I've been taking an online course through Madison College called 'Fundamentals of Well-being'. It has given me reason to reflect on my life and that reflection has made it to this blog with the hopes that my readers might find some new ideas, share some of their thoughts in the comments section of this blog, and overall know that by taking an active part in your life means we all have the ability to be happy and help each other be happy as well.
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As I think of significant events in my life - moving away from all the friends I knew at the age of 7, my parents divorce at age 14, my family home burning down at age 18, getting married, moving several states away from family, having a child, moving back to the Midwest, family and friends passing on - I realize that this mix of sad and happy memories are not what makes up my life. Yes, they significantly impacted me; however, I know in my heart that what makes my life what it is today are the actions I take in response to any event, significant or not.
The first transition I remember times in my life where I know I reacted positively. One way was when moving away after completing second grade. I knew I would not be able see the friends I hung out with on a regular basis, so I made them promise to write letters by starting out with a letter to my closest friends even before I moved. That snail mail lasted for many years, I'm happy to say. Of course, life moved along and I can't remember when the correspondence stopped, but it was great while it lasted.
Action request: Send an email (or snail mail letter) to an old friend, just to say you are thinking of them or that you want to thank them for being your friend.
Second transition - my parents' divorce. This was a tough one. I remember being in a room outside of the court room where my Mom's lawyer asked which parent I wanted to live with. I stubbornly said 'both'! Maybe I thought I could change the outcome, but in reality I ended up living with both, just on a schedule where I lived with my mom week days and with my dad on most weekends and some holidays. I remember moving away with my mom before starting high school. I ended up going to a middle school that ended in the 9th grade, so everyone had friends already. I was the new kid. I think I got through this time by making choices and not feeling that I 'have' to do this or that. I just did stuff! I was able to take classes I enjoyed, met new friends, and at the end of the year felt included and successful.
Action request: Try to change the next time you say 'I have to' into a choice. Re-frame your thought/words into 'I choose to'. If you can't, then maybe you don't really have to. (Example: Don't say 'I have to do the dishes'. Say 'I choose to do the dishes because I like a clean counter'. Better yet - 'I choose for my (spouse, child, ??) to do the dishes!'. Let me know if you get away with that one!
I'm realizing I could go through all my life events and this would be quite a long story. In consideration of your time, I'll give only a couple more as I try to share the things I'm learning from the 'Fundamentals of Well-being' course I'm taking.
Transition helped by physical activity - At the time my home burned down, I was preparing to go to college. I had some really good friends that gave me clothes. Somehow my mom was able to save photographs. I don't think she risked her life as the fire actually happened in two stages and the initial small fire allowed her, my step father and brothers to move out to a hotel. I stayed with my grandmother. I was actively studying dance at the time and planned to go to a performing arts college and dancing gave me great happiness, energy, and drive.
Action request: DANCE! or talk a walk or do yoga or just stretch - do something and make it a ritual. (I will be working on this now since I've been sedentary for quite some time.)
Transitioning during this COVID 19 era and beyond - We are all living this. It isn't fun. It WILL end. I have several action requests you can choose from and I'm sure you have some of your own that help you during this transition. Please share!
Action request: Spread happiness - Perform a random act of kindness. I paid for a person's meal behind me while in the drive through at McDonald's. It was a small effort, but when it happened for me, it gave me faith and made me happy. I wanted to do the same for another.
Action request: Create a mantra for handling negative/automatic thoughts. When reoccurring negative thoughts comes up, try pausing and thinking of a mantra for the next time. Example: Negative thought - I'm tired of having to stay inside. Possible mantra - I'm staying inside to keep me, my family, and others as safe as I can.
Action request: Be mindful! This one might take some meditation - not the kind that forces all thoughts out of your mind, but the kind that brings you closer to the moment you are in. I promise you can gain peacefulness when practicing this one. I'm not an expert, so I recommend googling to find your own way to becoming mindful.
I, Brenda Szarek, am the founder of Autumn Light Interiors. I have immersed myself in home design and problem solving for years and have creative solutions for all kinds of interior design dilemmas. I hope you enjoy my tips, tricks, trends, and inspiration to help you find your way to a well-designed, comfortable, and functional home you can be excited to live in and welcome others within.