Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

If At First You Don’t Succeed January 27, 2015

Persistence. Determination. Strength. From the ground up, these are some big-picture words in my world. They get you through the valleys and up to the mountains. They push you to the limit. I’ve always been a believer in the British writer W. E. Hickson’s words “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

It’s a simple thought. And I think it applies to a lot of challenging situations. We all encounter hurdles on our journey through life, and we all fall from time to time. In the short-term, it might be the best thing to do. Happiness.

But in the long-term, I wonder sometimes if it’s really always best to try, try again. Life happens in ways we can’t anticipate sometimes, and I think there can be hurdles that seem to multiply before our eyes.

That was the case for my dear forever mom today. In itself, there was nothing that out of the ordinary that happened. After an incredibly productive morning, her presentation for work this afternoon went off without a hitch. She managed to keep a group of more than 60 middle school students entertained for a half hour immediately following their lunch break. I’d say that is a feat in itself. Everything was great.

Then it happened. Somewhere between answering her work phone for the nineteenth time in a row while finishing up the story she was working on and keeping an eye on the mashed potatoes on the stovetop and trying not to overcook the pork roast in the oven and cleaning up after Carter as he decorated the kitchen floor with pots, pans, lids and tupperware containers and ultimately carrying Carter as she danced around the kitchen because he simply could not stand to be on the floor one more second, she lost it.

Not because of any one thing in particular. The snuggle time from Carter was actually kind of nice. But the sum of the parts got to her in a way I know it wouldn’t have if she weren’t 20 weeks pregnant. She’s firing full speed ahead as if nothing were different, but the truth is it’s starting to catch up with her.

And that’s okay.

It was okay to let that one last phone call go to voicemail. It was okay to save that story to finish for tomorrow. It was okay that dad ran to get takeout because the potatoes somehow got overcooked and the pork was undercooked. It was okay that (for once) the kitchen and rest of the house were a complete mess when dad got home from that place called work. It was okay.

Because persistence, determination and strength can only take us so far sometimes. Limits are real, and need to be respected for a reason. If at first you don’t succeed, it’s okay to try again tomorrow instead of today. In some cases it’s better.

Like today, when dad finally convinced mom to just stop. To take a breath. And sit down. And snuggle dear Carter. And tomorrow we will try, try again.

 

Whatever the Reason January 14, 2015

It starts with the mind. Trepidation. Anxiety. And ultimately, fatigue. This is a vicious cycle I witness unfolding all too frequently in the life of my forever mom. I’m usually the first to know when there is something bothering her, mostly because she walks around with her heart on her sleeve.

Sometimes it’s something as ridiculous as what to make (or where to go) for dinner. Other times it is a major life decision or event that she builds up in her head as something way more terrifying than it could possibly ever be. Whatever the reason, the cycle remains the same.

Trepidation. Otherwise known as fear of the unknown. Love. Unplugged.

Anxiety. The culmination of worry, fear and stress.

Fatigue. The feeling of weariness that follows a stressful or worrisome situation.

But there is something else I notice about this cycle. Something I’ve said before I don’t particularly support. Regret. From the ground up, this thing drenched in disappointment is not a favorite thing of mine. Yet in this case, I hold it up as the reason for essentially debunking this terrible cycle that causes my mom (and surely others) such emotional discomfort.

I say this because I watch as the fear and anxiety and fatigue all happen, and I know what comes next. Inevitably, the cycle awakens the part of a person to the realization that, in reality, it was all for naught. Life goes on. Today becomes tomorrow. And with it, we get a fresh start. Not to start the whole terrible cycle all over again, but to live anew.

It ends with the mind. Trepidation. Anxiety. Fatigue. Regret. None of it has to happen if we catch it early enough.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it,” as ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle suggested. Worry is going to happen. People are going to psyche themselves out over nothing. But life is going to go on, with or without them. If you ask me, there is strength to persevere within these basic truths.

 

Recharging Life December 16, 2013

Momma said there’d be days like this. Well, not my momma. But apparently this is a message moms everywhere chose to communicate to whomever will listen. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how proudly we optimists wear our rose-colored glasses. It doesn’t matter that we chose to see the good in all people, places and things. Because ultimately we can’t always control when the battery runs out.Recharging My Battery

Literally. That is how my beloved people began their Monday. The battery went out on one of the cars, which made them both late for work. There was no turning back from there. I don’t know what happens to either of them when they are away, but I know what happens when they return. And on a rare occasion like today, I can’t say I care for it.

Clearly they both had very little emotional battery left upon their return this evening. I don’t think it’s a coincidence either. The car, which (at least in my humble doggie opinion) normally functions as a mode of transportation to various sources of joy instead gave them grief. When money is already tight. And temperatures are bitterly frigid.

That’s the thing about days like today. Most times you don’t see them coming. But that’s not such a bad thing, because the tides can turn just as quickly in the other direction. It’s not always easy, but it certainly didn’t take much today. My people were sad. Tired. Disgruntled.

So I did what I do best. I engaged in a game of pickle in the middle with my newest addition to my comfort circle cast of characters. Mr. Squirrel is floppy, unlike the majority of my other toys, and he did just the trick. It started with dad. We played tug of war on the living room floor. Laughter followed smiles. Then it caught on with mom. Joy. From the ground up. It’s a pretty effective way of recharging one’s emotional batteries, that much is for sure.

Dad swapped out the battery for a new one. I swapped out the negative energy in our house for the positive. Maybe that’s why my momma never said there’d be days like this. Just because we can’t control when or how the battery runs out doesn’t mean we don’t have the power and strength within us to recharge.