Two weeks after my 58th birthday, I suffered a mild stroke. After I stopped denying that this ‘couldn’t happen to me’ (it could and it did), I struggled to accept this as my new normal. What skills I want back I must work to get back. Here are some tips that have helped me along (these are from George PH):
- Stop Chasing and Start Living – Many people feel they need something – more money, new clothes, better relationships – to make them happy. . .If you look hard enough, you’ll always find reasons to be miserable. So stop chasing; start living. Wanting more is fine, but don’t forget to relax and enjoy life for what it is – in the present.
- Assume Responsibility – We often blame other people, circumstances and even objects for our problems. . . Unless you assume responsibility for your life, you’ll always be at the mercy of those circumstances. Instead of blaming others for what’s wrong in your life, focus on what you can do to make things better. Never sulk and try not to feel sorry for yourself too often. It’s your responsibility to make yourself happy: nobody else’s.
- Stop Seeking Stimulation – We live in a world of endless stimulation. Between movies, video games and the internet, something exciting’s always going on. Sometimes, this makes us feel bored and restless when we run out of stuff to do. If you want to be happy, overcome this addiction. Develop the ability to enjoy life in its entirety – even when the stimulation stops. Appreciate the sky you see on your way to work each day. Cherish each moment you spend with the people you love. Savor every bite of food you get to eat. Enjoying every experience will give you many new reasons to be happy.
- Take Action – Taking action is the logical consequence of assuming responsibility for your life (Point #2). . . Get behind the steering wheel of your own life! . . . Educate yourself and commit to find happiness no matter what it takes. With enough hard work and dedication, you really can create the life you want.
- Expect Nothing – We expect others to treat us better than we treat them. . . The difference between what we feel entitled to and what we actually get is the source of much misery. Accept life in its entirety; stop thinking in terms of what should be and accept what is. When you live without entitlement, every good thing becomes a wonderful surprise. Even better, expecting nothing means never being disappointed.
So here’s to living in the present, making things better, and enjoying each moment. Join me this November.
Pastor Peter J. Blank
Click here for the Nov. 2015 newsletter: Nov 2015 for web
I am graduating midlife shortly (the ages of 35-60). Here are some thoughts on midlife experiences that have shaped my Christian faith journey through this. Author Lynne Baab says, “In midlife we start to look back as well as ahead wondering if we have lived the first half of our life wisely and pondering what we want to do in the second half” (Refresh: A Journal of Christian Spirituality, 2009). She suggests that there are common midlife experiences though which we live: losses, discoveries, and questions. I will only cover these briefly here.
+Loss – When I was turning 50, I experienced a string of deaths (both my parents, my aunt, and colleague) in a brief amount of time. I had shoulder surgery and weeks of recovery. It’s common to experience losses. Job issues, family crises, health problems and deaths tend to challenge faith in midlife years. And, it seems, faith can’t quite keep up with the demands.
+Discoveries – A second common midlife experience is that of new and enriching discoveries. Diana has recently completed her Bachelors degree in Nursing. She has found learning is fun.
+Questions – midlife is a time of questioning because of these losses and discoveries. Where is God? Why do I feel abandoned by my church? Why do I feel so discouraged?
Some suggest midlife is most likely whenever we start to look back wondering “did I live wisely?” and looking ahead pondering “how will this end?” Research shows that only about ten percent of people have a full-blown midlife crisis. But many more people experience the ‘messengers of midlife’: increased tears, sleeplessness, and a sense of loss that may be focused on work, family life and personal life. These messengers are a call to look deeper and to spend some time on nurturing our inner life of faith.
Now, on to what’s next – later life.
Pastor Peter J. Blank
October newsletter link: oct 2015 for website
I need to tell you a story I recently lived. You may know that I like to work on cars and I’d like to think everything I touch, I can fix. I frequently invite our children to let me repair their cars as a way of saving them some money on costly repairs. Recently I tried to fix our daughter Hannah’s 2005 VW Golf.
We arrange the Saturday. She bought the replacement struts for the front end. Her boyfriend Cameron was going to help with the work. The day came. Cameron and I spent the next eight hours disassembling parts of the car. Before our patience wore thin, we tried to reassemble the car, but failed. We didn’t have a few special tools. So, later that week and later the next week, after getting the special tools and after assembling and reassembling the front end five times, I took the car to the garage to have the car fixed by professionals. It now has new struts and runs great!
Here are my take aways: 1) Be humble and realistic. I can’t fix everything and it’s okay to admit it. 2) Ask for help. Recognize when things are un-fixable by Shade Tree Mechanic (that’s me). 3) Share the lesson. I am talking about this to you so you know what I know – and that is, I don’t know enough. 4) Learn to laugh. This lesson in mis-directed mechanics is now becoming legend at my house. The re-telling of this misadventure is taking on mythic proportions. The key question is: will I ever live this one down?
Well, I have had my slice of humble pie. That’s all for now!
Pastor Peter (aka “Shade Tree”)
Pastor Peter J. Blank
P.S. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” James 4:6. Stay humble my friends.
Complete September Newsletter: sept 2015