I think that I am a DUCK!
Stress is an everyday part of my life! I’m sure it is for many of you too. We all experience stress to some degree … some more than others. How you handle stress inwardly reflects outwardly. This brings me to today’s blog subject … I am a DUCK!
Have you ever noticed that some people look calm on the outside and yet they talk about how stressed they are? Sometimes it’s hard to believe what they are saying because they appear to have it all. That’s because they are ducks. I remember going out to Weeks Pond with Ken and our two oldest granddaughters Morgan & Maggie, to feed the ducks. That was actually one of the last outings Ken had with the girls. It was a really cold day in February and he was afraid there wouldn’t be any ducks out there … but there were! I remember standing beside the water all bundled up as the girls threw out the old bread Ken had brought. The ducks all gracefully swam across the water to our side of the pond as if they were gliding effortlessly, or so it seemed. I had no idea then, but now know, that under the water is an entirely different scenario. Check out this image that demonstrate two very different perspectives:
To borrow a favorite quote from the movie The Replacements: “Like a duck on the pond. On the surface everything looks calm, but beneath the water those little feet are churning a mile a minute”. So if we were to have poked our heads underneath the cold water that day, we would have seen a very different scenario. Their little webbed feet were paddling so fast and furious to reach their new destination of where our granddaughters were dishing out vittles of bread. But we couldn’t see underneath the surface, only what was visible above the surface where they appeared to be sailing smoothly along.
That’s me some days …just another duck on the pond … a duck paddling with all my might to get through my everyday stresses, twists and turns. I bet many of you can relate. You too might be someone who is stressed out but doesn’t show it. On the outside we are Mr. or Mrs. Calm, but on the inside we are stirring up a storm that only we and others who can see beneath us are aware. Now don’t get me wrong … in some cases stress can be a good thing when it serves as a motivational tool.
Even though I retired from work last month, I’ve been so busy lately. I looked at the calendar the other day and thought “Where in the world did this year go??” It seems like life and living have been getting in my way even though most of it has been in quarantine due to COVID19! I have been busy: family activities, working part time, church activities, trying to get my house on the market to sell, being sick, taking care of Henry, yada, yada, yada. Sometimes it seems as if my head is at least a month behind reality and I’m playing a big game of catch-up (and losing!).
I initially had big plans for 2020. It was going to be so different … I was going to be so organized and be on top of everything. But life doesn’t stop for anything! Yep. I’m really a duck … not even a swan … just another duck trying to survive in a world full of ducks!
This past weekend I was watching one of those sappy happy-ever-after “Hallmark” channel movies that I recorded on the DVR last week … what can I say … I love them! All of a sudden my TV went blank and then cut off. The movie was at a really good part so I jumped up and immediately turned it on again only to find that the movie reverted back to the beginning. Oh no! … I had to fast forward it to where I was when the TV turned off.
Have you ever watched a movie in fast forward … it’s quite interesting. So here was my thought process … WOW … that’s how I live my life … in fast forward mode. While watching the movie in fast forward mode, I saw people running around like maniacs, cars moving as if on a high-speed chase, mouths moving without sound! The thought came to my mind — stop … slow down … and smell the roses! My family tells me all the time to slow down.
Life lived at a fast pace is so hectic … at least mine is. My life is full of events that require my attendance and attention. It’s a “you better move it along” life! It’s like what Katie wants the golfer in front of her to do … “play or just move out of the way please!” Even my fingers are in fast-forward mode by always trying to type faster than my brain can think! Of course there are times I would like to have a real fast-forward button. Like when it’s Monday, and I can’t wait until Friday afternoon so I could perhaps leave for Topsail Beach … now that sounds like a good plan!
I can’t tell you why I have always made my life into such a race … other than that’s my normal pace! It could be that my mother used to preach to us girls “idle hands are the devil’s workshop!” I heard those words from her so many times! Living life in a rush can make life a blur! It’s a life where we are always headed somewhere, trying to complete something, making our never-ending to-do lists and then trying to check things off. Then there are the ways that we try to avoid that dreaded boredom so we find ourselves constantly on our smart phones googling random thoughts or checking out our calendars so we don’t forget anything that we have scheduled. This must be a universal problem because even Kenny Chesney sang a song titled “Living in Fast Forward.” Maybe we need to follow the advice of Lily Tomlin: “For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”
Another thing that I learned about myself is that my ability to stay afloat isn’t all about paddling my feet … that just propels me along. You see if the Duck didn’t spend time preparing its feathers, its body wouldn’t be the watertight body that you see on top. So it is with life… We need to prepare to not only weather the waves around us but to also stay afloat. We have to learn how to “prepare our feathers”. I am a big believer in the power of gratitude and how it creates positive changes. Being constantly aware of your many blessings and feeling grateful for them can have a huge impact on the quality of your life. When you are filled with appreciation, it quite literally changes the forces of your life. For me, quite simply it’s my belief in a loving Heavenly Father and that “Families are Forever”. It is realizing how truly blessed I have been all my life … even with its many trials. It’s also important to show my appreciation by trying to serve others the best I can. It’s having hope and dreams of a better tomorrow …It’s knowing that there is a greater plan for my life than just getting through the day! Take nothing for granted, and believe! There’s no doubt in my mind that the simple act of gratitude will change your perception in positive ways and help you cope with any stress or trial.
So my newest goal is to ditch the Duck in me. How? It took me a while today to think of what exactly I want to be (in an analogous way). I know … I want to be a boat! … a sail boat! They are beautiful and appear so relaxing. As a sail boat I’ll just pray for the right amount of wind, set my sail and glide through the water, feeling free. By letting the wind carry me, it will be like letting go of some of the things that control my life … dealing with my stress as it passes by and knowing that everything really will be OK.
Now don’t get me wrong … a sailboat can be busy and stressful. But it’s also organized and aware of its many courses and the factors that direct them. I can do this … I will switch from a duck to a sailboat. If I can organize my thoughts, beliefs and hopes, then I can focus my intentions on smooth sailing … relaxing on the water … and watching all those ducks bobbing by. I want to toss out my anchor (sail boats do have anchors … right?) and enjoy every moment I have left in my beautiful life! No more frantically paddling underneath the surface!
There comes a time when we have to just stop, think and ask ourselves what we are really striving for … what is the purpose of this life? What can truly make us happy? What can bring us joy? How can we relax and stop stressing?
The bad news is that time flies … but the good news is that I am the pilot! I believe the time has come for me to head to the shore … to slow down the pace of my life … to be still. I’m going to take a few deep breaths and look around and see all the wonderful, amazing, and beautiful things that I have in my life now. I’m not even going to make a list of my next steps until I really see the beauty around me right now. I know that life is short and in the blink of an eye, it can all be gone! I know this first hand! Quoting and agreeing with Diane Ackerman: “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it too!
So my advice for this week: Make a daily ritual to stop paddling for one minute each morning … long enough to think of all the people and things in your life that you are grateful for. You won’t have time enough to think of everything in that one minute, but it will be enough to get you thinking in the right direction. It will instantly set the tone for the rest of your day and help to steer your attention on things to appreciate about your life.
Can you think of a better use of that one minute of your time? … It’s definitely better than paddling! Remember … as the old saying goes … “the happiest people are not the ones who have the best of everything … they are the ones who are grateful for everything they have.”
Just saying …