Something wonderful

An unknown path need not be fearful.  The Blue Ridge Mountains, November 2011

An unknown path need not be fearful. The Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia, November 2011

“I had begun to feel that the days that stretched out in front of me were a dark, terrifying wilderness. As I wrote about moments along the way, everything looked more friendly, and I discovered that the days are only days. I received and gave love as I untangled my thoughts through the act of writing, and discovered something wonderful. Truly, life was funny, surprising, and beautiful. I told myself the truth, again and again, and I began to believe it.”Rachel Devenish Ford

In her book Trees Tall as Mountains, taken from the early years of her blog Journey Mama, Rachel Devenish Ford writes of a life that is so different from mine as to seem exotic, yet also familiar enough that reading her work feels like chatting with a good friend.

Juggling the challenges of caring for young children while pursuing her own creative and unique path with her “superstar husband” (an affectionate nickname I appreciate in the contemporary climate of too many snarky spousal put-downs), Ford experiences many of the conflicts and anxieties that face me and, I imagine, many others all over the world.  Yet she returns again and again to an insistent optimism that enables her to press on through her most difficult days.

I think many of us who blog have made the same discovery Ford describes: things have begun to look more friendly, more funny and surprising and beautiful.  The interactive nature of blogging has enabled readers and writers to enjoy the company of like-minded people from a wide variety of places, making the world feel a bit like a very large neighborhood full of potential friends.

Depressed or distressed thinking can take on a frightening authority, convincing us that things are far worse than they really are. If we talk back to our despair, telling it the truth “again and again,” we will break through the barriers created by unreasonable fear, and open our eyes to a multitude of blessings within our reach.

The next time you are feeling stressed, frustrated or sad, I hope you will find ways to tell yourself the truth about life.  It’s a gift and a privilege to cherish, even though its beauty is sometimes hidden.

One year ago today:

Welcomed and recorded

15 Comments

  1. ya ya really something in this!

    • Thank you, Haridas. I am glad you visited today.

  2. raynard

    Julia, that forest reminds me of”the many years active duty and reserve I spent in”the stixs”/ Boonies”. NJ, PA, Virginia, Mass, Upstate NY, Texas has no woods neither does New Mexico or Hawaii and Dont remember any in California either. Yellowstone National Park is “on my bucketlist”.. While I was”never in the Boy Scouts and “please no smores or roasting marshmellow jokes.. Wait I did roast them on a stove, Hey I’m a City person not “slicker” that sounds so”passe” lol be blessed

    • Raynard that reminds me of when I used to work for the Tennessee Division of Forestry in Nashville. The State Forester had a t-shirt with a picture of a telephone pole on it and underneath it said “Nebraska State Tree.” 🙂 One thing that made me happy to move back to the east coast is having all the trees around, although it did take awhile to get used to not seeing much sky. A friend of mine from the west said that she felt claustrophobic at first because the trees blocked so much of the horizon. Nothing wrong with being a city person, and if you don’t like the term “slicker” just try telling people you are “a denizen of urban environments.” 🙂

  3. Jack

    The answer to all my problems is trust. Do I believe that those problems, these “light and momentary difficulties” that occasionally arise are chance encounters of an arbitrary existence, or lessons being taught by a loving and providential God? I choose B because when I chose A, this loving and providential God of mine (and yours) taught some really hard lessons. But I didn’t know until I knew that “pain is the touchstone of all spiritual growth.” I know now, thank God. And thanks to you for the blog, a real blessing and great reminder

    • Thanks so much Jack, I agree with you about “B.” The other thing I’ve learned is that the lessons are sometimes long term; just when I think I might have learned what I was supposed to learn from a situation, I find that was just “phase one” and there is more growth needed. What helps me to have some perspective is to look back and ask myself “would I want to be the person I was before this, or the person I might have been if not for this?” The answer is almost always “NO” or at least “probably not.” I also think that God can find ways to work for good in any situation, even when that situation is the result of evil or tragedy and not of divine intention. I try not to ask “Why did God let this happen?” but think instead “How can God work for good in this situation?” Often, the answer to the second question does involve our cooperation, and for me, that’s where the growth comes in. Thanks for your visits here, and for your comments. I am so happy you enjoy the blog!

  4. Brian

    Julia I really enjoyed your blog today, thank you! I have been making an intentional effort to live in the present on a consistent basis, but it is difficult, and has taken lots of practice. In this world of 24/7 accessibility taking time to appreciate the here and now with all of its inherent goodness and blessing is worth the effort. It is so true that depressive and negative thinking are a life-consuming cycle that feeds on itself. Internal peace is such a liberating state. Have a wonderful day, and thanks again for your contributions.

    • Brian, thanks so much for your encouraging words. Distractions, even appealing ones, can be astoundingly disruptive to peace, can’t they? It took me a long time to realize that too much of even seemingly good things can cause anxiety, agitation and ultimately, depressed and negative thinking. I think you nailed it with the words “intentional effort;” for most of us, focus does not come naturally and we have to keep practicing to get better at it. I appreciate your visits and your comments here!

  5. Beautifully said, Julia. How right you are.

    • Thank you, Alys!

  6. Beautiful! We need to remember the truth of life that is to be happy and make others also.

    • Thank you, Sarvjit! One thing I love about being online is that there are many others who agree with us about spreading joy and friendship.

      • Love & peace are eternal and everywhere. Thank you!

  7. As always so clever. I do really love the photo and caption you’re sharing. Right O, it needed be too fearful when you’re not alone. I think Blogging to some extent accommodates that nicely. After moving away from close friends at the lake, I did feel a bit lonely. People in the city are far more guarded and rightly so. It’s so nice to be able to pop into WP and visit someone I adore, see what’s up in their neck of the woods (pun intended). I was just watching 60 Minutes last night about privacy and the web. As media often does, they were sounding alarms and creating fear. While there’s a lot of validity in that, I see it the other way too. I think all things considered, in my little corner of the universe it’s been a good thing. When I visit around WP, I think of the world more favourably, friendly and full of good souls doing great things for family, friends and animals. I fills me up and helps me push away those nagging fears of the unknown.

    • I agree K, the media have to create urgency to survive in this 24/7 availability of hundreds of competing sources. So most of them do that through fear. Of course they want you to feel safer watching TV than online! 🙂 But speaking as one who has avoided TV for nearly 30 decades now, I think I for one have been far better off without it. Online we can seek out what we choose to visit, read, watch etc. far more than even the largest cable or satellite system delivers. And best of all is the interactivity – we can actually talk to people who will answer; so much more fun! The world is full of so many caring, creative, fascinating and funny people. Too bad a few bad apples get all the press. I hope answering fear and evil with good, compassionate and ethical online behavior will win the day in the end. I intend to keep trying and hoping for that, anyway.

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