A few days ago while grocery shopping, I accidentally caught my own reflection in a narrow mirrored pillar, but I didn’t realize it was my own reflection. I definitely thought, for a split second, it was a stranger, a very worried, deeply sad, visibly distressed stranger. Her eyebrows were knotted upward, mouth pressed thin and downturned, overall countenance gray and dull. I smiled at her to cheer her up just as I was realizing my mistake.
As I retreated from the mirror, it sunk in that I had been walking around like that in public. Just broadcasting to strangers an outward expression of some private pain. It was unintentional, and I felt really ashamed. When I shared all of this with my husband later he said, “Yeah babe, now you know why I am always asking you if you are ok.” Yikes. Do I always look so sad?
Since this weird moment, I have been trying to be more conscious of how my inner storms are leaking out. I am making an effort to interact with the world a bit more lightly. To be clear, I don’t mean to suggest that we fake happiness or deny anything real or worth examining, but I have learned the value of smiling anyway. I have learned to just to acknowledge and accept my sadness then choose as often as possible to smile anyway.
To choose joy despite loss and grief and worry.
To accept humor and fun surprises with open arms, because they can be powerful tonics. Everything that counterweights hardship is a gift.
To vote for hope and optimism in the face of some scary unknowns. Count the victories, dwell on them!
I have learned to actively express gratitude for so many blessings, so much emotional comfort and practical safety and stability in the world. What extravagance. We are so loved.
I will actively choose to invest in healthy relationships, happy memories, and hope for our family’s future. Give thanks for people still living, for whom our prayers matter greatly, joy for friendships that uplift us and traditions that keep us grounded. These are glittering gifts.
Because winter is coming, I am consciously accepting the many luscious gifts of a long, slow, mild autumn, a healthy and colorful farm dotted with well fed, affectionate, hilarious animals. A house that keeps us comfortable and stimulated. I remind myself to go walk around the farm after I have finished my work, thankful for the weather and all the beauty around us. Every single beautiful day is a gift.
Instead of focusing on the precious time we lost with Jocelyn and Jessica, instead of focusing on the abuse they endured all those years, I am focusing on their lives now, and on Alex and the pups, who we love dearly. We are focusing on these kids’ unbelievable capacity to heal and rebuild, on their tenacity and wisdom, their tender love and unnatural beauty. Every text, every visit, every hug, is a gift.
We truly have so much to celebrate. This doesn’t mean we are forgetting about yet unanswered prayers; it only means we are saying thank you for so many prayers that have already been answered, after years of waiting and hoping and striving.
How could we ever give up on any miracle we crave? So much has fallen straight out of the sky for us. I want to more often express that hope and joy physically. My face should more often reflect my deep hope and abiding joy, instead of my worry.
Today I was in a different grocery store and was actively framing my thoughts and making an effort to smile at and chat with everyone. My heart was freshly refilled with the same strong worries, the same toxins, but I just acknowledged them and persisted in drumming up the better schools of thought. Though I never accidentally caught my own reflection, I think my vibration was better than a few days ago. Everyone smiled back at me, and lots of people stopped to chat. It was wonderful and sweet. A young man approached me and asked my age, and how was I today, and a generous offering of just so pretty, and do I need anything at all? It was sweet and kind and unnecessary, and it helped me feel like I was back in society a little bit. Like maybe I wasn’t scaring people away with my facial expression.
Handsome and I talked things through over dinner, and my heart settled onto some good, warm truths. Yes, we are surrounded by worries. We are traumatized and wounded, and we are occasionally weary. We are waiting for some precious answers in the world, as you are too. It is wise and useful to share our concerns but not dwell on them. Much better to dwell on the amazing goodness and unseen beauty headed our way.
So, if I have crossed your path recently and resonated sadness, I am very sorry for that. I am sorry for ever spreading darkness over light. Maybe admitting this will at least let people know that my constant encouragement to choose joy do come from a place of knowing it is sometimes a very difficult choice. I know it is not always easy to cling to, but it is always worth it. Keep choosing joy.
Mrs. Resting Worried Face