The Importance of Focus

Focus on the good stuff. Can't see the good stuff? Ask someone who loves you to point it out.

Focus on the good stuff. Can’t see the good stuff? Ask someone who loves you to point it out.

 

Feeling exhausted by the political vitriol, debates, racial profiling and violence in social media? In the “good old days” (I’m 43, and allowed to use the term), if you needed a break from the television, you simply turned it off, and walked outside.  At our house, there was always wood to pile, horse stalls to muck out, dogs and feral barn cats to play with.  When it got too tense, there was an easy escape and “turn off” switch.

Thirty-five years later I am grasping for that switch, with profound difficulty.  I run a successful independent consultancy, and have the pleasure of working with amazing people in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and India.  If you frequent law firms, digital marketing magazines, health and wellness and (gasp) pro-Democrat pages, you may have read some of my stuff.  It didn’t have my name on it, but I get paid to articulate what people are thinking, and what some people are eager to learn more about.

And I am proud of my economic independence, after a lifetime of dreaming that I could support myself working from home, and as a communications professional.  I’m a writer that was told I’d never be able to pay my bills as one, professionally.  Hah!  I even have a car, and… house and stuff, but still the budget of a freelance giganomic minded kind of gal.

Back to being overwhelmed by the crazy…

So he won.  I don’t like him.  The “him” I am referring to was responsible for 14 consolation emails in my inbox the morning after.  Some of the comments included:

  • “Holy shit, the loud mouth won.  Ready to move back to Canada?”
  • “I can’t believe he’s going to be your next President.  Wow.”
  • “How the hell is he going to run the country, when he is in court for assault allegations and bankruptcy issues? Winner!”

And my shoulders got slumpy.   And for a few days, I commented my butt off, the way I do, in some important feeds.   There are a few reasons for my interest in POTUS, despite that fact that I live here now, in the United States, am a small business owning, environmental protectionist, Muslim, Black, Asian, … hell, any race loving kind of person.   Am I socialist?  No. Peace loving and respectful.  The kind of person that smiles at a woman wearing a hijab with all my heart, because it makes me miss a dear friend of mine, who took the time to explain what it really means.  And because, whether in Canada or the United States (although it IS more pronounced and overt in Texas), I might be the only one smiling at her.

And that matters to me.

Focus has been difficult for the past three weeks.  Worried about my sister, who had a surgery that had a few non-life-threatening complications, but she’s my baby sister and I love her.  And she’s too far away for me to take

care of, which drives me nuts.   Focus on other family members who are going through extraneous problems, at a misunderstood distance, where we are not permitted to help.  That hurts, but it’s not about us, and not our choosing.

trumpMy pup Mia took a turn after her routine surgery, and we thought she wasn’t going to make it.  She did, and stole part of my Christmas money I had sacked away.   I made the mistake of saying “it couldn’t get worse”, and then it did.   Diego crashed five days later, and required emergency medical care.   We paid cash for it, as we do for virtually everything, but … it drained us again financially.  Which to be clear is okay; I’d rather have my dog than extra cash.

And then Trump won.   And then the media exploded with the kind of hatred and vitriol that gets absorbed by people like me.  You know those “ultra sensitive” people you don’t really understand?  The ones that seem very impenetrable on the outside, but wear their heart on their sleeve?    In the second that I learned he won (I stayed up late unable to sleep), I felt that every stereotype about Americans that had been expressed by people who didn’t understand Americans, was true.

To be clear, I’m Canadian, but I love the shit out this country and Americans.  I ALWAYS HAVE.   The feisty, never-quit, desire to protect everyone, and the diversity of America has charmed me since I was a teen. The football, and tailgate parties, the cheerleaders and athleticism, the fierce entrepreneurial spirit.  Again, I fucking love Americans.   I’m trying to learn how to augment my identity, to grow up and be a good American too.  (Although I suspect the fact that I haven’t taken a job from anyone, bought a house and a car, and pay my taxes has me well en route to being an A+ American too).

Everything hit me like a tsunami of emotions, and true to form, my immune system tanked.  BLAM!  TAKE THIS CHEST EBOLA AND ROCK IT! (slumpy shoulders).

And I want to go to my Mom’s house and have a cup of tea, except my Mom is an abusive, lying asshole that hates me as much as I hate her.  Mostly, because I am happy and successful (figure it out… I can’t). And I want to go to my Dad’s house and sit and have an espresso with him, and talk about kindness, generosity, and idealisms like saving the planet, and immigrants, and blacks and hispanics, and Muslims and….  realize, that my Dad is an inherent racist who is anti-establishment.

I realize again, that I am my own parent.

So I ask my husband (who is now working temporarily from home, waiting for his new office) for a hug.   The kind of hug that squishes out the anxiety, and the thoughts, and I realize that one of the reasons I married him, was that he played football and has this massively wide, strong chest and set of shoulders that make me, a big girl, feel small, protected and safe.

I thank God daily for my blessings, whether I have had a shitty day or not, because I have learned throughout my life, that it can always get worse.  But if it is going to get better, you need to focus on the things that are working, and build upwards from there, with a strained, but persistent focus.  Look for the good parts of your day, and the little victories.

And if you aren’t employed in social media, turn it off for awhile and recharge.