Time to thank the naysayers

If you’ve ever had someone doubt you or your will to get something done, you know how deflating that can be.

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve had a lot of people question things that I’ve wanted to do… and even had some people try to talk me out of things because… “there’s no way you would ever be able to do that.” And every once in a while, I would talk to authority figures who would advise me to “set [my] sights a little lower.”

One example… when I was a reporter in Tennessee, I wanted to get to Washington state to be with my then-fiance. He was in Seattle, which– at the time— was the 13th largest TV market in the country.

Well, the place I was coming from— Knoxville— was ranked 65th. That was quite a jump, especially for someone who had only been reporting for about a year. So I applied for a reporting position in a much “safer” sized market: Spokane. Spokane was actually about #80 or so… so I would be heading in the “wrong” direction in terms of market size— but I knew my chances of getting a job there were much better than finding one in Seattle. And there was the added benefit of it being a lot closer to Seattle than Knoxville.

So. I sent my resume and my tape to TV stations in Spokane. I didn’t hear back at all from two of them. The third one sent my tape back with a letter saying, “You are not really ready for this sized market.” Mind you, they KNEW I was already in Knoxville— not sure if they realized it was a bigger market than Spokane— but whatever.

Anyway….. less than a year later, I was reporting at the ABC affiliate in Seattle. And had to smile a bit when I once did a live satellite shot for the station that had snubbed me in #80 Spokane— while I was working in market #13. I’m sure they didn’t remember me, but still— it felt pretty good.

It’s important to mention that I wasn’t originally hired by the Seattle station to report. They needed writers, so I sent in my resume and they hired me for a writing position. About three months into the job, they lost two reporters and were a bit desperate— so desperate that they turned to me and said, “don’t you have some reporting experience?” (I’m not too proud to admit that I really WASN’T ready for a top-20 market at that point, but I worked at it and got better as time went on).

Regarding harsh criticism: it’s taken me a while to get to this point, but eventually I realized that naysayers actually make me work twice as hard to get things that I want— in large part because I want to prove them wrong. 😉

So I am being completely serious when I say THANK YOU to all of the naysayers in my life. You all helped to light a fire under my rear.

 

Fear, "frauds," and friends

A young friend recently told me he felt like a fraud because he was being strong for the people around him when he felt terrified inside. I assured him that he was not a fraud. In fact, what he’s experiencing is LIFE. There’s a reason that one of the bestselling self-help books out there is called, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.” A big part of life is experiencing intense emotions, acknowledging those emotions, and choosing to move forward… in spite of what you’re feeling.

In my opinion, you need to take a balanced approach, though. That can make the difference between simply going through the motions of life day after day after day… which can ultimately be dangerous… or using your current horrible situation as a springboard to another level. An emotional breakthrough, of sorts.

I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, I want to talk about something that dawned on me as I was trying to reassure my friend.

I realized that those of us who’ve come to this conclusion are not doing younger people any favors by keeping this type of knowledge to ourselves. I remember when I was around his age, I thought I was truly crazy for feeling sad, angry, and depressed about certain things. Everyone else seemed to have his/her act together— what in the world was wrong with me? I was able to keep the panic at bay for the most part— but there were a couple of times when I headed into work and had to stay in my car for a half-hour before walking in the door. I later realized I was having panic attacks (to the point where I would be hyperventilating). I managed to compose myself enough to get through the door and start working… but the whole time, I felt like a fraud. What in the world was I doing trying to “fake” my way through the day? Why was I even there?

(Meanwhile, it didn’t ever occur to me to think that everyone else around me thought that *I* was the one who had my act together.)

It wasn’t until later I realized I was not in the minority when it came to putting on that smile even though I felt more like fleeing. And that was a liberating experience for me. So I was glad that I could share this with my young friend.

At some point in all of our lives, we have intense emotions that threaten to overwhelm us. Going back to one of my other tenets of life: what happens next is up to us.

Some people let the emotions eat them up and do nothing.

Others acknowledge those emotions and do whatever they can to work through it. Part of that involves taking the action of moving forward even when we don’t feel like moving forward. And IMO, taking that step is quite courageous. I believe that by taking that step— even if it feels “fake”— you are starting the process of conquering whatever that emotion is. Moving forward is a sign you are refusing to let it get the best of you.

But— IMO— you can’t leave it at that.

If you continue to move forward pretending that nothing is wrong, and keep putting on a brave face without taking any actual steps to work through those emotions, they will eventually eat you up. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away… and in many cases it even makes things worse, because it continues to simmer below the surface until it reaches a boil.

This is where the balance part comes in.

It only makes sense that if you feel off-kilter, you should look for support to help you regain your balance. Thinking of it in a literal sense, people who break a leg find a cane or some other outside source of support to help them stay steady while their leg heals. Turning to outside support to help you stay steady while trying to heal an emotional hurt is no different.

No one is an island. In my experience it is ESSENTIAL that you confide in someone as you go through a really tough time. Whether it be a very close friend or relative, a mentor, a therapist… etc. You should never try to face intense emotions alone. At the very least, you will most likely find someone who has experienced the same thing before and will let you know that you are not alone.

And in some instances, turning to someone with a different perspective might lead to something you didn’t really think of before… or introduce a way to heal that you hadn’t considered.

Going back to my work situation all those years ago, a couple of my mentors knew what was going on. And they are the ones who kept me sane during the process. One of them really caused me to see the root of my issue, which helped me eventually determine that I needed to move away from a certain workplace. It was a tough (and risky) decision at the time, but— it was definitely the RIGHT decision (I can’t stress just how much it was the right decision— perhaps I’ll write about it in a later post).

Another thing that happened — I had an incredible boost in self-confidence. A result of realizing that I had the power to continue on with my life while facing my fears. I didn’t let it paralyze me. But I didn’t let it fester either. And I’m convinced I never would have been able to do so without support.

An important final note: if it’s something that’s really overwhelming you, consider seeking professional guidance. Some people have placed a stigma on seeking professional counseling… but I know so many people who have benefited from it. The right counselor will not only help you get through a tough time— he/she can help you eventually thrive.

Another important note: In the interest of making sure I don’t set myself up as an authority on this issue, please recognize that I have NO professional training whatsoever when it comes guiding other people. This (and every other blog entry for that matter) is solely my opinion. This is what I’ve determined works for me— after YEARS of trial and error.

 

Need to Vent

Sally: What are you saying? I should get married to someone right away in case he’s about to die? 
Alice:
 At least you could say you were married.
~~ When Harry Met Sally

I know that I’m usually about joy and good news and happiness and harmony— but please allow me to vent for just a moment— because this is driving me CRAZY.

I have not one, but two girlfriends who are planning to get married in the next year.

Normally I would be blissfully happy for them. I would be jumping up and down with joy. I think love between two people is a very beautiful thing, and I hope everyone on the planet has a chance to experience it in their lifetime. 🙂

The problem is, neither of these women are sure if they are experiencing it. When you ask them about getting married, instead of talking about how happy they are and how much they love their partners… they focus their conversations around, “I’m getting to the age where….”

You can fill in the blank after that phrase. So far the ones I’ve heard the most (among other things) are: “….I’m sick of dating,” or “…I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone.”

I’m not trying to be judgmental. It just pains me, because the more I hear about their relationships, the more I feel they are selling themselves short. So— you’ve found someone to spend the rest of your life with. Now you have a date for weddings and parties. You have someone to go to concerts with. You have someone to go out to dinner with every Friday night. But are you happy? I mean, truly happy?

If you were to eliminate the other situations above (going to weddings, concerts, etc.)… and say, found yourself alone on a desert island with this person for the rest of your life—with no way of communicating with anyone else ever— how would you feel?

OK, that situation is a little extreme. But I am certain in at least one of these cases, my friend would cringe at the thought of spending the rest of her life alone with her fiance. And IMHO, that doesn’t seem like a good sign.

Everyone deserves happiness. If you are planning to spend the rest of your life with someone, don’t you also want to be happy?

Based on some of the stories I know about happy couples who met later in life, they seem to have something in common. They all eventually reached a point where they decided they were most likely going to end up alone for the rest of their lives. And soon after they came to that conclusion, they found their soulmate.

I’m not saying that once you resolve to be alone the Heavens will part and you will automatically find your soulmate. But I do think that once you become comfortable with the fact that you could be alone, you stop trying to force relationships to work. In other words, you don’t spend as much time with people you “think” you could be with… and that frees you up to find the person you KNOW you want to be with.

Not sure if I’m making sense here. I must admit that I’m writing this in a bit of a fog right now because of a conversation I just had tonight with one of my gf’s. It was very frustrating… because she just kept telling me that she didn’t have any other options in life (“it’s not like guys are lining up around the block to marry me”). 😦

If I could have reached through the phone I would have shaken her, and then given her a big hug before saying: love doesn’t have a deadline. Once you reach a “certain age,” there isn’t a big alarm clock just waiting to go off— telling you, ‘hey, forget about finding anyone, because your time is past.’ My father-in-law found love after the age of 60 (he also got into the best shape of his life at that point too, because he took up cycling— but that’s another blog post). My own father found love in his late 50’s.

Actually, now that I think about it… MANY of my relatives have found the love of their lives in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s. So I know for sure that it happens. 🙂

Not to mention the fact that there are lots of people out there who are unmarried and not only doing just fine, but also are very happy (although that argument would never fly with my gf’s at this point).

Something I believe: as long as you love yourself, and believe that you deserve happiness…. the rest will fall into place— whether you eventually choose to be with someone else… or not.

You don’t have to marry someone just because you think they are your last chance. Don’t sell yourself short. You never know what’s just around the bend. Or, in the words of a great movie starring Tom Hanks, “Who knows what the tide could bring?” Hang on.

Thanks for letting me vent. I just had to get that out there. And if you think I’m being harsh… please know that I haven’t told these particular girlfriends about my blog yet (and now, most likely never will….*sigh*).

Detours

One night many years ago, I was driving home after anchoring the 10pm newscast… when I got stuck behind a VERY SLOW car. I was highly annoyed. I was exhausted and just wanted to get home and climb into bed. The driver in front of me wasn’t paying attention to the 30 mph speed limit… the car was only going about 20mph— max. I was forced to stay behind the car for only three blocks before it turned onto a side street— but it seemed like an eternity.

I quickly sped back up to 30. About a block after I reached the speed limit, I looked ahead to the next intersection and saw a huge SUV (without its lights on) ignore a stop sign and go screaming across the road. It was going so fast, I couldn’t even tell what color it was. It was just a blur.

I felt the blood drain from my face as I realized… if I hadn’t gotten “stuck” behind that slow car for three blocks, I would have reached that intersection right around the time that SUV went plowing through it. I would never have seen it coming because the lights weren’t on. And I would have been broadsided by 3-ton hunk of metal going at least 60 mph. Even if I’d managed to survive, I was about three months pregnant at that time.

All of a sudden, I had much greater appreciation for the driver of that slow car.

That incident also caused me to think. Sometimes what we want isn’t necessarily what we really need. I really wanted to be able to drive faster so I could get home quickly that night. But if I’d gotten what I wanted, I might not be around to write this blog right now.

How many times have I really wanted something… and been frustrated when it didn’t happen? And how many of those times did I not realize that what I wanted wasn’t necessarily what I needed? At least not at that moment.

Applying that theory to life, personal experience has taught me that when I encounter many, many barriers on one path… there’s usually some reason for those barriers. I’m fully willing to admit that when those barriers actually present themselves— I don’t really care what the reasons are. I get frustrated. I get sad. I get angry. And once upon a time, I used to stay stuck in those negative moods for a LONG time.

But that changed once came to the conclusion that—  if I trust my intuition when it comes to those types of situations, I usually end up where I want to be (even if it’s months, or in some cases, YEARS later). Sometimes my gut tells me to stick it out. A handful of times my gut has told me to just give up. Usually when that happens, another door opens up down the road. I must admit, however, that sometimes I haven’t recognized this door when it opens (because I’m focused in another direction)… and because of that, I end up staying on the same path to nowhere for a while— until ANOTHER door opens up leading me in the direction I need to go. Sometimes it takes three, four, five doors to open before I “get it.” (I tend to be a bit stubborn in this regard.)

In any case, I’ve discovered that by the time I find myself heading in a better direction, I have a greater appreciation for the barrier that sent me on the detour in the first place. Just like I had a greater appreciation for that slow driver.

The wait can be maddening, but it also might be for our own good. Sometimes we just aren’t as ready as we think we are. Sometimes we need to grow or learn certain lessons before we get it.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of gaining a greater appreciation for what we want. Or giving ourselves enough time to realize that what we THINK we want isn’t necessarily what we REALLY want. Or perhaps when we first want it, it’s not something we necessarily would appreciate fully at that time. Once we appreciate it more, we are more likely to cherish it forever.

 

 

Live like a kid

I’m sure almost everyone has heard the Robert Fulghum poem, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”

I was thinking of that poem this evening as I watched my kindergartner play at the park. I decided to jot down notes as I watched him approach kids he’d never met before… forming instant bonds.

And I came to the conclusion that six-year-olds are seriously underrated.

*******

“All I Really Need to Know I’m Learning from My Kindergartner”

Talk to people you don’t know, you may find a best friend.

Never pass a swing without taking a ride.

Splash in a puddle simply because it’s there.

Laughing is good. Do it when you’re happy, and even when you aren’t.

Make art using anything you can find. Create the extraordinary out of the ordinary.

Sing for no reason.

Play outside as long as you can.

Question injustice.

Greet loved ones as though you’ve missed them forever.

Love fearlessly and fiercely.

Ignore the regular trail and create your own.

The Wisdom of Seuss


“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~~ Dr. Seuss

I have a collection of quotes I love. Today this one jumped out at me.

I’ve always thought everyone should live their lives this way. 🙂

It’s been a long week (yes, I realize it’s only Tuesday) so unfortunately I don’t have more to add at this time. But I hope everyone will remember Dr. Seuss’ words of wisdom.

A Change of Heart

This “good news” (a passion of mine) is brought to us by a dear friend of mine (Jim Douglas, the reporter who wrote the original story), and it brought tears to my eyes. In a good way.

Jami McElrath has inoperable cancer. Like many terminally ill patients, she’s been working hard to collect mementos for her children so they will have things they can physically hold onto to remember her after she passes away.

Among those mementos… she’s been taking photos she wants to put in a scrapbook.

During a family trip to Texas, Jami’s camera was stolen from her car while her family ate in a restaurant. The camera was loaded with photos of the trip, including their time at Six Flags amusement park.

As if that weren’t enough, the camera also had extra sentimental value. It had belonged to her father, who died of a heart attack two years before.

Jami told her heart-wrenching story to Jim, who works at WFAA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Dallas.

“I just want my camera back,” she told Jim in the story. “I just want those memories back.”

Part of her plea also included this heartwarming message of hope: “People are good,” she said. “That’s what I’m saying. I don’t think this person who took my camera is out to hurt people. I think they have a desperate situation they’re in.”

A few days after the story aired, Jim received a phone call from a man who didn’t want to identify himself. He told Jim to look behind a red car in the station’s parking lot. He also added that he felt bad about the incident.

Needless to say, Jim found the camera. He and a news crew traveled to Oklahoma to return it to Jami, who burst into tears. She had some words for the man who took it.

“Whoever you are, thank you so much,” she said. “Thank you for having a conscience and bringing it back. I can’t tell you what it means to me.”

I love this story for so many reasons. I love it for the obvious reasons— and one that’s probably not so obvious. I love the fact that she had hope and positive feelings in her heart… even though her heart was broken. This is one of those stories that reminds me that the more love you send out into the world, the more it will return to you.

I have a personal story that also reinforces this belief, but I’ll share it some other time. I want this post to be about Jami.

 

Living with Procrastination


If any of you get the OnDemand service on Comcast cable, I highly suggest going to “The Cutting Edge” section, and checking out some of the ‘school scare films’ on “Something Weird.” Depending on how old you are, you may have seen some of these films in school growing up. My personal favorite is a variation on the classic “Duck and Cover,” which offers you “lifesaving tips” on how to survive an atomic bomb blast.

My favorite gem from that film: “the instant you hear the air raid sirens, take cover under whatever you can find. A table, a doorway— even a picnic blanket or a newspaper can provide some protection against an atomic blast!” (Here, the film shows a family enjoying a lovely picnic in the park when a bright light flashes and they cover themselves with their lifesaving blanket.)

Yeah, riiiiiiiiiiight.

They rotate the films every couple of weeks or so… so over the past several months I’ve seen other great “how to” films from the 1940’s and 50’s— such as how to make friends (the lesson here: force yourself to be like everyone else— suppress those pesky feelings of individuality….!), the importance of personal hygiene (a film for new recruits in the military— did you know that foot powder can solve a whole slew of problems????), and a 60’s film about the dangers of LSD (which— honestly, was more of an ad for LSD than a scare film…. I don’t think the “squares” back then ‘got it’).

One film I saw recently was about a girl named Mary who was the ultimate procrastinator. She was appointed by her classmates to organize the school dance, much to the chagrin of one boy who said she never did things on time and other students always paid for it. Well, you can guess what happened… Mary failed to let other students’ mothers know days ahead of time which foods they needed to make for the party, she put off buying the decorations until the day before (the local store was out of what she needed), and she showed up late to the decorating party (because she was out looking for other decorations). The last scene shows the other students putting up their measly few rolls of streamers in disgust while Mary sits alone in the corner, obviously realizing that her life was now ruined— all because of her procrastinative ways.

I don’t mean to make light of procrastination. I used to be Mary. When I was in seventh grade I was in an accelerated math course. Instead of making us hand in assignments on a regular basis, the teacher left it up to us to get the work done… and just hand it all in at the end of the semester (I still don’t understand the benefits of this— all of you teachers out there… would you really want a huge pile of papers to grade at the end of the semester?).

Well, since I was Mary— you can guess what happened. I didn’t do my assignments in a regular and timely fashion. I think I started off the semester by getting a half dozen assignments out of the way immediately… then everything else went on the back burner, because according to my seventh grade reasoning I was AHEAD at that point, right? If I could complete six assignments in one sitting, surely the rest would be a breeze.

:p

The NIGHT before the assignments were due, I decided to tackle the other— oh, 40-50 assignments I had for the rest of the semester. I was up all night. And my mother had very little sympathy for me the next day (shocker!) when I begged to be able to go in and turn in my assignments and then come home to sleep.

The good news is, I learned my lesson. I made a decision right then and there that I never wanted to pull another all-nighter (at least not for schoolwork). And I never did after that.

But even though I now make my deadlines 99.9999% of the time, I still struggle with procrastination every once in a while. Unfortunately, I’m also a perfectionist. And as a perfectionist, I still beat myself up over leaving things until the last minute. Yet I keep doing it. So, I’ve decided to apply my new mindset (changing my perspective and looking at things differently) to this issue.

I’ve decided I need to make procrastination work for me.

A lot of life experiences have led up to this point. When I was in TV, I discovered that no matter how much time I had to put a story together— whether it was ten minutes or five hours— I always finished right at the deadline. It wasn’t a matter of procrastination in TV— it was just the way the business worked (we were always in a rush). But what’s interesting is that some of those stories I slapped together in ten minutes were better than the ones I had more time to spend on.

I’m going to try to look at that as a sign that I actually thrive under pressure (how’s that for spin?).

Likewise, I find that when I put off doing something, I tend to get a lot of other things done in the meantime. For instance, if I know I have to write a difficult email I will stay away from my computer and instead put away dishes, clean up the living room, mow the lawn… you get the idea. And the whole time I’m doing these things, I’m thinking about what I’m going to say in the email. So… by the time I sit down at my computer, I’ve not only decided how to handle it, but I’ve got a cleaner house and a tidier lawn as well.

And of course, since I thrive under pressure (see above) the email comes out a lot better later than it would if I’d spent the last three hours at my computer.

I know… it’s a reach. But it’s better than beating myself up for not sitting down until the last minute to write that email. 😉

I know this exact process won’t work for everyone. But here’s my point: nobody’s perfect. We all want to be, but sometimes life prevents us from living up to our own high standards. If you are trying to reach a summit— there could be several paths that lead up to it— and it really doesn’t matter which one you take… as long as you get there.

I would love to be that person who starts things as soon as they are given to me. But the conclusion I’ve reached is that starting earlier (in my case) doesn’t really help. I get things done in the time they need to be done. And they usually turn out really well. In fact, looking back at several projects— I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing… even if I’d had more time. So there’s no point in me beating myself up for not starting sooner.

Now I want to make my own school scare film called: “Making Procrastination Work for You.”

The Power of Good News

It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames, that there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers, and criminals.” ~~ Charles Kuralt

Not feeling so hot today (under the weather), and reading the news is making me feel worse. News outlets I really used to enjoy are focusing a little too much on “Jon and Kate” these days.

Don’t get me started.

Anyway, I decided to pull out a good news story I once talked about on another blog. I started the blog with the intention of highlighting stories of hope— stories that honor and celebrate people who do the right thing. I eventually had to give it up because it was getting harder and harder to find good news. Not because it’s not happening— but because no one is reporting it. Right now, the economy, GM’s demise (ahem, excuse me…. “rebirth”), and apparently Jon and Kate :p trump those types of stories.

Every once in a while, I’ll re-post one of those stories here. Because I think we could all use a pick-me-up every once in a while. 😉

*******
Saved by a Stranger

A little girl needed a miracle.

Sarah Dickman lives with a genetic disease called juvenile nephronophthisis. The disease slowly destroys the kidneys, and can take the life of a child before he or she reaches the age of 15.

At the age of eight, Sarah already needed a new kidney. Doctors placed on dialysis and the Atlanta girl’s condition was getting worse by the day.

Neither of her parents were a good match. Sarah’s name was already on a national waiting list, but no matches had been determined. So as a last ditch effort, her parents put up flyers around their community. They knew there was little chance of finding a suitable donor that way. But they wanted to give their little girl every chance they could.

34-year-old Laura Bolan saw the flyer at the elementary school where Sarah and two of Laura’s children attend class. Her heart melted when she saw the girl’s smiling face.

Laura noted that she had the same blood type as the little girl. She talked to her own family, and called the Dickmans later that night.

Two people called in about the flyer, but Laura was the better match. And she didn’t even hesitate. As she told a reporter, “It breaks your heart to know there’s a little girl sick out there who you could help.”

The two underwent successful surgery in February.

Sarah’s parents say they are not only eternally indebted to Laura, they also plan to pay the favor forward. Her father, Joe became a living donor as a result of the sacrifice a stranger made for his child… knowing he might one day have the same opportunity to save a life.

Mountains, Lakes, and Filters

Why is traffic so infuriating?

I’ve asked myself that question many, MANY times over the years. I am a relatively level-headed and sane person— until I get onto an interstate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type of person who is going to chase down drivers who cut me off… but I will admit that every once in a while, I’ve been known to raise my hands in frustration and say loudly (within the confines of my car), “you’ve gotta be frakking kidding me!”

I think everyone has their own personal reasons for this road rage transformation. I’ve decided in my case, it centers around my frustration with selfish people.

Example: as soon as I see that there is a line forming to get off at my exit, I will move over into the lane as soon as I can. I will then proceed to wait for five to ten minutes in stop-and-go traffic trying to get off at this exit. Inevitably, there’s always some jerk in the next lane who speeds his way to the front of the line and forces himself over in front of me JUST as I’m about to exit… and that’s when I become incensed (not to mention the fact— if EVERYONE moved over earlier, we would get off the highway sooner. The reason the line backs up is because of the jerks who are forcing their way in instead of just following the rules of common courtesy).

So, the first thought that goes through my head when I encounter this EVERY DAY: what makes these people think they are so much better than everyone else that they don’t have to wait in line?

My blood pressure is rising just thinking about it. And that’s the problem. I’ve now come to expect this in my commute (because it happens every day) which makes the thought of getting on the road less than desirable.

I have to admit, though…. if it weren’t for traffic, I wouldn’t have reconnected with my surroundings this past week.

I work about ten miles away from where I live. Yet, on an average day in typical rush hour— it can take 45 minutes to get to work. What makes this more difficult is that there are really only two ways to get to my workplace (and one of them is very much out of my way). Both routes involve bridges over a large lake. That’s usually where the height of the traffic jam takes place… all of those cars trying to get across the lake at the same time is not good.

This past week, I was sitting on the bridge in stop-and-go traffic… when all of a sudden we came to a complete stop. A check of the radio indicated that there was an accident ahead. When that happens, all traffic comes to a halt— because there are no shoulders on this bridge. So I sat. And I looked at my watch. And I realized that I was going to be considerably late to work. The blood pressure started to rise…. :p

So, since I was sitting in one spot anyway, I turned and looked southward. I saw something I see almost every day (weather permitting) just sitting there. It’s always been there… even before people settled here.

d839b-mt-rainier

Mount Rainier rising above the lake.

I’ve seen it hundreds… if not thousands of times before. It’s just part of daily life in western Washington state.

But this time, it hit me like a whack in the head.

Why in the world do I complain about sitting in traffic when I have one of the most beautiful commutes in the world?

When I first moved to Washington state, I fell in love with the natural beauty and couldn’t imagine myself living anywhere else. I stayed connected to that beauty for a long time… but eventually it started to move its way into the background. I can’t tell you when or how it happened. But—- as I realized last week— it definitely happened.

This brings up a recurring theme for me lately. Filters. We all have them. We all use them to block out certain aspects of our lives… because there is way too much going on. We can only handle so much input at once.

IMHO, filters aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Again, too much input would be overwhelming and exhausting. But I think many of us are letting too much of the bad through… at the expense of the good.

There’s a LOT of good out there. We just have to recognize it, and let it come through. Even if it means RE-connecting with something you’ve gotten used to.

A little stressed as you head into work?
Along the way, notice the flowers and trees along the highway.
As you walk from your car to your office building… listen. Are birds chirping? Perhaps there’s the subtle sound of leaves rustling as the wind hits the trees…?
If you are fortunate enough to have an actual lunch hour where you don’t have to sit at your desk…. sit outside. And while you’re eating, think about nothing. And notice everything.

Live in the moment.

As I noticed last week, this helps me handle stress throughout the day. Things that would normally seem REALLY stressful… aren’t quite as troubling.

I should also mention…. since I started doing this, my commute has been much more pleasant. 🙂