So… It’s been a few days.
For someone who often has SOOO much to say, it certainly took a while to think of something worthwhile to write!
…I had lots of thoughts… but nothing worth writing down, much less sharing publicly. Another one of my “rules” of blogging/ facebook-ing/ social media is this: Don’t spew. Don’t spread negativity. Bring humor, bring reality, bring goodness, bring the absurd and unique… but DO NOT BRING OR SPREAD negativity and nastiness… We really ALL have plenty of that, without other people sharing theirs with us.
That rule of mine isn’t up for debate, and it applies here. (See Mom, I did kind of listen to your “if you can’t say anything nice” lectures!) So, I had to let a little bit of life go by… So bear with me…
The “novelty” of “12 weeks of quiet” (my reality, not the blog) passed quickly. I hosted a pretty fantastic pity party for myself, and was so confused, and frustrated, and overwhelmed, and stressed, and disconnected… and missing my friends and my hobby and my creative/expressive outlet and doing my work in the way that I normally do… So, then I decided I’d forget it and host a pretend vacation- just do something else- and I spent the weekend reading new, intriguing stuff, running, and basking in the sunshine- desperately trying to “embrace the opportunity”. ….And making French Toast…. Which is a good idea, in case you should have a bad day and be craving carbs desperately, just sayin’. (purely hypothetical… Duh.)
6 miles, 2 books, and a pretty impressive sunburn (on just one shoulder…WTF?) later, I was miserable. I couldn’t run away from myself and my reality any longer. I had a bad day. Like, of the “Alexander and the no-good, terrible, really bad day” book caliber. I cried- 3 times. IN.ONE.DAY…. and I’m not a crier, just in case you didn’t know.
(If that was the end of this post, that’d be 1. pretty sad and 2. in violation of my rule)
Then I was taught something. I learned I needed to say THANK YOU.
“Thank you” doesn’t always mean the “I love it; it’s just what I always wanted” line we were primed to say when receiving gifts as kids. It sometimes means “I take this opportunity to grow, to stretch, to learn to be uncomfortable so I can have greater empathy for others or greater appreciation for what I do have” , or “I don’t know what I’m supposed to get out of this or why this is happening, but I KNOW it’s something, so here’s to finding it”, or “Haha… watch me make this work”, or “Haha universe! Think you’ve got me- I WILL find the joy in this.”
I really do believe we all GET BACK from the world what we PUT INTO IT. Think about it… Monday I felt that my day was “too much to begin with” and I was quickly overwhelmed by it… and one thing snowballed into the next, and the day basically just became its own self-fulfilling prophecy… and a pretty crappy one at that.
My “turn around” didn’t come until about 8:30pm on Monday night… and from an unexpected source.
One of my young singers in one of my choirs left a book at a gig a few weeks ago. It was a HUGE deal for him. He’s an amazing little guy, but he has some struggles, and we worked really hard together to NOT have a meltdown on a limo bus ( that tale is worthy of a post in and of itself, I assure you!). Turns out, I knew the book well- “The Giver”. One of my FAVORITE childhood books… I told him I had two copies of it (I do- but God knows where…) and if he could just hang on and hold it together until we got off the bus, I’d be happy to loan it to him. I have no idea why (or how, quite frankly!), but he mustered the strength to do it- because he trusted me, and he believed that my word was good.
I’m not perfect, and last week, I forgot about the book and the whole thing completely- it was a “blip” in my week. Monday, it was pouring raining, thunder, lightning… I’d been drenched 3 times, was running late, hadn’t eaten, had a lot on my mind, and was INVESTED in my negativity and pity party…. and in the car, with 20 minutes between rehearsals, I thought of this kid. I remembered my promise, and I KNEW that if I did ONE THING RIGHT in the entire day, this would be it.
So, I sped to the bookstore, surely looking like some manic mother who ruined her child’s book report, and found a copy of the book. I get to rehearsal, and some kid comments “Ms. Tara, you’re late! You’re never late!” I truly wanted to scream, “I’M NOT LATE! IN FACT I’M REALLY 3 MINUTES EARLY!! I’M JUST USUALLY HERE 15 MINUTES EARLY, TWIT!” Thankfully, I just looked at my watch, smiled, and said, “3 minutes… Safe!”
Once things calmed down a bit, I called the singer aside, and said, “Hey, I got something…” Before I could finish, he eagerly interrupted, “I know what it is, Ms. Tara… It’s my book… well, it’s your book that’s gonna kinda be my book.” I smiled (thinking, can’t I just get a little gratification from my valiant efforts, geez!) I took a breath. “Yes, it is. It’s your book- it’s ‘The Giver’.”
He looked up at me, with all that is real in this world, and said “thank-you” in the most full and complete way I could have imagined- WITHOUT saying the words. “Ms. Tara, I know it’s my book. Because you promised me, and you mean what you say, and I knew you’d keep your word, and you wouldn’t forget about me and you weren’t gonna let me down. I wasn’t even worried when it wasn’t here last week. What else would it be, silly?” …and he smiled, and winked, and took the book. He went back to his seat, and rehearsal continued.
You get what you put in, friends.
I did one, tiny, cheap, quick extra thing…. that was “on my list” anyway… and I got completely “refilled” in return.
Everything is about the attitude we approach it with, our expectation. My singer expected only goodness, only the best, and, to him, that’s exactly what he got back- in spades.
He didn’t care that it was late, or predictable, or that he waited 3 weeks. HE GOT IT. ….And he taught me.
We can’t change our reality; we can change our perspective, how we view it, and what meaning we give to it.
Today, I woke up RESOLVING to have a great day. …And I did.
I’m not a morning person… I had a 7:30am meeting. Driving to work, I had a diet coke, saw a rainbow, and clearly knew it was a “promising sign”.
The meeting had the potential to be difficult so I started it with “I am so excited to have this opportunity for us all to talk together”… It couldn’t have gone smoother.
Bumps and hurdles came up as the morning went on, but NOTHING was allowed to cripple the momentum of what was meant to be a good day.
I saw “my girls”- one of my choirs this afternoon and it was fraught with annoyances broken CD players, chairs mis-configured, late people because of meetings, traffic getting there, explaining my vocal issue, and girls with hurt feelings over the comments of another…. I felt the negativity creeping.
…And like a true crazy person, I threw my hands up, and said “I am thankful for the opportunity that this moment presents!”
….And my girls stopped. And smiled. And giggled with me.
…and it wasn’t perfect. But we rolled with it, and we laughed, and we smiled, and we got stuff done… and I think we all got a little bit of what we needed. I know I did.
While it’s sometimes challenging, and frustrating, and annoying, it is always an opportunity.
Be brave enough to be thankful.