Thursday, February 17, 2011

That's It!

That's it, I have had it. Simply had it with Winter! As I was chopping away at 2 inches of thick ice on my gravel driveway this morning, it hit me, this is my saturation point.

Did you know that ice does not melt as quickly on gravel as it does on cement? Neither did I until recently. And did you know that in Cleveland you can see mostly all grass, and in Medina, still loads of thick whitish gray snow?

This is perhaps the time of year when patience levels dwindle for many things, most especially in northern Ohio. Tired of being inside but so tired of the bone aching cold and shivering out in the weather? This "I've had it" feeling bubbles over, in to general living, I have found. Seriously, how many folks do you know are living a joyful life right now? Okay, so there are exceptions, those who have decided that no matter what the world is doing, what the new governor is stirring up, no matter if our union's existence is threatened or if layoffs will dampen our livelihood, they are going to be HAPPY. I admire those folks, in all honesty... they are the ones who find a way to get through the 75-85 mile hardships and complete a 100 mile race. I wonder a lot if I will ever be able to endure again like that.

One of my "things" -- my probably annoying-to-most "personality things" -- is to read self-help books. I don't necessarily abide by the general advice of each book, how is that possible anyway. I just do a sort of mega-analysis and file results away in my brain and recall blurry concepts when the need arises. I found a really good point, though, the other day, one I would like to share with you. The book credits Thomas Leonard, founder of "Coach U" for the saying, "While pain isn't optional, suffering is." I liked this because I have found myself saying to myself and others that life happens -- and we all have issues these days to deal with -- it is not what happens necessarily, but how we react to it. What might be hard for me might be easy for another. If I react poorly to a "simple" hardship, that hardship becomes even harder.

In other words, in life you can't necessarily avoid pain -- but you can choose whether or not you suffer from it.

For example, Rose Armbruster was most certainly one of God's angels put on this earth to bring happiness to everyone she touched. I am serious, this woman, if there was a woman alive who could be a saint-- well, she was it. Rose was stricken with an aggressive cancer that killed her within two seasons after diagnosis. Her children loved her so much they begged her to battle with the most aggressive chemo out there, which she did willingly. Harsh was not the word for how this chemo wrecked her body. When the doctor would ask her, "Rose, what is your pain level on the scale of 1 to 10," even in the midst of what was obviously the worst pain she had ever experienced, she would smile and say, "oh, about a 6 or 7." Even on her last dwindling days of life, she made an effort to smile, be happy, love her kids and grandkids, find the good in the day, and not "suffer" because of the pain laid upon her.

I cannot think of a better example than Rose. But I can think of some who are close. One of my closest friends has been given the most difficult challenges because those challenges are laid upon his children. He has had to see them in pain and suffer with them. I have seen his strength. I have seen him thank God for the blessings he and his children are given, even the smallest of blessings like an "easy" surgery. I have seen him appreciate a relaxing day in the sun despite knowing another day of stress was coming tomorrow. If he can make this life worth living, why can't we?

And then there are those like Bob Pokorny who ride the waves of challenge as if it were all just nothing. I may have in the past almost mocked him for minimizing all hardships, even significant ones, still I truly appreciate that even in the midst of my total over-reactions to non-monumental things I can call Bob and hear his calming voice that puts my panic into perspective, calibrating me.

Besides, think about it. Does even your best friend want to be around you if you are on a constant downer? A continuous binge of sadness? Of ruminating over all the lousy breaks and poor cards you've been dealt recently? No. We all go through rough times, through rough seasons. But they are just seasons. And seasons end.

Even Winter ends.

It is a blessing from God that we have this near-week of a thaw, before we go back into the 30's for another few weeks of snow. I plan to take the gift, and notice the smiles that emerge when the temperature hits 50 in February. Maybe that positivity will get me through the cold until Spring.