I write a fair amount on the topic of gratitude. The common terms of being thankful and appreciative from an optimistic point of view of gratitude. Really, think about it. Gratitude is more than just saying we’re grateful, it’s living as though we’re grateful. It’s seeing the best in a situation when it’s not so obvious. This is exactly what smacked me in the face today.
A few days ago, I was out with my husband and son in the woods doing maintenance on deer stands. My mighty hunters are getting ready to head to the woods in order to feed our family (not really, but they like to make it sound that way – I think it feeds their ego. I go along with it because I think it’s kind of cute). Off to the woods. A half-hour later and the process came to a complete halt when yours truly fell out of a deer stand. The ladder broke (I’m not that big of a clutz) I did not stick the landing.
Life has gotten creative. Typically, I love creativity because it makes me happy to be innovative, brings new ideas on how to do things, develops ways to make things better. My week and my attitude started out this way. Christian is home this week recovering from a planned surgical procedure, so my workload was scheduled to be a bit less as I was in charge of taking care of him. Thank heavens. Between the two of us, we’ve been laughing at our ability to figure out how to get things done. I can bend and reach and drive, and he can carry things as long as its only way a few pounds. We’ve conquered feeding ourselves, making dinner, picking up the house, doing laundry, getting my coffee downstairs without spilling, the grocery store and today the DMV. Fairly successful!!
Then the frustration hit. And, it hit hard. Like almost as hard as landing from a fall off a deer stand, kind of hard. I had pushed the laundry basket full of dirty clothes, push with my crutches, followed with my body and repeated this push, follow, push pattern all the way across the house to the stairs. The laundry room in our house is downstairs. So is my office, so I had the stairs figured out since Tuesday. Then Friday came. I got to the edge of the stairs and already knew my plan. Just push the laundry basket down the steps, let the clothes fall out and pick them up once arriving at the bottom of the stairs. Sounds easy, right? Well, it was until it wasn’t. I gave the basket a shove, and just as I planned it tumbled down the stairs spilling laundry all the way down. I expected this. Just as planned. As I settle onto my butt to slide step by step down the stairs, taking my crutches with me, I noticed the basket landed on its side. Well, how am I supposed to get clothes into the basket is on its side? Ok, there’s a detour. If I throw the clothes towards the bottom step and my plan works, the basket will be upright when I get to the bottom. So, I did. At the bottom, my crutches get tangled in all the clothes as I’m trying to get to the basket. Before I land on my ass on the floor, I decide to sit back down on the steps and navigate this from a seated position. One little tiny thing after another starts to irritate me. The basket keeps moving, I miss and overthrow the basket, it occurs to me I need to sort the laundry, and when I’m done I have created a dangerous block of a slippery slope that stands between me and the laundry room. I still have to get each sorted load into the basket and push the basket across the floor into the laundry room. The basket doesn’t fit under the door to the washer, so I have to set my crutches aside and hop around the basket leaning on the washer as I go, to get to the washing machine. My patience wanes, my frustration raises, and suddenly, there is nothing but defeat and tears. I sit down, ignoring how much effort it’s going to take to get back up and just cry. I’m so sick of crutches. I’m so tired of an aching back and neck from hobbling around on these stupid things. I’m so tired of everything I used to do in minutes taking me 10 times (not exaggerating!) longer than it used to. My mind is overflowing with how many things I can’t do right now, and how hard it is to do even the little things that I totally took for granted, like going to the bathroom. Ugh! I’m spent. Absolutely, positively finished with this, Except, I’m not finished. Not even close to being finished. In fact, I’m just beginning! I could be on these things for the next couple of months, and I’m losing my s—t after five days. The tears increase and so do the feelings of helplessness, frustration, defeat, and just plain wanting to quit. So, I cry for a few minutes. To no surprise, nothing in the world changes. I’m still sitting on my butt on the floor with laundry all over that needs to get done, while I have pheasants in a pot on the stove simmering upstairs that need me to get my crap together and get back up. My ego-mind takes its attempt at getting me out of my pity party and moving forward. “There are starving kids in Africa”, this is the one that my grade school teachers used to use on us to get us to clean our plates at lunch. Sorry, it has no effect on me. Even at the time, I thought it was stupid, “like our not eaten lunch is going to do them any good. It would be moldy before it ever got there”. I have always been the person who needs things to make sense, even as s child. Guilt doesn’t really work very well for me because there is often no logic behind it, so I just can’t even start to feel bad. Well, that’s not going to get me off the floor. “Think of all the people who have it worse than you do”, “this is such a first-world problem, Anne, seriously”. None of it is working. I lean my head back against the shelf behind me, exasperated and frustrated with myself. My mind starts filling with all the things I am going to miss out on, or can’t do now because of this injury. My biking season, done. Hunting season, done. No more walking in the woods this year, I’ll be lucky if I’m fixed in time to snowshoe or xc ski this winter. Winter?! What the heck am I going to do when the snow comes? These questions just keep playing like a song on repeat.
“Sweetheart, what’s happening right now?” my inner coach kicks in, God bless her. “I’m frustrated, angry, helpless, all the things I don’t like being.” She replies with a “why don’t you like being those things?” “They make me feel bad. I feel useless,” I reply. “Well, clearly you already feel bad, so it looks like that’s been taken care of, so what’s next?”
May I just say, I love this part of myself! She’s so practical! She knows me so well! None of this cheerleader, “you can do it!!” with pom pom’s shaking crap. Just straight to the point, let’s get on the page in front of us, straight talk. She’s my favorite.
You see, my ego, as hard as I have worked at developing out of it and as long as I have worked at relating to its fears so I can keep it in check, still knows exactly how to take me down. Just make me feel useless and weak – works every time. I don’t visit there very often but when I do it isn’t pretty, let me tell you. I am an ugly crier. We all have that ego inside of us. You know the part that just wants us to stay controlled by the old story so that we don’t change so we’ll stay alive. Yeah, that part. I sometimes refer to it as our inner jerk, but it’s not trying to be a jerk, its really just trying to keep us alive, and to the ego, everything is a threat. So, when we least expect it, there it is. It hits us with our worst old story, our weakest most nay-saying part of ourselves, not because it wishes us harm, it just doesn’t care about happiness and success. Eyes level and heart beating, that’s all it’s in it for.
Our Spirit connects us to the higher vibrations – to joy, happiness, and feeling good about ourselves. Because we are enough to feel good about it. Spirit helps us connect to that truth.
What’s next? Well, what came next was “you’re right, I just need to get up and get going because this is not going away.” Slowly, I rotate myself onto my good knee, leave the other knee sticking straight out because that’s just all she can do right now. I think about how glad I am that I’ve been doing yoga every morning for months before this happened because I’m way more flexible. I grab this and hold there and pull myself back up. “Onward”, I say out loud. “There ya go” she answers.
Laundry gets tackled, I get myself back up the stairs, dinner is progressing forward, I sit and breathe and write. Whew. That mental falling down really is as bad as falling from a deer stand. They both really hurt. Sometimes, we need to just take some time to honor the emotions right there under the surface. A great teacher of mine used to say, “tears are just the Soul’s way of clearing off the windshield”. Yep. We need to honor the emotional body without giving it all the reins. We can feel what we feel, honoring ourselves and the honesty of hardship, whatever that hardship is, and then know when it’s time to pick up and keep going. Guilting ourselves at time when we need true compassion, not from others, but from ourselves, is not the answer. Love may be wrapped in some practicality if you’re like me. There is the answer. Feel it, honor it, and keep going. These things are not designed to derail us, just to help us glean a little more practice at balancing that ego with our inspiration. Spirit flows into us in order to keep the greater knowledge, our ability to “pull it together” where we can reach it. It hears the ego and steps in to comfort the inner fears, to stabilize the wounded, child inside and help us see beyond the immediate towards a brighter horizon. Love is the warm hug, the gentle prod, the “you can do it” encouragement that comes from deep inside of us that is Spirit’s constant presence. That love is with us, in us, always. The ego is there, too. They share our being, and both are strong. Love is stronger.
It’s tough out there, folks. Bring LOVE.
Blessings Galore, Anne