We 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.
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.
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.
I love C.S. Lewis. I have read a great deal of what he has written. He has written so much beside the Chronicles of Narnia. Recently, when we were without power I re-read his other fiction series beginning with “Out of the Silent Planet.”
I could quote him every day but I want to focus on this one.
We all have a past. It may have been wonderful or it may be have been awful but it is the past. We can’t change it but we can let it go. Even if we are struggling the struggle will pay off. We are like the swan who looks so wonderful as she glides along and is paddling furiously under the water. Each thing that we do, every moment that we glide ahead takes us one step further even if we are paddling frantically.
We can change only the moment we are in. That’s as far as we can go. We need to not obsess about tomorrow but just manage this day, this hour, this minute. It’s all we have.
That quote from Joan Rivers seems to go a long way to explaining why she spent her life altering her appearance. For so many of us our view of ourselves is set by others. We see ourselves as others see us and not as we are. We can spend our whole lives wishing that we were different.
I doubt that any of believe we are perfect but in today’s society it would be easy to believe that you are ugly. The norm set for beautiful by fashion models is unreachable except by 13-16 yo’s. There are so many ads on media telling us what to do to be beautiful…use this face cream, wash with this soap, go to this plastic surgeon.
The truth is that the criteria set by society is not reality. None of us can live up to it and we can make ourselves miserable trying to change. Even the “beautiful people” have a history of being unhappy. It seems that no matter how you look there can be shadows underneath. Remember how many rich and famous people have committed suicide.
In my lifetime I have never thought myself beautiful. I was an awkward teen and as most girls I wished I was prettier. It took some time before I began to see the things that were good about me and they weren’t all physical. By the time I married and had children I was reasonably happy with myself. I felt able to “fit in.” Even though this felt good I think this is part of the problem. We want to fit in.
The thing is we don’t always need to fit in. We need to be ourselves. We have to learn to be the best at who we are. This requires accepting ourselves. This is not always easy. Many of us have things that set us apart from the norm. It could be appearance (being in a wheelchair, having a deformity, etc.) or it could be mental illness.
You are unique. There is nothing wrong with being who you are. Learn to be yourself! This is one of the most valuable lessons that you can attain. Accept who you are with all your warts and scars. Those things are what make you YOU. Don’t let others tell you anything different.
The last few months have been filled with such stress that it has been hard to keep focused. It hasn’t been one thing but the combination of things. Friends sick, husbands sick, travel, whatever. It is time to get my focus back and to remember an event from last week.
Wednesday of last week i realized how sick I was and decided that I must go to my doctor. It was in the morning and while I was trying to make a logical decision the phone rang and it was my doctor’s office. They called to let me know that they had called in a refill for some routine medicine. This is not how their system works. They never call to let me know about that I just get a text from the pharmacy when it is ready. Their system has been skewed due to some doctors moving and the office being understaffed at the moment so this was not the usual person. While I had her on the phone I asked if I could see my physician that day and she managed an appointment for that afternoon. Absolutely amazing. That would never have happened at any other time!
Madeleine L’Engle says “a miracle is a coincidence where God prefers to remain anonymous.” People say miracles don’t happen and this was just nothing but it didn’t feel that way to me. I have a friend who says “the ARANGELS were at work” and I agree. For me this was a miracle and due to that visit I am now better.
Expectations. Something that can really send us into a tail spin. It seems that there are always people expecting things of us. We can spend our whole lives trying to live up to someone’s expectations.
Too often those expectations are not appropriate. Sometimes they are actually too low because we are thought to be damaged because of mental health issues. That prejudice can make us feel “less than” and sets us up for problems with self esteem. Labels can be so damaging.
The other side is when expectations are too high. They may not be logical or reasonable. We are set up for failure and again threatened with low self esteem.
Challenging expectations that are too high may require discussion regarding what is appropriate. Too often anyone can find themselves pushed by overwhelming expectations. It is part of the society we live in. Sometimes it’s hard to bring it up, as for some, jobs could be on the line. The most important part is to recognize when it is not your issue but someone else’s. Don’t let the situation affect your own sense of self worth.
Somehow we need to find a path down the middle. There may not be anything that can be done about other people who give us labels. Until things change just consider the source and move on. If it is just an education problem that can be solved. Continuing to work within your own abilities solves many issues.
Watch out for people who want you to fail or who want to put you down. These people are toxic and need to be avoided.
We also have to be careful in setting our own expectations. Setting them too high or too low can make us feel inadequate. We have to find a reasonable path.
Remember you count! Your life matters too! Seek the place where you can find success and self affirmation.
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.
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 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.
The last 3 or 4 months I felt as is my life was on hold. It now feels different to have my husband’s surgery behind us and move forward. In some ways I have put my life on hold. I haven’t done any mediations or scheduled any appointments. Now I want to get back to my life. There will be healing time and check ups but that can be managed.
It has been strange to plan little for myself and I miss it. I look forward to what I call “a new normal.” I have discovered that life is never consistently normal. We can go along for a while and this something changes our plans and our perspective. I have decided to call this “new normal’ and not expect to get back to the old one.
Life is constantly changing. That is one thing we can be sure of. The trick is to learn how to deal with the changes. Also it is important to know that nothing will always stay the same. When we are young we hope for change—growing up and getting to do the adult things. When we have been adults for long enough we realize that it may not be what we imagined.
As children we don’t understand that with adulthood comes increased responsibility. We are the ones who have to make decisions about life altering things and we don’t always choose the easy path. It was a lot of fun when we weren’t the responsible one.
Change is one of the stressors that can set off anxiety and depression and we do have to learn ways to manage it. Some people love change but I am not one of them. It can be hard to let go of a calm and peaceful time and move through something that is not much fun. For me, acceptance that change is inevitable is the first step and then to imagine weathering my way through the storm. Finding any good that is in the change helps and picturing what life will be like on the other side. When change hits us suddenly it is harder to get through. If we expect it we can think our way ahead and do better.