Try Again

Sometimes, we just have to take a leap of faith.  I never thought I would be quite this nervous at the thought of adopting a new dog, since I have always loved dogs and almost always shared my home with one (or more).  So when our beloved dog Lucy passed away last September, I honestly thought it wouldn’t be all that long before my husband and I got a new dog.  But I was wrong.

For one thing, the loss of Lucy hit us a little harder than we had anticipated.  I guess I thought that since Lucy was almost seventeen when she died, her death would be easier to accept.  Sadly, it wasn’t.  And when we finally did open our home to a new dog by fostering a sick shelter dog named Stanley, we had our hearts broken again.  We had hoped to adopt Stanley when he was well enough to be available for adoption.  But as he recovered we began to see his true personality, which included some very serious resource-guarding.  Since we have a one-year old grandson who visits our home regularly, that was a risk we simply couldn’t take….and Stanley went back to the shelter.

So when a cute, scruffy-looking black dog caught my eye at the shelter, I had distinctly mixed feelings.  I checked out his paperwork and learned that he was two years old and had come from a shelter down South.  He wasn’t yet available for adoption because he still had to be neutered, which meant I had some time to think about this.  I took him for a few walks (I’m a volunteer dog-walker there), talked to the shelter staff, and brought my husband and my grandson down to meet him.  The more I got to know him, the better I liked him.

And yet I hesitated.  It had been sixteen years since I’d actually adopted a new dog, and the only time since then I had brought a new dog into my home it hadn’t gone well at all.  I knew I didn’t want to go through that disappointment and guilt all over again, but I also knew I was ready for another dog.  I was basically a nervous wreck, scared to move forward with the adoption and equally reluctant to miss out on a chance to adopt what seemed to be a lovely little dog.

fullsizeoutput_4edbThis morning, I finally took the plunge, going down to the shelter and signing the adoption papers for “Tux.”  He’s going to get a new first name as soon as we decide on a good one, but his last name will definitely be Coleman.  I know it’s going to take some time for us to really get to know each other, and for him to settle into his new home and figure out the house rules.  I don’t expect him to be a perfect dog, which is only fair, because I’m not a perfect human.  But somehow this just feels right, and sometimes, we just have to trust that things will work out…..

New Horizons

IMG_3601Ever since I started this blog, I’ve spent a little time each day reading other blogs.  It’s what bloggers do.  I’ve found some great ones on all kinds of subjects, but I spend most of my time searching for, and reading, blogs about being middle aged.  And I’ve noticed that there is a common theme among many of the blogs that focus on middle age.  Mixed in among the universal complaints of fading eyesight, empty nests, aging parents and way too much sagging skin, there is also a whole lot of hope.

Over and over, I read about people optimistically entering a new phase of their life, shedding the emotional baggage that has been holding them back and finally moving toward the life they really want to live.  The authors are a varied group: people launching new businesses, the newly divorced, those in the “sandwich generation,” recent empty-nesters, new grandparents, people who were moving across country or even to a whole new country.  But their perspective is the same: they feel they are moving, tentatively but hopefully, toward a better future.

As we all know, there are definite disadvantages to being middle aged, and often there is a nagging sense of loss as our family dynamics change and our bodies begin their inevitable decline.  But what these blogs made so very clear was that the negative aspects of middle age are far from the whole story.  Many of us are using this time of our lives to rethink our priorities, to listen to that inner voice that tells us who we really are and what we really want to do, and to finally find the courage to chase our most cherished dreams.

I have always known that I like to write.  As a child, I remember sitting at my father’s desk and using his old manual typewriter to write mystery books, even though I never made it much past the second chapter.  And it was no accident that I majored in English in college, and spent many years dabbling in a free-lance writing career.  But it still took me decades to accept the fact that writing is a fundamental part of who I am, and that I will never feel completely fulfilled when I am not writing.  That clarity was a gift of middle age.

cropped-img_41681.jpg

Yes, middle age is a time when we have accumulated some losses, and we do grieve for what, and whom, we have lost.  But it is also a time when we can look hopefully toward our future with a willingness to try new things, a more compassionate and forgiving outlook, and, most important of all, a much stronger sense of self than we have ever had before.  We are old enough to have learned a whole lot of life’s lessons, but also young enough to see that there is still a bright horizon ahead.  And that’s more than enough reason to be hopeful.