Today is the first day of 2017. It’s Sunday. It’s 8am. And my only resolve is to write a new blog post. I am snuggled on the couch, two blankets, one computer, a pug and me. I am drinking coffee from a mug I received for Christmas. The mug is both cute and accurate. It reads: grateful for weekends.
I wonder about this phrase. I wonder why it is necessary to print it on a mug. I wonder why we are so grateful for only two of the seven days in a week, and why we covet and long for the elusive three day weekend.
Reflecting back on 2016, there is one lesson I learned that continues to ring loud and true and will be my anthem going into the new year:
How I spend my time and energy matters.
My Granny and Papaw live on top of a hill in the mountains of western North Carolina. When I was a child, my cousins, my sister and I would stand at the top of the hill and roll “tommy toes” down the steep driveway like it was a race. We would play this game over and over, rolling juicy little cherry tomatoes in hopes that one might make it all the way to the bottom without getting stuck in the grass banks on either side of the pavement. Each of us hoping the winning tomato would be ours.
I am an adult now and I still play this game. Only I play the real life version where time is the hill and what I roll down it is the use of my energy. The hill is long and sometimes winding and most of the time I feel like I’m rolling heavy stones and certainly not winning.
Recently, I developed a fondness for watching vintage game shows. Game shows in black and white that were on air when my parents were small children and my grandparents still had smooth skin and brown hair. These shows seem to harken back to a time when the world was in transition, moving from simple to simplifying. The advertisements and commercials built-in to the game shows speak to, if not shout about, the desire to simplify. Easy boxed dessert toppings that whip-up in minutes, office products to streamline a woman’s work, and over-the-counter headache medicine that includes ingredients to fight depression and anxiety. And when I find myself wishing these products still existed, I realize they do. They are only shinier, smaller and more powerful.
When I watch these shows, I am reminded how quickly time passes. I realize that just twenty or so years later TV was no longer in black and white, and I was born. And today I realize that all of the hosts and panelists have passed away, except for one: the beautiful and ever charming, Betty White.
Now, I’ll admit watching vintage game shows is probably not the best use of my time and pondering the deaths of old-time celebrities is not a good use of my energy, but it has pressed-in on me the truth that living in “grateful for weekends” mode is really no way to live.
I want to be grateful for all seven days of the week.
Time will pass. In twenty years, Game of Thrones will be vintage. I will be grey. The cycle of life and death will have come full circle for some, maybe even for me, and will just be beginning for others. But I have a choice, and so do you.
We can choose what we roll down the hill of life. We can drop our heavy stones for something better, and choose a life that leaves us feeling grateful for everyday.
And, I think, it starts with the thing you need to do.
We all have a thing we need to do right now. Not a thing we should do or have to do or even want to do necessarily. This is the thing you need to do. It is a life-sustaining thing.
Many of us operate in the world of social codes. We do what is expected of us based on societal norms or social pressure, instead of operating in the world of universal truths, which are based in infinite love and acceptance. The difference between social codes and universal truths is this: the codes tell you “you should do this” while the universe tells you “you were born to do this.”
Some of us need to start something; some of us need to end something. Some of us need to say or do something to move us forward, and some of us need to take a step or ten steps back. Some of us need to do nothing at all – literally, some of us need to stop and just be.
Only you know what the thing you need to do is, and, trust me, you know. This is not the thing after the thing. This is the thing right now.
Usually, one of two thought patterns ensues when we have a thing we need to do. The first is we play ignorant. We pretend to be confused about what we need to do and opt for waiting on a shout from the universe instead of listening to the ever present whisper in our soul. The second is we formulate a long list of excuses. We make every excuse we can to avoid the thing we need to do because we aren’t living in the moment. We are worried about what is going to happen next, when all we’ve ever been given is the here and now.
In thinking about how I spend my energy, I realize much of it is spent on worrying. I spend significantly more time worrying about tomorrow than I do living in today. In fact, most of the time I can’t even be grateful for the weekend because I am too worried about Monday.
However, life does not have to be this way. Period.
So, if I accomplish anything in this new year it will be this: less worrying and more living. Less being a stress-ball and more being present. Less doing the things I should do and more doing the things I need to do for me, like writing.
And I think I’m off to a good start.