Thursday, April 25, 2019

An Early Morning Quiet Time

It's 7:38 A.M., and I see beyond my window that it's another gray, rainy day. I remind myself that recent rainy and occasional sunny days have turned grass and trees green after a long and sometimes brutal winter here in Minnesota.

In the meantime, bouquets of peach-colored carnations in my entry way and living room still brighten my home several days after I bought them at the local supermarket, where I buy both food for my body and occasionally food for my soul.

Early morning is my time for writing in my journal, reading spiritual material, and meditating. It's a quiet time in my huge seniors' apartment building: as yet, no grocery carts are rumbling down the halls, and I hear no sounds of conversation and laughter from neighbors visiting with one another while taking out the trash.

Appreciation for my early morning quiet time began years ago when I was married and had two young children. I got up an hour or two before my family rose to gather at the breakfast table. After which, we went our separate ways to work or to school.

Over time, I've become increasingly grateful for my habit of rising early that continues to bless me with opportunities to journal, meditate, and read spiritual books, such as Donald Altman's One Minute Mindfulness, which I'm currently reading.

Speaking of gratitude, Altman writes (pp. 36-37):

Gratitude is a potent vaccine that inoculates us against negativity. If you are feeling any kind of negative emotion, you can counteract it in the next sixty seconds by noticing something for which you are grateful. Use the next minute to ask others what they are grateful for. Gratitude is a means of overcoming short-term pleasure seeking. It lets us tap into deeper and more sustainable ways of experiencing fulfillment. Besides, when we're grateful for what we already have, we don't have a reason to be disappointed."

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Touching the Bluebird of Happiness

When my son, Sandy (name changed for privacy), was in the 2nd or 3rd grade, we moved to a different school district. As young as he was, Sandy's grief for his former teacher and his classmates was painfully obvious. His sadness evoked memories of my own childhood when my family had moved several times. I recalled my own sadness, my uncertainty in my new surroundings, and my loneliness.

My heart went out to Sandy, but what could I do? It happened a week or two after our move, that I noticed a photo of a bluebird in our daily paper. The author of the accompanying article mentioned the popular association of the bluebird with happiness.

So it happened that I took my scissors and cut the bluebird's picture out of the paper. The next day as my young son was grudgingly getting ready for school, I handed him the picture. “Put this in your pocket,” I instructed Sandy, “and when you get sad at school today, touch the bluebird and you'll feel better.”

Sandy's smile when he got off the school bus that day and ran to my open arms, told me the bluebird of happiness was no myth. Sandy was happy,

Years later, as I sat here reading Donald Altman's, One Minute Mindfulness, I recalled Sandy's childhood experience with the photo of the bluebird when I read Altman's instructions for finding peace wherever you are (page 66):

...bring an item that evokes pleasantness. This object can be a a picture of something you love, maybe a pet or a place you have visited or would like to visit. It's good to have something pleasant and meaningful that is portable as well, something you can carry with you and touch or look at when you need to feel calm and centered.”

Something like a newspaper photo of a bluebird...