Crisp, golden leaves rustled in the breeze and scattered on the path as I headed towards the park. Up ahead a man was walking his black lab.
Suddenly, the dog started to bark loudly and strain at the leash. Hidden from sight in a backyard bordering the path, another dog barked back. The lab growled and pulled even harder towards the yard.
Now I understood why such a thick leash was needed. I felt intimidated by the show of aggression and was grateful to be able to pass by while the dog was distracted.
A few days later, in the center of the park, I came up behind what looked like the same man and dog. The distinctive thick, red plaid leash affirmed this but this time the lab was calm and meandered along, sniffing the grass beside the pathway.
A boy zipped past on a scooter and the noise caused the lab to look up. Ahead, where two paths intersected, were three separate families, walking their dogs.
The lab quickly began to bark, growl and strain at its leash. The owner tightened his grip and did his best to hold his dog still. It was quite a task as the docile dog of moments before changed into an aggressive, snarling beast. The sudden change was remarkable.
On my way out of the park, I figured out the reason for the personality change. A sign stated that coyotes had been seen in the area. It also detailed what to do if you encountered one of these wild animals.
The lab was obviously intelligent enough to read the sign. It was now honing the new skills of being loud and making yourself look bigger. This practice on other dogs would ensure it was prepared, should an encounter with a coyote be ahead. Clever dog! I’d say it’s ready!
Snippets of overheard conversation can sometimes have a profound impact on my life. Such was the case when a young boy and his dad cycled past me.
The boy said, “The ground is really hard if you fall.” His dad agreed and told him that was why they had worked so hard on balance, so he’d be less likely to fall. That is all of the conversation I heard, but it was enough.
The thought of balance stayed with me. Not balance on a bicycle, but in life.
My life consists of many good things. The problem comes when I focus on a few of them and neglect the others. Without a proper balance, I become unstable. This may not be evident right away, but eventually, my quality of life is affected. If I don’t pay attention to the warning signs I’m headed for a fall.
Like the young boy on the bicycle, I have fallen and experienced some hard landings. Getting back up can be difficult. The bumps and bruises remind me to be more careful next time.
The simple wisdom I overheard was timely. Fall is typically a season of new beginnings as activities resume and days get busier. In the past, I have been known to take on too many commitments. Time and attention are taken from other areas in order to keep up. This creates an unbalance physically, emotionally and relationally.
I’m getting too old to pick myself up easily after a fall. For that reason, I’m working hard to keep balance in my life. I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with this.
How are you doing with maintaining balance and do you have any tips to share?
The toddler looked to be about two years old. She had cute little blonde pigtails and wore a pink backpack with huge butterfly wings that fluttered as she moved. After examining leaves and twigs beside the pathway, she stood, took a couple of steps and fell flat on the ground.
After a few moments, this little one was back on her feet. There were no tears. Her expression told me falling was a frequent occurrence. Her mom looked at me and said, “That’s about the twenty-seventh time she’s fallen this morning.”
We had a brief conversation before I continued on my way. While still within earshot I heard, “Look at the way the lady lifts her feet when she walks. That’s what you need to do so you don’t stumble and fall so much.”
Since I was being used as an example, I made sure not to drag my feet!
When I am unhappy, uncertain or lack confidence, I tend to move in a way that holds me back. Both physically and mentally, I drag my feet. My steps forward become sluggish and unfocused. This can easily lead to me falling flat on my face. The more often I stumble and fall, the longer it takes to regain my momentum.
Sometimes the very act of lifting my feet and walking with purpose can change my outlook. Confident body movements translate to more positive and decisive thoughts.
With this in mind, I hope to practice confident strides forward, and decrease mental dragging of the feet (procrastination). Who knows what I may accomplish!
It was my third day walking the narrow bike path through the woods. I’d had no problems the other days but this time I tripped, not once but twice. Within about ten minutes, each foot had taken a turn!
Both times, my body propelled forward. Both times, I managed to catch myself and regain my sense of balance so I didn’t fall. After the second time I was more aware of my steps. On my return I watched to see what my feet might have caught on.
There were several spots where rocks or exposed roots could have been the culprit. However, it was only a couple that actually tripped me. Maybe I’d been dragging my feet in certain areas. Perhaps, since I’d travelled the path before, I was overconfident and didn’t pay enough attention. Either way, it got me thinking of the things that can trip me up in life.
I have been known to trip over my own feet. I can’t even blame that on an unseen obstacle in my way. It is purely a case of not paying proper attention.
Come to think of it, not paying proper attention is generally what causes me to get tripped up. The trip may not be literal. It could be a slip of the tongue. It could be impatience, overconfidence or carelessness. Whatever it may be, I am always caught off guard.
Sometimes I am able to catch myself before any harm is done. Other times my action causes me to fall on my face. In embarrassment I look around to see if my error in judgement caused anyone else to stumble with me.
I pick myself up and vow to be more careful in the future. And I am, until the next time I forget and rush into something instead of slowing down and paying attention. I can’t be the only one and so I ask, what trips you up?
I’m not sure when it happened but the season has definitely changed. Autumn, also known as fall, is upon us. My summer clothing is packed away, replaced by jeans and sweaters to keep me warm in the crisp air.
The landscape also transitions as green leaves are replaced with ones of gold. In some parts of the country, vivid oranges and reds add to the beauty.
Slowly, the trees release the leaves and let them fall to the ground. Sometimes a strong wind forces the trees to let go sooner than expected.
In time, the dry, brittle leaves break down and form a layer of mulch. This adds protection and nourishment to the soil, resulting in improved productivity for future growth.
Today I marvel at the beauty surrounding me and am reminded to enjoy these fleeting moments. The release of colourful foliage has already begun. It is a necessary part of the cycle of life.
My life also goes through such seasons. Six months ago I was filled with the budding promise of new ideas and possibilities. Some came to fruition and others did not. Not all seeds grow and flourish.
Now I am faced with the task of letting go. I choose to let go of regrets and disappointments. I release them and let them fall away. Winds of change blow the last ones free and I am liberated. My unencumbered arms stretch upwards, free to embrace this new season of life.
I know from past experience that nothing in my life is wasted. The lessons of yesterday have a purpose. Their memory will protect and nourish me so I can step with confidence into tomorrow. I am ready to face a new season.
I am fascinated to watch Olympic Figure Skaters. They are graceful and make difficult moves look effortless. The speed with which they are on their feet again after a fall never ceases to amaze me.
A lot can be learned from the way they put a mistake behind them and continue as if nothing happened. This gives a powerful visual to the phrase, “Shake it off and carry on.”
The commentators gave me some new insight into this. When one of the complicated jumps results in a fall, it is not the disaster I would have assumed. Only one point is deducted. I saw a skater fall, redeem herself in the rest of her performance and end up near the top of the standings.
On the other hand, when a jump is a required element of a program and not attempted, zero points are awarded for this portion. It would have been more advantageous to fall than not to attempt the jump.
This is a good life lesson for me. I have often been unsure I could accomplish something so played it safe and not even tried. After all, if would be embarrassing to have people see me fall.
Unfortunately, this offers no hope for master anything new. I may have to fall and get back up many times before I’m successful. Instead of being concerned about what others think, I need to focus on doing my best.
The mental image of the figure skaters will help inspire me to go ahead and take a leap of faith.