Saturday, April 25, 2015

Learning to dance in the rain

Good morning everyone! It’s Saturday morning and here it is just a few minutes after 3:00 a.m., and even though I don’t have to get up to go to work, I’m up and drinking coffee and ready to start the day. Sleep seems to allude me these days and I’ve been struggling to quiet my mind.  One would think that with all the thoughts that keep swirling around in my head that I would be able to write but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I currently have three posts started on three different days this week that I just couldn’t find words to finish.  It’s just a phase in the journey, I suppose, and one of these days things will begin to come together and my thoughts will make sense once again. In the meantime, I’ve been trying to keep myself mentally busy and focus on the blessings at hand, rather than dwell on what could have been.

This week was especially difficult because I had planned to be vacationing this week in a beach-front condo on Fort Myers beach. The trip was a gift to me and Bruce and I were to planning to celebrate his birthday this week there so this week my mind was in a much warmer place. I’m still struggling to understand what went wrong or what God is teaching me from this ‘hard to understand” situation, but I’m trusting that, in time, I will see His hand at work.  Waking up to a blanket full of fresh snow on the ground two days ago certainly didn’t help much, but yesterday it was sunny with bright blue skies and I spent the afternoon going to my first several garage sales of the season. I was also able to be take a friend to the doctor and spend time with him this week as he deals with some medical issues, as well as finish up a lot of work for my two college classes (only have 2 exams left and I’m finished for the semester) so in reality, there has been some good in the week.  Anytime I focus on ‘what could have/should have/what might have been” thoughts instead of what “is’, I find myself in a mentally dangerous place and I have to work hard to remain positive and focused on all the ‘good things” that fill my days, while recognizing my humanity, and allowing myself to feel all the ‘ups and downs” that come with one’s journey.

Anytime we encounter struggles….whatever they may be: illness, financial set-backs, death of a loved one, heartache or disappointment…..even the daily stressors of raising kids, job issues, household repairs, or just a ‘bad day’, it can become even harder to keep focused and motivated to continue on one’s life changing journey. Things that normally would just irritate us can become a big stumbling block or send us spiraling out of control….if we let them.  It is during these times when we may want to go back to old habits, or seek comfort in things, places, or even people that are not good for our mental, emotional, or physical well-being. These are the times, however, when we have to work even harder to stay motivated and keep asking ourselves, ‘what do we want more?”  These are the times when we have to acknowledge that life is filled with both cloudy days and sunny ones…..each necessary for growth….and recognize that life is really a dance….the “Theresa dance” and we often find ourselves taking two steps forward  and one step back.

This dance….is a reality in so many realms of our life but we don’t always recognize it as a dance; rather, we think of it as a set-back or a stumble. Realizing that change often results in a two steps forward, one step back dance is a key to keeping on track. The changing of the seasons does the dance. We had 70 degree weather in Michigan last weekend and I have my new pool up and filled with water: On Thursday morning it was 26 degrees and my pool cover had 2 inches of snow on it! We have a couple of days of warmth when we think spring is here and the daffodils are blooming, and then it’s cold, windy and snowy again and the freezing temperatures are threatening to kill the new buds on trees.  It’s a dance…but eventually this dance will result in the changing of the season and it WILL be warm and green and time for gardening, swimming, and riding my bike.  In the meantime, I have two choices: complain about how cold and miserable it is every other day….or rejoice and be grateful for the sunshine when it does brighten the day.

Dealing with a chronic illness, either in oneself or a loved one, is the same kind of dance.  My Rheumatoid arthritis is like the weather; completely unpredictable and I can go a few weeks without much pain or inflammation, and then without warning, my joints are flared and I struggle to do the simplest tasks.  Those of you that deal with any type of chronic illness yourself or are caregivers for loved ones know this dance very well.  You/your loved one have/has a few good days and then a ‘not so good day” either because of treatment like chemo or an illness like dementia. Even those who struggle with depression know what I mean. Life is a mix of “ups and downs”, good days and “not so good days” but we have two choices: Rejoice and be grateful for the good ones or allow the difficult ones to taint our joy and turn us bitter.

Likewise, grieving a loss of ANY kind….a loved one, a job, a break-up….it doesn’t matter; they all need to be grieved and need time to heal…results in the  same kind of dance. We might make good progress and perhaps even manage to smile or laugh…and then something reminds us of our loss, a special day occurs like a birthday, holiday, or anniversary….and we feel sad and empty. It’s part of the healing process and we have to allow ourselves to grieve, feel, and process the pain….or it will fester inside of us and cause us problems down the road.  It’s a dance….two steps forward; one step back…and even though we may not like this particular dance, we have two choices: be grateful to God for the love that changed us and enriched our lives or be bitter and angry about our loss. Recognizing that time heals can help, but in the meantime, be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to grieve in whatever “healthy” way you need to. Eventually we will be okay and the ‘good days’ will outweigh the bad ones.

Whatever it is about our life that we are working to change involves the “dance.”  We do great with our weight loss and then we have a set-back: two pounds lost; one pound gained.  We stick to our exercise plan; two weeks of exercise; then we lose momentum and motivation.  We manage to build up a bit of savings in our bank account and then we have a major car repair. We make progress in a relationship with a friend or relative and then an argument occurs.  LIFE… a dance……and while we can’t always control or even LIKE the music that it plays, we can be grateful and recognize that as long as we continue to take TWO STEPS forward we are still making progress, even when we take ONE step back.  And besides….even if we don’t like to dance…or aren’t very good at it…..dancing burns calories, right? 

Today…..whether you are feeling like a ‘two steps forward” kind of day….or struggling with a “one step back” moment, to recognize that as long as we don’t continually take “one step back” we are still making progress toward our goal and to remember, we have a choice today to either be grateful for the blessings that are at hand….or be bitter and negative about those things we don’t like, are not happy about…or have little control over.  The sun isn’t even up yet where I live, but I’m going to do my best today to be positive, to be happy, and be grateful…..and try to take a step forward in the “Theresa dance” of life!