Reminder: This is the last week to get an entry in the Lughnasadh Give-Away. This has been the easiest give-away ever since I don’t have a single entry for the drawing! Send the blog information to a friend. If he or she clicks through to read the whole blog, you could win a set of six hand-made cards.
Maybe the news where you are is more cheerful than the news in Colorado. Maybe there are dozens of upbeat stories that the news teams in your area can’t wait to report. Or maybe there are at least one or two such stories. Personally, after NPR announces whose birthday it is (which about 35% of the time is a person whose name I have never even heard), it is all downhill. In fact, there are mornings when – within 15 minutes of waking up, which is how long it takes to get through the national, international and state headlines – I seriously wonder why any of us are getting out of bed.
And this is just plain wrong.
Without devolving into Pollyanna (whose cheerfulness has somehow made her name a scathing denunciation of those to whom it is now applied – why is that?) I would like to say that there is more to life than bad news. My friends, it is time we take back our brain waves.
Lately, I have been writing about manna moments and being blessing. I have been trying to rise above my fears about the election. I try to take the triumphs as they come – for instance, I think I am thankful that the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of the same gender marriage ban – although I confess I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. My daughter and I try to start every e-mail exchange with the positive things that have happened to us that day. But I feel like I am hanging on by my fingernails…and that most of my friends are in the same precarious place.
All sorts of studies have proven that the act of smiling releases uplifting hormones. [For the last week, every time I am alone in the car, I smile like a lunatic – practicing that unusual facial contortion and trying to release more uplifting hormones faster. I try not to meet the eyes of any driver near me at a stop light…] Being around cheerful people can do the same thing. If I knew any at the moment, I would be glued to them at the hip. Exercise is supposed to help and I am walking 12000 steps a day in a valiant attempt to absorb vitamin D and hit ‘walker’s high” if there is such a thing.
I have to confess that nothing is really working to throw me into chronic happiness. But today I had one of those grace moments that the universe is constantly offering (this is what I mean about all the misery being wrong! The universe truly is filled with grace and joy.) Since I don’t really believe in coincidences, I was enchanted, but not surprised, to pick up a scrap of paper that had fallen off my desk. It said: Philippians 4:8-9. As I stood there holding the paper, I even remembered writing the reference down a couple of months ago when I was asked to conduct a funeral for a woman whose life embodied these words:
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
It is time for me (maybe for you, too?) to stop letting someone else define my world view. It is time for me to stop colluding in the general pall of despair that seems to have fallen over the planet. Yes, there are awful things happening: Ebola and beheadings by some group that keeps changing its name (IS or ISIS or ISIL or whatever it will be tomorrow). There are still refugee children at the border of the United States, and hate crimes all over the globe, and pine bark beetles and polluted rivers. But that isn’t all there is. There is also an elusive red fox that I catch a glimpse of from time to time, and air to breathe, and the creative energy to find vaccines for awful diseases, and people who are reaching out to provide homes for those refugee children. There are bombs falling, but there are also flowers blooming, and a full moon rising, and fresh bread warm from the oven.
It is time for me to turn all my energy toward what is true and honorable and pleasing. It is time to notice and name those things because (as I said in an earlier blog in slightly different words) when my mind is filled with justice and excellence, there is less room for the negative energy that, frankly, feels completely out of balance. And is doing nothing I have been able to discern to solve the world’s problems.
So, this week, give yourself a break. Set the table with the best china and crystal (or whatever the comparable place setting is for you.) Beautify it further with candles and flowers – cut flowers or wild flowers or a green plant or a pretty branch, a single blossom or an abundance. Or if flowers aren’t your thing, a collection of seashells or acorns or bird statues. Splash color around. Refuse to wear black or grey for a week. Put on a lovely piece of music to eat by (or brush your teeth to). Put on your favorite pjs (or slinky nightgown) – why save them for “some other time”? Today is the all the “special occasion” you need.
Spend some time every day remembering one moment of truth, purity, honor, justice…by preference something in which you actually took part. But in a pinch, something historic will do. Turn off the radio or TV if it is too easy to slip back into fear or despair. Pick up a good book – something that will make you laugh (P.G. Wodehouse does it for me) or that soothes your heart.
The world needs a break from relentless negativity…and if we don’t make the change, it won’t happen.
And here is a litany that may help reset our positive core.
For confidence in the face of temptation, I offer thanks.
For courage in the face of fear, I offer thanks.
For humor in the face of hostility, I offer thanks.
For joy in the face of evil, I offer thanks.
For rest in the midst of turmoil, I offer thanks.
For the smile of friend or stranger,
For the color of blossom and branch,
For the touch of love, the taste of clean water, the smell of salt breeze,
I offer thanks.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2011, 2009, Immram Chara, LLC