Friday, September 14, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Paradise

Paradise can be any "place or state of bliss, felicity, or delight" according to Merriam-Webster. This week my paradise came in the form of a real vacation which M-W describes as "a scheduled period during which activity is suspended" or "a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation."

It has been years since I have truly had a vacation during which I had no work or responsibilities and making a deliberate effort to do so proved difficult but when accomplished... it was incredibly rewarding.

My friends and I spent our days reading, swimming, walking the beach and enjoying our surroundings. I don't think that we, as Americans maybe, or just as a people value time for rejuvenation enough. We all work so hard and push to complete to do lists and projects on our homes. We overbook our calendars to the point that we drive like maniacs and have cell phones attached to our ears all day long because we never have enough hours in the day. And I think the real reason we can't accomplish all that we need to or want to is that we are all running on empty. We don't take the time to refuel and refresh ourselves. We forget that sometimes our bodies, our minds and our lives require a period of rebuilding so that we can keep going. Taking the time to replenish our life reserves not only prevents us from burning out but it allow us to be the best people we can be. 

I cannot say it enough... You cannot give what you do not get. You cannot withdraw what you never deposit. You cannot drive a car without fueling up first. You cannot feed people without gathering food first. You cannot even use that iPhone without charging it up first.

Take a break! Charge up! And then get back at it.

Farewell paradise! I will see you soon.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Write Your Sorrow in the Sand

Sometimes we receive messages from unexpected places, if we are open to them. Today, while shopping in a quaint little store in Orange Beach, AL, I stumbled upon a small, oval stone with a cross that said, "Write your sorrows in the sand and etch your blessings in stone." Brilliant. Something worth remembering.

Later in the evening, as the sun set slowly in the west, my friends and I carried three beach chairs down to the edge of the Gulf of Mexico and planted them firmly in the sand. We settled in for a nighttime view of the clear waters and schools of jumping manta rays as they passed. The waves crashed against the sand, sometimes quietly and gently and sometimes loudly and unforgiving. And as the evening wore on, the water flowed further inland, rushing over our feet and under our chairs.

Then I considered the message on the stone in the store earlier in the day. This isn't the first time I've heard the idea of ridding life of sorrows through some physical act. Releasing pain or disappointment or sadness in a tangible way can make it easier to let go of and can make it more real. I have heard you should write letters to those you are having trouble reaching face-to-face for whatever reason or who have caused you hurt or pain in the past and then burn the letters. It is a way to set your feelings free or to release them into the universe. I've heard others say you should pray and cast your cares on Jesus because He's there for you. So why not write your sorrows or sadness or the things that burden your heart in the sand and watch as the water washes them away.

So I grabbed a stick and started to write. Loneliness, sadness, the loss of my child... and more. One by one, I scratched them into the surface of the wet sand and waited for the tide to roll in and wipe the words away. And, one by one, the words that represented my sorrows disappeared, carried out into the vastness of the gulf.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Do Good Because You Should

The world does not lack opportunities to do good. Grasping hold of those opportunities feeds the soul, revives the spirit and helps others in the process. Over the last ten years or so, I have embraced volunteerism, broadening the horizons of my giving. Helping others is fuel for life for me.

Life often demands a tiring and relentless pace, causing us to put forth our all without taking the time to redeposit our physical energy or mental and spiritual reserve. So we get to a place where we have nothing left to give. Stresses grow seemingly heavier and problems often seem bigger. The day-to-day becomes kind of a drag. It has been my experience that when we hit that wall, the best way to pull ourselves up is to do something for someone else. We should do good because it's just what we should to but also because it's good for us.

Often times, when I have fulfilled a chance to help someone, others respond with "oh that's so nice of you" or something of the sort. But the truth is I don't do it to be nice. If someone has a need that can be satisfied by time or effort, the cost is minimal and my response, more often than not, is "yes, I will help." If the need is monetary, it requires greater consideration. But spending my time or expending effort on behalf of others is a no brainer. And the return on investment is so great. The deposit into my life through the gratefulness of others or the smile I receive helps me to reengage. Helping others feels like second nature but it's also a little bit of selfish nature too. I help and, in return, I am helped. I am helped by the happiness or the feeling of relief that the recipient of my good deed experiences.

Helping or doing good almost always comes back to the giver. Do good because you should but also do good because it will impact your life beyond measure.