When you can’t change the situation, you can change your approach to it.
I was verbally abused two days in a row by two dodgy characters that my neighbour had hired to do some kind of shonky repair work. My crime was to ask them to move their truck because it was blocking the driveway and I couldn’t get out. Apparently this crime was so heinous that they felt it necessary to shout all the things that were wrong with me. The next day they deliberately parked me in and shouted all over again. It upset me a lot. On day three I got up very early, while it was still dark, and moved my car before they arrived. Yes, they behaved appallingly and, no, I shouldn’t have had to change my behaviour when they were in the wrong, but I decided to go around the unnecessary confrontation rather than straight into it.
Delayed gratification is sweet. Chocolate is too sweet.
Just before Easter I realised that I have seriously gone off chocolate, which made me feel quite virtuous. See that halo shining? At the same time, a friend gave me a stack of cookbooks, mainly of the healthy, wholefood kind. Score! I’ve always pored over them whenever I’ve been at her house but could never justify buying them because I have a lot of cookbooks already. Now they live at my house and I’m very happy about that. Good things come to those who wait, apparently. (But also we’re supposed to seize the day. Isn’t life confusing?!)
Running outdoors feels fantastic. It doesn’t matter what it looks like.
One afternoon last week I did seize the day and clocked off work early to go running/walking around the lake. (This is a big deal because I almost never run outdoors, probably from embarrassment, but really who’s watching?) The clocks have gone back and the evenings are dark, and I needed to carve out some time to be outside. And what happened? It generated cheer and red-cheeked radiance. Bless those little endorphins! I smiled at other walkers/runners/cyclists/dogs. I saw a lot of ducks and managed not to get duck poo on my trainers. The setting sun on the water was rather magical, and the trees were doing this:
Then I went home and did slow yin yoga and felt halo-shiny all over again. I think that’s the way to get through winter without succumbing to the sads.
Never give up.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that I’ve been trying to walk to the Murrumbidgee from my house but keep coming up against obstacles: (1) a fence with no apparent opening, (2) thick fog and freezing temperatures, and (3) walking in the wrongish direction. Well, alert the papers because…ta-da…WE FOUND IT! “Women find lost river”. Wouldn’t that make a better headline than what’s usually on the front page of the newspaper?
Of course, the river was never really lost. We were just looking in the wrong place. Also, we gave up too soon. Life lessons one and two right there. A friend (who’s now as obsessed as I am with walking to the river from my place) suggested a walk this weekend, so off we went, up some nearby hills. I usually walk up the first little hill then take the track around the back of the bigger hills because walking uphill makes me grumpy. But this time we went straight up the unforgiving track. I was just thinking that a walk in the Netherlands would be my ideal hike when I noticed that my friend was even grumpier than I was.
Instantly I switched into camp leader mode and tried to jolly her along, delighted not to be the grumpiest hill climber for once. “We’re nearly there! The next hill isn’t as steep! The view from the top will be FANTASTIC!” She looked at me with contempt and a murderous glint in her eye: “There’s another hill?” So we did the turning-around-to- look-at-the-halfway-view thing, which allowed our breath and our sense of humour to catch up.
Look at the big picture. Take the high road.
At the top of the hill(s) the view was stunning. “Do you see what I see?” said my friend. And there it was: the Murrumbidgee River. We saw how close we’d been to it the last time. We saw how our route had run parallel to the river but we’d been down in a valley and hadn’t seen it. We looked down from that hill with smiles as wide as the landscape. We took in the view from all directions, then we planned our next two walks…along the river.
It’s never too late to make a game plan.
Some people make plans and apply strategies in life. Some people amble along and let life happen to them. I’ve been in the ambling along category for most of my life. If anyone had asked, I would have said I didn’t know how to strategise or compete and that most plans end up going in a different direction anyway. But this weekend, playing multiple games of Scrabble, I learnt something new: I do know how to compete and how to strategise.
I haven’t played Scrabble for decades, and I used to take pride in making the best/longest/most interesting words. I never looked at the board and thought, “If I put this word here, I might win praise for thinking up the word but I won’t get any double word scores and I won’t win the game.” This time, I looked at the whole board. I thought about how my moves might influence the other players. I looked for the opportunities. I put down short but high-scoring words and I kept winning. So it seems that, finally, I’ve learned the point of having a game plan and that it helps to have strategies in life.
Small things make us happy.
A friend remembered what day it was and bought me a bunch of flowers. A dog was so pleased to see me that he yodelled. Another friend gave me a litre of home-made wine. (Yes, please. No, I won’t drink it on the way home.) On Easter Sunday we lit a bonfire and watched as golden sparks shot up to meet the stars, glittering without number above us. On the way home today, a shaft of sunlight through rainclouds made a rippled rainbow that flew like a flag over Lake George. Small gestures, small events, small moments that you just happen to be lucky enough to witness can add up to great happiness.
Now it’s your turn. Tell me, what have you learned in the past week?