Savor good memories but live in the NOW

chipmunk-clipart-transparent-background-16We were without power again today. A squirrel committed suicide at the transformer. So sorry. I actually like squirrels although a lot of my neighbors don’t. I’m not sure why as they seem to cause few problems. We actually put food our for them as the trees here didn’t make their quota of nuts and the squirrels have been hungry and getting ready for fall. My dogs love to chase the squirrels but very, very rarely catch one. (thank goodness!)

This is the first day here that has felt like fall and although the days are shorter I am enjoying the cooler air. The air feels good. We live on the salt marsh and have an 8 ft tide. For most people who move here the smell of the marsh is not pleasant. Having been here most summers of my life and lived here for 42 years it is a joy to me. I love the smell. It reminds me of summers going to the beach. Good memories.

Fresh oranges on wooden  background. Selective focus.

It is amazing how smells can trigger memories. My mother always wore the same perfume and when someone is wearing it I immediately think of her. Those kinds of things bring good memories.

There are also things that trigger bad memories. Recently a smell triggered memories of time spent in the hospital with severe bowel problems. Not a good memory. I immediately pushed that memory away.

I have found that it is possible to wallow in a good memory and accept all the pleasure that it brings. I have also worked on letting the bad memories slide in and out of my mind by mentally pushing them away. Usually it works. I focus on something else and drag my mind away.

live-in-the-present

Memories are part of our lives. It is part of what made us who we are but we don’t have to live in the bad ones. Living in the past can become addictive. We would be wise to enjoy the good memories and then move back into the NOW. Dwelling in the past can stop us from experiencing the present. NOW is what is important.

Was the 50’s easier?

While riding the car I listen to 50″s on Five on Sirius Radio. I know, I know….so old. But something struck me. So many of the songs talk about a lifestyle no longer around. In many ways it is sad. I don’t know if people have real fun anymore.

Things were so much simpler. We had sock hops in the gym and had fun dancing without drugs and flashing lights. We had costume dances around Halloween and prizes for the best costumes…..designed and created by us! NOT bought or rented. Half the fun was thinking up a costume and doing it yourself.

sock-hops-2

We had hay rides in the fall behind horses on a farm that did that and sleigh rides. We met at the drive-in restaurant and hopped from car to car seeing all our friends. We got together and played games. We had pajama parties and we didn’t look like the girls in Grease.

We communicated by phone with most of us having only one in the house. Some of us had cars…usually old rattle traps that didn’t run well.  Alcohol was king but not overdone where I grew up. Sure, girls got pregnant and had to quite school but again not many.

We had to go to the library for information and my friends and I loved reading books. TV was watched but the shows were limited so we didn’t spend lots of time watching. We loved to go to the movies with out friends.

1950s-Collage

There seemed to be less stress on us than on teens today. There was little bullying, no school shootings, little drug use. In some ways I think things were almost black and white like the movie Pleasantville. There weren’t so many grey areas and so many bad things for us to see and hear. In spite of the fact that we may not have been as “free” as today our lives were easier over all.

So what changed? Women’s lib, birth control pills opened up a sexual revolution, the internet, cell phones, media of all kinds, parents both working. Kids today have so much in front of them. So many ways to head down the wrong path. It almost seems that with so much on offer the simple pleasures are lost. I don’t envy them.

Caveat: this was the life of a girl from a middle class family living outside of Washington, DC.

The marsh—my blessing

Today I am counting my blessings. I do have many. It’s sad that we tend to think more about struggles and problems. Today I give thanks.

From childhood I have always love the sea and all things related to it. I now live where I can look out at the marsh and watch the tide. We have an eight foot tide here so when tide is out there is a lot of marsh and marsh mud exposed. I love that smell. We have floating docks since you couldn’t reach the water if tide is out.

 

egret in marsh

There is so much life in the marsh. Many different birds from marsh hens to egrets. Lots of sea birds and pelicans love to fish in the creek in front of the house. Painted buntings love the marsh but like a particular plant which is disappearing here due to building so we don’t see them often. I love to watch the birds in my bird bath bathing and coming for water.

painted bunting
not my photo

We have blue crabs here and shrimp. Fish of all sorts and dolphins swim by often…sometimes with their young.

dolphins

crabsThe tide moves very fast and if you are swimming (even if you are a strong swimmer) it can take you with it. We taught our children and grandchildren early on if caught in the tide to swim to the next dock and walk back.  We have often thought of putting in a water wheel for electricity.

Once a mama dolphin brought her children to see my granddaughters who were swimming in front of the dock. My kin almost walked on water getting out. They didn’t care that people pay money to swim with dolphins. I’m sure mama and babies were disappointed.

The beauty of God’s earth surrounds me. I need to take more time to immerse myself in it. It can help to put things into perspective. I am blessed. I treasure every moment I get to watch a ship entering or leaving port, watching the tide and just rocking on the porch. It won’t last forever but I will keep all of this in my memory-safe.

Remember the good

Life can be miserable. It can be painful. The thing is it’s what we have been given. No one’s life is free from trouble. That sounds like everything is awful but it’s not. Without the pain and the bad days how would we recognize the good when it comes. Life is lived in opposites. Good/bad, up/down, here/gone. We always have these things to deal with.

remember

It is a quirk of human nature that we often spend time remembering the bad more than the good. The late song writer, Johnny Mercer, said it all: “we need to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” It is so easy to remember ourselves and our emotions from the bad time. It is harder to remember the feelings of joy and euphoria. I don’t know why that is.

I can tell you stories of bad things that have happened in my past. They are vivid and come into my mind bringing sounds, smells and feeling. There are many more of those than of the wonderful moments. I have had many wonderful moments. Why are they less vivid?

i-focus-on-the-good-times (1)

I am beginning a journey of writing down the good memories when they come to me. It may be that they are vivid but I am not paying attention. That is why I know we need to log the good things that happen each day. There is a rule in nursing that if it isn’t written it isn’t done. I think the same thing is true of the good. Writing things down helps memory and I will be logging at least one each day.

Today it is: My husband is healing well.

Remember the good!

Shoulds

How often in life do we hear the word “should?” For most of us our parents taught us there are some things we “should’ do and some things we ‘shouldn’t’ do. Those “shoulds” get caught up in our brains and spend time telling us what to do. Sometimes they are good thoughts but sometimes they are not. The “shoulds” can start to run/ruin our life.

'If you can't control your temper,sister,you shouldn't be playing this game!'“Shoulds” can also come from the outside. We often hear someone say “she “shouldn’t” do that.” Unfortunately we can be very quick to “should” someone. The word is used to tell us what some people think is the right thing. It is a form of judgement.

We have a lot of “shoulds” stored up in our brains. They can be very hard to get rid of. As a simple example when I was a child we “shouldn’t” wear white shoes before Easter and not after Labor Day. This very funny one has been hard for me to let go. I always think about it even though I live in the south and it is hot through September and we need to keep wearing summer clothes. (that edict also had to do with white pants and skirts) I no longer follow that “should” but I can’t get it out of my mind.

healWe have to learn to recognize when our programming is getting in the way of our living. The things that no longer apply or work need to be rooted out. We have to take a good look at the things from the past that make us feel guilty about what we do now. If those old “shoulds” are getting in the way they have to go. The trick is to recognize them. Find them and let them go!

Loss

tearsToday I am really sad. My mother gave me a ring of hers on my 16th birthday. It is beautiful. It’s monetary value is of no consequence to me. It’s sentimental value is enormous. Today I went to get it and put it in the jeweler cleaner and it wasn’t there. I have looked everywhere although I am sure it should have been in its normal place. One of two things has happened…either it was taken by someone who was in the house and there have been some…or I have put it somewhere unknowing and now will have to find it. I am devastated. I have only lost two pieces of real jewelry in my life and both of them were connected with my mother.

After the first loss I did mandalas (drawings done to with prayer and meditation) about it for months and the thought still hurts. Now I have another to get past. I keep reminding myself that it is just things and that people are what matter but at the moment it only helps a little. I know that this too shall pass but for now it hurts.

Grief (1)I can’t seem to stop my tears from falling. This is not anxiety or depression but sorrow and grief. I pray that the ring is here and will be found but I have real doubts. Life can certainly put us to the test about what is important. I promise that my faith and the people I love will get me past this but I think it is ok for the moment to grieve.

Through the memories

bad and good memoriesOur memory is an amazing thing. We have so many triggers to bring a memory to light. I live on the salt marsh. As I have mentioned that smell triggers good memories for me. Having been a nurse there are some smells that trigger bad memories.

Smell is not the only thing that can generate memory. There are certain songs that will bring a wave of nostalgia and the memory is so clear that I have been pulled into it.

Memories can be positive or negative. If we have PTSD the memories that we see are not pleasant. I have memories of panic attacks and anxiety from IBSD that come back when something reminds me of them.

We can’t always choose which memories float to the surface but we can use the tools that we have learned to mitigate their power. If I am some place public I will try breathing slowly and concentrating on my breath. Sometimes I am able to find something distracting to shift my focus and help me push the bad feelings away.

Bad_Memories_Erasers

Good memories are a blessing and we want to wallow in them. It is wonderful to do so. Bad memories are the ones we have to find ways to travel through without the pain. Use whatever tools you have to live through those moments and each time you do you will be stronger.