May 12th: Gratitude

May 12th- Gratitude

When I find myself feeling full of self-pity and frustrated with my lot in life… I turn my attention to gratitude.

Gratitude is a way of reminding myself of how much I really have left when something dear to me has been taken away.

My divorce was painful beyond measure.

My heart… full of despair.

Yet even in my darkest hours, I was able to remind myself how fortunate I was to have:

The love of my children…

Dear friends to help me through my troubled times…

A job where I was valued and cherished…

A college where I could improve my mind and also my financial stability…

And the mental and physical fortitude to move through my pain by making a conscience effort to complete my spiritual footwork.

Today, I am reminded once again of everything I am grateful for: even my divorce.

Without suffering the loss of my former husband… I would never appreciate how dear my new relationships are to me today.

“Dear God, thank you for standing by me in my darkest moments and for reminding me of all I have to be grateful for in my life.”

May 11th: Disagreements

Killpecker Dune Field

Lately I have caught myself in minor disagreements with people.

In the past, especially within my marriage and later my divorce, it would be very hard to listen without becoming defensive or upset.

I would believe that somehow a disagreement was completely “on me” my personal failure.

I wasn’t able to see that maybe we just had differing perspectives and that neither of us had to be wrong: we could just agree to disagree.

What does it harm me to allow my mind to stay open when faced with a criticism, an observation, a scenario?

Isn’t it easier to take a step back from ego and emotion and simply say, “Maybe you’re right.”

Doesn’t it help me to stay balanced by learning to live and let live… or take the time to really think about what was offered to me and reflect on the moment?

Today I work very hard to stay calm during a disagreement and listen to what is being said… if it is being presented to me:

without agenda

without malice

without intent to harm…

Don’t I owe it to my friend to hear them out?

“Dear God, help me to keep an open mind. Help me to see all sides of an argument and act from my best self, my higher spiritual place, when engaged in a difficult conversation.”

May 10th: Guilt and Time

May 10th-Time and Guilt

One of my dearest friends was having a heart felt conversation with me today when he said, “I am so overwhelmed with my new work right now. I feel guilty about the lack of time I have for the people I love.”

I understood exactly how he felt.

Sometimes circumstances in life arise that make it absolutely impossible to spend extensive quality time with the people you care about the most:

A beloved child…

A lovely spouse…

A dear friend…

There just aren’t enough hours in the day to give your all to everyone and everything.

When situations like this arise in my life, unforeseen responsibilities that cannot be altered, I remind myself that “this too shall pass” and I hold tight to the idea that I can “do something for one day that I would find appalling for a lifetime.”

I must let go of my guilt.

Guilt will not change my present circumstance or bring me more time.

I must do the task at hand, spend what minimal quality time I have with those I love and also… I must make time for myself so that I have something to give to all: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

“Dear God, help me to find balance during difficult times. Help me to let go of guilt and give what I can, with love, until I am once again able to give more.”

May 7th: Happiness

Denali

It was hard to believe during my divorce that I would ever be happy again.

All of the joy in my world, all of my own spark, was diminished by the tragedy that was my failed marriage.

I did everything I could to try to distract myself from the sadness that clouded every waking moment of my life, but despite my best efforts to “act as if” and to “move on” I was miserable.

But we as human beings are adaptive.

And though I often thought I would not make it through… soon happiness began to pop up to surprise me in unexpected moments:

A small child waving at me from a distance.

A funny expression on my dog’s face.

An off-the-cuff comic remark from one of my friend’s determined to make me laugh once again.

Happiness came back to me in tiny increments… snapshots of joy that began to punctuate my life and soothe my soul.

Today, my life is filled with happiness.

I find it in my conversations with my loved ones.

In my daily lessons with my students.

In the words that I write.

In the music that I sing.

In the sure knowledge that I am exactly who I am today and where I am supposed to be… reminded through tragedy… that happiness is precious and should always be cherished.

“Dear God, thank you for bringing happiness to my life. Thank you for giving me so much to be grateful for in my world.”

May 4th: Kindness

May 4th

Each day I am fortunate to spend my life around a group of young adults who are constant reminders of the trials of youth and the joy that experience can bring.

Their dramas are intense… their reactions quick and I sit by and offer advice and hopefully soothe their bruised egos and souls as they begin to navigate life.

Yesterday… one of my young students was upset over an argument he had with his girlfriend and told me that mid-fight she had turned on her heel and walked away from him: He was very upset over such a slight.

In that moment, my mind flashed back to a time when I had done the same thing to my former husband.

And why had I stomped off?

Not because of anger.

I had left our argument because I was too hurt to continue.

I had left our argument because I didn’t want to cry in front of him and show what I believed to be at the time… weakness.

And so… I did the only thing I could do: I left.

I shared this story with my student and said, “Wouldn’t you rather be the person to be kind in this situation? The person who understands another person’s pain? She’s hurt. She’s caught up in the heat of the moment. Be kind and when the time comes when you are both calm… then you can let her know how you felt when she did that to you. But for now… be kind.. and understand that her anger comes from a place of hurt.”

I let him sit with that for awhile and by the end of the class period, he was calm, and gave me a big hug before he left the room.

Later that afternoon, I was walking to my car in the parking lot.

I saw his girlfriend, talking on the phone, looking left and right, longing to see someone on the horizon.

And as I pulled out of the parking lot, I saw my student, also on the phone, hand raised, waving at her…

They did not see me, and I did not stop.

It was enough to see that they were both smiling… that the fight had calmed… and that kindness had taken the moment and changed the mood of the day.

_

“Dear God, help me to be kind when I am consumed by anger and frustration. Help me to see all sides of an argument, and to be the one to soothe instead of incite.”

March 3rd: Serenity

March 3rd-Serenity

Serenity for me is putting what I can in my life in order and letting the rest go: the things I cannot control.

This means that I complete tasks/chores in my life that will add to the quality and balance of my daily existence.

Paying the bills in a timely manner.

Keeping my house clean and orderly.

Exercising each day.

Eating well.

Praying.

By keeping my physical and mental house “in order” I am creating structure and balance so that when unforeseen events tax my emotional or physical state… I am centered and better prepared to handle the situation: I am calm and able to offer support to those I love when they may be negatively affected by a crisis.

“Dear God, help me to keep my house in order. Help me to make time each day to complete the tasks that will help me stay in serenity.”

May 2nd: Joy and Expectations

May 2nd

Last night I spent time with an old friend… someone very dear to my heart.

Yet there was a time, when I was so attached to the idea of what I expected of our friendship, that I couldn’t even enjoy my time with him.

I projected an idea of what I thought it “should” be and I held to it; what I wanted… what I believed was needed… my rules… my way.

Tonight, with no expectations, no projections, I found great joy in his company once again.

We laughed.

We caught up on each other’s lives.

And I was reminded how much joy the friendship had brought to me, before I started placing so much emphasis on how I thought it “should be.”

What do I know about “should?”

Preconceived notions regarding what life “should” be only leave me unable to grow and see the limitless possibilities of having an open mind.

Maybe it is time I took a step away from what I believe life “should” be and let my Higher Power take the lead for awhile.

“Dear God, help me to let go of what I believe life should be… and live life as it is… one day at a time… with an open mind and an open heart.”

Photo credit: Bill Thompson