From fear and overwhelm to gratitude
In the Darkness of Night…
The distant call of a great horned owl echoes down from the mountain behind us. Dawn is still hours away, and the moon hangs low in the sky.
My breath fogs in front of me and I wrap the old blanket tighter to keep out the chill.
From the shelter of our covered porch, I hear the shhh sound of the breeze in the remaining leaves that cling to the trees edging the creek.
I shift my eyes to the west, taking in the vast depth of sky overhead and the stars that seem to hang in the inky darkness. So many stars.
Turning my head to face south, I pick out a constellation – Orion, the mighty hunter. How many others have peered at these same stars over the centuries? With this thought, I feel tiny and insignificant, yet connected somehow.
I’m having trouble sleeping tonight. In just a few more hours I will head off to work, and I know my day will be difficult with so few hours of sleep. But I can’t seem to quiet my mind as it flits from one thing to another. I am wide awake and feeling irrationally anxious.
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Some of this is related to the swirl of negativity surrounding our recent elections, and I find the divisiveness and vitriol within our culture more troubling than the politics and politicians themselves.
The Power of Fear
“Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment.”
– Dale Carnegie
Fear hangs over us like a heavy cloak, making it difficult to move through our days with love and grace.
Recently I find myself responding to situations and people from a place of insecurity and anxiety. And so I am looking for the messages and insights my fears are offering. As I attempt to dissect my fears and anxieties, many of them deeply held personal beliefs that are not serving me well, I am turning to another powerful emotion – Gratitude.
The Power of Gratitude
In the words of Brene Brown~
We can spend our entire lives in scarcity . . . just waiting for the other shoe to drop and wondering when it will all fall apart. Or, we can lean into the uncertainty and be thankful for what we have in that precious moment. When I’m standing at the crossroads of fear and gratitude, I’ve learned that I must choose vulnerability and practice gratitude if want to know joy. I’m not sure that it will ever be easy for me, but I have learned to trust this practice.
And so, as I worry, I remind myself to keep my eyes open to the goodness and grace of humanity, to let myself feel vulnerable, and look for the abundance in life. When you are conscious and looking, here is some of what you may find:
- The kindness and generosity in others.
- Knowing we are not alone, and
- Remembering we are all in this together.
- The unconditional love of family and true friends.
- The support of community.
- Small acts of kindness.
For the most part, I am avoiding social media (even more than usual). But I did step in and find compassion and reason within the madness, and I came across this comment, which reminded me there is something I can do.
I plan to fight as hard as I can against the divisiveness and negativity so present in our culture – by being scrupulously honest in my dealings with others, by being polite and courteous, by valuing good character in others over their material trappings, and by giving more to my community and country than I take.
The lights have gone on in the kitchen. My husband has come down, and is probably wondering where I am. Glancing east, I see the first tints of pink announcing the coming sunrise. I take one last look at the stars, close my eyes, and make a wish. A tired smile is on my face as I enter the warmth of the kitchen and begin my day.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
-A.A.Milne,Winnie the Pooh
So tell me, how do you cope with your worries and fears?
And what are you grateful for?