Tag Archives: growth

It Wasn’t Until Last Night That I Knew

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By now, if you have read my earlier postings, you have met Ubi, and you know that he is a Cavachon.  You also know that a Cavachon is the lucky offspring of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and a Bichon Frise.  I say lucky because, well, just look at him.  Look into his eyes.  My neighbor gets credit for this picture.  She dropped her keys and he started to eat them, but she got him to look up at her long enough to capture one of the best photos of him to date.  Every time I look at it, and look at those eyes, tears come to mine.

I am so blessed to have this guy in my life.  He is teaching me so much about patience, tolerance and understanding.  So far he has gone through several USB chargers for my phone, and two power supplies for my Microsoft Surface Pro 4 at $80 a piece.  He has destroyed several of his toys in an explosion of fluff.  He has peed and pooped all over the area rug and hardwood floor in my living room, but that’s ok.  I purchased the rug just for him.  It’s made of polypropylene.  And yes, I can’t find half of my socks.  I’m sure they will turn up somewhere one I find his hiding place.

I tried letting him sleep in bed with me, and at first that worked out just fine.  But then he decided it was more fun to kiss me than go to sleep.  I don’t mind him kissing me, but not when I’m trying to fall asleep.  So now I’m putting him in his crate by my bed until he is a little older and learns that when the lights go out it’s time for bed.

As you know, Ubi broke his leg.  He healed spectacularly.  To watch him run is a wonderful sight.  He is so fast.  We are in puppy class right now, and he is the smallest puppy in the room by far, but he doesn’t care.  During play time he plays with the bigger boys and girls and loves it when he can get them to chase him.

So what is it that I didn’t know until last night?  Well another neighbor was over with her dog, and Ubi was playing with her and the other dog, and me.  Ubi is so friendly to everyone.  He loves it when people visit.  He runs up to them with so much enthusiasm.  He is just so irresistible.  I’m very happy about this.  I want a dog that people don’t have to be afraid of when the come in to my home.  I really hope he stays this way.  But there’s also a part of me that wants him to be attached to me more so than others.  I want him to know that I am his caretaker, and that I am, well, his Daddy.  But I figured, if he is friendly with everyone, I guess that’s good enough.  At least I don’t have to worry about him biting anyone.

But last night something happened and I knew.  While we were playing, with my neighbor there, and the other dog there, and new bully sticks that the dogs were chewing on, I had to go upstairs to make sure the doors were closed, so the dogs didn’t get into anything up there.  So I go upstairs, and I’m closing the doors, and I turn around, and there was Ubi.  No bully stick, neighbor and other dog downstairs, but there he was, looking up at me, seemingly with relief that I didn’t leave the house through some hidden exit in my bedroom.  What did I know?  I think you know what I knew.

Fear?

I’m 33,000 feet in the air, and I’m listening to the album “Dysfunction” by “Staind”. “Mudshovel” is one of my favorite songs by them. Hard, driving, dynamic, and for the ladies, danceable. Ok, I guess for some of the guys the danceable part is important too, but not this guy, unless I’m in front of my mirror with a fake microphone, or driving down the highway with the speakers blasting, using the steering wheel as a drum set.

Anyway, the song that inspired me to write this post is called “Home”. I have no idea what the song is about, I was just hearing the word fear over and over again. Fear has special significance to me. I’m sure it does to a lot of you to too. Fear ruled my life for so long. Mostly it was irrational fear. What does this person think of me? Will I be found out? Will I ever get married, or will I grow old alone? Do my parents really love me, or do they just tolerate me? Is this beautiful girl from Prague, who I’m sitting next to on my eight hour flight to Frankfort, who is speaking to me, doing so because she is enjoying the conversation, or because she feels pity for me, or is she just being polite?

Even more irrational would be what I’d like to term the roller-coaster fears. Will this roller-coaster jump the track around the next bend? Will the bar holding me into this car suddenly give way, and I’ll go plunging to my death? If I go too fast on my motorcycle, and something goes wrong, will I survive? Will the plane I’m currently on in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean have a malfunction, and go plunging into the sea? Are there sharks in the water where I’m swimming, along the beach in Ocean City, MD?

The problem with these fears, was not feeling the fear. It was the actions, or inactions the they would cause me to take or not to take. They would force me to make adjustments in my life to avoid what I was afraid of, or lash out against it, either of which would cause the fear to grow and fester. It didn’t matter whether or not my fear was rational or irrational, because my reaction would always be irrational, and it would always be more than what the situation called for.

Over the past year or so, and especially over the past several months, I’ve found the answer to this dilemma, and it’s pretty straightforward. You see, fear is a lack of faith. Either a lack of faith in something or someone else, or a lack in faith in myself. Ultimately though, if I take this just a bit further up the chain, or go a little deeper into my self-psychoanalysis, it is a lack of faith in God. Yes, I did it. I dropped the G word on you. I hope I didn’t lose you there. Don’t worry. My concept of God does not fit any predefined mold. In fact it’s constantly changing, and constantly expanding.

So what do I mean by a lack of faith in God then, if I don’t even know who God is. Well, just like I try to do with all of the relationships in my life, I pay more attention to what God does, than who God is. Who cares who God is? God is the concept of a guide, showing me the way, pointing me in the right direction, even if that direction is not the one I would chose. Sometimes God sends me to a place of joy, because what’s the point of life if we aren’t happy. But sometimes, God sends me to a place of pain, because out of the pain comes growth and knowledge. I’ve always liked the phrase, if God has brought me to it, then God will bring me through it.

Sometimes though, I chose not to listen. I’ve covered my ears and my eyes for a good portion of my life. Sometimes I know I am not making the right choice, because the choice I’m making may result in consequences that I’m not willing to endure. But then again, maybe that is God too. Maybe I am being guided, and maybe I need to endure those consequences, and maybe the path I think I am choosing on my own was the path God intended, because that path will offer me even more growth.

So how does this all play into fear? Well, if you ask any psychiatrist, how to overcome fear, they will tell to do what you are afraid of. They may not tell you to do this all at once, but instead, to progressively immerse yourself in what you fear. I believe that when I face my fears, whether this be through the guidance of a professional, or by my own personal choice, that I am actually being guided by God, and that God wouldn’t bring me to it unless he would stick with me the whole way through it. But it is always a choice, and as long as I’m keeping my eyes and ears open, the correct choice will always present itself.

So what do I do when I’ve made my choice? If I’m worried about what others think of me, then maybe I should ask them what they think. Fear based on miscommunication or a lack thereof is ignorance. What do I do when I think people will find me out? Well, maybe I need to ask myself what is it that I’m doing that I’m afraid will be exposed? I should confirm with someone I trust that what I’m doing is worthy of my fear. If I’m worried about marriage, or being lonely, then I need to make an effort to meet more people, and learn how to be a person who someone would want to marry. That’s right. It’s not about finding the right person, it’s about being the right person. If I am worried about the love of my parents, then I need to be a loving caring person to them, and to my siblings and my children, and for that matter, everyone I meet. Being strong enough to offer unconditional love is far more fulfilling than receiving it, and if you don’t agree with me, try it out for a little while and you will understand. If I’m wondering why the pretty girl from Prague is speaking to me and engaging in intelligent conversation with me and smiling at me, I need to just stop it. I need to enjoy the moment. I need to be Larry, and if I like Larry then she will too. By the way, if you are looking for an icebreaker when sitting next to a girl from Prague, just turn off your phone before the flight, and when God makes it blast the chime that it’s shutting down at full volume when you know that you put it on vibrate, and you turn to her red faced, but smiling, and apologize, that is called an icebreaker.

And what about that roller-coaster stuff? Well, maybe I need to decide how important it is, and if I decide that it is important, maybe I should seek help outside of myself to overcome the fear. And if I get to that place where a choice needs to be made, but I fear the consequences of making that choice, I need to remember that today I have a choice, and that today I am not alone. I can ask for help, and make the decision that will lead me down the correct path. But even if I don’t do that, and I make an ill-advised choice, I should do so without fear, because I’ve made the choice, the outcome is out of my control.

Fear is about losing something I think I have, or not getting something I think I want. But it’s mostly about a lack of faith that I am being guided, if I chose to listen. Today I do the things I fear. Today I learn from the mistakes I make along the way. Today the consequences of my actions are growth experiences to hold onto and carry forward. Today I see the hand of God pointing the way, and I have faith that even if I choose not to follow his guidance, that he will be on the other side, to help me to learn from the mistake I made, and together, we will move forward.

Winding Roads

Since I got the two cats that currently own my home, people have asked me the question, “Larry, why cats?” Other than the fact that I am allergic, and grew up having horrible asthma attacks until we realized it was our cat Smiley causing them, I truly didn’t understand this question. People were not asking the question out of concern for my physical health. They were asking because I’ve always been a dog lover, and I have a very happy dog whom I’ve learned to take care of through advice, and trial and error. So why would I gets cats which would present a whole new challenge?

I still didn’t understand the question. I mean, why wouldn’t I want a whole new challenge? Well, honestly, I didn’t know what I was in for.

– Dog eating litter covered Tootsie Rolls and having diarrhea in the house.
– Cats eating dog diarrhea and getting diarrhea.
– Cats wanting to play at 3:00 AM and chasing each other around the house.
– Cats knocking stuff off shelves and counters and breaking them.
– Anything small object that cats can bat around, they will bat around until the object is inaccessible to, and at a minimum hidden from me. Dammit where are those ear buds?!
– Having to fire the housekeeper because I’m afraid of her squashing the cats when she moves furniture that I’ve asked her a million times not to move.

For the past two weeks, I’ve not had a lot of sleep. I’m constantly cleaning. I’ve put in a cat door into the laundry room where the litter box is. I’ve had to break off the flap from the cat door because the cats are afraid of it and won’t use it with the flap closed. I’ve had very little time to just relax, and have some moments to myself to just chill.

I’ll tell you what though, one by one I’m figure out how to either accept or fix each of these problems. The cat door is working as long as I keep the laundry room door closed. The cats no longer eat dog diarrhea because there isn’t any. I can’t keep the cats from playing, but I can use earplugs. I’m keeping breakable stuff off the shelves, or just accepting that things I need to leave on the shelves may just get broken. I keep small objects, especially valuable ones, in places where the cats can’t get to them. And as inefficient as I am at cleaning the house, I’m learning, becoming more efficient, and I’m saving money for the huge vet bills to come.

So what does this all have to do with winding roads? Well, I could have gotten another dog, but I wanted cats. I know how to take care of a dog, and I know that with the way I was living my life a few short months ago, I would be able to take care of another dog. I may still get another dog. But the cats are transforming my life. I’m not as lazy, I’m always moving, my home is better organized. And those free moments that I spoke of I sure do appreciate more when I have them.

I had a few free hours yesterday afternoon, so I got on my motorcycle and rode over to a friends house for a ride to Middleburg. My friend asked the perfect question. “Are you looking to just get there, or to have fun along the way?” Every person who rides a motorcycle knows the answer to this question. Take the winding road. The one that is unexplored, or the one where I can test my skills. We could have taken the highway almost all the way there, but we didn’t. In fact, we never even made it to Middleburg. We stopped to eat, and then headed back home. On the trip back I was following my friend, and there were many signs to get back onto the highway, but we just drove straight on by and took the next curve.

For me, life is not about the straight line that takes me to where everyone, including myself, will eventually go. It’s about zig-zagging and winding around the straight line, pushing myself to become a stronger, smarter, and skillful human being. It’s about learning that it’s not always about my comfort. Sometimes it’s about the challenge of learning how to better take care of myself, so I have more time to be with and take care of the ones I love. It’s not about learning how to predict what is in front of me. It’s about becoming the man who can better handle whatever is around the next bend.

Challenge which educates us, and changes our actions for the better is growth. Growth that makes us better capable of handling the next challenge is evolution. Some people can live in a box all their lives and be perfectly happy. But those who choose to push their boundaries, cause the human race to evolve. Either of these paths is a personal choice. I choose the winding road.

By the way, I’ve not had a single asthma attack since I’ve had these cats. I guess my body has evolved as well.

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Growth?

Growth? Growth is when you find yourself making sacrifices for the well being of others, knowing that ultimately, helping others makes you feel good inside, so it’s really no sacrifice at all.

I just asked the company who has been cleaning my house for many years to give me my key back because I was worried about the cats getting out or getting squashed when the cleaning crew moved my furniture. The reason I’m worried is because I will tell the owner something, and they will do what I’m asking for a while, but then someone forgets, and suddenly I’m walking into a dark house, and none of the light switches work because they’ve unplugged all the lamps. So now I’m cleaning my home by myself. I never realized how much work this is, especially for a lazy person like myself.

Growth? Growth is when you’ve accepted that you are just going to have a dirty house.