Encouraging words and thoughts toward making the rest of your life the best of your life
Author: Diane Patterson
I am 54 years-old and the mother of three grown children. In the last five years, I left a profession I was in for over 20 years, I moved to a new city, re-married, went back to school to discover a new profession, and became a grandma for the first time. I also am pursuing my passion for writing. I am writing a children's picture book and I started my first blog ever.
For years I was afraid of change but I now I embrace it
Isolation, social distancing, stay home be safe, school and business shut downs are all terms that are becoming everyday phrases in the midst of our “new normal”. We are asked to keep our distance from each other physically, but it is more important than ever to not distance yourself emotionally and mentally. Right now, it is vital to stay in contact with family and friends, especially the elderly and people who live alone. I know we can all think of someone that is at risk of feeling lonely. In this age of technology, it is easy to type someone a text , leave a message on Facebook, or better yet, give someone a call. Maybe send a card to brighten someone’s day.
Connection is good for the soul. Everyone needs it, even you. Lack of connection can lead to depression and despair. So reach out with a funny story, send pictures, ask someone about their day, challenge someone to an on-line game, or just let someone know that you are thinking of him or her.
The most important connection we have does not require social distancing at all. Our relationship with God is vital to keeping us strong and at peace in these difficult times. Talk to God everyday. Tell him your worries, your fears, and your feelings of thankfulness.
A strong connection with others and with God strengthens and nourishes the soul
With so many unknowns effecting our everyday life, it is easy to get swept up into the turmoil and despair. You watch things change right before your eyes and wonder, “What is next?” Kids are out of school, maybe you are working from home or not working at all, stores are limited on supplies, and you hear news reports that this situation is going to get worse before it gets better. Have hope, this situation will end. It won’t go on forever. I have hope that God knows what is going to happen and in His plan I have faith. I pray you hold on tight to the hope that only God can give.
I ask myself, “What is the current situation going to bring out in me? Is it going to bring out fear? Maybe insecurity? Of course, all kinds of feelings are going to come up, that is natural, but which ones are you going to dwell on. We all have those dark feelings but we also have, what I call “sunshine feelings.” Feelings of encouragement, positivity, and peace that we can “soak up and dwell in ” just like the warmth of the sun after a cloudy day. Think positive thoughts, turn off the news, don’t get caught up in negativity, and be the “sunshine” in someone else’s cloudy day. Acknowledge your feelings of fear, insecurity, and despair but don’t dwell there.
Be like a sunflower and dwell in the sunshine.
“Finally my brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things.” Phillipians 4-8
Facing the unknown can be scary. Whether the unknown is starting over in an area of your life, changing directions, or dealing with something that is out of your control. One thing to remember when facing a path that is unfamiliar and the destination unknown is to stop and breathe. Take time to think instead of reacting. Reacting from emotion or from the emotions of others causes panic. When a person is in panic mode, he or she is more likely to follow the opinions of others. Take time to be alone. Think about the options, the pros and cons of your journey, and consider the facts of the situation. Then make a decision to make a decision to do what is best for you.
It is your life. Decide to seek peace and not chaos. Think about what you need to do to create peace in your life so that you can face the future with confidence and a clear mind. Sometimes you may have to distant yourself from people who try to sway you toward a direction that is not your path or situations that distract you from making the best decision for your life. Keep focused on YOUR journey.
Our nation is facing a situation right now where panic is replacing peace. Stop and breathe. Consider the facts of the situation, pray for direction, make a plan about what is best for you, and most of all, seek peace over panic.
Philippians 4:6-7 New International Version (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
What do you do when life takes a different route? Plans change, circumstances happen, or your dreams fade. You finally got the courage to take a chance and start over in some area of your life. Things seem to be going smoothly and then somewhere along the way there is a curve in the road.
It is easy to feel discouraged, frustrated, and defeated. First, take a deep breath. Reflect over your journey so far. What have you learned? Have you gained skills or insight? Are there people in your life because of your decision to start over? Next, be thankful for the insight, new skills, and people who are apart of your life now. Realize nothing has been in vain.
Embrace the change. Look for opportunities to keep learning, growing in insight and connecting with people along this new path. Maybe this is the path God had planned for you all along. Have faith. Stay strong.
Just Because Your Story Changed Doesn’t Mean It Is Over
Everyone has a story from the mail carrier who delivers your mail in the morning to the server who brings you your dinner in the restaurant. The child who acts up at school has a story. The person who cut you off on the freeway has a story. What if you could hear their troubles and know their thoughts? Would you want to know? Would knowing change your perception or reaction to them?
It is human nature to go about our lives focusing on our problems and daily activities. What if we began thinking about the other people around us instead of ourselves some of the time? Instead of pumping your fist at the person who cut you off, you could smile and allow them to have room to go on their way. Instead of giving up on an angry child, maybe you could put a caring hand on the child’s shoulder. Instead of reacting negatively to a person’s action, speak to his or her heart.
A kind word, a smile, or a thoughtful touch goes right to the heart of a person who is hurting. Reaching out to touch someone’s heart takes emotional maturity. You have to be willing to be rejected. If you are emotionally mature you understand that hurting people hurt people and won’t take a negative reaction personal. Just be proud of yourself for trying.
You may think, “I have problems too. I don’t have enough time or energy to worry about other people.” That is the beauty of reaching out to others, soon your problems won’t seem as big anymore. Yes, you still have your troubles to deal with but the good feelings you get from caring about others helps produce feelings of empathy, peace, and perspective in your life.
An elderly man sits in a chair in the front of the store. His eyes seem lifeless as he leans on his cane. Maybe he is waiting for someone or just tired and needed a place to sit. The first time I passed by him, I looked at him trying to catch his gaze, but he just stared off into the distance. The next time I passed by him, our eyes met, I smiled at him and with a startled look, he gave me a half-hearted smile. I wondered about this man. What kind of life does he live? what are his struggles and triumphs? I decided to pass by him one more time. As I got closer to where he was sitting, I realized he was staring right at me with a wonderful smile on his face. I smiled back and nodded at him and he nodded back. His unexpected smile caught me off guard but in a good way. It made me feel good to have made a connection with someone. Even if I never see that old man again, I believe he planted a seed of kindness in me and I in him.
The human heart has an amazing way of nourishing ” seeds” and helping them blossom. Seeds of kindness, forgiveness, and hope are planted in the hearts of people everyday by the acts and words of other people. At one time or another, we have all been the planter of the seed or the receiver of the seed.
To be the receiver and nourisher of “seeds” you must be willing to have an open mind and heart. When we as humans are in distress, it is natural to close your mind and heart to other people because we don’t want to experience any more pain or bother people with our troubles. Instead of closing ourselves off, what if we tried smiling when we don’t feel like smiling. Making eye contact with someone when we don’t feel like looking up. This will open our minds, bodies, and souls up for the seeds of love and kindness. Those seeds will grow as long as we nourish them with thoughts of hope. Then when we least expect it, we will be feeling emotions of love and peace that were not there before.
To be a “planter of seeds” you must be willing to reach out to other people whether they are strangers, friends, co-workers or family. Try for one week to put aside your inhabitations and reach out to others with a smile, a simple hello, or the phrase God bless you. You will feel amazing and you will have planted many seeds of kindness and love. Those seeds will grow in them and affect the people around them. You may get some people who won’t smile or respond, but keep trying. Maybe your smile or act of kindness is the only positive thing that has happen to the person all day.
You can change someone’s day with just a smile and a nod
This time of year can be exciting and overwhelming. A new year has begun. We reflect back on the prior year with all its accomplishments and disappointments, all it’s happy and sad moments. Take time to reflect on last year. Did you meet goals you set at the beginning of 2019? If you did, take time to congratulate yourself. Set new goals. Start this year with a positive attitude toward doing something amazing. Doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, just amazing to you. If you didn’t meet your goals, take time to think back. What were the obstacles? Were they avoidable? Did fear or doubt keep you from moving forward? Maybe your goals were unrealistic? Whatever it was, it is time to reflect, revise, and seek revelation. This can be overwhelming, but be honest with yourself. Make a decision to make 2020 a year you can look back on and smile.
This blog began out of a desire to encourage others and myself to live a life of no regrets. As I write encouragement for you, I write it for myself also. Life is short. I want the rest of my life to be the best of my life. This doesn’t mean I want to go about life thinking only of what I want in life. There is a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when we make a difference in the lives of the people around us. In fact, according to the Bible, that is our main calling. I am just saying, if there is something you feel passionate about doing, pray for strength and courage to go forward. You can be an example for others who are struggling to do the same in their lives.
So right now, think about what have you always wanted to do? Is it something that is out-of-the -box? You may not always have support from the people around you. In fact, even the people closest to you may think your crazy. If you feel passionate about it, go for it. If it doesn’t work, you will learn from it and move on. Do not let the fear of failure keep from experiencing all life has to offer.
A New Year – A New Opportunity to Make A Difference