A few years ago, while a member of the local fitness club, my path would regularly cross with this lovely older woman. I don't believe I could accurately describe her face, but every time I saw her I thought to myself, "she has the most peace-filled face I have ever seen." I wouldn't say she was super attractive, just that she exuded peace and grace. So much so, I often fought the urge to literally go up to her and tell her.
I never did find the right opportunity to talk with her, but I did make it a goal of mine to work towards looking as peace-filled as she did.
Some of the things I have changed in the past few years which, I feel, have REALLY contributed to my current attitude and expression include:
1. Listening to KLTY radio (94.9 FM) or www.klty.com in the car when we drive to and from our activities as well as playing it all day long in the kitchen. The music is emotional...fun, upbeat, sometimes very thought provoking...and often about God's love and about how special each one of us is in His eyes. Sometimes when I hear my son or daughter singing along I get choked up. I truly believe music can be internalized.
2. I don't read fiction. I always read self-help type books or biographies I can learn from. If I will not become a better version of myself for reading a book/blog/magazine article, I won't take the time to read it. This is not to say there is no value in fiction, just that I prefer to read the above two genres.
3. I know each one of us can make a positive impact on other people so I found a few organizations that allow me to use what I feel are my best qualities to make a difference. In addition, I work in a field where I can support others through a struggle I have also experienced.
For example: Last night a mom joined our parent group whose son relapsed several times in the past week. She had told him he would lose his home if he continued to use past his eighteenth birthday. It was his eighteenth birthday and earlier in the day she caught him [again] in his room using. Her decision to follow her words with action was incredibly emotionally challenging. Sometimes parents need words of encouragement and hugs of support too and I consider it a privilege to work with parents facing these challenges. Likely because I wish I had had somewhere to turn when I was in the situation myself.
4. I work hard everyday to be a present parent (which is never to be confused with a perfect parent). I am concentrating on really hearing my kids, asking questions to understand who they are and how I can best support and encourage them to work towards their God-given potential and purpose in life. I will be the first to admit I haven't always been "present" for my family, even when we are in the same room. Life holds a lot of distractions, so this particular task takes effort and commitment.
I am working on doing the same with my husband...it kinda scares me how often he tells me we've had a conversation twice. I know this is because my mind is elsewhere and that is something I am really not proud of.
5. I workout six days a week and never apologize for it. Physical activity each morning does a number of things for me...it wakes me up, helps keep my stress level at bay, clears my mind and clarifies my thoughts.
6. Without a doubt writing has changed my life. If you have never journaled before I encourage you to try it. Even if no one sees your writing, the act itself is SO cathartic! Expelling thoughts, experiences, worries and triumphs. If not writing, consider drawing or painting or even knitting!
7. I was blessed to be born an optimist. Even if you weren't, I think you can work towards that outlook. Keeping humor in most situations, the ability to laugh at oneself, and a sense of playfulness with your family are key as well.
Although I have yet to achieve that lady's peace-filled expression, she did have about fifteen years on me. I plan to continue the endeavor.
Any thoughts or ideas on additional ways I can work towards my goal?