An Emotional View Outside of My Window

Today started like any other day. One of the first things that I do when I get up in the morning is open the curtains and blinds to allow the morning sunlight to come in.

I don’t mind the darkness, I love it at nighttime, but during the day, I thrive on having lots of sunlight coming into the house.

What I Saw

This morning, when I pulled the curtains back and opened the blinds, I didn’t see the bright sunlight. In fact, the tops of the trees were missing, and the building several miles down the road that always has bright lights on, could not be seen. I was staring out at a hazy neighborhood. (I will share pictures below).

Some of you may have heard of the devastating wildfires in Canada causing mass destruction. I feel bad for everyone being affected. Smoke is being pushed down to the East Coast of the United States where I live.

The Reality

When you see something unfortunate on the news, it hits you and you can sympathize with others, but when it happens to you, it hits on an even larger and more emotional level.

I live over 2,500 miles from Canada, and I woke up to haze and smoky skies outside this morning. A quick trip to the mailbox left me shocked as I smelled a strong scent of burning rubber and smoke in the air.

The News

I came inside and turned on the news. The local Air Quality Index (AQI) for my area was almost 340, which put us in the Hazardous Category. We were advised to stay inside and if we absolutely had to go out, we should wear a mask.

I know that this is nothing compared to what my friends in Canada and New York have experienced. It made me emotional thinking of that and how scary it must be to look outside the window and not be able to see nor be able to step foot outside. Life is at a standstill for them at the moment.

It always amazes me how even though we are all miles and miles away, we all are connected and have an impact on each other, good and bad.

Pictures

Here are some pictures of this morning. You can see the change of color in the sky and the smoke and haze. The pictures don’t really do it justice, but I wanted to share them with you anyway.

Hazy skies and smoke in front of the trees. Photo by Jessica Levine
A strange orange tint to the sky.
Photo by Jessica Levine

A house and trees in the near distance seems to be a blur.
Photo by Jessica Levine

Smoke-filled sky.
Photo by Jessica Levine

Stay Safe

I hope that everyone stays safe and limits their time outside. I hope that the fires that have taken over Canada will be able to be controlled very soon.

I can’t imagine what others are experiencing if I am 2,500 miles away from Canada.

Air flows from all over the world, we are all connected even with miles upon miles between us.

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Are You Closing Yourself Off?

The world presents many opportunities to us throughout our lives. There are many doors that open and many paths that we can take. Our actions may send us down certain paths as well. Other times, we are left with a decision to make, one that we may make out of fear versus what is in our best interest.

What happens when you don’t take that class because you are afraid of failing? How do you feel when you don’t give your number to someone because you are afraid of the closeness of a relationship? What if we don’t take a job because we feel that we are not capable enough?

Closing Off

Choosing to distance ourselves from others and the world around us can sound very appealing, especially if we don’t want to get hurt and feel unpleasant emotions like anxiety and uncertainty. At the time, it sounds better to back out and protect ourselves, but are we hurting ourselves in the process?

I am more than guilty of shying away from anything that brought me discomfort and uncertainty in my past. I still have a habit of occasionally doing this today, but I make a conscious effort to step out of my comfort zone and go after my desires.

Shying away from life opportunities always makes me feel awful afterward. I always stress over whether I made a mistake or not and I always lack confidence in myself after I do this. The times when I went out on a limb and really jumped at an opportunity truly make me feel uplifted and empowered.

Examples From My Life

I am not so much like this today, but in the past, I would turn down more social events than I could count. I tend to feel uneasy around groups of people, especially if I don’t know many people. Being social was once a really hard thing for me, I am much more outgoing today and I am not timid in this regard anymore, but I still clam up when people try to get to know me, especially if it is at a faster pace. I am very slow to warm up to others in that way. I have been told that I am pretty reserved. I used to close myself off from meeting people, sometimes I still do today.

I remember being in an interview and the interviewer was asking me if I can handle a high-stress environment that has very tight deadlines. The truth is no, I am not comfortable. She explained to me that she felt like I had a good resume background and that I was a good fit for the position. I appreciated her words, but I lacked confidence in myself in that type of environment, so chose not to take the job. I closed myself off from a job opportunity. Yes, it could have been a good move to make, but taking the opportunity and seeing where it took me may have been the better choice.

Down the Line

After time passes, I can always recollect the chances that I didn’t take. Sure, I question the ones that I did, but truly it is the ones that I didn’t take that get to me the most. I think of how many people I missed out on meeting, how many opportunities I could have had regarding a job, etc.

I am the kind of person that believes that everything happens for a reason, however. I think that we are meant to be right where we are in life and that there are no true mistakes. “If it’s meant to be, it will be” is one of my mottos! Even with that being said, closing myself off to others and the world around me doesn’t help me live my life, it only creates limitations!

Today

It took many years of shying away from life to get tired of the feeling of failure every time I did. I always ended up upset that I didn’t take a chance, that I didn’t get to know someone because of my own fears. I got tired of letting my mind and my fears rule my life.

I have become more of a risk-taker, in a good way. I am more open to opportunities and experiences. I don’t tend to shy away from meeting others anymore. I didn’t like that I was the one keeping myself from truly living.

Is there an area of your life that you tend to close yourself off? How does it make you feel? Do you think that removing this block will change your life for the better?

I hope that this story could motivate you in some way. Sometimes the greatest things in life started by taking a small chance!

Let Me Tell You About My Day

Every now and then, life likes to show us who is boss. Life likes to throw us curveballs and keep us on our toes. Lately, this has been me in full force. I feel like everywhere I turn, there is an obstacle, something going wrong, or receiving news that I don’t want to hear. I feel like the world is working against me, but I keep trying to climb my way to the top.

Today, some pretty amazing things happened to me to show me that life has a way of gifting us as well. After what feels like constant chaos in my life lately, something going my way was a very welcomed surprise!

Let Me Tell You About My Day

I had to run some errands today and one of those errands was the local store. I am the kind of person that doesn’t go to the store without a grocery list. If I don’t have a list, I always forget a bunch of things. I see most people don’t use one, I wish that I had that brainpower! Anyway, on my list were some things that I needed to buy in general and also a few things that I needed to get for a specific reason.

Some of you may remember that I planted my garden a few weeks ago! Sadly, a little creature ate some of them. You should have seen my face when I went out to water them. Several were uprooted, but ALL of my yellow flowers were eaten. I bet you can guess that yellow flowers were on my shopping list.

There is a cookout party happening this weekend and I wrote down a few things that I wanted to bring on my list. I wrote chips, cookies, and ingredients to make a cold pasta salad. I got my shoes on and headed out the door. Walking down the sidewalk with the sun beaming warmly on my skin, I got into my car and played some of my favorite songs as I headed to the local store.

The Gifts Begin 

Once I got to the store, the first thing that I saw outside was the flowers. They had a small, but beautiful display of red, pink, white, orange, yellow, and a few hanging plants. Above the yellow flowers was a clearance sign and guess how much they were!? One dollar! I checked all of the colors because if they were all a dollar, I might as well go crazy and get them all, but it was JUST the yellow ones, I was in awe. I got an entire large pot of yellow flowers for one dollar; I walked inside smiling. It was just the color that I needed to replace the yellow ones that were eaten out of my garden.

I got some of the other items on my list and then went to the snack aisle to get cookies and chips for the cookout. Ironically, both of these items were “Buy One Get One Free.” I couldn’t believe it. I was on a roll! I literally had to stop for a second because life hasn’t been too kind to me lately, this felt too good to be true! It is something so small, but the fact that many of the items that I set out to get were such a steal, made me so very happy.

Then, as I walked through the store, a familiar face caught my eye. I kept looking, I knew I had seen this face before. She was maybe in her sixties now, and I stopped and asked her if she recognized me. She said that she did, but she couldn’t remember where. Once I knew that it was her, I knew exactly where I had known her from. We used to work together, almost twenty years ago! I was in shock that almost two decades had passed and I was standing in front of someone that I last saw when I graduated high school. We caught up a little bit and had a nice conversation. It took me back. What a surprise!

Thoughts

I drove home in awe of how a grocery trip could add some joy to my day. It’s all about the small things in life that can bring us so much happiness.

I love when life has a way of showing us that we still matter, that we are being cared for and that we can expect good things.

Sometimes in life, it seems like the world is out to get us and that everything is working against us, but this is not true. Things can fall apart and possibly fall together, but I want and try to believe that the hard parts of life are there to make us and not break us. We become stronger, wiser, and unstoppable through all that we have conquered and have yet to.

The Meaning of Your Last Words

Do you remember any last words that you have said to someone? Most likely if you do, you remember them because it was a life-changing moment or one with intense emotions.

Possibly the last words that you said to someone else were during a breakup, the loss of a friendship, maybe even right before the death of a loved one. During everyday life, we may not notice what our last words are to someone, we carry on day in and day out. Sure, we know the importance of words and communication, but we may not place much emphasis on it until something major happens to us.

Choose Your Words Wisely

We know how much of an impact our words have on people, they can truly make or break others. Most likely, when we are in the heat of the moment and arguing with a partner or friend, we are not concerned about saying the wrong things that are hurting the other person, we are caught up in expressing our frustrations. It is afterward, once we have calmed down, that we realize the aftermath. By then, sometimes the damage is done, other times it may be repaired.

Many of us probably remember the last words that we said to someone before a breakup and the loss of a friendship. Those are powerful moments that tend to be etched into our minds. These last words can haunt us for eternity if we don’t allow ourselves to work through it and heal.

On the flip side, our positive words and words of affection and caring stick with someone as well. Even when contact naturally drifts apart, the memories of the person will not fade. People will always remember those who made them smile and lifted them up.

Let Me Tell You a Story

Not too long ago, I wrote a story about living with medical issues. They have changed my life. I also have a new perspective on life because of this, so not all is bad, it is just something that I have to live with. We all have things that we have to live with. No one’s life is anywhere close to perfect!

About 10 years ago, I had to have surgery to remove my gallbladder due to complications from Lyme Disease. I was in the emergency room due to having really bad back pain on my right side and pain underneath my right rib.

The ER doctor did an ultrasound and found a lot of gallstones. I was told that I needed surgery and was given the name of a doctor that would be performing it for me. I called their office, and they got me in the next morning. We will call him Dr. S.

My Doctor’s Visit

I arrived at the doctor’s office the next day. I filled out the new patient paperwork and waited to be called back. A nurse took me to a room not too long after that and took my vitals. I had a fever of 103°. When Dr. S came in, he did an exam and pressed on certain areas of my stomach. He asked in great detail my symptoms and asked many questions.

Dr. S told me that I needed emergency surgery, but that he would have to cut me open instead of doing it laparoscopically and that it could have a death rate of up to 50% due to the degree of the infection and that infection being exposed to my entire abdominal area. Of course, we were not willing to take that risk, so he put me on 9 days of bed rest. I was on about four medications and a very strict diet. I could not eat any sort of fat, because it causes the gallbladder to work harder and mine was infected and had gallstones. I lived off of cereal, skim milk, water, fruits, and vegetables for 9 days. I lost 14 pounds from this diet that I had to be on, it made me so weak.

Nine days later, once the infection was cleared, I was able to have surgery laparoscopically with the normal risks associated with the procedure. Dr. S showed me compassion and kindness the entire way through. He would call me every few days while on bedrest to check on me. He monitored my symptoms and when surgery day came, he was so calming and gave me encouragement and strength. He made a huge difference in my experience.

The Day

Surgery day came and went. Overall, the surgery went well. There were some issues, but nothing major. I followed up with Dr. S shortly after surgery. He showed me pictures of the surgery and let me know what he found. I thanked him tremendously and left thinking that I would never see him again. What a kind soul that touched my life. Little did I know, I would.

About 5 years after my surgery, I started having twinges of pain in my right upper abdominal area. Sometimes, the pain was sharp. I made an appointment to see Dr. S and he ordered an ultrasound to make sure that everything was okay. Thankfully, everything was. He said it isn’t uncommon to have pain for many years on and off in that area due to gallbladder removal.

Thanking him, I left the office and about a month later I received an unexpected phone call from him.

The Call

Dr. S had called to ask if I was doing okay, this is the kind of doctor that he was. A doctor like him is extremely rare. Most doctors will not follow up out of the kindness of their hearts, probably because they simply can’t with the number of patients that they have. Dr. S was in his mid-seventies, so he had a lighter caseload than many. He loved being a doctor and wasn’t ready to retire.

I was surprised, but also so appreciative of the call. I remember telling him at the end of the call that he was one of the most amazing doctors that I have ever had and that he takes great care of his patients. I told him that I could not thank him enough for all that he did for me during a very scary and unknown time in my life. I made sure to pour my heart out as this was most likely going to be the last time that I spoke to him.

Little did I know, it was the last time. About a week later, I received a letter in the mail from the doctor’s office that Dr. S had passed away.

The Importance

I debated on sharing this story, because it is a very sad one, but I decided to because it offers a very important message.

I am so glad that I had the chance to express my heart to this doctor and let him know that he is a good soul who cares for others.

We never know when our last day or someone else’s last day will be. Sometimes we get caught up in the “now” that we forget this. When anger takes ahold of us, may we find strength to speak from a place of understanding. This way we can live with peace in our hearts.

Our words impact others more than we can ever imagine.

What Gardening Taught Me About Life

Every spring, I take a trip to buy some beautiful flowers to plant in my garden. I always debate over buying annuals or perennials and somehow, I always end up going with annuals. Seeing my flowers come back every year would be nice and a money-saver, however, there is something special about going to pick out different varieties and color combinations each year.

Around the middle of May, when frost is no longer a threat, I go out to the garden and dig up the dirt, remove any weeds, trim the bushes and plants, and then lay down a fresh layer of new dirt. Once this is all done, I head to the store to bring home the flowers!

Pure Happiness

Flowers, plants, and just gardening in general bring me so much joy, it is so therapeutic! I find so much peace while being in nature and digging through the earth. The beauty of nature is indescribable, it is amazing and always leaves me in awe!

My beloved grandmother adored gardening as well as my aunt, maybe I got the passion from them! I tend to go overboard with wanting many plants and flowers, but space is limited, so I just pick out three or four of the flowers that strike me the most.

A Reminder

A week ago I planted my garden! I dug a deep hole in the fresh dirt and then squeezed the sides of the plastic flower pot that it came in to wiggle the flower and its roots out. I then placed the flower inside the hole and covered it up with fresh dirt, making sure to pack the dirt all around the sides to secure the plant in place. I did this with all of the flowers and once I was done, it was time to give them a shower! I took the garden hose and sprayed them down, giving them a good soaking of water.

It is amazing how we are reminded of certain aspects of life and ourselves as we go about our daily lives. When I was gardening, I had a deep thought cross my mind. The combination of the dirt, soil, and sun allows the flower to flourish. Without these basic necessities, the flower would not be able to live and thrive to its fullest potential.

The dirt and sun are there daily; however, water is not a guarantee. When it rains, the flowers get plenty of needed water, but when there are days or a week without rain, I need to water them myself. To a point, the flowers have to rely on me to take care of them.

Application

So, how does this apply to human life? When we are given positive surroundings and the means to survive, we flourish. When we have fresh air, water, food, shelter, love, and money to make ends meet, we can live comfortably. Just like the flowers that have their own requirements, when ours are met, we can blossom into the beautiful people that we are.

Just like flowers need to rely on someone to water them when the rain is absent, we may also need to lean on others for support.

If we are not happy and not thriving, it might be helpful to look at the conditions in which we live. Some can be changed, and others cannot for the time being, but the answer may lie here. As human beings, when we are happy, it generally means that our needs are being met!