“Only the fairy tale equates changelessness with happiness… Permanence means paralysis and death. Only in movement, with all its pain, is life.” Jacob Burckhardt
“One never knows what will happen if things are suddenly changed. But do we know what will happen if they are not changed?” Elias Canetti
“Nothing is stable. Nothing absolute. All is fluid and changeable. There is an endless “becoming.” Benjamin N. Cardozon
Webster’s Dictionary defines “Change to alter or make different; to put one thing for another; to shift; to quit one state for another; to exchange, to become different; alteration; that which makes for variety; a child left in place of another taken by the fairies.”
Ahhh, a fairy tale, where everything is happy and never changes. I grew up with so many fairy tales, I assumed life would be just like Sleeping Beauty’s or Cinderella’s life. Then life changes, my story changes, my ideas change, and I don’t know which direction to head. How do I deal with change?
I feel like my life has been Photoshopped as I morphed from one figure to another without even realizing it. How did this happen? I thought I would grow up in the wilds of Kirkland, but I had no idea of what I would do when I grew up. Then change happened! We moved to a new state, a new culture, and new people in my life – I can’t call them friends as we never connected. Then we moved again, more and different schools. I drew further and further into myself. I tried very hard to become invisible, as I didn’t know what to do to fit in and I always felt like a freak, especially since I am tall. I was afraid to talk to people.
Most of my life I have been independent as I didn’t know how to connect with people. So now, here I am in my 60’s. I have a bad back, so my Physical Therapist recommended I walk for exercise. I started walking a route that was a teeny bit like a roller coaster ride. I was walking up and down mini hills. I was bored as there was nothing exciting to look at and no people to say “hi” to on my walk. But my back decided I needed a new route to walk as it would constantly go out as I reached the end of the street, and then I had to figure out how to get back to my car. Did I crawl or call 911 or what? So, my Physical Therapist recommended a flat route for me to walk. The route we picked for me to walk was circular, so I could park in a convenient location should my back go out. I walk along the Poulsbo waterfront, walk up a few stairs to the town and walk back toward the waterfront. Along the route I periodically would see people to say “hi” to. Plus, lots of people walked their dogs, so they let me pet their dogs. I was in Seventh Heaven! I figured I would be alone most of my walks, but I could enjoy the greenish/blue of the bay, and the crystal-clear sky as the Bald Eagles, Osprey, Heron, and Seagulls flew over my head. I started walking my laps around Poulsbo five times daily. Periodically, I would hear “I JUST saw your twin sister go ‘that way.’ We would laugh, and I might reply “I wondered where she went!”
Day after day for nine years I walked my circles around Poulsbo and slowly I would meet more people and repeatedly run into the same people, so we would say “hi” to one another. I would pet their dogs too. Gradually, my old self who tried to be invisible became visible, open, and friendly. People in the shops would wave at me. People driving by in their cars would honk and wave at me. What in the world happened to the quiet, shy Gwynn? Plus, I would be shopping away from Poulsbo at Costco or Trader Joe’s and strangers would come up to me saying, “I see you walking in Poulsbo all of the time!” Now, I talk to strangers and some of the homeless people. Nearly everyone knows me now.
But change still occurs as some of my Poulsbo friends move or pass away. Plus, old buildings that have been vacant for years are being renovated and even the construction workers say “hi.” I’m learning that change is constant, and the exciting part is that I AM dealing with it. The old Me is now a changed new Me. Or maybe I should say the young me is NOW old, but I’m having way more fun. Change is good after all!
What do YOU love doing? Has it impacted your life? If so, how?
I have always LOVED the water. I wonder if I was an otter or a dolphin in a different life? But when I was 13 I had a friend, who lived out in the wilds of Upland, California where there was a reservoir near her home. My friend had an older sister who had two toddlers, one was about 3 years old and the other was approximately 5 years old. Then to add to the fun, my friend’s mom had a surprise pregnancy, so my friend had a 2 year old brother.
One day the three toddlers were out playing on their own. Why they were not being watched, I have no idea. But the three little boys managed to wander over to the reservoir which had no fence around it. Evidently, the 2 year old was curious about the water in the reservoir, but he got too close to the edge where it was muddy. The toddler slipped in the mud and fell into the reservoir. The 3 and 5 year old little boys went to rescue their uncle, only to have all three of the little boys fall into the reservoir and drown.
I had just moved 80 miles away to Hermosa Beach. I remember receiving the letter from my friend telling me about this horrific tragedy. Since I LOVED the water, as I grew up I remembered this tragedy. In school I learned to do synchronized swimming, and later I learned about water safety, and how to teach babies and toddlers to swim.
When I married and had children, I immediately started teaching my babies to swim and to not be afraid of the water. I wanted them to be able to swim if they fell in the water as my in-laws lived on Lake Washington and did not have a safe beach for the kids to play. I took Life Saving lessons so that I could teach my children and the other children in the neighborhood to swim. Plus, I went to my children’s elementary school and taught Water Safety, so that if these kids or their friends fell in, the kids would know how to run to get help, or help the child who fell in without falling in too.
As the years have passed, now I teach my grandchildren about water safety, as I always remember the tragedy of the three toddlers drowning in the reservoir. I talk to parents about this situation too, as I want them to be mindful of what their children are doing when they are near water. Tragedy can happen so extremely fast when children are near water. Please Watch your children and teach them to swim. You are NEVER too young to learn to swim!
“If it was a worthwhile fight, it didn’t matter who won; some good was sure to come of it.” Richard Brooks
“Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to observation and memory. It instigates to invention. It shocks us out of sheep-like passivity.” John Dewey
“Out of opposition, a new birth.” Carl G. Jung
I seriously debated in participating in this year’s A to Z Challenge, but if you heard a crashing sound that was my head smashing into the wall. I went so far as to pick a subject to write about “happiness,” and then I found words for every letter of the alphabet relating to happiness. But, did I step forward… No, I chickened out.
However, I think I’m going to do my own version of the Challenge as “happiness” is critical for my sanity. This is where Helen Keller’s quote comes to my mind. “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
Due to life’s challenges, I feel like I fell into a mud pit of quick-sand and can’t get out. The fact is that I need to put my best foot forward and start moving. So with that rant, this is what I have learned about happiness!
A = Amused, amusement
B = Bliss, bust-a-gut,
C = Chuckling, chortling, crazy
D = Delirium, delight: My delight for today was walking the Poulsbo waterfront enjoying the beauty of nature, and petting people’s beautiful dogs. I even laughed when one pit bull that I pet bounded over to visit me for his pet nearly pulling her owner across the lawn on her tummy as the dog was so strong and exuberant.
E = Enjoyment
F = Folly, fits of laughter
H = Howling, hysterics
I = Interest, interjection
J = Jest, Joyfulness
K = Kid around
L = Laughing
M = Mirth, Merriment
N = Nearly dying of laughter
O = Optimism
P = Playfulness, pleasure,
Q = Quip
R = Rejoicing, roaring with laughter
S – Sniggering
T = Twittering
U = Uber cool
V = Vivacity
X = Xylophone
Y = Yacking with laughter
Z = Zany, zeal, Zest of life
“A good laugh is sunshine in a house.”
William Makepeace Thackfray
Victory comes, at times, just when one no longer expects it.” Martin Buber
“The greatest of victories is the victory over oneself.” The Dhammapada: The Path of Perfection
“The first step towards victory… is to gain courage.” Plutarch
“How in the world were you ever able to do the ‘frog-kick’ and the breast stroke? These were the first words my University of Washington’s Back Specialist spoke to me as soon as he reviewed my MRI report. The report showed my severely twisted pelvis. To add to the fun my vertebrae are in backwards due to the twist in my pelvis. Now, they tell me! I was JUST learning about my deformed pelvis at 61 years of age. Just call me “Twisted Sister!”
The twist in my pelvis and back meant that I never had full range of motion for golf, baseball, or tennis. I couldn’t do backbends in gym. Plus, attempting to do the frog-kick along with my synchronized swimming stunts definitely was challenging, BUT I managed to succeed! You know what? I didn’t know that I could not do these activities so I kept plugging away. It is amazing what one can succeed at doing when you don’t know that you CAN’T do something!
So you might wonder… “How in the world did I end up with a corkscrew for a pelvis and back?” When my mom was approximately seven and a half to eight months pregnant with me, someone threw a firecracker in her car. I had been in the down position until the explosion went off and then I decided that I was going to stay in hiding and reversed my direction. Mom had to go back to the doctor and have him turn me back to the “down” position. In those days the doctors used forceps to help deliver babies. There are many cases where the forceps squished the heads of babies or did other things like squish my pelvis and twist it when the doctor turned me around to the down position so mom could deliver me.
My mom was a nurse, so I have no clue whether she knew what the doctor accidentally did to my formation in the delivery process or not. Now that I’m grown, and especially after I learned about my twisted pelvis and vertebrae it so explained all the difficulties that I had to work at overcoming after so many years as a child and young adult.
It also explains why I’m so DETERMINED to be the Little Engine that Could… “I think I can, I think I can!” I did play a bit of golf, tennis, and baseball, but I was terrible at these games as now I understand why. I used to beat myself up and call myself all sorts of names because I was so terrible at playing these games, BUT my success was in my synchronized swimming. So REMEMBER…
“Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.” Albert Einstein
“We are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring.” Martin Luther King, JR.
“If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.” Francis Bacon
I read news stories and watch the happenings in the world daily where I repeatedly hear about the violence that seems to be ruling us. Some place along the line fear, anger, and disrespect prominently seem to have taken over the world. WHY? Why can’t we accept one another? Why do we have to fight or hurt one another?
As a child, I was taught to respect different ideas, ideals, and cultures. Mom said we do not all think alike, and that is OK as I might actually learn something from someone else. If we share ideas and thoughts, imagine the wonderful world we can create. To stop the flow of ideas is to strangle the world and it kills the mindset of the projects we work at developing.
When I took Latin in school, I learned that no language translates exactly, consequently if we work together we can come to an understanding, but we cannot assume that our language or way of doing things is perfect or better than others. Why force our beliefs on another person? Look at all the varieties of flowers in the world. What a glorious garden they create. If we had only one type of flower blooming around the world, how boring would that be?
Years ago when I traveled to Europe, I was offended by the ways other Americans acted and treated the people of other countries. Somehow the Americans thought they were better than those people around them. No one category of people is better than another, as we all have our pluses and minuses. While in Europe, I LOVED the history, and the cultures that engulfed me. The people were fun, intelligent, curious, helpful, and polite. As I walked around the various towns and attempted to communicate with people who did not speak English, I discovered that the towns’ people were as curious about me as I was about them. What a delight it was to have them work with me so that we could understand one another to accomplish simple tasks, like my attempt to ask questions.
I think the best part of my trip to Europe was a conference I attended as the organization had us play games as teams in order to get to know one another. There is nothing like sharing a good laugh or working together as a team in order to develop a working relationship and friendships. The conference represented people of all countries around the world. I found it a delight to work with people whose styles, tastes, and interests were so different from mine. However our incongruities made us stronger as we worked to forge our dissimilarities. Try it… you might like it!