the best ways to do that is through humor. Did you hear about the dyslexic agnostic who lies awake at night wondering if there really is a Dog? Copyright (c) 2003 by Shirley MacLaine Excerpted from Out on a Leash: Exploring the Nature of Reality and Love by Shirley MacLaine All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.