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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Grateful for Opportunities

The word of the day for me seemed to have been opportunity. That one word has popped up all over throughout my day, in numerous places and faces, and even in my own conversation with others.

Today I am grateful for challenges, hurts, changes, that are uncomfortable and even painful but provide an opportunity if we can stretch to see the possibilities in whatever it is, the proverbial cliché, the silver lining in the dark cloud. Sometimes we need a bit of time and distance to see it for what it is, the seemingly insurmountable obstacles lead to new “climbing skills”, the hurt from old wounds, the opportunity for healing, (often other healing occurs elsewhere in our heart/body/soul while the wound heals), the lies told by others are all opportunities to learn the truth about ourselves in relationships we choose with others, the loss of someone, or something opens the window to something or someone new in our lives. We have the opportunity to look at what patterns we have followed to get to the place where we are now in our distress, the opportunity to change, to stretch, to reach, to grow, to become stronger and more of who we are meant to be.

I was not always as positive and as optimistic in my world view as I am today. I did not always see challenges as opportunities; I saw them as insurmountable mountains that I didn’t have the strength or skills to climb. I spent the first 40 years of my life thinking/feeling/experiencing the world as negative and frightening, I was fearful, timid, shy, self-doubting, often feeling trapped, at the mercy of the whims of others, unlovable, powerless, and convinced that there was certainly nothing unique or special about myself. That began to change the year I turned 40; it was the year when at the time my oldest son went off to college the autumn of 1991, I too went to college and then on to graduate school. When in graduate school in the late 90s some of my classmates and I would play a game called "positive reframe" in which we would take a situation and spin a positive out of it. I had to learn to look at what I had been told, things I had believed to be negative things, or what *I* perceived to be a negative situation and state a positive, a “reframing” of a portion of the situation as positive. It was an incredible stretch at times to find a positive but I did become fairly proficient at finding it, so much so that for a while I "wore the crown" of Queen of Positive Reframe, a title given affectionately in jest, but a crown I wore happily, it was much more comfortable than a crow of thistle and thorns that I wore as a pessimistic person. It’s good to be Queen! The ability to find a positive reframe has become a life skill that I call upon frequently, reminding myself that when things are painful, irritating, annoying, inconvenient, frightening, that there is a kernel positive no matter how minute, to be found in almost any situation. Sometimes it is not immediately apparent; it may be years even until we have the perspective and eyes to see it as such.

Last night I spoke on the phone to our eldest son John. He has been going through an extremely difficult period, as have all of those close to him: his family, his closest friends, his in-laws, and he himself, were all devastated by the sudden end of his marriage and what we have all experienced/perceived as a cruel and deep betrayal by his wife and his best friend. He and all of us had thought the marriage seemed to be a happy one. We are grieving the loss of what was, and probably the parts of ourselves that have to change now too as the marriage is ending. The divorce papers are ready to be signed on Friday at the lawyer’s office, to be filed with the court shortly after that. How quickly things have changed since 4 weeks ago tonight, We are seeing sides of our son we didn’t realize existed, his strength, his ability to be a rock in the midst of it all while remaining tender and responsive to our granddaughter, his ability to be civil and fair while not being a doormat in mediation of property and custody issues, his ability to state and believe “I will be okay”, an ability to talk about what he is feeling eloquently, the willingness to share his pain, and allowing those of us who love him the opportunity to share and help as we are able. I am grateful for the opportunity to see these things, to see my son as he is, and perhaps selfishly on my part, I am grateful for the opportunity to talk to and see my son more often.

Four weeks ago if anyone had suggested that I would have gratitude for anything in this situation, I would not believe it. But tonight, I can say, Yes! I am grateful for the opportunities that something sad and painful has presented.

Life IS good!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this beautiful essay and a reminder...Positive reframe. I am going to take that. You are a light, thanks for shining on me before I go to sleep. I will dream myself into a new frame! Nite nite!