I enjoy fresh grapefruit with my breakfast. Lately, several observations have been made that led me to believe I could learn a lot about life from a grapefruit.
Grapefruits come in many sizes. The biggest are not always the best! Some of the larger ones I’ve had have been a disappointment in flavour and juiciness. In life, some of the bigger things I’ve gone after have not brought the satisfaction I’d hoped for.
Some grapefruits have smooth skin and some are bumpy and scarred. This is not an accurate reflection of what I will find on the inside. I have been pleasantly surprised by the sweetness of those less pleasing to the eye. If I only chose life experiences by those that looked the most perfect, I’d have missed much of the sweetness in my life.
One grapefruit was juicy and sweet until I came to a section or two that had tough, fibrous pieces. They were put aside and I continued to enjoy the remainder of my breakfast. As in life, I have the choice to focus on what isn’t as I’d hoped, or to carry forward and enjoy the rest.
Usually, I find seeds. The ones with many require a little more effort to eat. These seeds represent future growth. Left in nature, they would develop into more fruit. They remind me of the seeds of possibility in my life. What seems like an inconvenience may actually be an opportunity for future potential.
One morning I was enjoying what seemed like the perfect grapefruit when it squirted me in the eye! Even when all seems to be going smoothly, there can be something that catches me unaware. Do I get upset, or put it into perspective and move on?
It’s no wonder I enjoy this fruit. Not only is it juicy and refreshing, it reminds me to how to best enjoy life and its constant changes and challenges.
Gravity was nothing I thought about until the aging process made it difficult to ignore. Each day it seemed like my body parts were being drawn closer to the core of the earth.
Droopy eyelids were the first to catch my attention. From there, other areas followed suit. Some were obvious and others could be forgotten until I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Why was the person who looked back at me so much older than I felt?
Hanging upside down in an effort to reverse the condition was not going to work. I had to face the fact that old age was no longer creeping but advancing at an alarming rate.
My outlook changed when our thirteen-year-old granddaughter asked me how old I was. She thought I was fifty! My daughter said, “Dad is forty-eight, do you think he and Gran look about the same age?”
Emily looked at me, then her dad, and then me again. She surprised me when she said, “I think they look about the same.” Her dad shrugged and I gave her a huge hug!
This exchange reminded me that I am far more critical of myself than others are. My flaws are evident when my attention is on them. This is true for more than appearance.
If I do ninety-nine things right and one wrong, what do you think I focus on? You know the answer because you’ve done it too, haven’t you?
I have to make a concentrated effort to stop examining my self-described defects and to look upon myself with the same love and grace others do.
Gravity is something I have no control over. The same is not true of my attitude. I think I’ll follow the advice of Robert Louis Stevenson who said, “Make the most of the best and the least of the worst.”
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.
The aquafit instructor told us to kick our legs to the side, alternating right to left. I am left-handed, which means I often do things the opposite way to most people.
We had a full class and the participants were crowded close together. When I started off on the wrong foot it was a challenge not to make contact with the person next to me. My kicks caused problems on both sides.
The only way to avoid this was to stop, pay attention to what those beside me were doing and coordinate my steps with theirs. Once I was on the right foot things went smoothly.
The phrase, ‘start on the right foot’ means to make a good beginning; to start off well. Despite my best efforts, this is not always easy to do.
Earlier this week my day started off on the wrong foot. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fight or withdraw from the world. I was kicking myself and it would have been easy to inflict my self-destructive behaviour on others.
What I was doing wasn’t working so I needed to do something different. Once I acknowledged I was tired and overwhelmed it was easier to accept my limitations that day and move on. My attitude improved.
I started my day over, on the right foot this time. Once I was back in step with the world around me my day became positive and productive. And even better – no one around me was injured!
Now that I am no longer in the workforce, there is no need to get out of bed early in the morning. The alarm is only set for the days I go to a morning exercise class. Other than that, I let my body dictate how much sleep it needs.
Last week, for several days in a row, I arose and left the house while it was still dark outside. It would have been easy to grumble and complain about the early start and the long days.
Instead, I changed my attitude from, “I hate to get up this early” to “I choose to get up early for the benefit of ..” I was privileged to spend my days with an amazing group of people who are changing the world one heart at a time. For me, the benefit far outweighed a few hours of lost sleep.
This attitude is not just useful for getting me out of bed in the morning. It can be used throughout the day in a myriad of ways.
When I consciously think of what I get to do, rather than what I have to do, my mind shifts from unhappiness to gratitude. It’s amazing the difference this simple change in focus makes.
Things I would normally take for granted are appreciated. The abundance in my life is recognized and I become a more positive person to be around.
I may not have control over all situations in my life but I can choose how to react to them. I choose to look for the benefit and live in gratitude.
Our aquafit instructor asked us to do a cross-country ski movement with our arms and legs. The added twist was we had to do this without letting our feet touch the bottom of the pool.
She said, “The resistance will be felt in your whole body, from the neck down.” While completing the exercise I thought, “My resistance is normally felt from the neck up!”
I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. My mindset controls what I am capable of achieving.
Years ago I clipped a cartoon out of the paper and had it displayed on my fridge. One character said, “I’ve realized that I’m the only one keeping me from reaching my full potential.” The other replied, “And a mighty fine job you’re doing of it.”
This served as a powerful reminder to get out of my own way. Too often the resistance I face doesn’t come from outside sources but from myself.
I read an excerpt from the book, Trade Your Cares for Calm by Max Lucado that addressed this very well. He said the widest river in the world is not the Amazon or the Nile. It is a body of water called ‘If Only’. He talked about the number of people who stand on its banks wanting to cross but never doing it. They are convinced the ‘If Only’ river is what separates them from the good life.
We all have a choice to make. Are we going to let the resistance in our minds stop us or are we going to cross the ‘If Only’ river?
“The good life begins, not when circumstances change, but when our attitude toward them does.” Max Lucado
The aquafit instructor was adding a few new exercises for our class. At one point she told us, “Kick one leg up at a time. Pretend you are doing the can-can.”
I found it amusing to think of myself as a can-can girl. I’m a little – OK a lot – too old for that!
Then I remembered a magnet I have on my filing cabinet. It says Successful women come in cans not in can’ts.
Living this way is a choice. I can be committed, gentle, loyal, thoughtful, loving and kind. These are only a few of the positive traits I want to focus on.
The can’ts should be limited to the negative characteristics I sometimes struggle with. I imagine how much better life would be if the bad habits were eliminated. To lead a happy, productive life I can’t be harsh, critical, complaining, and uncaring. This can be a lot easier to follow through on with others than with me.
I can wish and want but until I am committed to change nothing is going to happen. My goal is to get the most out of life, and not merely exist. If I want to make a difference in the lives of others I first have to start with my own.
When my attitude changes so will my life. Who else wants to join me as a can-can gal or guy? Together we can change the world.
Canadian Thanksgiving has its origins in Europe, where festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place in the month of October.
Today, Thanksgiving is a celebration of being thankful for what one has and the bounty of the previous year. For some, the main focus is a turkey dinner followed by pumpkin pie.
I do appreciate gathering together with my family and turkey is one of my favourite meals. However, I don’t feel one day is enough to express gratitude for the abundance in my life.
I like to start my mornings by giving thanks for a new day. God has given me a fresh page on which to write the next chapter of the story of my life. I want to express my gratitude for this gift and use it to make a positive difference. I say I want to, because it doesn’t always happen. I do know my day will be off to a much better start when it begins with this kind of communion with The Lord.
In the past, I thought I’d have to do something huge and life changing in order to make a difference in the world. Now, I know it may be as simple as having a positive attitude. I may never know the effect a smile and friendly hello has on a stranger I pass on the street. The same goes for holding the door open for one following behind or allowing someone to merge in traffic in front of me. It is possible my words and actions will have a ripple effect much larger than I could possible know.
I will never be in control of every event in my day, but my attitude is totally within my control. I have learned that I can choose how I act, despite how I feel. After all, God gave me the gift of free choice. In that case, why wouldn’t I choose to be positive and thankful?
Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20 NIV)
Early on a Saturday morning, I was on the highway heading to an appointment an hour from home. Although I’d allowed extra time, it looked like the slowdowns for road repair would eat up every minute of it.
I hate to be late and it looked to me as if that was going to be the case. The tension was starting to build.
Near the end of a lengthy slowdown, was a flag person holding a sign reminding us to proceed slowly. What made her memorable was the big smile and friendly wave she gave to the passing vehicles.
I couldn’t help but smile and wave back. Her simple gesture of kindness relaxed me. When I arrived at my destination (right on time) my stress had dissolved and I was in a positive state of mind.
This woman understood the pressure drivers feel when forced to add extra time to their commute and did something to break the negativity. The effect of this would have reached more than the motorists she encountered. When I’m in a better state of mind I treat those I come in contact with in a more positive manner. They, in turn, pass along positive rather than negative emotions to those they interact with. The ripple effect of one act of kindness can be staggering.
A friendly smile, a sincere compliment, holding a door open for the person behind me; these cost only a minute of my time but have the potential of changing someone’s outlook that day. The more I practice random acts of kindness, the more opportunity I have to change the world. What an exciting concept!
“Kindness carries no price tag neither does it require making a purchase. A random act of kindness can change someone’s life…choose to be kind always.” ― Kemi Sogunle