Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wiggle Your Toes

I was reminded today in a phone conversation with my son of a simple thing that can mean so much......wiggling your toes.

My son is serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. This past week several of his comrades were injured when their truck hit an IED.

In a phone conversation today he told me and my husband that he visited the survivors in the hospital. He commented, "They'll be okay, they can wiggle their toes".

What struck me in that moment was how such a simple, small event can mean so much. It gives hope not only to the person recovering from injury, but also to those that care about him. Before the physical trauma, perhaps the act of wiggling toes was taken for granted.

When considering how the simple sign of moving your toes can signify so much for the physical future of these guys, I cannot help but think of the same signs that can symbolize a happy life for all of us.

It seems that we are so often unnecessarily hard on ourselves. We look for significant steps of improvement from where we were to where we are now. We expect a lot and can be desperately disappointed when we don't meet our goals. Sometimes we can be so focused on what we see for ourselves in the future, we miss what is now. Our appreciation for the little things or the small steps that carry us on our path, can go by unnoticed and unappreciated.

I believe that if we are truly present to, and in full appreciation for, being able to wiggle our toes in life, the rest of our plan will not get in the way of living life fully and with joy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fear In Black and White

Yesterday I was on an early morning walk with my dog, Thor, when we met up with an unwelcome surprise. We were happily cruising the streets of Wellsboro as the town was beginning to wake up. In an unexpected instant my happy mood was turned into fear when I saw a black and white creature on the tree lawn in the quiet neighborhood of upper Grant Street. Yes, you guessed it....I was seeing a skunk. I was about thirty feet away and stopped dead in my tracks. I was surprised Thor didn't react by pulling on his leash like he usually does when we come upon an animal of any sort.

I have a fear of skunks more than of most animals. I know it's odd that I fear smelling bad more than I fear being ripped to shreds by a mountain lion, but it's true. The sight of this skunk caused my heart to beat wildly. I looked around to see how I can best get away without disturbing my little black and white visitor. I froze in my tracks and as I looked closer, I could see this black and white object didn't have a tail. I stepped closer and soon saw the object causing my fear was really a soccer ball.

I was relieved that what I thought I saw was not real, but it caused me to think of other situations where I (and probably you too) see things inaccurately which causes our hearts to beat wildly and makes us stop dead in our tracks.

It's actually pretty comical when I think about all those times I was fooled into thinking what I was seeing up ahead on my life path was potentially harmful, hurtful or damaging to me in some way. At times my fear of failure would be so great, I'd choose to not take the chance of making a mistake and would stay where I was or run in the opposite direction.

Thankfully, in some of those situations instead of running away or staying frozen, I did move ahead on my path to investigate further, or to go ahead with whatever I felt compelled to do, allowing my fears to dissipate as though they never existed. It's funny how just taking one step forward lessens the power of my fear.

A favorite acronym of mine is for FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. Whenever I think of that from now on, I will also remember the soccer ball.