Thoughtful Thursday

It’s been a challenging week for sure. I came down with a bad cold that sort of knocked me off my feet. Except, when you’re an adult and have children, you don’t have the option to be down very long. But after as much rest as I could possibly manage, I’m beginning to feel like my normal spunky self again…so I thought I’d jump on here quickly before the NyQuil kicks in (lol).

One thing that has increasingly been on my mind lately is CONTENTMENT.

Contentment is a mental or emotional state of satisfaction maybe drawn from being at ease in one’s situation, body and mind.

I used to primarily associate the idea of being content with material things. If a person is content, they’re less inclined to fill their lives with endless material things. That statement certainly carries some weight. However, I’ve come to realize contentment in more than a few areas of my life and it has brought me a great deal of peace. I no longer feel the need to be surrounded by people to fill any sort of void or uncomfortableness with being “alone”. I’m content with what I have to offer myself in the way of self love and encouragement; no longer yearning for affirmation in one way or another from others. I’m content with just trying my best each day and having faith in what my life has in store without constantly living for the next moment.

Our society thrives off of flaunting their accomplishments, and with the help of social media, provides many outlets on which to do so.  While that may serve as motivation to some, I’m learning the beauty in doing things a little quieter in life and how much satisfaction comes from recognizing areas of personal growth (even if those thoughts never leave my mind or heart).

And on that note, here’s a picture of me and my two biggest sources of contentment (and happiness) in life:

Transition

“It’s the oldest story in the world. One day, you’re 17 and you’re planning for someday. And then quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And then someday is yesterday. And this is your life.” – Anonymous

I’m not sure those words could reflect more accurately how I’ve been feeling as I approach my 30th birthday. Time has evaded me. Almost three decades on this intricate planet of ours and I still have an overwhelming amount of self-awareness to achieve. I would file the past three years in particular under “lessons learned” and “harsh realities”. Life changing for both the good and the bad. In that time, I have managed to experience some of the most exhilarating moments of my life; hit rock bottom (or what I certainly hope is my rock bottom), both emotionally and financially; seen some of the ugliest sides of life, as well as people (myself included); rebuilt some relationships and abandoned others completely; and struggled with a mountain of guilt, regret, and loss (not all in that order).

There have been times I didn’t think I could possibly feel more alone…imprisoned in my own whirling thoughts. Times I didn’t think I could feel more alive and enlightened. And times I truly didn’t know how or what to feel, so I sort of just stopped feeling. But that, I’ve come to understand and embrace, is life. The only thing predictable about it is it’s unwavering ability to be unpredictable.

This period of transition I find myself on the brink of is pivotal to my evolution. No, the earth won’t stop turning the day I turn 30; nor will life suddenly change in some sort of drastic or abrupt way. However, the opportunity presents itself to exhale the negative from the past decade of my life (a decade full of self doubt and self scrutiny, more rash decisions than I’d like to recall, and more hard losses than I was able to cope with) and to instead breathe in a new decade. One of potential, one where I focus on self love, personal growth, and strengthening my ability to be more patient and understanding of others, and most importantly, MYSELF.

photo

Friday

It’s Friday morning. The only weekday morning I don’t have my children. This usually means I can wake up to the sunlight peeking through the shades, rather than the sound of fighting over whose bowl of cereal is more full or the nails on chalkboard sound of cartoon characters blaring through the TV. Don’t get me wrong, I love those little monsters with every fiber in my body. But the silence and ease of Friday mornings remains idyllic.

As I listen to music and get ready for my day, I look to the coming weekend with anticipation. I have a few things planned, but for the most part, I’m free (which doesn’t happen often enough). I decide to head to my favorite coffee shop in town. It’s downtown and completely out of my way to work, but I love the place. The inside is too small for the amount of patrons they see on a daily basis; especially on Saturday mornings when people are out enjoying the farmer’s market. What it lacks in size, however, it makes up for in charm. The establishment is a reminder of the small town that this rapidly growing commuter location once was. The young employees are always eager and cheery and dare I say, actually seem to enjoy their job. Their Chai lattes (my drink of choice) taste earthy and robust, unlike the over processed/syrupy concoction Starbucks has to offer. Their bagels are always so fresh and toasted to perfection. It’s just one of those things in life that make me happy, albeit small and seemingly insignificant.

Upon walking in, I see familiar faces. A group of old retired men that sit there every morning chatting about sports and politics. I wonder how many of them consider that the highlight of their day. I’m reminded that no matter our age, we never lose that need to belong, to be in the company of peers. I also see a Grandma sitting with her little Granddaughter, enjoying a drink and something sweet. The smile on both of their faces is so bright that I can’t help but smile myself. They are unsuccessfully taking a “selfie”, so I offer to take their picture for them. The Grandma gladly relinquishes the phone to me and tells me they are having a special “Grandma/Granddaughter Day”. Growing up, I never had Grandparents I was close to and in that quick moment, I was happy to have captured the memory they were making together. How beautiful that life offers us so many different types of relationships to nourish and enjoy.

As I wait for my order, I sit at an empty table next to a middle aged woman. She was probably in her mid to late forties, sitting in yoga pants, reading the newspaper and sipping her perfectly foamed cappuccino. I envied her for a second, sitting there enjoying her morning, with no apparent rush. Suddenly she looks over at me with an endearing smile and says: “I love your outfit; your skirt with those cute sandals….very pretty. I saw you walk in and wanted to tell you.” Those are the best compliments, the random ones….with no ulterior motive, no hesitations. I thanked her and headed off to work.

On my drive I thought about those few minutes in the coffee shop. How many people we come across on a daily basis and how we have the power to impact one another with a smile, a kind word, or gesture. How we are all in different stages of our lives and yet we are all in pursuit of the same basic things. I wondered, too, where I’d be when I was that woman’s age, the one that offered the compliment. Approaching my 30th birthday now, feeling the pressure of having life more “together” than I do at this moment, although not really knowing what that entails. Wondering how I will let the events in my life shape me in the next 15-20 years. Will I let them make me bitter or better?  Will I continue to look for the good in people and in the situations that I am faced with?

On this particular Friday morning, however, I am a young, single, working Mother of two. Like the loving Grandma, the relaxed middle aged woman, and the retired comrade’s, I have something to offer to those around me. With drink in hand and head held high, I’m ready to take on the day; and the world for that matter.

coffee

“Wake up early. Drink coffee. Be ambitious, keep your priorities straight, your mind right, and your head up. Do well, live well, and dress really well. Do what you love, love what you do. It is time to start living.” ~ Anonymous

Perspective

When I initially thought about sharing my writing, my first thought was one of self-doubt. Who would really care to read the things I have to say? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a people person, I have no problem holding interesting conversations. In general, I feel I have a lot to offer others, on an intellectual level, as well as an emotional and empathetic level. However, by most standards, I’ve done nothing spectacular in my life. I have not traveled the world (though I’d love to), I have not endured anything especially horrific or had to overcome any monumental obstacles. I do, however, possess something invaluable. That is my outlook on life, my perception and perspective that are unique because they are all my own.

It is a beautiful thing to know that we wake up every day with the ability to make it a positive one. We choose what we focus our thoughts on, how we interact with others, and how we handle the situations we are faced with. It’s been said “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” The moment I began to focus on this fact, is the moment I began to feel at peace. Too many nights in my relatively young life have been spent regretting the things I did not accomplish that day, even though I was going to bed mentally and physically drained. Until one day when everything seemed much more simplistic in my head. Did I smile and laugh today? Did I speak to someone I loved today? Did I eat good food, drink clean water and wake up in a comfortable bed? Are my children happy and well cared for?  The answer to all of those questions was of course, yes, every day. Our perspective is a powerful force in our life.

In the words of the intriguing author, Oscar Wilde: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” I’ve chosen to look at the stars, and it is an amazing view.