Life is a series of choices. We don’t often think of that but just getting out of bed in the morning is a choice. We are so used to routine that it doesn’t seem like we made a choice. It’s just what we do every day with little thought. How different life could be it we could be fully present for each of those choices. It is interesting to reflect on one’s path in life. It is so easy to see the places where I stepped off the path and usually paid for it. Sometimes the slip brings an instant outcome. Sometimes life continues and only with a long look back can we see the result of the choice.
I have always wanted to learn to live each day in the present moment but I haven’t mastered it yet. If only every second of every day I could remember I am alive now! How different my whole life would have been.
You see, I am a worrier. I cross bridges and explore every good and bad outcome for each crisis or major event that comes up. I can easily picture myself with a fatal illness or catastrophic problem. The real question is how I have managed to live for 76 years and not learned how to let this go. It is time to move on. This is my journey into change. My first step into a new way to really live each moment.
I know that I have a tough road ahead of me and will struggle with my resistance to changing habits and applying all the advice and wisdom I have been given. I worried as a child. My grandmother used to tell me to sit in a chair and worry as hard as I could and get up and see if anything had changed. Her wisdom (she died at 100 ) was there for me as long as she lived. I heard it over and over but never learned how to do it.
The practice of faith was not absent in my growing years. God was a part of my everyday life. I was baptized in the Presbyterian church that my parents attended and each Sunday was in church with my parents or my grandmother (she was Methodist) I saw my grandmother read her Bible each day and pray as she rested after lunch and again at night before bed. Her connection to God was strong. Was Her consistent time spent with God the thing that brought her such peace? Many of my adult years have been spent in God’s ministry. Interesting that all that energy and action didn’t have a deeper effect on my way of being. One would think that Bible study, leading church events, teaching yoga and meditation would have had more impact.
So many human quirks that have been around since Adam and Eve have been given titles and are seen as present in many of us. In today’s world, my worrying would be given the title mild anxiety. What I do is not unusual nor can it be considered a psychiatric diagnosis. It seems to me that the recognition of garden variety anxiety has given some relief for those of us who worry. I am not the only one and will certainly not be the last.
Added on to this propensity to worry are the major changes in our way of life. It seems to me that sometimes ignorance is bliss. (note: I say it seems that way). Today we are bombarded with information. The world seems to be more dangerous day by day. To quote Dr King “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” We can see the result of this on the streets of our cities. Have we been desensitized to violence so that nothing is too abhorrent to do?
All the electronic devices have added noise on a former unprecedented level. Is there silence anywhere? Do we understand the effect on body and mind of constant noise? Do we ever just sit back and think? I see this pattern as actually increasing worry or anxiety in the future. There is no time to just be.
All that having been said this writing will record my progress (or lack thereof) of a journey into change. I cannot change the world but I can change myself. I believe in the butterfly principle and maybe if one person finds a different way something will change.
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Thanksgiving will soon be here and today is the day I shop for the food. My wonderful daughter-in-law will make a lot. I am assigned turkey with stuffing and dessert. I have no choice in this matter as my family loves and demands the two desserts I will be making….real New York cheesecake and pumpkin chiffon pie. They love these and beg for them each year.
This is one time I enjoy cooking. I have someone to cook for and I am cooking my favorite things. As usual, there will be fun and interesting conversation. My son and granddaughter love to push each other’s buttons. A heated discussion will be verboten at my table. I want to enjoy my dinner and not get stomach upset so I will warn the two ahead of time. They really love each other but have fun making each other angry and this is not the time for that. “Grandmother” me doesn’t like it at a meal.
No matter what holidays there are always interactions among family members. Some are fun and some are not so fun. In my family in have found that setting down ground rules before hand can make the day fun and pleasant. Any disagreements get left at the door. I have sent a text to the two combatants requesting peace.
It is not always possible to do this but if you can it will help the day be truly a thankful one. I hope everyone is finding some way to help those who have no family or friends to be with. Our church offers a meal with everyone bringing something to share. The people who go love this and are excited about it each year.
Hope your holidays is joyous and thankful!
This week I have been sad. I don’t know if it was my birthday and getting older or the autumn and the darkness. It could be all of the above. It has brought to mind some things that I used to do and don’t any more.
I used to bake for Christmas. I made lots of sweets for everyone. I no longer have someone to bake for. The two of us have no desire to eat lots of Christmas sweets. My grandchildren are grown up (all except one who is in his teens) and not around to bake for or with. It was fun to make treats with my children and grandchildren.
For some reason I stopped sending Christmas cards. Our years of moving around made me lose track of many people. Our life is different now and it seems that there are many people who don’t send cards. In a way that is a regret. It was a job to get them done but a wonderful way to keep in touch.
I don’t have as much money to spend on gifts and so I try to be resourceful and creative in the things I find. This has been a plus as it has helped me to spend time on what really matters. It also reminds me of those who have nothing.
Again, life changes and we have to experience each phase. We can’t opt out if we plan to live on. Getting older can present challenges but so do other phases of life. To really live we have to seize each moment and know it will not come again.
Even though I have been sad sometimes sad can be a season of remembrance. It can be a time when we think about how different things are and plan to choose to live this moment. In this season of darkening skies and leaves falling life continues. Winter will follow and spring and on and on. The world is turning, time goes forward and I am still here to see it.
Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons. R. Buckminster Fuller
Science is a wonderful thing. Conversely science is an awful thing. As people find out new things about how everything works there are some wonderful discoveries. We are learning more about DNA, RNA, genes and what their impact is on our lives. We are heading toward curing some terrible diseases. This is a wonderful thing. If we use this information to increase wellness and reduce pain and suffering that will be good.
However, is some ways we have opened Pandora’s box. The Nazi’s wanted to “purify” the race and make selections for genetic manipulation. There are people who would like to do that now. Imagine if a like-minded group rose up and used the information we have currently to change the people of the world to suit them. We have the knowledge available. Science can run amok.
Everyone in the world is not working from the same moral code. There is great diversity among cultures. Those of us in the western world have (hopefully) been exposed to a culture that values human life. I’m not so sure we have conquered honoring diversity. The thought of some group deciding to make all genetic choices for us is frightening.
Science is a wonderful thing but it must be monitored to keep it within moral limits. If we are not careful we will find ourselves with no say in the matter.
When we look around us we see so many people suffering. I recently saw a map marked with all the mass shootings in the US in 2018 (so far). There were red dots showing up everywhere. The disturbing part for me is that we don’t hear about this sort of violence elsewhere. It may be there but I don’t remember hearing about it.
The violence we see every day leaves behind it a path of suffering. The people who died no longer suffer but those left behind do. Life changed for them in a second and will never be the same.
As I think about all of this I grieve for those remaining. Most of the time they have no real answers. The person they loved went to school or a party or a concert and suddenly they were in the midst of terror.
Thankfully I have not experienced losing someone I love to violence but in this climate we never know. The country seems to be falling apart from the inside. Abraham Lincoln said that as a country we would survive unless we self-destructed. It seems to be coming true.
I am only one person but I am one. I can only do so much but I can do something. If each “one” would chose to live a life of love and compassion we could change things one person at a time.
We must each be the “one.”
Sometimes there are things that you can do nothing about. It’s hard when those are the things that are causing stress. It’s that thing about wanting to fix it. It’s the aggravation about not being able to do anything.
It is very difficult to let go and stop the stress from elevating into anxiety and then depression. We being to obsess about outcomes that have no place in reality. We cross multiple bridges and convince ourselves that we are just preparing for what happens.
There are people who can just put it aside and await the outcome. They don’t seem to worry but wait calmly for the moment when things become clear and they can take action. My husband is one of these people. He wonders at the thoughts and plans that I can make before knowing anything about what can actually be done. He does what is necessary at the moment and then waits for the time when decisions can be made.
I have struggled my whole life to be like that. I was hoping that it was something that could be learned. In my case it doesn’t seem likely.
It is possible to learn coping skills to reduce the obsessing before it overwhelms us. Those skills must be kept up. We can’t expect to use them if they don’t become habits. Trying to meditate for calm will only work if it is a routine already established. As we learn these coping mechanisms we need to work on them constantly so that they are ready when we need them. That is the hard part. We have to be consistent to make something a habit. It is so easy to let it go. “I can just do that tomorrow” doesn’t work.
So many ideas are presented by others that can help. We have to try them and use the ones that work for us. There is help out there. We are not alone.
I have never considered myself a feminist. At least not in the sense of Gloria Steinham (sp?) and others of that era. My father always told me that I could do anything if I worked at it. When I was younger it never occurred to me that there were people who felt that women should not leave the roles of the past. I spent 20 years as an Army Wife and never encountered that kind of prejudice there. I suppose I was out of the ordinary world. It was a shock to me when we left that world to discover (sorry, but especially men) who saw me out of my place… people who tried to fit me into the box they envisioned. Someone once asked my husband if he couldn’t keep his wife in her place. He replied he had spent all his time encouraging me. This was in the 1970’s.
The women’s movement in the 60’s denigrated the role that I was living. I resented that. I never felt my role as wife and mother was lacking. I read widely, volunteered in social work and other areas and had a full and rewarding life. It made sense to me that women who were in the work world should receive proper compensation on an equal footing with men. I knew the inequalities should be removed but I expected there to be room for each of us to find our own path and fulfill ourselves as we saw fit. That was not the plan of most of the early feminists.
Later my own role changed as my children grew and I chose to become a nurse. (still a feminine role but also changing.) I had a full and enriching career of more than 30 years.
It is gratifying to see things are better in some ways. I think that women who raise children have more respect than in the 60’s. The downside of this change is that it has played a role in changing families drastically. Most children now grow up with both parents working. This is hard for the whole family. Everyone is juggling time spent in different roles. Changes in the economic climate have made this the norm.
The other side of this is the role of men. It has been a difficult adjustment for men whose roles have also changed. With children growing up in the 60’s and 70’s it seemed as if boys were showing signs of pressure in school. They were not automatically assumed to be the best at math and science. The competition with girls redefined their roles. More girls were now heading for careers in what was male dominated areas. Boys in high school and college seemed to be struggling more than in the past.
The whole era was a shake up of culture and a difficult time for both sexes. I can see some of that leveling out. There are still problems but being able to look at things from my viewpoint I can see positive changes. We will continue to struggle with changing mindsets and coming to terms with injustices but things are better. Some of that will disappear as generations change. Let’s hope we keep moving toward the good things and people are free to choose their roles without bias.
One of my word press reads talked about having a 26 hour day. It reminded me of the book about Alzheimer’s with that name. Living with someone whose mind is slipping away moment by moment is excruciating. It is hard on those who are losing themselves day after day but it is harder still on those who are watching it happen. Losing the person you love until they no longer know you is beyond terrible.
I have worked with families dealing with this crisis and it is so difficult and painful. It is so hard to cope when the muddled mind changes reality. Caregivers want so badly to correct the thinking and this exacerbates the situation. We want so much to bring them back to who they were and caregivers have to learn to live into the persons reality. I used to visit someone who thought he was living his 20 year ago life. When we talked I had to accept his viewpoint and talk with him about life as he was living it. This is much more difficult for the caregivers.
As the disease progresses management at home can become impossible. Frequently the patient has something called “sundowners.” This means that they are alert when everyone else needs to sleep. A friend of mine’s mother climbed out a window in the middle of the night to “go home.” How can the average family cope with someone who could leave the stove on starting a fire or turns on the bathtub faucet flooding the house? Caregivers are stressed and exhausted.
In the USA the other problem is the cost of care. Many people have to manage care at home with little help. Their day becomes the 26 hour day. Be kind and compassionate for those who are care-giving someone with this illness. Help where you can. Their life is disintegrating one moment at a time.