This is the tree right outside our front door that holds all our bird houses and bird feeders. Over the last two summers, we’ve had a bird family in one or two of our houses. I love watching the birds eat from the feeders and go in and out of their homes. But there really is nothing better than in the quiet of the afternoon, hearing the baby birds chirp and sing for their mom and dad to bring them food. Unfortunately (as you can see from the picture) we have had to remove the feeders. Do you wonder why?
We have bears currently making their way throughout my community. You see I live in a city wrapped in trees and vegetation that is right smack in the middle of suburban neighborhoods. My home is on an acre surrounded on three sides by trees and woods. Most of the other 9 neighbors on my block are similar or even more secluded. Lots of the homes within my city are like this. We’ve lived here for 15 months and have loved the seclusion but closeness to the city. But now I’m seeing another part of living amongst the trees. Living amongst the wildlife!
Through the glorious nature of social media, I’ve become privy to the knowledge of this wildlife. Facebook has kept me abreast of the people who have been “surrounded” by a pack of coyotes while on the nature trails that fill our city. Facebook has kept me abreast of the dogs that have been “lured” out of their yards by one coyote only to be surrounded then by the pack. Facebook has also kept me abreast of the fear of these animals. The worry that soon a child or a pet will be hurt and/or killed by one or more of these coyotes.
And now. It’s the bears.
There is a black bear (and potential cubs) that have taken to roaming these parts (as well as our surrounding cities). I think about every other day I find out where the bear is by the most recent sighting. Three sightings have happened within a mile or less of our home. During one visit to a neighbor, the bear was feasting on none other than their bird food in the bird feeder! As you may already guess there is quite a bit of fear emanating from the private Facebook page of our city. In fact, even when I gave up social media for a bit, I still logged onto that private page on Facebook a few times a day just to keep track of the bear!
Recently our puppy Atticus (who has severe food allergies) ate a carrot that I provided to him as a treat outside. I offered it as an alternative to the sticks and acorns that cover our grass, that he kept insisting on eating. That was a terrible decision. Since last Thursday he has been up most nights one to four times going outside to be sick. Let me tell you this. When you live in a city with no street lights, surrounded by woods, that are now “INFESTED” with bears and coyotes….bringing your dog outside in the dark to be sick, is absolutely terrifying. Being tired and alone in the dark is definitely NOT a good combination for eliminating fears. It actually exacerbates them. When you struggle with anxiety like I do – this has not been good for me.
Yesterday morning I woke up acting like a grumpy bear. I had been up and outside with Atticus only one time so it was a win. You would’ve thought. He’s having more and more normal bathroom trips now. So I should be feeling like we are on the upward climb. I did NOT think any of those things. I instead stomped around the kitchen crabby and angry. My husband came over to hug me and tell me goodbye and I couldn’t even offer him a smile which was his only request of me that morning. Who does that?
Then as I’m driving my youngest to school she kept asking me why I was so cranky. I literally told her to STOP talking to me. Who does that?
Me – that’s who does that. Me with a big, bad bear like attitude says that.
But a profound thing happened that afternoon. I was in the waiting room at the doctor and was reading the book Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. The book was sent to me eons ago by my friend Sarah. I’m just now getting to it and it was like a huge slap to my face.
Right there on pages 4 and 5:
“Life is not supposed to overwhelm you at all times. Life isn’t meant to be merely survived – it’s meant to be lived…Certainly there are times when storms toss you around or cover the deck with water or break the mast clean in half-but that’s when you need to fight your way back, to throw all the water off the boat bucket by bucket. That’s when you battle to get yourself back to the helm. This is your life. You are meant to be the hero of your own story. This doesn’t mean you become selfish. This doesn’t mean you discard your faith or quit believing in something greater than yourself. What it means is taking responsibility for your own life and your own happiness. Said another way-a harsher more-likely-to-get-me-punched-in-the-face way – if you’re unhappy, that’s on you.”
She goes on to explain that depression or grief is not what she’s explaining here. That “when I say unhappy, I mean discontented, unsettled, frustrated, angry – any of a number of emotions that make us want to hide from our lives…”
My attitude about my fear of the bears and the fear that my dog will always and forever be sick and go outside a hundred times a night was all ON ME.
I was becoming the bear that I’ve been so terrified of. I don’t want to be the bear.
I went home from the doctor and made the simple choice to smile. To listen to my daughter talk. To hug my husband when he got home. I made the choice to be happy even amongst the fear.
My sweet niece sent me a text this morning with some verses from Psalm 3 in it. PERFECT TIMING and just what I needed to keep going.
But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. – Psalm 3:3-6
Each day we are bombarded with choices. As a mom, I have to wake up and choose what’s for lunch, what’s for dinner, who’s driving whom where and when….and more. Within all of those choices, I also need to make the choice to have a good attitude and be happy for where I am.
According to Hollis (2018), “You must choose to be happy, grateful, and fulfilled. If you make that choice every single day, regardless of where you are or what’s happening, you will be happy.”