“Don’t Be Afraid” – Boston 1978

Are you afraid of anything? Experience fear at the mere thought or mention of something? As I told you last week, I am afraid of roller coasters. But, embarrassingly, I am also afraid of dogs. This wasn’t always the case. I actually grew up with dogs – Charlie, Penny, and Brandy. But somewhere along the way, my comfort of being around dogs developed into a fear of dogs. Not sure what caused this fear, maybe it was being chased by dogs while riding bikes and running. Got my speed and heart rate up very high!

“Love is what we are born with, fear is what we learn.”

However, I have overcome quite a bit of my fear of dogs thanks to the addition of my granddawg, Paige. Maybe that’s because I “know” her and have been around her since she was a puppy and experienced all of her “stages.” And I am not afraid of my son-in-law’s parents’ 2 dogs who are so sweet and gentle. Now mind you, all of these dogs are golden retrievers, not sure if that makes a difference or not. But I am so thankful to have eased some of my fear of dogs!

I have to admit though, I am still a bit afraid of my sisters’ dogs. (sorry sisters!) My older sister and brother-in-law fostered a rescue pit bull mix, Raymond (Everyone Loves Raymond!), and ended up adopting him. Trust me, Raymond ended up in the right family with them – he is loved and pampered beyond words. But Raymond is still an “unknown” to me. And my younger sister rescued 2 dogs left on the side of the road – Teddie and Bodie. They are sweet dogs, but again, unknown to me. So yes, I am a bit fearful of them, although I was never afraid of her dog Tucker, a golden retriever!

“The fears we don’t face become our limits.”

Along with dogs, my younger sister also has horses. She was never exposed to horses as a child, but she found them when she needed them. When we lost our dad November 2, 2000, my sisters and I took it hard. My younger sister took it the hardest, as my older sister and I each had spouses (pre-SOLO days for me) to comfort and help us. But my younger sister was SOLO. I now understand how lost she felt. She struggled with the loss of Daddy and searched for an outlet. One day she rode by a field and saw people riding horses, and something clicked. She reached out to several barns about lessons and found one willing to teach a 35-year-old who had never even touched a horse. She was terrified and exhilarated at the same time. She learned to ride and found being at the barn very soothing. A year after we lost Daddy, a 2-year-old palomino horse was at the barn for sale and my sister fell in love. She bought her first horse, Wilbur (yes I say it like Mr. Ed would – Wil—bur!), who had never even had a saddle on. Together they learned patience, bravery, courage, loyalty, and love. Several years later, Pepper and Huck joined her family. All gentle horses. And she started entering horse shows.

Huck, Pepper, Wilbur…

“A barn is a sanctuary in an unsettled world, a sheltered place where life’s true priorities are clear. When you take a step back, it’s not just about horses – it’s about love, life, and learning.”

When she decided to move from her home and barn in Advance, NC, to High Point, NC, to be closer to her son’s family (baby Jack!), she had to sell 2 of her horses. What a hard decision. But things always work out, even if we can’t see it at the time, and it did in this case too. She sold Wilbur and Pepper to Wilbur’s original owners, and kept Huck. And she boards Huck where Wilbur and Pepper are, so they are all together and are kept together. Less painful for my sister as she gets to see all the horses when she goes out to ride Huck. Plus the barn is only 5 minutes from Mom. Life is good.

“Life has a funny way of working out, just when you start to believe it never will.”

Unlike my sister, I am afraid of horses. They are so BIG! However, after spending time with my sisters last Friday at my younger sister’s barn, I am not quite as scared. She showed us how gentle they are – they don’t bite (even though they have HUGE teeth) and they just want attention. And apples. My sister’s horses are her “beach house,” her retreat. So the next time I go to Winston, I am going to ride my sister’s horse! My older sister has done it, now it will be my turn. Can you imagine me on a horse? I want to do this. I want to overcome this fear and truly, I want to understand more of what my sister sees and feels with her horses. And what a great opportunity to bond more with my sister. Plus just imagine how tall I will be on a horse!

“Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.”

Speaking of family, I left the beach a day early last week and headed to see my mom. Felt a strong need to see her and I needed a “Mom hug” which she gave me. It is always a relief when I see her and say “hey Momma!” and she responds “Les! I am so happy to see you!” Even though she asks about her mother and grandmother, she still knows who we are.

I knew my younger sister had been there earlier because Mom had a new Halloween wreath on her door, made by my younger sister, but mom said, nope no one had been to see her. So even if mom doesn’t remember I was there, she knew it in the moment. That is what is important.

My older sister met me there and we all walked down to the ice cream parlor for some soft serve chocolate and vanilla ice cream. One of the benefits of being at Trinity Elms. It is like taking mom “out” without leaving the premises. We visited, laughed, and had our ice cream before walking mom back to her room. She is doing very well – getting around much better now that her shoulder has healed. Thank you Lord!

And thank you to my younger daughter, who took me to several vineyards Saturday afternoon. What a fun and beautiful day it was. We visited Jefferson Vineyards, Blenheim Vineyards (owned by Dave Matthews of DMB fame), and ended up at Cunningham Creek, a cute local winery that was open late with some good “old” live music. My daughter, like all of my kids, knows all of the oldies from the 60’s and 70’s as they all grew up listening to this with me. Still do when we travel. This band played a lot of Beatles and Doobie Brothers, but also Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum. We had so much fun! And good wine! Thankfully, there was also food there so I could drive us home.

“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think of what could go right.”

Two and a half years ago, my biggest fear was of being alone. The fear of the unknown. What would my life be like SOLO, on my own, solely responsible for me? Could I do it? Could I move away from a life I had known for over 35 years? What was my future now? What would happen if I got sick, had an accident, lost my job? My fears eased as I discovered how strong I could be, when strong was my only option. I had to step up and be responsible for myself. I had to protect myself financially and emotionally, because there was no one else to do it. And I did. My fears eased, but they are still present. We never know what the future will bring, we just have to have faith. And we need to face our fears to know we can overcome them and survive.

Yes the white wines are mine!

“Fear is what stops you…Courage is what keeps you going.”

What are your fears in life? We all have them. Just don’t let them control your life, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

Best,

Leslie

PS – Did you know that the fear of dogs is cynophobia??

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