I awoke this Sunday morning reflecting on yesterday’s stressful activity of a life decision. Customarily I am the first to rise at the insistence of my ‘editors’ Penny and Barkley to be fed and to be let outside for their backyard business. I brew my first cup of hot, bold, black coffee and wait for them to return inside for my daily reading and meditation in the library. With my editors and I all settled down for our morning ritual, I read the daily Bible verse from Biblegateway.com:
“Examine me, O God, and know my mind. Test me and know my thoughts. See whether I am on an evil path. Then lead me on an everlasting path.” Psalm 139:23-24 GW
The first months of 2021 has caused me to reflect on 2020, the pandemic, my leukemia diagnosis, my career and to consider what the future may hold. One of my past colleagues and friend that I have known for decades passed away last week from cancer that was initially diagnosed in 2014 when she was 60 years old, the same age I will be turning in just a few weeks. As I was mourning her loss yesterday, my husband, Vinny Sal and I were considering our own life choices for the future now that we are becoming empty nesters.
After reading verses in Psalm 139 this morning and reading my friend’s obituary of her wonderful and inspiring life, I turned to read once again Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.
Over the course of my life and especially over the last decade or so, I have always subscribed to the following statement: (I have this written on note card that I tuck in each of my journals.)
“Whatever path or responsibility before me, I must always set out to be the best I can be in any capacity I undertake.”
As I am reading all these things this morning, I contemplated, “Does anyone ever set out to be anything but the best? Is it there a difference between the path that we have chosen or was it dictated by some other person or force?”
Excuse my rambling, as I blend my words to live by in 2021 – creativity, mindfulness, discernment to make 2020’s lemon into lemonade.
The Pandemic Lemon
Most people conger up the imagery of the fork in the road as two paths. However, when I think of a fork, I think of an eating utensil which has 4 tines not 2. Rarely when making decisions is there only 2 ways of discerning the way forward. I believe any situational lemon has 4 ways to put a fork in it.
First tine: Disengagement
When confronted with a decision, no decision is made. Disengagement takes little effort in creatively engaging in any mindful thought process. “Nope, not gonna do it. This is just the cards I have been dealt.”
Second tine: Discouragement
This path only sees the negative. “I don’t see anything positive in any of these paths.” The minimalist thought process is giving the least amount of effort toward mindfully and creatively thinking that another path could have some positives, but it is just too risky.
Third tine: Disappointment
This path sees possibilities. “What if things don’t work out? What if I am more miserable than I am right here?” Fretting about the outcomes cloud the mindful process whereby creativity for a solution is not given full advantage. Disappointment gives in to doubt.
Fourth tine: Discomfort
This path sees opportunities. “What do I need to do?” While I have never met anyone personally who is a celebrity or has a nice trust fund, anything worthwhile takes some effort and often, effort is discomforting perhaps for a short while or for a long time. Yet the fourth tine will undoubtedly lead to opportunities we cannot even begin to be mindful of right now in our creative brains.
My lemonade recipe
I cannot imagine one person not being negatively impacted to some degree from 2020. I have mentioned in previous posts about my 3 words to live by in 2020: Mindfulness Holds the Key ; Creativity 2021: Change the World ; and Discerning a way forward . Today, I am thinking about blending my words – mindfulness, creativity, discernment – into making personal decisions.
My method of mindfulness
Every evening when I retire to my bedroom, I do a mind dump. Now I will be the first to admit that I am not always successful at it. My husband and sons have caught me at night with pen in hand or at the keyboard writing until the early hours. Sometimes the tabs in my brain refuse to shut down but that is when I take advantage of the creative process and then I allow it to marinate for days sometimes for weeks.
The important process of a mind dump for me is to be alone (except for my editors, Barkley, and Penny). My bedroom is totally dark devoid of any light not even an illuminated alarm clock exists in the bedroom and the room is quiet. It is extremely important to be comfortable in an open position. I like laying on my back with arms to my sides with palms up and eyes closed. I allow my body to sink into the bed and I visualize my brain emptying, my body fully relaxing, and my breathing is slow and calm.
My mindfulness practice in the morning is mediating, prayer, and journaling. My Christian faith guides me in my mindful state, however, not everyone need be a person of faith to obtain the benefits of mindfulness and discernment. Although I would give faith a try, or another try, if you have not already.
The art of mindfulness for me has allowed me to become more open during my waking hours to be mindful of the moment. In the evening, mindfulness has allowed me to become more open to creativity. Together, the art of mindfulness and creativity has helped me to have more powerful discernment both in my personal life and my professional life.
The tang of discernment
I could have totally disengaged from my 2020 lemon, in other words, staying stuck in resentment for all that 2020 poured out. I could have easily become discouraged after having the best summer in many years and wallowed in my cancer diagnosis. Truthfully, I was disappointed in having to take a step back professionally because of my cancer treatment.
My spirit is not one to lead a quiet life, but an undefeated life.
I cannot speak for others who practice the art of mindfulness, but personally, it takes much more of God’s grace, a much greater awareness of me drawing closer Him to take the next step toward living an undefeated life.
It not only takes mindfulness, but creativity to turn lemons into lemonade.
The first step forward is freeing the mind of everything existing to receiving every opportunity. Creativity engages me to take that path or responsibility I have been handed to be the best I can be in any capacity. When I allow myself to become engaged, the discouragement and the disappointments turn me down a path that, yes maybe uncomfortable, but I always seem to be left with drinking a glass of refreshing lemonade.
The Blogging Owl
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