Generally, I’m an optimist; a ‘ Glass Half Full’ kind of person. Now, what is IN that glass is usually the story of the moment. Is it un-drinkable, un-shareable, and toxic, or is it a pleasant and nourishing elixir?
I came to the rather settling conclusion recently that life is in general a shitstorm. Some may find that negative and unsettling but for me, accepting this reality helped me to also see the sustaining and buoyant joys of life. I love a balmy breeze, but I acknowledge the ever-present storm.
As proof of the shitty-ness allow me to share a statistical nugget of reality: In the City of Lynnwood during 2019 the Police Department received 43,000 calls for service. Forty-three thousand! We have a residential population of about 36,000, but on 43,000 occasions people needed professional intervention in their lives… because life is a shitstorm. Sometimes for an hour, a day, week, season, or a life.
Lynnwood is not unusual. It is not an outlier. We’re happy to serve and we are good at it but, in the Police Department, this voluminous reality does not escape us.
Arguing with reality is futile and even overestimating the ability to influence a situation, professional or personal, is exhausting.
Here’s my antidote: Within the storm are ribbons of restoration, growth and resilience. There are bursts of beauty and fragile fleeting moments of calm and joy. In every day there are opportunities to find the slipstream where these ribbons of energy reside. Find them. Notice them. Go there.
Stay with those experiences a few moments longer. We build and strengthen neural networks in our brains and body when we stay with those moments and download them into our awareness banks. When we acknowledge and court those bursts of beauty, kindness and calm, we allow our nervous system to regulate more easily to an efficient and rested state.
Once I accepted the barrage of flying detritus and knew that occasionally I may get nicked by some sharp bits of life’s fuselage, I could be more intentional about seeking out pockets of calm inside myself. I didn’t need to have an opinion about every encounter. I didn’t require the ego boost of being right. I knew what I needed was to be able to just BE, to keep centered and less reactive SO THAT I could make better, kinder decisions in the midst of it all.
Find the slipstream. Your episodes of mindfulness will help you appreciate that refreshing elixir in your ever filling glass.
Lisa Wellington is a Certified Mindfulness Teacher who writes about integrative practices that downshift stress, increase insight, and jumpstart joy.
She is best known for her work with law enforcement professionals as well as those challenged by housing instability and addiction. Trained in the Fine Arts at Washington State University, she specializes in group training that engages participants’ inherent creativity.
If she is not under a stack of books about psychology and spirituality, she can be found at a Puget Sound beach or nearby trail, always searching for the absurd, which is her superpower.