Sometimes It’s the Big Things

I arrived at work just as the sun was rising over the Cascade Mountains. That’s the beauty of my quirky work schedule at this time of year. And yet, I was so focused on my morning work routine that I almost overlooked the peach, yellow and gold that was the sky. It happens every day, right? And the mountains… they’ll always be there.

Stop. That’s what I had to tell myself. Look. Take it in. Don’t ever take it for granted. You are only accorded a finite number of sunrises. And while the mountains may always be there in your lifetime, you may not always be able to see them.

And so I sat down and allowed myself to breathe in the peach and breathe out the gold and appreciate how comforted I’ve always been by mountains. Their size and longevity always makes my worries and concerns seem so trivial by comparison.

May I never forget these things. May I always appreciate the gift that is my life.

May your sunrises be many and your worries be few, dear reader.

Sunrise over the Cascades, by Brad Greenlee

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Thank Your Hands

Last November I fell down a flight of stairs, dislocated my thumb, stupidly popped it back into place on my own with a resounding crunch (I sometimes have a freakishly high threshold of pain), and the result was a nasty case of De Quervain’s Tendonitis in my dominant hand. I was in agony and a wrist brace for a long, long time. I could barely write. I couldn’t lift things. I couldn’t shake hands. Even wiping my own behind became a challenge. I only slept sporadically due to the pain. I shed more than a few tears of frustration.

Recently, though, after several unsuccessful non-invasive attempts to resolve the problem, I finally resorted to surgery. That was a little scary because they had to cut the sheath tendon, which is a bracelet type tendon that keeps all the tendons that radiate down from your hand to your forearm in place. And to cut it, they had to move a nerve bundle, which meant if things went wrong I wouldn’t have feeling in my hand anymore. That’s a rather daunting proposition.

After the surgery I had a hard cast on my wrist and hand for a week. Cooking was difficult. Showering one-handed was not fun. And if I thought I had trouble wiping my butt before…

The good news is that the surgery was a success, and while I’m still healing, most of the time I feel pretty much back to normal. It only took nine months. I will never take my hands for granted again.

You shouldn’t, either. You have no idea how much you use your hands in the course of a day until you can’t anymore. Your hands are the most unsung heroes in your life. They really deserve some appreciation. Maybe some nice lotion or a hand massage. Trust me, it’s the very least you can do.

[Image credit: magichandsbysimon.com]
[Image credit: magichandsbysimon.com]

Have an Awful Day

It’s fascinating how the definition of some words evolves over time to signify the opposite of their original meaning. Awful originally meant “full of awe.” I miss that definition. If we allowed awful to fulfill its original role, people would stop saying awesome. I, for one, would be thrilled, because awesome is a word which annoys me for purely aesthetic reasons, although I admit I have resorted to using it more than once myself.

But as usual, I digress. I would like you, dear reader, to have a day full of awe. Take a moment every once in a while today to come to a complete halt. If you need a reminder to do this thing that is so foreign to your routine, set the alarm on your cell phone if you must, but take the opportunity to let this fast-paced world in which we live swirl around you and past you while you stand still and look around. Become the still point in the turning world. You will be amazed at what you see.

I’m talking about stopping to smell the roses writ large. Appreciate the flowers at your feet, yes, but also the sun on your face and the wind in your hair and the clothes upon your back and the food on your plate. Be grateful for your health if you have it, and your friends and your coworkers and the fact that you get to be here, right here, right now, breathing and living. That’s a very significant accomplishment, and it takes a lot of intricate things falling into place just right in order for it to be possible.

Appreciate the complexity of life. Appreciate the simplicity of life. Realize that graffiti can often be beautiful and even the most irritating situation has something to teach you. Use all five of your senses if you can, and enjoy the fact that you have them.

It would be easy to take the next step and start talking about spirituality and higher powers and all the religious trappings that go with those. But for this moment, this “right here”, just this once, don’t focus on that. Just concentrate on feeling the awe of this amazing gift you’ve been given, without trying to read the return address on the package.

Here’s wishing you a truly, wondrously, spectacularly awful day!

awe_space

[Image credit: magicalthinkingbook.com]

Words of Encouragement and Emotional Support

I was just talking to a friend of mine and she told me a story. When her husband was in hospice, his mother would talk to him on the phone but would never tell him she loved him. In fact, in the 60 years he had been on the planet, she had never told him. Not even once.

One day after one of those phone calls, which the son ended by saying, “I love you, Mom”, and the mother ended by saying “Bye”, my friend went barging into her mother-in-law’s room and said, “What is WRONG with you? Why can’t you tell your own son that you love him?”

She replied, “He knows I love him.”

“No, Mom, actually, he doesn’t. He’s your only child and he’s dying. You should be rocking him in your arms. You should be telling him that you love him. You should be telling him you are proud of him. The fact that you aren’t doing so just shows what a cruel and heartless old shrew you are.”

The woman didn’t say a word. She stayed in her room the rest of the evening and then went to sleep. The next day she woke up and called her son and told him she loved him. And she did so every day for the next several weeks until he finally died. And it meant everything to him. It’s all he had ever wanted from her.

This is not an isolated incident. There are a lot of people out there who think that their actions are enough, that they don’t have to reinforce them with words. Yes, that man’s mother had fed him and clothed him and sent him off to school and made him chicken soup when he had a cold. Yes, those are forms of love. She never neglected his needs and she wasn’t physically abusive toward him, and he turned out to be a good person. Maybe that should be enough.

But why is it so hard to add just one more simple thing to the mix, the one thing that costs not one penny, and takes no physical effort at all? Words of encouragement. Words of support. Confirmation of love.

Here are some words that are worth more than gold, that I, personally, have longed to hear on more than one occasion:

  • I admire you.
  • I have faith in you. Don’t give up.
  • I’m proud of the life that you live.
  • I love you so much.
  • You are my favorite person on earth.
  • You have always been there for me. Thank you.
  • I want to be just like you when I grow up.
  • You are doing a good job.
  • I’m so glad you are a part of my life.
  • Thank you for all you’ve done. I know it hasn’t been easy.
  • I’m a better person for having known you.
  • I think of you often, and I smile.
  • I appreciate all that you do.
  • You can do it.
  • I’m proud to be seen with you.
  • I like your style.
  • You are a good person.
  • I always look forward to seeing you.
  • You mean the world to me.
  • You make a difference in my life.
  • Thank you for everything you’ve taught me. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.

If you just chose one of these phrases a day and said it to someone who is a part of your life, whether it be a friend, a relative, a neighbor or a coworker, it would take less than 3 seconds of your time, but you would see a positive change in your relationships.

So the next time you feel the urge to tease someone or take them for granted, try this instead. The next time you feel the urge to close yourself off or withhold affection, try this instead. The next time you THINK something positive but don’t have the courage to share it, try this instead. The next time you say something nice ABOUT someone but not TO them, try this instead. Think of it as an experiment if you must. It might feel awkward at first, and it may make you feel vulnerable, but it will be the best thing you’ve ever done in your life, and you’ll be amazed at the positive feedback you’ll receive.

You can do it. I have faith in you.

encouragingwords_277

[Image credit: booooooom.com]