The other day I took a walk in our local park to stretch my legs, breathe the fragrant springtime air and think. I’ve had writer’s block for awhile and I’m not sure why. Are my negative feelings about the world affecting my belief that a kinder, joyful life is possible?
Looking up at the cloudless sky I realized how long it’s been since I could breathe – fully breathe- without illness or the news standing in my way. They’ve been strangling me for so long I thought I’d never recover.
Then I heard the laughter of schoolboys playing soccer on the ball field. I watched young children running on the playground. My heart soared as the sounds brought me back to my childhood when I spent countless magical hours playing at our local park.
I’ve lived through enough adversity to know that life is full of challenges. External events are sometimes beyond our control. The lessons and relationships from my formative years grounds me in ways I never imagined. They help me survive.
I unlocked my writer’s block that day at the park when I realized I wasn’t maintaining tighter control over my thoughts. I was allowing what wasn’t in my control to throw me off balance. My thoughts were derailing me by allowing fear, anxiety and anger make me physically and emotionally ill.
When we feel this way we need to get back on the horse by grabbing the reins on what we think, say and do. Give yourself a break from the news, stay active to keep your mind busy, and don’t dwell on the negative. Focus on what matters to you and never lose sight of it.
Take control. Don’t allow anyone or anything to loosen your grip.
Walking in nature. Meditation. Journaling. Chatting with dear ones. Setting aside ME time.
I bet you wish you had a quarter for every time I make a list of what helps me stay positive and strong. I repeat them because they work. And because I hope you’ll look for what works for you.
As responsible citizens of the universe we need to keep peace in our hearts and be kind to each other. Divisiveness is eroding our humanity, and our core values of decency and fair mindedness should propel us to speak out for what is right and honest.
To do nothing is to be complicit with those who seek to do us harm. We can’t allow this to happen.
As Thomas Paine said, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
I find comfort in words from extraordinary books, quotes and tales of strength. They are reliable friends.
While searching for stories of comfort for this post I came across four that touched my heart. They reminded me, once again, that there is more good than evil in the world:
- When Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine in 1952 he refused to patent the invention. He wanted to keep the cost low. It would have meant 7 billion dollars for him, but instead he choose to save as many lives as possible.
- There was a man in the UK, Daniel Black, who was left paralyzed after a bicycle accident. He began raising money for a revolutionary operation that would enable him to walk. One day he read about Brecon Vaughan, a young boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy and unable to walk. Daniel gave all of his donations to Brecon to be used for surgery that’d allow Brecon to walk again. Today Brecon is a typical little boy running and enjoying life, thanks to the kindness of a stranger named Daniel Black.
- There’s a story I’ve read several times about Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood). He once invited his limo driver into a dinner he was having with TV executives rather than letting the man wait outside. On the way home Rogers sat in the front seat so he could chat with his new friend. The driver pointed out they’d be driving past his house, and Mr. Rogers asked to meet his family. From then on Rogers attended parties at the house, even entertaining guests by playing jazz piano. When the driver was diagnosed with AIDS Mr. Rogers kept in touch. They never forgot each other.
- “If we’re destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there’s got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” ~Ellen DeGeneres
I’m back and I’m writing again by opening my heart to you. I still believe that finding joy is possible despite any inevitable challenges. It may not be easy to find, but it’s the most important work we can do for ourselves.
There will always be obstacles waiting to stand in our way. They can come in the guise of illness or news of the day. They can come from loss of all kinds. But we were born with the right to live a happy, peaceful life. What will you do to live yours?