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Every Day Courage

Have you felt under the gun lately? Like you’re taking hits from all directions?

Oct 31 courage Pauline Baird Jones Facebook

Have you felt under the gun lately? Like you’re taking hits from all directions? It’s so easy to feel lost in the smoke, or get so focused in one direction that you lose your sense of perspective. 

Believe me, I know all about losing my sense of perspective. So far 2022 has been a year of lovely highs and tush-kicking lows. If I were only to judge this year on what went wrong? 

Well, I’d be in a permanent state of whine-one-one. I did skate precariously close to the depression cliff this year. It made me SO mad at myself, because the wonderful was much better than the tough/rough.

What I did wrong was hurtling so fast through the days that I didn’t stop to check my emotional health. I’d just tell myself I was “fine.” And it wasn’t a lie. I was fine, but fine-heading-toward-a-cliff and heading there at a hurtle. 

Not good. 

So if I had any advice to anyone (always a risky business), here’s my take-away from my very interesting year (I know it’s not over yet, but this feels like the right time for a pause-and-reflect post). 

* It’s always a good thing to count your blessings, but don’t count on counting to be a one-size-fits-all solution to tough times. During the heart of an intense period of rough, I read this great article on gratitude called “Grateful in Any Circumstances.” (Ensign, May, 2014). In the article, Dieter F. Udchtdorf points out that  “…it’s easy to be grateful for things when life is going our way…” but he suggests that we should consider seeing “…gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current circumstances…instead of being grateful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be.” 

I’ve found this suggestion to be a powerful thinking changer. In an odd way, it helps me pull out of the storm, take a time-out to think, and gather strength before re-engaging. 

Which brings me to my next aha moment: 

* Stopping to check where I am, where I’m heading, and if I’m heading where I want to go. 

I did mention I was heading toward a cliff and at a fair clip. Stopping was a very good move.  Followed by:

* Reassessing priorities, i.e. THINKING. I’d set some high goals for myself at the start of the year. Don’t get me wrong. I think we should aim high—with a clear understanding that high is high. And that goals need to be periodically reassessed for current circumstances. What are MY priorities. What’s important and what would just be “nice” if it could happen?

It is very easy in this world to fall into the trap of letting other people set our priorities, of letting their urgencies become ours. Sometimes they are even right. 

If the hubs is having chest pains? That’s a priority. Or getting fixated on the wrong urgencies. One of the glories of running my own publishing business is that it is MY business. That means I get to set the priorities and pace for MY business. Readers, I love you! You make my business possible, but I’m probably not going to be able to write and publish books as fast as you’d like. That’s a fast trip over that cliff. 

Taking care of business, I’m learning, involves taking care of Real World Pauline and Author Perilous P. It can be a strange and puzzling balancing act (particularly when you throw in all the fictional characters wandering around inside my head), and I’m honestly still out there on the tightrope figuring it all out. (Did I mention I don’t like heights?)

When I look at what I’ve written, I see a sort of pattern, a call to myself to take time to reflect, to think, to plan, to refill my inner well so that I can be there for the people who need me, so that I can be more than “fine.” 

Somewhere in all the sound and fury of the past year I sometimes forget to value silence and thinking. And that every day is fresh and new. That my past shapes me, but my choices going forward are what define me.

I’ll leave you with a quote I now have pasted to my computer monitor:

“Every day courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowds shout your name.” Robert Louis Stevenson. 

So how has 2022 been treating you? Any tips for going the distance? Grand (or modest) hopes for 2023? Might as well get a jump start on those resolutions.

Perilously yours,

Pauline

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