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By Lynn Kohler

I have been thinking a lot about how much the way we approach each day impacts our life. As my father often said, you have two choices, you can look at the glass half full or half empty. It really is that simple. We can choose to be happy. What we decide effects our perception of everything around us. Recently, my husband and I had the experience of driving our youngest child to Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. Embracing our son’s decision to be on campus during online learning, we were excited to get him settled. We had long looked forward to experiencing this rite of passage together. Soon to be empty nesters, we wanted to make this a special trip for all of us.

We planned to take our time winding home, exploring Crater Lake in Washington and rafting down the Rogue River in Oregon. Enter an alternate reality! Be it the global pandemic or dangerous air conditions from catastrophic fires, every direction we turned we encountered a setback. Our extended journey grew longer as we changed routes to avoid smoke and highways flooded with evacuees. We had to make stops in towns in Idaho where no one seemed the least bit concerned about social distancing or wearing masks. When we made it to our hotel in Pullman, we could barely see through the thick air across the road. The air quality worsened and we knew all plans for outdoor adventure were officially cancelled. We raided the best Wal-Mart ever for last minute items and focused on getting our son moved in and comfortable in his dorm. Visions of him as a little boy flashed across my mind and I cried my eyes out when we said our final goodbyes.

We forged ahead for an overnight stop in Wala Wala, only to find the air quality there was even worse. We could hardly remember the last time we had time off from our jobs and were ready to enjoy some R&R. The next morning, we were determined to drive anywhere that had clean air to breathe. We settled on Boise and jumped in the car for another four hours of driving. What we soon realized when we arrived is that we could not escape the dismal conditions. There was no clear air or bright skies to be had, anywhere. All our plans were dashed. We made a choice right then and there to be happy and enjoy our time together. Guess what? We had an amazing week. We met interesting people, saw historic buildings, enjoyed wonderful food and wine, spent a day on a lake, found vibrant wildflowers in the mountains and listened to rushing rivers. We chose to be happy, and we were.

By Lynn Kohler

Even in these times of distress I like to remember that life is good. Precious babies are being welcomed into the world. Flowers are blooming. Grass is growing. The ebb and flow of the ocean’s tides are constant. The sun is still shining. Nourishment is plentiful. It is true, we are facing unprecedented challenges. Feel what comes along with the unknown. Breathe it in and breathe it out. Next, what happens if together we shift our focus away from everything that is not working and remind ourselves that life is good. We have freedom of speech, clean water to drink, the right to an education. We can help a neighbor, rescue a dog and put a smile on a stranger’s face. We can embrace joy, stretch our bodies and dance in the light of the moon. What valuable lessons are here for us to learn? How can we comfort others? Moving through our day we can focus on the negatives or we can choose to be optimistic, strong and resilient. Remember, monkey see, monkey do. We can lift those who are struggling and bring calm and resolve to a troubled restless world. We can come together in love and unity and be a beacon of hope for those who need it the most. When you step back and give it some thought, I hope you, too, will see that life is good . . .

By Lynn Kohler

It’s Saturday morning. By grace and good fortune, I find myself nestled in the woods sipping coffee. Just me, silence, nature . . . freedom. The weight of a stressful work week and the fear of the unknown have faded away. I sit in ease and realize we only have today. Sunlight filters in through the majestic Redwoods highlighting mixed shades of greens, soft hues of brown. These trees stand tall, rooted in soil of many centuries. Birds are taking flight, squawking unknown messages to one another. I am grateful. Grateful for breath, light, love and the chance to frame my perspective, my day, and my life. After months of feeling like I have none, I recognize I do have control. I have control over my thoughts, my energy and my intentions. What I think affects absolutely everything around me. I am love and light. I remind myself I am here to be of service. I can bring everything back into focus. And, so it is in a flash. The negative self-talk, the obsessing about what may happen ceases. The unknown will unfold. I will be kind to myself and others. I don’t have to know what is ahead. I just need to breathe and look for the light in the trees. Everything else will fall into place. I know that a new day of promise will emerge.

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