Ew it's kinda nasty out there isn't it? Storms and earthquakes, big and small, continuing fights about healthcare and Sarah Palin whacking around her sarcastic banter, not to help in any contributing way, but merely to help herself. And I could go on. Frustration with the simple inability to 'get back to normal' is shared across the country. Things seem dicey and patience appears to be running thin. This is all pushing us along, especially those of us that can't 'remember' (and let it be said, the lack of memory could be due to my new best friend, Ms. Menopause). But all of that said, if you are looking to feel better and find a wee bit of inspiration, we should venture into your thoughts and look at your perspective, for this is the very one thing you can control.
I could share stories of heroism from the blizzard out east or the inspiring stories from the people of Haiti, or the beauty of a new baby that I know who recently joined all of us (welcome Jacob!), but when we are beyond the ability to take it in, we close up. Maybe, with a little bit of luck, a good cup of hot java, and some quieting music in the background, I can help pull you out of the hole of darkness.
Let's establish some ground rules so we are all on the same page:
1. Life isn't fair. Fair cards were not handed out when you were born. Although many of us suspect that there are those who were secretly handed one as they left the hospital by the on-call angel nurse who tucked it under their blanket, the truth is we were all given the same blank canvas.
2. Life is a mystery. No matter what you believe, who you worship, dead or alive, how your spirituality guides you, we are all working on the scaffolding of faith. Faith is the leap we take on belief. Belief is how we reconcile our journey. There is no religion or factual guide that has all of the answers. There is much we know, and much we don't. Or, as I quietly put it one night to my roommate in college during an incredibly reflective time after a crush that went bad, changing my major midstream, and learning that my 'life' was just one flavor of many, 'Life is the weirdest thing in the whole wild world.'
3. Life is what we make it. This is where my fire smolders a bit. I am constantly amazed at the entitlement many demand. Here on the east, we are in the middle of blizzard number two. Anyone who has visited Washington, D.C. knows that the likelihood of this area being 'READY' for something like this is slim to none. No, we don't keep 67 extra snow plows available for storms that come once very 100 years and, no, we don't have steadfast plans for disaster when roofs are caving in due to the weight of snow and roads are covered with ice. Some of this could be better, yes, but for the most part, we are crawling our way through this. And yet, yesterday I heard of people throwing snow at plows because they had taken several days to arrive at side streets. Really?
Ok, so now we have our guiding rules: nothing is fair, we don't understand everything and how we get through any of this is up to us. Focusing on the 'up to us' part is my specialty. Along with thousands upon thousands , things have happened to me that I couldn't get my hands around, that I couldn't understand. And so. And so I stand outside of it and I look at it. And I find gratitude wherever I can. We can always start with the basics.
If you are reading this, you have your 'faculties' meaning you are alert, able to process, your mind is working and you aren't struggling with a debilitating mental illness, then let's give thanks. If you are reading this from a computer and you can READ which means you are educated (no matter the degrees or the grades, you have more than most), let's give thanks.
The hard part comes when we all think, "Yeah, whatever, I can read, I am here, big friggin deal." Digging deeper we will go outside of 'us' and look beyond. Travel a bit. Look down the block or over the ocean or in another city. What will you find?
There is the woman crying quietly because she is a woman and not allowed to have a fair trial, no matter that she was raped. There is the small 8 yr old who is passing in the next 24hrs because there is no cure. The war hero who can no longer walk or care for himself is now in a home with substandard care and hasn't had a visitor in two years. There is the neglected teen who wanders the streets looking for identity and when he can, pushes drugs into his system to numb the pain. These are the obvious examples but there are more.
There is the family who is in debt, has a sick child, and is in the middle of a storm which means Dad can't get out and make money to pay the bills. There is the single Mom who is worried about her daughter, thinks she might be sexually active, could have a STD and is working two jobs to keep the house so they don't have to move again. There is the farmer who is depressed beyond compare. The weather has handed the latest blow and the crops won't survive or produce this year - which means more debt and the possibility of foreclosure. There is the Mom who is facing her second bought of cancer and was just let go and is trying to figure out what to do for work. There is the young newlywed who can't find a job to save his soul, he has applied for every job and now faces the reality of living with his in-laws.
Deeper still: there are mothers, brothers, uncles, sisters and stepfathers - in some foreign country, doing what they can every day to keep peace on our soil and do their part for our military. They wake up every day and never know what is coming their way. People hate them and they aren't sure why but they fight and they show up and they try hard.
There are entire countries in bankruptcy, some run by drug lords and some facing disasters beyond their comprehension. And yet, on we go. Every single day, every single minute, every single second, you have one ability that is shared across the globe. You can choose how you look at things. You can choose your thoughts. You can choose your perspective. Nothing - no disaster, no person, no situation, no hurt, can take that away from you.
Pollyanna has left the building, I know it's not easy. This doesn't mean that all is well and there is no pain or heartache. It does mean that some of this is just junk to move through, things to process and put in their place while you remember that you are still here, with us, enjoying these moments. 'This too shall pass', is one of my favorite quotes. Father time is our friend, as time moves on, things change. That is the constant you can count on. Change.
And with change comes the new. Things move along and you are given a new view. When you see things from another mountain top, you can see the struggles around you. We all swim in the same emotional waters - we have the frustrations, hurt, anger, resentment and loss. But in the river, you will find the rest of us, some at different places, some that are delighted, happy and carefree. Yet we are all in this life pool of shared dilemmas. You are not targeted and troubles are not just given to you to carry.
During one particularly difficult day I had years ago, I realized that my despair was something that many before me had encountered. It hit me square between the eyes - I wasn't experiencing any feeling that others hadn't experienced before. That gave me comfort, knowing that I was part of this beautiful 'life' experience - and that I wasn't alone or singled out or some sort of test case for suffering. I was simply alive.
Still stuck? Then just move a bit- use your body to work it out, something has to give, when you exhaust yourself it's much harder to be bottled up. No matter what may come our way, I send you the gift of knowing that you are in good company and never alone.
As the wise have said before me, 'choose your thoughts, choose your life.' Take heed, take care and take time for you. You are simply not alone, we are all in this together. Hugs and love.
Kim Roman Corle is an accomplished motivational consultant, coach and speaker who draws from her vast life experiences and her professional background as a marketing and communications entrepreneur and executive to help others deal with life issues and family dynamics.
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