Last week I drove the old familiar winding path around the curved bends of the Mississippi River in Wabasha County. The bluffs were a bare wintery white, speckled with naked trees that looked like Paul Bunyan’s 5 O’clock shadow. I could see every deep groove along my path and marveled at the serene peaceful quality of the landscape; Mom always called it the Ansel Adams time of year. As I pondered the beauty and breathed in a deep realization that this experience is an absolute result of my choice, I allowed the gift of the moment to anchor me and then enter my soul. Just as this moment passed, I looked up and saw three huge, pure white trumpeter swans flying overhead. Their pillowy silhouettes were barely distinguishable against an equally puffy white sky — their wing strokes seemed heavy, almost like they were flying on a slow-motion reel. This amazing ‘alive’ moment triggered a thought of happiness and then immediately the next thought was of the incredible great fortune I’ve experienced throughout my entire life. All moments lead to this one; this once in a lifetime breathtaking view.
This experience is the result of a mastery of gratitude-based thinking. I work on it every day, and as my life unfolds, I become more and more aware of the rare. The one-time smile from a baby perched on its fathers’ shoulder in the supermarket line, the discovery of the most delicious combination of flavors in a new salad, the silly comment that triggered uproarious laughter from a client, the perfect snow for making a snowman, the smell of the old wooden table that doubles as my desk. The list is endless when you live in gratitude. You take nothing for granted, not even the tense white knuckled moments driving through a snowstorm to return to the one you love. This too is a gift.
Sometimes your wings will feel as light as a puff of seeds from a ripe dandelion flower and other times your wings will feel as though they were soaked in crude oil. Know this, be assured of this; you are still equally alive. There will be times in your life when you wonder, what’s the point? Yet, if you choose to keep focusing on the wins no matter how small, the breeze, no matter how light, you will begin to realize that you can appreciate it all. The highs, the lows, the in between. The rapids, the streams, and the still waters.
I spent the weekend with my two precious little granddaughters, fittingly, they live on Sugar Island. They are my candy, my treats, and my sweets! As Nelly twirled her princess dance, her big sister was singing the reasons why we should bake another cake. The dogs, the cat, the chickens, and the itty-bitty turtle they rescued from a blue jay last spring were all in attendance, they were our V.I.P. audience. Struggles abound all around, just like dust bunnies are always forming at the edges of a room, but if you just keep focused on the good, just keep dancing in the center, the dust will move out of your way and settle back into the corners.
Stay focused on the plan and the struggles will fall away as you conquer more of your fears and slay more of your dragons.
Life, its heavy and its light. Its real and its imagined. Its right and its wrong. Its easy and it’s also hard. Each day is a once in a lifetime gift to take in the sights, the sounds, the tastes, and the wonders all around you. Look up, do you see those birds? Look down, do you see those feet? You have all the evidence you need to be present to live a life by design. Luckily, you’re not a tree, you can move!