Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Embracing Living

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When I was a little girl, I used to stand with my toes on our lot line (I wasn’t allowed to leave the yard) to chat with the neighbor who found me charming.  Of course, a child of five is limited in the array of topics she can discuss, so I invented news to share.  I just loved the idea that someone wanted to hear what I had to say.  My mother was frustrated when the neighbor stopped by our house to ask why we were moving to Las Vegas.  We weren’t.  I made it up.

I still like to share with people—hence this blog.  (I tell the truth now.)  When I watched the film UNFINISHED SONG on DVD last night, I cried.  The story follows a dying woman with an irrepressible spirit for living and her devoted husband, who has lost his joy.  I was reminded of how much I appreciate my family and friends—and what a treasure new friends are.  We need one another through all the ages of life.  I imagined my husband or myself, struggling to go on when the other dies.  (What???)  Yes, it hurts to realize that all the people and animals we love won’t be here throughout our lifetimes.  We need both support and the ability to adapt.

In 2014, I lost a number of people and pet friends on whom I depended.  I still feel the emptiness where they once warmed my heart.  To make matters worse, I left my original “career” at the same time.  Many temporary friends wandered away.  At first, I felt off-balance and depressed.  Then I accepted the truth that the husband in the DVD encounters:  Life demands to be embraced.  He had spent his adult life letting his wife provide color and love—color and love that were suddenly absent when she was.  The people around us must be no more than support.  The excitement—like everything valuable about living—must come from within.  If we let life merely flow by like a stream, it may disappear as a stream will when it reaches a desert—leaving only a trace of dampness and, finally, no trace at all.  Negativity (especially fear and chronic complaining) is an all-consuming desert.

What does it mean to embrace living?  In addition to enriching old relationships, we can delight in new ones.  We can explore fresh interests—keep expanding who we are inside.  Science tells us that pursuing new activities or old activities in new ways helps feed our brains.  We can pause to appreciate what’s working–to celebrate!  We’re telling our bodies that living is worthwhile and we don’t want to leave early, even when we’re experiencing hard times.  Bodies often listen to reminders like that.  Spirits always do.

Have you ever walked on a beach near the water’s edge and made a footprint in the sand?  At first, the depression looks deep and permanent, but gradually water seeps in carrying sand and eventually, the hole is gone.  I’m delighted to discover that as I walk away from my old life, a new life has appeared.  I have more friends—both old and new—than ever, and my days crackle with surprises.  Happiness isn’t automatic.  You need to put energy into an embrace before it’s satisfying.

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