If you ever want to silence someone in a funk, ask him or her to list the things they are thankful for. Then maybe step aside so you don’t get doused with whatever coffee is left in their cup. It’s hard to snap out of a nice, comfortable grouch-fest and rummage around in your cluttered brain, looking for shiny pieces of positivity. I know. Last week, I mentioned Pants Pocket Good Things – small, ordinary, lint-ball sized bits of goodness that are often missed. It’s a knack, being able to recognize them, and I find that it requires constant practice. I find myself falling into the trap of thinking that little blessings don’t count. The problem is, life is mostly small stuff. If you develop the habit of overlooking the positive minutiae and zooming in on irritants, you’re going to be convinced that you have a crappy life. And in fact, what you have is simply a life.
Here, let me show you: this week, I’ve been stricken with a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome. In both hands. I’m basically a lobster with poor grip strength. The degree of suckitude is monumental. And yet, and yet, and yet . . . despite the achiness and inconvenience and frustration, I find scattered throughout this mess little bits of light. OK, and maybe one big one, which is that I’ve been bonked over the head with empathy. That’s often how it works with me – sometimes I learn empathy over time, other times it falls on my head like an anvil in a Roadrunner cartoon. I take care of my mother who is 83. She beat the hell out of colon cancer, but as a result of chemo, she sustained nerve damage in her hands. There are many things she can’t or shouldn’t do, but it’s hard to get her to ask for help. This is a huge frustration to me as a caregiver because try though I might, I have not yet manifested psychic abilities. We’re constantly admonishing her not to do things that are too difficult or dangerous, and to let us help. Turns out I, um, might have inherited this stubborn tendency to do for myself. After my tenth scolding for trying to do something foolhardy like open a peanut butter jar or lift something heavy because it just didn’t occur to me that I shouldn’t (and also I do what I WANT), I got it. I am my mom. It’s not easy to recognize that you need help and it’s terrible having to ask for help. Who knew it was so hard to just let yourself be loved and cared for?
3 Things That Were Good:
1. My tiny pod office is furnished! I sit in there with my achy lobster hands and dictation software (because pretty much that’s how I have to write these days) and I am overwhelmed with gratitude and peace. Here, have a tour:
2. Trader Joe’s Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate. Holy deliciousness, Batman! I’ve been making iced coffees with it all week and the flavor is amazingly rich. Go get some. You won’t be sorry.
3. Kathy Mattea’s cover of Crystal Gayle’s “Where Have You Been.” I love to tease my husband about his love of horrifically sad country songs. “I don’t get it! Why would you listen to this misery? How about you just kick me in the shins and then we listen to a happy song?” But this past week, in my Internet travels, I came across this song and I remembered that I, too, used to love sad country songs when I was a child! I couldn’t wait to play it for my beloved. We listened to it together and cried, just as I had when I was a little girl – I dunno, I was a weird kid who liked cathartic sobbing – and it was very sweet. If you need a good ugly-cry, I highly recommend this.
2 Things I Did Well:
1. I used my words.
2. I asked for help. Did I always do this with good grace? No. Did my children resort to watching me like guard dogs lest I attempt to assemble IKEA furniture when no one was looking? Yes. Still, I found the edges of my limitations and after hurling myself against them, I asked for help. And I got it, because I am loved, in all my stubborn, unruly glory.
1 Thing I Am Looking Forward To:
Halloween is finally falling on a Friday! This makes me absurdly happy.
What is your Joyful Meditation this week?