Why Fear The Unknown

We’re supposed to be the Golden Generation, unafraid of anything, any failure, any unknown factor. And yet, according to a recent study commissioned by the American Psychological Association, we’re one of the most anxious generations and I’m starting to understand why. Though we’ve been told to shoot for the stars, land among the stars, gold star and blue No. 1 ribbon for everything we’ve ever done, when you’re confronted with the first true possibility of failure, you become the deer in the headlights. It’s an unfamiliar beast, coming up on you fast, lights blinding, engine roaring. So will you turn tail and pray you can outrun it or will you adapt and face it head on? That is the test of true faith. 

I’m looking over the the lip of the diving board, looking down and seeing my personal cheer squad. They are all saying the things one needs to hear when on the ledge. “You Can Do It!” “Believe in Yourself!” And I think to myself that it’s easier said than done when you’re in the pool and I’m out in the wind, shivering to myself and wondering why the hell I climbed up on the high end again. Then I remember, the alternative is to be at the edge of the pool, tipping from foot to foot, thinking and rethinking if I want to dive in and swim or stay in the shallow end and doggy paddle. I’m starting to think that I’d rather do the duck paddle – cool on the surface and peddling furiously underneath – than the doggy paddle – splashing and making a show of myself and getting nowhere fast. 

So what’s the best way to take two steps, bend my knees and make the diving board feel my weight and then head to the next level? 

Adventures in Babysitting

For the past three months, I have been playing surrogate owner to one fluffy child. I should clarify, this fluffy child was originally my child. As times and responsibilities changed once I made the decision to go back to school, I recognized that my schedule didn’t allow me the same flexibility that I once had. Evening long walks on Santa Fe Trail (back before they paved it over, when you’d catch sight of a rabbit or two), belly rubs and social time at White Rock Dog Park – all of that had to take a back seat to reading, reading, writing and more reading. Instead of shipping the dog off to the modern day “farm” – also known as the Dallas-area SPCA – I asked my mom, an empty-nester, to take in the dog for an unspecified period.

Best decision I could have made. They’ve been inseparable and I get to play weekend mom when I go to my hometown.

Right after Christmas, I thought I was taking the dog on for the month of January, no biggie. We’d have some walks, socialize and before we knew it, our brief time together would be up and she would be back with my mom on the road back home, all the while looking back at me with one tear drifting down. Along the way, early February became late February and in that time, I remembered all the good and bad points about dog ownership. Early morning walks in the blustery wind, evening strolls when you just want to melt into the couch with a glass of wine and the new Scandal episode waiting for you on the DVR. The strange neediness of dogs and how they jump up the moment you do, anticipating that maybe you’ll give them an absentminded neck scratch or, maybe just maybe, you’ll take them for an impromptu walk. All of which began to wear on my nerves. However, it wasn’t all bad. Though I grumble every time I put on what have now been assigned as my dog-walking shoes, once I’m out in the fresh air and I see how it revives her, I can’t help but reflect that happiness back to her. Dogs and babies, only monsters can’t appreciate their unshakable happiness with the simplest things in life.

As I wind down the last few days, I have one example of why having a dog is simultaneously awesome and scary. I had a protective moment, in which my fur baby was almost hurt, I didn’t know what to do and she taught me a lesson in shaking it off. Thinking that I should get her some socialization time with a neighbor’s two dogs, we trotted over to the run at my community and tried to give them some off-leash time. Apparently one of my neighbor’s dogs hadn’t learned the essentials to life, which includes “Thou shalt not bite your new friend on the face.” And freak out ensues. After what to an observer probably looked like a fine imitation of Benny Hill, with me grabbing her dog and her trying to grab the other end of the dog, her second dog trying to figure out who’s on first and my dog probably still not getting that this does not equal friendship, we finally get everyone to their respective corners. At this point, I’d picked up my dog like a baby and was checking her out while she gave me, in my mind, the look of childlike reproach: “How could you bring me to this place?” The demon dog, the dummy dog and their owner left with many apologies – and really, with rescue dogs, you can only do so much. A lot of it is personality, and clearly that dog did not from a happy home before being adopted. Once I put my dog down, with kind and soothing words and a lump in my throat, I wondered if she would ever be the same. Would she shy away from socializing and never find another fellow furry friend? Had I RUINED her? And then she set me straight with a  shake of her coat and a quick scamper off to discover new smells. While I was so concerned about her mental anguish, she just wanted to be a dog. Pretty cool lesson…though if I catch the demon dog in a dark alley alone, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

So in honor of her indomitable spirit and her ability to sport a jaunty bandanna in all the colors of the rainbow, I dedicate this post to Forti:


Leisa and the Lake

For almost of a third of the 10 years I’ve lived in Dallas, I’ve been by White Rock Lake.

Lakeside photography
Lakeside photography

In 2009, when I broke up with my ex-fiance and moved from the Highland Park/University Park area where I had attended college and lived most of seven years I’d been in Dallas, I chose a quiet community in East Dallas. I didn’t know anyone in the area and it was far enough away from my previous situation that it felt like a new start. One of the features that sold me was “lakeside access,” meaning if you have an extra five minutes, you can walk along the man-made lake and enjoy the scenery. I took my dog (reference below) with me, and we became patrons of the lake. She was my running buddy, when I had more time for those kinds of things, and sometimes just a slow stroll partner.

my dog
Never forget this face.

The bike and run path that circumnavigates the lake is about nine miles around – trust me I searched for the details after a very laborious first lap around the lake on my new bike – and connects with the bike trails around the city like the Santa Fe Trail and Katy Trail. There is a passionate community of people in the bike/hike trail community who are consistently raising money to help make Dallas a more navigable city.

Now, after a two year respite, I’m back by the Lake – actually, just down the road from where I first lived back in 2009. And I have lake access again. I’m going to start sharing the sights and sounds of my long dog walks, bike laps and jaunts down to the lake. Today, on a long walk with Forti, I saw a family practicing fitness (complete with boxing gloves) and a pelican hanging out on the water. In the last few visits, the lake has given me two men under an umbrella in a Peanuts-like “Free Advice” booth, a older woman wearing all pink everything giving it her all in a nice jog and house envy from the gorgeous lakeside estates.

As the weather warms up (and the fact that it’s 63 on February 2 gives me hope that it will keep improving), I’ll be getting back out there on my bike and taking in more sights, which I’ll then share on here. I’ll try to take some pictures too!

The "falls" under the bridge off Garland Road.
The “falls” under the bridge off Garland Road.