Adapting to Change and Accepting Limitations

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Egrets and Mangroves

Egrets and Mangroves, 14 x 18 acrylic on canvas, in barnwood frame

Life has a way of filling in the blanks. Or a better way of saying it: if there’s a void, something will come along to fill it.

In my younger days, it was children that kept me from going back to school and lack of money. By the time I was 25, we had one baby, a toddler and a preschooler. Two years later, we had one more, and four years later another.

We had children in elementary school, middle school (then called Jr. High) and High School. When the oldest two went off to college, we added another child. We were so busy paying for music lessons and athletic activities, in addition to college, there was still no time or funds left over for me.

Egret-Reflections

Egret Visits Goldfish Pond, Oil on canvas (SOLD) Prints available.

So I began working to supplement our income. In the beginning I worked as a writing consultant and freelance writer. My empty hours were filled as quickly as each child left the nest. Eventually a divorce made full-time employment for health benefits mandatory. I still had two children at home so how could I go back to school?

Although, some people do, I couldn’t leave my children alone in the evenings when I was gone all day at work. Somehow we managed and my resume grew.

It is difficult to juggle schedules and the challenges that face us each day. The only thing in life that’s predictable is change. Nothing ever stays the same. We’re either going forward or backward. If there is a lull in momentum it is brief. A crisis, an accident, health problems, or a death jars us from our complacency.

Moonlight Magic

“Moonlight Magic” 14 x 11 Acrylic on canvas

How do you cope? You keep putting one foot in front of the other. You keep going. Whatever you do, don’t quit! In giving up, you allow circumstances or others to take control of your life, and your freedom, and things usually go from bad to worse.

As the arthritis in my hands worsened, my fingers will spasm and freeze up so I can’t type. How do I make up for lost time? I don’t. Of necessity, I simply have to give my hands a rest. Now instead of two blogs a week on each of my three blogs, I can manage only one each. I’ve lost some readership, but I still get to write and create.

Since my fingers are curved and swollen, my artwork and painting has suffered. I have difficulty making a straight line. But because of this I’ve been forced to make swift easy motions and more fluid compositions. When I do portraits, I leave a focused brush stroke and don’t fuss over it. This makes my work look fresh and invigorated, so either way it’s a plus!

This past year I’ve had other health problems: IBS/gastritis and gallstones. After surgery, I’m still having problems that have caused me to lose 15 pounds. Loss of energy and time has eaten into my creative hours. I won’t bore you with anymore of my sad stories. The point is that we all deal with problems.

You’ve probably seen the St. Jude’s hospital and Shriner’s hospital commercials. The obstacles these kids overcome each day and the mountains they climb just trying to feed themselves, to walk, to speak are enough to make our complaints and problems seem like child’s play.

What do these remarkable human beings do and with a smile? They adapt. They learn to use the parts of themselves that do work to do the things they can’t. A child born without arms uses his feet like hands. Another child, whose legs were amputated below the knee because of cancer, is now proudly walking with prosthetic legs. These children don’t see limitations. They see opportunities. Rather than whining and complaining, they have learned to adapt not to what was but to what is.

We can all take a page from their experiences. When all else fails – adapt, and adapt, and adapt!

The beautiful Limpkins were back at the lake this morning. Their habitat is being eaten away, but they will not be deterred. They are foraging at our pond and have probably found a new home. They readily adapted to change!

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Turn a Crisis into an Opportunity – Adapt and Survive!

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"Fish Market" acrylic on canvas

“Fish Market” acrylic on canvas

I’m working for a few weeks at my Church while our Office Manager is on vacation. It’s amazing how quickly you adapt to another environment when you must. Reminds me of the time I was in charge of a Hawaiian Luau for over 100 people at a former church.

We were planning on barbequing the meat and eating outdoors. We had butcher paper laid out on the grass for tablecloths with colorful place settings and centerpieces. Bright flowered cushions and pillows were placed on the ground for seating. The charcoal was ready, a yummy menu was planned by a Hawaiian member; her husband had prepared our musical program.

Guests in colorful shirts and muumuus were given leis as they came in and directed to their seating. A short time later, the unexpected happened; Murphy’s Law to be precise. The Kansas City wind began to whip and in the blink of an eye a severe rain storm started dousing everyone into a frenzy. We ran for cover.

"Sunset on the Nile? acrylic on canvas

“Sunset on the Nile? acrylic on canvas

Guests grabbed what they could and took them inside. We did our best to reassemble our lovely décor on the floor of the gymnasium. Hair was blown, table runners were torn and some were wet. What we all did, especially me, was adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances. My only option was to accept this freak of nature and of God as gracefully as possible.

The barbeque grills were dragged under the dripping eaves of the church where they remained until the meat was cooked. Laughter and merriment ensued as people accepted this turn of events. It was a great lesson for all of us. When things go wrong you can cuss in anger and look for someone or something else to blame or you can carry on and enjoy the moment.

We all have crises in our lives. It seems like there’s “never a dull moment.” “Why me?” we ask. Where is God in all this? (Perhaps, he’s laughing, too.) We may feel picked on. We may whine and whimper, but that seldom does any good. When the “chips are down” we need to “roll with the punches” and accept every trite phrase that will help us get through it. Courage and integrity are borne of such moments.

Through the years, I’ve seen my share of road rage. I’ve been given the finger and had a swear word or two shouted at me through someone’s opened window. I’ve had to stifle a humiliating gesture in return. I’ve pulled back my inner reins and held in my own choice words of anger. Instead, I choose to believe that the person in the other car is having a bad day. Even worse, that he may be a “loose cannon” with a gun in his car.

"Wasatch Mountains" watercolor on rice paper

“Wasatch Mountains” watercolor on rice paper

I select to ignore his rant and to err on the side of safety. Soon my anger turns to pity at his outrage. I continue driving as if nothing happened. I proceed more cautiously, not wanting to offend him or other drivers in any way. I’m not only a better driver because of it, but I’m learning the secret of how to adapt. My response (or non-response) has made me stronger. Instead of reacting I have chosen to act in a way that preserves my dignity and integrity.

Every challenge or problem that comes into our lives is an opportunity to grow. We become the “captains of our own ship” as we pursue our lives, our goals and our dreams. If we allow others to upset us or to turn us into a mirror image of them, we slide backwards into the same old ruts.

There are people who simply don’t care. They would rather reduce themselves to the basest form of humanity and fight for their own selfish needs. They may feel it is their right to get what they want at all costs regardless of anyone else. Pity the world! These are the attitudes that pit neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, and nation against nation. These selfish demands that we hold onto are the seeds of war. What kinds of seeds are you sowing? Your simple words and actions are more important than you think.