Be kind

 

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.    Plato

I have realized how very true this is. I have met so many people who, on the surface, seem to have everything together. It is only when I get to know them that I find out what is under the surface.

Sometimes those things we don’t see will cause someone to be angry or unpleasant. We will want to get away from the as fast as we can. Another person my be upbeat and bubbly. We like them right away. We gravitate to people like this. It is only when they are comfortable sharing their inmost thoughts that we discover the trauma and pain they have endured.

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It is easier to be kind to the upbeat person. It is a natural response. It is much harder to be kind to those whose behavior turns us off. The truth is both need our compassion and understanding. Kindness goes a long way toward making someone’s day better. You never know what good you may have passed on.

Live each day

Fear drains us. It takes away our ability to think straight and we struggle in the depths. I have always loved the quote “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” That is so true. There are times when being afraid is logical….when in danger it is appropriate. The fear that tears us apart is the fear of things we don’t know. Many people are afraid to go to the doctor because something may be found wrong. Illogical. It is crossing bridges before we get to them.

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I have done this kind of nonsense most of my life. I can picture all the horrible scenarios and play them out in my mind. Then nothing happens and all that time was wasted in worry and fear.

Somehow we need to lean to live each day as it comes. Not an easy task but one worth pursuing. The day we are in is the only one we have. Savor every moment. I have a friend who has been living with a disease that should have killed her years ago. He life is a struggle. Each day a challenge. Yet she lives each day to its very limit and doesn’t think about dying tomorrow. This is surely how to live!

More preparation than I thought

The weather has been unusually cold here for this time of year. It seemed like a good time to make soup. I found a wonderful recipe in my computer cooking program and it sounded wonderful. I decided to give it a try.

The thing I didn’t notice before I started was the amount of things that had to be chopped to get ready. I have made lots of recipes with many ingredients but this one was demanding. I chopped chicken breasts, carrots, celery, shallots, sage, spinach, mushrooms, rosemary garlic,parsley,  grated a lemon for zest and parmesan. It was rather time consuming. The cooking took little time. Next time I will chop everything the day before and just make the soup.

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I realized that life can be something like this. There are many things that we have to spend a great deal of time preparing and then they are done in a flash. Just think about the Christmas Holidays. So much preparation goes into a day that (especially if you have children) can be destroyed in an hour.

I guess we have to decide which things are worth the effort put into preparing. For me, Christmas is and I think I will make that soup again….it was wonderful!

My list

I have gotten better about some things as I have aged. On Friday I will turn 79 years young. The year before eighty. It seems like a milestone. It has made me think about the things I really can do something about and came up with this list.

  1. My choices and actions
  2. My attitudes and priorities
  3. The people that I chose to be with
  4. How I use my resources both physical things, my energy and my emotions

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These are the things that I have some control over. Anything else is not something I need to worry about, stew over or waste time on.

Now the only things I need to do is to stick to this list.

Life and death

Years ago I was distressed by  a family’s loss. In an auto accident one young daughter was killed. I felt that her life had been cut short. A minister friend had a different perspective. He felt that each of us has a life span that is ours alone….just as we are all individuals.

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I was reading a novel today and came across a similar thought that was attributed to the Gullah people of coastal South Carolina and Georgia. The book is “Gullah Secrets” by Susan Gabriel. Living near and having cared for Gullah people I have always respected their wisdom.

An elderly Gullah woman says: “Like a story, every life on earth has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Sometimes a story lasts only hours. Sometimes days, years, or decades……It is not about the lucky or the unlucky. The good or the evil…..Life and death are in an eternal dance just like that whirlwind. Wind and sand. Sand and wind. A dance across time.”

This vision of each of our lives is comforting to me. My birth and death are mine and are as unique as I am. Life and death. They both continue.

 

 

How things change!

Today I heard and interesting statement. “Laws are based upon values and then support the values.” This thought has made me think about how things are changing in our country and other parts of the world.

The phrase came in church after an discussion of The Leverite Law in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 25:5-10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Levirate Marriage

When brothers reside together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her, taking her in marriage, and performing the duty of a husband’s brother to her, and the firstborn whom she bears shall succeed to the name of the deceased brother, so that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. 

Times have changed since this was in effect. The woman was not considered at all. Now our laws recognize women as equal.

changing values

However, as we look at the initial quote we begin to question exactly what the values are today. So many are changing so fast that we can’t keep up with them and are part of our divisions. Even various religious denominations have switched from one idea to another. The earlier position of life at first breath came from the Bible: And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Gen 2:7

It is debated if the shift to life at conception was a political one or a change due to science or some other influence. Either way it was a big shift that has led to a conflicted country regarding abortion.

This is just an example of how “Laws are based upon values and then support the values.”  I never thought of it from this perspective and it is interesting to do so.

Learning and using it

Today I had to attend a class to re-certify as a mediator. The class was helpful and interesting but I realize I am no longer used to sitting in class all day. At one point I stood up for a while to just get out of the chair. We were given breaks but the first one was long in coming.

It is interesting when many things that you have done in life enrich whatever you are doing presently. I have noticed this happening several times in my life. It’s as if I am being prepared for the next thing to come. Today was mostly about listening, discovering what lies beneath problems, and helping to find common ground between people. I have used and taught communication skills many times in my life and this was mostly a endorsement of what I have already learned. I will be using it in a different way and learning that was helpful.

Learning-never-stop

If we are truly living we are learning all the time. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t learn something new. Maybe from TV or books or other people. It is interesting to think at the end of the day about what is new and how can you use it.

Nothing is ever wasted. As you age you learn something you thought was useless 10 years ago is just what you need now. Absorb everything you can in life and somehow it will be used.

There is more to learn

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Yesterday we had a high in the 80’s. Last night it went down to 45. For us that is winter. Where is fall? I actually enjoy the cooler weather and look forward to having a fire in the fireplace.

One of the most difficult things about growing older is when you begin losing friends and contemporaries. Going to funerals is not much fun. The only blessing is that most of them have lived good, fruitful lives. You can be grateful for the time you have known them and the joy they have brought to life.

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I don’t mean to sound depressing. Most of the time growing older feels to be just another phase of life. It has some incredible joys and blessings. I have experienced so much and learned so much and writing has allowed me to continue to share. I try to appreciate each day. One of the hardest things is to learn to live fully each and every day. Time is not to be wasted but experienced. If only we could learn to let go of living in the past or the future and just be where we are at the moment.

Always something new

Today I find myself leaning on my faith. I have some medical issues which may resolve…or not. Time will tell. This news did not send me into a panic…at least not yet. I have high hopes that this will be an easy fix and life will go on pretty much as normal.

In the meantime I will continue my routines and keep my anxiety at bay. I am grateful that I have some tools that I have made a habit and can actually count on them to help.

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Life is always interesting and challenges us in many ways but it is worth cherishing. Keep me in your thought and prayers as I travel into this joourney.

Memories and emotions

Where families are involved life can treacherous. Sometimes the most innocent remark can be twisted into a major conflict. I suspect this is because there is history and much emotion involved. Often the negative reaction has nothing to do with what is going on at the moment. It is rooted somewhere in the past where the emotions are stuck.

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I have never forgotten that our emotions are tied to so many things. A piece of music from our past can have us experiencing the emotions we felt at the time. These past connections can emerge at the worst moments and skew our perception of the current experience.

Many of us have been taken straight back to our past feelings by a song, a scent, a person, or a scene. We don’t realize what is happening and our responses are not appropriate to the moment. This is doubly true for those we spent a lot of time with growing up. We are creations of our environment as well as our genes.

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It takes real strength to look inside and connect with the past so that we can disconnect ourselves from it. Most of us don’t want to relive the negative things that formed out emotional responses. It make take talking with a counselor to root out those emotions and at least understand them. Hopefully doing so will allow us to reconnect with those we have turned away from. Maybe not. Some we may not want to but there can be some that can heal connections that will change our hearts.