Sunrise on the St. Joseph River / Cindy La Ferle
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Lately I've gotten into the dismal habit of focusing on everything that's negative -- and I'm trying to change that.
I'm like the teenager who obsesses about the new zit on her cheek and doesn't notice that the rest of her skin is healthy and good. I've become the person who watches cable news and wonders if the entire country is taking a nosedive to hell because of some ridiculous thing the president said. And as I write this, I notice there are dead branches on the tree outside my window -- when I could just as easily admire the healthy foliage in the rest of the garden.
Focusing on "what's not wrong" -- as author Geneen Roth advises in today's quote -- can be a challenge for some of us. We trick ourselves out of joy and pleasure whenever we sense there's something to worry about. And we can't fully enjoy the life we have unless things are absolutely perfect, or, at least, problem-free. Which rarely ever happens. It's like trying to keep the whole house spotless when you've got small kids around.
So we drag ourselves along our little path to happiness and wait for another shoe to drop -- or trip us -- in the middle of it.
But there's a better way. Remember the gratitude journals that were so popular a decade ago? Roth's quotation borrows a page from those books. Roth is suggesting that we all look for the things that are right in our lives, to take them in, and allow ourselves to find peace and satisfaction in them. Doing so will shore up some positive energy when we need it.
And it could be that I will need some positive energy this coming week.
Just when I was poised to enjoy a summer free of medical drama, I got the dreaded "call back" letter from the hospital. The letter informed me that something doesn't look right on my mammogram; additional testing is required.
This is not uncommon. Of course, radiologists like to deliver dubious and cryptic test results on holiday weekends, when there's nobody available for discussion or reassurance. I have to wait until Monday morning to call the scheduling department for my next round of diagnostic procedures.
Ironically, it also occurs to me that the purpose of a mammogram is to pinpoint anything that looks wrong; to target a problem with the goal of repairing it. There is a gift in this -- a gift in knowing we have the technology to practice such proactive healthcare.
This too shall pass, I know. I've been through it all before -- additional testing, surgical biopsies, waiting for results -- and I will get through it again. My close friends are trying to calm me with their own call-back stories, admitting that they, too, were privately freaking out while their lives were on hold.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to put this out of my mind; to focus instead on "what's not wrong." And there are so many things that really aren't wrong, just waiting for me to notice. ~Cindy La Ferle