Our dog Otto is usually our morning alarm clock, as he consistently wakes up between 5:30 – 6:30 every morning. He sleeps in our bedroom, as he likes to sleep on the hardwood floor. Occasionally he’ll have an exception to the norm, and this morning was definitely an exception.
As I was in my deep sleep at 4:15 this morning, Otto was awakened by a siren (I assume), and next thing I know, not only did he hop up on the bed, but he put his head right by my face…there’s nothing like warm dog breath in your face to start your day!
As Jenn is on business travel, Otto and I have our nightly ritual – I walk him around the block at 10pm, and then we come home and head upstairs, where he hops on the bed while I brush my teeth. I then give him his Greenie dog toothbrush, where he hops back down on the floor to eat the Greenie and goes to sleep. He’ll sometimes hop back up for a quick snuggle, but then he’s back on the floor and fast asleep.
When he woke me up this morning, I assumed he needed to go out (when you have a Great Pyrenees dog, you ALWAYS go on the side of caution!)…needless to say, I hopped up and threw on my sweats, and quickly went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I came back to the bedroom, and guess who was passed out cold, laying horizontally across the ENTIRE bed, snoring louder than I usually do?
All I could do was laugh….as I nudged him over enough so that I could at least have 1/8th of the bed, I thought about how dogs are very intuitive to the needs of their humans. Whether it’s a seeing eye dog, a dog that can sense seizures before they happen, or a therapy dog for helping those with emotional issues, dogs truly make a difference in our lives.
More often than not, Otto knows when I need a laugh, when I need some company, or when I need to get my ass off the couch. That’s why I didn’t mind petting him this morning while he slept, occasionally taking a big paw to the face, and I enjoyed the quiet (ok, relatively quiet) time to plan out my day.
While he was asleep beside me, I actually started thinking about if I could put my Apple Watch on one of his paws to help with my Exercise ring. I then realized that it would be much more logical to put it on him while he’s asleep, as he probably would burn a lot more calories while snoring!
I’m truly thankful for the joy that Otto has brought into our lives. Every day is a new and interesting adventure – and sometimes the adventure starts at 4:15 am!
No matter how you calculate his age, it’s still a parental dilemma. Otto is both a toddler in his “terrible twos”, and he’s also an “early year teenager” (14) in human years. This week he reminded me of how he is both.
On Monday morning, I had an early morning dentist appointment. I took Otto both for a walk and to the dog park, so that I could get him back home and situated before heading out. Right before I was ready to head out the door, Otto got an unusual case of separation anxiety. He would not let me leave, as he blocked the front door, and then he would not leave my side. It was like he was trying to protect me from something. When I was able to get out of the front door, he decided to rebel like an angry teenager and tried to escape – by charging right at me, knocking us both over down the front steps.
After deciding to drop him at daycare (and arriving late to the dentist), I took a few moments to think (and chill) over what happened. When I picked Otto up after work, I found myself in complete “parent mode.” Otto and I have a ritual that we walk around the block at daycare before getting in the car to come home. As we walked, I started talking to him, as I’m thoroughly convinced that he understands me. I remember the conversation word for word:
“Otto, I was really disappointed in how you behaved this morning, as both of us could’ve gotten seriously hurt. But you know what? No matter how much you upset me, you’ll always be my Floof.” I could practically see my mom smiling from above.
Dogs give us unconditional love…they also remind us of the importance of unconditional love. I treated Otto to a ride home in the convertible, as he’s getting more and more comfortable to riding with the wind blowing through his floof. Although I’m still a little sore from the tumble, I’m thankful that the experience was such an important life lesson.
Hopefully the only things that Otto and I see falling going forward are the leaves.
I watched an incredible movie last night. The movie was “The Last Full Measure”, based on the true story of Air Force Sgt. William Pitsenbarger, an Air Force paratrooper who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. In April of 1966, he chose to be dropped from his helicopter into incredibly heavy gunfire to save nearly 60 Army soldiers who were being ambushed by the Vietcong. He didn’t know any of the men he saved, as he became their medic, as the Army medic was severely wounded during the ambush. When the last helicopter to safety had to leave because of the danger of the situation, Sgt. Pitsenbarger waived this helicopter off and chose to stay and fight with those still on the ground. Tragically, he was killed by a Vietcong sniper during the battle.
One of the Army soldiers said that seeing Sgt. Pitsenbarger cable down from the helicopter while his troop was being ambushed seemed like some sort of miracle, as he thought death would be eminent. Although it took nearly 34 years, Sgt. Pitsenbarger was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military award that can be received. He put others before himself in a way that I can’t even imagine.
As we acknowledged the 20th anniversary of 9/11, there were many stories not just about New York’s Bravest and Finest who gave their lives to save others, but also about civilians who gave their lives to ensure that the others around them got to safety. I’m sure there are many stories that we may never know.
We had a guest speaker at our church on Sunday, and she made a statement that still strongly resonates with me five days later – the statement was “Don’t think less of yourself – just think of yourself a little less.” It’s a reminder that we can always be there for others, even when struggling to be there for ourselves. It’s said that people come into others’ lives for a reason…how many times has this been referred to as a miracle by someone when this happens?
This was an enlightening week. As much as we continue to dwell on the things that divide us, we have reminders of what happens when we not only think of others, but also the importance of putting aside the things that divide us. In both Vietnam, and the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Shanksville Pennsylvania, we saw miracles even in the moments of darkest tragedy, as people put their own lives aside to save the lives of others, where color, religion, politics and preference did not matter.
I hope the day comes when we all can find the unity we shared on September 12, 2001, where we had the utmost respect for those who put others first.
I’m feeling better. (Thank you, The Headspace Show on Netflix for being the pleasant surprise along my journey.)
I challenged myself today….I’m making myself write, even though I don’t feel like saying much. Like any good habit, the more you let it slide, the harder it is to pick it back up. As much as I hated writing term papers as a required part of my adolescent education years, writing this blog has helped me find myself, it’s helped to find a new outlet for creativity, and it’s helped me to reconnect some friendships that I thought were forever broken.*
*And yes, I realize that if it wasn’t for trying to write as accurately as possible for all those years, I probably would never have been able to write a sentence with such eloquently crafted verbiage as these last two sentences above have been written. Thank you Bennett Elementary and Onteora Central, with mad props to my 5th and 6th grade teacher, George DeFina!)
The incredibly sad news I received about my ex’s recent passing has made me think a lot about my past….it’s also helped me to realize that my future isn’t written yet, and for my daughter’s sake and my families’ sake, I need to stay as focused and positive as I can be in the present.
……and I’ve caused a lot of damage to people my entire life.
Sandy Quaranda, Melissa Fisher, Jennifer Gray, Amanda Donis, Peggy Dyer, Lori Petramale, Tina Pratt, Bonnie Longbotham, Michal Sears Stowe and Jennifer Otto Mendez Stowe – I’M TRULY SORRY.
To friends and fellow students and colleagues I’ve hurt along the way – Anne DeWitt, Becca Saltman, Lynore Lawton, Jennifer Rodgers, Jeni Munson, Chuck Wilson, Todd Googins, Nanette Fellman Kaiser, John McGovern, the Red Hot & Blue Band, Mike Olexa, Aurora Velasquez and Beth Loudy – I hope you can all one day forgive me for the things I both said and did.
To my brother Lee – thank you for showing me later in life that you are the greatest big brother I could ever ask for. Seeing the husband you are to Margaret, and the father you are to Rose, Claire and Alyssa, you are the living example of courage, strength and perseverance.
To my friends Will Lee and Donna Pescow…thank you for giving this awkward and dorky band geek from Shokan New York the ability to DREAM BIG. Although I never got to share the stage with either of you, you gave me the inspiration to believe in myself, and this helped me on many the day I felt like I was the only one who believed in myself.
Jenn and Lauryn – please know this….I will ALWAYS be with you. ALWAYS. (Jenn – You don’t have to hold the beach ball underwater anymore.) ❤️
These people mentioned in this post are the people that I’ve hurt the most in this lifetime, and I vividly remember how I hurt them. This is why I can’t blog anymore. I’ve realized just how much damage has been done, and to be very honest with everyone, I really don’t like what I’ve become, and I’m tired of being such a “surface person”….for all of the words of support and comfort these last couple of weeks, I wish that I had more genuine compassion to receive it the way it should be received.
This is why I’m “shutting up”….I need to focus on fixing what is severely broken right now, even if that means making the ultimate sacrifice for the betterment and happiness of the ones I love.
Bye, everybody…thank you for allowing me to use this blog to tear my wall of fear down. Be well in all ways. 😊❤️🎶
This is definitely not how I expected the week to go leading up to my birthday.
As most people know, I just found out that my ex-wife Michal died very unexpectedly and tragically nearly three months ago from a brain aneurysm. My emotions have been all over the place, as it’s a very complicated situation. There are moments of sadness and compassion, and there are moments of absolute anger and frustration.
There are fences to mend – not just with my former in-laws, but with many people. 10 years ago, I would’ve been driven by “getting approval” as my focus of mending fences. Now I realize that my motivation for doing so is because it’s simply the right thing to do.
I drove up to Pennsylvania this week and showed nothing but genuine compassion to my former in-laws. For as many reasons as I have to be upset and angry, I put all of that aside. I haven’t forgotten the things that happened between and Michal, but in comparison to the pain and grief her family is going through, my hurt is very minimal in comparison. I’m not the least bit ashamed to say that my heart breaks for my daughter and Michal’s family and friends, because I know they’re all truly devastated.
I’m also burying the hatchet with Miss Vitriolic (who’s name rhymes with “Seth Cloudy”)….she indirectly apologized for her actions towards me, and stated that what was said is not a reflection of who she is. In light of what else has happened this week, I’m at peace knowing that I forgive her, even if the apology was not directly given to me. Who amongst us has not ever hurt someone else very deeply. I know I have, and I’ve learned to forgive myself. By doing so, it’s easier for me to forgive others, including “Seth.”
I’ve heard from a lot of people this week, telling me what I should do and how I should go about things in terms of my daughter. I genuinely appreciate everyone’s concern. I’m at peace with what I have decided going forward….as my focus is on her well being, I also know that she’s where she needs to be, and for me to make a sudden and shocking change in her life would not be good for anybody right now. As I’ve forgiven my ex-in-laws for the decision that had recently made regarding the communication around Michal’s passing, I hope that my family and friends can do the same.
I called this post “52”, as my 52nd birthday is Sunday. Although Jenn has been phenomenal in making this a wonderful birthday considering the circumstances, it’s going to be a bittersweet day, knowing that my daughter lost her mother. The best birthday gift I can ask for from everyone is to keep Lauryn and my ex-in-laws in your prayers. I’ve put and will continue to put my animosity in the rear view mirror.
With Jenn’s blessing, I’m going away by myself this weekend to AvalonFest, as it’s three days of live music. This was a planned trip, and I seriously thought about canceling. I need to get away for a few days….when people “run away”, it’s based on fear. I need to “go away” this weekend – to process what is happened, to enjoy the silence (except for the live music), and try to come back feeling like a better person than I do this morning. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and experienced receiving a lot of hurt in this life – lies, loss of trust, abuse…I choose to not live this way anymore, and to have a much healthier mindset. This is my birthday gift to myself.
I started to call this post “Lane Arthur Stowe, August 15, 1969 – August 15, 2021”, but I knew that everyone would freak out and misinterpret the title as a suicide letter. Trust me, that is something that I will NEVER do. I wanted to call it that because I’m hoping to “start life over” with this birthday. I’ve worked hard to get over a lot of the negativity that I have both given and received….I don’t want to be so unhappy anymore. Everybody’s lives look great on social media – I’ve used it to build this “happy persona” as a way of deflecting that I often deal with loneliness, depression and feeling inadequate. It’s time for me to “be the buffalo” – buffalos run toward thunderstorms instead of away from them….they face their issues head on.
Thank you to everyone for your love, friendship and support through this very challenging time….I’m going to do everything to ensure that my 52nd trip around the sun is brighter than ever before.
Exactly two weeks from today, I’m going to be 52 years old.
For my birthday gift to myself, I’ve made a promise to not be afraid of challenging my true capabilities, out of such a fear of failure. Whether it’s writing new lyrics again, or becoming more fluent with the software I use with my job, or to learning acceptance of generosity and no longer fearing a failure to reciprocate appropriately.
I need to be a part of the solution to bringing passion back to creating music, and not be on the sidelines complaining about how most current pop music has become more about vibration than creativity.
It’s time to remember what it was like to enjoy writing short stories when I was much younger, and tap into the creativity, curiosity and wonder that helped me to find so many unique and one-of-a kind moments in my life throughout the years.
I’ve lived with this crippling fear since that horrific event so many years ago that altered the direction of my life, and I’ve created a comfort zone where I feel that it’s OK for me to be good enough, because I’ve been afraid to dig deeper to find out how good I could truly be.
In addition to continuing to write this blog, I’m going to select 52 of my friends whom I will write one letter to each of them over the next 52 weeks. I’ve always been the guy who writes those two “make them as impactful as can be” sentences in a card, instead of writing to friends in such detail in a card where I’m trying to express my feelings and end up being all over the place. (I’ve also always been the guy to say the shortest prayer. Mom, I’m so sorry.) I hope by doing so, I develop a much deeper sense of friendship and connection with these 52 people. Some of you may be VERY surprised to hear from me! 😊
I’ve more than passed the halfway point in my life, and God willing, I’m not at the 15/16th point (assuming our lives are in not created in sixteenths, of course). How much more capable can I become in my creativity? Is this the year I TRULY try doing stand-up comedy? (Dan Madonia and Mike Levinsky, you guys are part of the 52 friends group!) Is this the year I learn how to write sentences without using so many parentheses? (Hint: I’m not there yet.)
I’m excited, and focused on not being scared. To be pleasantly surprised and to have more gratitude on this journey is all I can hope for. Maybe that “To Enjoy The View, It’s a Mighty Nice Life” song popped back into my head for a reason.
By doing this, it’ll be a core workout. (True story – I was waffling between this and “it’ll make me happy to the core.” Damnit, there’s that parentheses thing again. And admit it – you giggled when you read that last sentence. I’m funny….get used to it. 😁)