Sixty + fun!

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I had such an enjoyable day yesterday! (I’m a volunteer with a group that takes disabled people, sailing on the lake near where I live.)
First session, perfect sailing weather (sun and light wind) with a great “special” partner – a chatty young girl with a big smile, heaven!
Then adventure! As I took off a second time from the jetty, I noticed two big black clouds either side of the lake. All seemed fine till the wind picked up (prelude to heavy rain) gusting us mercilessly towards the shallow water . With visions of being stuck in the reeds while the safety boat removed their rudder to reach us and those black clouds rained down, I began to wave frantically.
The problem was my companion, joining in the “game”, began to wave also. The safety boat waved back happily, thinking “those guys are really having fun!” Eventually they got the point and came to drag us back to deep water and we all made it back before the skies opened. Everyone had a good laugh about that one!
Adventure over, sheltering from the rain, I sighed as I was assigned as helper on the safety boat.. (The safety boat is always the last on the water if it rains!)
Surprisingly instead of a drenching it turned out to be the funest time ever. Not only did the rain stop and the sun appear but, due to only two sailing boats (both with very expert crew members) to watch out for, the motor boats had nothing to do. Soon an impromptu “water fight” began between us and the patrol boat creating wakes to rock/splash each other, reeling and twirling like a fairground ride. I don’t know when I last screamed and shrieked with laughter so much! (amazing for all us 60 +ers.) Our boat “won” with never a drop of wash water reaching us (well the guy on the tiller was a retired sailing instructor lol!) The two “special sailors” watched from the sail boats laughing and enjoying the entertainment.
Sometimes I feel so young!

A sordid life?

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A caterpillar trudges its weary way surrounded by dirt, trash, sordid hypodermic needles, and discarded condoms (relics of discarded loves). It searches for some forest glade where man’s debris is less abundant. Even there it is surrounded by decay, last years leaves, fungi and ever, where ever it roams, it must watch for predators swooping from nowhere to devour. The caterpillar is reconciled to such a life, encompassed by dirt, it becomes dirty.
Things worsen, encased in darkness it becomes paralyzed, trapped. All this struggle, the constant forage for food, the narrow escapes, the dreary day to day trudge, all to end this way?
Then “one day”, one blessed day, everything changes. The caterpillar is reborn. It breaks forth of its confines, a new creature, no more of earth but of the sky. Dirt and ugliness are transformed to beauty as it rises on new formed wings. It no longer deals in dirt but in clouds. It soars, high above the debris, still seeing yet distanced, to a place it can spot those birds coming. No longer encased in decay it embraces the sky.
We need not wait on death for this transformation.; today can be our “one day”.

A song in the rain.

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Sometimes our days are sunny, soft clouds bedeck the sky,
The path we take is easy, our spirits fly on high.
But some days it is raining, the clouds all black and grey,
Come rolling in beside us and soon disrupt our day.
Then let your voice rise upward and reach beyond the mist,
And find the sun there shining in golden lines amidst.
Embrace the tiny song bird as it sits within the rain,
Knowing in its feathered heart the sun will shine again.

Needlessly hard?

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I recently spent hours in A and E with my granddaughter, her third bout of severe chest pains in two weeks. Even the consultant couldn’t find the cause, though they were able, from numerous tests, to rule out many things. Only strong analgesics are able to stop the pain, leaving her unable to have a clear head for her A levels (she missed one altogether the morning I was with her). Doubtless stress is adding greatly to her condition.
I felt dis-empowered. All I could give in the way of comfort were empty platitudes. You see, riding the tide of being an outstanding, straight A student, she has embraced extreme and antagonistic atheism. She now feels “religion” is for the ignorant and gives her little brother a hard time about his simple faith.
I’ve been blessed with so many infallible proofs that faith comes naturally to me, but I can still remember the dreadful pressure of purely self-reliance before I came to know God. My greatest joy at salvation was the realisation that there was a power beyond me and it was loving, benevolent. I knew my own inadequacy and that of my fellow humans. Minus God we were without hope.
She looked to the doctors to “fix” her and grew angry at them when they couldn’t help. But doctors are not God, just sincere human beings, overworked, and often sick or in pain themselves (the consultant shared how he himself suffered severe back pain and just had to “grin and bear it” so he could tend to others, encouraging her to go ahead with the A levels regardless.)
Normally I’d offer prayer, phone others to pray for her, remind that God was in control and would take care of the A levels, but I could do none of these. I prayed silently for her but it was hard to have faith for a miracle as I had the feeling that God may believe the lesson to be more important than instant healing. I know He loves her and is working in her life, that He will take care of everything long-term, but it’s hard to see her suffer like this knowing comfort and help are so close by.
My youngest daughter expressed a while back that even if God were not real she’d rather go through life believing He was because of the comfort it brings – the de-stressing element. I know what she means. Not everyone has been blessed with seeing all the miracles we have but my heart aches for the true atheist, all alone with nothing but his flawed fellow man to fall back on, shouldering the horrors of this world knowing in his heart he is powerless to stop the hate, the suffering, even in his own life. Our choices can change a great deal but they can’t bring back the dead, heal a child, deal with all the hate and greed. Man tries to be his own God, he endeavours, often sincerely, to help his fellow man, but the honest heart knows how far we fall short – life has a way of teaching us, at that point, without a force beyond ourselves, how empty and hopeless the void.

Turn on the joy!

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They ask me why I’m happy, I must I guess confess,

I have a tap within me that spouts forth when it’s pressed.

A fount of sparkling water that does not come from me,

The spirit of the highest that’s in my heart you see.

When troubles oft’ oppress me they merely squeeze the valve,

To set the water flowing that all my cares resolve.

You too can have a facet to channel in the joy,

It’s free just for the asking for every girl and boy.

The love that flows within then, can wash away the hate,

Empty out the garbage cans and flood it through the gate.

It surges through your being untill a smile comes forth

So let it run my dear ones and never turn it off!

The Big 7 ways to train your brain to be happy

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(Copied from a friend’s face book page. So good I wanted to share it with you all)

“Positive psychology is a new and growing field.
I have sifted through hundreds of studies to find the Big 7 ways to train your brain to be happy. Many of these studies have been discussed in journals, conferences, keynotes, and research reports, but I’ve brought them together for you here.
If you do any of these seven things for two straight weeks, you will feel happier.

So what are the Big 7?
Three Walks + The 20-Minute Replay + Random Acts of Kindness + A Complete Unplug + Hit Flow + 2-Minute Meditations + Five Gratitudes”
– Neil Pasricha
from The Happiness Equation

Let’s take a super quick look at our Big 7 ways to boost our happiness and remember that science says the Happiness Equation STARTS with happiness.

1.Three Walks. Exercise is as effective as Zoloft in reducing depression. Even just three brisk walks can do the trick! Remember that *not* exercising is like taking a depressant and get out there and MOVE YOUR BODY.
2.The 20-Minute Replay. Writing for 20 minutes about a positive experience is a GREAT way to boost your happiness. Scientists call it savoring. Groove the good stuff!
3.Random Acts of Kindness. Did you know that THE fastest, most reliable way to boost your mood is to do something nice for someone else? Yep. Find ways to do something nice!
4.A Complete Unplug. We’ve gotta make waves. Fully on. Fully off. Repeat. Are you training your RECOVERY as much as your “on” phases? Remember that it’s not that we work too hard but that we don’t recover enough. ‪#‎waves
5.Hit Flow. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi tells us that the optimal state of human experience is found when we are engaged in activities that stretch us such that the challenges match our skills. Too much challenge = anxiety. Too little = boredom. The right match? FLOW. Find it!
6.2-Minute Meditations. Meditation is huge. As we discuss in Meditation 101, you don’t need to be a levitating monk in the Himalayas to experience significant benefits. Even just a couple minutes a day keeps the gremlins away.
7.Five Gratitudes. As Neil says, “If you can be happy with the simple things, then it will be simple to be happy.” Find things to be grateful for and focus on them often. What are YOU grateful for today?
There ya go. The Big 7. Which is your favorite and which one do you want to lean into more?!