I can’t believe it has been almost two years since I posted anything here. So much has transpired in that time. Maybe now is a good time to get back in the blog habit. For today I wanted to record these short phrase that speaks volumes.

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

Earlier I was talking with a coworker about perspective. When I am finding myself on the border of complaining about something, ¬†lately I think about the people in Washington who have lost loved ones in the mudslide. It’s bad enough to lose someone you love, but for some reason it seems exponentially worse to even think that someone you love is lost under a mountain of mud.ūüė¶ ¬†I can’t imagine what that must be like.

It’s okay that I have a heavy workload right now. I am grateful that I have a job.
It’s okay that my knees hurt. I am grateful that I can walk.
It’s okay that I sometimes wish I wasn’t so far away from my family. I am grateful they are alive.
And the list could go on. And on.

What I have is enough. And I am grateful for that.

choose what you want

Or better yet, my day is better when I choose what I want from it.

I’m frequently reminded – by life¬† and observing others around me – about the importance of making the most of every day. Even if I don’t necessarily feel like doing what I’m doing. Even when work isn’t going well or people are being annoying I’d rather be somewhere else or if I don’t feel well or whatever else could go into making a day less than stellar. Even if what I want involves something to be different that is outside my realm of control.

Do we really want to be cranky because it’s Wednesday and there are three more days until the weekend? Or that the weekend was too short? Or that the weather isn’t what we’d like it to be? Or that we don’t have the financial resources we’d like to have? Or that a relationship isn’t what we want it to be?

Or do we want to make a choice to shift our “want” and realize how much there is in any situation that is within our control? Attitude, perspective, actions – always our choice. To want to be content and make the most of whatever the day has in store. To want to take some step forward in at least one goal. To want be a positive presence in someone else’s life. If these are the kinds of things I want from my day, then it is bound to be a good day.

Today is all we have. This moment is all we can live. Right now – this is it.

What do you want from today?  Choose wisely. Today is the only opportunity you have to live this day.

Life happens.
Sometimes a lot of life happens at once and suddenly there’s a lot to deal with.
A lot to think about.
A lot to feel.
A lot to figure out.

It can seem overwhelming and then I don’t want to deal with any of it.
Or think about any of it.
Or feel any of it.
Or figure any of it out.

But I feel mired in all of it – like when you’re standing at the water’s edge at the beach and the movement of the water makes your feet sink into the wet sand. Of course I know I can move, but I feel stuck. Immobilized.

So then I pick three things I know I can do. Three things that don’t involve a lot of thought and don’t have emotions attached to them. Like this:

1. Vacuum.
2. Wash dishes
3. Clear off dining room table.

Once they are finished, I pick three more.

1. Take out trash
2. Return books to the library
3. Drop off recycling

And then I find three more.

1. Take a walk
2. Read a magazine.
3. Write a note to someone.

These lists have nothing to do with everything I need to think about and figure out. They don’t make all that go away. They don’t resolve any of it. But they do get me moving and they get me focused on something else for a while. And they bring the satisfaction of accomplishing something. Anything. Life is still there to deal with, but sometimes a shift in focus can work wonders.

Easy as 1-2-3.
…then 1-2-3 more.
……Repeat as needed.

the pain won’t last

My grandnieces and I were coloring pictures when suddenly Lucy (3)  let out a wail. She had put the top back on one of her markers and it caught her skin, pinching her. You know how painful that is! Her eyes instantly welled up with alligator tears and her expression relayed the pain she was feeling.

Her mom, my niece Tabitha, lovingly said to Lucy “this kind of pain doesn’t last very long”. Sure enough, within another minute or so, Lucy settled back down to coloring and laughing and being silly with the rest of us. Life went on.¬†Those words didn’t instantly stop the pain in Lucy’s finger. ¬†But they did help her, even as a 3-year old, put it in perspective and shift her attention back to coloring and enjoying the fun time we were all having.

That image really stuck with me. Sometimes life figuratively pinches us. Something unexpected happens that hurts. REALLY hurts. For a moment in time, all our attention is focused on that one part of our lives that hurts and we might even want to wail in pain! (That’s totally understandable. After all, it hurts!)

There is something reassuring and comforting about the reminder that the pain won’t last forever. It might feel like it will, but it won’t. ¬†Just like the body is amazing in its ability to heal physically, human beings are amazingly resilient in our ability to heal emotionally. ¬†Knowing that there is probably going to be an end to the pain can help us get through it.

The pain won’t last.

You can go back to coloring pictures again.

It seems like people really don’t like to say these three little words. “I was wrong.” ¬†Or four words. ¬†“I made a mistake.”

But why? Where did we get the idea that we are supposed to be right all the time? ¬†Or to know everything? Or to have answers for every question? ¬†We’re all human. Imperfectly human. Nobody is perfect. Nobody gets it right all the time. Nobody knows everything. Nobody has all the answers.

Say it out loud. ¬†“I was wrong.” ¬†or ¬†“I don’t know.” ¬†or “I made a mistake”.

It’s okay. ¬†Really.

I did that!

In a recent blog post I mentioned a dancer named “Turf” who is competing on a show called America’s Got Talent. Turf was inspiring with the way he showed support and encouraged his most serious competitor. ¬†The show is at the next phase of competition and I just saw Turf before he went out to perform.

Tonight I’m live in front of the whole world and I’m only one person on the stage. If they like me, I can look in the mirror and say “I did that”. ¬†If they don’t like me, I gotta look in the mirror and say “I did that”.

I am so impressed with the way this kid (ahem…young man) totally takes responsibility. ¬†He wasn’t about to blame anything on the audience or the judges or Americans who are voting for their favorite acts. He took ownership of it. That impressed me and I just had to share it.

Win or lose…”I did that”.

Sometimes helping isn’t so helpful.

I want to help. When someone is going through a rough time, I want to do/say something that will make a difference. But there are times when that’s not what the other person wants or needs. Sometimes hearing a different perspective – hearing my viewpoint on their issue isn’t what they are looking for and that kind of “help” just ¬†isn’t helpful (and is possibly just annoying).

Like the signs at the railroad tracks, sometimes I just need to Stop, Look, and Listen.¬†STOP what I’m doing for a minute, LOOK at the person and LISTEN to what they are saying. ¬†Sometimes all a person needs ¬†is to be seen and heard. You can generally tell from the context of what they’re saying if they are looking for help or just need to vent.¬†They might be like the train coming down the railroad tracks. All you need to do is wait it out as they thunder past and then when the coast is clear, continue on your way. You’ve done all you can for now.

That’s really hard for me because it can seem so…well, unhelpful. But then again, I know when I’m on the other end of it, sometimes that’s exactly what I need, too. I know people care and I know that if I asked for help, they’d be there for me but for that moment all I need is to be seen, heard, and “allowed” to be where I am. ¬†So I want to offer the same to others and not always jump in there with a solution or suggestion or a different perspective.

Stop, Look, and Listen and then keep driving.  Sometimes it really is the most caring and helpful response.