let us trust (or, happy new year!)

Santa Cruz

Last year, on December 31st, I wrote a post about growth. I talked about the good and the bad that make up the times of our lives. I talked about how we all have a choice: Will we grow and learn from these times, and be generous and grateful for will we have? Or will we . . . Most of you can guess what the opposite reactions to those listed might be.

When I wrote that post and said that I hoped we would choose growth, I was mostly referring to my own growth in Asia during the previous three years. I was remembering the culture shock and the cold showers and the day-to-day isolation and the discomfort and uncertainty that frequently accompanies living in a foreign country. I was remembering how I went from hating my surroundings — to loving them . . . From succumbing to my circumstances — to mastering them. I was talking about the life-altering change to my worldview that I owed entirely to a place I’d previously never ever thought I’d go . . .

Truth be told, I had absolutely no idea what growth would mean for me in the United States, in my home state of California, in the coming year. Continue reading

hey lady

We took Lady to the beach a few weeks ago. Her first time.

She panted and paced. And paced and paced.

She didn’t like the waves.

Her breathing was quick and shallow.

Lady is a 6-year-old German Shepherd my brother adopted from a tow yard. My grandparents’ tow yard. Up until a few years ago, my mom’s parents ran a towing company in Akron, Ohio. Now, due to ailing health and their children’s disinterest in taking over the business, they are having to rethink their plans of running the family legacy for forever.


That means rethinking Lady, too.

My grandfather rescued Lady from the pound as a puppy. Since then, she’s been the “guard dog” at yard. Some guard dog. Lady is the sweetest, most docile German Shepherd you’ve ever seen. Upon meeting a stranger, she whines and lowers her head, nuzzles and asks to be pet. When the yard was being shut down, Lady needed a home.

My brother and his girlfriend wanted a dog.

The pet movers were contacted, the arrangements made, and “voila,” my brother and his girlfriend had a pet. But it was different adopting a 6-year-old dog than adopting a puppy, they discovered. Lady was restless and uncomfortable indoors. She preferred sleeping on the grass to the bed they’d bought her. And she just wouldn’t calm down. Even outside, she whined all night long.

It’s been a few months now, and, gradually, Lady is getting more comfortable. But the episode at the beach reminded me of how difficult, in some instances, change can be. Even in situations where the change is for the better, it often takes a while to adjust. This is also true for changing ourselves—our habits, thought patterns, and attitudes. While other people’s dogs were yapping happily, chasing balls into the waves or snoozing contentedly on the sand, Lady was pacing and pacing. And panting and panting.

She really was happy. It was just . . .

If dogs have a hard time with change, how much more do we?

Retreating to safer ground after testing the waves

Lady and her new owners

lesson from a pair of pants

It occurred to me as I was pulling on a pair of pants: Americans are pansies.

The pants were stiff and tough; ugh! They weren’t comfortable at all. The last time they’d been washed—and hung to dry—I was living in Hong Kong.

The same thing had happened, in reverse, when I first moved home. Pulling a shirt out of the dryer, I was amazed. So this is what it feels like to use a dryer . . .

And it struck in me a memory. I remembered previous journeys abroad—to Italy, France, and Taiwan. And I remembered a particular sense of dread each time: I’m going to have to HANG DRY my clothes??!!

[Pause. Cough.]

Hang dry your clothes? YES, you’re going to have to hang dry your clothes, you big sissy! And it’s not going to kill you, either. Millions, no, BILLIONS of people around the world hang dry their clothes every day. How do you think people dried their clothing a hundred years ago? . . .

And they do it in humidity, too! You’re at least lucky you live in California.

Pshh. As if this is something you should even be worrying about.

And besides! Did you know that, while Americans make up only five percent of the world’s population, they use 20 percent of its energy*? Do you realize how much energy you can save by hang drying your clothes?

[Pause. Sheepish grin.]

Although, I have to admit: Remember when your clothes used to smell like mold? Using a dryer is nice.

(Believe it or not, people can change.)

*Source: worldpopulation.org.

yes, i cheated. i used a heater.

my “dryer” in hong kong . . .