Posts Tagged With: optimism

 
 

Throwing Down the Gauntlet of “I’m Not”

Razor-Jr.-Folding-Kiddie-Kick--pTRU1-5250467dt

I can’t find that picture I took of her riding around when she first got this contraption. So this will have to do.

My favorite three-year old brought her scooter over during her last visit. So of course, we headed outside for a nice walk through the neighborhood. I pushed her sister in the stroller while she zoomed ahead on her scooter. Every once in a while she’d stop, sit down on the scooter and wait for me to catch up to her. As I got closer she’d pop up, put her speedy foot to the ground and rocket away on the sidewalk. Luckily she’d been taught to stop at corners so I don’t have to yell or run ahead.

If I had on skates or was on my own scooter, I’d still have a tough time keeping up with her. I think she’d go a couple of miles before she felt even a little tired. Oh, to have such energy!

When we decide to head down the grassy hill to the playground, she attempts to ride the scooter through the grass, but meets too much resistance in the thick green lawn. So she steps off and drags the scooter behind her.

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We’re talking thick over-watered winter grass of Phoenix.

Yup! She drags it sideways, with the center of the wheels catching on the long grass and the body of the scooter adding more drag. If I didn’t need to manage the one-year old and the stroller I’d show her how simply pushing it in an upright position, rolling along on the tires requires less effort and more efficiency. I suggested it, with verbal directions. Her reply? “I’m not.”

That’s how she answers most things she’s not interested in doing, eating, working at, giving in on or sharing. “I’m not.”

Just two words and she’s said all she’ll say on the matter.

There’s no reasoning, bribing, cajoling, begging, threatening or consequence that changes her mind once she’s decided “I’m not.” (Her parents have better luck with this, but I’m not the parent. I’m the pushover.)

So when we leave the park with me awkwardly pushing a fully loaded stroller up the grassy hill, she once again, drags the scooter sideways until we reach the sidewalk. I offered to carry the scooter on the stroller and she replied in her two-word manner. “I’m not.”

Independent little thing! Ya gotta admire that!

I wonder sometimes if I’m like her with lifes… stuff. 

I buzz along at a nice clip, enjoying the ride and then I encounter resistance. (I think I deal with the long thick grass or rocky terrain much more often than the smooth sidewalk, but that’s probably a skewed and incorrect viewpoint.)

I could patiently step off and simply push in a slightly different way, with my wheels still rolling forward. But, more than likely, I throw my “scooter” on its side and drag it along, making things harder than necessary.

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Feeling drenched by my bad attitude.

Maybe I’m a bit dramatic about a situation and blow it out of proportion. Or maybe I assume the worst possible outcome. Perhaps I fail to deploy my optimism umbrella and instead get drenched by pessimism.

When life gets hard and stays that way for too long, what do I do? I throw down my own well-worn gauntlet of “I’m not.”

More than likely I’ve forgotten to notice the happy stuff going on around me and I only notice the one or two big negatives. I even get argumentative with people I like, or complain out loud about “how hard my life is.” What a downer. Then I feel worse because I’ve hurt people, relationships and myself.

Funny how a three-year old can teach a lesson without even trying.

I think I need two photographs of Miss Smarty-pants and her scooter; one of her zipping along and one of her dragging the thing behind her. I could use the reminder that I have a choice in how I ride and how I manage the roughs.

It’s time to set my scooter upright and push it through the grass.

I’m sure that before I know it I’ll feel the wind whipping through my hair as I push-off once again on one of life’s smoother paths.

 

 

 

Categories: Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

North by Northwest, Then East Toward the Sunny Side

Friday Letter to my Kids – January 9, 2015

Dear J, J, L and L,

We moved to the Northwest when only two of you had joined the family. What an adventure for all of us. That many years ago cell phones didn’t really exist yet. Surprisingly, we didn’t experience any car problems, which if you recall our travel history, probably made it to the record books. Driving that far with two little kids on my own (your Dad was already working and had found us a place to live) helped me feel like a mini-rockstar.

Happiness!

Happiness!

I’ll never forget when we pulled up to the local playground to wait for your Dad to bring keys to the new apartment. You both hopped out of the car, relieved to finally escape and stretch your legs. Little J immediately walked over to a boy on the monkey bars and said, “We just moved here. Will you be my friend?”

That floored me. What a direct and honest thing to say. Luckily, four year olds aren’t all tangled up in social customs and nonsense. They just say what they think, do what they feel, go with the mood.

Both of you made friends with kids of all ages when we lived in that first apartment, which helped me get to know the adults associated with those kids. You made the big change to a really new place so much easier. (As a side note, do you remember picking wild blackberries in the woods nearby? I think I might still have a scar or two.)

We added Big L to the family while we lived there. Then we moved a couple of years later, forty miles north. I loved that restaurant we went to that had the little train that ran on tracks suspended from the ceiling. They served this appetizer called an onion loaf. Basically fried onion rings packed into a bread loaf shape. But my tastebuds sidetrack us here.

We still have a cassette tape (which I should transfer to digital) of a typical morning there. For some reason there’s a cat in the house, although we didn’t own one, must have been a neighbor’s. I love hearing your voices, our discussion about needing lunches packed or buying lunches that day. Big L saying “stupid cat,” over and over again. And figuring out who was walking or riding with who. I think it might’ve been raining (ha, like that’s a wild guess for up there, huh?). Ah, good times.

  • Big L discovered knots when we lived there. She used to disappear into my closet and tie all the shoes together, which made getting ready to go somewhere an interesting exercise.
  • Big J played Lego’s every single day with, what was his name? And took shortcuts through the  golf course to visit your friend whose Dad worked for Nike.
  • Little J fell in love with the movie “Beaches” and ate candy bars and drank Cokes every afternoon with her best friend Sara.

I had a friend there too. I don’t remember her name. Maybe if I dug out an old journal I’d find it, but I don’t think I want to remember a name. We weren’t friends all that long. One day, out of the blue for me, she basically said,”I can’t be friends with you anymore. I’m trying really hard to be more optimistic and positive and you’re always so negative.”

Talk about a punch to the gut.

Even now I kind of feel this wave of nausea thinking about it.

You know how you sometimes walk along somewhere and all of a sudden you see yourself in an unexpected mirror? It throws you off balance a little. I know I carry around this picture in my head of how I sound and look. But then when I see the real me in a photo or a mirror they don’t match up. What my friend said was like a mirror thrown in front of me.

I think we need those unexpected mental views of ourselves that honest outsiders can provide. I try to be open to their perspective.

I had no idea I was such a downer until she said that. I thought one of the things friends did was share honest thoughts and feelings, even the negatives. Maybe I over shared. Probably she hit the bullseye there. Back in those days I probably rode the negative train, most of the time.

I wish I could say I changed immediately. More than likely I got defensive. More than likely I moped. More than likely I didn’t try to make friends again for a while.

In fact, I’m thinking I probably didn’t really change for the better until Oklahoma a year after Little L joined our gang. Do the math there. That’s a long time as a dweeby, self-absorbed, cloudy skies sort of person.

Sunny is good.

Sunny is good.

I could hope that there’s some chemical equation that makes positive ions/attitudes weigh more than negative ones and that things have balanced out. I think they might not have. For me it’s a nearly constant struggle to “keep on the sunny side of life.” (<= click to hear the song)

What does any of this have to do with how this letter started out?

You all have weathered change and challenge with such bravery and grace. You must have arrived here preprogrammed with awesome genes. You step up, state the facts and take action. Look at you!

When I grow up I want to be like you: open and straightforward with what I think, willing to try new things, brave enough to ask for what I want and need, creatively finding ways around obstacles and difficulties. And optimistic! Yup, you each see life as a bright, good thing.

Thanks for the great examples you are to me. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to have worked the other way around. At least that’s probably what the parenting books all say.

This I know for certain. I’m positive that I love you.

Always,

Mom

photofy copy 4

~~~

“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

~ A.A. Milne

 

Categories: Friday Letters, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When Life Gives You Oranges

Oranges!!!

Oranges!!!

Who hasn’t heard the “When Life gives you Lemons make Lemonade” speech? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Okay, yes we’ve all heard it.

You make lemonade.

How about oranges? What if life hands you oranges? Then what do  you do?

Let’s line up the two side by side and see what we get, shall we?

We should.

Have you ever actually made lemonade? From a bowl of lemons sitting sweetly on your counter? Or from the tree in your backyard? That’s an important distinction.

Those pretty orange globes hanging on the tree make for a cheerful sight.

Those pretty orange globes hanging on the tree make for a cheerful sight.

Citrus trees have fierce hidden thorns and grow thick and tangly. So picking the dang things is like having life hand you lemons. Scratches on your arms, neck and face can definitely happen. I suggest you wear long, heavy-duty sleeves to pick lemons or oranges.

That bucket, box or bin you pick from that “small” tree fills up fast and gets heavy even faster. Hope you brought your muscles along, or at least some helpers. Our “little” orange tree we picked from yesterday filled up a large laundry hamper, a small laundry hamper and two five gallon buckets. It sure didn’t look like that much hanging on the tree.

Between rain and dust and birds the rinds of those fruits need some washing up. We had a two-year old on that job. She found it funner than bathtime. “I get to play in the sink with these hundreds of orange balls and this cool scrubby brush thing?” Oh yeah, she had a great time.

MSH invested in a juicing attachment that fits on my big mixer. That sure speeds up the process of getting the juice from the little round orange balls. Cut in half, press and the squeezing practically does itself. Sort of.  MSH has slightly sore muscles on his arms today.  A strategically placed bowl fills almost magically with copious amounts of juice. Personally I like to strain off most of the pulp and all the seeds. That’s a bit of a process too. MSH loves chunks in his juice. Me, not so much.

Here’s where things kind of split out between oranges and lemons.

Mmmmm. Makes you want to pour yourself a glass. Try squeezing a glass, it's better.

Mmmmm. Makes you want to pour yourself a glass. Try squeezing a glass, it’s better.

To get a useful amount of juice from either lemons or oranges requires more fruit than you’d expect. An eight ounce glass of orange juice takes roughly five or six medium oranges. Granted, ours aren’t specifically juicing oranges, but still, that’s a bunch of oranges for one glass to drink.

After yesterday’s long process, I can tell you I’m not going to chug a freshly squeezed glass of juice like I do a store-bought carton of the stuff. Personal time and effort give that juice a rarified, vintage wine expensive kind of flavor.

Juicer than oranges, lemons might yield eight ounces from four lemons. But you certainly aren’t going to drink that much lemon juice.  Oh no. That’d pucker you up for a week or more, right there. For lemon juice drinkability you’re going to want to add about an equal amount of sugar, maybe a little less, to two quarts of water and ice then stir well. Eight people can enjoy that sweetened lemon juice.

That’s a bunch of sugar right there. About a tablespoon and a half of sugar per eight ounce glass of water and lemon. That whole adage about life/lemons means you gotta add a ton of sweet to the sour stuff life hands you. Is it even possible to balance life that way? Some sour events life dishes out would require a sugaring of, oh I don’t know, a super sweet six month cruise to the Bahamas every half a year to achieve any kind of juice, water, sweetener balance.

Oranges, however, juice out ready to drink. No sugar required. A bit of ice is nice, but not necessary. It does take a hefty bunch of oranges and work to get that glass full enough to drink. Is the work worth it? When’s the last time you had a glass of orange juice, freshly squeezed? It’s a different experience than a processed glass.

Given the choice, we’d all pick oranges over lemons in the grocery store of life, wouldn’t we. Or would we? Some of us like a bit of tang and pucker. Some of us just need the easier route.

Either way, we make the best of what we’re given. And that, my friend, is the sweet and low of it.

Categories: Food, Gardening, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What? It’s Wednesday? Dang it!

What a slacker!

I can’t believe I didn’t post a Gratituesday yesterday. I can’t even come up with a decent reason. Busy. Life. Sidetracked.

Ungrateful?

Never.

Well, maybe on occasion I get grumpy and forget how decadent a life I lead compared to ninety percent of the rest of the world. Shame on me when I do that.

I recognize abundance every day but don’t necessarily mention it online. My journal hears about it. The interior of my car hears my comments and catches glimpses of car dancing and singing I might do when I’m feeling particularly blessed while I’m out and about.

There’s something about putting my gratitude out there for all the world to see that makes it bigger, better, and more real. Almost gives it life, if that’s possible. And so I’ve clung to the idea of Gratituesday since my sister posted one three years ago on Facebook. Tuesday has been like my extra little Hallelujah day.

Six-month old's first selfie.

Six-month old’s first selfie.

So, this Wednesday, a day late, but better than ignoring it altogether, I’ve built a list from this past week.

  • seeing a six-month old becoming mobile, rolling, stretching, reaching, becoming less dependent every day
  • joy clearly visible in the eyes of a physically challenged older adult when music plays and people sing
  • tiny purple wildflowers mixed in among the orange and golds
  • a chorus of birdsong to wake me every single morning
  • the dogs down the street who howl with the fire engine sirens, as if they know some sorrow has occurred
  • an orange eaten fresh from the backyard tree, juice running down my chin, fingers sticky with delight
  • a reliable, decent looking vehicle, new to me since December
  • opportunities to help in a different way than I’m used to or comfortable with
  • warm, clean water pouring out from the faucet at the mere twist of a handle
  • time with my children talking, laughing, texting, sharing
  • a zillion book choices for reading, mental traveling, learning, wondering
  • a red valentine balloon, droopy and deflated, but filled with love of the purest kind
  • a refrigerator full of food, cupboards stocked, every need supplied
  • friends and hugs, support and encouragement
  • wonderful memories to fill empty spaces

And that isn’t even half of the amazement that rocked my world.

I found another rock gift! Cool, isn't it?

I found another rock gift! Cool, isn’t it?

Oh, I know to anyone looking in on my life it would seem ordinary and boring. Maybe it is. But noticing and acknowledging the blessedness of it all makes it extraordinary in my eyes. And that’s all that really counts, isn’t it?

As is my wish every Tuesday, I hope you find happinesses in your life as well.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brain and Pinky Together Forever

Three jokes culled from the internet, just to get things rolling here…

What is small, furry and brilliant at sword fights?

A mouseketeer!

***

What did Tom get when he locked Jerry in the freezer?

Mice cubes!

***

Why do mice need oiling?

Because they squeak.

***

Two people in the house, both with the flu for over a week now. An ongoing debate over who feels worse. MSH wins today. Hooray for him.

Between us both we’re nearly a half person.

photo by Randy Jirtle and Dana Dolinoy

photo by Randy Jirtle and Dana Dolinoy

I feel like that infamous mouse duo of Warner Brothers cartoon fame “Pinky and the Brain.” I’m not sure which of us is which. Who’s half crazy and who’s insane.

Personally I always cheered for Pinky. He’s so sweetly naïve and innocently brilliant at times, I can’t help but hope the best for the little guy.

It’d be nice wandering through life like Pinky oblivious to the strangeness of the world. To blithely stumble around, happy no matter what. Eager to follow along on every hair-brained adventure someone suggests. And then at the end of a misadventure stumble home to a well stocked cage to sleep until the next grand escapade.

Of course, there’s the flip side.

Brain, the eternal optimist, never gives up on his plans to take over the world, regardless of how many plans have failed. He seems oblivious to the shortcomings of his ideas and overly sure of his prowess and intelligence. He plows ahead every night.

I have to wonder what would happen if he succeeded with one of his plans to take over the world? Would it throw off his chi? Could he handle success? Does he secretly sabotage himself every night so he never succeeds? That’s doubtful, but it does make you go, “hmm.”

Alas, life is no cartoon episode, although it can get pretty laughable around this place sometimes.

I could use a little more of each cartoon mouse’s traits, a little more happy-go-lucky like Pinky, a little more optimism and daring like Brain. Maybe between the two of them they’re a whole sane mouse.

Enough wondering.

Enjoy the short clip I’ve included for your perusal. Let me know who you root for. Pinky? Or Brain?

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Glass Tinted the Color of Rose

It’s Gratituesday! What a year! Our family grew by fifty percent this year! If a business grew that much competiting companies would be making offers to buy us out. We added a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, another  son-in law, a granddaughter and a future granddaughter. Every child of ours experienced an amazing year of growth, love and forward momentum. What more could a mother ask for?

empty nest syndrome

empty nest  (Photo credit: butterfingers laura)

All that good brought with it a breathtakingly rapid emptying of the nest, which I’m still adjusting to. Mostly, it’s a good thing. What am I talking about it, it’s a wonderful thing! I must be low on oxygen now to think it’s anything but wonderful to have alone time with MSH, quiet time to write and read, parts of the house that actually stay clean and a schedule that doesn’t involve a spreadsheet and color coding.

The past three hundred sixty-four days held so much more good than bad this year. In fact, the good weighed more by far in quality and quantity than the bad. On a strictly symbolic basis, the sunny days radiated, the semi-cloudy ones still shone with brilliance, the gray days brought much-needed rain.

But I’d be lying if I pretended there hasn’t been symbolic thunder and flooding, earthquakes and tornadoes. This quote from the beginning of Dickens’ best book, A Tale of Two Cities sums up this past year honestly.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.” ~Charles Dickens

As true as that may be, today, though, this Tuesday of Gratitude, I’m focusing only on the good, the blessed, the wonderful, the hope, the light and the heavenly.

selfshooting through rose-colored glasses...

selfshooting through rose-colored glasses… (Photo credit: jmtimages)

Today I choose to look back through a window tinted the color of rose.

Tomorrow is a whole new year. What will its days and weeks bring? Hold on to your seat and keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times, it’s sure looking like a doozy.

(If you haven’t had the chance to read A Tale of Two Cities, or if it’s been a while since you have read it, I’d suggest a plan in the coming months to pick up a copy, be it tangible or digital and familiarize yourself with his wisdom and words. You’ll be glad you did.)

Categories: Books, Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Laughing at the Lemons

I’m a proponent of the lemons => lemonade way of thinking. I must have learned it from my Mother. Since her stroke she’s been incredibly optimistic and downright hilarious at times. Now that I’m not hanging out with her on a daily basis, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I know I’m missing out on some great laughs and I-can-do-this kind of thinking. As role models go she’s been the best, but now she’s added new dimensions to what I admire and strive for.

mother quoteOne of the best lemons turned sweet is her sense of humor. Here’s a few humorous things Mom’s said since her stroke:

While still in the hospital, two of my sisters who shall remain nameless, and my Mom in her wheelchair, got into the elevator. The door closed. They waited. And they waited. Finally, Mom, the one who had suffered the stroke a few weeks earlier, and at the time was still struggling with basics like walking and talking and eating, piped up and said, “Shouldn’t we push the button?”

Mom lauded that one for all it was worth. My sisters swore each other to secrecy about the incident. I think Mom was the one who told me about it. For the record, my sister who teaches second grade was NOT involved in that incident.

Always looking out for and concerned about the other person, Mom was talking about how many hours Dad had spent at the hospital, which is an hour and half drive from their home.

“Your poor Dad! While I’ve been in the hospital he’s had to sleep at your Aunt and Uncle’s house, and your brother’s house and at your sister’s house. He’s just been sleeping around.”

Then, a pause, followed by her giggling at how funny her last sentence was.

Sunset

Sunset (Photo credit: armisteadbooker)

Shortly after she got back home we liked to sit out on the front porch at sunset. One evening while sitting on the porch swing, Dad joined us. Not long after sitting down on the swing he started getting a bit irritated at Mom for making the swing rock back and forth. He likes to sit still. Finally he gave up when she couldn’t keep herself from moving the swing. As he got up to walk away Mom thought a minute and then hollered after him, “I guess I’m just a swinger!”

Her giggle turned into a laugh this time. Dad just shook his head and grinned as he stepped inside the house.

Lest you think my Mom has all the wit and wisdom in that duo, here’s an interesting bit about my Dad.

I had plugged my iPhone into Mom’s charger since her iPhone and mine are nearly identical and my charger was upstairs. When I went to unplug it I couldn’t get the plug out. I pulled and tugged and tweaked and got aggravated. Then I gave up for a while. When Dad came in the room I told him my dilemma. He said, “Here, let me see it.” He’s not much into technology, so I thought, fine, he’ll get out some tool and pry it out of there and then we’ll have to buy something to replace what’s broken. He took the phone from me and said, “Have you tried this?” He squeezed the outside edges of the plug and gently pulled the charger out of my phone.

Apparently, Mom’s charger has a couple of release buttons on the side, which mine does not. Outsmarted by the older not-so-tech-savvy-guy again! Dang it. He always had the answers when I was growing up, too.

You can see I’m a lucky girl, raised by such smart, witty, optimistic and persevering parents.

I hope they know how wonderful they are!

Categories: Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Seventh Sense

I watched “The Jetsons” on a black and white television when I was growing up. Sure, there was color TV by then but we stuck with the black and white version for a while. All that amazing automated stuff seemed like science fiction and fantasy and silliness.

Today I lived a little piece of the Jetsons. I video chatted with my Mom through Facebook. She was with one of my sisters and my technosmart “little” brother who set it up for us. A few easy steps and bam, there was Mom live and in real-time on my computer screen.

Talking with her, seeing her search for words but NOT get frustrated about it, did me a world of good. She has the same smile and the same ability to laugh at herself and the situation. Suddenly everything was okay in the world again. Mom is still Mom, just needing to “learn some new tricks,” as Dad calls it.

Ah, how could I not be an optimistic person with such great parents. They have rolled with the punches so many times in life and yet they smile, they move forward, they keep on keeping on.

The five senses help us move through everyday life. The sixth sense, I don’t know much about. The seventh sense, a sense of humor, is critical to making it through life without becoming bitter and hardened.

Life is rarely all or nothing in the happiness or sadness area. There’s usually some surprising bits of goodness in the most difficult of situations. And happiness is often gilded with a tinge of blue, some loss or hurt or regret.

“Don’t wish me happiness

I don’t expect to be happy all the time…

It’s gotten beyond that somehow.

Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor.

I will need them all.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

This is as real as I know.

Maintaining that sense of humor is often all that gets me through a tough stretch. I can see now that I got that from my Mom.

Categories: Family, Mental Health, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

When Life Gives You Snails, Make Escargot

Day seven of Mom’s new adventure. She’s working with several different kinds of rehabilitation therapists about four hours a day and then resting from the hard work of it all. She can walk with assistance. She’s speaking better everyday. Remembering names is sometimes a bit tricky for her. She has some right side vision neglect that they are working on. She still has her sense of humor and expresses gratitude and love to everyone who visits or helps her out in any way.

&&&&&

We lived in the Northwest for a few years once upon a time. Humid and cool, opulent with growing things. We picked wild blackberries, rock climbed, camped, collected shells in the too cold water below the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

Winters were mild, with a couple of rare days of snow. Summers were cool and cloudy.

English: Snail Perfect weather for snails to c...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perfect conditions for snails.

Yes, snails.

Slimy, slow-moving, bulbous shelled creatures of shadow and night.

They left trails of slime across the screens and sidewalks. And the destruction they left in a flower bed aggravated me to no end.

I tried a few remedies. Beer in a bowl, useless. Slug and snail bait, laughable. Salt, only if applied directly and mercilessly. I finally gave up planting flowers when I realized how addictive they seemed to snails.

I imagined the little slime balls after a night of debauchery in the flower beds, drunk on the nectar of blossoms and stems, fuzzy headed with the liquor of leaves and roots. I chose to stop enabling their habit and consequently stopped planting the hopeful pops of color in my garden.

That would teach them a lesson or two.

But no, it didn’t. They simply slimed the screens and sidewalks with more vehemence in search of their drug of choice. Finding no flowers to wreak havoc on, they slimed my yard more and more.

Why am I bringing this up now? (Besides the fact that the weatherman keeps taunting us with a 20% chance of rain as if a deluge is likely any moment.)

Those slimy snails remind me of negative things; sadness, anger, hopelessness, frustration, meanness, selfishness.

Those emotions seem to leave a wake of slimy yuck behind them. I feel the aftereffects of aggravation long after the source of the emotion dissipates. Sadness lingers. Meanness replays itself over and over in a mental movie of hurt. And selfishness hovers like a skunk that passed by hours ago.

The residual effects of negative emotions stick like slime.

Negativity and pessimism act like addictive substances. One angry thought invites another until a whole room of anger buzzes and jabs. Anything in its wake takes a hit and comes up fighting. Slime trails wander everywhere.

Gross.

The cure?

French cooked snails

French cooked snails (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know. (We don’t get many snails here in the desert.)

Sunlight, maybe?

Heat, perhaps.

Escargot tastes delectable if done right. Saute’ in butter, add a bit of garlic, a pinch of fresh parsley. Mmmm. Some crusty french bread on the side.

Ah yes, there’s the ticket.

Yummy.

That’s no answer. I realize that.

Or is it? Try this one on for size:

When life gives you snails, make escargot. 

Laughter often sparks more laughter. I’m pretty sure that hope can be contagious. Smiles seem transmittable. Kindness often avalanches into more kindness. Determination to succeed, to overcome, to soldier forward feels healthier and happier.

Can I choose positive emotions over negative? Sure. Is it an easy choice? For some, yes. For others, not necessarily.

In the face of hardship, illness, unkindness, hurt, abuse, loss, suffering or setbacks, choosing the plus side takes audacity. It requires mettle to move forward, keep trying, be kind anyway, turn the other cheek, forgive, smile or to look at the alternate path as a new adventure.

Yes, I know. Not too many people like the idea of eating snails, no matter how wonderful a delicacy. But, you never know until you try if you’re gonna like ’em or not. Or maybe you don’t mind the slime trails and flower bed destruction. More power to you for being so resilient and easy-going.

Either way, life is full of surprises good and bad. How we weather those surprises, as gifts or troubles, makes all the difference.

Categories: Gardening, Nature, Outdoors, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Teeter-Totter, Bread and Water

It’s Gratituesday! Today I am thankful for the concept of gratitude. I know that sounds like a circular thought, but it’s not, at least in my case.

Seesaw with a crowd of children playing

Seesaw also known as a teeter totter

Consciously looking for the good things in my life brings a bit of balance into my mental equations.  I lean toward the depressed and pessimistic side of life. I tend to hover on the precipice of what bad thing is going to happen next. I’m scouting around for whatever it is, worrying, fretting, anxious. It’s as if by anticipating the difficulty I might be able to keep it away, or gird myself for its onslaught.

Then I stumbled on the idea of something quite the opposite to my natural inclinations. The idea of gratitude found a foothold in my negatively charged brain. Now gratitude is my fence, my force-field against depression, my castle wall of fortification against an abyss of sadness that seems to always be pressing in. Gratitude bring balance to my varyingly unbalanced mental life.

More effective than medications, gratitude has kept me, for the most part, balanced and reasonable. I may not be outright optimistic, but I’m at least not wallowing in self-pity and overwhelmed by life’s constant barrage.

English: Vegetable market in Heraklion, Crete....

So I look for the good stuff. I’m thankful for the simple things. I embrace the happy parts of my day. As a result, my mental health stays healthy-ish.

Yeah, the tough stuff is there, hovering everywhere, clamouring for attention, screaming for acknowledgement, crying out for my time and efforts. It occupies plenty of my time and energy. Like junk food for the soul, it’s very tempting to give in and indulge in sorrow, self-loathing, criticism and cynicism.

Gratitude serves as mental fruit and vegies, healthy food for my starving psyche. Gratitude quietly saves me from myself and helps me feel whole and well.

For that I am very grateful.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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