Relax & Let Things Be

Life is seldom easy.

Relax; let things be.

Complications arise from the simplest things. The garbage disposal jams. In attempting to clear it, pipes break. Water floods under the sink. Cupboards get soaked. Now there’s an unexpected mess to clean up.

If only we’d let things be.

While it would be easy to let things be, the mess needs to be cleaned up. You call a plumber to repair your stupidity. Plungers are not made for kitchen sinks. While you wait for the problem to be solved, life goes on.

You adapt. You put a bucket under the leak and do the pile of stacked dirty dishes. It’s not a big deal any more. Relax. It’s a minor annoyance; something that irritates you until it returns to what was once considered normal.

Life is like that, so take it easy.

We must accept the challenges of life. Each has our own cross to bear. When we learn to accept things as they are, we can tolerate irritations. They are what they are.

Take a deep breath, exhale, and move on. Let things be. It is only one moment in time. Getting upset about what happens is denying it was inevitable.

Imagine being attentive to driving and then absent-mindedly–yet consciously–turning the wrong way. You feel a crunch and stop immediately. The car door opens a bit weird. You get  out and realize you bumped into a concrete pillar. There’s a big dent in y our previously unblemished vehicle. Is it panic time?

No! There’s nothing you can do in that moment to undo the damage. If only you could turn back the clock. You have to let it be what it is. Life goes on. You made a mistake. You’re human! You have to live with the consequences. The vehicle can be driven. Yes, it’s dented but it doesn’t need to be towed. Life is like that; little dents without major damage.

Be Appreciative; Show Appreciation

In the United States of America, we often take what we have for granted. We lack appreciation for the freedom and blessings we enjoy. Let’s take a look at what we have to appreciate, and be appreciative for.

Let’s start with the basics. If you have a roof over your head and that convenience provides shelter from the elements, you are fortunate. Consider how many inhabitants of our planet sleep in squalid conditions, exposed to the elements or subjected to violence and civil unrest.

If you have air conditioning to keep you cool, there are millions of people who lack that luxury. Be thankful! In America, most of us also have refrigerators to keep our food preserved while others lack that convenience. Consider how much food we waste and discard to pile up in landfills.

If you have a comfortable bed to sleep in, show your appreciation by giving thanks for what you have. How many stories do you hear about families sharing a bed or people sleeping on park benches, under overpasses, or in the subway? How comfortable can concrete be?

We think that having electricity and running water are basic to living in America. You turn on the light without thinking and expect the power to be there. Be appreciative for what our nation’s infrastructure provides; there are millions of humans without that convenience.

It’s the same with water. You go to the faucet, turn it on, and expect there to be clean water for cooking or drinking. Be appreciative of the fact that the lion’s share of the world’s population lacks clean drinking water or the ability to shower or bathe whenever they feel like it. We let the water run and think nothing of it.

Give thanks to God. Be mindful of wasting the resources you take for granted. If possible, do something to help those who lack what you have, even if it means sacrifice on your part.


The Other Side – Grandpa John

As I develop chapters for a book on connecting with people who have passed to the other side, I certainly want to share memories of my father’s father, Grandpa John Regard.

Here’s a start for Grandpa’s chapter:

When I got home from officiating a soccer match today, I needed to shower. I had slathered on sun screen before the match and was sweaty, too. What I did, however, was not shower. Instead, I got out of my referee uniform and donned a ratty, sleeveless t-shirt with my uniform shorts. I was comfortable to watch the baseball game and snack. Yes, I was hungry.

The game started at 1:00 p.m. but I had left the house a few minutes before noon. I’d eaten a large breakfast after mowing the lawn an hour or two before.

As I pondered why I didn’t jump in the shower right away, I recalled my paternal grandfather. John Regard Misfeldt rarely dressed up, except for going to church with my grandmother. Grandpa John loved to wear comfortable clothes. I share that trait with him.

I think my grandfather was a laid-back man. He worked hard on the family farm; there was always some task to be done. He would rather tackle a chore than do nothing. His comfortable clothes might consist of bib overalls, mended and washed so often they were soft and felt better to wear than a new pair, without doubt.

Grandma Mabel made an excellent farmer’s wife. She worked as hard as grandpa, doing laundry on Monday, mending on another day, and cooking over a wood-burning stove every day for several meals.

I was only 10 years old when my grandfather passed away at the age of 81 (January 26th birth to October 31st death). I remember sitting with him in the front yard of his home when he and grandma moved into town. They had sold their Breezy Hill Farm, so he could retire. He loved to sit in an Adirondack chair and I vividly recall the bird he drew on the arm with a pencil. It was like what Audubon would paint, detailed with feathers, beak, wings, and legs; yet it was merely doodling.

Grandpa John is someone I would love to connect with on the other side.


The Reluctant Daughter

Rafters enjoying a river floatStopping by a small grocery/convenience store/gas station/bar and restaurant on my way to deer camp, I had to yield to a young woman carrying 12-packs of beer to the cooler. She didn’t look happy about her assignment. I guessed her to be the owner’s reluctant daughter. Her age had to be 15 or 16; old enough to want to enjoy the summer although not old enough to borrow the car and get away.

Not that getting away is easy in a small village near a popular rafting river when your parents’ business involves supplying snacks and beverages for the rafting enthusiasts. Not easy when the nearest larger community, defined as having a fast food restaurant, is more than 30 miles away. And certainly not easy when there are few young men around to serve as boyfriends, or girlfriends to hang out with, either.

She seemed reluctant.

Dressed in shorts and a nice top, she had the look of a worker who wished she was doing something—anything—else. Mom was behind the counter, selling licenses to customers, ringing up  purchases, and explaining about the bathroom and when the van left for the tubing run. The daughter (I assumed the two were related because of their similar appearances), acted as if she had no choice in the matter.

It was Saturday. The weather was ideal for tubing down the river. The store was busy. The bar and restaurant were busy, too, so it was “all hands on deck”. Every available person was needed to help take care of customers and bring in the cash. After all, it is the family business!

I’m sure she got paid for sacrificing her Saturday, but that had little bearing on her reluctance to do any more than she had to…much less interact with the customers with a friendly smile and cheerful disposition.

Life in the Clouds

Mutter's Farm

Clouds roll over the barn on the farm of John J. Mutter Jr.

It is fascinating to watch white, fluffy clouds that look like people or animals as they float across blue skies. It’s fun to lie in the grass or a field somewhere and observe those spectacles of nature. You can try to determine whether one looks like a walrus lying on its back, a medieval battering ram, or a cartoon character.. If you have a vivid imagination, you can unlock the secret of life in the clouds. Identify whatever image it is that comes to mind. The one over the barn looks like a dolphin.

I don’t know the scientific name for this type of cloud formation, but it is a phenomenon that is remarkable to observe. Some look like people doing tasks, such as wielding a shovel or throwing a ball. Others resemble animal shapes like teddy bears and fish.

Pennsylvania Clouds

Clouds roll over the skyline of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as traffic enters the city.

The point of this blog is that you should take time to enjoy the simple things in life. No matter how busy your schedule or hectic your life, stopping to lie in the grass and watch the clouds float by can be therapeutic and relaxing. Slow down and take the time to smell the proverbial roses. One of those clouds may look like a bouquet of them. Clear azure skies bathed in sunlight with fluffy white clouds are a gift of nature. Nature is given to us by the Supreme Being I refer to as God. Even dark clouds can leave an impression that stirs a feeling of God’s presence in our lives.

If you choose to skip these simple opportunities in your life, you miss a chance to reflect on your own life and where it’s going. Are you heading in the right direction, or is it time for a change? Too often, we are hell-bent on crashing through the world like a tornado, leaving a path of destruction behind. We should think and be more like those passing clouds that leave a joyous, pleasant impression on those who observe our passing. Life’s too short not to enjoy it!