My family really enjoyed our recent vacation to Tennessee. We rented a beautiful log cabin high in the Smoky Mountains called Nature's Paradise and it truly lived up to its name. Along with breathtaking views of the mountains, it included all the amenities one could ask for including cable TV, Wi-Fi, stainless steel appliances, a hot tub and even a Pac-man video game. Believe me we were not roughing it, but truth be told this is the type of vacation we prefer! One added "feature" that our cabin preserve area included was not so high on our “must have” list however. When reading the welcome packet, I skimmed quickly over this “feature,” as in my naïve opinion, this was a non-issue. Here’s what it said “Please be aware that there are bears on the preserve. For your safety and protection, please do not approach or feed them, as they are wild animals.” As I read this I was thinking “Whatever, as if we would ever actually SEE a bear!” I assumed it had to be mentioned for renters' awareness, but it was something that would be very rare to occur. Well I could not have been more wrong! Not only did we see a bear but we encountered many bears during our stay every day!
As fate would have it, our initial bear adventure came on our very first night at the cabin. As it was a beautiful night, we decided to walk up to the pool area for an evening swim. It was mostly uphill to get there, but with the promise of a refreshing pool waiting for us at the end of our climb, we pressed on. All was going well until we started walking back to our cabin after swimming. My husband Phil is a real tease and in fun started growling pretending there was a bear nearby. He too thought the idea of bears on our preserve was silly. He started to freak my daughter out though, so I strongly suggested that he discontinue this ASAP. A few minutes later though as we were chatting happily along, a very strange look came across my husband’s face. His fun, easy going expression changed to fear and shock as he said “There’s a bear!” My daughter and I knew that he was serious, as his face showed this was clearly not a joke. A huge bear was right up in front of us looking for food not far from our cabin. Not knowing what to do we anxiously knocked on the nearest cabin with a high porch. In desperation we asked if we could wait there until our furry friend moved on. The people there were very sweet and obliging and even drove us back to our cabin. We feared the bear had smelled our yummy lasagna waiting for us back at the cabin, but thankfully he did not have an appetite for pasta that evening.
Well, let me tell you, I certainly felt differently about the warning in the welcome packet about bears now!. From then on we were constantly on guard as bears came out day and night looking for food. It was actually unusual to not see a bear. We never left food out, so we personally never had a problem. Others who barbecued or left garbage out however were constant targets. Often motion lights would come on in the wee hours of the night and loud banging was heard which was the sound of garbage bins being knocked over. One day we saw the biggest bear of all sitting on his bottom in front of a big bag of garbage acting like a kid in a candy store! Unbelievable. We chuckled as well as a big mess was made in front of the cabin ironically called “The Bear Necessities,” as the bears had raided their garbage the night before.
It has been said there are three kinds of people in this world. Those who watch things happen. Those who make things happen and those who wonder what happened. We saw examples of all three types with their response to the bears. We "watched," very carefully I might add. We learned to be cautious spectators and would often see things happen such as bears at other cabins as the garbage was available for them. We followed wise counsel and we were fine. Those who left the garbage out on a regular basis or barbecued frequently "made" the bears come by their cabins whether intentionally or not, by not following good advice. A clear example of someone who "wondered what happened" was a guy we observed throwing hot dogs to a bear. When Phil advised him not to do that he replied “I don’t know why this bear keeps coming around OUR cabin all the time?" Hmmm… I wonder why?
I have met people throughout my life who often act like my hot dog throwing friend. They question why life has done them wrong. They wonder why negative things are always happening to them. They are confused when things don’t quite go as planned. They don’t see the big picture and blame fate, or bad luck or God for their troubles. Like the hot dog throwing guy, they don’t know why trouble comes their way, when in reality they are basically rolling out the welcome mat for heartache and strife by their poor choices and behaviours. They are feeding the bear in their lives and are left with the consequences. We were successful because we minded our own business, listened to wise advice, took our safety seriously and looked out for each other. Many others knew what to do to avoid bear troubles, but chose not to do them and guess what like it or not their cabins were the bears’ favourites. Actions have consequences and a person can only get away with negative behaviour for so long without it catching up to him or her. Sometimes it takes a big crisis for that A-ha moment to come. Sometimes a person has a revelation, or another person can help to enlighten someone he or she cares about deeply.
The Bible says that God wants us to have abundant life. God does not want us to just exist. His desire is for us is to live life to the fullest, but we have to do our part to make sure that happens. If we are having issues in our lives we need to examine why these issues have arrived. "Bears" in our lives can be bad habits, toxic relationships, addictions, or negative emotions like fear and anxiety. To gain victory over these problem areas we must take a long hard look at what we are doing to keep the problems alive and well. Sometimes big changes need to happen or sometimes we may just need to tweak certain habits. Being able to admit our part and take responsibility is the first step to successful problem solving. We need to ask ourselves are we part of the problem or the solution? This is not easy but so necessary. It may require changing or ending relationships, starting or ending certain habits or avoiding certain places. Taking personal inventory is difficult work but also very empowering. I chuckle when my students find me at recess and complain that they don't want to be chased by someone. I always reply "If you don't want to be chased, stop running!" They always look at me like they have never thought of that before. I challenge you to examine your own issues and see with brutal honesty are you inviting “bears” to your door whether knowingly or unknowingly? I will do this too. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Let’s not be that way! Bears belong in the wild, not at our doors. They are attracted to our garbage, so as we clean up our lives, we can live in freedom! Here’s to a better life and as you strive to move forward watch out for the guy throwing hot dogs! He just doesn’t get it yet, but as you move towards your goal you can teach him a thing or two!
Until next time,
John 10:10 ~ I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
Little Lesson Learned: If trouble comes knocking at your door, don’t answer, and certainly don't invite it in for coffee.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2015
I just got back from an awesome trip to the Smoky Mountains with my family. Among the great sights and attractions, one of the coolest things we did this year was zip lining at a place called Next to Heaven. As this was a new experience for all of us, we all were very excited to try this unique and thrilling adventure. As this was completely out of my comfort zone, I was understandably nervous. I specifically had mixed feelings. I am not crazy about heights, but I knew I wanted to push myself to conquer my fears none the less. My last blog was about conquering fears so I needed to take my own advice and literally “Say Geronimo,” and soar over the trees. As we rode up the bumpy mountain road in an old pick-up truck our anticipation and excitement grew. There was a nervous energy amongst the group especially since all of us were first timers. The guides Dave and Travis were very kind and compassionate and went to great efforts to ensure our safety and comfort in this new experience we were all about to have. Many instructions were given and before we knew it, we were off ready or not to experience the thrill of zip lining through the gorgeous mountain scenery. I was the most nervous in my family as my daughter, son and husband seemed quite calm and collected. As each zip line was conquered, our confidence noticeably grew, especially my daughter’s. My greatest concern was the last zip line, as is was the highest and longest. I had been given a glove to help steady myself and brake when I got to the end. I did not need the glove until this line and I kept asking them to repeat the instructions as I was very scared. The guide even said to me “You looked stressed.” I guess I did not do a good job of hiding it. Well like it or not, I was off! I was on top of the world literally! I was soaring with such momentum however, that I panicked thinking there was no way I would hit that platform in time. In my stress I pulled down on the line with my glove and braked way too soon. The guide had to throw me a rope and pull me in a fair distance. All in all though, it was a great experience and the true highlight of our whole trip. Clearly I not only survived, but learned some important life lessons along the way on this zip lining adventure.
Life Is Short So Enjoy the Ride
Even though I was nervous, I reminded myself to try and enjoy this experience as much as possible because I knew it would be over all too soon. Life is like that too. We wish at times we could pause, fast forward or rewind certain phases of our lives, yet none of these options are possible. Every day is a gift and it is up to us to make the most of what we have been given. I chuckled when I observed a guide go on ahead of us zip lining with gusto upside down. It reminded me of people who have chosen to live each day to the fullest, having great joy along the way.
Listen To The Wise
We were provided great practical advice from people who had a wealth of experience. As I was nervous, I found that I was getting overwhelmed with the instructions and allowed fear to creep in. I kept thinking “I am not going to be successful at this!” Although I was given everything I needed to do well, my negative self talk got the better of me. I braked too soon. I was my own worst enemy. It was not that I did not trust what I had been told, but when fear set in, my actions went astray. This experience taught me to believe in myself more as it was clear that others believed in me and to not let fear rob me of an amazing experience.
Life Is A Learning Curve
No one is perfect at zip lining his or her first try. We are all beginners at first and like anything in life, it takes time to be really good at something. Whatever new challenges or adventures life hands you, be kind to yourself. Remember that every new task, job, or life challenge has a learning curve, so give yourself time to adjust. Before you know it, you’ll be the one shouting “Hee Haw” all the way, as you tape the whole memorable experience on your phone!
This Too Shall Pass
Stressful situations happen every day, but many do not last. Keeping a positive outlook and realistic vision for the future will keep you headed in the right direction. Looking back now, I am so happy I had the courage to do this and I know that when I am struggling with fear in the future, I will tell myself “If you can zip line over the Smoky Mountains, you got this!”
We’re All In This Together
This experience brought our family and group closer together. With a common purpose, we shared a very memorable adventure together that we will always remember. We did not have a camera, but one of our new friends took pictures of us and sent them to us. This was much appreciated. Life has a way of bringing people into your life at just the right time who will support you in your time of need. When I was literally hanging on for dear life, Dave our guide came to my rescue with sympathy and strong arms to bring me to safety. How grateful we are in life for those special people who come to our rescue with timely advice, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear or a warm hug at just the right time. What a blessing to feel supported.
Who would have thought that a ride on a zip line would teach me so much, but life lessons are all around us if we just know where to look. This time for me it was on top of a mountain. Where will your next life lesson come from?
Until next time
Philippians 4:13 ~ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Little Lesson Learned: Life is a journey, not a destination. We learn from all our experiences when we are willing to.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2015
I am happy to say I am one, proud pool owner. For years our family has dreamed about having a pool to enjoy during the hot summer months, so when the new home we purchased three years ago just happened to already have a pool, we were very happy to say the least! It is such a nice escape from the busyness of life and provides a great outlet for relaxation and opportunity to visit with friends and family. It is very interesting and somewhat amusing to watch people enter a pool. Many like myself like to ease in gradually, testing the waters and then there are those like my daughter who just go for it and jump right in. It has a lot to do with personalities and comfort levels, but I always find it entertaining to see each person’s individual approach and style.
I have found people approach things in life this way as well. I am reminded that problems and concerns in life can make us nervous to “test the waters.” Fear can creep in and uncertainty can make us unsure if we even want to go “swimming” at all. Years ago I made the decision to quit my job as a librarian, and go to teacher’s college. It was not an easy decision for us and with my kids only the ages of 5 and 7, I was unsure if the timing was right. Many people were happy for me, yet many others were skeptical and voiced their opinions openly and unapologetically about the “foolish move” I was making. Teaching jobs were and are very scarce where I live in Canada and many made sure they reminded me of this. I was also afraid that I would be like a fish out of water going back to school, as I felt so old. As you can see I had lots of doubts and fears, yet despite this we still felt that this was the right decision. It took some time but I am happy to say I have been teaching for ten years now and haven’t looked back. The road to my teaching career was not free of challenges or struggles, but through patience and perseverance I have made it to where I am today. Had I listened to the skeptics, my story could have been quite different. Also to my surprise when I went to teacher’s college it was refreshing to see that there were many mature students like myself so rather than standing out, I blended in very well.
Fear is a very powerful thing, yet sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith. I read a quote recently by Robert Schuller that said “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” It is interesting to ponder, because fear can hinder our true potential so often if we allow it. I love to call on students who don’t raise their hands. They look at me all bewildered and say “I didn’t have my hand up!” I reply “I know, but could you try to answer the question?” Sometimes this is too overwhelming for them and they decline, yet other times something absolutely magical happens. That shy and fearful student musters up the courage to share an answer. Sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong, yet that doesn’t matter. I love it when they answer, as it shows that a fear is being conquered. Many of us are so afraid of getting the wrong answer that we won’t even try. Contrarily though, making mistakes are great learning opportunities and taking risks is so important to grow as people. Even if students’ answers are wrong, I always applaud their bravery for trying, to encourage them to keep on sharing.
Sometimes failure can be just what we need to put us on the right path. Years ago I remember when I was going to get my driver’s licence. I proudly announced to my friends that we would go out cruising later never once entertaining the fact that I might not pass. Overconfident and somewhat arrogant, I went for my test and was informed at the end that I had failed as I violated a traffic law. It was inconceivable to me that I had failed and I remember going home sobbing feeling that my teenage life was most definitely over! This failure in hindsight caused me to take my driver training much more seriously, and I ultimately became a much better driver due to this disappointment. Not the path I would have chosen, yet a helpful one in the end.
Life is filled with disappointments and trials. We all have them, yet it is how we respond to them that truly makes the difference. Some may let negative people, fear, and failure immobilize them, while others will let the same circumstances invigorate them and leave them even more determined to succeed. I don’t claim to have all the answers, yet I am trying to be more like those who jump right in more often instead of always hesitantly testing the waters first. This is not to encourage being foolish in life, but rather to have a boldness to try new and sometimes scary things that are ultimately for our betterment.
The Bible says that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. God wants us to face our fears while believing that with Him by our side anything is possible. How are things in your corner of the world? How’s the water? Calm? Choppy? Why not take a deep breath and decide today to no longer let fear and disappointment hold you back. Say Geronimo and go for it! Believe me there are lots of others in the pool right there with you and they will be so proud you did!
Until next time
Psalms 56:3 ~ When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.
Little Lesson Learned: Never let yesterday’s fears and disappointments rob you of tomorrow’s hopes and dreams.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2015