Thursday, January 15, 2009

Time to Whine?

I try not to complain. It doesn't feel very good to focus on things that I'm not happy about. Instead, I try to find something enjoyable or pleasant to think about. This time of year (mid January) seems to be prime time for many folks to focus on complaining....and in some cases, even whining. It can be challenging for some to stay positive.

We are in the midst of a cold snap, with temperatures near zero. We have also had quite a bit of snow lately. The days are short and nights are long. The roads are icy or snow covered. Parking lots are lumpy with ice chunks and hard to walk or push your grocery cart to your car. Windshields are iced. I can go on here, but I think you get the picture.

As I was out and about today I came into contact with several people that were listing all that they don't like about this time of year. It did not affect me negatively since I stayed around only long enough to hear the top complaint, the winter weather. As I walked away amused, I thought it was interesting how much energy many of us put into complaining about that which we cannot change. What adds to this interest is that we chose to live in Northern Pennsylvania where we have long winters with snow and ice. It's January and that is expected. Although these elements of winter are normal, expected, and typically occur every year, there is still resistance.

My suggestion is to find something about winter (or whatever your complaint is about) that you enjoy. I love looking at the snow hanging on the boughs of the pine trees in my backyard. I love to make soups and breads. Snuggling under my favorite soft blanket and watching movies, or reading a book are also special for me. I love sitting by the fireplace and sipping my wine. I am so grateful for the warmth of my house when it's so cold outside. I'm grateful for my YakTrax that keep me from slipping on the ice on my morning walks.

Since we have a few more months of potential winter weather, it seems a bit premature to whine. Now, if it there is ice and snow on the ground in April, then maybe whining would be in order....although it would still not change a thing....except your disposition.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Life Assessment Based on JOY

I recently read that two Egyptian life assessment questions asked at the end of life are " Did you find joy?.....Did you bring joy?"

Can you imagine if we all held ourselves accountable to these questions and lived our lives so they would be true? What would it take for us to be able to answer yes to both?

I imagine, first of all, it would take awareness to find joy. We would have to be aware of how we felt, which would then lead us to the cause of our feelings. Once we were aware of our feelings and that which created those feelings, we would note if there was any joy present in that equation. Hopefully, if we got that far we would then have the presence of mind to know how to connect with joy more strongly.

Now with the bringing joy assessment, we would need to notice what our impact is on other people. We'd be paying attention to how people respond to us and if our impact was positive or negative. We would see that kindness, love, acceptance, patience and understanding create joy.

What I find to be true is when one piece of this joyful equation is present, the other is as well. Think about it.....when you are absolutely filled to the brim of your joy tank, how do people respond to you? Have you ever noticed that your joy spills over and washes over others? If they happened to be open to receive your joy, they too will be filled.

If your life is joyless and your focus is one of condemnation, anger, resentment, judgment and fear, then bringing joy will not likely be a result.

Of course, we may occasionally have a day void of joy. We may forget that joy lives within and we may spend our time looking outside of ourselves to find it. If this vital step in our process is remembered repeatedly, I assure you that your assessment at the end of life would be a resounding YES to both questions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Greeting the Goblin

I have a very active dream life (both nighttime and daytime). My dreams are a high level source of entertainment for me, as well as those that know me well. Last night I had a good one, that as usual, had some hidden meaning for me.

In my dream, it was a very dark night and I was walking up Queen St. (a side street in my town) all alone, as I saw a figure coming towards me. At first I couldn't make out what or who it was in the dark. As I got closer, I could make out a head that looked like a Jack-O-Lantern with a frowned look on its face. It had some sort of dirty fabric that flowed beneath the head that eerily moved in the breeze. This goblin had no legs and just kind of floated. I have never seen a goblin and I have no idea why this particular looking one made a guest appearance in my dream, although the message to me was clear.

As I got closer I moved to my left so he could pass. I wasn't at all afraid by the sight of this nighttime walker. As we passed, I said cheerily, "Hi"! The Goblin frowned, apparently surprised and disappointed I didn't shriek with fright. I could barely hear, his "hello", muttered underneath his breath, as he passed me. We both continued on our way, neither of us looking back.

Just in case the deep meaning that springs from my sub-conscious is not clear to you, what I believe the Goblin signified was anything potentially scary.....all that lurks in the domain of the spooky unknown. What delighted me was I met what was on my life path with a friendly greeting. I was more curious and interested in this Goblin than I was fearful. I also did not judge him as bad or ugly.

In the end, I just kept going, not looking back to see if the Goblin was chasing me. I woke up feeling rested and amused by my Goblin encounter.

I wonder if this dream is expressing the progress I've made of practicing being conscious when I'm awake. Makes sense to me....I wonder what I may discover in my dreams tonight. Bring em on.....I'm ready!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Positive Thought= Positive Outcome

My friend and neighbor, Marian, recently sustained a displaced fracture of the proximal humerus (just below the shoulder). I saw her X-Rays and saw that the break was not a simple one. In fact, it required surgery with a plate and screw fixation. From my 21 years in the world of Orthopedics, I know how painful and debilitating this fracture can be.

Marian had just returned home from the Boston area where her injury occurred. When I received the news I made a house call to see if she needed any private duty nursing. I expected to find her in pain and restricted to her recliner chair. Instead, she greeted me at the door with a big smile and warm welcome. If her right arm wasn't in a sling, I wouldn't have guessed she had just been through the physical challenges she had recently endured.

A few days later, after being evaluated by the local Orthopod, she underwent surgery with a plate and screw fixation of the fracture. Two days later, I returned once again to give any assistance that might be needed and discovered her this time, playing the piano with her left hand. There was no outward sign of pain or suffering.

Marian had every right to be zoned out on analgesics. Many people would not only be suffering from the physical discomfort, but also from the emotional pain of having your life's activities modified dramatically. Instead, Marian is somehow staying positive through it all and is her usual gracious self.

Granted....Marian is naturally positive. Her nickname as a child was "Happy". Her spiritual muscle of allowing "what is" and being grateful, even when the normal life routine is uprooted, is what I believe keeps her in a state of well being.

So far all is well with Marian's progress. In fact, it is better than well. I have no doubt she will move over each hurdle with the same grace she has thus far. She will be back playing the piano with two hands before long and will eventually be jumping back into all of her usual activities with both feet.

Having had the experience of taking care of countless patients with the same injury, my appreciation and inspiration from Marian's attitude reinforces, once again, that thought creates your experience. Marian is making hers as pleasant as possible.