I just saw Collateral Beauty. Quite a tear-jerker. At one point, there was a discussion about time. The main character had lost a daughter and he felt that time was a prison. The man he spoke to said time was a gift. After the movie my girlfriend and I went to dinner. She is my age and recently divorced. Life changes so fast. She mentioned that she didn’t know why she was still here, and didn’t know what to do with her time. Since Steve’s death I have felt the same way. I’ve raised my kids, had a great career, and now…what to do… I think if I look at time like a gift, not a burden, it will be so much more energizing and satisfying to soldier on. And to continue to interact with my family and share our love. It’s a gift to spend time with myself, single. I can choose to enjoy it and make the most of it. If I understand the concept of collateral beauty, I need to look for the beauty and gifts all around me, even in times of sadness and loss. Don’t you love it when you see a movie that just speaks to you?
Today at tai chi one of the other students mentioned how he admired the Asian culture because their craftsmen improve their art, even a little bit, every day. They always strive to do better. At tai chi class, there is always some movement or mental attitude to tweak and work on. That’s what I like about it. It never gets boring because there is always tons of room for improvement. While I spoke to the student, I realized that I could look at life like this – always take the opportunity to improve my character and other elements of my ways of being. At the same time accepting where I am without judgment and discouragement. As with the tai chi approach, I don’t have to try to improve everything at once, or judge the big picture. I can just take a look at small things in my life, and focus on one small thing at a time. And before you know it, I’m a better person!
In that spirit (focusing on something small), I have been reading a great book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I am hoping to learn to look at things differently, and really see what I am looking at, which this book teaches. I am not an artist but have done the first project. I drew it upside down! Meaning I looked at the picture upside down as I drew it, and I drew what I saw. It was fun, and enlightening. When I don’t label things and when I let go of expectations, things turn out OK. And sometimes, to really see something, I need to approach from a whole new perspective. Great life lessons!
If you read my last post about being alone but not lonely, you would see that my ending phrase was: I can grab life and go for it. What are you doing for lunch? Well, guess what happened? Just a few minutes after I posted it, my friend Colleen called me and….wait for it…..ASKED ME OUT TO LUNCH!!! Was this a coincidence? I think not. Really, how could I say no? Sure it’s Christmas Eve and we both have lots to do, but taking an hour to be with a friend, who lives out of town by the way, is totally worth it and totally awesome. At first I hesitated as I thought of all the preparation I had left to do for Christmas, but I went for it. She didn’t read my blog and then ask me, she just decided all on her own that getting together with a friend is a great way to spend time, and spur of the moment is a great way to live. Thanks Colleen for helping me practice what I blog! You rock. As usual, I learned a lot from you about courage and positive attitude and having fun. And guess what? I still had time to get completely ready for Christmas. My family will arrive in a few minutes.
Today is the one-year anniversary of my husband Steve’s death. Two of our sons are bringing their families and we will eat dinner at Steve’s favorite restaurant, Longhorn Steakhouse, just like we did a few hours after he passed. I am looking forward to reminiscing and honoring his memory, and being with the wonderful children and grandchildren we shared. Afterward, we will come home and open a few presents and play some games. Steve would love that. One son and his family will spend the night and we’ll open presents in the morning. So I won’t be alone for Christmas.
A few days ago I spent lunch with a wonderful woman who is 94 years old. She invited me to lunch because she heard me speak about my near death experience at an IANDS meeting. She was so inspiring. If she runs across someone she would like to know better, she calls them and invites them for a visit. She lives her life fully. That’s what I want to do. She also invited two of my past professors. These two women were wonderful mentors and continue to be examples of kindness, acceptance, and endless energy. What a great afternoon!
Earlier in the week I had dinner with 4 other single women in the neighborhood. Talk about FUN! It felt like a high school slumber party! Laughing, joking, getting philosophical and solving world problems…
So this week I learned that although I am alone, I don’t need to be lonely (However I must say that sometimes we just have to embrace our emotions, don’t deny them. My point is I don’t need to be lonely constantly and let it paralyze me). I can grab life and go for it. What are you doing for lunch?
When I got to work on Tuesday, my office partner asked how my day was going. I burst into giggling and joy. What a great morning I had! When I got up I checked my email and got a marvelous, humbling thank you note from a student. It made me cry.
The words from the student made me feel like I was doing my job, and making a difference. I really appreciated the student taking time to write while studying for final exams was a first priority. It’s my pleasure to teach such awesome future nurses.
On the same day, while I rode the train to work I was overcome with joy thinking about my family. Seriously, I am a blessed woman. My kids and their families are awesome. I’m sure if anyone on the train saw me they would think I’m a little crazy, smiling so big as I sat all alone. Then another passenger asked me if the train stopped at the University Hospital, and how he could get to the ICU. His 36-year-old cousin had a stroke that morning and was life-flighted to the University. I told him I would walk him to the information desk and they would tell him how to get to his cousin. It was on my way to my office, so it was just a small thing to help him. What struck me was how eager I was to help him. It just made me feel so good to do such a small favor. As we walked I told him that the University of Utah was the best hospital in the state and his cousin was in good hands. I hope that helped. There’s something about helping other people that just feels great! I was amazed at how it put a spring in my step and, along with the note from my student and thankful thoughts of my family, MADE MY DAY.
I was shopping for a White Elephant gift yesterday and purchased some snowman trinkets. When I got home I wondered about the symbolism of the snowman. Did he represent some Christ-like characteristic or have some forgotten meaning about something? I searched online and actually found that the history of the snowman, or why he is associated with Christmas, isn’t documented. So I reviewed the Frosty the Snowman lyrics and came up with my own symbolism for the snowman. He is all about living in the present moment. Frosty himself didn’t worry about what tomorrow would bring, he enjoyed the time he had, every minute. So here’s a poem I wrote (Yeah, sometimes I can’t help myself, I write a silly poem):
The holiday season gets us hopping.
Our focus turns to all that shopping.
While those around him fuss and flurry
The Snowman whispers, “What’s the hurry?”
Before we start to melt away
Let us live and love and play
And make the most of life TODAY.
So from now on, when I see a Christmas snowman, I’m going to be reminded to live and laugh and love and play in the present moment. Happy Holidays!
I’ve been following the Light the World activity, where I do what Jesus did for 25 days of Christmas. It’s been fun, and gives me something to do that takes my mind off my own concerns by focusing on others. I especially liked the one that said, “Jesus honored his parents and so can you.” I called my mother-in-law (the best mother-in-law EVER) and we had a wonderful chat. Another challenge was to post my favorite scripture on social media. So I posted “Be still and know that I am God” on Facebook. I was surprised at the large, positive response it got. A lot of people like that scripture. Today’s challenge says that “Jesus visited the lonely and so can you.” Ways to get involved are things like visiting a nursing home, or inviting a widow to go out. So I contacted a widowed friend and arranged for us to go to a Christmas program together this Sunday. Task checked off. Last night my married friend called and asked me to go with her family to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert. Tickets are hard to get and she got an extra one. I don’t think she is doing the Light the World activity, but I appreciate the invitation. Although it is very rewarding being a giver in this, I feel very rewarded being a recipient of someone’s kindness. I’m learning from both perspectives. Weekends are lonely, and December is hitting me a bit hard because it’s the first Christmas season without my husband, and he just loved Christmas. So thank you, Light the World, and thanks to my girlfriend for asking me out. And thanks Jesus for showing me the way.
Yesterday I delivered a commencement speech to Fortis College graduates. It was truly an honor and privilege. To see the graduates on the day they had been aiming for, to see the excitement and possibilities as they walked across the stage brought back wonderful memories for me and the best wishes for them as they move forward. I can’t say my speech was the best, but I hope I planted a seed somewhere. As I was getting ready in the morning, that darn gastroenteritis flared up again and the nausea was daunting. But I made it, and sat next to the college president, who himself was barely recovering from surgery. We made a great pair. And as I reconnected with people who I used to work with at the college (I was the Dean of Nursing there until I had brain surgery), receiving lots of hugs and well wishes, it felt great to be welcomed back home. Fortis College employees love their students, love the work, and love each other. What a great place to be.
In my speech I encouraged graduates to not only use their skills when working with others, but to bring their authentic selves to connect with people and make a difference in their lives. I also gave them 3 tips for this time of transition: 1. Reboot – Take this time to re-define themselves. Integrate what they have leaned with who they are and make adjustments that will help them move forward. 2. Refocus – Go from making grades to making a difference. Now that school is over, it’s time to focus on other goals. 3. Relax – Take time for yourself.
It’s been a very busy couple of weeks. My son Andy, his wife Kathryn and two kids visited from Atlanta. I loved cuddling with my grandkids Quinn and Eve who I usually just see on Face Time. We had a great time and I was so sad to see them go back home. While they were here we had several family gatherings. We also had several cases of gastroenteritis (“stomach flu”). Not fun. Kathryn got it first and then she took loving care of the rest of us when it hit. She went to the grocery store for supplies and came home with roses. Such a small thing helped me feel better, and feel loved.
Today I am putting the finishing touches on the Fortis College commencement speech I am delivering tomorrow. I like giving speeches. The hard part is writing them. I received some inspiration by watching the commencement speeches of JK Rowling and Jim Carrey. JK Rowling said that she did not remember what her own commencement speaker said, so it puts me at ease knowing that my audience probably won’t remember what I say. So I will keep it brief and simple. In Jim Carrey’s speech he said he was there to plant a seed. So I will keep it brief and simple. And I just read Steve Jobs‘ commencement address. He told stories. So I will tell brief, simple stories. And wish my audience the best as they open a new door in their lives, and make a difference in other people’s lives. I am honored to be there as they move forward.