Archive | April, 2015

Above the Clouds

30 Apr

One time while traveling, the city I was leaving was having horrible weather. The sky was black and dense with clouds, and it was pouring rain. The air felt heavy and oppressive. It was dark and threatening. After I boarded the plane and we were underway, we bounced through some bumpy patches, and then suddenly we were above the storm, and the sun was beaming through the windows. It was gorgeous. I looked out my window and could see the dark, black storm below us. It was amazing to look down and see what we had left behind as we sailed along ablaze in the rays of the brilliant sun. There was such a difference from where we were, to where we had gone. It was bright up there, the sky was clear and blue, and we could see for miles. Not at all like the heavy, closed in space under the storm where we had begun the journey.

Our experiences can be like that. We may be having cloudy, stormy days, everything going wrong, tension in the air, we can get confused because of the darkness, and we can’t see ahead. We feel oppressed, and the constant thrumming of the stress weighs on us. We don’t know how long the storm will last before it finally plays out. We find ourselves wishing it would just stop now. Just clear up so we can move on.

It can be difficult, but we need to keep our perspective in times like these. Yes, there are clouds, yes it’s dark and threatening, maybe our lives are not where we want them to be, maybe our decisions haven’t worked out the way we planned, maybe people are upset, and we may feel lost. It’s easy to forget that there is sunshine just above the storm. It’s up there, beaming brightly. It’s always there. It never leaves, and it never fades. It’s just slightly out of reach right now, but if we hold steady, we can ride this out, and get to the clear skies again. No storm lasts forever. Eventually it plays out, and ends.

If you’re going through something difficult, if it feels bad there in the clouds, if it’s dark, if the thunder is threatening, if the rain feels like it will never stop, take heart, it will end. It can’t last forever. It will stop in time. Soon light will shine through, and you’ll be basking in the warmth of the sun’s rays. Everything will settle. You’ll be able to see clearly again, and all the darkness will lift. Keep your eyes on that. Remember that. The sun is always shining above the clouds no matter how dense and heavy the storm is today. The sun is always there. It’s there for you. This storm will pass. Just hold on a little longer. Better days are ahead.

Perception

29 Apr

Life is not perfect. Sometimes things go well, other times not so much. We have good days, and we have bad days, and sometimes we have boring, unremarkable days. But there are times when we have great days, and when they come everything seems terrific! Perception plays a role in our days, just like it does in everything else we do. What seems to be an unremarkable day to us, might be perfect for someone else. And the same is true about those around us. Our perceptions color what we think of them, how we feel about them, and what we say about them. It’s said that perception is reality, and that’s true. We base our realities on what we perceive them to be. We all have differing perceptions, even in the same situation. It’s how we’re made, but there is a trap we can fall into that can influence our perceptions negatively. That’s when we fall into the trap of complaining and criticizing.

Everybody knows a complainer. We all know someone that criticizes everything, and complains continually. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing, who we’re with, or how things are going, they will find something about which to complain. I know an older woman who has adopted this pattern, and frankly I think she’s about perfected it. It doesn’t matter what others do for her or where they take her, there is always, without exception, something for her to complain about. If she goes out for lunch, the salad is too big. If she goes shopping, there are too many things to choose from. If she sits out on the patio, the wind chimes are too loud, or the breeze is too cold, the sun is too hot, or the chair is too hard. When dealing with her, patience helps, but after a time it’s just exhausting to hear all the complaints.

There is always another way to see things. Our lives are not all bad all the time. The same is true with finding fault and criticizing others. None of us is perfect. We all have our idiosyncrasies and foibles. But there are some who feel it is their responsibility to point those inadequacies out to whoever might be listening, and make detrimental comments about those around them such as, “Look at those shoes she’s wearing, can you believe it? Who does he think he is acting like that? She’s always sucking up to the boss. He is so into himself he can’t see anyone else!” Tons of comments like these are a continual litany for those who need to criticize. It’s hard to be around people like this. They bring everyone down. They make those around them uncomfortable with the continual criticisms, and it’s hard to have fun when they go on and on. Plus, we know the minute we are out of earshot, the comments will probably be about us!

Complaining and criticizing are things we all do. Sometimes we are annoyed or unhappy, and this gives us a way to vent. But when they become continual traits that we engage in constantly, it becomes a problem. Today when things go wrong or someone annoys you, try to remember that they are only human, and like you, they are not perfect. Try to see the other side of the situation. Try to find something positive. Remember, you can only see what they show you – there is a lot more to every story. If you give others the benefit of the doubt, you’ll feel better in the long run. After all, it’s generally nicer in the sun than it is in the clouds. Say something nice when you feel like complaining. Say something positive when you feel like criticizing. You will lift those around you with your example, and you’ll be lifted too!

Do you dance?

28 Apr

Our lives are busy. We have families. We have jobs, and friends. We have hobbies we enjoy. You might have a dog, or a cat, or a pet turtle. We’re busy. People expect things from us, and we try to accommodate them. Sometimes though it seems like people expect a lot from us, and accommodating everyone can become a burden. So we learn to adapt. We learn to dance. We do a little bend here, a slide there, maybe a dip next, and the notorious two step when it’s needed. Dancing can be fun, and sometimes it can be tricky so we need to be careful. If we dance all the time, we can lose ourselves while we perform for others.

Maybe your boss expects you to portray a certain image. It’s a good image, maybe not who you really are, but you play along for the sake of getting along. Or your family wants you to do something that you really don’t enjoy, but everyone else wants to do it so you go along. You want everyone to be happy, and it’s not like you HATE the activity so you adjust. Maybe your companion wants to go somewhere that you don’t want to go. They are pressing you to agree, and you eventually say it’s fine, you’re happy to go. But that’s not exactly true – you aren’t really happy to go, but you’ll go because it’s easier than saying no. You take a little step to the left.

We learn to dance. We do what is expected, we turn where we’re directed, and we partner up when needed. There is a saying that we should “dance like nobody is watching.” If we were truly dancing like nobody was watching, we probably would be doing things a bit differently. We might throw our arms in the air, tap our toe, smile and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” And then happily sashay away in a different direction. If we danced like nobody was watching, like nobody expected certain steps, we could move our own way all the time, and we might be happier.

Life isn’t really like that though. Sometimes we need to accommodate those we care about or need in our lives. But if we accommodate everyone else all the time, at the expense of our individual choices, eventually, the dance catches up to us, and we lose our footing. So, we need to find the balance. Sometimes we give a little, and sometimes we hold firm. Sometimes we agree, and sometimes we say no. It’s okay to turn down requests. It doesn’t mean we don’t care. It just means that this time, we’re dancing to our own music. We’re choosing our own steps. Maybe a tango isn’t right for us today. Maybe everyone else is doing the tango, but today we need to waltz. We’re still dancing, but today we will choose our own steps. You can always choose your own steps. Do you feel like waltzing today? It’s a perfect day for it!

I’m all broken up over it.

27 Apr

I recently dropped a glass on the kitchen floor. The floor is tile so the glass broke into at least a million pieces – at least. I got the broom out, and carefully began to sweep up the dangerous mess, and then I got down on my hands and knees with a wet cloth to make sure I didn’t miss any tiny barbs destined to cut my feet. Broken glass can be tricky. It’s hard to see and very sharp. You have to be careful to get it all picked up or it’ll come back to cut you. And that’s no fun. After it was cleaned up, I reached into the cabinet again for another glass, and it slipped, but thankfully I did not drop that one, which was a great relief.

Bad and unexpected things happen to us sometimes. We aren’t made of glass, but there are times in our lives when we can feel broken by something that’s happened. The pain is too great, the suffering has gone on for too long, or the loss is too painful. We break. Not all the way like a glass on the floor, but enough that we feel like we’re in pieces, and nothing is fitting together. We feel disconnected. We feel untethered. We feel bad.  And sometimes during those fractured times, it’s hard to see how we’ll get it all put back together again. How we’ll clean everything up, and make it work.

There is no set timetable for fixing a break inside of us. It’s not like the six week cast for a broken arm. Every situation, every break is different. Some breaks feel all encompassing and take a lot of time to repair. Others aren’t so intense, and we can bounce back more quickly. But no matter how long it takes, the period during the break hurts. We’re out of sync, and it can feel like we have a flat tire, loping down the road slightly off kilter. The world is off its axis. Everything feels strange, and uncomfortable. We’re not ourselves.

No matter how extensive our breaks are, once we decide we’re going to fix them, they begin to mend. There is a saying that time heals all wounds, and in some ways time is the best medicine for a break. But time is just one part of how we heal.  Attention to the break is needed.  We need to look at it, examine it from different angles, figure out how we got broken to begin with, and determine how we can fix the situation.  It will take some time.  We may get impatient, but even in the impatience, things can move forward.  We can heal.  We will heal.

If you feel broken, if something is out of whack, something is wrong, take a little while to examine the problem. What happened? How can you fix it? How can you heal the break? All the answers are inside you. If you feel lost, seek the help of someone you trust. Listen. Think. Take your time. You’ll figure this out. When we break a bone and it heals, it is stronger than it was before we broke it. We are the same way. Once we fix what is broken inside, we are stronger than before. And being stronger is a great gift. No break is permanent. This will change. You’ll heal and be stronger on the other side.

Line in the Sand

26 Apr

We all have limits and there comes a time when they arrive. We’ve had enough. We’re done. We’re drawing the line in the sand. We aren’t going any further. Maybe this happens in our romantic relationships, maybe it concerns work, and maybe it’s a family situation we can’t tolerate anymore. Whatever the reason, we’ve reached our limit, and we are done. We’re over it.

Drawing a line in the sand doesn’t mean we are at a full stop. It means we want to change our direction. Our course needs to be corrected. The path we’ve been on, and the things we’ve been doing aren’t working. They are causing us heartache, or pain, or both. We took it as long as we could, and now we have to change. There is nothing wrong with changing our courses, and ending a situation we can no longer tolerate. We are in charge of ourselves, and we get to choose when, and how we want to proceed.

But before we throw our hands up, and say “ENOUGH!”, and make the decision to turn completely away, we should first take some time to identify exactly what we want in the long run. Sometimes we don’t have to totally end what we’re doing to get there, and a modification is all that’s called for. We can adjust the plan, we can amend the decision, and we can turn a little to the right or to the left to fix things. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of communicating more effectively. Sometimes it’s a transient situation that will work itself out, and we are over reacting. Sometimes we’re just tired of waiting for things to change, and our patience has worn thin. We may not want to stop everything in its tracks, but it seems like the only answer.

Are you fed up with a situation in your life? Have you had enough of dealing with it, waiting for it, coping with it, and are thinking about drawing that line in the sand? Take a moment to think objectively about the results of walking away before you plunge ahead. Be sure the end result is what you want. If it is, go for it. Walk away. Tear off the rear view mirror, and proceed ahead. But if the end result isn’t where you want to go, think about the situation again, and see if there’s a way to alter your course so that you can stay in, and still be comfortable. There is nothing wrong with drawing a line in the sand. Nothing at all. Just be sure before you make the decision you understand where it will take you. And remember, proceed with caution. Once you make the change, nothing will be the same.