We all have challenges to face in our lives. And often things don’t go according to plan. I laugh when I hear the old Yiddish saying, “Man plans, God laughs,” because it has been all too true in my life.
I’ve had a lot of practice responding to unexpected events during more than 30 years of weird health issues, none of them life threatening, but all life altering.
What do you do when you make plans but life has other plans for you? Do you respond with resilience, grace, and compassion towards yourself? Or do you push through despite possible negative consequences to yourself or others? Do you give up, get angry, hopeless, or bitter?
I’ve responded with each of these strategies at one time or another, and I can tell you that responding with resilience, grace, and compassion towards myself is far better for me than pushing through or succumbing to anger, hopelessness, and bitterness.
This week I had another opportunity to practice responding to yet another unexpected health event. Earlier this week I noticed my low back was sore. Then it quickly grew to become severe pain that made it painful to walk, sit, or lie down. I’m not sure what caused this flareup of pain but it seems to fit the usual pattern of one more weird thing that happens every so often to my body.
I have found that there are some important practices in my life that help me be more resilient during unexpected events.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” — Annie Dillard
I’ve increased my meditation with special attention to scanning my body and noticing the impermanence of sensations. It helps me to relax instead of tensing up with the pain.
I’m taking time out to notice things that I’m grateful for—a perfectly beautiful day Friday where I spent hours out on the deck enjoying the porch swing, gentle breeze, leafy surroundings, and reading a good book, Gracie, my cat, purring in my lap, Jon, my husband, doing the things I’m unable to do, and the freedom in my life to take time out to allow my back to heal.
Instead of focusing on how things are not happening as I want them to happen, I work hard to stay in the present moment and practice acceptance. This is what IS.
No Magic Bullets
Still, I groan with pain every time I get up out of a chair and find myself taking a half minute after standing, to work up the courage to take painful steps to wherever I am going. Although I enjoyed my time out on the porch swing yesterday, today, the pain is more intense and I am working harder on gratitude, mindfulness, and acceptance.
Still, I’m hoping this pain is only a small bump in the road that will quickly resolve, and I am thankful that practicing mindfulness, gratitude, and acceptance help me stay optimistic and upbeat.
What helps you when “Man plans, God laughs?”
“…meaning isn’t found in accomplishment; one thing isn’t better or worse, or more or less, than another thing. But life is full. And I’m trying day by day to trust that if I’m fully present then I am where I’m meant to be, whether it’s at my laptop composing sentences or in the laundry room folding towels or turning to meet my husband’s sleepy embrace.” — Katrina Kenison, Blog Post “How We Spend Our Days”
Make each day count. Make each day good. Pay attention.
May you walk in beauty.
A quick note on Katrina Kenison quote above: I recently discovered Katrina’s blog and book, Magical Journey, and so enjoy her writing. Take a look at her blog.