charting the unexpected

There’s the proverbial,

One day you wake up and everything is different.

For me, it’s more like,

One day I drove home and nothing was the same.

Tonight no one I’ve shared the house with the last years of my life will come home.  I am alone with CJ the beagle.  My son is at college.  My daughter is on a school trip to New York City, having the time of her life.  So tonight I pulled into the driveway, got out of the car, and walked into a house where I alone will dictate what happens here this evening.   Unless of course, CJ the beagle becomes unruly.  Which isn’t out of the question, given her track record.

Life changes whether we like it or not.  People change and there’s often not a thing we can do about it.  And we are left to chart a new course.  Perhaps without a map.  Or with a map that’s been modified.

I’ve learned recently (well maybe I’ve known for a while, but have only had to apply them as of late) there are items I can do to help me.  There are ways to find the right map for my life.  I can even begin to find the road I need to take in order to arrive at a decent destination.

Sometimes these decisions involve risk.  Trying new things.  Meeting new people.  Dealing with the opinions of others.

Here are a few paths that have helped me get on down the road.  Maybe they’ll do the same for you, or at least help you find your your way.

  • 365 Bible Promises   Sure, it might sound a little cheesy and overtly like Christian-ese.  But I’ve found this daily post to be very valuable.  It’s amazing to me how often a certain verse is brought to my mind  multiple times via various venues and people throughout a short period of time.  It’s also very uplifting to be reminded of the promises God specifically gives in scripture.  This is real stuff and it helps, believe me!
  • Talk to people.  Tell them how you feel.  Let them respond.  Don’t keep everything in.  I’ve found people care more than I thought they cared.  And they want me to be healthy and experience joy.  In order to achieve these, I have to be honest, open and real.  Seeking help from friends, counselors and knowledgeable people is a good thing.  Not doing so is not.
  • Establishing routines you enjoy can be positive.  I’ve found on Sunday mornings I like to go to the early service at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Lexington.  I find it pleasant and a good fit for me at this point of my life.  Afterwards, I stop by my neighborhood donut store and get myself and whoever happens to be at my home on Sunday morning a donut.  It’s not costly….rarely over $3.

monarch

  • Likewise, I find allowing myself to step out of the ordinary a positive too.  Last week I attended a lecture on monarch butterflies.  There were over 100 people in attendance, so I’m not alone in my interest.  Now I know how to better attract butterflies to my garden.  I also had some enjoyable humorous moments in the midst of a dreary, cold week, as many of the attendees offered up numerous reasons to laugh.  For example, an older couple felt all the lights in the room should be off during the Power Point presentation.  They weren’t shy about yelling out, “Turn out the lights!” every two minutes until all the lights went out.  Yes, you had to be there, but it was quite funny.
  • It’s alright to paint, write, play music, etc.  Even if you’re not that great.  Even if you’re the only person who enjoys it.  Finding a creative outlet is positive.  Even if you’re processing through your negative emotions while you work.  The best writers and artists explain they use their angst to create beauty and truth.  So why not exemplify the best and follow their lead?
  • Exercise.  Run.  Walk.  Try a new class at the YMCA.  Last Thursday my daughter and I tried a Fitness Boxing class.  We both had a great time.  And we got to wear actual boxing gloves and work out some aggression.  By the time Thursday evening rolls around, who doesn’t have some aggression to burn?  Saturday morning I went to a yoga class.  I haven’t been to one in over three years.  It’s good to breath with focus.  To make a point of relaxation.  To go to bed physically tired.
  • Spend time with those you love and love you back.  I’ve had some great moments this past week watching the Winter Olympics with my daughter.  Saturday afternoon I attended a classical guitar concert with my son, a classical guitarist.   Shared times are precious.  And they get you through the dark hours when you find yourself alone.
  • Don’t be afraid to dream of the future.  Plan.  Make goals.  Consider possibilities.  Last week I began plotting a course that could bring significant changes for me.  I recently caught myself saying I’d go to Poland on a mission trip next year.  Or to Africa.  Or just about anywhere.  I’ve talked about summer plans and the holiday season.  And I’ve talked through my kids’ plans for the next year or so.
  • Be an encourager.  Even if you feel like hell.  Your people still need you.  Whether they’re your kids or your siblings or your friends and coworkers.  Even if you have nothing much to offer.  Say something nice.  Bake someone cookies.  Celebrate other’s victories.  Despite your despair.
  • I find certain quotes, sayings and verses inspiring.  Here’s a few I have found especially helpful, as of late:

what God

be gentle

on particularly

jamie twloha

the truth

  • Lastly, always, always remember, the truth is the truth.  And it will set you free.  You can try, but you simply cannot argue against what’s true.  Thank you Winston Churchill.  God save the Queen.  And all that jazz.

And speaking of truth, recently a close friend told me that sometimes life sucks.  That my friends, is truth.  But she would also tell me, I’m quite sure, that it doesn’t always.  Spring will come.  Whether it seems like it today or not.  There will be trips to beautiful places and concerts filled with beautiful music and meals to eat and cookies to bake.  And people we love will return home from adventures and share their joy.

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