Category Archives: Encouragement
If you’re lucky enough this year to be surrounded by friends and family, happily buying and wrapping presents, secure in your home and finances, thinking of what you’ll serve, how you’ll decorate….
Take a moment or two to realize how very, very lucky you are, and that many people – people you know and don’t know – might be feeling bad. Many things may have happened – Mother Nature type things, like losing your home in a wildfire (or those who have recently lost everything in the hurricanes and flooding.) They may have lost a job or are having trouble finding work that will pay the bills. A death in the family has left a humongous sink hole threatening to swallow them up. There may be sickness, they may have lost a beloved pet. Their family members may be too far away to be home with them.
Whatever people might be dealing with, it’s harder during a holiday – especially one as big as Christmas and New Year’s. Everyone asks you if ‘you’re ready for Christmas.’ It’s almost expected that you’re bubbling over with joy and thinking only of the frantic rush to get everything done.
Just take a moment or two –
Pay attention to those around you. For friends and family, be aware of each person’s situation. Give an extra hug. Help them smile. Reach out and show them in any way you can that you care. The best gifts there are – love, caring, hugs, kindness, friendship are all free. Take time to give each of these freely and in abundance – and then make a point of BEING THERE throughout the new year.
I guess we’ve all met them. I call them, “balloon prickers.” They rain on every parade, poke holes in your happiness and suck the life right out of you, if you allow. I avoid them like the plague. Life is too short. (End of cliches… I think – )
My friend, Laufrain, shared this on Facebook. I wanted to share it with you.
To me, this is NOT a Pollyanna-ish saying. It’s not that you simply paste a happy smile on your face and just decide to be happy (though sometimes this is a good technique). It’s an ongoing exercise in trying to control how you react to what happens around you. It’s taking bad things, doing what is in your control to do about them, and then stubbornly trying to see the bright side. You can choose to get mired in the fear, grief, and anger, or you can deliberately choose to get beyond those feelings, channeling them into something more positive, more life-giving.
I wasted a lot of time worrying. Usually I worried about things over which I had absolutely no control. I’m gradually making progress in recognizing old ruts and choosing NOT to fall into them again. If it’s at night, I get up, go downstairs and read to distract my worrisome thoughts that seem to spool in my head, playing over and over again with no solutions possible. The distracting myself allows me to let go – even just for a while – and focus on other things. During the day I get up and get involved in an activity that will take all of my attention.
When we lost our two-month old daughter to SIDS many years ago, my husband and I both seriously considered suicide. Our hearts and guts had been ripped out, and we couldn’t see any way we could go on. We looked at our two-year-old son, though, and realized how selfish we were being. He needed us. My husband needed me. Minute by minute we consciously decided that we would give everything we had left to the ones we loved. We decided to try to help each other work through the pain and find reasons to reach out to each other and our son and become stronger together. We chose not to allow this horrible thing to ruin the rest of our lives.
I consciously look for reasons to be happy. To be honest, I’m truly surrounded by wonderful things. I’m continually finding sights, sounds, and activities that make me happy. I’m working every day to live in the NOW – to appreciate all I have. I rejoice that I have the freedom to decide how I’m going to spend my day. I’m getting better at controlling what and who I allow to come into my life. I’m getting better at deciding how I will react to things I can’t control, but must deal with. Every morning I choose to MAKE it a good day.
I’m still feeling hurt and angry at the verbal attack by our family member on my husband’s birthday. I’m re-reading daily what other wise family members told me regarding looking at this with compassion for the source of this, rather than focusing on what was said or how WE feel about it. One thing that is resonating now is that until I can LET GO of this, it continues to harm. Our family member has probably gone on to other things. I’M the one mired in negative feelings.
I’m a bit old to change my stripes at this stage of my life, but I’m NOT too old to nurture feelings already inside. I have a lot of compassion inside that comes surging up when I see bad things happen to good people. I strive to show kindness whenever I can. I usually can see the other person’s point of view – something that has resulted in a lot of ‘differences’ being nipped in the bud even before the disagreement really gets going. This situation is no different, really – only in the ‘personal’ nature of the attack – and the fact we didn’t see it coming and had done nothing to warrant it.
As I do other things, I’m thinking about what our wise family members said. I’m GRADUALLY seeing this as an opportunity to use the good things inside me to help my sweet husband consider the SOURCE of this vicious judgment of his character, his beliefs, his service in the Marine Corps, his performance as a husband and father, his membership affiliations, his politics, his worth as a human being as the judgment of one person who is deeply unhappy and hurting. It’s pretty amazing that the judgment of one other person, in one vicious note, can smash your feelings of self-worth. I WON’T ALLOW IT.
I’ll continue to hang on, try to show my husband in every way I can what a wonderful human being he is and how much I treasure every day with him – even when he makes me angry and ready to strangle him. :0)
I’m reaching inside, past the child all wrapped up in hurt and anger, to the adult who is usually able to deal with bad things in the best way I can. I really wish this person had attacked ME. I could handle that SO much better!
I’m not sure that this is always a good thing, but I’m sharing my life with one.
From time to time I see the same question on social media: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Without a doubt, my answer is: Live in the moment!
I’m mostly doing that now and I’m SO much happier for it. I spent my late junior high school days and all of my days at high school waiting for my husband to get leaves from the Marine Corps. Then I was waiting for him to get out. Then for us to be at the same college. Instead of enjoying the moment, I was “living for some time in the future.” I was unconsciously telling myself that I would make time for things LATER, brushing aside much of my life.
Now my husband and I are retired. We can shape our lives much more around each other and what we’d like to do. We no longer have to ‘live for the weekend,’ and I’m very grateful for that. We ARE taking the time to appreciate our lives and each other, and the wonderful life we live.
The thing is, though, we’ve always had a lot to be thankful for. We were, in a distracted sort of way, rushing from one have-to to the next, working full-time, then staying up late to try to get at least a few other things done. We’ve always had full lives, but I think we took far too much for granted.
My wake up call was when we lost our then 2-month-old daughter, Jade, to SIDS in February of 1981. People say time heals all wounds. That’s not true, but it DOES allow you to gather the pieces of your heart and gut and move on for the rest of your family, not EVER taking anyone or anything for granted ever again.
So, I would sit my much younger self down and seriously say, “Don’t worry about everything so much. Much of what you’re worrying about you don’t have any control over. Deal with the things you CAN control. Deal with the things that happen – not what MIGHT happen. Stand back a bit and look at all you have, what you’re building with your husband and your son. Slow down and do things NOT on your to-do list. Make a list of “what I’d LIKE to do” and do one thing from it at least three times a week, if not daily. Realize you only have one life. ENJOY. Hug those you love. Make sure your friends know how special they are. Try to do something kind for someone every day.
“Life is the moment we’re living right now.” – Paulo Coelho
We’ve had a really nice day today.
The weather is a bit warm, but I really can’t complain. We used our attic fan last night. I woke up at 5 freezing to death, reached up and turned on my electric blanket and was immediately flooded with warmth. Just before I fell asleep again, I turned it off. Perfect.
We enjoyed our good friends Kay, Linda, and Dee at Lunch Bunch. All of us were well and happy – a really good thing.
When we came home I started some eggs to hard boiling on the stove since we were almost out. When I had them going, I started some low-carb bread in my bread machine. I then cut up stuff for a beef stew and put that in the crock pot. I have many devices to make my life easier, and I love it when I can do a lot in a short period of time.
Since our bellies were full from Lunch Bunch, my husband and I surrendered to the sleepies and each took a nap. When I awoke, Amber and Molly were on the carpet, taking naps with us. Smoke, one of our cats, was sleeping beside my husband in his chair. I sat comfortably, glad we were able to catch up a bit of some missed sleep, thinking how very lucky we are.
We’re all up now. I’m about to take Amber out and figure out where I want to plant some hyacinth and snapdragon bulbs we got recently. In another few days, we’ll finally be finished with summer and I can look forward to getting my greenhouse set up for the first time. I have no clue what I’m doing, but I’m having such a wonderful time dreaming!
I have some ideas about gifts for friends for Christmas, and soon it will be cool enough to work in our shop without the air conditioning.
We’re almost to the point where we think we can mow the lawn for the last time of the season. I particularly enjoy the last time, taking more care with the edging and weed whacking so it’ll look like someone cares about our yard over the winter months. I’m getting ready to do another round of weed killing with the new spray I got. (Thanks, Cathy). It works quietly and well. You THINK it’s not doing anything, and then the weeds turn brown. :0)
This is rambling, I know, but I wanted to share how how happy I feel today, full of gratitude for being spoiled, enjoying all that we have, being thankful I have someone to share my life with, looking forward to a possible visit from our son in February or March.
Could life be better?
I tend to do all or nothing. I get psyched up and then go for it. Something bars my progress, and I stop. Then I beat myself up over ‘failing,’ and then try to get motivated again.
- My house is either so clean and organized that I’m ready for “House Beautiful” to come and photograph or it looks like a bomb hit it and we call for the bulldozers.
- I either follow my low carb diet – or – if I eat one thing wrong I blow the rest of the day.
- I either exercise my head off or sit in my chair.
I don’t like this about myself, but I find it hard to break a habit built over a lifetime. I tell myself just to do the best I can, but my gut reacts differently than my head or heart.
“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” ~ Confucius
I need to realize deep down inside that I perfection is not the goal. That no one is going to give me ‘points’ and there is no end to trying to improve. That it’s what I do day after day that’s important. And that any progress I’ve made should be celebrated and used as motivation to continue.
I’m learning to embrace imperfection, aware that although things aren’t perfect, I have a lot for which I am thankful.
- The weather is really nice today – a bit warm to be working outside, but I’ll take it and do what I can. The sun is shining. We had a cool breeze this morning, and we have doors and windows open, bringing the outside in.
- I can see the humor in the fact that Amber tried to eat the catfish I had thawing in a bowl on the kitchen counter. I caught her in the act. I went in to see her standing on her back legs, front feet on the counter, trying to pull the bowl toward her with her teeth. I managed to save the filets, discipline the dog, and laugh about the situation. I do keep wondering who is training whom…
- My back is pain free. This means a LOT – because I lost almost a month trying to break the pain cycle. The fact that I can plan my day around what I’d like to do, rather than gingerly moving to and from my chair so as to avoid a spasm, is truly wonderful. I’m looking forward to doing some work in the yard this afternoon. I’ll also get on my elliptical trainer and do some careful stretching.
- Our son MAY be coming home from Thailand for a visit in mid February or March! Since my hug bucket is absolutely empty (he’s been gone over two years) I’ll be waiting with open arms whenever he wants to come.
- I’m working on some Christmas presents for my good friends. I love spending time thinking of them as I try to make something they’ll enjoy.