My very dear friend, Jodi, is a fantastic person. She has so much to teach the world about kindness, fearlessness, and overcoming adversity. When I think “good person,” Jodi is what pops into my mind. One of Jodi’s downfalls, though, is that she doesn’t really enjoy writing. Or rather, she does, but she doesn’t think she’s good at it and she isn’t quick at it — thus robbing the world of the amazingly graceful heart and wit and beauty of Jodi’s insights on the Internet.
So, I’m doing the world a favor and sharing this story about Jodi…and Stella.
We were riding in the car together, on one of my first trips out to Manhattan after moving to Kansas City. My tiny dog, Rory, was nestled in my lap while Jodi’s pit bull mix, Stella, joyously sniffed at the wind from an open back window of the car along with Nacho, Jodi’s husband’s red heeler. In the midst of a never-ending flow of conversation that tends to come so naturally to Jodi and I, she said, “I had an idea for a blog post, but I’m not sure if it’d be stupid or not.”
“Well, what’s your idea?” I asked. I’ve always loved talking to other writers, whether they’re bloggers or writers on some other medium, about their ideas and thought processes.
Jodi stuck a thumb over her shoulder toward Stella, the epitome of joy with her face to the wind behind the driver’s seat. “When we first got Stella, she was afraid of a lot of things. She was so full of joy, but had spent a lot of time locked up. Then she got moved to her foster home and was well loved but never got a chance to settle.”
This sounded familiar. My own dog, Rory, had taken months of coaxing and encouragement from foster owners, other dogs, and myself to start acting like a happy, confident dog. Less-than-ideal situations can wreck a sensitive dog’s self-esteem, if dogs have such a thing. I nodded, and Jodi continued talking as she looked out on the country road we were driving on.
“Well, when we first got her, she was afraid of the wind when she rode in the car. Like, she’d put her face near the open window like she wanted to sniff the wind and pull back. She wanted to do it, she wanted to enjoy the wind, but it scared her. Then one day, she just built up the courage and did it. Now she loves to put her face to the wind when we are in the car.” I liked the underlying lesson, but let Jodi keep talking.
“So, like, I want to share this story, and relate it to how sometimes we have to do something that scares us, but we find new things that make life so much more exciting and fulfilling.” Absolutely. I loved this idea. “Jodi,” I said, “You need to write this post! I love it. I’d share it.”
We got out of the car at Jodi’s house. As we walked into the kitchen, with a pack of dogs now running excitedly around the house, she looked square at me. “Well, it makes me think of you.” I sat, dumbfounded. I came to Kansas City for work and a fresh start. It was terrifying, but…I hardly felt like it was anything remarkable. I did it because I felt like I needed to. I was touched by how solemnly Jodi had said that.
Sitting down at the kitchen table, I took off my sunglasses and said, sincerely, “Lots of people identify with that sort of post. I think it’d be a great thing to write about.” People did things scarier than moving to a new city all the time.
“I will if I have time. I just take so gosh darn long to write posts,” said Jodi. Jodi, the sweet, awesome, strategic professional who can tap into just about any audience over social media. Jodi, whose talent for connecting people is rivaled only by her insecurity about her own communication skills.
“Heck, if you don’t, I will.” I wasn’t kidding, either. It wasn’t a bluff.
Nearly four months later, that story has stuck in my head enough that I’m publishing it. I’ve written in the past about life lessons I’ve learned from my own dog and how they could benefit me in my “fresh start” here in Kansas City. Life is terrifying at times, whether it’s because of change or overstimulation or stress or just feeling unsure of ourselves. But, we can’t be afraid of the wind. Sometimes facing those fears unlock something bigger and more beautiful.
Is Stella’s life drastically changed because she sticks her head out the window of her car? Maybe not. But if you’ve ever seen a dog with their head hanging out of a car window, you know that there are few things that embody pure joy quite like that.
Don’t be afraid of the wind. Sometimes that fear is the only thing between you and your true potential for joy.
Thanks, Jodi, for this little lesson. It’s just one of many.