Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Changing Focus

Yes, it’s true, I can be a self-centered, spoiled brat, focusing on what I want and not worrying about what others want or need. This happened during Christmas vacation, when we were back in Upstate NY visiting family and friends. I had my list of who I wanted to see and when I wanted to do it. It was my list, my preferences, and my priorities. When Mike mentioned something he hoped to do I would “poo-poo” it because it wasn’t part of 'my" plans. I would start making excuses as to why we shouldn’t or couldn't do what he wanted. The result? I made situations unpleasant, when they could have been fun, right from the get-go.

For example, my husband mentioned a handful of times that he wanted to go snowshoeing, two hours away, at a friend’s cabin. Clearly, I knew there was not enough snow, but he insisted there was. I pouted, fretted, and complained, basically making the evening, prior to us leaving, less than enjoyable. The reality was, it had nothing to do with not wanting to snowshoe, but rather that I wanted to sleep in a little, not drive two hours each way, and have a little more time to shop at Wegman's. Because I made it all about me, I lost focus on what my husband really needed, which was to visit with his friend, with our family.
We made the trek up to the cabin, noting as we got closer that there was definitely not enough snow for snowshoeing. Hmmm… what to do? I was tempted to complain again and point out how right I was, but I had decided earlier that morning that if I chose to go on the “trip” that I needed to change my attitude. It didn’t matter what we did, but rather that we were doing it as a family and visiting with friends that we rarely see. In addition, we had two friends from Australia/Thailand who had never seen snow until this December. We needed to make it a time for them to remember.
Problem solved - we went sledding. The boys had a blast, while I nervously prayed they wouldn’t crash into any of the trees lining the trail they were following. I bit my tongue and just took in the sight of the boys laughing and enjoying the snow – they weren’t phased by the fact that they couldn’t snow shoe… they simply made the most of what they had. I am so glad that I had the sense, this time, to stop my self-centeredness and be present. Present to the beautiful, warm day (warm being 50 degrees in January) - present to the wonderful friends we were visiting - present to the little fire we were cooking hot dogs over - present to my family. What joy I would have missed had I chosen differently…
Isn’t that the way it is with life? It doesn’t always happen how we think it should or the way we plan it. When that happens we have a choice to make – complain and wallow in it or figure out how to make the best of the situation. When things are out of our control, we must decide what we can control and not worry about what we can’t.
This is how I have felt about losing Austin. I cannot control the fact that he is gone. I cannot control the fact that at any moment something will remind me of him and tears will come. I cannot control that there will be times that I am sad. But, I can embrace the memories and the tears, knowing they are slowly healing me. I can also love those around me, being less concerned about always getting “my way” and more focused on enjoying the time I have with those around me, including (and especially) my family.
Funny thing, I've realized that, quite often, I work hard on making the time with friends enjoyable and pleasant, only to come home and want it my way - making my home a less pleasant place to be in. What would happen if I worked on creating love and peace at home, focusing more on what Mike and the boys want and less on myself? What if I gave my family the attention and patience I give others? How much more would they enjoy every day, and in turn, so would I?

Time is very precious to me. I don’t know how much I have left and I have some things that I would like to say. Hopefully, at the end, I will have said something that will be important to other people too…I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. – Excerpt from Jimmy V's ESPY Speech
This is my goal for 2011 - change my focus from "me" to "others" - enjoy my life and the precious moments I have with those I love... all of you - my family and my friends!

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