Listen and Learn

While stationed at Ft. Sill, OK in 1995, I moved out of the barracks and into a house with a buddy of mine. Bobby was of Mexican descent by way of San Antonio, Texas. One day, I helped him wash his low-rider truck. You should’ve seen his reaction when I asked him to hand me the “hosepipe.” “A hose who?” he asked, as he burst into laughter.

Although perfectly acceptable, I haven’t called it a “hosepipe” since that day.

Several weeks ago, I had a lunch with a couple of friends from Cincinnati. They were driving to Florida to see their daughter who was stationed at Pensacola Naval Air Station. We met at a BBQ restaurant in Montgomery. When the waiter asked if we wanted a bowl of their famous Brunswick stew, my friends looked at him like he had a rib protruding from his ear. They’d never even heard of one of the more popular staples of southern cuisine.

In both situations, I learned that no matter how common something may be to me, it may not even be on the other person’s radar. Bobby learned some good southern English, and my Cincinnati friends learned that they loved Brunswick stew.

For what it’s worth, I’d rather drink water from a hosepipe than eat Brunswick stew, but that’s just me.

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The other day, I was walking with my girlfriend and her dogs in Auburn. Every single person we saw on a bicycle was wearing a helmet, so I told Lucy that I thought it was stupid. She looked at me funny while I tried to explain it the best I could using caveman logic.

The caveman logic continued as I ventured off into the absurdity of trampoline enclosures.

“I didn’t need any of that when I was a kid,” I said, “And look at me. I lived to tell about it.”

She simply asked, ‘Why not protect your kids when and where you can?”

She had a point. Why not protect your kids when and where you can? If a helmet will prevent one little boy from banging his head on a rock or if a trampoline enclosure will prevent one little girl from breaking her arm, then why not?

My thinking on these particular safety precautions has evolved, but I still think bicycle helmets look stupid. Still, wear a helmet. It could save your life.

Of course, I used to think seatbelts were stupid, too. These days, I don’t leave my driveway without buckling up. What used to seem stupid is now the norm.

A few weeks ago, I set off a respectful firestorm on Facebook when I said that I thought 25 year olds were too old to be on their parent’s insurance plan. While some agreed, many did not. After reading the dissenting points of view, my own point of view began to change, and I now understand why some remain on their parent’s plan until the age of 26. Times have changed, and for many, it just makes sense.

Although it can sometimes be difficult, I try to keep an open mind in all that I do. Too many times, we shut out opposing points of view, and that gets us nowhere.

I know I’ve changed over the years, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

I used to not like asparagus, but now, I love asparagus.

I used to not like Chihuahuas, but now, I love Chihuahuas.

I used to not like the Alabama Crimson Tide. I still don’t like the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Some things never change; however, most things can, will, and should as we grow. Most of my friends act and think just like me. Naturally, we are drawn to people who resemble us inside and out, but I think it’s important to spend time with people from a wide range of backgrounds, because it allows us to learn new things and to see things from a different point of view.

I’m not afraid to listen, and I’m not afraid to learn. Sadly, some people are. Life would be really boring without change.

PS…If you’re still shaking your head about “hosepipe”…..

If it's on Wikipedia, it must be true.

If it’s on Wikipedia, it must be true.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.

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National Love Your Pet Day

February 20 was National Love Your Pet Day. Who knew?

I don’t really need a special day to love my dog but it did give me something to write about.

Ruby, my 10 month old chocolate lab, has been such a blessing. When Chyna, my 15 ½ year old, died in July 2012, I wasn’t sure I’d ever have a dog again. The pain was immense, but time heals all wounds, as does puppy breath.

The day I got her. She was so tiny.

The day I got her. She was so tiny.

She begins each day by licking me all over my face; however, she’s very respectful of my sleep. She will sit there and stare at me like she’s trying to steal my soul until I open an eye, but once that eye is open, she’s on me like a duck on a June bug.

On sunny days, she likes to play in her “high dolla” Walmart pool that I purchased for her last year.

Skinny Ruby right after she whipped Parvo's booty in October.

Skinny Ruby right after she whipped Parvo’s booty in October.

Regardless of weather conditions, I leave my back door open the majority of each day giving her free will to roam in and out at her convenience. Be that as it may, she chooses to stay at my side for most of the day.

In fact, she’s at my side right now with a tennis ball in her mouth. Apparently, she wants me to throw it.

Ruby tennis ball

When she does go outside, she likes to bring the outside back in with her. Too often, my floor is covered with worms, spiders, sticks, rocks, and clumps of dirt. Hey, that’s what vacuums are for. I won’t tell you what else she occasionally brings in. That’s just gross, but I still love her.

She loves to ride in my car, too. It doesn’t matter if we’re going to the vet or just taking a spin around the neighborhood. All I have to do is pick up my keys and she starts going berserk. I don’t take her for a ride every day, but I do most days.

Ruby riding

She loves to watch The Andy Griffith Show with me. Well, at least the opening sequence. It seems she’s drawn to the whistling. She peps up for Barney Fife, too. The show was always better with Barney. Even dogs know that.

I’ve probably thrown the tennis ball a dozen times since I mentioned it just four short paragraphs ago.

Like her master, she eats well. I drive all the way to Lee County Feed & Seed in Beauregard for her special dog food.

I do my best to keep her water bowls filled, but, on occasion, I fail. She doesn’t complain, though. She simply drinks from the toilet. She adapts and overcomes.

Speaking of the toilet, she goes wherever I go. Like I mentioned, she seldom leaves my side.

Ruby sometimes makes a mess in the bathroom and beyond. No, not that kind of mess. Sometimes, she’ll get ahold of a roll of toilet paper and spreads it all over the house. She is an Auburn fan, so I can’t blame her. We like our toilet paper.

One day, we'll roll Toomer's Corner together. War Eagle!

One day, we’ll roll Toomer’s Corner together. War Eagle!

She loves playing in the bathtub, and it doesn’t matter if it’s empty, filled with water, or filled with me. I don’t take baths often, but when I do, she thinks she should be in there, too. Once, I let my guard down, and she jumped right on in. She has no shame.

Ruby jumping in the tub

She loves me unconditionally, and I love her. I just don’t want to love her in the bathtub.

National Love Your Pet Day should happen more than just once a year. In fact, I propose a resolution that it’s recognized on every day that ends in Y, and I’ll make that proposal right after I throw this tennis ball.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer.  He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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The Love of My Life (Updated)

Update: Originally posted Valentine’s Day 2013. What a difference a year makes!

Valentine’s Day 2013 has come and gone and for the first time in 15 years, I spent it without the love of my life.

We had a special kind of love, one that didn’t include things of a materialistic nature. In all the years we spent together, I never once bought her roses, chocolates or jewelry, although she might have gotten into my chocolate a time or two. What lady hasn’t acted upon that temptation?

I never took her to a fancy restaurant, but she did eat the best food money could buy.

We never once shared a bottle of wine. She was one of those girls who preferred water over anything else.

Traveling was a passion that we both shared. There was nothing we enjoyed more than hitting the open highway with the windows rolled down and music turned up. We both enjoyed the freshness of the air as it blew in our faces. I don’t think she cared for my music but she never once complained about it.

I’ve spent every Valentine’s Day since 1998 with my girl, excluding the three I spent while deployed. She was always very supportive and understood my duties and obligations as a soldier.

When I returned from my third all-expense paid trip to Iraq in 2011, she was fully supportive and happy to see me but I could tell the repeated deployments were taking its toll on our relationship. I vowed to repair any damage that had been done.

For the next year and a half, our love blossomed like never before and grew to heights that I never could have imagined on March 31, 1997, when we first met.

She wasn’t the kind of girl that needed to be showered with lavish gifts. She simply needed to be showered with love and affection.

Sometimes her breath smelled like death warmed over but I would still kiss her on the mouth as I scratched behind her ear. She really liked for me to rub her belly.

She was one of 11 Labrador Retrievers born on Jan 31, 1997. Choosing which puppy to take home that day proved to be a very difficult choice, so I walked away with hopes that one would choose me.

By God’s good grace, one of the pups, one with a little white patch on its chest, chose to follow me and would continue to do so for the next 15 plus years.

Her name was Chyna and she was the love of my life.

Fancy food in 2005.

Fancy food in 2005.

I’m not overstating that. She really was. I got her when I was just a 24 year old boy but she stayed with me until I was a 40 year old man.

I learned so much from her. She never judged me and always taught me to love unconditionally, even when she was leaving streaks on my carpet by riding her invisible motorcycle around the living room.

Even at 14 years old, I treated her like a lady and had a mole removed from her forehead :)

Even at 14 years old, I treated her like a lady and had a mole removed from her forehead 🙂

In early 2012, her age began to catch up with her. It’ll happen to the best of us. I could see the writing on the wall. It was inevitable.

I had a scare in the spring. I thought the time had come to make that dreaded decision. I even dug a hole in my back yard. I vowed to never let her suffer in order to support my selfishness.

Fortunately, this was not her time. I was blessed to be given a few more months with my girl. I planted a crabapple tree in that hole and referred to it as my “Chyna tree.”

"50 Shades of Gray" with the wind blowing in her face.

“50 Shades of Gray” with the wind blowing in her face.

On July 30, 2012, I had to make the decision. Although incredibly painful, it was an easy decision to make. I knew the time had come.

I cried on the way to the vet. I cried as I carried her in and laid her on the table. Heck, I’m crying now.

I held her in my arms as the vet injected her with the concoction that would take away her pain and send her to heaven.

I’m not sure how long I stayed. It seemed like an eternity. I didn’t want to leave her, because she was the love of my life.

Love isn’t measured by material things. Chyna didn’t need to keep up with the Jones’ dog; she simply needed to be loved.

We all need to love and need to know what it feels like to be loved. Pets are no exception.

By the way, if your dog is riding his or her invisible motorcycle around your house, please let your veterinarian know so that it can be taken care of. It’s a smelly, yet inexpensive, procedure but your “best friend” will love you forever.

This is Jan 27, 2011...I'd just walked in the door after returning from my 3rd tour in Iraq.

This is Jan 27, 2011…I’d just walked in the door after returning from my 3rd tour in Iraq.

Update:

Fast forward to Valentine's Day 2014 and I've never been happier with Lucy, the two-legged one, and Ruby the 8 month old 4-legged one. Life is great but I'll never forget Chyna.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 2014 and I’ve never been happier with Lucy, the two-legged one, and Ruby the 8 month old 4-legged one. Life is great but I’ll never forget Chyna.

Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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Opportunity is just a knock away

“Do not wait for your ship to come in – swim out to it.” ~ Unknown

On January 23, I had the extreme honor of opening for Jeff Foxworthy on the first night of the two day Hudson Family Foundation benefit at Auburn Arena. Since then, I’ve been asked repeatedly how I became a part of the show.

Jeff Foxworthy, me, Tim Hudson

Jeff Foxworthy, me, Tim Hudson

When opportunity knocks, one must answer; however, we shouldn’t always wait on opportunity to knock. Sometimes we have to be the ones doing the knocking. We must be assertive, face our fears, and never give up.

The opportunity arose back in August when I was one of several opening acts for Uncle Si and Alan Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame, at Youth First’s Characters of Character event.

The Duck Dynasty beard conflicts with the uniform.

The Duck Dynasty beard conflicts with the uniform.

My comedy was well received by those in attendance, but it almost didn’t happen.

Last year, I wrote about the turbulent morning I experienced on the day of the Duck Dynasty event. I’d been at Ft Sill, Oklahoma, for the week and had missed my flight for Dallas that morning. Lawton-Ft. Sill has a very small airport, and every flight for the day was filled. I’d dropped my rental car keys in the drop box at the rental car company. I wanted to drive to Dallas to catch a flight to Atlanta, but it was a Saturday morning and none of the car rental companies opened until 9:30.

Many folks would’ve given up at that point but not me. I put on my thinking cap and said to myself, “What would MacGuyver do?” I then removed the wiring from my notebook so I could make a hook. I then used the hook to remove the car keys from the drop box. Three minutes later, I was in my car headed to Dallas.

Thank you, Richard Dean Anderson, for giving me the inspiration to retrieve my keys.

Thank you, Richard Dean Anderson, for giving me the inspiration to retrieve my keys.

My motto in life is adapt and overcome.

Here is that article

Had I not executed that motto and used my skills that morning to retrieve my keys, I never would’ve opened for Jeff Foxworthy because Kim and Tim Hudson never would’ve seen my performance that night back in August.

In September, I saw a post on Facebook from Kim stating she’d just finished the promotional flier for their annual fundraising event in January. She’d mentioned that Jeff Foxworthy, one of the most successful comedians of all time, was performing at the benefit.

I was hesitant about sending her a message, because I was afraid of the answer. I decided not to message her, but I prayed that God would show me a sign one way or another.

Lunchtime had arrived, so I was going to meet my buddy at Kitchen 3810, our favorite lunch spot, for a quick bite to eat. When I sat down in my car, God showed me the sign I’d asked for as Tim Hudson was staring right back at me. His face was on a water bottle that I’d gotten at Lynch Toyota while having my car serviced the previous day.

When I saw Tim staring back at me, I knew it was a sign.

When I saw Tim staring back at me, I knew it was a sign.

When I got back from lunch, I sent Kim a message but didn’t immediately hear back from her. Several hours later, while traveling to a gig in Florida, Kim and Tim’s right hand man, Brent, called me to inform me of the good news.

The opportunity was there, but I did the knocking.

In July, I’ll be the keynote speaker at the National Stuttering Association’s (NSA) annual conference in Washington DC. I’m every bit as excited about this as I was opening for Foxworthy. Keynote speakers in the past have included professional athletes; Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons; David Seidler, Oscar winning writer of The King’s Speech; and Vice President Joe Biden.

I’ve been an active member of the NSA for years but was still hesitant to ask considering the heavyweights who have come before me, but I prayed for guidance and God showed me the way.

NSA 2014 keynote speaker info

NSA-LOGO.bmp_

Once again, the opportunity was there, but I did the knocking.

Always keep your eyes and ears open, for opportunity is just a knock away.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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