A Little Elbow Grease Can Go A Long Way

It is such a complicated world that we live in, isn’t it? Though it feels that things are just getting increasingly more complicated throughout the years, I know that as long as man has roamed the earth there has been hunger, pain, suffering, and war (stick with me here, it gets better).

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the negative aspects of the world lately because of all of this election nonsense. I say nonsense because in what other country do they start campaigning and throwing commercials in our face for a year and a half before the actual election?  It gets to be sickening after a while.

Of course the other piece that is even more sickening than that—and destructive—is Trump. He was in my dream last night, or shall I say nightmare, walking the beach with these crazy sunglasses on, his lips pouting, his hair flopping in the breeze.  Why I’m dreaming about Trump (and without a shirt on!) I don’t know; as if it doesn’t cause enough stomach aches in real life, now he has to show up when I’m sleeping, too.

I don’t follow politics as closely as the rest of my family, but enough to know that I am scared. What has been disheartening for me is to see people at his rallies cheering when he says something despicable, whether it’s racist, violent, delusional, or just plain dumb.  I think living in my little bubble here outside of Boston sometimes has me forget that there are plenty of people in the country (never mind the world) who don’t necessarily think like I do (not like everybody in this neck of the woods thinks exactly the same, but the north east is pretty progressive and liberal compared to some other parts of the country).  I am just going to say it and maybe it seems dramatic, but not only am I scared for people living in poverty and people facing racism in their everyday lives and people who somehow think that Trump can give them a leg up just because he doesn’t have a history of being a known face in politics (instead he’s known for real estate, beauty pageants, and the Apprentice), but I am scared for Jewish people.  There, I said it.  I’ve had little itty-bitty bouts of anti-Semitism thrown my way in my 39 years, but I have a feeling that things could get a lot (lot) more crazy if he was in charge.

Remember I said that it would get better?

Having said all of this, I want to lean towards the light because otherwise, it seems hard to get out of bed some days, doesn’t it? When we think about all of the suffering in the world?  This morning I was listening to Andrea Bocelli in my car on the way to work and I can just never get over how beautiful his voice is; it still gives me goose bumps after all these years.  And it made me smile—knowing that in a world so full of bad, there is also so much beauty.  I thought about a call that I got recently at my job from a man who was out of work and scared that he and his wife and four children were going to lose their home.  I asked if he had gone to a food pantry and he said yes, occasionally, but then had stopped, because he “felt like others needed it more.”  He said that when he did finally get back on his feet, however that would happen, he told his kids that they were going to buy food and give it to the homeless in their town.  My mouth dropped open—here was a man who was suffering, who had taken care of his family and worked and then gotten sick and now was living without any real guarantee of keeping his home or putting food on the table, and here he was already thinking about other people.  It again reminded me of the goodness in this world.

And that’s what we need, especially now, I think: To be reminded of all of the good that surrounds us, because there truly is so much of it.  A friend who will come over and watch a cancer documentary with you knowing that boxes of tissues will have to be present, food from a friend of a friend who you have never met but who hears your story and then drops off pasta and meatloaf after a surgery, the friend who has her Mom’s bible study all praying for you (whether we have faith in the same religion or not, a prayer is a prayer and I could not be more grateful for the healing prayers being sent to me with such love).  The light of this world can be seen in a person, an animal, an object, a feeling, but it is important to look for it, to acknowledge it, to place it in not just a fleeting thought, but a forever-lasting book of gratitude.

My friend M says that after a tough time she began to wake up every day looking for the “play” in life. Now she sees it more often than she ever has because she is open to seeing it.  I love this expression:  Not “You have to see it to believe it, but “You have to believe it to see it.”

I look for signs, miracles, feather, beauty. I recently turned 39 and SHL took me up to NH and you should have seen the look on his face before we left– so excited to get me away for a few days so that I could just untangle myself from the surgeries and the to-do lists and work and the anxiety.  I really felt it; not just the exuberance at being able to play for 5 straight days, but also the way in which he was taking care of me. I felt and still feel the joy in getting birthday wishes from my closest circle of friends to people I grew up with, people I went to college with, and people I worked with.  I seek out connections and I try to stay-in-the-moment, to realize that today is all that any of us have.  Realistically there are days when I can’t do it, but the days that I can, I bask in it.

I know that everybody has a right to their own likes and dislikes, perceptions of the world and values, and I understand that getting older can be difficult. But I love my birthday because it is a celebration of being alive, of being loved, and of making wishes.  And I pray for lots and lots (and lots) more birthdays so that I can cultivate even more joy and fun in my life.   I don’t think that life was meant to be this hard, but I’m realizing now that by default at times it certainly can be.  Sometimes maybe we need to put a little bit of elbow grease into making things feel easier (which seems counter-intuitive, but what I mean by this is that instead of sitting back and not being open to change, a little bit of hard work and insightfulness into self-care and joyful living can be enough to move the energy around) .  What does this mean to you?  For me it means that I listen to my gut, I meditate, I weep when I need to, but ultimately anything that crowds out my joy has got to go (as much as it can).

Lean towards the light, I hear Gabby Bernstein say. And so I do.



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