By Katherine Hegemann
Living well — what a wonderful philosophy for life. It sounds good, but sometimes it’s hard to achieve. The toils and worry of everyday life often get in the way. Our never ending quest for more stuff blocks our yearning for peace of mind and gratitude for what we have. Most of us have lots of stuff; nevertheless, we seem to miss the time to stop and just live in the now.
Sometimes, I think I have writer’s block when it come to original writing. Perhaps I am just tired; I have an erratic sleep cycle these days. Other times, I feel like what I say is too repetitious. I mean, how many times can you say, “Here are five ways to improve your life”?
Yesterday, I decided to just put it all away, fix a cup of hot tea and go out on the porch, pouring rain and all. There was a need to stop my case of mental fidgeting. I went upstairs to wrap Christmas presents and read email for the twentieth time. It’s amazing how much unnecessary stuff I can come up with.
I contemplated what I could tell folks that would improve their lives right now. Should you read an inspiring book? Create and plant a vegetable or flower garden? Begin an exercise routine? Maybe there’s a new wonder supplement you should consider adding to your daily regime? I wondered why today it seemed trite. Each of these could benefit someone and might open a door to a better life, but that idea seemed like it just wasn’t enough.
The tea was really good, and I let my mind wander. It’s been a difficult few years for me. In 2012, my husband was diagnosed with liver cancer, and I watched him wither and die the end of January 2013. Dealing with all the details of managing my home and land by myself added stress, which made all that managing more difficult. I’ve had bouts of chronic fatigue and sleep problems. Then there was my sciatica. So much to deal with. If I read one more news article about this or that crisis, I am going to start pulling out my hair. I’ve moved to central NC and finally sold my home in TN. I can laugh and say getting old ain’t for wimps, but that doesn’t mean ageing won’t sometimes get you down. I concluded that it is no wonder I am having trouble writing an article about living well—health or otherwise.
Funny thing about getting depressed. It can overwhelm you in a heartbeat. I decided it was time to overcome this mental, black cloud. My husband used to get out the firecrackers to shoo away those blues. It’s an old Chinese method to run the blues away. That, however, doesn’t do anything for me.
I made some greeting cards a few years ago. I pulled one out and re-read the saying on the front. “If the only prayer you say is ‘thank you’, that would suffice.” A Christian theologian Meister Eckhart wrote that back in the late 1200s. Wisdom is ageless isn’t it?
Thank you; I’m so grateful. It’s so simple and yet so hard. Sometimes we forget how much for which we have to be grateful. Instead, we just look at the problems, the hurts, the pain, and the grief in our lives.
Therefore, I’m just going to be grateful. I have a wonderful family. They have been so supportive of all I’ve been through and made positive suggestions to help me move toward a happy future. We’re distinct individuals with different life views and goals, but our relationship really works. I have a great family and many friends. I’ve met some wonderful people in the past 16 years. When I moved to TN, I redefined myself and built a terrific life. I’ve learned new skills and have a small business. I don’t make much money at it, but it helped give my life meaning and purpose. That business is ending; however, I’m looking for new opportunities: take a photography class at the local community college and REALLY build a productive organic garden.
Gratitude isn’t confined to all we have. Sometimes we need gratitude for what we’ve lost. Yes, I am still grieving for my husband; however, I’m so grateful for the years we were together and the life we built. So many people never know the deep love, trust and friendship you build in a good marriage.
Somewhere along the way, I’ve lost the yearning to buy everything I desire. In place of avid consumerism, I’ve developed a re-purposing lifestyle. I use it, reuse it, re-purpose it until whatever it is can’t be used for anything. Don’t use it anymore; sell it, give it away, or dispose of it. As I went through my home before moving here, I was amazed at all the ‘stuff’ that had accumulated. What was I thinking when I bought that useless whatchamacallit? Did I really believe I’d ever use those beautiful linens, they’re real linen, I found in my Mom’s sideboard drawer?
Due to aging and postpolio syndrome, I’ve lost the ability to do many of the things I used to love. Rather than getting depressed over what I’ve lost, I learned new ways to do what I still can do. Along the way, I learned to love the new ways as much or more than what I could do in the past.
Perhaps the key to living well is to be grateful. On that note, I’m so grateful for everything that I’m going to fix another cup of tea. Then I’m going to cook a little sausage, scrambled eggs, and toast. Nothing like a hearty breakfast to get the morning off to a great start.