Monday, November 23, 2009

Baby Steps

Baby steps. I hate them. Have since birth, I think. My parents tell me I didn't even crawl -- just took off running one day. Maybe it has something to do with my perfectionism.

If I don't have the time to clean the room to my standards, I'd rather not even start. I know that it doesn't make sense, because then I end up in a real mess.... But I just don't like doing something half-way. It's all-or-nothing..... I think I see the same thing in my daughter. The thought of cleaning up her room overwhelms her... and I think she inherited it from me. We just hate the baby steps it takes to get there. If we're going to do it, we should do it perfectly... and, ummm... NOW. :) And if we can't... then... why bother? Which... brings me to a journal entry from seven years ago....
Seven years ago I wrote in my journal that walking along a gravel path had woken the desire to run.  Yeah.  Right.  It had been over 20 years since I ran cross-country.  I was significantly older, heavier, and more out of shape than I was in high school.  The only thing I could do now was walk.  I did walk that evening as I waited for my daughter's soccer practice to end.  I set out at a brisk enough pace and put enough work into it that after awhile I felt my muscles go into that stage where only the repetition and the consistent stride keep you going (break stride and you're a goner!).  It actually felt good.  But I wanted to RUN!  I wanted to take off with a ground-eating stride like the 16 year-old kid I once was, not the middle-aged overweight woman I'd become.  But I just didn't want to take those baby steps.  It was overwhelming.  It seemed impossible to get there from here.  I couldn't run... so... in the end... I didn't even walk.

So here I am seven years later.  In basically the same shape.  :(   I took kind of a nasty fall a few weeks ago (running through the garage of all things!).   The damage I did to myself has had me at my chiropractor's office fairly regularly since then.  We're getting there.  And he's been showing me new stretches to help.  Honestly, it's felt good to be doing something good for my body.  And as I've stretched those long-forgotten muscles, the thought has occurred that I want to keep this up -- I want to keep doing good for my body and getting in better shape.  A few days ago Dr. Hoffman added another stretch... a calf stretch.  And suddenly....  as I stretched... there it was again -- the desire to run.  But... just like last time... the voices in my head shout "Impossible! No way!  The most you could do is walk and that's just pitiful."  Sigh.  Baby steps.  I still hate them.  I want to be able to just jump in and go.  (side note:  and I want to be able to do it where no one is watching!  LOL!). 

So... I've been thinking about baby steps and beginnings a lot in the last few days....  And in my somewhat introspective mood I've wondered...  where else in my life is my need for perfectionism and my reluctance to do the "baby steps" causing me to stand still?  Several years ago I realized why I let housework pile up (don't have time to finish, so I won't start).  It took me quite awhile to figure that out, though.  And so now I really wonder where else I'm standing still that I don't even realize.  What other baby steps are holding me back?  And... if I manage to figure that out... just what do I do about it?  


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tails of Two Dogs (What I've learned from my dogs)

There's a new boy in my life... with 4 legs and a tail. Our other greyhound, Ava, isn't so sure she likes the change to our household. She probably has good reason. Ava and Star are two very different dogs. They both love people (something greyhounds are known for), but... they love in completely different ways.

Ava is almost cat-like at times. She craves and needs attention.  She runs to greet you at the door and does so with great love and enthusiasm.   But a lot of the time she wants you to come to her... on her terms... do what she wants. Sometimes she wants you, I think, for what she can get. Scratching her ears results in her rolling over and asking for a belly rub. Instead of just dropping your hand to her head, you've got to bend down to her level.

Enter Star. He reminds me a lot of Crook, the greyhound we lost to cancer in 2008.  Crook was a very special boy and very loved.  I think it had something to do with the way he loved.  Even in his last days when he was in such pain, Crook wouldn't stay on his bed if it meant being apart from me. If I left the room -- even for a second -- he got up to follow me. Eyes filled with pain, chest heaving with effort, but with a loyal adoration/devotion that would not let him remain apart from me -- no matter what the cost.  I have to admit that I cried at the show of devotion in those last days, knowing what it cost him.

Star, too, follows me -- even lying down on the cold, hard tile when I'm in the kitchen.  Greys, with little body fat and bony bodies, really need someplace soft to lie.  I know, then, that he is there simply because I am there.

So now there is Star, his head against my leg wherever I go, just content to be with me, to touch me in any way. And there is Ava, who glares from across the room, rolls over and says "Come over here and love on me."  They are just two entirely different dogs.

And it makes me think... what kind of "dog" am I? How do I love?  Am I an Ava who goes to my heavenly Father (or even my fellow human beings) with a "Come here and love me" or am I a Star? Do I have that simple adoration? Do I just bask in His presence?

I'm afraid I'm more of an Ava at times. But I want to be a Star. I want to be the little black dog in the poem that I had tucked into my Bible as a child:

The Little Black Dog
I wonder if Christ had a little black dog, 
 All curly and wooly like mine 
With two long silky ears and a nose, round and wet, 
And two eyes, brown and tender, that shine. 
I am sure, if He had, that that little black dog 
Knew, right from the first, He was God 
That he needed no proof that Christ was divine, 
And just worshipped the ground where he trod. 
I'm afraid that He hadn't, because I have read 
How he prayed in the garden, alone 
For all of His friends and disciples had fled 
Even Peter, the one called a stone. 
And, oh, I am sure that the little black dog, 
With a heart so tender and warm, 
Would never have left him to suffer alone, 
 But, creeping right under his arm, 
Would have licked the dear fingers, in agony clasped, 
And, counting all favors but loss, 
When they took him away, would have trotted behind 
And Followed Him quite to the Cross.
(Author Unknown)

Yeah... I want to be a little black dog.... I want to be a Star....