DEALING – Sometimes I want to get involved, doing what I can to change the world for the better. I want to engage, to discuss things that are happening, trying to figure out compromises and solutions. I want to find areas in which we agree, or at least “civil-ly” agree to disagree, and that we can still value one another whether we agree or not.
NOT DEALING – More often these days, I put my head in the sand, trying to escape from all the hurt and ugliness – what appears to be HATE at any differences in beliefs or goals.
I escape to my art room. I listen to music – wrapping it around me like a blanket. I dive into another world with a book. I immerse myself in my garden. I do yoga- trying to fold myself into a paper airplane, or at least try to stretch myself from one side of the room to the other. I laugh with our pets. I talk to my friends. I hug my husband. I sleep. None of these SOLVES anything, but at least they keep me reasonably sane. (I think. I HOPE.)
To me this means that we should strive to EXPAND our interests, our knowledge, our activities for as long as we are here. We need to actively try to leave our comfort zone, trying something new every once in awhile, meeting new people, finding new sources of information, and more.
I feel lucky that I can learn new things every day simple by being curious on my computer. I enjoy it SO much I have to be careful not to be sucked into a rabbit hole, reading one thing that leads me to another until a good amount of my day is gone.
I don’t want to color with fewer and fewer crayons, allowing my world to gradually implode around me.
I had plenty of time to do my normal chores without rushing. I only had to warm up leftovers for dinner and cut up more ripe, home-grown tomatoes to go with lunch and dinner. I cut up fresh peaches to go with our no-sugar-added vanilla ice cream. I took time to read some of a new book. I listened to some of my favorite music while I ALMOST finished the painting on the Christmas presents I’m making for friends. I played with our dog and cat and laughed with my husband. I did a session of yoga that is starting to be a bit easier. I spent some time searching the net for things I wanted to share with you here.
I didn’t have to travel somewhere to work. I could choose to mainly stay inside in the air conditioning. I took a short nap when I needed to. I had a quiet, calm day.
I’m spoiled. The only saving grace is that I REALIZE it. I’m THANKFUL for it. So, not rotten yet. :0)
I’ve been having a wonderful time for several weeks now, making Christmas presents for my friends. I got the idea for the theme of the presents several months ago, and ideas have been rattling around in my brain ever since.
I finally ordered the materials I needed and began to play as soon as they arrived. I looked on the net for some reference pictures for some of my ideas, and then began drawing my ideas with pencil. There are two sides to each present and 8 friends, so there was a lot of drawing.
I’ve been painting for about three weeks now, having a truly wonderful time in my art room. I’m not in any hurry. My goal is to make some progress on the project each day, but enjoying every minute of the process. I’m about to finish ‘Side 1″ of the 8 presents.
Making time to have FUN each day is important to your soul, your sense of worth, your outlook. It’s a buffer against whatever challenges with which you are dealing, replenishing strength and resilience you’ll need. A time for JOY gives you peace of mind, if only for a little while each day – a coping mechanism that is priceless.
I used to put time in my art room, time for reading, listening to music, playing in my garden or yard, writing this blog on my to-do list WHEN I COULD MAKE THE TIME – if possible when my work and other obligations are under control. Now I consciously make time to at least ONE of the things I love on a daily basis. I feel stronger, happier, and more alive since I switched my priorities.
NOTE: I have to admit (shhhhh!) I felt guilty when my husband came in for batteries for his remote for the TV this morning and had Amber hair all over the front of his shirt from getting down on the carpet to work in the area under the TV in the entertainment center. Looks like I should make time to vacuum the first floor carpet today…. :0)
My parents were both only children. They had my brother and me so we “could keep each other company,” but then unconsciously fostered intense competition and rivalry between us. The end result was that we were never close, and got the strong idea that our worth depended on what we had accomplished lately and how that compared to each other. We both knew they loved us. That was never a question. But the competition lasted throughout our lives.
My parents wanted us to do well in school. This meant ‘grades’ to them. I learned to value what I had actually LEARNED and the fact that I knew how to learn more throughout my life, but I guess that was the easiest way to measure how we were doing THEN. My brother brought home almost straight A’s throughout his schooling. I brought home a “C” in math one quarter. There was a distinct coldness and withdrawal of affection until the next grading period (9 weeks) when I was able to bring my grade up. When I went to college, earning enough for my first semester each year teaching swimming during the summers from the time I was 14 through the end of college, by brother got a full scholarship to the University of Colorado and was a Rhodes scholarship finalist. He ended up with a doctorate, of course. :0)
I have always felt that my worth depended on what good I had done lately, rather than any idea that I was ‘enough’ just as I was. I was eager to please my parents, and that meant grades, honors, accomplishments. I was eager to please my husband, too, and wasn’t happy unless he was noticing what I was doing. The only area where I dropped the self-doubt was when I was teaching.
I taught in the public schools on the north side of Tulsa OK for eight years. I fell in love with my students. Since my kids there lived pretty tough lives, totally different that I had enjoyed, they didn’t see the need to learn to read or do math, or write, or think. I had to get really ‘creative’ to come up with ways to show them why they would be happier, stronger, and more in control of their lives if they would give me a chance to work with them. Every day I forgot who I was, immersed in trying to take them from where they were, give them what they needed to move forward, and listen to their concerns. I never felt I was ‘enough,’ but I felt good about what I did.
Now that I’m older than dirt, I realize that each person brings a package to the table. Each of us has a different set of skills, hopes, dreams. And each of us is valuable because of it. THAT is enough.
I truly believe that you create your own happiness. That doesn’t mean at all that when bad things happen you should plant a false smile on your face and pretend all is well. I’m talking about a basic decision you make deep inside to lean toward the positive in life and have the happiness come FROM you, rather than merely reacting to what is going on around you.
Remaining curious, learning new things, reaching out are all part of the same basic core idea that it’s your life and your decision how you spend it.
Part of my own personal happiness is discovering yet another talented person – in-person or online – whose gift takes my breath away. I’m so glad to live on the same planet as the people creating beauty in music, art, photography, and countless other media. My biggest regret is that my life is finite and I won’t be able to experience all of the beauty. What a way to go, though! :0)
Life is hard these days. Harder, I think, in many ways, than it’s ever been. Not only are there differing opinions on almost everything, but the opinions quickly escalate into divisiveness, factions, name calling, and hate. There seems little we can DO about any of it.
I find my own personal reactions vacillate from being appalled at the actions of sick, hate-filled people, grieving about the innocent lives lost or forever changed, and frustrated that the problems are caused by problems so complex that they are almost impossible to solve. I’m numbed by the mindless spouting of rhetoric on all sides that hasn’t changed since I was a teenager. The actual problems are so much deeper that people are scared to really examine the causes or possible solutions.
I alternately listen to and read everything I can, then get depressed and avoid exposure to any more news than I HAVE to. I escape with reading, music, time outside in my yard and garden, time in my art room, time on the computer, etc. I get “huggy,” – worried that things will get much worse. I clean things. I re-organize things. I chop things down. Anything I CAN control.
What it boils down to, I guess, is each of us caring, doing something if we can, and coping with whatever is happening. The picture at the top says it better than I – “Life would be better if we wore more tutus…”
I did a LOT of good stuff yesterday. I was busy all day, used my time well, got a LOT of things checked off my to-do list. The problem is that I have more to add to the list each day than I checked off, so the list seems to be growing exponentially.
I’m TRYING to choose the highest priority items each day, thinking if I can get THEM checked off, I’ll be making headway. That’s a reasonable goal, but ALL the things are ‘priority.’ :0(
The HIGHEST priority today is OUTSIDE – my veggie garden maintenance and tomato pruning – because we have a stormy forecast for both tomorrow and Tuesday. And while I’m doing these highest priority items, I’m constantly reminding myself that my daily exercise – taking care of myself – ranks right up there, too. My house looks at me with its sad face because anything more than daily necessities there are taking a backseat to all the other stuff…. UGH.
I found this quote I like –
“The only thing more important than your to-do list is your to-be list. The only thing more important than your to-be list is to be. “The best way to get through any challenge is to step back, look up at the sky, breathe deeply in and out, smile if you have to…then dive in.” “To-do list : to-do list!”
I’m finally learning (I know – It’s about time…) that I shouldn’t let things overwhelm me. As I age, feeling overwhelmed is my first gut reaction. Thankfully, nowadays it’s not my ONLY reaction. Fast on the heels of my more immature feeling, I’m learning to break things down into doable chunks – or ‘what do I need to do first’ questions. Even, walk away for a couple of minutes, calm down, and THEN do the above.
This gut reaction has been with me all my life. I’m NOT the person who calmly deals with things in a crisis. My eyes glaze over and I’m engulfed by panic. A small example: Years ago, when my husband and I lived in our first home in Tulsa, OK, the garage apartment caught fire. I called my MOTHER first – before I called the fire department! (Yeah, I’m still embarrassed.)
So, when I’m feeling very small, overwhelmed, like the small child above looking up, I am consciously trying to keep my head and put one foot in front of the other, starting to deal with whatever happens as well as I can.
“Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are” – attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, but HE attributes it to Squire Bill Widener of Widener’s Valley, Virginia.
I’m pleased that I am taking control of myself. I consciously think and plan what I’ll eat for the day BEFORE I eat or drink something that will sabotage my efforts. A HUGE HELP in this is MyFitness Pal.com. Yesterday I made some low-carb biscuits that had nice texture and tasted good. Today I’ll make bacon-wrapped cheesy chicken from Simply Keto and we’ll have a side salad and biscuit. I’m able to smell the popcorn my husband makes and watch him eat it without kicking the wall. :0)
I’m consciously planning what my exercise for the day will be. I’m using a monthly exercise planner by Mike, an Australian who has created MoreLifeHealth.com – a whole series of videos to help seniors get and stay in better health. In addition to his programs, I’m doing yoga stretches daily and my elliptical trainer 3 times a week. Yard work and house work count, too, on moving more on a daily basis.
I’m happy to see the scales acknowledging my efforts. The weight is coming off slowly, but steadily. As long as I’m showing some progress each week, it keeps me motivated. I’m researching how to break through any plateaus that will inevitably occur.
I’m FEELING a bit more energetic. Even though I still have aches and pains, I now have more arrows in my quiver on how to deal with them. I’m doing the warm-up and stretching videos by Mike daily, plus my yoga helps. A heat pad usually takes care of any residual. If not, some Tylenol.
I’m feeling happier. The world is too much with us these days, and I find myself feeling pretty down unless I consciously look for the good things – and there are a lot of them – in the world around us. I’m finding more and more coping mechanisms, and getting healthier, stronger, and more flexible is one of those things. My mantra remains –