Thinking Out Loud 10/18/18

It’s rained here every day this week. Rain is always welcome in West Texas, some years we hardly get any at all. The damp, gray days don’t make me sad, but rather reflective. I tend to spend more time thinking about the person I want to be, and if the things I do are keeping me headed in that direction.

How do you feel when you are texting or having a conversation with someone and they start making snide remarks about someone else? Does it make you uncomfortable, or do you find yourself laughing in agreement and maybe joining in? It sometimes seems so easy to fall into that trap, even if your heart is telling you that it’s not a nice thing to do.

I wonder why we tend to be so critical of others, even people we care about. Does it make me feel better about myself if I point out other people’s weaknesses or imperfections? Maybe mine aren’t quite so bad then, or at least I am in good company.

Or maybe I just like the sense of camaraderie with the person I’m talking to, and talking about other people makes for easy and often humorous conversation.

But every time I say something unkind about someone else I feel a twinge of sadness and disappointment in myself. The little voice inside me asks why I had to say that, it wasn’t necessary.

I remember a quote I once read that said great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, and small minds talk about people. Small-minded is not the kind of person I want to be.

If I want to be thought of and remembered as a kind and compassionate person, I need to take more care of my thoughts and what comes out of my mouth. I need to become less critical. It really isn’t that hard to think of something nice to say, there is no excuse ever to be unkind!

-JTS-

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Thinking Out Loud 10/14/18

Our sunny warm day here in West Texas has dropped from 75 degrees to 45 tonite, and the chilly wind reminds us that autumn will soon be drawing to a close.

I love Fall, but the thought of cold gray days to come makes me sad. I know my Midwest family and Northeast friends laugh when I call 40’s cold, we are admittedly spoiled here and more acclimated to heat. We typically get very few snow days, and it usually thaws within a day or so.

I don’t miss the sub-zero cold of my growing up years in South Dakota, and I certainly don’t miss driving on ice covered roads! I do have to admit that I miss the magic of that first big snowfall, and Christmas will never feel like Christmas to me when our landscape is brown and dry and we are outside in sweaters or lightweight jackets. I miss seeing my breath frosty in the air, and hearing the snow crunch underfoot.

Winter, and the approaching holiday season, is not my favorite time of the year for a lot of reasons, some of them personal, memories I’d rather not remember, and family too spread out to gather.

My father passed at the end of December, and my mother passed early in January… funerals on bitter cold days in Dakota, more sad memories. I usually manage to shake off the winter blues about mid-January.

This year I plan to do better, to keep my mind active and stay busy, and to do fun things for family and friends. In other words, to spend less time thinking about myself and more time thinking about others. An attitude adjustment might just be the best Christmas present I could give myself! 🙂

– JTS-

Thinking Out Loud 10/11/18

My daughter’s name is Inshallah. It is an Arabic expression which means “if God so wills”, and is commonly included in Arabic conversation to express the speaker’s wish for a given future event to occur.

I first encountered the word Inshallah in the writings of Kahlil Gibran. It affirms my belief that all things happen according to the will of God. I often include it in my thoughts and prayers, especially when I am hoping for or requesting something. I think it is a mindset we all could benefit from, a reminder that we are not in this alone.

Peaceful mind… peaceful heart… peaceful life, Inshallah.

-JTS-

Thinking Out Loud 10/10/18

I was thinking today about priorities, and how some folks seem to have theirs a little mixed up. I’m sure that could also have been said about me at various times in my life. As you move through life your responsibilities and your priorities change.

When I was young, my priorities were taking care of my kids, maintaining my marriage, and working to keep the bills paid. That last one probably came first more often than not, because it had to. Working wasn’t an option, at least for me. I was raised with a strong work ethic and you kept a job and took care of your financial responsibilities no matter what.

Unfortunately a steady income wasn’t always a priority with my exes, neither was our marriage, sadly. One spouse actually told me on more than one occasion that I was the number three priority in his life, right behind marijuana and making music with the band. Naive as I was, I thought I’d move up in rank with time. In thirteen years I never did.

One thing I’ve learned about successful marriages is that no matter how different you might be from each other, you’ve got to be on the same page when it comes to your priorities and goals in life.

Now that I am retired and my kids are grown and on their own, my priorities are focused on faith, spending time with Papa Bear, taking care of the furkids and house, bettering myself, and reaching out to friends and family with a little encouragement when I can. Note that nowhere in that list do you see fame, fortune, power, image, partying, or acquiring lots of stuff. Those things have little value to me.

I also have little time for people who are loud, self-absorbed, contentious, close-minded, prejudiced, entitled, or morally bankrupt. I prefer to surround my myself with kind, positive people who are trying to be the best they can be and don’t hesitate to reach out to help others. The company you keep matters.

I think it’s important to re-evaluate our priorities now and then, taking an honest look at where, what, and with whom we are spending our time and energy. It is never to late in life to choose a new direction, to become more true to yourself. With each year I am becoming more me, and it feels good!

-JTS-

Thinking Out Loud 10/09/18

Letting go, mentally and emotionally, of things we can’t control has to be one of the most difficult lessons life presents. Letting go means acknowledging that you don’t have control over what is happening, and its super-uncomfortable to feel out of control. This is especially true for people who have been in situations where someone bad held control over their life at some point. That kind of control is scary and dangerous, sometimes even deadly.

But there is another kind of letting go that doesn’t put us at risk for harm, instead it brings us peace. I am talking about “Let Go – Let God”, acknowledging the situations in which we are truly powerless and trusting that God is in control and will work things out in whatever way is ultimately best.

There are some situations in life that we do have control over, and in those cases we need to make good choices, take action, and take responsibility for what happens.

There are other situations that we may not have full control over but we have the ability to affect the outcome by our words or actions, or the choices we make. In those situations we need to do the best we can with what we know to make the right choice and do the right thing.

But we will encounter many situations in life that involve us or people we care about, where there is nothing we can do to affect the outcome. Those are the hardest times, the times that cause us the most stress and worry, the situations that tear at our hearts and keep us awake at night.

What we do when we encounter those kinds of situations makes all the difference. All the worrying will quickly wear us down, but it won’t change anything or make it better. If we dwell on it for long our minds tend to jump to worst case scenarios, and it is easy to let fear overtake us.

I have been in that place of fear and the accompanying hopelessness more times in life than I can count. I have lived my life with a sense of doom, always wondering what would go wrong next, and not realizing that in doing so I was drawing even more negative energy into my life.

I have learned that, for me, the way to reduce the level of fear and anxiety in my life is two fold. The first step is to live life one day at a time, staying focused in the present and dealing with the issues of the day.

I believe that we are given enough strength and courage to get us through the next 24 hours, and then the next 24 after that. Don’t use up your energy and fearful thinking about what the future might hold. More often than not the things we fear most never happen.

The second step sounds simple, but it can be the hardest if you are a control freak like me. Let go, let God!  Relinquish your desperate desire and attempts to control things that are beyond your control, and place your faith in God to take care of those situations in His own way and His own time.

When I finally learned to say “I can’t resolve this God, but I know you love me and I trust you to take care of it,” I found the secret to peace of mind. Lay it down, let it go, let God show you what He can do. I promise you’ll sleep better at night.

-JTS-

Thinking Out Loud 10/07/18

Thinking Out Loud 10/07/18

I have worn the same pair of earrings for the past eight years, small gold hoops with tiny diamond chips set in the band. They are part of my inheritance from my dad. I wear them in memory of him and hardly ever take them out.

Last night as we were getting into bed I reached up to push my braided hair back and discovered that the left earring was missing. Papa Bear and I searched everywhere for it, not being sure when or where it fell off. We couldn’t find it, and I went to sleep sad, resigned to the knowledge that things are just things and it’s the memories in our heart that are important.

This morning I woke up thinking about it again as I headed to the bathroom. As I reached out with my foot to straighten the bathmat I heard something drag along with it. Pulling back the mat I found my earring underneath it! I probably caught it on my towel when I washed my hair yesterday and didn’t hear it fall on the soft terry bathmat. What a great way to start the morning!

This has happened to me several times in the past, where I’ve misplaced something and can’t find it, only to be led directly to it the next day. The earring is back in place and I am thankful! 🙂

-JTS-

Thinking Out Loud 10/05/18

Do you believe in miracles? I do! I’ve witnessed too many not to believe.

I know someone who has run out of obvious answers and needs something more. I don’t make it a practice to tell God what I think He needs to do for me or in anyone else’s life because, while I don’t know His plans, I am certain they are a lot better than mine. Instead, I pray for comfort, strength, courage, and insight, and sometimes for miracles. Anything is possible if you believe. If you have a moment, please say a prayer for my friend. ♥️

While I’m on the subject of prayers, I want to express some gratitude for prayers answered…

I am so thankful that as of last night our kitty Smokey has turned the corner, and after five worrisome days is starting to feel better and act like himself again!

I am also thankful that my cold is a little better today, and that I no longer have to struggle with work issues when I am sick. I remember grumpy bosses and coworkers if you called in sick, and annoyed ones if you showed up and shared the germs… it’s a no win situation.

I am, as always, so thankful for my understanding and supportive spouse. He brought home yummy deli soup and sandwiches for supper last night, and overlooks the dust when I don’t have the energy to chase it.

Today I am also mighty thankful that someone close to me who is fighting cancer has faith strong enough to take the journey day by day.

One more prayer being answered every day… helping me learn to maintain balance and stay centered so that the winds of life and relationships don’t toss me to and fro. Peace begins within.

Have a good weekend coming up! Take time to do something that makes you happy, and a little time to do nothing at all!

-JTS-