The beginning of Lent started yesterday, on Ash Wednesday, this is a major holiday in our faith. We are asked to reflect on our lives and wait for the resurrection of Jesus on Easter. A lot of people give up something during Lent to reflect on the ways that Christ sacrificed for us by dying on the cross. We don’t usually give up anything for Lent, we have in the past, but not recently. I have read a lot about adding something to your day that you normally would not do for Lent, which is a very neat idea. We kicked this around as well, but ultimately Ash Wednesday came and went and we didn’t decide what to give up or add to our days during Lent.
In reflecting on Lent and the practice of giving up or adding something to our lives, I was reminded of one of my main reasons for starting this blog. Yes, I wanted to share what we have done as a family in prioritizing our time, but also as a way to create a positive community of people, to share what has worked for us and to remain positive through life’s challenges.
2018 was a tough year on a few levels for me, and I knew it would be. Work, family, church, and life are a lot to handle when things are going well, but I was getting wrapped up in the negative/toxic side of these. Not having enough time, not feeling rewarded, not feeling appreciated, not seeing what I wanted to see…..the thoughts continued. Life is not fair, why am I dealing with this…enter my negative thoughts again here. I was consumed by the negative in my life, which rolled over into my family life and this is where it hit home for me. Why am I letting this…..enter negative/toxic thought or experience here….affect me so much? I can’t control everything, but I am letting everything feed into my life. This has not been the worst year of my life, I want to make that really clear, I have had much more challenging years, but the way that I allowed the small things to effect me was toxic. I was in a cycle of not allowing the small things to roll off my back, but the large and the small would effect me to the point I was bringing it home with me. That was it, what was I going to do? Of all things, my family is my safe place and we are working on making our family a priority. How was I the one bringing home a negative attitude, tired from all the things through out the week that I let bother me, this had to stop. I am not a reader, I enjoy reading books, but it is not my first thing to pick up and do when I want to relax, TV is my first choice, but I follow other bloggers who read all the time. I was half joking one night when I told my husband I wanted to read a book I saw on a blog, he looked at me and said are you really going to read it? He knows me, I have books that sit and I never read. But I was in a place where I thought anything would help, at the end of my rope with putting too much energy into everything and specifically the negative.
A few days later – the book showed up at our house, I was so excited for a book, yes I was excited! I needed to give less of a F*ck about things in my life. Guys when I tell you how much this book has inspired me, you may laugh, but it has. The premise to Mark Manson’s theory is the less you care about things, the more joy you will find, because you give less of a F*ck. Yes, this word is not a common word used in our house, but it gets the point across really well and I highly suggest this book, but not if you are offended by the F word, it is used a lot.
After reading the book, I started to have lower expectations, this sounds bad, but it is not, I would do the best I could and would move on. This is revolutionary for me, not holding on to the things I can’t control, moving on and knowing that I did the best I could. What else can you do, but do your best and learn from any mistakes.
This is not easy and something that I have work on daily, but the more I focus on the positive and not allowing the negative to linger in my thoughts, makes it much easier and a habit. This is a very simple example, but proves my point; my commute to and from work is 30 mins at best case, I don’t like the commute. Before I would get in my car I would start to grumble, traffic, rain, traffic lights….as silly as this was it effected me, I would walk in the door in a bad mood. I didn’t like my commute and for a lot of people this would be a short commute, I didn’t have a lot to complain about, but I would complain, focusing too much on the negative. So how was I going to flip this and give less of a F*ck? I have to work, I have to get to and from my house to work, and not let this daily task bother me so much. I don’t love my commute, but I do love the time it gives me to think, I now do my best thinking in my car, blog posts poor out of my brain, I pray for people, I talk on the phone and I crank the tunes up. This is my 30 mins to myself, which as a mom we all would love to have 30 mins to ourselves. I dont’ look forward to the traffic, but I do look forward to the time I have in my car. By focusing on the positive I have been able to enjoy my time in the car. I really do my best thinking in the car, I was driving home on Ash Wednesday reflecting on this very thing and realized we MUST make room in our lives for positivity.
Make room, this sounds like an episode of Tidy Up, with Marie Kondo, but not physically make room, but mentally and spiritually make room. If we are constantly focused on the negative/toxic people or things in our lives, we will not have room for the positive to shine through. Yes, life is not easy, life is not perfect, we all deal with negative things happening to us and affecting our loved ones, but how we react to those is so very important. We know bad things are going to happen, but our lives are not all bad. Death, sickness, job loss, divorce, heart ache, addiction, financial issues….the list goes on and on, but these things don’t have to define our lives, Yes they shape our lives, but we are more than these things. We must celebrate the good things, we must find the good things and make room for them. To allow the negative things to define our lives we will never be happy.
This is not easy and it takes a lot of focus to find the positive in things and sometimes people, but I have found it very helpful to think of other people when I start to focus on the negative. When I start thinking, “oh my commute sucks” it really doesn’t, I am driving to a job in my own car on my own time. There are so many people in this country who need jobs, I am blessed. There are people who don’t have the resources to have a car, I am blessed and there are people working multiple jobs to make ends meet, I am blessed. I challenge you over the next week, when you start to get flooded by negative thoughts to think of other people, would someone else be wishing for what you have? Be grateful for the blessings you have in your life, make room for positive thoughts. Yes, I still grumble – but not as much – I think that is a huge accomplishment for me. My co-workers have noticed and it was a great compliment to me that they could see a shift in my reactions and outlook. I was giving less of a F*ck, but still working hard. I was allowing the things I can not control to slide off my back and focusing on the things I could control. This doesn’t apply only to work for me, but for everything.
Family Gatherings at the holidays, these are suppose to be the picturesque scenes that Norman Rockwell would paint, right? As children they were always perfect and so much fun. As an adult my expectations have been lowered, this sounds bad but it is not. I go to family gatherings with limited expectations, I go to see family and to eat some good food. Will people say things I don’t want to hear, or be rude, yes probably but I can’t control that and I don’t need to worry about it. See my blog post about appropriate topics for family gatherings. For most families you only see the larger group a few times a year, don’t stress about the small things, make the best of the time you have together and move on. Don’t try to change people, don’t try to convert them to your faith and don’t expect people to do what you want them to do.
My prayer for you all reading this, is that you are able to make room for the positive in your life! If you focus on the negative and let it consume you, the positive moments will pass you by.