The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.
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.
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!
“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?
“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.
Wake up with determination; go to bed with satisfaction. ~ Unknown
I knew there were a few things I wanted to accomplish today, but I was conflicted between wanting to get these tasks completed and wanting to just relax and read. When I awoke this morning I just knew I couldn’t have these things hanging over my head all week, so I mustered up all the determination I could and started tackling the items on my list.
A Target run – I needed to get a birthday gift and packing tape….$32.00 later I was heading back to my car with two bags. I never get out of Target without buying more than what was on my list. Thank goodness I had a $20 gift card.
Clean out my clothes closet – Purple Heart is coming on Wednesday to pick up our donation items. I have three boxes and a bag already, but I was determined to get rid of the clothes in my closet that haven’t seen the light of day in a very long time. I now have another bag and a half to put out for collection.
Laundry – I have to admit this was a joint effort between my husband and me. An empty hamper is a very satisfying picture. I can hear the last load tumbling in the dryer as a write.
Pay a bill – with a few clicks of my mouse – done!
Honestly, there were a few more things on my list, but I did have to squeeze in time for a nap, for watching some March Madness (the Duke – UCF game had me biting my nails, and I don’t even have a bracket!), and for reading.
I will lay my head on my pillow with the satisfaction of having check several things off my list – even if it wasn’t a total victory.