When something nasty happens to you, something inexplicable and horrible, people don’t quite know what to say. If only they just said that. Instead, in an effort to try to say the right thing, they bring out every self-help cliche that comes to mind. I can’t blame them, I’ve certainly pulled out little philosophical jewels from time to time. Some have been helpful, some… not so much. In the last two months, I’ve heard them all. What’s most frustrating to me, is how these cliches so often suggest inertia, karma, the need to throw your hands up into the air and see what happens. I’ve been working way too hard to let that slide. Here’s a few of my favorites.
When God Closes a Door He Opens a Window::” Ummmmm, not so much. Sometimes that window isn’t budging, it’s stuck tight from years and years of inattention. Sometimes, you need, to pull and push and get your toolbox to get that window open. It certainly doesn’t open itself, and no one’s going to open that window for you. You got to put some sweat into it, you got to force that window open.
You’ll Have Time to Work on Yourself Now: If that’s true, what have I been doing all this time? You never stop working on yourself, never stop growing. Whether you’re pursuing a career, or working on your yoga poses, you’re always working on yourself. True, I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last few months. I’ve learned that I’m as pragmatic as I thought I was, tougher than I knew, and braver than I imagined. I’ve been forced to confront the things that make me strong and those that make me vulnerable. But, I’m not really sure that there’s a specific recipe for working on yourself. You wake up in the morning, and figure out how to fill up your day. Sometimes you figure things out along the way, sometimes you don’t. But that’s every day, whether things are going your way or not. I’d hate to think that only people with infinite time are fully realized humans. Don’t use busy-ness as an excuse to not be your best you.
Think of All the Things You Can Do: It’s true. I’ve taught myself how to knit socks, I’ve painted a table, I’ve gardened, I’ve lifted weights, I’ve run a lot. I’ve gone to PTO meetings, and have had lunch with friends, and have drank lots and lots of coffee. But, let me tell you, that does not come easy. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to keep yourself busy. Inertia sets in easily. It would be simple to settle into a “three hours of Today Show habit,” And, if that happened, I’d be in pretty tough shape. I know myself, and I know that I’d be in trouble if I sat still. So, I move, and I make appointments, and I start projects, and I fill up my days, and I keep on reminding myself that I have an unique opportunity and I shouldn’t waste it. And, I just keep on moving forward.
Get Some Fresh Air: This is actually some great advice. Truly nothing makes you feel better than getting outside. Walking Xavier to school or running on the beach or writing a report on the patio was something I never had time for before and I’m cherishing the fresh air.
Early this spring, the boys and I drove by the Arboreteum as the trees were starting to bloom. We stopped and got out of the car, and explored. At the end of our adventure, as we were getting back in the car, Xav said to me, “Mom, we’ve driven by this place every day for the past three years. Why have we never stopped here?” Why indeed. We’ve returned many times this spring, and we always find something new, and we always leave with smiles on our faces.
Things Happen for a Reason: Fine. I’ll take that, but I give you, “Maybe that reason is because there are evil, horrible, selfish people in this world who would like to do bad by people.” I bristle at the thought that some larger power is working towards a final goal that only I’ll realize when the grand plan all comes to fruition. That there’s no fault or responsibility to be ascribed to people. That its just the workings of the world. That all the horrible things that have happened is just a small step in the grand scheme of things, which leads me to my final philosophical musing….
When the World Gives You Lemons, You Make Lemonade: Damn straight. My arm’s sore from all the lemons I’ve been squeezing. But you know what? I’m making the best of it. I’m turning that frown upside down, I’m walking on the sunny side of the street.
And, I’ll tell you what… It’s kinda’ working. I’m happy. I’m relaxed. I’m spending time with the people that are important to me. I’m doing the things I want to do. And, it’s fun. I’m going to the zoo tomorrow with my son’s kindergarten class. I’m making granola bars from scratch. I’m writing… for fun! Who gets to do that?!?!
But, let’s be clear, I’m working really hard to stay positive. I sometimes have a hard time getting to bed, sometimes I still want to cry, and I still miss my community every single day. But, I’m pushing hard to put all that in the past and move forward.
I’m happy and relaxed and fulfilled and at peace because I’m willing myself to be positive. Some days it’s all smoke and mirrors, but I’m faking it ’til I make it. And each day feels better, and things are coming my way, those windows are opening and I’m making lots and lots of lemonade. Come on over, sit on my patio, and I’ll share some with you.