A young girl was sitting at a kitchen table having tea with her aunt and grandmother one afternoon. Her aunt said in a loud and dissatisfied tone, “Well, look at that! There is a black speck in the sugar bowl!” The grandmother cupped the bowl in her hands and peered deeply inside. She tilted the dish towards her, “Oh, look at how they sparkle…the millions of crystals surrounding it.” Her grandmother smiled, but her aunt crossed her arms curtly over her chest, and glared at them.
Recently, I revisited the conversation between the aunt and the grandmother and pondered the differences between these two women and how they organically viewed the little (and big) things around them. I had watched this grandmother figure move through life with a carefree ease. She had hardships in her lifetime, but she always saw the lessons that came from them. She had gratitude in her heart for it all.
For the aunt, everything was hard. Every situation, every person, and every day she found opportunities to point out what was wrong and who was to blame. You could actually see the light in her fade over the years. She became more and more filled with resentment. Her heart was full of fear and it spilled into every area of her life.
As an adult, I understand some of the challenging ways life can bring us to our knees. I understand it is not always sunshine and cupcakes, but I also believe the grandmother knew this too. It was clear to me that I could go either way…I could focus on the lack that existed or I could focus on the abundance.
It was a choice only I could make. There were days, months and even years when things were not easy, but how I looked at them, either transformed or misshaped them. I know this, because I exercised free choice. I could use my attitude to lighten a situation or to darken it. This knowledge was empowering. But, how do I stay centered in unsettling times?
The grandmother in this story represents many women I have known and loved. These women built a foundation and a practice to stay positive. For some, it was faith. Daily prayer and devotion provided compassion for themselves and others. Reading, listening to and being surrounded by uplifting words, ideas and lyrics were also sustaining. I have created a similar practice, taking the aspects I have been taught and making them my own. Time to quiet the mind and connect with godly things is divine and necessary. Writing, yoga and walking in nature help bring my mind and body in line as I venture out into the world.
Sometimes, I make the other choice. I slip into the muddy waters and cannot catch my breath. To falter is human. I believe it is a fundamental part of the journey and a pathway to a compassionate heart. The beautiful part is, I know I don’t have to stay there. I have the tools, the foundation, to enact change. At anytime, I can dial back into to things that ground me.
The women in my life have been powerful examples of how to live life on life’s terms. I have gleaned lessons of light from all of them, taking what resonated with me, and creating my own practice filled with rituals and love. It is profoundly personal and it will continue to shift and evolve as I do.
May you find brilliant crystals and sweetness in your sugar bowl of life.