Right now I guess we’re in the middle … let’s hope 🤞!
I gave my friend an orchid when her dog passed away suddenly last year … it has bloomed three times (she’s had other orchids for 5 years that have never re-bloomed), she sent me a picture today of it blooming with the words “there is hope”! 💛💛💛
While we’re in the middle we have to be hopeful and see the “fullness” in our lives … the “extraordinary in the ordinary”.
I started this post more than a year ago as a reminder to slow down and appreciate everything in life, not just the good but the not so good, not just the highs but the lows and the sometimes monotonous “humdrum” of everyday life. Especially if you’re in “the middle” (or a little past mid-life like me ;)) not just a particular event. I have realized in the past 10 years or so and I think this crisis/quarantine has made more people realize the importance of “the middle” not taking for granted your health, your family, friends, employment, a roof over your head, your children still living under that roof 😘 … and to quite literally “stop & smell the roses”. To appreciate what you have (and now have the time to enjoy more of it) … to spend time with the people that you enjoy (even if via video or phone chats), doing the things you enjoy but don’t have time for … eating meals at home together, reading a book, painting, drawing, writing … whatever brings you joy. To not feel guilty if you “binge watch” a show or watch your favorite movie for the millionth time, time to cry, to laugh, to get the sleep you need … you know your “list” of what makes you feel “full” and now you might actually have the time to “fill your cup”.
FULLNESS … my life is full of friends & family, joy & sorrow, travel & experiences, birth & death, discovery & rediscovery. Life is short but what if you were to slow down and come back to the fact that although short it can be miraculously full and fulfilling. Even when it is “humdrum” . Even in quarantine. My husband’s friend makes fun of me for posting so many pictures of sunrises & sunsets (I take it as a compliment). When I say full … I don’t mean full of only happiness and the good … but FULL … “I am grateful for the fullness of my life, for the brief, heartbreaking, heartwarming fullness of life”*.
This is where I started this post … I know people who are what I call “flat” they never seem really happy or really sad, never that excited or that down … everything is always just “so/so” and I realized some of those people have never experienced any real highs or lows, no adversity or challenges, no significant loss or gain, no untimely death, no life altering events or disasters be it natural or unnatural.
Without grief or heartbreak how would you truly know the feelings of happiness, joy, love? Without discomfort how can you learn to appreciate comfort? Without suffering, loss, injury how can you learn to be grateful for contentment, wellness, health? Even if you are blessed and everything is great most of the time even “great” will become “humdrum”. This pandemic & quarantine is far from great, so FAR for so many … loss of income & employment, trying to take care of someone at high risk from a distance, social isolation, kids out of school, perhaps you or a loved one suffering from Covid, or worse loss of life due to the virus, the list goes on and on … my son is missing out on his senior year, spring break trips canceled, prom? graduation? His attitude is remarkable … I told him the other day that I was so sorry for everything he was missing out on and he said “it’s ok mom, it could be so much worse I could be getting drafted into a war like a World War or Vietnam etc. etc. … this is really nothing.” My daughter and I have talked a lot about how this is nothing compared to what millions of people have suffered … think of what Ann Frank and millions like her went through hiding for years, never knowing if they’d have enough food, no access to the outdoors, living in terror of being discovered knowing there are people right out the door who want to take your life.
I received this email today (coincidentally or not ;)) regarding kids missing a couple months of school … it’s exactly what I’ve been thinking …
they cancel the rest of the school year, people are concerned about students falling behind.
But what if…
instead of falling “behind”, this group of kids advance because of this:
they have more empathy, they enjoy family connection, they are more creative and can entertain themselves, they discover they love to read or to express themselves in writing…
they enjoy the simple things, like their own backyard and sitting near a window in the quiet.
What if they notice the birds, the flowers emerging, the calming renewal of a gentle rain shower?
What if this generation are the ones to learn to cook, organize their space, do their laundry?
What if they learn to stretch a dollar and live with less?
What if they learn the value of eating together as a family and discover the small delights of the everyday?
What if they are the ones to place great value on our educators, librarians, public servants & the previously invisible essential support workers like truck drivers, grocers, cashiers, custodians, healthcare workers and their supporting staff, just to name a few of the millions taking care of us right now while the rest of us are sheltered in place?
What if among these children, a great leader emerges who had the benefit of a slower pace and a simpler life to truly learn what really matters in this life?
What if they are not behind, but AHEAD? “**
“The truth is everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything” *** … the “ups” and the “downs” and the wisdom to know that neither one is permanent and that there is a beginning a middle and an end.
Sometimes when you look back on life’s significant events you realize you couldn’t see the middle while you were in it, “the middle” is where all the biggest life lessons exist. When I had my ectopic pregnancy and almost died … looking back it was the beginning I could remember clearly … finding out I was pregnant, the multiple appointments to determine whether it was viable or not, and the end … when it was all over and I was alive after 6 days in the hospital and a blood transfusion and I went home. It wasn’t until months later that I realized the life lessons, that I am so grateful for were in “the middle”. The ups and downs of thinking I might be having a third baby, the support of family & friends during that tumultuous time, my friend who lived next door and said it would be ok if I had a baby, it would be “our baby” and she would help (after all we could open our kitchen windows and chat, our baby monitors worked at each others houses we practically lived together as it was 😊), the fact that my husband & I never once wavered on wether or not to have the baby, we would and it would be great, even though SO not in our “plan” for our future, the nurse in the hospital wishing me a happy birthday and when I replied “I’ve had better birthdays” and she said “NO you have not … because you lived to see this one” she was correct!🧡
My heart is so FULL during this strange time … a friend of mine recently turned 50 & they had a short “zoom party” she requested everyone send her a little video dancing (she was going to have a dance party prior to quarantine). I asked my son to take a video of my husband and I (much to his dismay 😂), it turned into a full on dance party at our house for hours! I didn’t go to bed until midnight & if you know me that is remarkable! It never would have happened pre-quarantine (especially not on a Friday night, my teenagers typically have “better” things to do 😘). It was the best! We had so much fun & I’ll cherish that 3 hour “moment” with my kiddos forever 🧡❤️🧡. As my friend said … “silver linings”. 🤗
I am grateful for my limits
that teach me patience and pace
I am grateful for challenge, defeat, and loss
They teach me hope is not a light at the end of the dark tunnel
It’s the ember burning within me that I forgot to fan
I am grateful to my teachers
for introducing me to myself
I am grateful for my past
that has delivered me to my present
I am grateful for all I have found and all I have lost
Both remind me I can live with and without
I am grateful for silence and for laughter
And for my ears that can hear both
I am grateful to my heart
that beats and breaks and heals
I am grateful for the fullness of my life
For the brief, heartbreaking, heartwarming fullness of life.
When this is over I am confident we will forever be changed … for the better, we will remember the beginning (the before) and we will remember the end (the after) but we mustn’t forget the middle, the lessons learned, the memories made, and the gratitude for all the people working the “front lines”. Go forward slowly … it’s not a race to the end. The end will come like it or not, so for now enjoy the extraordinary in the ordinary of everyday life.
“Sitting at dusk in the urgent spring air, surrounded by orange trees in full bloom, their bright green leaves iridescent and glowing under the streetlights, I felt the trees were talking to me, in that way that happens in dreams where words haven’t been spoken but the meaning is clear: Everything was going to be okay.”
I was about to hit “publish” when the Today show had a segment on the Apollo 13 mission (50 years ago) … we all know the beginning and the end of that event … yet the lessons were in the middle. The perseverance, the ingenuity, the stamina, the drive to safe those three astronauts is an incredible lesson in the power of the human spirit to solve a problem & save lives under unbelievable pressure. Perhaps I’ll watch the movie for the millionth time today & not feel one ounce of guilt 😉.
*** Michael A. Singer “The Untethered Soul”