Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

TLC Tuesday: Learning to Laugh – At Ourselves!

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicThere’s no way around it – if we want to be happier, we have to laugh more. And the best way to start is with ourselves!

Over the past few years, I’ve watched the body of research around the health benefits of laughter grow. Besides releasing positive hormones that create more of a sense of well-being, laughter can have positive effects on just about any aspect of our lives. Think about it – doesn’t the world seem better when you laugh?

Of course, laughter shouldn’t be cruel or made at the expense of someone else’s feelings. Laughter that is base and tinged with nastiness doesn’t lift anyone up or promote kindness and joy.

But laughter that uplifts, that allows us to see the quirky side of life and that helps us not take ourselves so seriously that we forget how beautiful and wonder-ful this world and life are – that’s the kind of laughter I try to get more of each day. And, yes, at at least one point during the day, there is something about myself that I just have to laugh at.

Make fun of? No. Just shake my head, chuckle and smile, embrace with warmth and a light laugh. That’s the kind of uplifting moment I mean.

Finding the hint of funny about our lives helps us balance those times that are harder and heart-wrenching. It also brings out the oh-so-human side of us and helps us better appreciate God’s greatness.

Today, take a moment to laugh. Let the sound ripple around you as beautiful music. Because it is – and you are – blessedly human!

Joy and peace,

Maureen

Food for Thought: Who’s Your Hero?

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of nuchylee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuchylee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We’re thick in the “hero” season, with holidays and other celebrations focused on individuals or concepts (such as Valentine’s Day and love) that remind us of the heroes in our lives. Martin Luther King, J.r., Day in January and Black History Month this month; Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday and George Washington’s Birthday in February, Purim in March, and Easter in April – throughout these days, we’re surrounded by stories of bravery, old and new.  And this leads me to ask:

Who is my hero? Who is your hero? And, why?

I suppose we don’t have to have just one hero (and I’m using the term to mean either a man or a woman). My mother, my friends, my doctors, those I learn from – these are all heroes in my mind and heart.  Jesus Christ, Mary, the Apostles – these and other religious heroes figure prominently, too. And then, as I look at the world around me, there are public figures who are heroes, especially those who stand up to injustice or continue working for good despite tremendous odds.

Lately, I have found myself learning and reading more about the many heroes throughout history. I just can’t get enough of their stories and the inspiration they provide through their examples. I wash away the cynicism and down-beat influences of bad news and bad deeds others carry out by filling my mind with these stories of goodness, bravery, and love. I feel more energized doing this, more hopeful. And, certainly educated and edified by the things these people do and have done.

Some people will say that, today, there are no heroes. I say there are many, all around us, and it’s our privilege to get to know them in everyway we can. Through the light that they shine, our world is brighter and we are inspired to, yes, strive for heroism, too!

Joy and peace,

Maureen

A Praying Spirit: Holding Fast to Prayer Time

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of bigjom/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of bigjom/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I really admire people who can get up each morning and immediately embark on deep prayer. Or, those who, no matter what, reserve a specific time later in the day for prayer – no matter where they are or what they are doing. Such discipline is admirable, especially in today’s world. But I also know that many people are unable to practice this kind of everyday praying. Illness, family, work, the irregularities of life in an ever-changing world – these and other outer elements work to chip away at resolve to build a wall around a specific time and place for prayer.

In my life, I try to pray each morning. But, with my chronic illnesses, especially lupus, some mornings are more productive than overs. Some days, lupus brain fog settles in. Other days, I might have to get up and out to be at a doctor’s appointment (and, oh, on those fasting bloodwork days, it’s even more of a challenge!).

If we want to maintain, develop, and deepen our relationship with God, praying regularly is a must. But even more important is the quality of our prayer, the focus we place upon those precious minutes with God, and the dedication we make and keep to being willing to open up to God even if we’re hurting and the day is conspiring against us praying on a particular time-schedule.

By “quality,” I don’t mean the length of our prayers or time. I mean being fully present, there/here and now, to God.

In an unpredictable life with chronic illness, you and I might not be able to set specific hours each day to sit and pray. We might have to improvise, get creative with our prayer lives. But, one thing is certain. No matter when we open up to God, He is ready to open Himself to us!

Joy and peace,

Maureen

Chronic Pain: Catching Your Breath on the Roller Coaster Ride

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Maggie Smith/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Maggie Smith/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It isn’t often that we get a lull in the “medical” action during our lives with chronic pain. In fact, such moments, brief or long, might take us by complete suprise – and we don’t fully realize them until they’re in the rearview mirror. (Much like that “aha!” moment when we’ve gone through the day and suddenly realize that the “bad” knee behaved.) Or we might be so focused on a flare-up of trouble in one area that we don’t recognize the relative healing that’s taking place elsewhere in our same, oh-so-complex body.

The lulls might not be fully free of pain, but they do come with an extra dose of peace of mind and heart, comfort, or at least an easing of the stressful burden of hurting. I look upon them as God’s way of allowing me to catch my breath, store up faith and hope, and re-ignite trust that all is not completely wrapped in a shroud of suffering.

In order to recognize a lull as it happens, we have to be mindful of what’s taking place in our bodies. Not egotistically focused, but “just checking in” with the various locations where we know the battle between pain and peace is being waged. Moments in meditation can help us do this, as can time in prayer or gentle stretching.

Once I recognize a lull, the first thing I do is lift up a really delighted “Thank you!” Gratitude is a sure way of shifting focus from what’s wrong to what’s right. Next, I allow myself to breathe, to enjoy the time in the lull, imagining myself in a boat gently bobbing along in a peaceful but active body of water.

When lulls pass, as they will do, we might feel letdown or sad. Or, perhaps angry. But the time we spent enjoying them can help us be strong in the aftermath, and moving ahead, we can be better-sure that lulls will come again, offering us God-given respite, grace, and joy.

Blessings for the day!

Maureen

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