Christmas is coming. Do you believe it? Maybe this year we will be forced to think about what it means instead of stressing out about details. We never seem to get our priorities right. I just can’t get started. Today I realized I have not even heard a Christmas carol. I usually hear them riding in the car to shop or visit but I haven’t been anywhere.
Sometimes I wonder what we will talk about when this disease is relegated to the back pages. I guess we will reminisce about the year 2020.
The American Dreamis to reach a point in your life where you don't have to do anything you don't want to do and can do everything that you want to do. Jerry Reinsdorf
People have had bumper stickers that said “whoever dies with the most toys wins.” The focus for a long time has been “me first.” We idolize the rich, the famous and those whose life seems perfect to us. We think “just how I want to live.” The sad truth is that the majority of those who have that life are not living the life we think. So many of them have died of drug overdoses, committed suicide, had multiple divorces and aren’t really happy.
The people who are happy are living a different kind of life. Most of them care more about people than they do money or things. They give freely of themselves and their bounty. It doesn’t matter how much they have they will share even if it leaves them little.
Our vision of how we think we want to live is so very skewed. Wishing always to want things we don’t need, stepping on people to get what we want does not bring joy. Living a life of caring and compassion does.
I will sleep well tonight. I spent several hours pressure washing half of the front porch. The floor the house walls, ceiling and the railings. At that point I decided that it would be good to hire our neighbor’s son (who always wants the money for the jobs to help his ballgame trips in the fall) to do the other half and continue with the porch on the other side of the house.
I am a reasonably active 79 year old but washing the high sides of the house and the ceiling of the porch was enough. I need to work on those particular muscles. I will do other jobs and let him take on this one.
I really like working outside. It is good exercise to garden, mow and pull vines from the azaleas. It is time consuming but it feels so good when you are done. There is something fulfilling about a job well done. There are some things in life that you can do and see immediate results. I love those things. When mowing you can see the cut lawn looking so good row after row. Making a bed brings immediate results. There are many things that do but so many that don’t.
The days slip by and all seem more or less the same. I once read something that said change things up each day to make them stand out. Then it will seem that things are more interesting. It may only be driving to work a different way. That made sense. When I was still working I sometimes had no idea how I got to work. I knew I drove there but that’s about all.
We do have to be intentional about paying attention to life even when the days can blend into one another. Yesterday I baked bread and today I worked in the yard. That helps me remember those two days. If I just sit and watch TV then nothing is different.
Even in this covid time take time to make changes each day. Do something that makes that day memorable. It doesn’t have to be spectacular but just something to mark the day.
When we drift into same, same, same it is easy to feel depressed and anxious. Just a walk outside to watch the birds will help.
Nobody sees a flower—really—it is so small it takes time–we haven’t time—and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. Georgia O’Keeffe
We often hear the phrase “take time to smell the roses.” The truth is we seldom do take the time. There are some people who do but most of us don’t. Georgia O’Keeffe painted the flowers and she took the time to really see them….on a level most of us never will. Do I ever see the beauty? Do I ever experience the smell or the shape of the petals? Not often.
O’Keeffe compared this to the time it takes to have a real friend. Seeing all the things about a person and understanding them takes time. Accepting who they really are takes more time and the ability to see beyond the surface. We don’t often take that time but that is how we find friends who understand and accept us as we are.
Stop and really look at that flower. Absorb everything about it. Take the time to do the same things with those who could be real friends.
The small things matter. Many times we look at the “plan” or the “big Picture” and forget that there are many steps to get there. Then we get discouraged when it takes time to come to fruition.
Nothing is accomplished without the small steps. Nothing gets done without us putting in the work. To get an education we have to study, to learn a skill we have to practise. Nothing worthwhile is done without work.
Today we went to the grocery story. It still amazes me how many people do not put the carts away. These are not people parked in the handicapped places but others. There are many cart return places and no one has to walk far to take a cart back.
This is just one of many small things that we can do to make things better for everyone. Possibly these are the same people who throw trash out of their car windows, leave trash on the beach and are unconcerned about who has to clean it all up.
Consideration is the name of the game. Nothing huge but small things that make life better. When you think of how long most of these small things take it is minute. I can see the worker coming out of the grocery store and looking around in disbelief as all the carts are in their proper place.
Our church makes up bags of goodies for homeless people. It has a variety of items in it…some food items, hygiene things (like toothbrush) and a $5.00 bill. I try to have one in my car at all times. Several places that I stop at a light there are people wanting a hand out of some sort. Every single person that I hand a bag to has said “thank you and God bless you.” I know the bags don’t solve the problem but even small things can make a difference.
If you can manage it keep something in your car to give to those in need. It doesn’t have to be as complex as what the church makes up but it will be received with gratitude. I have a friend that has some small food items she carries. For those who are hurting anything will help. Add a note with a kind thought to it. “God loves you, you are important, you matter.” Whatever you can come up with. Those notes do make a difference.
It has been difficult to find time to write in the last few days. We have some family here from out of town and finding time alone is not easy. I miss it but I am also enjoying my family. This has been a good holiday but I will be glad to get back to normal.
One of the things that can be hard is to not be in a normal routine. It throws us off and makes it harder to relax. I will work through it in order to enjoy the time that we have together.
The holiday season can be stressful for most of us. It is easy to obsess over shopping and wrapping and cooking until we are worn to a frazzle. In the new year it is time to check how you are feeling and take some extra time to de-stress. The time after holidays can also be a let down. When we were living at West Point the cadets called it “gloom period.” If you live where the trees have all lost their leaves everything looks gray. It can make your life feel gray.
Find something to brighten your life. Go out to lunch or dinner. Treat yourself to a bubble bath or eat your favorite food. It will help you slide into the new year ready to embrace it.
At this time of year people are thinking about the New Year. 2020. I never expected to see that year. My mind just couldn’t get that far but here we are. I don’t do resolutions. Instead I like to think about habits.
If we want to change anything about our life we have to start with ourselves and the only way to make changes stick is by having them become habits. During 2019 I managed to begin some positive things that I wanted to stick. I am glad to say that those changes are now habits. Making something a habit is hard word. In the beginning we have to push ourselves. We keep wanting to say “I’m not gonna do that today…I’ll do it tomorrow.” We skip one day and then the next and the change is just gone.
If we struggle and work to keep on one day we will find that the change is not a struggle at all. It has become a habit. We have powered past that hard part and something good and new has happened.
If you have in mind to make any changes in 2020 forget about grandiose plans. Pick small changes and work on them one at a time. When one succeeds it makes it easier to take on the next one.