Some times when I blog I think about how easy it would be for me to present a totally false picture of who I am and what my life is like. And because I tend to be an optimist as well as a person who has put a lot of years and effort into not appearing vulnerable to others, I am always tempted to put a positive spin on anything I write here.
A couple of years ago I kicked and screamed my way into a life circumstance that required, insisted, demanded that I not only accept my own vulnerability but that I live my life without so much effort to hide it. In counseling lingo, this is called congruence: being the same person on the outside that you are on the inside.
The result, for me—I can only speak for myself—has been a giant relief. I am a happier and more relaxed person these days. My ego is in check most of the time—I don’t need to be right, recognized or special. I am not as afraid to cry or have my feelings hurt or let it be known that I sometimes don’t have a clue what I’m doing or why. I can see that I am kinder and gentler to other people. I am a better listener. I understand more what it means to be grateful and alive.
HOWEVER: there are mornings when I wake up and don’t know if I’m happy or sad. There are times when I’m re-evaluating my choices and options over and over again. And there are times when fear freezes me shut and my insecurities scream at me that I am a lousy counselor, that I will never be a real writer or a loving partner and mother and friend, or for that matter, a worthy person. There are moments when I am clueless, afraid, consumed, confused, lost, selfish, and pathetic.
With the start of a new year, I’m prone to take a deeper look inside and hope that I can and will navigate my life honorably and purposefully. I am clearly a fortunate person: I live in a free country, I have comfortable means, I love deeply and am loved back, I have a career, I know about wonder and grace, and I don't often overlook the miracle of sunrises and sunsets, flying geese, and, now even, petrichor.
With all these thoughts in my head this week, I arrive at my mother's, who is soon to be 91, who lives in the house my father and his father built with their own hands. My weekly visits have become harder for me because my mother is failing. Her memory is less every time I see her and she has recently begun to say aloud that “something just doesn’t feel right”. She is determined to stay in this little Cape Cod house for the rest of her life, and I am trying to help pull this off for her.
So the context of all of this, as I’m gathering and dealing with the weekly bills and paperwork that accumulate on my mother’s kitchen table, I come across a hokey little inspirational flyer sent to her by the hearing aid company where she just purchased, and just as quickly misplaced, her new hearing aids.
I’m ready to throw this hokey little flyer away as I skim it. But I don’t throw it away. I have it in front of me right now because it says things, even hokey things, that I know are true—things that make a difference in how my days go and when and whether I am content.
I imagine this little flyer, entitled “Natural Highs”, was written for older people. But because it ding-a-ling-rings true for me, and because I know from my own experience that life is not always easy or understandable, even when everything seems to be ok, I am sharing it with you too. Perhaps, like me, it may help you appreciate what really matters when you most need to know that:
Laughing so hard your face hurts
Seeing a rainbow
A hot shower
Falling in love
A special glance
Finding no lines at your favorite place to shop
Getting personal mail/email
Ice cream on a hot day in the shade
Taking a ride on back roads
Hearing your favorite song
Lying in bed listening to the rain outside
Hot towels out of the dryer
Finding that special item you want on sale for half price
Having a child tell you that you are awesome
A good conversation
Receiving a letter or a care package
Finding a $ 20 bill in your coat from last winter
Overhearing someone say something nice about you
Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours to sleep
Receiving home-made baked goods from someone
A back rub
Finishing a great book or movie
Getting invited somewhere special
Laughing at an inside joke
I could add another dozen or more experiences or events that make me take notice that I am happy. I’ll bet you could too. Please add any you'd like! All I can say is I think it’s a good good thing to seek out and have as many “natural highs” in life as possible. Sometimes you just have to notice and there they are. Sometimes they don’t take away my tears or questions, but they do remind me that perhaps life at its core is actually very simple……………