Monday, February 02, 2015

Shadow Dancing

Happy Groundhog Day!

I originally hail from a small town in Pennsylvania near Punxsutawney. (The Punxsy Chucks were our high school's arch rivals.) Let me tell you, Groundhog Day in Punxsy is nothing to scoff at.

For some inexplicable cosmic reason, Feb. 2 hasn't been so good to me or the ones I love. On this day in 1989, my grandmother died. Nineteen years ago today, my wonderful husband had brain surgery. (Now we're gearing up for a repeat performance in less than two weeks. We had the choice between Thursday, Feb. 12 or Friday the 13th. Hm....) Ten years ago at this time, I was in L.A. trying to salvage what was left of his brain from poorly prescribed and monitored medication. Like I said, historically, Feb. 2 and I don't get along.

Scared of his own shadow?
At least I'm not Punxsutawney Phil. The Fat Boy is taken from his lair and held up in front of thousands (literally!) of people who normally couldn't tell a groundhog from a vole, and who would gladly have target practice with a woodchuck the other 364 days of the year. Then the Grand Poobahs "listen" to Phil tell them whether or not he saw his shadow.

Today, at O'dark-thirty, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. Which means, according to Conventional Chuck Wisdom, that he was frightened back into his comfortable home.

Those of us here in Michigan, enjoying yet another snow day off of school, with over three feet of snow in the lawns and pastures, could have told him that six more weeks of winter is likely. But he didn't ask.

Like the proverbial groundhog, sometimes I let myself fear things that I can't shake. My shadow rarely worries me, but who am I to judge? I've been known to fear the future (next Thursday looms large), the past (bad things have happened on this day before... perhaps they will again!), and elements of the present (bills! commitments! other people's expectations! ALL THE MANY JUGGLING BALLS IN THE AIR! AAaaaugh!).

But thankfully, I am not a groundhog. I am not a slave to my shadows. I can choose to run away from them, but doing so only prolongs the freezing fear. I'd rather dance with my shadows than let them chase all joy from my life. Some things that help me make my shadows dance:

Everything is Temporary. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing. No matter how dark the night or how bad the storm, eventually it will pass.

This Moment is Mine. At any given moment, there is something to be thankful for.

Even when things are dire, when the day is overwhelming, when the hounds of hell are barking at the door, if I focus on the moment that is currently happening -- refusing to invest in the fear of the future -- I can find something that makes me grateful. Prisms of sunlight on snowfall... my dog's wagging tail... my daughter's sweet smile... the smell of fresh-baked bread or brewing coffee. I can build an entire dance routine on such magic moments.

I Am Not Alone. I believe both that God is love and that perfect love casts out all fear. The more I focus on those I love, without trying to contain or control them, the easier it is to stay out of my hole and make it through the day. I have faith in my family and friends. We are all in this together. And together, we'll make it through.

So: Happy Groundhog Day! Whatever you're going through, whatever shadows threaten -- here's hoping you find the strength and the courage to dance with them till they fade away.