They say confession is good for the soul, so here goes.
Although I make my best efforts to stay positive, sometimes I fail miserably. Yesterday was one of those days.
To my mind, negativity dominated the conversations in the room. The popular opinion was opposed to my beliefs. I shouldn’t have let it get to me. After all, everyone is entitled to their opinion, right?
Instead, I became inwardly critical of every thought expressed. My judgments of how wrong these people were, took over. I didn’t open my mouth but am sure my body language spoke loud and clear. When a final comment pushed me over the edge, I quietly slipped out of the room. Without even a goodbye, I left.
I’m not proud of my reaction. In fact, I was still unsettled when I awoke this morning.
I stood at the kitchen window and watched the sun rise. The beauty reminded me that each day I have a new opportunity to start again. To do better than I did yesterday. I was determined to make the most of it.
In order to do this, I needed to figure out what had gone wrong. I thought of my husband gently pointing out my lack of tolerance. That certainly got my back up. Couldn’t he just acknowledge that I was right?
Realization struck me like a lightning bolt. I couldn’t accept other viewpoints because I knew I was right! I had chosen to be right rather than be happy. This is something that does not help me live my best life.
This confession is a way of holding myself accountable. When I know better, I can do better.
I am grateful today for the uncomfortable lesson that resulted in a renewed commitment to stay positive and to treat others with love and respect.
Why do you take a camera with you on vacation? I do because I expect to see something I’d like to turn into a memory.
That is also the reason I keep my phone with me when I go out for a walk. I never know what beauty, uniqueness or special moments will be there for me to capture.
Many years ago, I decided to approach each day this way. Not with a camera, but by focusing on the gifts God has placed all around me. During this time, I have observed so much that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
There are countless reasons to be thankful. Some are large and obvious. Others are commonplace and easily missed. When I purposefully look for them, they become beacons to happiness.
This morning I looked out my window as the sun was rising over the frozen landscape. Instead of thinking how cold it was going to be for me to walk to an appointment this morning, I took a few moments to be grateful for a new day and the opportunity to embrace whatever it may bring.
I may not feel the same when I step into the frigid air, but there is a much better chance than if I approach it with negativity.
The secret to my happiness is not really a secret. All I have to do is open my eyes to all that God has given me. When my focus shifts from lack to abundance, I am more likely to capture the special moments and turn them into precious memories.
Have you ever stood as straight and tall as possible, back against the wall, while your height was recorded?
My childhood home had a wall where such measurements were displayed. A pencil was placed level with the top of my head and a mark made on the wall. If I’d grown, the date and my name would be printed beside this line. The same would happen for my siblings.
I had such a wall for my children and my daughter has maintained this tradition for her children. Down through the generations, we like to see a tangible sign of our growth.
Physical growth is important to record. My grandson, who recently surpassed me in height, can attest to that!
I haven’t gained in height for many years and lately seem to be getting shorter. These days it is other forms of personal growth I’m looking to achieve.
Marks on the wall would make it easier to measure if I’m growing or shrinking but that’s not how this growth works.
Instead I need to ask myself some tough questions. Have I challenged myself to learn something new? Do I explore creative possibilities? When was the last time I stepped out of my comfort zone? Am I reaching out to connect with new people? How am I doing with my commitment to make a difference?
It can be quite comfortable to stay in my safe, predictable routine but that is when my growth stops and my life becomes smaller.
My best intentions have to be put into action to ensure my personal growth. There is no better time than now to stretch myself in new ways. Who wants to join me? Accountability partners are welcomed!
Follow the Gifts of Good Words Blog Hop taking place from November 4-18, 2020, and find quality Canadian Christian books for those on your Christmas list! Then on November 18th, join the Good Words Virtual Book Fair on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/3376193032494045
Today I’m pleased to introduce you to my book Another Perspective.
The idea for the book came when a friend and fellow author said, “You have a unique perspective on life.” The word perspective stuck with me and I knew one day it would be used as the focus of one of my books. Two years later, this book became a reality.
Another Perspective is a collection of short stories based on everyday events. As an observer of life, I take what I see, hear and experience and dig a little deeper to find and share the insights I’ve gained.
The book contains stories relating to fear, gratitude, forgiveness, healing, disagreement, patience, having fun and many other topics. The stories have been described as inspiring, folksy, relatable and wise.
I’m especially proud of the cover of this book. That’s me, conquering my fear of heights by going skydiving! You can read that story in the book.
A few crisp brown leaves scutter across my second story deck. The chinook winds have stripped most trees of their leaves. A few, however, seem to refuse to release their once vibrant fall foliage.
I look at one leaf, fluttering wildly to escape as the tree holds on tenaciously. It is inevitable that the leaf will eventually be let go. This is a natural and necessary part of the life cycle.
I understand the reluctance to let go of what has contributed rich colour to my life. There comes a time, however, where holding onto the past prevents me from moving forward. I can appreciate the past and how it has shaped me into who I am today but know I can’t stay stuck there. With gratitude for lessons learned, I now need to focus on what’s ahead.
That doesn’t mean the letting go is easy. Far from it. The familiar is comfortable and feels safe. It may not be exciting or challenging but it also doesn’t involve risk and uncertainty. Unfortunately, this comfort zone prevents me from growing.
Instead of mourning the end of a season, I choose to welcome a new one. Each season has its own beauty and, as the trees are entering a period of replenishment during this time, so shall I. Without past expectations holding me back, I am free to gather knowledge and skills to help me grow.
Like the approaching winter, I have no idea what this season will bring or how long it will last. What I do know, is I will not be the same at the end of it as I am at the beginning. My life will continue to grow and change as new experiences and opportunities are presented and embraced. Let the possibilities begin!
I paused to lean on the weather worn railing of a small wooden bridge fording a stream. Slightly upstream was a beaver dam. The intricate structure of twigs and branches was fascinating.
I scanned the area, hoping for a glimpse of the industrious builder. Since beavers work at night, I had to be content with the stump nearby, bark stripped and teeth marks silently explaining the scattering of wood chips.
I marveled at the hard work that went into creating this structure. The reward would be protection against predators and easier access to food during the winter.
Unfortunately, these dams can also cause flooding and other problems. A few days later a sign close to the stream warned us not to leave established pathways as beaver control was currently underway. From what I understand, this consisted of trapping and relocating the beavers.
When I first saw the dam, my thought was to write about how hard work now can provide the food and shelter I will need when the cold, dark days of winter set in. This was going to be a metaphor for the tough times we all face at some point in our lives.
My mindset altered slightly when I learned of the need to control these industrious creatures.
Yes, it is good to ensure my loved ones are taken care of. It is also important to do so in such a way that I don’t cause problems for others. When I remain aware of conditions around me, I can work to build a secure home without endangering yours.
Rivulets of water ran down my body as I pulled back the shower curtain and stepped onto the bath mat. My hand automatically reached for the towel, even while my eyes stared in disbelief. My bath towel was nowhere to be seen.
Too late, I remembered my plan to replace it after doing laundry the previous day. It had slipped my mind and now I would pay the price for my lack of attention.
I scanned the bathroom and my gaze rested on a hand towel. At least I could get some of the water off of me before I dripped my way to the linen closet.
Much to my surprise, I dried my entire body with this one small towel. Until I did it, I wouldn’t have thought it possible. My oversize bath sheet was not the necessity I thought, but a luxury.
My mind drifted back to this several times over the next few days. How many times in the past had I failed to be grateful for what I had, thinking it was not enough?
The Bible tells us to give thanks in everything. This is not always easy to do. I have found that, like the miracle of the loaves and fishes, when I thank God for what He has provided for me, my needs are always met.
That is why my gratitude journal tonight will contain an unusual entry; one that expresses thanks for the reminder that a small towel is enough.
Yesterday, my steps were lively when I went for a brisk morning walk. When I set out this morning, that energy was sadly lacking.
The muscles in my legs cried out in protest. My breaths were shallow and laboured.
Several times I considered turning back. Images of the adventure race we’d watched on TV last night flickered through my mind. “At least I’m on a paved path and not slogging through dense jungle or climbing a rope up the rocky face of a waterfall,” I thought. Resolutely, I put one foot in front of the other with the knowledge I would complete the five kilometers I’d set out to do.
I slowed my pace a little and a strange thing happened. My attitude shifted. Body aches were no longer felt and my grumbling turned to gratitude for the beauty of nature surrounding me. Golden leaves highlighted by bright sunshine were noticed and appreciated. The smooth waters of the pond reflected a fountain and the shore grasses. I stopped several times to take pictures.
Attuned to my surroundings rather than racing ahead, I heard a splash in the creek and stopped to watch a muskrat barely ripple the water as it swam downstream. Had all of this been here yesterday and I’d failed to notice?
I was reminded how much I miss when I am so focused on the goal that I forget to enjoy the journey. I smiled as I continued my walk, wondering what adventure I’d find around the bend now that I was no longer racing against the clock.
“You have a beautiful yard,” I told my friend. “It must take a lot of time and effort to maintain.”
“I do spend many hours weeding,” Robert admitted. Then he shared a wisdom that is both simple and profound.
“If I look at the entire task, it can be overwhelming. I’ve learned to tackle it one weed at a time.”
One weed at a time. That is a great motto for life! What does this phrase say to you?
Weeds left unattended in a garden will take over and choke out the good plants. In the same way, weeds in my life can also choke out the good things.
It is unrealistic to think I can eliminate all of the weeds, or negative attitudes and behaviours in my life in one fell swoop. I can, however, work on them bit by bit. When I release a grudge I hold, the anger is loosened making it easier to uproot and get rid of it.
By pulling out this weed, peace and forgiveness are able to take root in its place. Every time I choose love and understanding over judgement, another weed is removed.
I am most productive when I focus only on the weed directly in front of me and spend the time necessary to get to the root of the matter. Some require more digging in order to unearth them.
Thanks to Robert’s advice, I will no longer be discouraged by the task in front of me. Instead, I will glance back and appreciate how far I’ve come, one weed at a time.
“Would you be able to keep Oreo for about 5 days?” my friend asked. Many years had passed since we’d been responsible for a pet but this cute little hypo-allergenic dog knew us and shouldn’t be a problem so we agreed to take care of her.
As we were temporarily living in a campground and not a home with a fenced backyard, I had to ensure she was on a leash every time we stepped outside.
I soon learned that she sometimes wanted to go places that she shouldn’t. Some, like the neighbour’s campsite weren’t appropriate. Others, like in front of an oncoming vehicle were not safe.
At those time I would shorten her leash. This made her unhappy and she would balk and strain against me to go her own way. I chose her well-being over her immediate happiness.
I also discovered there was little patience when I stopped to clean up after her. She wanted to be off again right away.
It occurred to me that God sometimes has to keep me on a short leash. I complain and want to go farther than I’m being allowed. I forget that what I want isn’t always what is best for me. When I make a mess of things, I just want to move away and put it behind me. God, however, makes me wait until the clean-up has been taken care of.
Most of the time I’m free to roam where I choose. It is only when my behaviour becomes a problem that I feel the tug of my conscience. This is my Master, reminding me of His care and protection. When I look at it that way, I can appreciate the occasional need for a short leash.