As time closes in on the end of January I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the year past.
There have been a lot of years I’ve said good riddance to. But this year I won’t– despite the pandemic, the awful politics, and all the rest– there are many blessings and happy times I don’t wish to forget.
In the midst of distancing I found a lovely prayer group online. Wonderful people who were caring and supportive of each other. Even though I was never able to meet any of them in person, I learned to pray along with them for their families and friends (and mine), and for all the people of the world who are looking for the light at the end of this dark tunnel. I discovered that, in the restricted world of a pandemic, a prayer group lends a great deal of perspective to the narrowness of this new life we have been forced to live. Now that we’re (hopefully) seeing the end in sight, the online prayer group has been stopped and I find that I miss it terribly. Those folks were part of my life for over a year……a lovely warm glow at the end of many evenings. Now I have prayer time alone and remember them– pray for them– wishing them well as the future pulls us forward, each in our own direction.
I’ve had a lot of time to really dig deep within myself and meditate on my dreams and goals for this life. Time to examine the changes I want to make within myself; changes that will inevitably force me to grow and step outside of my comfort zone. Changes that, if I’m strong enough to make them, will lead me to a life lived with an open heart that allows joy to flow in and back out again to envelop others.
In spite of a world embroiled in difficult times, it’s been a year of learning and growing that’s been long overdue, and gave me hope for many more years to come to learn, grow, and love, in good health and with a happy heart. So as I walk the path of life this year, I choose to embrace the good from the past year, and to take what I’ve learned and use it to make positive changes.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. ~Romans 15:13(ESV)
We hear so much about bullying these days. It’s everywhere. In schools, on playgrounds, at work, out in public, and on the internet. It seems that there is no place left where a bully won’t be found. We think we are safe from bullying in our own home (at least when we’re not being cyber-bullied). But I’ll let you in on something…….
I have an Inner Bully. Do you? These days it’s called ‘negative self-talk’. You’ve heard the term? It whispers doubts in my ear constantly. It is scathing and negative and tells me that whatever I try will fail. For decades I’ve scratched and scraped my way in this world in the accepted manner. I worked hard, lived week to week, and focused on staying one step ahead of the bill collectors while pushing my own happiness to the back of the bus, perhaps to enjoy later when there was more time.
The problem is….. later never arrives. There is always something that comes first. Always something that is more important. You know the drill. You do it too. You work all day then you come home and do housework, yard work, go to appointments, battle your budget, get lost in your dreams for brief moments and then push them aside to get those ‘important’ things done first.
Every now and then I have an ‘aha!’ moment. Something I hear or read or see will drive an obvious but overlooked truth home. I was watching an old comedy from 1957 called Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Love those old movies.) At the end of the movie Tony Randall said, “……success is just the art of being happy.” I felt my inner bully cringe. She didn’t want me to know this truth. She knew it would weaken her, maybe even eliminate her. My bully knows that I’ve always measured my success by being able to keep my head above water. Success to me meant self-sufficiency and independence. Dreams never figured into it. Happiness was a by-product of success.
I don’t know that I can really hate my bully though. She has kept me working hard and given me an incredibly strong work ethic. She has prompted me to be competitive and strive for excellence with everything I attempt to do. She is a hard taskmaster who taught me how to keep my nose to the grindstone. Perhaps she is more of a drill sergeant than a bully. Maybe she has to be hard on me to keep me trying. I think I’ll let my Drill Sergeant hang around and keep her firmly in her place as my motivator.
Will this knowledge change any of my habits? I hope so. Already I’m carving out little spots of time to focus on doing things I like while pushing the tasks that can wait to the back of the bus. As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I was a child I didn’t worry about being good at things, I just did them because they made me happy. I’m going to find that little girl again and hold tight to her enthusiasm. Do you have an inner bully that you can turn the tables on and make work for you?
What’s important to you? What do you always make sure to include in your day? If you could have your ultimate dream life what would it look like? Have you taken any steps in that direction?