It’s been a while…I’ve written many blogs in my mind, they just never make it to the screen. I find it interesting to see what our winter season brings to me in terms of learning and growth. This season has been abundant in personal growth and learning opportunities.
In my last blog, I talked about Piper. Although I miss her deeply, I realize that I wasn’t doing her any favors. Watching her try to stand after laying down for a while was getting painful (for me – I can only imagine what it must have felt like for her). I love looking at her pictures on my phone. I love greeting and loving on other peoples little fur angels. I know that there is another dog, and possibly a cat in our future. We have decided that there are a couple things we want to do that aren’t pet friendly, so will probably accomplish those things first – unless God has other plans. I am excited to see who he will bring into our lives when the time is right. Piper was truly a gift, and I know that we will be given another great gift or two.
We have rejoiced in the gift of flexibility this season. Being able to travel on short notice, and being able to put the really important things first (like family and friends – and focus less on things).
We have relished the gift of family and adding new family members. Welcome Alyssa! Found joy in watching our children pursue and live out their dreams.
I have learned that it’s not about being able to fix things when they aren’t right – it’s about being there, just simply being present. And the importance of honoring your gut feeling. Jobs, volunteer situations, relationships – they change. It takes guts to say “enough”, and a lot of bravery to walk away and start fresh.
One of my new projects to tackle is worry less. We’ve been doing some learning about brain health, and I’ve been doing some independent research about the effects of stress on our body, our mind, our relationships, and our longevity. I had to figure out that nobody put me in charge of worrying about everything – except me. I’ve already learned that what others think of me is their issue – and none of my business. That was a very freeing lesson on its own. Worry is a thief – it steals joy from today, and casts a shadow on tomorrow. It causes you to look back with regret when you realize how much time and energy you have wasted on worrying about things that never happened – and all the joy you missed by exchanging worry for being present in the moment.
Spend some time reading about the effect of stress and worry on your body – your general health. It is devastating. It affects your memory, your health, your sleep, your nutrition, your relationships, your longevity. While a planned day of rest and self-care is incredibly beneficial and pleasurable, it is vital that you learn how to carve out time to relieve stress. That may be different for each of us – and that’s okay. Physical activity is obviously a great outlet – unless you become a slave to an inflexible routine. Learning new activities – for the sheer pleasure in learning – this also does great things for your brain – create those new neural pathways! Being creative – for me, knitting or cooking – and perhaps learning a new craft. Creating something beautiful is good for your soul. Random acts of kindness for others – yes, even strangers. Stir up those happy chemicals in your brain. Play! Find a kid if you need a reminder – the younger the better. Find one that hasn’t learned from the world that playing isn’t a good thing.
For me, it’s a work in progress. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to worry about everything. It’s not been productive at all. I don’t need to control everything. I do need to control my response and reaction – because that is within my realm and responsibility.
I’m trying to stop focusing on the end goals and outcomes. Instead, I am trying to focus on today, and the next step I need to take to make today and me better than yesterday. Faster isn’t better – it’s just more stressful. Meditation is great for this. So is sitting outside and listening, watching nature, and just being quiet enough to hear the small still voice that is wanting to whisper truths to you.
I’m not saying to stay stuck in your comfort zone. That is stressful and frustrating. Take steps out of the zone – tentative baby steps still move you forward. Take giant steps when you feel comfortable with that – just make some kind of forward progress. There are so many wonderful opportunities – and they won’t be found by sitting waiting for them to find you. You are never too old to try something new, it’s never too late – except maybe during your last few breaths. Make sure you fill your life with joy – intentionally. It’s amazing when you realize how many opportunities you are presented with each day to do just that – and sad to realize how often we pass those opportunities by.
Add life to your years – you may be surprised at how many years you can add to your life by doing that!
My Grace Lesson – Life is good, find it – create it – share it – live it!