something 2 think about now


Our lives are filled with stories and images of refugees, immigrants, individuals and families in abusive situations, and others leaving everyone and everything they know to reach a place where they feel safe. Often, they leave with nothing but the clothes on their back and maybe a few cherished possessions.

One of my favorite books is "Suite Francaise" by Irene Nemirovsky, a story that follows several groups of French families who are fleeing France before the German troops arrive during World War II. Tragically, Nemirovsky died in Auschwitz in 1942; her transcript was found in a trunk by her daughters in 2004.

The story follows these families as they travel, often on foot, to somewhere they hope is safer. What's interesting about the book for me are the things that people took with them when they left their homes. Some who had vehicles (until the gas ran out) took paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and what they considered to be their most prized and valuable possessions. The majority of people who had to walk and could take only what they could carry brought clothing, food and a few photographs.

If you were forced to leave your home and everyone you knew and loved, what would you take with you and why? To make it even more challenging, presume that you will be walking and that whatever you decide to take with you must be carried for days, weeks or even months. There is no promise of when or if you will return to your home.

Think about what you would take and what you would be forced to leave behind. Today, what things could you leave behind now that would make your life easier? Consider what possessions, fears, grudges, secrets, unhealthy habits, pain, grief, anger, lies, insecurities, embarrassment or sadness you could eliminate. Some things we hold onto because, after so many years, they have become familiar and part of who we are, even when they are destructive and make us miserable. If you knew you could leave some or all of these things behind and be free of them forever, could and would you do it? If not, think about why you continue to hold onto things that cause you pain. Whether you continue to hold them close for a while longer or to let them go, the choice and timing are always yours to decide.

The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions. Ralph Waldo Emerson

something 2 think about now

6-20-23 MIGHT AS WELL LAUGH . . .

Arriving at a fancy golf club for our law firm's annual holiday party last year, I marveled at the elaborate and gorgeous decorations, beautifully set tables and lovely music playing softly in the background. When I got to my assigned seat, I was greeted with the placeholder card, "Lynn Wingert - Chicken." Talk about bringing me back to reality! As I laughed out loud at the absurdity of the little piece of cardboard, I pocketed it and it now resides on a shelf in my office as a daily reminder not to take my place in the world or life in general too seriously.

Being able to laugh at yourself, the ridiculousness of life or any random thing that strikes you (and sometimes only you) as funny is often all you need to get through a tough day or a seriously painful event. Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that finding humor in things is guaranteed to bring about world peace or stop climate change, but it is almost certain to reset a frazzled brain that you can't seem to turn off, slow down a racing heart or lighten the weight of the boulder that feels like it's sitting on your chest. If nothing else, appreciating the humor in the little things in life can instantly change your attitude to a more positive one.

This was true a couple of weeks ago while I was driving to work, stuck in traffic and swearing like only the kid of a U.S. Marine can do. As I sat in the line of cars going nowhere, I noticed a sign in the front yard of a house proclaiming, "GIANT KIDS SALE! TWO DAYS ONLY OR UNTIL THEY'RE GONE!!" I should have pulled into their driveway, if for no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity about how giant the kids for sale really were and how much they were selling them for. I immediately started laughing out loud. With two resident dogs, it's not as if I needed, wanted or have room in my home for one or more giant kids, but, channeling my garage sale-loving sister Leah, I wondered if they were willing to take less than the sticker price or if there would be a buy one, get one free deal at the end of the two days if they hadn't unloaded them by then. I suspect that the sellers had no desire to load up the leftover giant kids to drop them off at the nearest charity shop or to put them back in the basement, closet or garage. Surely, a deal was almost guaranteed!

My Mom also had a similar love for silly or, probably more accurate, not-so-well-thought-out signs. Driving to Algona or Mason City, she would pull the station wagon onto the shoulder of the road when she saw a "Dip in the Road" sign and ask which of us kids wanted to go stand on the highway that day. A "soft shoulders" or "curves ahead" sign also made her laugh and she would yell out the window as we passed them, "Thanks, but I have both of those already."

Life is often hard and there are times when it is definitely not funny at all. We have all experienced the death of loved ones; mourned the loss of a job, dream or relationship; and suffered sleepless nights due to anxiety, depression or sadness. No one gets through this world without going through tough times and those who say their lives are perfect in every way are lying to you and to themselves. Mourn when you need to and cry or scream when you must, but always strive to get back to a place where you can see the humor in even the smallest things. Doing so will start the process of healing whatever is broken inside you.

Life is short. You might as well laugh while you're here!