Because life
never stops teaching.

Journaling for awareness. Growing for life.
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I have watched the kids walk into one new experience after the other.  (A piano lesson, an art class, little league.)  They are thrown into a group of children they don’t know, with no idea if they’ll be able to do what they’re asked to do.  They may feel out of their comfort zone, yet they still find a way to go for it.  Most of the time.  This summer I pushed Keegan (four and a half years old) slightly out of that comfort zone.  I asked him to practice writing with me daily to prepare him for transitional kindergarten.

“I don’t want to,” he told me.

“School work can be fun,” I promised, “and it is an important part of growing up.”

He dragged his feet coming to the table, but after a week or so he buckled down and started using his letters to try to form words.

As much as I do in a day, I don’t have to step outside of my comfort zone very often.  I rarely sign on to do something that I have never tried before.  Even then, I usually have someone with whom I can share the adventure.  However, this summer I took on something that was completely out of my comfort zone.  And though I’m not alone in it, when I get up each morning and say goodbye to Kevin as he’s walking out the door, I see that I’m faced with something that only I can take on…

A puppy!

Yes, we recently welcomed a little dog by the name of Sadie into our lives, and she has turned my life completely upside down.  We had been wanting to get a dog for quite some time – a companion to cuddle with and love for many years to come.  We decided to go for it this July – this very crazy, exhausting July.  Let me tell you, I have raised three kids, and yet the first time I ever left the house without a trace of makeup, still wearing my pajama pants, was after getting a dog.  I have been completely out of my comfort zone, but fully submerging myself in puppy training and standing in the yard in the middle of the night waiting for a small ball of fur to do her business.

There is no way to do this job other than to go for it.  Or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself when I’m getting barked at before my morning coffee, finding my good dish towels in the dog bed, and prying my best sandals out of Sadie’s mouth.  I know she will grow into a wonderful friend with a lot of training and patience, but there are times when I wonder if I’m cut out for the job.  Yesterday afternoon, during the hour that I was preparing dinner and helping Keegan with his workbook, Sadie relentlessly barked for me to come back into her gated area and play with her.  No bone or brilliant chew toy seemed to suffice.  That’s when Sadie flipped her water dish and began slipping and sliding on the tile floor.  When I heard the whole thing go down, I ran to clean up the mess, but slipped and landed on my tush in the pool of dog water.  As Sadie and I sat there in a stare down of wet Mama and wet dog, all I could think of was, why did I want a puppy? However, after a moment the whole scene was suddenly hilarious.  I laughed until there were practically tears in my eyes, and Sadie, panting with her head tilted to one side, seemed to be smiling too.  She may push me beyond my usual comforts, but she is giving me a lot to laugh about.

The real moment happened when I returned to the table where Keegan had been confronted with his workbook.  He looked up at me with a huge smile and announced, “I’m growing up, Mama.  I just wrote a word!”

“What is it, Love?” I asked.

Sadie!” he said proudly, showing me the page.  “Did I spell it right?”

“It’s perfect,” I told him.

And it was.  Perfect was the expression on Keegan’s face as he held up that page; it was the look of having just overcome a challenge with great pride.

I know I’ll get there.   I will buckle down, do the work of training Sadie and feel the joy.  And the margins of my comfort zone will grow.

I will grow.

(Last night Sadie slept for 8 hours.  Halleluiah!)

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