Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A Work in Progress - A Rule Of Threes

Look:  I'm a work in progress just like everyone else.

I want to lead a healthier lifestyle, but I still say "Yes, please" to a slice of chocolate cake.

I want to be more frugal, but then I splurge on extras at the fabric store.

I want to slow down but, instead, I take on more work.

I want to simplify, but I resist letting go of things.

I spend a lot of time feeling disappointed with myself for not doing a better job of attaining my goals.

I have learned something along the way though:  I do better at moving forward if I can break my big, grand, I-want-to-be-better-at-everything goals down into a series of smaller, more attainable ones.

With that in mind, I'm working these days on a rule of threes:  Three simple goals, each broken down into three smaller things.

Morning and evening I pause to list at least three things I'm grateful for.

Each day I remove or discard at least three items from my home.

Each day I make a "to do" list of only three items.  One chore at home, one chore at work, and one creative project.

The list has been the greatest challenge.  There are so many things that demand my attention each day it's hard choose just a few. (I'm sure the same is true for you.)  It's a valuable lesson, though, because it requires that I set priorities.

The great thing about this rule of threes business is that it's a place of beginning, not one of limitations.  It's okay to do more:  To be thankful for more things, to get rid of more things, to accomplish more things than I have on my list.

I do that almost every day.

On few days when I accomplish only my three things, though, and not any extra, I still feel okay about it.  I've reached my goal without falling short.  And I've accomplished that goal day, after day, after day.

And THAT'S a good feeling.

Really, really good.

Because I am a work in progress

but at least I am progressing.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Thirty-Three Years

Today is our wedding anniversary: 33 years.

When I look at my wedding pictures, I seem impossibly young.

I was 23 when I married my fella.  He was 42.  A golden anniversary may not be a likelihood for us, but I think we've done quite well, don't you?  A marriage of more than 30 years is not so commonplace any more.

I've thought a lot about what to say here about our years together.

It would be dishonest to say they've all been good.

We had a tough time adjusting to one another at first.  My stubbornness and independence didn't mix well with his one-generation-older views about marriage. But we bumped along, frequently clashing, and somehow made it through to the next part.

My fella worked on a ship and was away from home for weeks at a time.  My independence worked to my advantage during those absences, but it wasn't always easy to adjust to one another again when he came home again.

Departures posed their own set of challenges and anxieties, often marked by fiery clashes between the two of us.

There have been illnesses and hardships.

There has been deep sadness and great joy.

Some years we grew together, other years apart.

There were long periods of time when we really didn't like each other.

Sometimes it seemed the only thing that held us together was the fact that marriage is not just about emotion; it's a business partnership too.  The financial consequences of separation kept us together when emotional strife might have torn us asunder.

There have been good times, too: lots and lots of them.

Times so joyous that it seemed my heart would burst from the sheer magnitude of it.

Moments so tender they made me cry.

Struggles surmounted and discoveries made together, trips taken and stories told, company kept and grand-babies to hold.

So, so good all of that, that in the end it outweighed the bad stuff, making it all worthwhile.

So what can I say about our years together?

That life is hard and times are often difficult.

That when things are bad they can seem very bad indeed.

That the bad years may well outnumber the good but, for me at least, it's been more than worth it to tough it out.

Because, when the good times are so very good, love's light can illuminate even our darkest hours.

Turns out Will Shakespeare had it right:

Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved, 
I never writ, nor no (wo)man ever loved. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Making the Best of Things

The internet is a lot like the humans who created it and now help it grow.  There's good stuff and bad. There's personal stuff and business stuff and hard stuff and fun stuff.  There's encouragement and hope.  There's cynicism and unkindness.  There's a sea of information, on any subject a person could imagine.

The internet is vast and expanding at an exponential rate, as fast as our thoughts, and ideas, and causes can carry it.

Everything I might say or do or think or know or imagine or share has already been said or done or thought or known or imagined or shared by someone else.  Within the vast universe of binary code that is the internet, the zeros and ones that encode the small amount I write are less significant than even a single speck of dust within the big, wide physical universe around us.

It was that thought that caused me to step back from blogging. If it's all be said or done or created or thought about and discussed, what's the point in saying anything at all?  I needed to take a break from all this on line stuff and re-engage with the real life world around me, and to restore my sense of proportion.

During my quiet months, something new occurred to me:

With so much information available to us, what really becomes important is not what is said or shared, but the intention behind the act of saying or sharing it.

I know, I know:  It's been thought, and said and written before.  

The newness (to me) in this idea comes in its application to my writing.  I'm returning to blogging because, although nothing I may say is new or revolutionary, I'm saying it out of my belief in the importance of positive thought, compassionate listening, and encouraging speech.

Actions taken or words spoken out of anger, hate, bitterness, or envy bring anger, hate, bitterness, or envy in return.  Negativity feeds on negativity.

Actions taken or words spoken out of hope, compassion, inspiration, or gratitude, bring positive change in return.  

We can't always control our circumstances, but we can control our responses to them and, in sharing positive thoughts and actions, we offer encouragement and inspiration to others along the way.

There are lots and lots of ways to make the best of our circumstances:

  • We can live frugally, making the best of our resources.
  • We can live respectfully, seeing the best in others and in our environment, and honouring what they have to share.
  • We can live gratefully, being thankful of the many "bests" each day has to offer us.
  • We can live pragmatically, accepting that there are some things we cannot change and seeking the best way to live within those circumstances.
  • We can be dreamers.  There are always things we can make better or grow into.  
  • We can practice empathy, striving to understand what others are experiencing and accepting that their "best" may be different from our own.
  • We can act with kindness and compassion, helping to bring out the best in ourselves and in those around us.

Making the best of things really does make things better  

and, while I know that none of us are at our best every moment of any day, we can all benefit from making a conscious effort to adopt a "making the best of it" attitude.

That's why I'm blogging again.