Balance permeates our lives: we have darkness so we can appreciate light; we have bad so we can appreciate good. But balance is also how we live. And it is sometimes very difficult to attain balance in what we choose.
We are not just a physical presence in this world. We are mind, body, and spirit. It’s important to keep all three in balance. If we focus on strengthening only the body, our minds and spirits will suffer. Focusing only on one or two of these will make the other(s) wither.
There are many ways to keep our bodies and minds active, and it seems we all manage to keep those two going. But what about spirit? What is it and how do we keep it strong?
I am no expert; I can only say what I have learned in my years on this earth. To me, spirit is the very essence of who we are. It is what makes us human. When we neglect our spirit, our body and mind can go downhill quickly. Spirit is a tricky thing, and easy to ignore. We can eat healthy food, stay hydrated, keep our minds active, and yet neglect the spirit.
Where to begin? I try to take time each day to reflect on what I want to accomplish, on what I will do to reach my goal(s) for the day. Some days, one goal is all I can handle! It’s important to have time to yourself, even if it’s only a few minutes. Each of us must decide for ourselves what we need to do to recharge. For me, it’s being in Nature.
I find being outside peaceful and healing. It’s a few minutes without distractions; a few minutes to observe how the ants follow a certain trail; how a hawk flaps its wings to stay in the thermals to soar and conserve energy; or how the ground squirrel pokes her head out of her hole to see if all is clear; to stay still and watch the geckos chirp and chase the bugs that gather around the light on the back porch. It is in these quiet moments that I discovered that geckos have voices, that ground squirrels have a vocabulary of calls, that hummingbirds are really quite noisy!
Some days, I hear my mind going constantly; it’s hard to turn it off. Being in Nature helps me to focus on what’s important to me. There is a beauty in Nature if we take the time to see it.
Abundance. What is it and how can we get it?
Abundance is defined as a very plentiful or more than sufficient quantity; overflowing fullness; affluence or wealth. I like the thought that is is a plentiful or overflowing fullness. We all have an abundance of something. I like to think I have enough of everything.
There was a time when I focused only on what I didn’t have; I was very unhappy. I would look at other people and wish I had what they had, whether it was a new car, a big house, more than enough money, or just plain being happy. Over the years, I came to the realization that I was just making myself miserable by comparing my life to anyone else’s. I used to be resentful when someone else got their dream job, their perfect mate, a beautiful home.
Eventually I realized I was making myself ill with resentment, literally. I suffered severe depression as a young adult.
Over a period of time, I changed my attitude. It didn’t happen overnight; I didn’t wake up one morning with a new way of thinking. And there are still times when I catch myself feeling a little bit jealous. But I have discovered I am genuinely happy when good things happen to my friends. And even though times are hard, I have enough money to pay for what I need. I am content with my life.
I have been called a ‘pollyanna’ by some who don’t understand that a positive attitude can make all the difference to how your day goes. Bad things still happen: I have car problems; things go wrong at work or at home; but I don’t wallow in what I call the ‘why me?’ frame of mind as I once used to do. My car breaks down? At least I have a car. Someone at work does something stupid? At least I have a job. Something breaks down at home? At least I have a place to live.
I have dear friends in my life, a partner to share my life with, and two furry children who make me laugh.
I feel so blessed to have such abundance in my life.
Life is about compromise. I’m not talking about compromise as in giving up your dreams; or settling for less; or lowering your standards. Life is a compromise in the sense that in order to get what you want, some other things must be let go. Maybe you didn’t get into your first choice college, or get your perfect job on the first try, or find the man of your dreams. Often what we think is second best may be the best thing that ever happened to us.
We learn from experience, and some experiences are terrible as we live through them. But we emerge stronger on the other side. I liken it to crawling through a cold, dark tunnel with no light shining through. As I’m crawling through the mind-numbing darkness, a pinpoint of light appears. It encourages me to keep going. Gradually the pinpoint grows bigger, and bigger, until I emerge into the sunlight. After being in the dark for so long, I am blinded at first. But soon I am reveling in the light and warmth.
This is how I see bad times in my life. I have made compromises; I have had to give up some things to get where I wanted to go. I gave up a marriage to finish my education; I gave up a lucrative job to save my soul; I gave up toxic people in my life to save my sanity. This is what I mean by compromise. In none of these cases did I give up my dream, settle for less, or lower my standards.
The art of compromise involves walking a fine line. Sometimes we have to think about the decision; other times it’s a matter of doing what we think is right. What’s the worst that can happen if I give up x to pursue y? What if I forego y and stay with x? Sometimes, I have to follow my intuition, my instinct, and it hasn’t failed me. The biggest problem I have is with what ifs – what if I had stayed where I was? Would I be better off? If I had stayed in a dead marriage instead of leaving and following my dream, would I be where I am now? But what ifs are counter-productive; they serve no purpose. Where I am is a good place. I won’t stay here forever, but for now, this is where I am, and I can only go forward from here; I refuse to go backwards.
It doesn’t seem possible that October is here already. Most people are starting to think about cooler weather, if they don’t have it already. Here in the Southwest desert, we are having cooler weather; highs are only in the low 90s with nighttime lows in the high 60s.
Fall through Spring is my favorite time here; summer’s humidity and storms are behind us and nothing but beautiful weather from now until May!
I do sometimes miss having four seasons; and I sometimes miss green trees and green grass and plants that don’t wilt every day. But I wouldn’t trade living here for any other climate. There are so many different shades of green here in the desert; from the pale yellow green of the Palo Verde to the dark green of firs and pines.
This is what we call our ‘second Spring’. Plants are budding and blooming; butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, and dragonflies are out in abundance. Plants that only bloom during the monsoon are in full bloom; Texas rain sage, ocotillo, and many others.
Our Easter Lily cactus has had only one bloom so far, but I blame that on the move and the stress it went through while we tried to find the perfect spot for it.
But time is moving way too fast! I need to make the most of it while I can!!
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