Most everyone has heard this song by Tim McGraw. It's a powerful ballad that is about living in the face of death, and McGraw recently dedicated it to Toby Keith, a country music artist who passed away in early February, at a concert. McGraw cried while singing the song, and the audience cried with him not just because of the loss of Keith but because of the power of the truth in the words.
We spend so much of our lives in day-to-day minutiae. Going to work. Cooking dinner. Cleaning the house. Watching television. Preparing for the next day's work. And then the cycle starts all over again the next day. Oftentimes, the weekends are our time to relax and veg out in front of the television, go grocery shopping, play catch with the kids in the backyard, have a drink with our friends, and maybe take in a movie. While the time is meant to be relaxing, it's still just the minutiae of our days.
Where is the excitement? What do we look forward to? Do we have those moments of sheer joy, the ones that make us elated that we're alive? Do we go out of our way to make memories instead of just scrolling through our phones in our downtime? Do we grab each moment as though it's precious, and do we realize just how precious they really are?
Not all of life can be about grabbing the brass ring. We can't stop what we're doing to go skydiving or parasailing. But what we can do is create moments that are about grabbing life. Maybe it's a watching a sunset or watching a baby calf be born. It could be taking a horseback ride or a walk in the woods. It could be hunting for shells on the beach, sitting around a bonfire telling stories, or going on a hayride. Maybe it's riding in the back of a pickup truck down an old country road or going to the ballet.
There are so many opportunities to enjoy life. Not all of them involve a lot of money, but they do involve doing more than just sitting on our sofas while letting our phones entertain us. What little changes could we do to make memories each day? What can we do to appreciate this life while we have it? We need to embrace the here and now and make time to be a part of life instead of watching it pass us by.
Everywhere you look, people are struggling. Whether it’s because of money, health, relationships, or many other reasons, people are having a difficult time in life. Maybe you’re one of those people, and it’s hard to get up in the morning and tell yourself “I’m going to be okay.” That’s why this post is here.
You’re going to be okay. No, it doesn’t seem like it now, but the human spirit is strong, and you can endure. I can say this because I have experience living through difficulties. It took a while, but I’m okay.
Many years ago, I was homeless, working two jobs but not making enough money for rent, and without a car. I walked or took a bicycle to work several miles. And there were days when I was glad I worked at a fast-food restaurant because I could at least eat that day.
I was in bad relationships, and looking back now, I’m glad they didn’t work out. I would have been miserable in any one of them.
And since 2003, I’ve suffered from ongoing health problems that, at times, have nearly broken me. But they didn’t and won’t because of my spirit, which is the same spirit you have inside you. The strength that keeps me going comes from my relationship with God, but there is strength in all of us, regardless of our beliefs. It’s our innate will to survive.
I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but I do know you’re stronger than you believe. You’re on this planet for a purpose. You’re wanted and needed. You’re loved. Whatever you might think about yourself, you are important. And you’re going to be okay.
It's not easy admitting when you've made a mistake, especially when it's one that has cost someone either money, time, or something equally important. While some mistakes can be fixed, others cause damage that cannot. I've made those kinds of mistakes and still spent an inordinant amount of time trying to fix them to no avail. What I should have done was owned up to my mistakes and tried to be better and do better from that point forward. You would think I would have learned from, well, my own mistakes.
I recently made a horrible mistake that could not be corrected. I tried to figure out what had gone wrong, how I could have made such a blunder. In the end, I did have to own up to it, admit that I'd made the mistake, apologize, and offer some potential resolutions, none of which eradicated my wrongdoing. This mistake could have been averted if I had simply paid more attention to what I was doing. But I was distracted and in a hurry, and the end result was that someone was greatly affected by my mistake.
My apology doesn't change anything. My admitting that I had done wrong didn't take away the sting of what I had done. But it did tell that person that I wasn't trying to hide from my mistakes. As an adult, I owned it.
I don't know if the person my mistake hurt will forgive me yet. I don't know how this will affect our working relationship, but I do know that I've done what I am supposed to do in instances like this. What I should do every time I find myself in a situation like this. But noone likes to admit when they're wrong. I'm definitely one of those people!
It's too easy to hate nowadays, to scream at the people who disagree with you, to label them out of frustration or because everyone else is doing it. Once upon a time, it was easier to be kind.
I grew up in the seventies and eighties, and no, neither decade was a utopia, but we didn't have the internet or social media so much of the vitriol we see now we didn't see then. Yes, it probably existed, but it wasn't shared like a bag of popcorn at the movies.
Now, it seems to be perfectly normal to call someone a name like "idiot" or "stupid." I've dealt with it a lot more since starting to write for Red Shirts Always Die. Make one mistake in writing a post, and fingers start pointing. I've been called so many names, I've lost count. Simply because I made a mistake. People are quick to point out those mistakes and question whether I know what I'm doing or have the knowledge to write about the topic.
People still make mistakes. Does that mean those people should be vilified? Is it no longer allowed for someone to say forty-two when they meant fifty-two? Or Maine when they meant Massachusetts? If I put the wrong date in my calendar and show up for my doctor's appointment a day early, is it okay to call me an idiot? If someone doesn't understand something as well as you do, is it okay to call them stupid? If I think differently about something than you do, is it okay for you to call me dumb?
Years ago, parents and teachers told school kids not to call one another names. (They may still do that, but I haven't been in school in a very long time.) But now, we have adults calling each other names because there are no parents or teachers to correct us which, apparently, we still need.
We talk about the need to quell bullying, both online and off, but that only applies to children and young adults. Apparently, it's perfectly acceptable to tell someone they have low intelligence because they don't know as much as you do...or, at least, that's what you think. But, honestly, if someone isn't as familiar or knowledgeable about a topic as you are, that doesn't make them stupid. Perhaps it simply isn't a topic that interests them.
I consider myself an intelligent person, but if my car breaks down, I can't fix it. I wouldn't even know where to begin. Does that mean I'm stupid, and the mechanic is of higher intelligence? No. It means we both have different areas of expertise.
if I don't agree with your point of view or your beliefs (that have nothing to do with human kindness), that doesn't mean I'm wrong, and you're right. Neither does it mean the opposite. It means you believe something based upon your understanding of the topic, and I believe something different based upon my understanding of the topic. And because we disagree, does that mean we have to be enemies?
For example, I believe in God. If you don't, does that mean we have to be against one another? If you think the Earth is flat instead of round, does that give me the right to call you stupid? If someone believes in life on other planets, and I don't, does that make them an idiot?
How do you think this world would change if we just accepted that we are all different? How do you think things would be if we could acknowledge that I'm me, and you're you?
Just some things to think about...
The above-referenced quote was taken from Star Trek: Voyager, and it came on the heels of Commander Chakotay being brain-washed into hating a group that had never done him any harm. Because of how he was trained, he had a hard time overcoming the hate even once he realized they weren't his enemy.
When you're trained to hate, it's difficult to retrain your brain. It takes effort, but you have to want to make that effort. It's an investment of time and learning, of realizing that hating someone because they're different only makes you an angry and bitter person.
There are many people in this world whose ideologies I don't agree with, but I don't hate those people There are many people who seem to be angry all the time and hurl insults at random on social media, but I don't hate those people. Because I'm not going to hate anyone. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."
I don't want to walk around with hate in my heart. Why should I? It weighs much too heavily on my soul. I know because I've done it in the past. Now, I refuse to hate. I may not agree with someone. I may not like what they're saying. I may disagree with their politics, their religion, and their beliefs, but I don't have to hate them for it.
Maybe I'm wearing rose-colored glasses, but I like to believe that over time, more people will realize that the vitriol they're spouting, the names they're calling people whose opinions differ from their own, and the attacks they are making are senseless. No one's life has ever been improved by hate, but it has been improved by love.
Yesterday, I lost someone I love. She wasn't a member of my biological family, but I considered her family nonetheless. Her daughter calls me sister, and her grandchildren call me aunt. She was only 67, far too young to die, but that wasn't our decision to make.
When you lose someone you lose, it starts a pain in your heart that seems never-ending. I hurt for the loss, but I also hurt for my sister and her children. Their worlds have changed irrevocably. And they're grieving now, considering the days ahead without the person they called mom and grandma.
Grieving takes time
In time, the pain will lessen, giving way to memories of times past when there were no tears. Minutes of smiles. Hours of laughter. Moments they didn't think about what might happen in the future. Because that's the way we live our lives.
But when you're grieving, those moments, minutes, and hours disappear, hidden behind a wall of pain. It's difficult to see beyond the tears. I don't know when they'll see the light instead of the darkness, but I do know it's there. I've seen it. The yawning abyss of night can be unbearable, suffocating when you're grieving. Holding on is difficult, The belief that the grief won't last forever is the only lifeline.
I know we're all in the midst of this crisis, that we're trapped inside our houses for a large portion of the day, and we can't see our family and friends. So tempers can get short and tensions can run high. The walls are closing in, and you just want to be out and about among people again. I get it. That's definitely me, which is why I started forcing myself to have fun at home.
Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Having to force yourself to have fun? But I'm so work-focused that usually my time at home is spent working. Time outside my house is what I consider fun time. But now that I can't go out as much, I'm challenging myself to do other things, things I used to do a lot more and some I've never done before.
I've gone back to working on jigsaw puzzles, which I used to do a lot more. I just finished one two nights ago, and I'm already jumped into another one. Sometimes, I listen to music or a talk while I'm working on them. It's very relaxing.
I'm getting into plants. This is a new one on me. I've never cared for taking care of plants, gardening, or any of that, but a plant I had gotten in 1997 was dying, and I freaked out. It has a special meaning to me so I called a friend, and she talked me through how to help it. Next thing you know, I'm online looking for other plants (that are kitty-safe) and ready to buy gardening supplies and planters so I can fill up my patio with pretty flowers!
I'm video-chatting so much! Never really cared for this before, but since that's the only option, I've gotten used to it. I can show my friends what I'm doing and vice versa, and I'm actually starting to prefer it over just talking on the phone.
I'm reading autobiographies and behind-the-scenes books. Love them! I'm a big Star Trek fan so I'm reading books by the actors. I have a list of other books that I'm looking forward to reading as well. It's so relaxing to curl up with one before bedtime and dive into someone else's life!
I'm creating so many graphics for my social media out of photos I take while I'm out for my daily walk. That's another thing that I've started since lockdown. I started a walking program around my neighborhood, and I take pictures and videos while I'm out and about. I live in a gorgeous neighborhood with fountains, lush grass, geese, beautiful trees and foliage, and even an occasional alligator. It's fun to see what new things I can find on each walk!
And I'm also rewatching classic comedies like The Golden Girls and The Nanny and diving back into some 1980s shows I haven't seen in forever like Cagney & Lacey, T.J. Hooker, and Scarecrow and Mrs. King. I turned eighteen in 1986 so these shows are a part of my childhood, and I'm enjoying reliving them!
That's just a few of the things that I'm doing so I can shut off work mode for a while. What are you doing? Have you started a new hobby or project since the stay at home orders? I'd love to hear about them!
Ever had that moment in life when you knew something was about to change, something that would literally change your life forever? I'm staring down that road right now. In six weeks, maybe less, I'll know if life as I know it will be irrevocably altered. And I'm hoping, praying, that this change will occur.
I had to make the decision to attempt this change, and along with it, I had to confront the possibility that it might not work out. That's not the part I have control over. Taking the first step forward was. And it's been painful, but a lot of changes can be. Yet, they turn out to be the best things that have ever happened to us.
It's easy to fear change. I do sometimes, but when this opportunity came up, I knew almost immediately that I was going to take a chance. If it doesn't work out, I've lost nothing by trying. And even though the disappointment will be strong, I will at least know that I've tried to change my life for the better.
I am so looking forward to the possibilities this change could afford me. I wanted to write this post today to encourage you to embrace change even if it looks like it will be painful or too difficult. It might not work out, but you will have tried, and that is so much better than wondering if!
It's that time of the year. Thanksgiving. The day when we're called upon to share what we're thankful for this year. The question gets asked on social media throughout the month, and usually, we can all offer three or more things that we're particularly grateful for. We say we're thankful for the sunshine, but we assume it's going to be there. We're thankful for our jobs, figuring we'll have them until we decide to retire. Usually, we offer our thanks for our family and friends, for love, for our pets, and so much more, but you rarely see one of us post that we're grateful for the money troubles, the flat tires, the days that go from bad to worse.
I think we already know the answer to this question. Isn't it difficult to be thankful for the hardships? Even if we've overcome obstacles, we don't appreciate the obstacles themselves. And if we're still in the middle of a battle, we're certainly not thankful for that. But we should be. Because overcoming obstacles makes us stronger and better people.
Annabella Hagen, a licensed mental health therapist, in an article for Psych Central wrote: Studies regarding oxytocin tell us that this hormone helps us crave for physical contact with our family and friends. It enhances our empathy and helps us support those we care about. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, says that oxytocin also is released when we experience difficulties and stress. She reminds us that oxytocin prompts us to connect with others.
All of us struggle at some point in our lives, but would we really want easy lives where everything went according to plan? Where would the challenge be in that? And if we're not challenged, wouldn't life become boring? Stale? Ken Wert, who runs the website Meant to Be Happy, wrote a wonderful article about being grateful for life's challenges, and in it he said that challenges inspire compassion. Makes sense. If we go through trouble, we'll be better able to understand and sympathize with those who go through something similar.
As a Trekkie, one of my favorite episodes of the original series is when an alien entity wants to provide everything for those on her planet, leaving them nothing to do. Captain Kirk's response, provided by the incredibly talented writer Gene Coon, is perfect.
As the obstacles shape us, give us something to overcome, and provide a sense of accomplishment when we do, why shouldn't we be thankful for them? It's certainly not easy to appreciate hardship, but once we see its necessity, it becomes a little more palatable.
I lost a really good friend of mine on December 10, 2018, and I feel that loss every day. There have been so many times when I've picked up the phone to call her before realizing I can't. Some of her old sayings constantly pop into my head, and I find myself using them more often than I ever did when she was alive. Maybe it's my way of keeping her alive in my life.
Rene was a writer, too, so we shared the same dreams. She'd been single the last few years of her life and could relate to my being single. We could talk about anything and everything. Nothing was off-limits. She shared my superhero fascination and watched many of the same television shows I do.
There were many ways we were different, of course, but that never came between our friendship. We had our fair share of disagreements, but we always found our way back to what mattered.
I miss her, and, without a doubt, I always will. And I wish I could talk to her one more time.
My thoughts, experiences, challenges, and goals. Right here. At least once a week or so. Oh, and opinions, too. Those will definitely come in. Join me!