“Don’t die with your best song still unsung.” ~Anonymous
[While kindness has been and will remain one of the most important lessons of my life—and one I continue to learn daily—lately, I’ve been thinking about other lessons life has taught me. And I’ve become increasingly aware of the lessons that no longer serve and need to be “unlearned.” Like many writers who say they write to find out what they think, writing is how I make sense of my world. Periodically, I plan to explore some of my life lessons here. I invite you to share some of your own.]
I’m finally learning to use and enjoy the things I love—without worrying about whether I might break them, wear them out, or use them up. Growing up, I somehow ingested a notion that special things were to be saved for special occasions:
“We only use those dishes when we have company.”
“Those are your good shoes. You can’t wear them for everyday.”
For years—even long after I was out on my own—I didn’t wear the favorite sweater to go grocery shopping or just around the house. I didn’t serve dinner for only the two of us on the pretty china with the blue flowers, or pour water, lemonade, or wine into the delicate crystal glasses. I refrained from writing in the exquisite hand-sewn journal a dear friend gave me because my scribblings were just too mundane for such a gorgeous book.
But somewhere along the way—finally—it occurred to me that the sweater wasn’t made to spend its life in a drawer, the china and crystal would give us pleasure and maybe even psychologically elevate the quality of my mediocre cooking. And if I didn’t think my writing or my thoughts were worthy of a lovely journal (and a good pen to write with), then what kind of timid, phony writer am I? If I fill it up with my thoughts—however jumbled or humdrum—I can get another. I’m worth it. Continue reading →
“If you can control your behavior when everything around you is out of control, you can model for your children a valuable lesson in patience and understanding…and snatch an opportunity to shape character.” (Jane Clayson Johnson)
When you were a child or adolescent, were there momentous historical events that altered your life and shaped who you ultimately became?
For me, it was the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., and also the war in Vietnam. For my parents, it was the Great Depression and World War II. For other generations, the 9/11 attacks or Hurricane Katrina may have etched permanent impressions.
The noteworthy historical event for today’s children or grandchildren could well be the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ll remember it not just as that year schools closed and we stayed home a lot, but also for the way we as individuals and as a nation responded to adversity.
Will they tell their own children and grandchildren stories of scuffles over toilet paper, of hoarding and profiteering, of finger-pointing at people of different nationalities? Will they recount the politicization of life-saving, common-sense measures? Or will they describe how, even in isolation, people found ways to connect with and support one another? How neighbor checked on neighbor, shared provisions, and made sure that those who were most vulnerable were not overlooked. Continue reading →
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” (Jean Shinoda Bolen)
It’s been two months since the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus to be a worldwide pandemic. By now, disbelief has given way to acceptance and adaptation for most of us. Depending on where you live you may be living under a quarantine or you may be cautiously venturing back into a limited social environment.
Most of us have accepted that our world has changed and the post-pandemic atmosphere is likely to be very different. Just what those differences will be remain a mystery, but it’s a sure bet that some will be devastating and some will be hopeful. That uncertainty is creating a lot of apprehension. I’m finding two concepts that go a long way toward easing COVID-19 anxiety.
I first wrote about querencia back in early 2017. It’s a concept that has become abundantly relevant in these days of fear, isolation, and uncertainty. Continue reading →
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” (Meister Eckhart)
It’s all too easy to overlook gratitude as we rush from one meeting or holiday party to the next, one obligation to another, or when we find ourselves mired in dispiriting stories of social inequity and political corruption. Gratitude is a quiet emotion and ours is a very loud world.
But gratitude is the perfect prescription for when we are feeling the stresses of daily life and overwhelmed by the magnitude of ills befalling our planet. That’s the time to take a healthy dose of gratitude.
Think about the side-effects of gratitude:
It opens us to abundance. When we see how much there is to be thankful for, we also see how much we have. Instead of feeling that we need to acquire more material possessions, or that we need to be more than we are, we see that we have enough and we are enough. Continue reading →