Back at work today. Felt like going back into the rut of being anxious, nervous, upset, stressed, picking fights with myself over things that truly won’t matter or upset anyone (including myself) in the following hour, if not day. But no. I caught myself. As I was walking listening to one of Alex’s favorite songs, I recalled being short with Alex that morning while racing to get on my bike, and how kind and patient he is with me in those moments. He knows I don’t want to be that person. I’m not that person. I want my mood and energy to only sing a song of love and joy and…you probably guessed it: gratitude! So that’s how my Tuesday started.
It also helped that it was the first, fresh day back from a short vacation or a long weekend in the Bavarian Alps. It’s hard to get the songs from “Sound of Music” out of your head when you have images of bright green fields and gray mountains dancing around in your head. But today not only marks the day back at work, but also the 7 year anniversary of the car accident my father and I were in, whilst on my way back to university for tennis tryouts. Ah, how life was SO different back then. Focusing on school, making the tennis team, training for this and that, learning only to get a grade, forget and learn something else. Seems small when you look back on it, but I also looked at life very differently back then.
I’ll jump forward to a cool conversation I had today with one of my patients’ spouses. He wasn’t aware about my car accident anniversary being today, but we were talking about my job choice & my priorities in terms of looking forward with my career. He knows my goals of working with sustainability and having a big impact on the world, but he also knows how much I love my job of helping elderly people, and how good I am at improving their moods and days just by walking in their door (his words, not mine 🙂 )! As I explained that my feeling in the mountains was that I don’t want to waste any more time doing things that aren’t fueling my goal, and I want to focus more of my time and energy on the consulting work, he could hear the guilt in my voice. I also explained how hard it is for me to quit jobs, say goodbyes, and take that leap to the next rock. He leaned back and smirked, “As long as you feel like every day is not a waste- that you can find some satisfaction or accomplishment with every day, then don’t stress about hitting that target on the dot”. He then told a story about how one of his old favorite nurses kissed him on the cheek the other day, and how that made his whole day. You sometimes never know what impact you’re having on someone’s day, life, wellbeing, perspective, hopes, dreams, self-image. So, that was my reminder to be gentler with myself. Even though I’m not having the amazingly huge impact on global warming that I AIM to have, I am brightening the days of a handful of old folks in Stockholm day to day. That I am grateful for.
Gratitude is a word that developed more meaning for me after August 22nd 2010. The accident was a highway, car-crushing, too fast to swerve, scream or brake thing. I broke my left leg and shattered my ankle. My dad broke his lumbar vertebrae and sternum. It was a nasty, bloody, glassy, scary mess for a Sunday morning on the way back to university. I can honestly say that I became a stronger person because of it, despite my chances of running a pain-free marathon disappearing (not sure if there even is such a thing, though). Anyways. I need to get back to work, but I just thought I’d share how gratitude can deepen and grow after painful, life-changing moments occur.
I always am pondering the deeper questions and am cherishing life up on the mountains—It reminds me of my first big trip to New Zealand with my fresh scars & the new outlook on how fragile life is. This time, I went up with the perspective of how full life can be—how many moments, experiences, trips, people, things, thoughts, memories pile up with us, and I’ve been hearing the stories, wishes, regrets, old and new self images of the old folks lately, and wow how it has reminded me how short life is. How GRATEFUL and JOYFUL I was to be out soaking up the sun, swimming, sweating, breathing heavily, drinking coffee, dancing, laughing, and enjoying the company of friends up on a mountain. I’m grateful for all the moments I’ve experienced since the accident, but I’m most thankful that I’ve gotten to experience them with amazing people- both near and far- who remind me that the relationships are what matter most! Accidents seem to be less of “accidents” the more we look at what we’ve learned and gained from them. Less like scars, more like lessons learned.
So if you’re having one of those days where you want to give into the grumpy mood, try to put a happy song in your head, and remember that you can be that kind and loving person who changes the mood of someone else. Be the start of that ripple!