Tag Archives: appreciation

Perspective

I know I’ve written about this before. Maybe several times. And I’m pretty sure I’ll write about it a million more times. Because it’s incredibly easy to get lost in my own life, my own problems, my own family, my own relationships, etc., etc., etc.

It’s too easy to lose perspective.

Maybe I need to constantly remind myself of this in order to keep my new-found clarity. Maybe this is how I allow myself to be happy.

By stepping outside of myself and becoming connected to the rest of the world.

By simply just appreciating what is.

By not getting caught up in everything else.

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Yes, it’s extremely easy to say. It’s extremely easy to even believe I’m doing it. But I’m usually not. And there are several moments today that have made that very clear to me how important it is for me to be here and not anywhere else…

This morning a friend of mine accidentally ran over his dog as he was leaving his driveway. They rushed the dog to the vet and were told that he has a broken femur. And that the cost of surgery (which would need to take place an hour+ away) would cost 3-4 thousand dollars. I immediately paused what I was doing and just… cried. I can’t imagine having my beloved pet in critical condition and dealing with what I’m sure are immense emotions knowing that I was the one who accidentally ran him over.

The dog is in surgery now. They are trying to raise money to pay for his surgery. But it’s not about the money. There will always be more money. And more money to owe. My heart breaks for them and I have hope that their precious dog will make a full recovery.

Just a few moments ago I looked at facebook and saw this blog post: I Decided to Give my Paycheck to a Facebook Friend with Breast Cancer.

This women lives in my area. Her daughter is a year older than my oldest daughter. Again, as I read this I just cried.

Then there is Humans of New York (HONY). If you haven’t seen any of this, it’s beautiful. Brandon, a photographer, walks around NYC and takes portraits of people he comes across. He also adds quotes and short stories from the people he meets. I honestly can’t even put into words the emotion and depth that these portraits and stories capture. I follow HONY on facebook as well, and daily I find myself crying when his posts come up in my feed.

I cry a lot actually.

I used to view it as weakness and I hated crying but now I embrace it. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m sad.

If anything, it means that I’m alive. And that my capacity to feel empathy and compassion for others is not something I should stifle.

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I could spend every day for the rest of my life wishing my life was different, complaining about how unfair it is, being miserable. I know there are changes that I could make that might very well lead to happiness for me. I also know change is scary as hell.

I’m not ready to make those changes. But I don’t have to allow myself to wallow in things I’ve chosen not to do anything about.

I’ll continue to put myself out there emotionally. I’ll continue to have empathy and compassion for everyone – including myself. I’ll continue to do everything within my capabilities to help those around me. And to help myself as much as I am capable to.

Life is tough. For me. For everyone.

If I can stay outside of my own head and look around me, I can see that. And, in seeing that, I can gain some perspective and acceptance.

There are no guarantees. There are no promises. As much as we want them.

All we have is now.

And, if I really look, now is pretty great.

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Hope

Hope.

Hope is the difference between despair and acceptance.

Without hope we cannot expect to move forward — we cannot even see that there is a place to move to.

If you believe that there is no possible (or impossible) way for progress, for improvement, for the ability to “get better,” there is little motivation to put forth effort in change, since change seems unrealistic.

It’s amazing how the tiniest spark of possibility ignites a fire of hope. It spreads to your perception, your beliefs, your motivation, your efforts.

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Hope shines a light in the dark corners of yourself. It, “invites the possibility.” It shifts, “NO,” “NEVER,” and “CAN’T” to “MAYBE.”

And “MAYBE,” though not as enthusiastic as “YES!” shifts your perception of the world around you enough to encourage the mightily important, “TRY.”

With hope we can try. We can see possibilities. We can move forward. We can change, learn, grow.

With hope there is a future, potentially better than the present. And we can choose to try the best we can.

The Illusion of Time & Perceived Guarantees

Simplicity.

It’s something I often lose sight of in the everyday chaos. It’s something I entirely forget in moments of added stress and chaos – in the moments when I need to remember it the most.

Often times I find myself moving through chaos. Through stress from school. Through trying to be a good parent. Through keeping up a household. Through dealing with physical and emotional and financial issues.

I lose sight of the “little things”. I lose focus of what’s really important. What really matters.

And then there are the curveballs that, by all accounts, there is no possibility of preparation for.

The sudden death of a loved one. The realization that your child has a disability. The breakdown of communication and relationships. A life-altering accident.

In the past month or so, my close friend’s (now) fiance was in a near-death accident. He thankfully survived and is currently at a rehab facility with a spinal injury that has left him partially paralyzed.

Weeks after this happened, my brother’s friend who grew up in the same town as me, was also in an accident. He also thankfully survived and is currently at the same rehab facility as my first friend. He too has a similar spinal injury.

It’s not an easy task to make sense of two healthy, active young men from adjacent towns being in similar accidents, with similar injuries, in such a short span of time.

It’s easy to get lost in the flood of emotions, to be gripped with such sadness and the feeling of helplessness. To focus only on the negatives.

However, they both survived. From all accounts, they are in good spirits. Friends, family and the entire community have come together in support. There is an overwhelming amount of people coming together to be there for these people.

It also brings me back to my original point.

It’s so easy to get lost in the stress and chaos, in all the negatives. It’s easy to ignore the amazing things that exist everyday around us. To pinpoint what is important and to savor and place focus on those things.

Thinking about situations like the accidents mentioned above makes me wonder how we can possibly waste so much of our lives not really even living them. We focus on material items. We worry about money. We get upset and dwell on things we have no control over or ability to change. We live in the past and the future, without taking the time to live in the present – the only place in time we can actually live. We don’t take the time to tell the people who mean the most to us what they really mean to us. We don’t say I love you. We don’t say what we mean.

We take forgranted the very nature of life – that life is a finite thing. We act like we have all the answers but fail to acknowledge that often times much of what happens is unpredictable, unfathomable and not “according to plan.”

We live our lives as if we are immortal, as if we are immune from death and will live forever.

We need to live in the present and appreciate all that we have right now.  Time is an illusion in that we assume forever, when nothing is ever guaranteed. Life is fragile. So much more so than we like to admit.

Even in the Pain There is Beauty

There are times, so many times, when it seems like there couldn’t possibly be another thing you could handle. No possible way you could deal with anything else.

And then life hands you another lemon (or whatever vague analogy you’d prefer to use) and you’re faced with the requirement of dealing with that too.

There are people who will tell you stories about how when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Or that when one door closes, another opens.

These are cute inspirational sayings but I won’t insult you with such simplicities. Sure, sayings such as these can sometimes help to uplift us.

But sometimes, life just sucks. And there isn’t necessarily any good reason why. Or any reason at all.

I can’t tell you why some people seem to constantly have bad things happen to them. Really I can’t tell you anything.

Because I don’t know.

I think a lot… about everything. One concept I inevitably come back to is that of reality.

What is real? How do you define real? Is this the real life? Is this just fantasyyyyy? (Sorry, sometimes I can’t help but fall into lyrics).

Reality is constructed, by those around us and ourselves. And what you believe, externally and internally, to be true is what’s real for you.

As someone who helps construct reality (and so MANY things in this world), you do have some say in how you construct your beliefs and perspective.

Bad shit isn’t going to stop happening because you have this knowledge, but this knowledge can allow you to alter your perceptive of said bad shit in the context of your life.

We can’t predict the future and we can’t control it. Neither can we control the past. Whatever you focus on is what life is for you at any given moment. Focus on the negatives in your life and that’s what your life is for you. Focus on worries, that’s what your life is. Focus on gratitude and positives and, yep, that’s what your life is for you.

It’s so difficult to not solely focus on the negatives when there are so many presented to you.

Like when your kid is sick and you have to miss school to stay home with them and your car breaks down so you can’t even make the doctor’s appointment you were lucky to get — this is when life seems overwhelmingly horrible.

Or like when your relationship with someone is stressed and you’ve been trying to deal with their addiction while remaining detached enough not to get hurt, but also attached enough to still care and you just can’t save them. Because you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved and slowly you watch them change from the person you loved the most into the saddest stranger you’ve ever seen.

You start stacking all of these negative things, overlapping one another, and you’re stretching yourself out to continue at the same, or higher, level of productivity for an endless period of time. It’s difficult to see life as anything but negative.

But if you looked back at your horrible day or week or year, really look, you’ll see that there is likely positive things as well. The day your car broke down and your child was sick allowed you moments with your child that you both enjoyed and may seldom get to have. Even in the really painful moments there are spaces of positivity. If anything, there is growth and beauty in pain if we allow there to be.

So yes, shit sucks. But you do the best you can with what you have in this moment and you continue to work on improving yourself. People aren’t perfect. Life sure as hell isn’t perfect. You just keep moving forward, getting through each day. And as the Monty Python song goes, “Always look on the bright side of life…”

Is There a Bigger Picture?

Recently it seems wherever I go there are people having a tough time. Having difficulty making ends meet, finding jobs, paying for all the expenses that somehow creep up at the worst possible times. Struggling with sicknesses, addictions, chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia, deep depression and other mental illnesses.

People are working their asses off at jobs they don’t enjoy, that they aren’t appreciated in or compensated for. Racking up large debts to pay for secondary educations with the foresight that there may not be careers available to them when they graduate.

Parents who are stressed out from all of these things and still need to find a way to hold it together to be the moms and dads their children not only require but also deserve. Losses of jobs and houses, and lifestyles and dreams. Losses of people, expected and unexpected, but felt just the same.

Religious arguments and politics. Social injustice. Internal feelings of inadequacy; of lacking. And an overwhelming feeling of despair and disappointment.

It all leads to, let’s be honest, feeling like shit. Feeling like the world is on your back. That bad things just keep happening and will just keep happening. That no matter what you do, it isn’t enough. It will never be enough. It might make you start questioning what the “bigger picture is.”

Is there a bigger picture? What is the point of all of this? And will it ever get any better?

I can tell you this, I don’t have the answers and I won’t try and act like I do.

Or rather, I don’t have the answers for you.

However, I have found the answers for me. Right now. In this moment.

Is there a bigger picture?

Do you want there to be? You are the captain of your life, whether you feel like it or not. In this moment, the bigger picture for me is this: Much of life has been beyond difficult, filled with trauma and tribulations and shit stacked so high against me that at many points I couldn’t see around it.

To be honest, my current life isn’t really any less difficult than it has ever been. But the bigger picture, for me, is that I can’t see having gone through all that I have and survived to just let my life be wasted. For me, the bigger picture is a trap. Looking too far in the future (or the past) blinds me from looking right here in the present, which is the only place I am truly capable of being in.

What is the point of all of this?

You know, I’ve mulled this question over since I was, at minimum, 15 years old. I haven’t ever come up with a definitive answer mainly because there isn’t one. There is no one answer to this question. The point of “all this” is whatever you want it to be.

Do you want to be the wealthiest person in the US? In the world? Do you want to discover an unknown entity or invent the world’s next innovation? Do you want to be the best parent you can be to your children? Do you want to be happy?

The meaning of life is vastly different for each person. For me, in this moment, the point of “all this” is to do the best I can. Right now. With the knowledge and resources and abilities that I have right now. And if tonight when I go to bed I realize that the day didn’t go as I had hoped or planned or even liked, well then tomorrow I will get up and try again.

Will it ever get any better?

At various times throughout my life I have been in places that, regardless of what anyone said to me, I would argue that no, it will never get better. I could point to the current place I was in (which was horrible). I could point to every past place of agony and depression and anger and despair. As if to showcase my evidence of how much everything is shit and always was shit and always will be shit. But, you know what?, complaining and arguing about how much my life sucked didn’t do anything other than allowing myself to sink down into it even more.

So, right here and right now, let’s lay it out. Life sucks. Life is hard and sometimes it seems like horrible things will never stop happening to us. Fair assessment?

Now let it go. Really. Putting the majority of your attention on all the things that are shitty, it doesn’t help you. While you’re busy getting stressed and upset about all the things that, right now in this moment, you can’t change you are missing out on all the wonderful things that are right there.

Sometimes all you can do is keep moving. Just keep waking up and doing the best you can. Just keep swimming as it were, like the fish in Finding Nemo.

Sometimes you need to change your perspective. To acknowledge the bad and let it go. To choose to focus on the positive things you do have in your life. To be grateful.

Are bad things going to keep happening? Yes. And good things too.

My Kids Are Me (& Not Just The Best Parts)

Let me start with this. I love my kids. I really, really do.

But sometimes (and by sometimes I mean a lot of the time) they act like, well, kids (On a good day. Wild sugar-hyper monkeys might apply better). And not just kids, but MY kids and my partner’s kids.

And that means that they act like my partner and I did when we were kids.

Tantrums. Throwing anything they can reach. Screaming. Yelling. Kicking. Becoming temporarily deaf (You know, I really do like to say your name 50 times in hopes of getting you to look at me or respond). Changing their mind 59 times about what pair of shoes they want to wear (No! Not those ones! The other other sparkley ones!). Remembering that they have to bring that toy with them when we’re heading out the door, 10 minutes late. (And, oh yeah, where is that toy mom? I need it!) Claiming they absolutely don’t have to use the bathroom when I ask before a trip (and then 5 minutes in, it’s an emergency! I have to pee nowww!) Melting down because they weren’t the one who got to open the door (I don’t want to open it NOW! You already opened it! And closed it!).

Of course, obviously worse than we ever were. Because we were misunderstood and it obviously was our parents that caused us to act like that and, so, it was our parents fault we acted that way.

My kids? Well, it’s not their parent’s fault they act that way.

Because I’m their mom. And B is their dad. And there is NO way that we’ve in any way caused them to act like that.

Except… I guess genetics may play into it a bit (probably like 1%).

And they do spend time with OUR parents… yes! That must be it!

Here are my two little monkeys {Z, left; E, right} at Halloween time. Though they like to wear costumes year-round.

I hope it’s quite clear that I write all this in jest (love you Grama, Nana & Papa!). It wasn’t our parents “faults” for how B and I acted as kids anymore so than it is B and I’s “fault” for how our kids act. They act like…kids.

And while they may drive me near-crazy on a daily basis with some difficult to keep your cool and stay calm moments, I view my kids as the biggest lessons of my life.

Patience. How to stay calm. What’s really important. And how to deal with tiny people who often think, behave, react and/or embody many parts of B and myself.

And all of our flaws. Only, I don’t view those same flaws in my children as such. Instead I see personality, loyalty, creativity and a million other amazing attributes.

Truly they are amazing little people who, with a lot of love, learning, support, patience and hope, will grow into amazing people.

Hey, their parent’s did.

The Myth of the Perfect Holiday

Life has a way of building up, of stacking situations, events, emotions, needs and tasks on top of each other. Until it gets difficult to clearly see what is a priority and what is really important.

The holidays are especially a time like that. Making sure presents are gotten and wrapped. That the decorations go up. That the tree goes up and gets decorated. That you can find where the menorah is. (We celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and Winter Solstice). There’s excitement in the air and the kids can’t contain it (often the adults can’t either).

There’s traveling or guests coming to your house. Is your house clean? I better put away the empty bottles from the kitchen. And dust everything. And did I vacuum the floor in the basement where no one will go and that no one will see?

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in all the things we need to do and all the details that we fail to pay attention to the “other” things. Like driving. I’m not certain why, but once it hits the week before the holidays it seems that many people forget how to drive. Blinkers? I know where I’m going! Stop signs and speed limits? I need to get there 10 minutes ago.

And the inattention continues in the stores. People rushing and carelessly bumping into others. Failing to hold the door for the person behind you. Huffing at the long lines at the check out. Even fighting over the last of an item.

How is this beneficial to anyone? We’re all stressed out. Rushed. Anxious.

Everyone would like to have the “perfect” holiday. The perfectly decorated house. The perfect holiday meal. The perfect gifts, for loved ones and ourselves. But not at the expense of others and ourselves.

How about some goodwill towards others? Hold the door for the person behind you. Donate to those less fortunate, with monetary donations, donations of a gift or food, or volunteering your time. Say thank you to those helping you at the stores. Retail is brutal this time of year (and year round!) and a simple gesture such as thank you goes a long way.

Even if your house isn’t perfect. Or your meal doesn’t turn out as planned. Or the presents you give/receive aren’t exactly what was wanted. Be grateful of what you do have. And slow down.

Be kind to those around you in your daily travels. Be thankful of the food you consume. Be present in the moment and enjoy the time you’ve been blessed to spend with those you love.

It isn’t about the food. Or the presents. Or the decorations. Or what you receive. Or what you didn’t receive.

It’s about the moment.

So slow down, take a deep breath and just be here.

Wishing you all happy holidays, whatever you choose to celebrate.