Slices of Life: Lessons from the past two years

Jill Pertler

The last couple of years have been doozies – for just about all of us. The world has changed before our eyes in ways we never would have or could have imagined.

I’ve found – often the hard way – that difficult times are opportunities for growth, new perspectives, and outlooks.

Two years ago, my world felt devastated because it was. We were smack dab in the middle of COVID, and I had the bonus life change of becoming a new widow.

New widow. How’s that for a conundrum of terms?

I wouldn’t want to repeat the last two years of my life. Not ever. I’m glad I’m here (now) and not there (then). Still, as I alluded to above, times of great stress can be times of great learning and positive change. I hope I’ve accomplished both. I guess I’m still trying, and that, in itself, counts for something.

The past two years have been life-changing. I’ve written about these changes and outlooks, but I’m putting some of them together here as a sort of summary. A Cliff Notes for life, if you will.

Life is fleeting; it is short. It can all change in an instant. Live in the present – not yesterday, not tomorrow, but now. Live in the now, and appreciate it for all that it is.

Having said that, understand the big picture. What troubled you last year or last month is likely no longer on your radar. Appreciate what is good right now. Understand the hurdles and challenges along your path are most likely temporary.

We are all connected. We all look up at the same sky and are warmed by the same sun. We all claim the same home – Mother Earth. We all breathe the same air. Our bodies are universally hydrated by the same H2O compound known as water. We all yearn for love. We have more in common than we have differences. Be kind.

Happiness and joy come from within, as does the most important emotion of all: love. They are always in you, waiting – an infinite reservoir of beauty, reverence, and delight, yours for the taking. You, and you alone, can choose happiness and joy – or the opposite.

Choose joy. Choose love.

We all make mistakes. Every day. Give yourself grace. Forgive yourself abundantly. The best you can do is learn and step forward, wiser for the lesson.

The world has a tendency to judge harshly. Don’t repay the favor – for yourself or for anyone else whom you may be tempted to judge. In that, realize that not judging yourself may very well be one the hardest things you’ll ever aspire to do.

I read a quote about the moon that I love. The premise isn’t original with me, but I think it’s good enough to share. The moon, much like people, goes through different phases of darkness and light – a quarter moon, a half moon, and so on. Much like the moon, you may change as the illumination in your life waxes and wanes, but through it all, you are always whole. Remember this wholeness is always within you.

As much as you (and I) dislike it, we are not in control. The world provides us with both possibilities and hardships. Take both with equal amounts of gratitude and fortitude. Make the best of every circumstance and hold your head high, despite setbacks and heartbreak.

You’ve got this

Life can be hard. It often is hard. But you’ve made it this far. Keep pressing forward. Keep going. You can always quit tomorrow.

But don’t. Please don’t. You are worth fighting for. Day after day after day.

I’m rooting for you. I’m right there with you.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.