A couple of years ago, I attended a meeting in Chicago. During some down time, I had the pleasure of exploring the Impressionist exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. While I was enjoying this beautiful collection, I was distracted by all of the people who walked in front of my view, and hurriedly took pictures of the art with their phones, and moved on to do the same with the next masterpiece rather than really looking at it and enjoying it. Will they remember how well light was captured at the various times of year in Monet’s Haystacks of Wheat?
What if, in every day life, we looked at life through borrowed eyes or with a sense of Christmas wonder? What if we spent more time with our happy memories?
In meditation, a suggestion is to focus on a memory of a place that brings a sense of peace in order to center on the meditation activity. I usually go to one of two places: the beach, or a quaint cottage I stayed at with my sisters. I hear the trickling of soothing water from the lake. It was peaceful, beautiful and I was so content and happy. Good place to go mentally for centering and happiness. I thought about this while reading an article that reminds us to Live in the Moment.
There’s value in regularly connecting with “the good times”.
As recently shared in the white paper, Dementia Caregiving Guide, spending time talking with Mom (who has Alzheimer’s) about a memory of a happy time with Dad is emotional validation. Life stories, memories from daily life, celebrations, vacations and special trips, and all positive connection of this kind with family and friend is well spent.
What emotion or experience does this picture create for you? Consider asking your parent if they ever saw a beautiful field of sunflowers like this. Where was it at? What were they doing that day? What other happy memories does it bring? What happens when you ask your child or grandchild about the photo? How many colors do they see? Who lives with those flowers? Ask them to tell you a story about the sunflowers. Do they make you happy?
Do you ever experience post-vacation blues? Feel overwhelmed and let down with that morp speed experience of ‘back to work’ after a much needed break? Bring some momentos home and print one, or several photos from the trip and keep them at your desk to keep the scenery, activity, scents, smells, and sounds alive. You work hard so you can play hard, so relive and savor it!
Do you wonder how you will manage dealing with your Mom’s new cancer diagnosis with the treatments and appointment schedule when you are trying to balance a full time job, a family, and a home? How about that time you overcame your fear of heights?
Write the story down, tell others about how you challenged yourself, both physically and mentally training for the hike you took and how you felt reaching the summit. Remembering how you overcame your fears will embolden you to pull together your resources and increase your confidence to deal with the current crisis. Remember that you researched and asked others for help while prepping for the hike. You need to do that with this challenge too, so you don’t burn yourself out.
One way to share your story is to write it down. Not a diary with gossipy type of memorabilia, but a journal in which you record the day to day events that have importance in your life. Record vacations, the one lined memorable or remarkable, startling phrases that your children or grandchildren have said. Take special care to note things you are grateful for, generosity others have shown you, things you have done to pay it forward, thoughts you have had while quietly taking a walk. The thoughts and things you record may be valuable and memorable to your family in the future. There are many approaches to journals including Journalling apps, and guided book journals. On-line journalling prompt sites are helpful to start the thought process.
Writers from my hometown just recreated our area’s rich history in a sight and sound extravaganza. Reading, Pa. has experienced tremendous financial loss as manufacturers have relocated elsewhere over the past 30 years. Reading Railroad was also once the largest corporation in the United States. The area’s history is rich, but we mourn who we were and are dismayed by the tougher and rougher times. In an article written about the multimedia performance, This is Reading, the author writes that the story created “a piece of art in a city that has fault lines”. The good news is that there are many strong and good-hearted, generous people who work hard every day to enhance the quality of lives in our town. New manufacturers and small business are finding their way. The People’s Chronicles is a local non-profit of story tellers with a mission to create a richer community through our local stories, told by people who created or experienced them.
Mike Little, Health Calls Owner and CEO was born and raised in Nitro, WV. Each year, Health Calls celebrates West Virginia Day. This is the birthday of the state (June 20) and commemorates the state’s succession from Virginia. It’s not our state holiday, but we respect and celebrate with him because it’s part of our synergistic unique company culture. We hear about differences in the way of life through his stories and we are richer from the experience. You and your loved ones, mine as well: we all have fault lines. With our storytelling, all the wrinkles and faulted lines, meaning…purpose…and community are created.
Carpe Diem. Be. Present. Tell stories. Keep a journal. Express gratitude. Pay attention to cues (the smell of pine, the crackle of the fireplace, the taste of salted caramel, the melody playing in the restaurant) that bring you to a happy memory and tell the remembered story. You and I each have a unique story. Tell it! Encourage your loved ones, people you work with, those you care for to tell their story, the memories of today and yesterday. Keep them in the present, happy and alive.