joy

Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Worst Case Scenario: My Last Day

Daily Prompt: Of all the awful possibilities, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen to you today? Now, what about the best?

The worst thing that could happen to me today would be to find out this was the last day of my life. As I grow older, every day is a precious one, to be lived and enjoyed and celebrated, no matter if the sun shines or the rain falls or the cold winds blow. What would I do if I knew this was the last day to see the sunrise, or the ocean waves roll to shore, to listen to the song of the birds outside my window, or see the smiles on the faces of my grandchildren when they come to visit? My last day to hear the sound of my husband’s voice as we share conversation,  feel his gentle touch and taste his soft kisses?

Well, I would focus on the best thing to happen to me today, which would be to find out this was the last day of my life. For if it was, I would not squander a second. I would fill it, sunrise to sunset with as much life as I could squeeze into 24 hours. I would bask in the sunlight or dance in the rain. I’d play with my grandchildren at the edge of the sea. I’d walk with my husband, hand in hand, leaving footprints in the sand, which last for a mere moment before being washed away by time and tide.  As with those fading footprints, so, too, are the days of our lives. I’d finish my last day sitting on a mountain peak, watching the sun set in a swirl of lovely colors before the light fades away.

Sometimes, I think, because we do not know when our last day will be, we regard them carelessly, and treat them like they will last forever.  However, since  we do not know which day will be our last, we must live each one as if it were. Celebrate the sun’s rise each day, take time to hear the birdsong. Show family and friends we love them, with a phone call or a visit, take time to travel and expand our point of view.  We get so overwhelmed with the business of making a living, we forget to live. We focus on the negative and forget that every cloud has a silver lining. Looking for it takes some effort, but it enriches our lives to acknowledge the good things and disregard the bad.

Take Parkinson’s disease as an example. It was certainly a cloud on my horizon, but because of my early retirement, I’ve had time to do more writing, improve my photography, take courses over the Internet.  I know my mobility will continue to diminish, so we have taken a few cruises to places I never thought I would see in my lifetime, while I can still get around. We shouldn’t put off doing the things we enjoy; life is too short and unpredictable. We need to fill our days with as much joy as we can for as long as we can, because we have only so much time to  live and we must remember to live it well and make it last.

 

Advertisements

Staying in Focus: DailyPrompt: Happy, Happy

Daily Prompt:

What does “happiness” look like to you?


My family makes me happy. Without the love from my mother, sister and brother, their spouses and children, my husband and two sons and my two beautiful grandchildren, I could not be happy.

My friends make me happy – a day’s outing, vacationing together, exchanging letters and email, and sharing good times together – these are the moments in my life I associate with happiness.

But I have had two totally happy moments in my life. moments when what I was experiencing eclipsed everything else, and I stood immersed in the feelings of happiness and joy, oblivious to everything else.

Photo04_2 - Copy - Copy

The first occurred at the top of a lofty mountain peak in Jasper, Alberta. Canada. We had taken a lift up the side of the mountain, and my parents decided to sit and enjoy the view over a cup of coffee. My sister and I decided to climb to the peak of the mountain. We reached the top just as the sun was beginning to drop in the sky.  To the west, the sun set the sky on fire, rays of golden light reaching out toward us’ to the east, clouds diffused the radiance to a gentle glow. The scene just blew me away. I felt a part of something larger, something above and beyond my understanding, a feeling that touched my very soul.  I don’t know if you have ever experienced such a moment, but for me, that moment was pure happiness.IMG_0001_edited-1

Sunrise off the coast of Alaska

Sunrise off the coast of Alaska

a path of gold from the sun to me
a path of gold from the sun to me

a path of gold from the sun to me

The second occurred two summers ago on our first cruise to Alaska.  I woke up just as the sun was making its appearance in the Land of the Midnight Sun.  As I watched the sun grew brighter, rising in the sky and chasing away the shadows of night. I grabbed my camera and caught the sun as it painted a path of gold across the water. In that moment, it was just me and the sun and the ocean and once again that veil of pure contentment settled on my shoulders, and my spirit filled with happiness and joy. We would go on to enjoy the pristine beauty of Alaska, the waterfalls and icebergs,  and even  encounter humpback whales, but it was that moment of my first sunrise at sea  and that sunset  atop a mountain in Jasper, Alberta that I will that I will hold close forever, and remember  as my moments of pure happiness and joy.

My poems:

Summit

standing on the summit

of a mountain way up high,

where only rocks and boulders

rise to meet the mighty sky,

to the west the sun is sinking

and it sets the sky ablaze,

to the east the rolling clouds

diffuse the colors to a haze,

and all the myriad problems

that so often trouble me.

Are forgotten as I witness

nature’s awesome majesty.

Jasper, Canada

1975

Sunrise , Sunset at Sea

 

I watch the sun rise

light vanquishes the darkness

and color returns

 

the calm sea reflects

ribbons of orange and pink

I stand mesmerized

 

as the sun rises

it paints a path of gold light

for me to follow

 

as the sun lowers

bands of dark purple and blue

bruise the evening sky

 

rays of pale sunlight

reach out across the water

the sun bids farewell

 

I watch the sun set

the shades of night seep in

the sky veiled in gray

 

the calm sea darkens

a weary sun now at rest

color fades to black

                              pc ‘2012

 

 

 

 

Staying in Focus: Focus On: Caregivers

Yesterday I wrote about the unsung heroes we walk amidst everyday, those facing a battle with disease, or intense pain, perhaps even death. Life is a mixture of joy and pain. Our job is not to let the pain diminish the joy. This year has been a lesson in that for me. Mom, joyfully celebrating 90 years of life amidst the nightmare of cancer and chemo; a wonderful vacation in Europe, to return to the news my brother has cancer, too; two weddings, full of youth and promise, followed this week by the death of an old and dear friend. And, most joyfully, the news that my sister’s first grandchild will be born in April.
As someone with a degenerative disease, I am ever thankful for the caregivers in my life. The friends who drive me places, my husband who picks up the slack of things I can no longer do alone like grocery shopping or taking me to my hair appointment, my son who calls at lunch time to chat and make sure I am okay my sister who will bring mom up for a visit or pick her up to take her home.

While everyone asks how I am, few people think to ask Bill how he is feeling and coping with the changes this disease has brought to our lives.  I wrote this poem for all the caregivers out there, who out of love offer all they have and all they can do for a loved one requiring special care. People like Debbi’s partner Richard, Julie, wife of Dick , my husband, Bill, and friends Debbi, Linda and Denise my mom’s friend, Betty. In my book, you are all heroes. And angels come in many forms. There are people in your life that may  be angels or aspire to be. Let them shoulder some of the burden once in a while. In other words don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Step by Step

with burdens heavy on your shoulders
sometimes you want to run away
but the sun will rise again tomorrow
the gift of light, another day
another day to love and care
to find the strength to carry on
for step by step you walk together
although the road is rough and long
do not despair, you’re not alone
for angels walk beside you
to give you strength to carry on
and toward the light they guide you
from the darkness into peace
and  all your burdens, they will ease.

.                                                    -pc 2013

 

 

Focus On: Dr. Seuss, Smiles and the Moments of our Lives

        don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened — Dr. Seuss

I came across this quote by one of my favorite writers, Dr. Seuss, and I realized how nicely his words speak to the cultivation of mindfulness.   How often do we miss out on the joys in our lives by anticipating their conclusion?.  How many moments are lost to our attention by our fear of living them and letting them go? This can apply to everything from a long anticipated vacation to a simple weekend.

Let’s take today, for example.  I have a choice.  I can fill my day up with things I enjoy doing with mindful attention, or sit here and lament the fact that it’s already 10:00 AM on Saturday morning and the weekend is already slipping through my fingers.

A great example of this is Christmas.  We spend so long anticipating this celebration. We decorate, buy and wrap gifts, plan menus and are so wrapped up ourselves in the planning that we hardly take time to really enjoy the moments of the season itself.  When we suddenly find ourselves sitting amidst the torn wrappings or looking at the remains of the holiday dinner, we feel a big letdown.  Christmas Day itself becomes anticlimactic, and we get the blues as we  dwell on the fact that it’s over, when we should be happy to have had the opportunity to enjoy this holiday with our loved ones once again.

Last summer, when we  were on our cruise to Alaska, we noticed there were floor mats in the elevators with the day of the week printed on them. Now, we could look at those mats each morning and think , “Oh, no, it’s Wednesday already.  Our cruise is almost over”, or we could choose to smile and think, “another beautiful day on this cruise is waiting for me to discover and enjoy.” A simple change of perspective can change the way you live your life.

I must admit  I did let the blues slip in when this experience in Alaska was over. It’s hard to go from a life of pampered leisure on a cruise ship, or a week hiking in a national park, or returning from a part of the world we never thought we’d see, and go back to life as usual, with the harsh reality of work, bills to pay and doctor visits to endure.

But mindfulness teaches us the importance of being present in the moment because this moment is all we really have.  It is pointless to waste it lookinging back, or anticipating the future. In this moment, right now, the sun is shining on a beautiful Saturday morning,. I am writing which gives me great pleasure, I feel good, I’m not in pain, I have much to smile about and I don’t have to be in Alaska to do it. (Although it would be nice…)

So let’s embrace the moments of our lives with attention and joy, and not squander them with regret, but  rather celebrate them with a smile – – because they happened.

Moments

Nothing is worth more than today,
A simple thought — but true,
For the past is just a memory
and no one has promised tomorrow to you.
So embrace today as the moments unfold,
Each one more precious than silver or gold,
Love and be loved, live and forgive,
and show true compassion for all living things
Then you’ll find peace of mind and joy of the soul
And your spirit will soar on gossamer wings.
                                                               pc ‘08