Monday, January 24, 2011

Gratitude and Seeing the Positive


Every now and then it’s good to stop and take stock of life; life is so chock full of problems that it is all too easy to be consumed by them. Watch the news, listen to ‘friends’ talking, read the papers…where are the good stories? Where’s the celebration of life? What’s the point in complaining all the time?
My life is not so different to many people’s – a bit of fun, a lot of hard work, many chances to practice holding my tongue…over the week leading up to Christmas I was working 17hr days trying to finish an ill-timed project that I really wanted to present well…and finding out at the same time that my pay was going to be late…from every source that owed me. A ‘brek’ Christmas. I could’ve been ‘vex’, ok, I was a little…but after a very short moment of that, I was instantly back in the grateful mode. Why? Well, it’s simply a life choice that I make; I find I can’t rationalize heaping negative upon negative and figuring that in life, that makes positive…not in my world.
On the last day of my teaching mini-career, I was required to attend a ‘Professional Development Day’. I did not want to go. But, I sucked it up and convinced myself that it was the ‘right thing to do’… well I must be a genius, because it certainly was! It was one of those life-changing Oprah-Aha moments. At the end of the day I really understood what making positive choices was all about.
Just two days ago I was telling one of my ‘daughters by another mother’ about that day; she’s been feeling the rough end of transitioning from one of my adopted daughter-students into an employee…and let’s just say it hasn’t been a smooth transition!  That same project that I was working 17hrs a day on, and another volunteer activity (Hurricane Tomas) were her tasks, and in all honesty, there were failings on all sides, but of course, as an employee, junior, newbee, she was in a position many of us have experienced before; being sure you have some right, are not the only one who failed to do what you were supposed to, but not in a position to be able to come out without a good set ah scratches. Guilty as charged, even if others were needing to be charged too!
I am fairly sure I’ve mentioned this before but anyway…that last day at school at this Professional Development Day I was dreading, Peace Corps volunteer gave us a super-compressed version of a youth programme that essentially gets you to understand that, no matter how bad the choices on offer - could be bad, worse and “Hell No!” - your choice of action will affect the follow-on. Your choice is the most powerful element in what happens.
Essentially, in the case when things go awry, you can choose to be vexed and stew – and get sour stomach and frown lines; you can choose to mend whatever bridges may be in danger but secretly plot revenge…and get sour stomach and frown lines…or you can choose to forgive, apologize and learn from experience, you know, accept that we’re all human, and be grateful for having had the opportunity for whatever positive experiences were woven into the ‘problem’. Grateful that you are so powerful that you can choose not to let a bad scene grow into a weight that breaks you, that you have the savvy to find the positive, learn, see beyond, the ‘obvious’. No sour stomach, but plenty happiness and confidence results. In time, the ‘obvious’ starts to take on a whole new persona, it becomes more and more obvious that most of the time we’re stewing, we are the ones being cooked in our own pot…and when we decide not to stew, we get to savor the delicious desserts.
I can almost here some people saying “Me!?! I not groveling behind THAT person!” “Apologize! Not before them!” Well ok, that’s your choice…if you chose to play the victim, be the hard-done-by one, be the righteous one…whatever character you choose…then that is the life you choose for yourself. It’s not the live you’re forced to bear… it’s the life you choose.
When you ready, you can choose to join the happier, more powerfilled people who understand that taking responsibility is a choice of freedom, has nothing at all to do with letting people trample you – it’s all about being capable, strong, moving forward. Being grateful is a powerful thing.
And before my ‘child from another mother’ thinks I think she’s totally playing the hard-done-by character, no, with a little encouragement she stood up and apologized even though she felt others should be taking some of the responsibility for the failures too, she showed she was mature enough to bite her lip and be the better person. I hope she isn’t plotting revenge…I don’t think she is :-D
View looking south to Petit Piton, St. Lucia
Really, there’s way too much going on that’s genuinely bad and genuinely is beyond our immediate ability to control – crime, violence, war… it’s not about pretending these don’t exist, it’s about making sure what is positive is not lost in the darkness. That instead, it’s given as much of our energy and attention as is possible – about adding our little bit of positive energy and positive focus to the universe. Think about the image of how much hope just a tiny shining light can give when all around is dark.
I think that when we focus our energy on finding and paying respect to the positive things, that’s how they grow, that’s how we’ll have the strength and clear mind to find ways to combat the real problems in life. And if we don’t, unfortunately, the positive will be out of sight and become harder and harder for people to see when faced with the tough decisions life gives us everyday.
So, once again on this blog I get to say I am grateful. Grateful for the hard-knocks lessons that make the good-times seem even better, grateful for the pressures that forced me to understand we all have our shortcomings and our strengths, allowed me to find ways I could grow and become more content, more confident, more able. Grateful for the hands that stretch out beyond all normal human capacity to hold me or you or anyone up when we’re too weak to hold ourselves...
Grateful for hard work...;-)
Ok, ok, most of the work was done by Tim...
Grateful for the days when you can just kick back relax
Pigeon Island Causeway, St. Lucia
Grateful for the natural beauty that persists despite us; 
Pigeon Island View North
Harrison's Cave, Barbados
grateful for the manmade beauty that the gifted among us make for us…
Ok Liz, where is this beautiful stained glass ceiling?
Grateful for pets...
The late "Pickles" He was a laugh at times...
Find the positive.The list could go on for ever...