Today I would like to talk about reading the signs we are given daily. It is my birthday, I am a Virgo and born in the Year of the Monkey, but these are not the signs I am thinking of.
Consider that cartoon anvil situation that drops in front of you signaling it is time to change course or that weird feeling you have about a phone call you have to make or a friend you suddenly want to reconnect with. Some signs are clear, some are intuitive but all are worthy of our attention. I have lived at least half of my life and have reached the conclusion that people who are aware of signs are more satisfied with the life they live.
I am on a quest to be more mindful and to notice when “signs” are pointing in the direction that I should go. Right now my life is close to perfect. I do not say this to brag. In the past I have lived in chaos and despair. Part of me worries about when my luck will change, part of me is so very grateful for this time, wanting to savor it like a delicious ripe plum. Do you ever find yourself thinking these thoughts? Are you ever concerned about how much happiness you deserve or if you are on the receiving end of more than your share of misery? Well here are some thoughts on the matter. I would love it if you would respond and let me know what you think too.
Kate’s Keys to Happiness:
Forget fairness. This week I went to a friend’s funeral who illustrated this point beautifully. She worked hard as a young woman to improve her life putting herself through Law School. As soon as she accomplished that dream than she developed a rare medical condition which for the next 30 years caused her health to deteriorate. Against all odds she married, had children, and raised them to the best of her ability. She had to take medications which made her confused and hazy most days. Two or three times a week she suffered seizures where she would lose consciousness, often bruising or breaking parts of her body in the fall. Anytime I wanted to complain about how difficult it is raising children I thought about how it must be for her. Life for her was not fair. She dealt with it. Life for her children was not fair either. I often had them over my house after their mom was taken away in an ambulance. We would bake brownies or macaroni and cheese –often in stunned silence. About 10 years ago she was getting a divorce from her husband when I asked if she was sure it was a good idea. He had supported her and she was about to be placed in a very unstable financial position. I will never forget her response. She said, “With my disease I only have about 10 more years to live. I do not want to spend them being miserable.” As she got worse and lost her hold on everything else, her one wish was to see her kids grow up. Her youngest is in college, so I would say she made it.
Do not sleep-walk through life. When I was young, pretty, and had no real problems to speak of, I manufactured some and created an environment of angst. I wore all black and way too much eyeliner. I trusted the wrong people and took a front seat on the self-destruction express. What we now call typical reality TV show antics, back then was called shameful behavior. Now that I have a teenager I wonder if he will engage in risky behavior to fit in. I hope he has enough self-esteem to avoid the traps so many people fall into but time will tell. By the way, it is not just young people who miss out on the main points of life. Plenty of people I know never read books, listen to music, try new foods, make friends, create anything, etc… I want to shake them and say, “Wake up! Life is short and you might just wish you had experienced a bit more when it is over.” Now that I have lived (a lot) I can eat a crisp apple, hear the wind in the trees, or feel the sun on my face. These things do not fix my problems but it is glorious to be able to appreciate small comforts, take a break of thankfulness, and then resume the issue at hand with a new perspective.
Let people be imperfect (including me). I have a young son who driven to be the best in everything he does. His competitiveness makes him an amazing kid but I worry about what it is doing to his health. I also recognize these traits in myself and know that he could be in for years of teeth grinding. We are both hard on ourselves but one thing I have been successful at is to stop criticizing myself constantly. Negative self talk erodes self-esteem and causes constant second guessing. When I replaced my monologue with positive observations about myself and others I forgave myself and others. It was weird, but just as I realized what was happening someone posted this quote on Facebook: “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Anger, regret, bitterness all have no place in life.
Believe. Believe in something greater than what you can see. Miracles, God, magic, hope, whatever. I believe in mysteries that cannot be explained. I believe in wonder and the possibility of every moment. Whether I am around for many years or if today is my last, I believe in the purpose and power of my life.
Today is a great day for new beginnings! Just read the signs around us.