Timing is everything

If only I had a quarter for every time this thought has popped into my head over the years, especially recently. Sometimes it’s because of good timing, and sometimes not.

There are occasionally those days where things start going wrong, and they just keep piling up.  I have a near miss car accident, something around the house stops working right or breaks, my sink backs up, the kids are argumentative or throw at me some last minute plans that I have to accommodate, and so on.  I find myself asking why it all has to happen in one day.  I’m already frustrated from the first couple of events, so I don’t always react too well to the rest.  Each thing on separate days would be a little easier to swallow.  But then I find myself thinking at the end of the day that I’m glad it all happened in one day so that I can put it all behind me and move on, hopefully having a completely different kind of day the next day.  Sometimes I am lucky enough to have that happen.

Then there are the times where I am thankful for good timing.  Something good happens when I least expect it, and I find myself thinking, “Wow, just what I needed! Perfect timing!”  I might come upon some information at the right time to put it to good use, or I’ll have a conversation with one friend that coincidentally helps me with a particular situation.  Maybe a friend or relative will check in with me to see how I am doing, and it will be on a day when everything is going wrong.  The best example is meeting new people and feeling like they came into my life right at the right time. Sometimes I don’t always realize right away how good the timing is, but I get it eventually. The relationship I am in now is a perfect example of that.

Unfortunately, there were several years where it was pretty doom and gloom for me with more significant things going wrong all at the same time.  My kids were a major challenge, my marriage was falling apart, I was having various health issues, and so on. Those things were more long term and harder to put behind me and hope for a better tomorrow, especially dealing with all them at the same time.  Some of the time I could stay positive, but often it all got to me.  What helped was focusing on the things I could be grateful for, especially those little things that happened every so often that seemed to be good timing, like a friend checking in on me or my mom offering to help with something or just listen without offering any advice.  I think that’s why I tend to check in on my friends and family members pretty regularly because I know what a difference that has made in my life.

Life definitely has its ups and downs, and timing is sometimes not good at all for certain things.  Just when we think things can’t get any worse, it does.  We need those times to appreciate the better times, so it’s often a matter of perspective how we choose to look at situations and react to them.  We can’t always see that though while in the midst of the storm, whether it is a hurricane or passing shower.  But hopefully after it has passed, we can find the rainbow and appreciate the sunshine.  There’s never a bad time for those!

That Little Extra

little-extra

You never know when that little extra effort could really pay off, whether it’s because it will positively impact you or someone else.  Success often comes to those who are willing to put in a little bit more time and energy towards their goals.  It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut, but sometimes a little conscious effort to think positively can get you over the hump.  Perhaps a few extra minutes spent doing something like exercising would be good for you, or taking the time to call or message a friend might put you in a better mood.

There are numerous situations that come to mind where it would be so helpful or just plain nice if someone made a little extra effort rather than just doing the bare minimum.  For example, it doesn’t take THAT much effort to push a shopping cart all the way in the cart return and put it in the correct row along with the other ones of the same size and push them together.  It would keep the cart return from filling up so quickly and cut down on shopping cart dings and unavailable parking spaces. Speaking of parking spaces, I wish everyone took a little extra time to make sure they were parking in only one spot and straight. A little bit more order goes a long way.

My kids do a reasonable job clearing their empty bowls and cups off the table and even rinse them out, but then they leave them on the counter.  Apparently, it’s very scary for my teenagers to open the dishwasher, but if they did take that extra step of putting the item in there, that would be much appreciated. I can think of countless other examples like this where a little bit more effort on a few people’s parts would make a lot less work for someone else.

Then there are things like making a little more effort to be pleasant towards anyone you encounter throughout the day.  Just making a conscious effort to smile would be an improvement for some people.  Recently, I had a store clerk ask how my day was going so far, as if she was very interested.  It was a nice change of pace from the often meaningless, “How are you?” It was a very small thing that significantly improved my mood for the afternoon, so I really appreciated her asking.  If everyone made more of an effort to be kind to others, even in the smallest way, I think that would make a big difference.  Giving someone you know a random hug, asking if there is anything you can do to help them, or telling someone you have been thinking about them or appreciate them are all small things that can have a big impact on someone else.

What little extra thing are you going to try to do more often?

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The Reason For Tragedy And Heartbreak

No one likes to experience either one of these or watch our friends and loves ones have to experience them either.  Whether it’s a tragic accident, an unforeseen break-up, a suicide attempt, some form of hardship, the death of loved one or favorite celebrity, or any number of other situations, these experiences can be painful, devastating, and gut-wrenching.  We sometimes ask ourselves all kinds of questions including why it had to happen or what we (or whoever else) did to deserve whatever happened.  Some people really struggle with the answers to these and other questions.

To me, these things are there as reminders for us of so many things…

  • that life is precious and fragile and can be taken away at an instant
  • that nothing and no one should be taken for granted
  • that we are stronger and more resilient than we think we are
  • that we can face our fears and overcome them
  • that change is sometimes a good thing
  • that the people and relationships in our lives are more important than things
  • that we need to continually remind our loved ones how much they are loved
  • that others may seem fine on the outside but are struggling on the inside
  • that we need to be kind and understanding to one another and really listen
  • that we shouldn’t sweat the little things
  • that sometimes our words and actions are more hurtful than we realize
  • that we should accept and celebrate our differences
  • that together we are stronger, and so on.

Most of all, I think they are reminders that we need to continually take a step back and be grateful for what we have, even if it’s not much.  There is always something positive we can find to be thankful for, and there are always so many people going through situations that are far worse than our own. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Of course, this is all easier to think about when we are not the person going through the particular tragedy or heartbreak or while we are not in the midst of it ourselves. We may never get over the pain or disappointment of the given circumstances, but hopefully at some point we can at least get to a place where we have a more positive perspective of why these things happen and what they were trying to teach or remind us.  I don’t think enough people stop and consciously think about and appreciate all the positives in their life. Maybe if we did, we wouldn’t need so many reminders.

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Appreciating The Ordinary

love-the-ordinary

Lately, I have been making a special effort to notice and appreciate things that I normally wouldn’t … things that are everyday occurrences that we come to take for granted.  I have also been making an effort to look carefully at things I see so frequently that I often overlook, like all the photographs all over my house.

Last week, I was raking and noticed a tree root partially above ground that had three new green leaves growing from it.  It seemed a little out of place surrounded by a sea of yellow leaves that had already fallen to the ground.  I saw it as being symbolic of so many things … life is constantly evolving and is full of surprises, there is always hope for a new beginning, and so on. The week before that, I sat and watched a beautiful blue jay that was sitting on top of my hedges for a bit calling to other birds.  I found myself wondering what the bird was trying to convey. Sometimes I have discretely observed my kids doing their homework or something else that they do on a regular basis.  In the process, I noticed some things I hadn’t before, like how my one son runs his hands through his hair frequently while doing his homework and that he smiles when he understands what he is doing.  These are just a few of many examples I could share.

It’s too easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life and lose track of what’s really important. Being more mindful of my surroundings has made me feel more appreciative of the little things that I often overlook.  It has also helped me not to be so lost in thought sometimes, which I tend to do.  My thoughts sometimes wander to thinking about the things in my life that I wish could be different than they are now. So not letting my mind wander helps me to be more in the “here and now” and think about all the positive things for which I am grateful.  I recently learned about how being grateful positively affects how well our brains function, which is always a plus!  I will continue to try to be more mindful of my surroundings and be thankful for even the most ordinary things, as it seems to be having a positive impact on me.  I hope you will do the same.

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Nurturing The Good

mind is a garden

It is all too easy to let negative thoughts take over our minds.  They really are like weeds.  They are there, whether we want them to be or not, and they just keep showing up no matter how hard we try to get rid of them.  Like weeds, negative thoughts also have a tendency to easily take over and crowd out all the good.

On the other hand, positive thoughts and memories are more like plants or flowers because we want to appreciate their beauty and relevance to our lives.  But if the plants or flowers do not get the nutrients, sun, and water that they need, then they will not grow.  So there is effort that is necessary to make that happen.  All the positive things in our lives are the same way.  We need to nurture them in whatever way is appropriate. Continue reading

Resilience

resilience 1

Lately I’ve been feeling very resilient, like I’m bouncing back from everything that has ever gone wrong in my life … finally!  I spent many years of feeling like I was in a downward spiral, dealing with a variety of situations and some people dragging me down.  A few years ago, I started feeling like I was making my way back up, slowly but surely.

It all began when I took advantage of a particular volunteer opportunity, which enabled me to feel like I was making an important difference and also surround myself with more people who were giving me positive feedback and positive interactions. Feeling like my contributions were valued and appreciated made a big difference, since I wasn’t getting that at home.  My confidence grew, and my attitude about a lot of things started to change as a result.  I began focusing on any positives for which I could be grateful, finding happiness from within, and doing things for me that made me feel happy and emotionally full.  There were plenty of days that was pretty challenging, but I was always able to find something positive that I could reflect on at the end of the day.  Little by little, I began to feel like things were turning around for me.

Now, things seem to have kicked into high gear and are changing rapidly for the better, partly due to circumstances that have changed and partly due to my improved outlook.  Everything seems to be falling into place.  It took a whole lot of patience and perseverance, but it was worth it to feel like I do now.  I am definitely a stronger person than I was a few years ago and feel like I could bounce back from anything at this point because I am much more willing and able to adjust to changes that are out of my control, make changes myself, and take risks.  My confidence level has something to do with that, too.  I know I need to make life happen the way I want it to, rather than wait for it to happen.

If “a diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well”, then no wonder I feel like I am sparkling sometimes lately.  I certainly have had my fair share of stress!  I haven’t always dealt with it very well, but I am working on that.

I certainly hope anyone reading this either has felt or will feel the same sense of resilience I am feeling right now.  It feels great, especially after having had to wait for so long to experience it.  It started with something small and eventually snowballed. So if you haven’t, find something, anything, that will make you feel a little better about yourself or your environment, even if it involves a little effort to make it happen, and see where it takes you.   And have faith that someday you will look back and be grateful that you fell, so to speak, because you will feel stronger than ever when you get back up.

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Having Hope

hope

It is really difficult to have a positive outlook on life when the negatives seem to outweigh the positives.  That’s where hope comes into play.  Sometimes the smallest amount of hope that something will improve, someone will see the light, something will happen the way I want it to, or someone will change their attitude can pull me through the most challenging of times, even when the chances of those things happening is pretty slim.

It’s so easy to slip into a downward spiral of negativity.  The more negative your thoughts and expectations are, the more negativity you are likely to experience. I have definitely found this to be true in the past where I would be thinking, “What more could go wrong?” while dwelling on all the negative things and people in my life. Invariably, something else would go wrong.  It was like a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way, even though many of the things that happened were completely out of my control.  They probably just seemed worse because I was waiting for them to happen and then would overlook any positives because I was so busy dwelling on the negatives. Continue reading