It has been a long and wet winter. When I say wet, I mean it the worst way. There has been no snow just cold biting rain for what feels like weeks at a time. Even when there was no rain, the sky has been gray, giving only a thin blue light through a foggy haze. I have never been so ready for spring as I am now. So with this post, I will pack up this winter of discontent and look forward to a spring of new things to absorb as the sun shines and dries out my waterlogged soul. I’ve learned a few things that I don’t want to forget as I have been sitting here in my comfy pants waiting for the rain to stop.
#1 Laughing is so good for you.
The last two years have been hard, like soul-crushingly hard. We have been grieving a great loss and sadness had become my daily bread. I haven’t felt like myself. I’ve had good friends say to me, “You just don’t seem the same.” I am one of the most cheerful humans I know, but I was having a lot of trouble laughing. That is until my father-n-law got really irritated with the squirrels eating his bird seed. He is so sweet and so mild and when he asked his son to borrow an air rifle to kill squirrels, we smiled and delivered it with amusement. A few weeks later I found some funny squirrel videos and forwarded them on a family group text and the more videos I found the harder I laughed. By the end of that group text, I was laughing so hard, I could not breathe. You know that thing that happens when something strikes you as funny and you cannot stop laughing and you are usually the only one laughing while others look on laughing at you, not with you. Then when it is over your abs hurt from the exertion. I had not laughed like that in a really long time and when I caught my breath and realized the tears rolling down my cheeks were not from despair, I knew that something inside me had been put right again. It was like the chains that had been wrapped around my chest so tightly finally gave way and when I breathed in to catch my breath, my lungs could fill for the first time in a long time. That moment did not fix the hurt of loss and unanswered questions. It was a reset that has helped me laugh more and enjoy life more and despair less. You can’t make yourself have one of those laughs. You just have to be ready to surrender to it when it comes. So don’t hold back, love with everything you have, and when it is time, laugh hard and let the good medicine of that moment make you better.
#2 Things sure have changed in a lot in 23.5 years
That is a strangely specific statement and here is why: That is how long it has been since my wedding day. I had not been to a wedding in a while, but I have seen them on Instagram and noted that they were getting nicer. I have paused with awe over how the pictures are posed and curated for social media, telling an impeccable story. But I really had not given to much thought to how different weddings are today. Until one of the sweetest women I know asked me to be her day-of wedding coordinator (read: enforcer, sheriff, protocol officer) and I said sure which gave me a window into the mind of a millennial that I was not expecting. I’ve loved millennials for a while now. I find them hopeful and willing to work for a cause, authentic and at times clueless. I love them individually, but I don’t always understand them as a group. I know there are many complaints about the way they do things which is not the way things have always been done. I loved how this young couple seemed to cull all the unnecessary traditions from their wedding day. They did not do one thing because “that’s how it is supposed to be done.” The men of the bridal party wore jeans, nice jeans with a jacket and tie. There were no children in the ceremony, but children were welcome and they provided childcare through the ceremony and reception at least until the dancing started and that is when the children came out and made a necessary appearance. There was no unity candle, no special music, no bridal march. She walked down the aisle to a song that meant something to her. The music was all played on a guitar and it was beautiful. They did not have a wedding cake. Come on, that is bold. The reception was catered by a barbeque place and we feasted on ribs, brisket, pork and chicken with all the sides and fixins. That restaurant is famous for its lava cake and banana pudding so that is what we had and it was better than any wedding cake I have ever had. They were not having a wedding to impress anyone. They were having the wedding they wanted and could afford and it was so fun to be part of it. Things have changed a lot since my wedding and it is not a bad thing, in fact, I am so hopeful and if you are tempted to despair over this generation, don’t.
#3 Use a lens instead of a filter
I have a lot of things going on at the moment. They are good things and necessary things but when I spread them all out and organize a strategy to get them all done it is a little overwhelming. I’ve been staring at the list of things to do, places to be, books to read and asking myself what am I going to filter out of this list? Two things have resulted from this question, I’ve been paralyzed by indecision and then rushing around in the time I have left doing most of the things badly. So I needed to find a new question to ask myself and it has made all the difference. My new question is: What will I focus on today, this morning, this afternoon, this evening? I still make my lists and plan my days, then I use a lens to focus on what is important or urgent for that moment in time. So I am only looking at one piece of the plan and I can get one thing done at a time and that adds up to something, which is better than nothing or a little bit of everything done badly.
I love this exercise of reflection that I am learning more about from Emily P. Freeman and Erica Baldwin. I hope it inspires you to think of the things that you are learning and may not even be aware of yet.
You can read my first things I learned post from fall 2018 here.
If you need a good laugh, here are those videos I mentioned in #1. Enjoy! You are about to learn more than you ever wanted to know.