Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Journey

Life is not a plateau of happiness that you reach after a certain amount of time. It is more like a mountain range: full of peaks, valleys, rain, beautiful views, and dangerous terrain. Once you have reached the top, there are a neverending series of paths on which to continue. Up and down until our final day.

Today I have found myself in a valley. It is dark, cold, and rainy. My boots are wet and I have blisters on my feet. I keep thinking "Why can't it be sunny?", "Where are all the beautiful views?", and "Why have I lost my hiking partner?". Does this mean that I give up? Where would I go? No matter how I perceive my situation at the moment, it is, nonetheless, my situation. Do I lye in the mud and weep? Maybe for a moment. Then I have to force myself up, figure out a way to build a fire and shelter, dry off my boots and socks, and feel hopeful that the rain will eventually let up. It always does after all.

Tomorrow just might be sunny. I could be only a few steps from an amazing view that will inspire and uplift me. I will surely meet other hikers, known and unknown, and we will laugh together on our shared path.

In accepting where we are on our journey, in any given moment, we find an inner resilience and strength to continue. Life is not about bouncing around on clouds with a perma-smile. It is about getting up, standing tall, and hiking on.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


The up and down emotions I have experienced over the last 6 months have been stressful and tiring to say the least. One moment feeling ok and the next feeling like I am stuck at the bottom of a dark, stinky pond. The key, I have found, to pulling myself out of said stank-pond, is gratitude. Simple and yet completely profound.

I have always known this intellectually: Focus on the negative and you feel more negative; focus on the positive and voila, but I have never deeply integrated it into my life. Over the last 6 months, I finally have. When I am sinking, gratitude can pull me back up to the surface quicker than anything else. Not to say it works every time and not to say I don't need to experience the darker emotions as well. I just don't need to dwell on the dark emotions for long periods of time, especially given my family history.

We all have something for which to be grateful. Your warm bed, hot water, the look on your dog's face, your amazing body, your job, the people in your life, sunshine, rain, garbage men, electricity, lotion, your children, safety, music, coffee...I could go on and on. Start with the easy stuff and it becomes a snowball effect. Before you know it you become grateful for your grumpy neighbor because he taught you a lesson about patience or the morning traffic because it allowed you to listen to one more good tune on your way to work. Even in the midst of struggle and loss, there are so many things for which to be grateful.

Wake up in the morning and, instead of dreading your day or focusing on what is missing in your life, start a list in your head of all that is present and might help this process! I guarantee it will change your life, if only for the moment, which is really all we have.