Sorry I bailed on you last week. I thought of you, but ultimately fireworks and my friend's two-month-old stole my attention away. How was your 4th?!
I was so grateful to take a little break from the action and spend a few days in SF. I mostly chilled out with my friend and her little family, but I also had the opportunity to catch up with my other friend, Nan. Nan is a hilarious and outspoken 75-year-old with chronic fatigue syndrome. We first met over 2 years ago, when we both set out for a camping and kayaking trip in Mexico. She was 73 then. And still had CFS. So yes, she's as badass as she sounds.
Nan picked me up and we spent an afternoon sitting in her kitchen eating snacks and pizza and chatting about almost every topic I think there is. I was glad to hear that Nan had finally allowed herself to slow down a bit. Like most of us, she struggles to accept that she can't do it all. It made me think about my post from the week before on vulnerability - why are we programmed to be so strong all the time that we just burn ourselves out and, in some cases, make ourselves sick?
But alas, it all comes back to mindset and how we choose to see things. Nan shared with me the moment that she found acceptance, and explained the perspective shift that happened. She had realized she could sit around and be pissed, believing that her life sucks because she can't do a lot of the things she used to, or she can realize how lucky she is and choose to enjoy her very chill, beautiful, nap-filled life. She can look at the bright side and all the things she can do, instead of focusing on the can't's. Because, as you might have already learned the hard way, being grumpy about your life doesn't change anything, it just makes it less enjoyable.
Despite this inspiring chat, I still came home with a bit of a dark cloud over my head. Getting back into the swing of things and returning to all the tasks I had gleefully ignored during my trip really brought me down. I was choosing to focus on the have-not's, and forgot to realize all the things I love about my life. But, you see, I think this is very easy to do, because we have a bit of an epidemic in our culture. When someone says "how are you?" we almost always focus on the negative, "tired," "stressed," "omg soooo busy." And when someone goes that extra mile to say - hey, that's awesome - in reference to something in your life, we often respond with, "yeah, but..." as if it's too uncomfortable to just agree that we have something super awesome going on for us at the moment. We explain how it's not really deserved, or it's not as good as it seems, or - yeah it's great, but I really wanted...
I'm lucky that my friends snapped me out of this funk, and pointed out how a year ago, I wanted my life to look exactly how it looks now. And how I'm already planting seeds for the next big things I strive for. I remembered that there truly is a silver lining to almost every cloud, if we choose to see it. I'm so grateful for the friends that say - hey, that's awesome - when I forget to acknowledge these things myself.
So what if we spend this week talking about how great things are? What if we take full ownership of the positive things we've created for ourselves, focus on everything that's going well, and let all the rest be sidelined? The magical thing that happens when you start focusing on only the good stuff - perhaps even feeling true gratitude for these parts of your life - is that you get more of it.
Sometimes I forget how well that works.