Living, giving, striving

A commercial for Shriners Hospitals just reminded me to be thankful for what I have, and not feel sorry for myself about the negative things. The kids in the commercials are not sitting around helplessly. They’re working to overcome whatever obstacles life has dealt them.

I can’t speak for them, of course, and I expect that they sometimes feel sad or discouraged. Everyone does. Still, it’s inspiring to see them smiling and handling challenges at very young ages.

I’ve shared some things in this blog that I’ve dealt with, including some health challenges, but I was born with all my limbs, fingers, toes, sight and sound, organs intact and functioning normally and all the things we take for granted.

I feel like I’ve dealt with a lot and have shown a lot of strength and tenacity, and I have, but I would do well to remember that there are so many others who have challenges to deal with every day beyond what I’ve experienced or could even imagine.

I don’t mean to belittle anyone’s personal struggles which may not be as serious or severe as others’ by some measure. We all have crosses to bear, and they are important. The point is that we can take heart from those around us, or that we hear of through media sources.

It’s a strength of humanity that we experience empathy, and have a desire to help and support each other. Many people lament that we’re losing that capacity as we become desensitized, ever busier and harried, distracted, and perhaps, overwhelmed.  Not to mention, how divided we are in recent times.

But, when disasters happen, or a children’s hospital commercial is aired, or any of many causes, people give. Many people volunteer their time to better the lives of others. Family members make sacrifices to make life more livable for their loved ones.

There is good in humanity and we all should be thankful for what we have, and what we are able to do. Remember to give back because we’re all in this together.

Sunrise, sunset

A follow-up to Tuesday’s post: I was about to hit the snooze button the very next day, when I spotted a red glow through the closed blinds. A peek through revealed a gorgeous sunrise. I took it as a sign, and opened the blinds to enjoy a good long look at nature’s beauty. Then I went back to bed. Just kidding, I’m happy to say.  Did I get ya?

On the contrary, I turned the alarm off and got ready for work. I got there the earliest I have in a while. I quite accidentally overslept today, but still got to work a couple minutes ahead.  Momentum starting.

Then I was reminded by a news update that today was the first day of summer. It was a good day. Now, I’m watching the sunset on Midsummer’s Eve and enjoying the longest day of the year come to a close.

The lightning bugs rise up from the lawn to meet the day’s last light with their own. Earlier, my cat joined me in my chair on the deck, purring and padding my shirt. He has really soft fur, soothing.  I feel like I can do this. Working a lot, trying to write, keep house, take care of business, and myself.

I guess you have to find inspiration in the everyday beauty around you.  Find strength in the people around you, most of whom are dealing with the same things, or similar that you are. We’re all in this together. We can do it!

 

Photo credit: Eric Ritchey, Summer solstice sunset, 6/21/2018

Time to get serious (and this time I mean it)

I’m talking about discipline. Self-discipline, to be specific.  I’m 60 pounds overweight.  My old punctuality problem is back.  I’m not working out, and as you may have noticed, I’m not writing much. Ugh. It’s a constant struggle, isn’t it?

Part of the problem is that with my weight at my personal max, my sleep apnea is worse, and the lack of energy has made it very difficult to get other things done. I’ve had several naps rage out of control lately. I plan on 30-45 minutes and end up losing 3 hours, or more, even going so far as to reset the timer on my phone to sleep a while longer.

So, I’m not really blaming myself, or being hard on myself, but I am determined to push forward. Don’t worry, I’ll get medical attention for the sleep apnea worsening, but I’m not waiting for that to be wrapped up. I’m forging ahead with my discipline renewal now.

Am I setting myself up? I don’t think so. I’m very determined, tenacious, a little stubborn, perhaps. I know I can do better. You’ve got to do the best you can and allow for some minor slippage when you’re working on life improvements.  Don’t beat yourself up. The world does enough of that.

One thing I managed to figure out years ago, is that discipline is an interconnected thing. It’s hard to be disciplined in one area while completely lax in another. For example, sticking to a diet and exercise plan will actually help me work on my writing.

You don’t want to take on too much all at once, but you do want to have a brand spanking new mindset, one that accepts the reality of the occasional setback, but marches on relentlessly to the goal, knowing you’ll get there. That’s what I’m going to do.

Who’s with me? We’re all in this together, after all!  Go to it!

Bust that box, cont’d

To recap the first part, I’m talking about people who achieve some sort of personal growth or life change. The problem is that it can take time for that change to filter through all areas of your life. You wind up being put in a box, by yourself or by others, which stunts your continued growth, if you let it.

I’m still working on it myself, so I can’t give you a fool-proof, step-by-step plan to bust out of your box, but I can share what I’ve learned.

If you’ve ever wanted to pick up and take off for some place new and exciting to start over, be very careful. You might just end up in the same old box, just with different surroundings. In other words, if you’re still reserved and inhibited on the inside, then you’ll have the same old trouble with making friends, or building a life.

I’m not saying that a big dramatic step in a new direction can’t ever be the way to break out. It’s just that life often is more gradual, and most often, slower than we’d like.

If your box is being the shy, quiet one, then keep doing what you’ve been doing. You’ve beaten the shyness, now keep building.  Step further out of your comfort zone. Don’t let yourself fall back into the old passive spectator in groups.  As with anything, the more you practice, the easier it gets.

If your box is being the fifth wheel, always tagging along with couples for social outings, then you know what you have to do. Put yourself out there. I may be showing my age, but I think if you’re going online for opportunity, make it a site with actual profiles, as opposed to an app, where all your hopes and anxieties and internal conflicts are swiped away ruthlessly. Again, just my opinion.

Maybe the box you find yourself in is a little different.  Were you the bully in school, but you genuinely changed? Something may have happened in your own life that gave you a change of heart somewhere along the way and you apologized. I’ve had that happen. I was happy to forgive the person. Far be it from me to board up the windows on someone else’s box.

Whatever box you’re busting up, be tenacious. It may feel like no one around is noticing your progress, but they will.

 

 

Background image created by Kstudio – Freepik.com

Bust that box

In case you haven’t read any of my previous posts, let me preface this one briefly. I was a shy, quiet, anxious misfit who didn’t get much support in my younger days. I’m not shy anymore, and only sometimes quiet.  If I’m ever a misfit, it’s by choice, for the most part. ha ha

So, I know what it’s like to be excluded, and I know what it’s like to be a peer. It’s not an easy transition, or a short one. It’s also hard to know when it’s complete. Maybe it’s a lifetime process.

What’s most important is how you see yourself. You need to have that down before you can change your place in the world around you. Actually, that may not even be the right way to look at it. Instead of changing your place in the world, change the world around you so it fits you. Wow! I gotta write this down. Oh, yeah, just did. I need to let that one sink in.

Okay, so, you feel like you’ve been put in a box: he’s the shy, quiet guy.  She’s not cool. They’re weird. You’re bitter, defensive, blah, blah, blah. These are traits that end up defining you, if you let them. And then, others continue to try and define you that way even after you’ve changed.

Some look down on you, others just avoid you because they feel uncomfortable around you. Well-meaning friends or family speak for you, take you for granted. People just expect you to keep being the same person, not seeing the positive change within you. Those are the confines of the box.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at some ways to break through the walls of the box. In the meantime, do a little building inspection.  What are the walls made of? And who built them? Other people, or yourself?

 

Background image created by Kstudio – Freepik.com

Lost time

When I was a kid in Cub Scouts, there was a workbook we had to complete that involved activities. I had ignored it, so one of the den mothers had me start on page one at a meeting while the other boys were working on something else. I heard them comment about what I was doing and how long ago they had done it. It was embarrassing, but I soon caught up.

In college, when I got behind in my reading, sometimes I caught up. Sometimes, I had to cut my losses and pick up where I was supposed to be. Good thing I was a good listener in class.

I find myself wondering which scenario reflects life, long term.  Can you make up for lost time? Is it possible to catch up on unfulfilled dreams, or missed opportunities? You probably won’t recapture the same opportunity, or rekindle a promising relationship that fell apart.  You can’t undo or redo the past.

What you can do, is take the discernment, and the strength, and resolve you gained from your experiences and forge ahead into new territory. There may be more adventures left then you ever thought possible. You don’t know until you start.

I myself am writing more, and trying to open up more, socially, instead of being reserved and guarded.  I’ve been watching less TV to do the writing. Imagine that. It may take some discipline, and time management. A little courage perhaps.

It’s going to be worth it though. Let’s go!

 

T(a)inted sands

When I was around 7 or 8 years old, I attended bible school at the church of some friends of the family.  One day, the craft activity was making those landscapes with colored sands in a jar.

Everyone said mine was the nicest one. As I was making my way out the stairwell of a side exit afterward, an older boy and his friend stopped me and commented on my sandscape.  One of them said he could show me something really cool. He said to shake the jar, which I did gently at first, instinctively cautious. Unfortunately, I was naive and gullible and shook harder at his urging.

The beautiful layers of colors were a uniform, ugly green. I remember being surprised at how thoroughly ruined it was. The other boys saw that on my face and laughed.

I’m sorry to tell such a sad story, but don’t feel bad. It was an important lesson that stuck with me. I was less naive after that. Maybe it kept me from something worse.

I used to feel like I was that jar of sand. Actually, anyone could be. We all start out pristine and beautiful. Then life shakes us up.

All the teasing and bullying and exclusion left psychological issues to work through, which I have. There were physical things as well that mixed up the colors.  I have less than half volume hearing in my right ear due to having a growth remove. It wasn’t a tumor. It had to do with chronic infections damaging the ear drum. I let the growth go for about two years after I knew about it, thinking my boss at the time was going to get health benefits for me, as he had talked about. I was also paralyzed into inaction and indecision by depression, so the time slipped by, though I did get it done with the help of medical assistance and private grant program.

Another thing was the surgery I had for a bowel obstruction and appendicitis.  My Crohn’s disease was never diagnosed before that. It should have been. Now I have to mix and drink a powder medication that keeps me from having severe diarrhea 24/7. I basically can’t live without it.

There’s also the loss of self image with the nasty scars from the incision and the colostomy.  Everyone said the incision scar would be a thin white line, but there’s an inch wide swath. I was only 28, then, and still in good shape.

All the undiagnosed, unrecognized problems and issues that I spoke of in yesterday’s post, took their toll as well. I remember feeling totally burned out after two years of community college and working maybe twenty hours a week, when I was in my early twenties. I didn’t know yet about the sleep apnea or Crohn’s disease, or even the bipolar depression. That’s a long story, but suffice it to say that I went through a period of personal growth and discovery after I graduated.

The important thing to take away here, is that, I’m still standing! With a God-given resilience and strength, I kept going and learning.

The colored grains of sand are still in there. And, unlike the literal ones, they can be made beautiful again. No one can take your inner beauty, your soul. So, I hope you can feel uplifted from all this. The last thing I want is to depress anyone.

Go live life to the fullest. Don’t worry about what was or what might have been. Discover what life has in store for you.