Changing Expectations

Whatever should have been or could have been, doesn’t matter. This moment is here and now for you to live.

Ralph Marston

The Christmas decorations should have come down from the attic on Thanksgiving or at least that weekend, but they came down two weeks later.

The house should have been decorated that weekend, but some boxes sit unopened.

The tree went up a week ago and should be decorated, but it remains with just colored lights.

The stockings should be hung on the railing with care, but they are still piled neatly on the table.

The shopping should have been completed earlier, but the 24th will have to do.

I should have been as busy as one of Santa’s elves baking chocolate chip cookies, but I am down for the count with a nasty cold – hacking cough and missing voice.

WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IS NOT WHAT IS!

What is is this…

  • Although it took us a little longer than before, my husband and I were able to get the outside lights and nativity scene up.
  • We were able to go to our granddaughters’ Christmas show.
  • We proudly watched our son conduct his high school instrumental students at their Holiday Concert.
  • I was the beneficiary of generous gifts from siblings, principal, colleagues, and students.
  • We attended our grandson’s Christmas Pageant
  • My “mostly new member” chime choir successfully debuted at the school tableau.
  • I began a 16 day Christmas break.
  • I made a chocolate “gingerbread” house with my granddaughters.
  • My husband made me delicious vegetable soup.
  • The Eagles beat the Cowboys!
  • I spent a day with my grandson and experienced his never ending imagination.
  • My daughter surprised me with homemade chocolate chip cookies.

It is true; the pile of gifts to be given are smaller because money has been tight, but they are wrapped and ready to go. Christmas may not be happening the way I envisioned it a month ago. It certainly isn’t going to look like one of my beloved Hallmark Movies, but the sentiment will be the same.

Tonight and tomorrow we will travel to different homes, sit around tables, share meals, and eat too much. We will see family that we have seen recently, and those we haven’t seen for a while. We will laugh and tell stories that have probably been told time and time again.

When we finally put our heads to our pillows on Christmas night, it won’t matter what should have been – only what was.

Whatever holiday you are celebrating, I hope you enjoy what is and not worry about what should have been. Enjoy the small moments with the ones you love, let them gift you with their love, and be in the here and now.

Harvest Moon

Photo – Joanne Campbell

The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.

Carl Sandburg

Harvest Moon –
hidden behind layers of clouds
and trees
illuminates the
unobserved of the night…

Autumn trees,
leaves obscured by darkness,
delicate appendages exposed –
soon to be barren

Branches –
Like veins in the body,
the unnoticed lifelines,
become more visible
as the winter of life approaches.

Shades of Gray

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.

Winston Churchill

What do you see? Are your eyes drawn to the darkness of the clouds? Maybe you are worried about a torrential downpour or a tornado. Both are valid worries given the look of those clouds. Even here in Pennsylvania we have had some unusually wild weather with hail, flash-flooding and even a few stray tornadoes touching down. We have had some tragic loss of life and destruction of property.

Or are you drawn to the brightness peeking through the storm clouds? You can look at the sky with hope and trust that even if it does rain, the sun will appear at some point.

This can be a metaphor for life. Sometimes we are hopeful and looking for the spots of sunshine each day, and other days we are caught up in the swirling storm clouds. They are not mutually exclusive. We can experience a little of both, but what we choose to focus on depends on our frame of mind.

In my life, not many things are black or white. I tend to always think in shades of gray which isn’t always helpful when I am trying to make a decision, yet I believe it makes me more thoughtful and compassionate.

How do you see things?

A Time to Rest

Rest is by no means a waste of time. ~ John Lubbock

Yesterday was my last day of the Easter break. I was off on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday. I had been looking forward to these five days off in a row for the longest time. Besides going to church and baking ricotta pie, Easter bread and pineapple stuffing, I scheduled a haircut for Thursday, and a massage for Friday. Easter Sunday we ate dinner at my brother and sister-in-law’s newly renovated home (another slice to write). It was lovely. I enjoyed spending time with my nephews and their significant others. My grandkids had a great time hunting for eggs. While I did enjoy all of those things, those “days off” became quiet busy.

So around rolls Monday. I had planned to go to an Aqua Fit class at 9:00 AM, but at 7:00 AM my phone binged with a message from the gym informing me that the class was canceled (oh darn). So I rolled over and went back to sleep. I eventually awoke at 8:30 when my husband got home from the gym. We had breakfast together and watched some morning TV, and I read.

Once Chuck left for work at 11:40, I thought I would go up and shower and get my day “started.” Well, I had to read just one more chapter, and then one more chapter, and then one more. I ended up sitting in the recliner for a few more hours finishing my book with a little nap in between.

I finally got out of my pajamas around 3:00! I showered and felt really great. I got so much done in the few hours I had before Chuck returned home around 6:30. I changed the sheets on my bed, did several loads of laundry, folded and put away laundry that had been hanging out in a basket for several days. I did all this while watching a Hallmark movie that I had recorded on my DVR (so much more efficient since you can fast forward through the commercials).

Giving myself permission to stay in my jammies and read gave my mental health such a boost! I felt accomplished in so many ways – finished a book, finished some laundry, finished a movie. I felt renewed. It made getting up for school this morning much easier, and that good feeling stayed with me all day. Maybe I need to “rest” more often!

Weather

#SOL19

“Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative. ~ Oscar Wilde

That quote just about sums up how I am feeling tonight. I am spent with little energy to write something imaginative, so here goes.

Mother Nature you are most unkind.

I’m cold then I’m hot; I am loosing my mind.

25 five in the morning must warm up the car

50 by noon with the window ajar.

I don’t understand this whole weather thing

But holy moly – where is Spring?

Building a Good Day

#SOL19

“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.” ~ Iris Murdoch

I have been reading Women Rowing North by Mary Pipher. (Thank you Jennifer Laffin- https://www.teachwrite.org/ for the recommendation!)

The book’s subtitle ‘Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age.’ really caught my eye. When I turned 60 in the fall, I found myself vascillating between feeling afraid and feeling fearless, between not giving a damn and giving it my all, between being at the end of my story or on the cusp of some new adventure. I knew I wasn’t ready to wither, but I wasn’t sure if I would still be able to flourish.

That brings me back to Chapter 10. I have only read a few pages so far, but the following lines really stuck out to me. “Building a good day is about making good choices involving our emotions, thinking, and behavior. ” “it’s possible to do a mental reset by asking ourselves what we are looking forward to and what we are grateful for.” It is not that I have never heard of these things before, but these words did make me stop and re-evaluate how well I utilize these techniques.

What am I looking forward to? Here are just a few of my “small treats”:

Spending time with my grandchildren – Easter egg hunts, sleepovers, cookie baking, block building, coloring, giggling, hugs, & kisses.

Concerts – The William Tennent Jazz Ensemble under the direction of my son, The Golden Boys, and just turning up my car radio with the sunroof open.

Summer – more time to read & write, teaching a grad class, morning tea on the deck, evening sunsets and card games.

I will certainly be adding to my list as I spend more time actively thinking about what I am looking forward to rather than just letting things sneak up on me.

I am building a good day today because I chose to focus on the fact that I don’t need my cane even though there are bouts of stiffness and little aches and pains, on the fact that it is a sunny day even though it started out with clouds, and that because I am in the midst of standardized testing which is never pleasant I don’t have any work to take home tonight.

What about you? Are you building a good day today?

Willing Away Worry

#SOL19

“At the end of the day, give up your worries and give thanks for the journey.” ~ Ben Vereen

Several weeks ago I attended a program at my church entitled, “Give Up Worry for Lent” given by Gary Zimak who authored a book by the same title. Every morning I read a few short pages that have a Bible verse, a reflection, a response, and prayer.

I am definitely a worrier, and the book serves as a reminder to relinquish my worries to the Lord. I have been reminded that feelings are not facts. It is not about how you feel because we cannot control how we feel about a situation, but we can control how we respond to the feelings.

I have been thinking about this a great deal. Although the book is based on the Bible and rooted in Christianity, I don’t think it is an exclusive club. I believe that anyone who believes in a higher power, no matter what form or name that power takes, can benefit from letting themselves lean on that power, ask that power for help, and know that we cannot make it through this world alone.

Worrying prevents you from being present, from enjoying the moment, from being your best self. It is okay to feel afraid, frustrated, overwhelmed, but how do you react to those situations and feelings? I would have sleepless nights and anxiety ridden days.

I have to say that I am feeling much more peaceful, although I still have to work on the nail-biting! I haven’t completely freed myself from worry, and I am not sure I can accomplish that in 40 days (or ever), but I am taking small steps and enjoying the journey.