1. Flying is not for me, but I did figure out three ways to make it easier and to minimize my fear. Accept the help of airport personnel who know what's what and can cut through the intimmidation of the security process quite well, savor the rare times when empty seats surround you on the plane or when you are upgraded to first class as a complementary way to give your guide dog more floor space, and stop listening to every new buzz or bang and assuming that they mean the plane is going down! With the combination of those factors, I did better on my two flights than I ever did before on planes. I have a hunch I'd get more comfortable with the flying thing if I did it more often, as would Elias who handled the flights well after an initial twenty minutes or so of being wiggly, but I doubt I'll ever make a practice of it as long as teaching is my main profession and being an author and speaker are secondary. However, that first class upgrade could be a persuasive temptation: ooooo those seats are big!!!
2. Whenever you gather over 100 dogs in a small space, training is good, but dog behaviors are going to rise up in spite of training! Whether it was sniffing or distractability or even the barking from two dogs during my banquet speech, these dogs showed they are not machines. They were largely quite behaved, but their dogginess was actually an acceptable reminder that they aren't perfect either, which is a good thing since we humans are awfully skilled at that not-perfect thing ourselves!
3. Old friends are not replaceable, and true friendship picks right up where it left off, even after a long gap. My delight in seeing my retired colleague Jim and his wife Jean was second to none. How we packed so many good moments in our rushed hours together is quite impressive! I cherish their friendship and pledge to embrace other friendships with more passion in light of my great time with them.
4. While the writing of the book almost tore me into shreds at times over the last two years, I now see it as a task that God empowered me to do. By His grace, I put forth a collection of stories and poems that needed to be shared. Now, as I gradually spread the word and find opportunities to speak publiclly about the book's message, I feel how I am guessing a mother feels when a child takes his first steps. I can't take credit for it, but I can bask in the pride of knowing I had something to do with it, some part in a process bigger than me. As Two Plus Four Equals One is embraced, I step back into the shadows and smile to myself, saying, "Good job, my child. Go forward with your own momentum. I'm behind you all the way, but it is now your turn to shine."