Sitting outside in this inclement, supposedly summer season, being gently spat on by the sky, I wade through my mind, still clogged with a cold I’ve spent the previous four days denying. This morning I gave in, and slept. My doctor believes we’ve lost the art of convalescence – most minor ailments can be dealt to with a hefty dose of rest and fluids. So having finally stopped in my tracks and napped, I’m now seated with a lemon and ginger tea by my side, feeling leaden and still hazy in the brain department. But the good news is that I’ve been thinking about this column for a while. All I now need to do is turn thought into action. Darn it!
If you read the previous piece I wrote, you will know I chose to base these articles around my Instagram account. Instagram is a picture window into our lives. A small window – a truly limited view. And the evils of social media are broadcast loud and long from many directions. Like any tool however, the way we use it determines its effect. I saw a post (Instagram picture) of a friend’s lounge this week and felt a bit useless, like my home will never be up to scratch. Wow, a small square photo of a lounge I don’t want to live in, pushing my emotions around! It would be fair for me to feel that I need to get a few things done around our home, and I’m all for healthy motivation – but the feeling of ‘not good enough’ was unhelpful and unwelcome.
I suspect we are all capable of looking at others, wishing we had that mystical something they’ve got, the cure to all our ills. Turns out, where I choose to focus determines what I see (I know, state the obvious!). A simple yet powerful concept – played out in photos perfectly. I can easily look at the skin texture and tone of a 20 year old and if that’s my measure or focus, I’ll feel old. If I look at the areas of weakness in my own life and line them up against the strengths of another – I will no doubt feel inferior.
Deciding how to interpret my focus can produce hope or despair. A weed is simply a plant in the wrong place – a dandelion can be either beautiful or a bane. I love it when I choose to be grateful for my 42-year-old skin and myself. It’s so much more encouraging to focus on what’s good. How many times do we tell our children to appreciate what they have? If I want my children to grow up thankful and mindful – best I put it into everyday action.
This past weekend our extended family celebrated the wedding of an uncle and (now) aunty who have been together for 26 years. The six photos I posted from that weekend tell a fraction of the story, a completely incomplete version in fact. They don’t show the wedding, let alone my head cold, our over-tired children or the nine hours of driving we did. We need to tell ourselves that no matter how fabulous and potentially perfect someone’s life looks, they are dealing with their own trials – and we shouldn’t let any comparison get under our skin. Seeing beauty in the everyday is a habit that comes with practice, and I love that ‘beauty’ comes in many guises. We have many reasons to be thankful.
I was reminded of this when the bride, gorgeous at over 60, told her story of waking at 5am on the morning of her wedding. Her thinking was, “If I get up now, I’ll have some time and space just to be, to soak up the sunrise, to think and savour this day” – a day she knew would be long and fun and full! It seemed a mirror of my own wedding morning 14 years prior, rising at 5am (thrilled to have slept at all) taking a cuppa, along with my hopes and dreams, to the balcony, and watching the magnificence of another day’s dawning. I took that moment with both hands, wanting to soak in it as much as I could. It was delightful to be reminded of that experience and so lovely to hear it resounding in another’s life – a different life, yet one with common ground. Love of family, everyday beauty and taking a moment.