So many of life’s decisions are money-driven: which college is most affordable for my graduate? … will the family be okay if something happens to me? … should I retire now, or wait a few years? … are those investments growing or will they be in the tank soon? Curbside, or in-store shopping?
It’s a luxury, really, to be able to ask these questions. Many of the families we affect through our writings are wondering how to heat the house, never mind investments or 401-K’s.
They are scrambling to keep the kids in school and deciding which creditors can be paid this month. Sure, some regrettable choices have landed them in a world of hurt, but aren’t we all one emotion shy of making the wrong choice?
Our resilient hearts are possibly the most valuable currency we have. One thing we can all bank on, for sure: we have the currency of caring.
These intangibles — these treasures of survival — are the currency that can never be stolen, lost or wrongly invested.
Let’s take a look at our impressive portfolio:
We have …
The bankroll of unexpected blessings.
The treasury of compassion.
The cache of childlike wonder.
The treasure chest of non-judgment.
The abundance of laughter.
The nest egg of Resilience.
The wealth of watchfulness; of caring for ourselves and each other.
The riches of simple joys, shared.
We have the coinage of humility; something we all should carry like extra quarters in our pockets if only to feed the meter of kindness.
Tending to life.
A brief little phrase that packs a wallop.
Can we all just take a moment for:
An elbow-bump, maybe even an air hug?
How about making soup for a shut in neighbor?
Taking a few minutes to shovel the sidewalk for someone else?
It just feels like Hope x 1,000 when I look around and see us tending to life.
As we continue being tossed and jostled by the turbulent waters of Covid-19 and a contentious election year, may we emerge smoothed and beautiful – like polished beach glass.
Kathy Joy is the author of the Breath of Joy Series and Will You Hold My Story, a child’s picture book, to be released in early 2021.
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My house is getting colder by the moment. I think I’ll go down and turn up the heat. Just a moment. I’ll be right back.
Okay. You know how that is, adjusting the thermostat by the ups and downs in fall as winter approaches, and the warming up days of spring only to be downcast by a late winter storm? I’m sure that’s why God made us pets to hold and help us through these uncertain times.
I used to take these walks with my dog, but I myself am in a time between times now, and I have to walk by myself. So, I step onto the nano-seconds with the fallen leaves and bright sunrises and sunsets, electric rains, and bristling winds.
In these private times, I give thanks for many things past, present, and future.
Once you’ve lost this, you can never get it back; what is it?
The Time Between Times
Have you noticed how Thanksgiving tends to get lost in the time between times?
Decorations and celebration planning hops right over Thanksgiving like we are guided to hop from the treats of Halloween right into the serious celebrations of Christmas and the duties of gift-giving.
When do we get to spontaneously pause and reflect, it’s because we’ve stolen time away from these carefully sculpted hours for a private moment.
I’ve written a series of seasonal books for winter, spring, summer, and fall (autumn) celebrating Thanksgiving and hospitality. My books use the nano-seconds as stepping stones, pauses to reflect, similar to you’d use a labyrinth.
Sometimes, when these seconds slow down, I discover treasures and turns of phrases. I find myself reaching in, reaching out, praying.
A Nano-Second of Impulse
I’m not an independently wealthy author. I work a day job at the front desk behind glass. Today at my place of work, we got an email about burnout, which many of us are experiencing.
One of the perks of working in a glass bowl is that you get to see what’s happening outside. I’ve witnessed some interesting moments, plus a few things I’d rather un-see if that were even possible. Outside the door to my place of work, humanity passes by on skateboards, pushing strollers, in sneakered youth and well-shod business attire. I’ve seen army recruiters, pre-med students, construction workers, and grub hub drivers; bicyclists, policemen, delivery trucks, and dog walkers.
I’ve laughed to see people leaning close to the glass to examine their teeth, fix their hair, or admire their physique; the glass is a great mirror for them and a handy camouflage for me.
Back in the before-days, it was a common delight to see small tots on a daycare outing, holding hands, or maybe grabbing onto a long cord and marching in a wiggly line.
These days, everybody is hyper-alert.
This over-stretched year of Covid is marked by caution, measured in tiny increments of care, and burdened by restraints that brush by us and tip over our natural human boundaries. Humanity is unable to cope with robotic demands for long.
I want to shout, are we tripping over our own watchfulness, calculating every move; hesitating over every decision?
Whatever happened to healthy distractions, good old spontaneity?
A friend I’ve been missing tells me, “There’s simply no room for the unknown; the unplanned.“
It’s been raining lately, that off and on drizzle that makes you want to stay in bed. The persistent showers are cloaking the sky in a steely gray curtain. Occasionally we get a glimpse of soft pearly clouds, like the inside of an oyster shell. It’s the kind of weather for becoming a mirror of my ceilings, becoming a well-polished pearl.
If you have to go out, the umbrella is up and the head is down. Jackets are pulled snug. That’s why, while stealing a look at the world passing by, something caught my eye.
Spontaneity kicked to the curb, my ache for one rare and splendid moment is rewarded through the mist of incessant drizzle.
Some guy stood in a puddle.
He was standing in – not avoiding – a puddle.
He stomped one foot, then the other, and watched the spray fly upward.
A smile emerged from his face, then I was smiling, too.
He leaned down for a look at his soaked shoes. Wildly, he swept the puddle with one foot, then the other. Then he jumped.
The light changed, cars passed, and still, he stood there, sloshing in the cold rainwater.
I’d have expected this from a youngster, but this – this was a grownup; a man, roughly in his 40’s. It’s hard to tell.
Impossible to know whether he was a traveler, a vagrant, an executive who’d just lost his job, or perhaps a professor. It doesn’t matter. All speculations are off when you are splashing in puddles.
The world stopped for a moment.
He did not notice me watching from the office window. He did not care about ruined shoes or wet trousers. He wasn’t concerned with anything, except the lure of impulse.
When I turned around for another look, of course, he was gone.
While the world was joining Zoom, masking up and maintaining an abundance of caution, this guy had an appointment with a mud puddle. A meeting, he honored. With reckless abandon. At the southwest corner of 9th and Sass, with St. Pete’s Cathedral towering over it all, a basic human emotion was felt: spontaneity.
And I got to see it, to feel the joy of it.
Our hearts need mending, our souls need healing, and our bodies need rest…one splendid moment at a time.
Do you ever have a day that feels like a never-ending loop of knots to be untied? You have to solve one problem in order to gain entrance to the real problem – find an outlet, silence your phone, then assist a client all comes before you can see your way clear to untangling your own problems.
I had an hour of work that turned into two weeks of work because I had to back up and do the math, then I had to learn how to complete a new task that was part of the finished product. Then, I had to get permission to buy a software program in order to implement the answer.
It was a lot easier when all I had to do was give the ball of knots to my dad to untangle.
You may hear from a doctor that self-care is the act of providing yourself a sacred space in which to quiet your jangled nerves. It’s important, yes, to schedule peace in an overwhelming world.
To this end, I’ve found some simple things will sustain you – things such as:
Giving yourself time to untangle a problem
Sharing hopes and dreams with somebody safe
pausing during a busy moment for a nudge of encouragement
Take a Step Against the Flow
Take a step against the flow and look at the surroundings for a different perspective.
Life is too short to go with the flow. Have fun and be different.”
Bianca Schlappa, Everyday Matters
Look further afield.
Look over a detail up close.
Sometimes, the masses have it mostly right but the right way just needs tweaking, and that is something that a different perspective can provide.
Use Your Humor, Wry Humor Acceptable
What’s the use of feeling sorry for yourself when you just get tangled into more knots? Even the wise and wonderful Oz got himself tangled up for a time behind a curtain far outside of Kansas and his usual County Fairs. Someone came along and discovered his need.
He was a little ashamed, but he laughed at his way of bumbling things up, and that helped. A lot. Someone came along and helped him find his way back home.
Laugh at yourself as you consider the past.
Open your hand to future options.
Celebrate Even a Partial Loosening of Knot Strands.
It heartens me in a way to know my knots are not all born from my individual situation or my personal inadequacy. It seems to be a community problem: “Humanity is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” This wit, from a friend of Job’s (Job 5:7). We are all just making our way through the challenging phases of life.
Help will arrive.
Ask for help.
Laugh a little.
Be willing to accept truth.
Choose as wisely as possible.
This article is co-written by good friends: author, Kathy Joy and editor, Laura Bartnick.
Harvests are mostly gathered and stored for winter by now. Unbelievably, Thanksgiving will be here soon.
We will celebrate Abundance and gather in the fruits of our farming community’s labors.
Our tables will stagger under the weight of Plenty; traditions will keep us grounded during the niggling uncertainty that is Covid.
What gets lost in the thrill of costumes, bags of sweets, parties, then the whipping of Thanksgiving spuds and cranberry sauce, is the season of rest to follow.
“If we only see the harvest as a time to be grateful, we miss the opportunity to be grateful for rest, planting, and caring.”
I didn’t really want to mention it, but Winter is coming – this season of sleeping bears and soft flannel; an interval of climbing in and hunkering down.
Dormant crops will slumber beneath the frozen earth.
It’s a time for rest, a well-deserved respite for planters, reapers and gatherers.
Symbolically, we’re all in the business of planting, reaping and gathering.
Seems logical, then, that we should plan for rest, and lean into it like a comfy quilt.
But we don’t.
Rest, in our industrious, git ‘er done culture, is the Last Stop on a Fast Track.
In some ways, the year 2020 has forced many of us to rest from something, open our hands, wear some masks, separate from all the parties and associations of labor, and receive something very new. Some new growth. New perspective. New value. New understanding.
Rest is too often frowned upon, equated with “lazy”.
That’s just sad. I know a woman who never tells her mother that she has been reading for hours, or drawing, or quietly designing something. It would be frowned upon.
What’s worse is, we often feel guilty for getting some downtime when there’s so much yet to cross off the To-Do List.
People who own their own company rarely get to just shut down and go to the beach for a week. Others feel their vacation time must be spent with family when they would rather explore a mountain retreat alone. Is that kind of vacation commitment more productive?
Give yourself permission to relax. Schedule down-time and honor that impulse to shut all the calling needs out. As a colleague is fond of saying, “You’re not lazy – you’re spent!”
She’s right — we’re operating on 2 cylinders and still hoping to put more miles on before bedtime.
Today, writing a blog feels inadequate as I shift under the weight of yet another personal loss. In a short week, I found I had lost a dear family member and a co-worker whom I really liked.
“Words are like nets – we hope they’ll cover what we mean, but we know they can’t possibly hold that much joy, or grief, or wonder.”
Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart
I feel like any combination of words cannot capture the wistfulness of wanting everything to stay the same; for everyone to remain alive; for grief to pack its bags and visit somewhere not so close-to-home.
What a relief to know we don’t have to cast out our nets and fish for words to express how we feel.
There are other ways to reach out for meaning. Or to stay folded-in.
In difficult times, carry something beautiful in your heart.
Beautiful Things You Might Carry in Your Heart…
An anticipated event
A person you love
A landmark place where you discovered God
A rare and splendid moment
Let these treasures sustain you, carry you, ground you and tie all your loose ends to something real. Something of substance.
We know we must carry on even during a time of grief. How is that possible? Here is a quote I often turn to.
Just for Today
Just for today, keep it simple.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Look at your life
for all you have gained
rather than lost.
Look at your path for everything
you’ve gotten through, rather than
where you think you should be.
Celebrate rather than criticize.
Experience rather than expect.
Stand in the sunlight
Rather than the shadows.
Quietly honor your heart
rather than disown pieces of yourself.
Take a break from all that.
See how that goes.
Just for today.
Author, L.C. Lourie
Maybe today you need this. If not, I’ll not be offended.
The power of empathy is often felt deeply in silence.