The frogs chirp loudly in the distance. A pleasant breeze swirls around me as I walk through the dark to the compost pile out near the edge of the property. The shapes in the distance begin to take form as my eyes adjust. That sailboat inspired treehouse, the clothesline, the heap of yard and vegetable waste. I toss the bowl’s contents of fruit and veggie scraps on top of the pile and turn to head back toward the house. The breeze gives me a gentle nudge. I gaze up at the night sky and its brilliance overtakes me and fills me with wonder and appreciation. The vast infinity of the stars are not polluted way out here. They shine brightly down on me, and I am thankful. I feel alive and my heart swells.
The smallest act of gratitude does wonders for the mind. I have been quiet in this space lately, but my mind is spinning, I’m accomplishing my career goals, and my Small Acts are ever present in the minutia of my daily life.
The hard stuff
You might think that because I write these uplifting stories about hope, love, and overcoming obstacles, that I’m a “happy” and “positive” person. I don’t write them to put up a front, and don't get me wrong, I definitely have my “up” days. I write them as reminders to myself because I struggle some days. I struggle with the hard emotions, maybe just like you, because I’m human. I get jealous. I’m a control freak. I am very hard on myself. I get depressed.
I’m learning to accept those parts of me. I’m shining the light on them, not to get rid of them, but to learn to love them, and be okay with who I am. Those difficult emotions are there for a reason, just like yours are too. Perhaps they were a learned defense mechanism as a result of abuse or trauma. Maybe they’re just ingrained habits. Either way, I think it’s important to face them, rather than hide them or shun them.
Hellen Keller said, “life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
I think she means we must embrace risk and the unknowns associated with that in order to truly live. As I’m working through a difficult transition in my life, I often think about change and the unknown. I’m embracing it, and I’m remembering to take care of and be kind to myself as I do it. I’m remembering to practice the Small Act of appreciating life’s little wonders like the stars, spring blooms on the trees, the breeze, the wide blue sky, and the merry frogs. Those things, when I stop and take them in, bring me joy and remind me I’m alive. I’m here. I’m okay.
Facing these challenging parts of myself and being open to the transformation it will bring is a risk, it’s change, it’s scary. I’ve got to really own up to who I am; I’ve got to take a look inside to figure out who that is and who I want to be. We are defined by our actions. Sometimes those actions are risks.
Without risk and change we would never grow. Life would become stagnant. Joy would not be possible without the stark contrast of sorrow. These beautiful gifts are only available to us if we truly embrace their counterpart; the pain of our humanness and the unknowns.