Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Stuck? Add a grace note

posted by mpratt
Photo courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Even if you are not musically inclined, when you’re stuck in a rut, hole, or other foot-freezing, spirit-stunting space in your life, there’s nothing like adding a grace note to get you back on your purposeful path.

What’s a grace note?

It’s a gentle, brief addition of a lighter (in music, usually higher) tone that, when grace-fully applied, can turn an ordinary line of music into something very special. Singers add grace notes to make a common melody all their personal own. Composers add them, too, as a dash of expression to individualize their phrases.

In life, a grace note can be as simple as bringing a fresh flower indoors, taking a beloved book off the shelves and reading, going through your telephone book and dialing up someone you’ve lost touch with.

In faith, a grace note is an addition, however small, to a routine of prayer and reflection. A study of a part of Scripture you’ve struggled with in the past, or a punctuation of praise when you’re in the middle of a dull household chore.

Grace notes abound in nature. Against the sky, a bird dips and dives and, maybe, lands on a branch nearby. A breeze brings back a certain memory that warms you in the midst of a personal cold spell. A frozen pond, ordinarily seeming barren, becomes a playground for a dog exploring the winter world.

That little extra something. A spark of difference that can light a new energy and resolve.

Stuck? Add a grace note – and sing a whole different song.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

How do you react?

posted by mpratt
Photo courtesy of posterize/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of posterize/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

People can be so cruel. Recently, I was driving home and saw a person in a car nearly hit a pedestrian who was “of a certain age,” and moving more slowly than the impatient driver wanted her to. True, the “Don’t Walk” hand had flashed on the sign long before the woman reached the far curb. But, in my humble opinion, it was cruel of the driver to edge ever closer with each step the woman took and, finally, zoom past her, missing her by mere inches. My heart went out to the woman, and my anger rested on the driver. But, as she slowly reached the sidewalk and carried on, a realization struck me – the woman did not in any way seem ruffled or angry. As close as the driver got to her, she did not flinch, falter, or fail.

She simply moved along as best – and as quickly – as she could. What an example of grace under fire!

I’ve taken this life lesson to heart; truly, there will always be people who act or speak rudely to us because of our limitations, physical or otherwise. Our need for certain accommodations also can stir up unkindness in others, especially if those accommodations mean inconveniencing someone more able-bodied.

Yes, these incidents will happen, just as surely as people are people. But, I believe, the point is not so much how they react to us as it is how we react to them. Do we bristle, bark, or balk? Or do we, like the lady I saw, move along grace-fully, sure of who we are and what we can do in spite of what others think or seem to want?

I’ve done my share of barking when someone has criticized me for something I’ve done (or not been able to do) because of my limitations. But this year, with the woman pedestrian’s example, I’m going to try even more to be calm, cool, and Christian about my response, doing what I can and leaving the rest up to God…which is, after all, as it should be in the first place!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

How can you set goals when they keep moving?

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicIt’s slippery, skittish, and speedy – chronic illness can lie relatively quiet for a time and then pounce on you from seemingly nowhere. One day, one moment, you might be forging ahead on steps toward a goal: Tapering medication, finishing rehab, returning to work, or getting back into your social activities. Then, Wham! Illness moves the goal out of reach. Again!

Or, perhaps you do not have an illness or pain that makes firm goals tough to achieve. Perhaps you have people in your life that are always interrupting your progress, or a boss who moves the “goalpost.” Or, perhaps your life is so busy with other responsibilities that you simply do not have the time to see your way clear to that cherished goal so you set another and another, until you have myriad goals but no way to accomplish even one of them.

How can you set goals when they keep moving?  How can you see one thing through, beginning to middle to end?

Over the past few years, I’ve found a few things that have helped me. Oh, goals still get sidelined or changed. But these are strong helps, even when emergencies arise:

o    Keep a journal. On the days when you can make progress, make it. Write down what you’ve done. If you’re interrupted for any reason, revisit your notes as soon as you can so you can pick up where you left off.

o   Set a strong foundation. If you cannot accomplish smaller tasks, you will have trouble sticking with an over-arching goal. Look upon the “smaller stuff” as the material with which you set a strong foundation of achievement that will support you in your bigger efforts.

o    Do not look upon setbacks as failures. Rather, they are opportunities to reset your priorities and, when you can, mile-markers on the way back to the goal journey. Jot down lessons learned in your journal and take the lessons to heart.

o   Learn your tolerance for flexibility and learn to use the time-honored word “No”  as you need it. If we’re all things to all people, we won’t be able to do what we, as individuals, need to accomplish. If you’re foundering at sea, if your life is so full of things that take you off course that you’re frustrated and lost, call a personal “time out.” Breathe. Pray. And regroup your resources so that you can move ahead as God wants you to.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Your Olympic season

posted by mpratt
Photo courtesy of koratmember/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of koratmember/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you read the title of this blog post and laughed, you’re not alone. Many people simply do not think of themselves as athletic, let alone Olympic caliber.

But if you’ve lived awhile with the challenges of chronic illness and pain, you know well that it takes more than meds and a doctor’s appointment to live as healthfully as possible and forge from your burdens purpose and grace.

So, considering the strength it takes to do what we do, I like to think of each of us as elite athletes with an Olympic season right around the corner. We are, in many ways, “in training.” We observe our doctor-prescribed course of treatment carefully, much as those sports-centered athletes observe their coaches’ programs. We fold into our rigorously pain-peppered lives time for rest, knowing that this comfort is needed along with all else.

As athletes, we also pay close attention to the “mental” and spiritual part of training. We nurture our good relationships and find ways to celebrate our “small” victories. We pray and meditate, soaking in as much of God’s love and support as we possibly can – and then some! We prepare our spirits for the tough days ahead, which we know will come, and we let them soar on the days when we can rejoice at better outcomes.

As we watch the feats of the athletes in this year’s Winter Olympics, we can take much inspiration from their achievements and, especially, the way that they continue on, rising from accidents and injuries, and insist on at least striving for their personal best.

Yes, this new year is our Olympic season! Ready? Set! Go for it!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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