The Big Difference (K.Blais)

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Awful things happen to us or to the people we love and care about. Terrible things occur continuously in our daily lives. We make decisions which end up being disastrous, although they may have seemed like the best option at the time, and in other cases choices are made for us without our having any say in them at all. Sometimes we hold the power in the decision-making process, and other times we are completely powerless.

Through it all though we strive to stand up and not to sink. We do our best not to let the floods drown us or to pull us down into the depths of despair, even though they may threaten to.

It isn’t always easy. And it doesn’t always work for all of us.

It is essential to remind ourselves that eventually the waters will recede. It’s tricky to remember that sometimes though and, by no means, do we ever intend to make light of the terrible things that happen, but it remains extremely important to attempt to search for the positive amidst the negative.

Out of every horrendous situation is there always a positive to be found? Depending on individual perspectives the answers may vary: maybe, maybe not… and maybe not right away. But, if we search hard enough there is always a bit of light, a small glimmer of hope, a tiny piece of dry land that we can place our feet on, even if it’s just a tiptoe to start. Maybe sometimes the negative just requires a different perspective.

A very close person to me, my dear friend Tracy, has struggled with some health issues over the past couple of years. She one day found herself with mobility issues, needed surgery to repair her knee injury, had a health scare with a dangerous item on the job site, and was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after that (all issues completely unrelated to one another). Add to that other issues which she has dealt with throughout her life, the scope of her tribulations was immense. To be perfectly honest, her world was bleak and dark and at some very low points. With so many negatives piling up on her, there were days when getting out of bed was too much for her to think about.

The floods threatened to close in on her on more than one occasion, but through it all she always searched for that tiny aspect of hope, that glimmer of light, that small piece of land on which she could attempt to stand. Her faith led her to the belief that her cancer was a blessing because having gone through what she had, she was able to be a support system to others battling with cancer. Her journey led her to new friendships which she may have otherwise not have made. Her struggles allowed her to realize the love that so many people had for her. The darkness has allowed her to appreciate the light all that much more. All the negatives that have happened to her have led to so many more positives in her life because she chose to see past them.

Some of us battle with physical or mental health issues, or have loved ones which are battling, which have affected our (and their) quality of life. Frustration, powerlessness, and a feeling of incompetency may overwhelm us. It can be hard to find the positive when we feel so awful. Sometimes we have to realize the negative for what it is. Sometimes we need to surf the waves when we cannot stop them.

Financially or materially we may be experiencing damage or loss. There may be days when our situation seems so bleak that there seems to be no place to go. It is hard to find the positive when the negatives are reflected in everything we have, even our bank accounts.

We may have lost a loved one or loved ones. We all know someone who has experienced the immense grief of losing a person very close to them. It’s extremely hard to see the positive in death and loss, especially when we are in mourning. Sometimes though death can bring us closer to those who remain in our lives. Sometimes death brings a new appreciation for all that we had and all that we have shared with that person, and it may encourage us to cherish and hold dear the time we have with the loved ones left with us. A belief that we will be reunited with our loved one one day can offer peace. Sometimes death can lead us back to life: to living each moment to the fullest and with a deeper appreciation, and may even lead us to taking nothing, even the little things, for granted.

Perhaps relationships have dissolved, friendships and partners have been lost, and life as we knew it has become an illusion. It is difficult to see the negative when everything around us in our personal life seems in a disarray. Sometimes it is difficult to understand how things can fall apart so easily… and perhaps we neglect to see that sometimes things need to fall apart so better things can come together.

Being positive does not mean to ignore the negative. There is no need to put blinders on and pretend that the negative does not exist. Being positive, and living a life which chooses to focus on the positive, can simply mean to live by overcoming the negative. That’s the big difference.

Keeping Our Heads Above Water (K.Blais)

We have been inundated by rain. Not only rain, but the consequences of water displacement, dams, and beaver habitats have wreaked havoc on many areas. Our rivers and creeks have overflowed with the sheer magnitude of the volumes of water they have struggled to hold. Our lakes, once beautiful places of serenity and peace nestled in God’s country, have become sources of gradual destruction and continuous elements of stress.

Bridges have been destroyed. Roads have washed away. Sink holes have erupted where the earth has seemed to attempt its escape from the intensity of the water’s force. Beloved cottages and breathtaking homes at the edges of our bodies of water have suffered. Belongings have been lost, and while only material, the loss of these possessions has still hurt us.

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(photo credits to RL)

We see a sense of devastation and destruction in so many physical ways, several locations around us hit harder than others, and yet how similar this flooding is to our emotional lives as well.

We often become inundated with problems in life. Those emotional wounds we know all too well, in addition to other stresses (both physical and emotional) laid upon us, can seem so much like the volumes of water poured upon our land. We feel the powerlessness of our inability to control what is happening to us.

We have been wronged and the sheer unfairness of being the person wronged can overwhelm us. We feel the injustice of being taken from and yet we are unable to fight back. We are abandoned, betrayed, and deceived. We struggle to obtain truth, only to be scorned by lies and untruths. What we have attempted to build up for ourselves, has only been torn down. More and more the complexities of life, even the every day things, saturate us.

Yet somehow, maybe even somewhat surprisingly, even through the downpours and the flooding, we do not crawl inside of ourselves to hide away. We do not permit the waves to simply continue to cascade over us, rendering us powerless. We do not allow ourselves to sink and drown.

Instead, we search for higher ground. We fill our sandbags and attempt to barricade the water from causing further destruction. We attempt to salvage what we have left. We lean on the support of our loving friends and family. We allow those who want to help, to help. We trust in our faith and in our beliefs. We face the issues assaulting us head on, doing what we can with what we have.

We take things one step at a time, one day at a time. We try to look for the positive and to acknowledge it, wherever the positive can be found. We remind ourselves that tomorrow is a new day in which the sun may shine and the water may slowly begin to evaporate. We keep our head above the water line, treading for as long as it takes because we do not give up. We will not let the waters win.

We remind ourselves to keep our faith forefront. Soon the water will recede back to its natural shoreline. Soon our feet will touch the sand again. Life will continue on. There may be some repairs ahead of us, but that is no different than how the Earth continues rotating on its axis, repairing itself as it goes.

And we trust that what was once beautiful, can be made beautiful again.

 

You Win Some, You Lose Some (K.Blais)

I was thinking about this phrase as I drove home tonight. I must say that this familiar saying seems to appropriately paraphrase my life lately.
Here’s something you may or may not know about me: I enjoy things that I am moderately “good at”. Things that challenge me are enjoyable as long as I can have a fair amount of success (even feigned success or success in my own mind) at doing them. Things that are left up to ‘chance’ often frustrate me.
Tonight I played bingo with some of my family members. It’s a simple radio bingo. You buy the bingo cards at a local grocery or convenience store and you tune in to the radio station at a certain time to hear the caller ‘call’ the numbers. You phone into the radio station if you win. I don’t play a whole lot and I have never won. My family members play regularly, but they seldom win either. To be honest though, no one really cares. It’s the time together and the laughs that we have (including the tears rolling down our faces!) that we cherish.
Sometimes, though, I get frustrated with these games of chance and perhaps that is because I believe if you work hard enough at something you can probably achieve what you are working towards, at least to some degree of success. Radio bingo is not like that. Sure I can make the effort to drive to the store to buy my cards, I can be successful at purchasing one, and I can even be lucky enough to be on time to tune in to the radio station to hear the numbers called, but beyond that there is nothing more than I can do to be successful, that is, to win. The rest is left up to chance or should I say, God’s will.
So much of life seems to operate on this idea of “chance”. I caught myself saying this week – “We should hope for nice weather and maybe we will be lucky.” This is so totally not the case though, really. That nice weather will only truly depend on the weather patterns and, ultimately, God’s plan.
It goes for other things in life as well. So much we think is dependant on chance or the luck of the draw, I truly believe is part of a bigger, deeper plan beyond our realm of thinking.
Winning or losing though has a lot to teach us. We teach our children to be gracious winners, to be good sports, and to treat others they way they would like to be treated. We should also adhere to this way of thinking ourselves.
There will be things or people in our life who seem determined to knock us down for whatever reason. That reason may be known or unknown to us, but these things will still happen. We may also seem to do and say all the “wrong” things and the only success we may have is screwing it all up or sticking our foot in our own mouth. We can definitely feel like we are “losing”.
There will be times where we seem to do the right things and find ourselves fairly successful at them. Things may seem to be falling into place and going our way. Others may support and encourage us and seem to be “on our side”. We may even seem like we are “winning”.
There will also be times when neither may be the case. We may simply feel like we are putting one foot in front of the other, some days taking five steps forward and ten steps backward, and never seeming to get anywhere. Those days may seem to be the most frustrating of them all. It is those days that seem like we are neither winning or losing, but that maybe we are at a “draw”.
In any case, winning some, losing some, we continue on, we press forward, we trust in God’s will and His plan for us. We can believe that the days will get better if they are rough right now and we know that tomorrow offers a fresh start and a new beginning. If the days have been good, we should remember to be grateful for them.
Tomorrow will offer another day to play again, or, in the case of radio bingo, next Thursday. 😉

CAUTION: Drifting Snow Ahead (K.Blais)

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I see this sign to and from my way to work every day. It’s posted on the side of the road year round and I read it each and every time I drive by.
I love this sign. Let me tell you why.
This sign reminds me to be prepared. In the winter time I am reminded literally to be prepared about this section of the street as the open fields on either side of it allow for continuous blowing and drifting snow. The blowing and drifting often make the section of the road marked with these signs a bit treacherous at times. I am also reminded throughout the other 3 (usually non-snow) seasons that I should be prepared because ANYTHING could happen.
Now I don’t mean that I am always living life in a state of worry or even anxious anticipation. There is enough stress in life without being constantly worried or anxious about what may happen next, especially from reading a road sign. I try to remember to put my trust in God when I have those moments (days, weeks) which are worrisome and when I find myself fretting over things which are beyond my control. Things like the actions of others, what others are thinking/believing, and how their actions, however insensitive or unkind, may continue to affect me or my loved ones are issues which I don’t have much control over. Usually I am wise enough to remember that it is only the ways in which I choose to deal with and handle those concerns which I can directly control.
Preparedness is much different than worry, however. Preparedness is about being mentally ready for things in life which may happen and to not only be ready for them, but also ‘being ready’ in knowing how to deal with them.
I know it is not always possible to be ‘ready’ for everything which may occur or happen to us, or even because of us, but I do find that being prepared to handle things as they may come makes a lot of sense.
Mental preparedness can be associated with traumatic events (such as mentally preparing for survival, emergencies, or disasters), and it’s even connected to preparing to change one’s lifestyle as in quitting a habit or beginning an exercise regime or diet. But mental preparedness can also be appropriate and relevant to handling crises in the smaller, everyday life occurrences as well.
Mental preparedness is not tensely waiting for the worst, but being ready to accept things as they come.
Mental preparedness is not being completely set in our ways, but being flexible enough to go with the flow and roll with the punches.
Mental preparedness is being ready for whatever may come.
Mental preparedness is also the belief that we can make things happen and that we can have faith in ourselves to overcome whatever is in our way whether it be self-doubt, weakness, or uncertainty.
Being mentally prepared also means that we strive to become mentally strong. One way to build this is through self-talk – turning pain or discomfort into a positive, perhaps by choosing a mantra or phrase which continues to motivate us to persevere.
Another way to build mental toughness is through breathing and/or meditation practices which can reduce stress and conserve energy in order to use it in more valuable ways such as problem-solving.
Chunking whatever challenge may face us into smaller issues or tasks is another effective way to build up strength in mental preparedness. If we place our focus on these smaller steps and set mini goals we will be less likely to become overwhelmed with the larger picture.
Visualizing is often an important key to preparing to handle whatever may be presented to us. Mentally rehearsing and picturing what a successful outcome will look and sound like helps to answer the questions, ‘How will I overcome this challenge?’ and ‘What will it feel like to get through this?’
Reading that road sign every day helps me to remember that life is a series of drifting snow events.
I need to hold on to the steering wheel, scan the road in front of me, and remember to have faith because whatever drifting snow may lie ahead, I will strive to be prepared for it.

Fabulous Things That I Forget (K.Blais)

I decided this month would begin as a fresh start. 2015 came in with a thump for me and it took me the entire month of January to realize that I need to make a brand new beginning to 2015.

I have compiled a list of fabulous things (in no particular order) that I forget to do and I am going to focus for the month of February on remembering to do them.

1. Take a bubble bath (or soak in the hot tub). Yes it’s true. I have 1500 L of hot water always waiting for me just a few steps out my back door, a majestic view to admire, and I have been neglecting to take the time to use it! I also have a jet tub in which I could soak much of the stress and strain of the day away, but once again, I don’t take even 10 minutes to soak in it. Sad, isn’t it?

2. Read. I forget how important it is to submerge myself in someone else’s writing. I forget how soothing it can be to lose myself in another world, even for just a few moments. Also, it’s a fact that reading makes one a better writer. I need to remember to read because I love reading!

3. Write. I need to take more time to write because it is something that I truly enjoy doing. I love to write – blogs, fiction, anything. I have to take the time to write more and to pursue my writing goals. Writing more will make me a better writer too.

4. Pray. So often I let my worries consume me. My fears and anxiety gets the best of me. I forget to lean on my beliefs and to simply trust. I need to pray more and I need to remember to do my best and to let God handle the rest!

5. Exercise. I truly find perspective when I take the time to walk and exercise properly. A walk through the woods is sometimes all I need to see the world in a new light, to find a renewed perspective, and to reestablish my faith that my life is exactly how God planned it to be.

6. Abolish the ANTs (all negative thoughts). This one is a hard one. I often say that no one needs to criticize me because I am the most critical of myself anyway. This is going to be one fabulous thing that will always be a work in progress for me…

7. Talks and Hugs. Seems hard to believe that I would forget to talk, if you know me at all. The one thing I do forget to do is to reach out and vent at the times when I need to the most. I’m often afraid that I’m “whining” or claiming that “my life is so hard”. I’m going to try to remember that we were put on earth to help one another and that communication and relationships with other human beings will often bring us comfort. My friends and loved ones are always a great support to me (better than the most comfortable bra, ever!). I need to remember to reach out to them. In every really good conversation comes a hug of some sort too. So much comfort can come out of such a small gesture.

8. Rest. With a very busy family schedule and many volunteer responsibilities I forget the importance of resting. Usually when I find myself with some down time at home I feel the need to clean, catch up on laundry, and try to organize. What I forget is that my body and my mind need rest from those things too. The dust and dog hair will still be there tomorrow and one day I’ll finally get to the bottom of the laundry pile as well.

9. Play music. I play the piano and the organ for my church. I also enjoy listening to music in the car. I need to remember how much peace music can bring me and how it can add another element of perspective to my day as well.

10. Breathe. Deep breaths, in and out. One moment at a time. The simplest of things to remember to do, yet perhaps one of the most important.

Here’s to a month of fabulous things and remembering to do them!

Are You Ready? (K.Blais)

‘Tis the season… Christmas day is actually only seven short days away. I was thinking about that today and I wondered how ready I was for Christmas.

The house has been decorated since just before Advent began, which was a first for me, and actually ended up being an excellent thing. I love having the house decorated early and being able to enjoy it throughout the season instead of feeling stressed to get the decorations up in amidst the hustle and bustle of doing everything else. Besides, we go through so much work to pull the decorations out and to put them up, it’s nice to be able to enjoy them a little longer.

I began gift buying early; however, this may not have been an entirely good thing as I think I may have purchased more because I had more time to do so… It just may take a little longer to wrap everything that’s all. It certainly won’t take any longer to unwrap that’s for sure – that usually passes by in a whirlwind! With just a few gift cards to purchase and a couple of odd little things to get, I just might be done, but I don’t dare say that too loudly.

Teacher’s gifts have been put together, after channeling my inner Martha Stewart and with a little help from Pinterest of course. We even made it through a week of special events – pajama days, ugly Christmas sweater days, class pot lucks, and school Christmas concerts. And, I’m proud to say, we even managed to do a fairly good job with all of those things too!

Christmas cards will be done (hopefully) after tomorrow, and delivered/mailed shortly thereafter. (This may be one area I am a little behind on for one reason or another.) Pictures have been ordered, picked up, and will be added to family gifts with only a few slight glitches as well I might add.

But amidst all the hustle and hall decking of the season, I know that these are all only material things. Christmas would still go on if my house wasn’t decorated. Christmas would still happen with or without presents (there just may be a few sad faces Christmas morning). Christmas would continue to occur even without school events and teacher gifts. Christmas would even still be Christmas without my tradition of sending Christmas cards, pictures, and letters to family and friends.

Those things are all wonderful parts of Christmas, but the most wonderful part of Christmas is the birth of our Saviour. Without the birth of a small babe in a lowly manger so many years ago, the world would be an entirely different place. That’s why my faith is so important to me – not everyone believes the same things I do and that’s ok, but my faith is what makes my world different.

My faith is what helps get me through the dark times when it seems like everything and everyone is pitted against me. My faith brings me strength when I am weak. My faith helps me to stand back up when I stumble and fall. My faith helps me to be kind to others, even when they are less than kind to me. My faith allows me to rejoice and to be thankful for everything which I have been given as well. My faith is rooted in the belief that one eve, a long time ago, a baby was born in a manger. This baby would be the Saviour of us all.

So yes, I am ready. I am ready for Christmas and all of the wonderful, worldly things that it brings because I have been greatly blessed. I am also ready for Christmas and to celebrate and share my faith and my beliefs in my spiritual blessings.

Not everyone is as blessed as we are. Please remember to reach out to others this Christmas and to let them know that you care. Share your Christmas joy with others, in whatever form it may take.

I wish you all a blessed and very Merry Christmas and a wonderful and peaceful New Year.

Are you ready?

(Dear Readers, I will be taking a much needed break and, hopefully, relaxing holiday. Writing For The Love Of It will be back in 2015. Thank you so much for your support and love over the last year. Love, ~ K ~)

What Matters Most (K.Blais)

I borrowed the title for my blog post this week from a book which I recently picked up off my bookshelf which I had received a long time ago as a gift. Written by Luanne Rice, it’s a book aptly named after its title. Check it out on goodreads here.

The book and its title got me thinking about what matters most in our own lives and what priorities we put first. There are always a million things to do: things that have to be done and things that we want to do. We seldom find enough time to do everything, let alone the stuff that is most important to us.

Lately, in our household, we have been talking a lot about priorities and completing the numerous things that need to be done in order of their importance as opposed to the order in which we might feel like doing them. It’s not always easy to do that. Sometimes you just don’t feel like doing yard work when you’d rather be writing, or fixing the car when you’d rather be tinkering on your four wheeler, or better yet, driving it. Sometimes being a “grown-up” is harder than we think. Sometimes what matters most is doing what is best for everyone, not just ourselves.

What matters most aren’t always the physical things that need to be done. Sometimes what matters most are the little things: taking a moment to read your daughter a book even though you have many other things to do, taking the time to talk to your son about his day because he wants to chat, answering the phone, even when you’re busy, and talking to a friend who needs a listening ear. Sometimes what matters most are the smallest things that make the biggest differences.

There are times when what matters most are the things that you know you need to do in order to feel better about yourself and your own well-being. At times this can take the form of placing more of a focus on your health and fitness levels. It may be taking the time to make sure that you get your exercise in for the day. It can mean planning healthy meals and snack options so that you can stay on track with your weight loss goals. It could mean taking an extra few moments to find some inner peace through prayer or meditation before you begin or as you end a hectic day. What matters most may be doing something that brings you a little bit of happiness in whatever way possible.

The days where it feels like everything and everyone in the world is against you are the times when it is most important to remember what matters most. On these days, I personally find that a refocus on my 3 F’s helps: Faith, Family, and Friends. And, yes, sometimes this is easier said than done. Sometimes we get so consumed with the worries and frets of daily life that we forget to reach out to those who can help us through the tough times. When we do remember to reach out, then there are times when we forget to thank those people for being such a blessing to us. There are days when we find ourselves so involved with things and issues that shouldn’t matter, that we forget how important the ones are that do matter!

What matters most is different for each and every one of us, and sometimes a refocus on our priorities can determine the difference between what matters most for the moment and what matters most for long term gain. It can be a daily struggle to try to remember to put what matters most first and not get bogged down in the other things that often consume our time and our lives. When this inevitably occurs, it is important to remember to SIMPLIFY, to be Living Life, and to cherish the people that are most important and show our appreciation to them. What matters most is that we realize, acknowledge, and take the time to count our blessings.

What matters most to you?

(photo courtesy of pennyturko.com)

(Dear Readers, Thank you for being an important part of what matters most to me! J Love, ~ K ~ )