Tag Archives: positive thinking

Inspiration for the Fearful

As a difficult year, personally for me, comes to a close, I think about what 2014 will bring. How at times it surely will be miserable, challenging, and uncertain. It can be hard to move forward with optimism when you become more fully aware of life’s painful possibilities. As always, I am trying to reach beyond my fear to see this as part of life’s richness. That suffering is simply the partner to contentment. The more you hope, the more you love, the more you care, the more there is to be hurt by. It is both the guardian of your happiness and the guarantor of your pain.

With that in mind, I’ve curated a couple videos and anecdotes that I hope will fill my tank with the courage to face whatever the new year brings.

From Brain Pickings, a write-up on software pioneer Stephanie “Steve” Shirley, who escaped the Nazis as a child, triumphed over sexism as a young woman, and still views the world with curiosity and interest:

From writer Kelly Barnhillthis story of how her dog Harper came to be, well, her dog. Normally I’m too tender-hearted to hear anything about neglected, abused, ailing dogs, but if this isn’t a story of resilience, I don’t know what is. I also love this update about Harper, and the line: “Having an aging animal teaches us to hang on to each day.” Yes, yes, yes.

From the Today Show, the exceptionally brave Valerie Harper.

ValerieHarperThis woman could drop dead at any moment from brain cancer. Literally. That is probably what will happen, one day she’ll just keel over. Does that stop her from having fun and pursuing new adventures? No. Something to think about as I uselessly worry day-to-day about going into preterm labor.

From CNN, an article about Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old who was shot in the face by the Taliban for daring to be both a girl and a student. She almost died and is still standing up for the right of girls and women to be educated everywhere. When I was her age I couldn’t stand up to the Mean Girls in my grade, and they weren’t packing heat..

From Moonstruck, one of my favorite movies:

I think if Cher slapped me and told me to snap out of it…I probably would. You can’t not listen to Cher. She’d kick your ass.

From blog The Militant Baker, guest blogger Melissa Blake who has Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome which affects bone and muscle structure. She writes a post titled “A Memo to Men: On Dating and Disability Misconceptions.” My favorite line:

Some of my favorite things include, but are not limited to: Columnist, journalist/writer, blogger, Looking for Mr. Right (or his cute twin), collecting Chiquita banana stickers, breaking loose on the dance floor (and oh yes, it can be done from my wheelchair), glossy magazines, keen observer, sassy, sarcasm, oogling the CW’s Supernatural boys, obsessively reciting Frasier quotes, alphabetizing my CD collection, sipping a sweet soda pop, swimming, laughing, dreaming of life in the big city, leaving a hint of mystery behind me, being an absolute dork, perfecting my British accent, dreaming of my own reality show, daydreaming, smiling, being fierce.

Talk about fearless.

To end, two words: Nelson Mandela. There are few who don’t know about his life, persecution, imprisonment and abuse, and ultimate redemption as a leader of South Africa and an inspiration to millions around the globe. So I’ll just say that recent recognition of his remarkable existence has been one more important reminder that life offers us many opportunities to find peace and to heal.


Trying to Find the Sun


Bennie, my old, wrinkled, beloved basset hound, lays on the floor of my dining room, facing the corner like he’s being given a time out. I watch him and realize he has found the only shards of light let in by the semi-closed vertical blinds of the big picture window on the opposite wall. They are shining in their fragmented pieces on part of his head and back.

“Bennie, are you trying to find the sun? Mama will help you,” I talk to him and my other hound, Huey, in this way always. Third person, with “Mama” being me. A more reasonable person might find this embarrassing but I am typically unreasonable when it comes to my affection for my dogs.

I walk over to the window and push the blinds to the side, and the corner of the room floods. Bennie lifts his head up, letting the rays absorb into the back of it, sniffing the air as if sunlight had a scent. Maybe it does.

Bennie lost one eye to a congenital eye condition a couple years ago. The other one is quickly on its way out. It is a milky blue and black. Sometimes he runs into our closet door when leaving our bedroom in the middle of the night. He can no longer catch in his mouth the stuffed toys I throw at him. When I drop food while cooking, it is usually found by Huey first, who still has both eyes in working order. But Bennie always finds the sun. No matter the season or temperature outside, he finds his way to the patch of sunlight on the linoleum or carpet, and that’s where he rests his head.


The sun moves eventually. Bennie moves with it, into the kitchen, up onto the couch, draped over the arm, halfway under the glass coffee table, onto the area rug. He moves his way around the first floor like a hound sun dial. I watch him and think about how his bones creak when he first gets up from sleeping, arthritis that set in too early. I think about how he didn’t entirely trust us when he first came to us as a rescue, and now he rolls over on his back for a tummy rub and lets us touch his paws…usually. When I rub my face against his, angling to kiss his great wet nose, he is quiet and still, and this is love.

What would it mean to live this way, to seek out the sun every day, to move with it, to be flexible to its whims and thankful for such a small thing as warmth? What would it mean to make the best of where I am and linger in the small graces I find each day? I am not the first person to note that dogs can show us our humanity if only we watch them carefully enough.

When I sit back down at the dining room table from adjusting the blinds, I find that my seat is now warmed, too, a streak of sunlight bearing down where it once was dark.