Faith Trembles — The Optimists Journal
I’ll be honest with you, this weeks blog almost didn’t happen, not because I didn’t write, but because I was beating myself up over the struggle to maintain my optimists lens at many points throughout the week. I had to coach myself to remember that optimism isn’t about blindly trusting everything will be the way we think it’s best, it’s about having the courage to dig deep and trust in our skills to know we can handle whatever comes at us, whether that brings immediate joy or continued growth. At many points this week, this wasn’t easy for me. From school being done for the year, to the boys volleyball season being officially cancelled, to missing the beach, the water, and volleyball, I definitely faced some challenges in the reframe. But early this morning, it came to me from a simple quote from the indomitable Maya Angelou and the conversation that became my church last Sunday as I walked my dog:
Simple wisdom that brought tears to my eyes. In two words she reminded me that it is human to doubt, to lose your center and your grounding, but that we have everything we need within us to acknowledge it and get back to our foundation, our true self. It is our human duty when we are in this place, to circle back and find our footing, because when we do, all things are possible. Listen to her story, Part 1 and Part 2, and tell me that human potential is not utterly awe inspiring.
So, being that daily normal is going through a major adjustment right now, I woke with some simple steps to manage the struggle and the household when it gets real, hope they help:
- Admit When You Struggle — Let it out. This week I felt alone, a lot. Even with the kids around me, who I know are exactly who they are supposed to be, who make me laugh and bring me joy, silliness, dancing, and laughter, it’s hard not to have another adult, to talk to in the evenings. I remember what it was like, and in my saddest moments, it leaves me wanting someone else to BBQ, listen, and rub my shoulders when I’m tired…my dad is so good at this. When I talk to my parents on the phone, I’m so grateful for their experience together, there is no one on earth they would rather be sheltered in place with, and that is going on 50 years this summer. They are the greatest example of selfless love. Loneliness has been my greatest struggle and reframe this week, but just letting it out makes it feel so much better. I do have people who have my back, listen, and encourage, who make my life rich, deep, and meaningful. So I say thank you for that to them, trust that I am where I’m supposed to be, and keep moving.
2. Experience, Don’t Manage — With all of this togetherness, it can seem like a tentative place to express our feelings, but something that I realize I became good at as I got older, was managing life for a certain result that I believed had to happen, instead of experiencing life, expressing my feelings, and trusting that I would be ok no matter what the result. We are all strong, resilient, and have everything within us to thrive, even under difficult conditions. But management over experience looks like controlling the pace and topic of conversations, and carefully steering uncomfortable feelings away, back under the surface where they have a chance to grow roots in lower vibrations of shame and guilt, rather than bringing them to the surface so we can experience love and acceptance. Self management hesitates to speak for fear of the response or rejection. When I look back, I can see in my minds eye, and feel it as the muscles in my neck start to tense, that I was an excellent manager. I’ve changed that. From a parents perspective, and especially in these uncertain times, I want to help them figure out their feelings. Loving them best is to sit and listen to whatever arises within them and letting them know it’s ok to let it out. It’s not my job to figure out how to get it neatly tucked back in, like a freshly made bed with hospital corners…I hate it when my feet can’t get out of the sheets!
3. Do Your Own Dishes — Half the time, I’m living under a roof with 5 teenagers (ok, one of them is a month shy of 13, but he’s 5'11, about to pass me in size, and definitely capable, and I love having an extra one of Lauren’s teammate who is waiting to get back to Spain). I would love to say that from my earliest parenting days I have been the driver who had the patience to sit back and teach and watch as they learned. But in the earlier days, I saw serving as loving and did way too many things for them. I also saw my way as the fastest and most efficient to get things done. When it comes to kids, house work, and life skills, teaching is loving, so the dishes…and a lot more daily chores are shifting to them, so that we emerge from this struggle as a more cohesive, able bodied team.
4. Nap — Not feeling guilty about this! The days are giving us time to rest from traffic, from duties outside our homes, and our usual running around business. Try the power nap and see if it works for your biology. Set a timer on your phone and let yourself drift off for 20 minutes. It a game changer for active recovery and helps us manage stress and build our immune systems…two things that are on the front burner right now.
5. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t — Here is the reframe…this one brings my first point full circle. Say thank you out loud a lot (another tip from the Maya podcast). I’m grateful for quiet mornings and early light, my health, my kids who make me laugh until I cry, my animals who sit with me in the quiet, my tight circle of people who do, in fact, get me, the roof over my head, and the food in my fridge. There is no perfect life, but gratitude makes the present moment perfect. I’m going to do my best to stay there…and when my faith trembles, I know how to bring it back.
As I sit here this morning with the pink light rising in my backyard, my own quote is coming to mind.
“Sometimes you just need another sunrise.”
Morning is best. It’s going to be a good day.
Originally published at https://theoptimistsjournal.com on April 5, 2020.