Yesterday I called my parents, 94 and 88, who live 100 miles away in South Jersey to tell them Ellie and I were going to drive down tomorrow for a visit. They just celebrated their 65th Anniversary, so I had some amazing flowers delivered for the occasion and had not heard from them – not typical. And that morning they were not answering their phone, which was malfunctioning and not allowing me to leave a message. It occurred to me they might be out somewhere enjoying the day’s excellent weather, but my father was not answering his cell phone either. Considering their age and health issues I began to have real concerns thinking “what if!”
Soon I decided I must find out if they were OK. Just before we pulled out of the driveway, I decided to call one more time. I was quite relieved when my father picked up. “We just got home,” he said. I told him we were in the car intending to take a ride down for a visit, which made them quite happy. Our original plan for the day was to go for a motorcycle ride, but it made no sense for us to change plans again. Even though the weather was perfect, the ride originally planned would be postponed until tomorrow. It was a good visit, my parents were well, the flower arrangement had arrived and was spectacular – their memories are not what they used to be – they simply failed to call and my father had forgotten to take his cell phone.
Ellie and I awakened today to the sound of rain on the roof. What about my motorcycle ride? I was really looking forward to a relaxing ride with the love of my life behind me – disappointment! Additionally, Ellie’s cell phone was not accepting a charge and like mine, it is an important tool for her work — this needed to be taken care of so several hours were consumed with this task. At moments like these, if dwelled upon, negative thoughts and unpleasant feelings can take over, ruining the day.
But wait! My parents are alive and well. Last night we went to hear some great jazz played by world class musicians, we started the day watching Sunday Morning — they had a piece on this dancing bird that had both of us laughing hysterically — we are with each other sharing abundant love, Ellie’s phone was replaced with the newest model and even though the sun didn’t come out today, tomorrow we may still get that hoped for ride in.
Life is often challenging! The more difficult a moment is, the more courage and mental discipline it takes to avoid negativity. By remembering the importance of genuine gratitude for what we already have, it is easier to maintain a positive attitude. Making this a habit — reframing negative thinking into positive language and behavior — turns stress, frustration, disappointment and even interpersonal angst into opportunities to learn, grow and celebrate the gift of life — the present — now.
Enjoy the 4th of July Fireworks and maybe make a few of your own.
Image from kateausburn under Creative Commons license.