Death. It’s everywhere I look this week. I just flew home on a plane from my father in laws memorial service. In the blink of an eye, a life is over. As I was exiting the plane I overheard a conversation between two men in the seat next to me. “Yeah, I just flew home three weeks ago to bury my dad and today I am back to say goodbye to my mom”.
Death evens the score. It reminds us that the ending is the same regardless of how life begins or how we roll through the middle. Doesn’t matter if we are rich or poor, happy or sad. Time eventually runs out and all we can do is sit and wait.
My cat is dying. She is wasting away before my eyes. An animal who was once so fearful of leaving the house just wants to sit outside. I am out here with her fighting back tears that are too strong to contain. I let them dampen my face. It’s been a humbling week. One that will stay with me for quite a while. It’s a peaceful night. Except for the sound of a bird chirping, all I can hear is the gentle flow of the wind. Let it blow through I remind myself. The pain, the regrets, the fear…so many questions. What have I done with the time I’ve been given? Have I loved enough? The cat sits at my feet and the unspoken words between us are too painful to explain. I know and she knows and we just sit here quietly side by side. Have I lived my own life like this silly cat? Have I too stared out the window too afraid to walk outside? I wonder if it’s a message, a lesson that she leaves for me so that maybe one day I can feel the same freedom she feels here tonight. I’ve had this cat for as long as I can remember. I’ve had her longer than my 15 year old son. She started out in Texas and made the move to Indiana and Oklahoma. She was my constant companion through every move. She was a quiet presence of strength and love.
Death is a creeper. I feel it in the shadows as I struggle to make peace with it. It’s been a long couple of days and I am feeling really tired. Maybe tonight I will get some sleep. For now, I will sit with sweet Jimgles a little bit longer. I want this moment to linger. Maybe, just for now, time will stand still and let me enjoy her a few minutes longer. Maybe this last night is all we have. There’s no way to ever know.
There are irrefutable facts lost somewhere between the reality of a situation and the story we tell ourselves. No matter how hard I try, my head cannot leave a situation well enough alone. It listens, analyzes, judges, twists and ultimately rewrites the narrative to fit the smallness that stows away inside my head. Overthinking is like a weed that covers the truth and leaves even the most innocent event looking ugly and unkept. It’s so important to reach down and pluck the ugly out from the roots. To be real and honest and admit when those dangerous weeds are hiding the beauty that lies beneath and the only thing allowing them to take over is a simple yet conscious choice. I found myself standing there this week in the middle of my mental garden stomping on the flowers and nourishing the weeds. It took a few days a long with the courage to take a step back and force myself to lift my head and take an honest look to realize what I was creating was far from truth. There are irrefutable facts and the stories we tell ourselves and the truth lies someplace inbetween.
Have you ever felt really strong about something but didn’t exactly know why? I helped my son with some writing assignments this weekend and felt myself thinking about how angry the assignment made me feel. There I was, walking out in nature this morning completely missing out on the serenity because I was knee deep in my own mad. Why did he have to write essays making connections between his assigned reading and another book? Why did they he to explore the connection of the book to to his own life and the world? Why was I feeling so darn mad?
Tonight I went for another walk. I noticed two stars parallel in the sky. I couldn’t help but think that was my own marriage. My husband was one star and I was the other but we seemed worlds apart. The bills, the struggles with the kids, stress, jobs, chores, emails all made us feel further and further apart. Like it or not, that stuff gets in between and before you know it you are trying your best to fight your way back.
I got it then. My anger and my overreaction to a silly assignment became visibly clear. I am an over thinker. I have lost the art of reading to read or walking to just enjoy walking. I analyze my steps or I replay conversations searching for something deeper or something maybe that should have been different. My brain has been trained to find meaning in a world that sometimes doesn’t really require any. My brain can no longer shut itself off or find quiet in the softness of my shoes as they hit the pavement. I cannot even look at the stars without thinking something profound. Perhaps we should stop requiring our kids to think more and allow them to just be more. Imagine just reading a book to enjoy the escape from real life. Imagine taking a walk without setting a goal to reach 10,000 steps. Imagine your mind not being the roadblock to pure happiness and utter enjoyment. Imagine a few moments of no thinking and total mindfulness lost in the beauty of the forest or in the words of a book. Imagine looking up and enjoying the beauty of the stars with no thoughts running through your head. Imagine a world with less thinking required and more being. Imagine!
I celebrated another birthday yesterday. As each year passes by, I become more grateful for time. Like it or not, each day I am alive is one less I have to live. I realize how senseless it is to waste precious moments on the things I will never be able to change. Learning to live in harmony with those same things has been my greatest challenge but slowly, I am getting there. This is your reminder to enjoy today before these minutes tick away. Even on your worst day, find a reason to smile and celebrate your blessings. Every day is a gift and each and everyone of our lives is a gift too. Happy Friday! You’ve got this.
Some days all I can do is wonder to myself, why? So many questions without answers, so many problems I can’t seem to find solutions to. Some days I just can’t. No matter what I do, I just can’t. Do you have those kinds of days too? How do you get through them?
You can change your life.
I know because I did it.
A year ago, I was in a very dark place. Depression had a death grip on me and I was having frequent anxiety attacks. I was so unsettled in my own skin but the hopelessness I felt was one I thought I would never escape. I was helpless and I reached out but there was no life raft waiting for me as I slipped deeper and deeper into despair. I tried depression medicine and meditation but it only got worse.
A year later I am feeling back to my normal self. I had to change my self talk which eventually led to a change in perspective about my current situation. If I couldn’t change the part I was stuck in then I had no other choice than to change myself and use my perception to gain my power back. My mantra was “the sky is not failing”. You are okay. It took months to convince myself that I would survive my situation. That I could live a happy life right alongside the mess I was in. I decided to lessen my reaction to things that once sent me straight to panic. Ah yes, the sky is not falling and this is only temporary. Patience with myself and gentle reminders turned into a new sense of peace and confidence. I removed myself from negativity and the past few months I have started walking every day. I am up to 35 miles a week and there are no words to express what this has done for me mentally. Most days I feel happy. Did you hear that? Me, happy! And rarely do I feel anxiety for more than a few hours and it doesn’t happen often at all.
Was It easy? Nope. I had to give up my bullshit stories that kept my anxiety alive and thriving. I had to admit that my thinking was most of the problem and the only fix out there was my decision to fix myself. I share this story because I know the silent suffering and wanting someone to take just a little bit of my despair away so I could get through the day. I also share this to tell you that you can overcome this too. It takes patience and a great deal of self love. I hope my success story becomes your own and please know you are not alone. I am out here cheering for you and I know you can do it too. You’ve got this! I promise.
Do you ever stop and ask yourself, is what I’m doing getting me to my end goal? I do it all the time. There can be a million people following a process but if it doesn’t make sense to me, I’m just not going to do it. I question everything big or small to make sure I am not wasting time going through motions that do nothing to advance my agenda. Just tonight I helped my son study for a history exam. They were given the blank, study guide at the end of class. Did I mention the test is tomorrow? So, we spent the night searching for answers to questions that may or may not be right that get handed in tomorrow before the exam for a grade. No one goes over the questions to make sure these kids have the right answers. They go through the motions of studying information that they think is right but what if it’s not? Is there no such thing as common sense anymore? Who is accountable and for what exactly? I’m really confused about the point behind this process. We had 1.5 hours of chemistry tutoring that should have taken 45 minutes but because of the busy, useless work that came before, he was distracted when I needed him to be focused. And then we spent the rest of the night drilling in answers that we have no idea are right because of course they are worded with trickery. School just seems like such a waste of time these days and I am losing my enthusiasm due to the uselessness of the process. I can’t help and wonder if teachers ever question if this method makes any sense. I just don’t get it. Be a thinker. Be open to change. Check if what you are doing is helping you achieve a certain outcome. Don’t blindly follow. Find your own path and lead. We need more leaders and less followers. More thinkers and less aimless doers.