Choices

Thoughts to Ponder

April 18, 2016

 “A major advantage of age is learning to accept people without passing judgment.”

Liz Carpenter*

Most of us have learned to judge people by their age, size, color, wealth, education and many other non-specific criteria that we have stashed away in our minds. Often we judge those who don’t meet our standards harshly. Other times we can dismiss those differences with a “different strokes for different folks” attitude. Being able to accept other people for who they are is an attitude most of us cultivate.

Today, however, I want to discuss a must more difficult challenge – accepting ourselves where we are each and every moment. Most of us have learned to accept ourselves most of the time. Periodically, we still denigrate ourselves with “shoulda, woulda, coulda”. To some extent, that is just human nature. We have a choice. We can live with and nurture our petty complaints or we can look at the big picture. We’re alive. We’re functioning to whatever ability we have and are able to feel empathy for others.

This last was a choice I denied myself yesterday. I woke up feeling deprived, abused, neglected and generally in a sorry mood. I was upset because over the past few years I’ve had some health issues, annoying and inconvenient, but in the larger view, rather petty. I ranted at my God, angels, guides, and whomever else might have been listening. “I’m tired of all these health issues! If I had the energy I could have done this activity. If I hadn’t had to spend so much money on medications, physical therapy and dental work I could have gone on this trip or done that project. I’m angry. I want to spend my time and energy on having fun, not on health issues.” The worst part was that I shared my anger with a kind, young man whose mother can’t eat solid food. I’m sure she wishes that her health issues were as minor as mine.

This morning I awoke with a lesson that I’ve shared here in the past, but had been floating around in my miasma of anger and fear. Yes, fear. If I’m this decrepit now, what will life be like in another 10 years? The truth is I probably have another 10 years or 20 or more to learn what life holds for me.

The most important lesson is that we cannot change who and what we are until we accept who and what we are today, in this very moment. I had to accept that I was angry over relatively easily handled problems. The doctor sent me to physical therapy to relieve what has turned out to be temporary pain. If I didn’t spend money on therapy I may have eventually lost the use of my arm. What would have that cost? My recent bout with breathing issues is healing with prescription medications. What would have been the cost without that option? Expensive dental work provided me with a new tooth. What would have been the long-term cost of not being able to eat crunchy food?

Each of us faces his/her own personal issues to complain about and accept or not accept. We all have our personal heroes who have borne difficulties that we can only imagine, yet triumphed in life. Helen Keller and Steven Hawking are two who come immediately to mind. Keller was deaf and blind, yet blossomed into a woman we often quote for inspiration. Hawking cannot control his body, yet his brain continues to astound us on a regular basis. They continue to inspire us to move forward, no matter what. As long as life is, we have hope.

Spirit,

Thank you for putting our problems in perspective. Thank you for showing us that acceptance and gratitude are the basis for a happy life. Thank you for giving us the ability to see the positive outcomes of our negative experiences. Thank you for giving us another day to live in gratitude.

And, so it is.

*Carpenter, Liz, The Treasury of Women’s Quotations, pg. 20, Carolyn Warner, Prentiss Hall, 1992

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

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The present is now

Thoughts to Ponder – March 10, 2015*

 “There is no vacation from reality, 
but when we strive to remain present in every moment, 
a vacation becomes a part of our reality, 
instead of an escape.”
Window 704 – The prison of our mind
https://awindowofwisdom.wordpress.com

This interesting quote not only discusses being present, but it also brings up the concept of reality. Let’s talk about being present first.

Remain present and live in the moment were strange words to me when I first heard them. I couldn’t imagine a life without my brain bouncing forward to worry and backward to hurts or regrets. That was simply the way it functioned. How I ever got any real-time work accomplished is a mystery.  In addition to not working up to my abilities, my vocabulary was filled with buts and ifs. It’s no wonder that what my teachers wrote on my report cards, “Doesn’t work up to potential” was replicated year after year on my performance reviews.

After hearing live in the present more times than I could count, I decided it might be worth a try. At first I struggled and had to constantly remind myself that I was here, today, in this place and not in whatever time and place was filling my thoughts. Sometime later, I moved from struggling to striving. Striving was easier. It was a goal I set myself each day, and still do.

For the most part, I now live in the moment or at least in the day. When I find myself focused on events of the past or possibilities of the future, I remind myself that I am here, today, in this moment and bring my thoughts back to the moment. That allows me to be fully aware and functioning on a higher level. A bonus is that my performance reviews have improved significantly. I still keep a schedule, but now it is a guideline, not an “OMG, how will I get all this done?” list.

The writer’s phrase, “… a vacation becomes a part of our reality, instead of an escape” struck me as strange until I realized that vacations are now a treat, not an escape. I still count down the days to my upcoming adventure, but my perspective is different. I no longer think, “Only 10 more days and I’ll be out of here for a week.” What a difference this has made to my attitude and my work ethic. This isn’t to say I never get tired and look forward to a break. I do, but the thought process makes all the difference.

Just a quick note about reality:  Reality is a concept, a personal construct. Just because I experience an event a certain way doesn’t mean that my experience is the only one. Each of us has a different perception of what happened. This is enough on that topic, for today anyway.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, March 10, 2015

*This has been a long month without writing. Regrettably, I spent most of that time slogging through the worst head cold I’ve had in years. My sinuses were so stuffy that my brain didn’t have room to function. My thoughts centered on only one question: Will I have time to reach for another tissue before the next sneeze comes?  That certainly kept me in the present. Thankfully, the cold has passed and I’m now functioning as I should and glad to be back at the keyboard.

If you know someone who would appreciate reading “Thoughts to Ponder,” please suggest that he or she contact me at: energywriter@cox.net

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com