Photo by Lucas Pezeta

Changing our focus can include looking at the situation from a more global perspective. It is like looking at a puzzle piece as opposed to the finished puzzle.

I chose this picture for a few reasons. The first is I hoped it got you to laugh. I believe it is healthy to find the fun in life. Just about any event in our lives has some funny elements, and life is more fun when you find them. I encourage you to use the lens of Laughter, Love, and Lessons as you look at yourself, the people, and the challenges in your life. 

 The second reason is that, as a woman, I have felt pressure to focus more on some pieces of my puzzle than others. For example, to focus on my looks, weight, athletic ability, my children’s appearance, and performance in school. The media and society urge us to concentrate on puzzle pieces that may or may not serve us. What we focus on in life are hopefully things that are important to us because they are for our highest good or the highest good of our children, not because society and the media dictate what should be important to us. 

What do you see in these puzzle pieces?  Can you tell what the picture is?
As you look at them, where is your focus?
Is it on each piece individually?

When my oldest daughter, I’ll call her Anna, was young, she was not afraid to express her unique, beautiful self. But when she got into her early 20s, she began to focus all her attention on her weight. Everyone around her, including myself, started saying things like, “You look great! How much weight have you lost?” She began to lose more weight until she could no longer do it in a healthy way. She developed an eating disorder because this was the only way to support her continued weight loss. There were two things that helped her move past her eating disorder. One was that she has been able to better identify aspects of her puzzle that hold more meaning to her than just weight. She was able to look at the entire picture of herself through the lens of love and worked hard to accept all of who she was. 

Anna has taught me the lesson of finding my beauty. It can be healthy to lose weight but do it with your eyes on all of who you are, knowing that you are worthy right now, regardless of what the scale says. Then, make healthier choices in what you eat, how you move your body, and how you feel about yourself. Loving yourself helps you make healthier choices, leading to a healthier you, not just a lighter you!

Now look at the finished puzzle picture.
It’s me! Did you see this picture when you were looking at the pieces? Of course not, you were too busy focusing on the individual pieces, like we all do. Life can be like that. We focus so much on the small pieces that we sometimes have a hard time stepping back and seeing the big picture.

My middle child, we’ll call her Julie, one of my twins, has the puzzle pieces of determination and persistence. She wanted to be president of the United States for many years! She is now working as a social worker at a school and enjoys it. She also has a puzzle piece that is severe, life-threatening allergies to almost all types of fish and marijuana. When Julie was in her early 20’s, her allergies were so severe that if someone standing next to her had pot (marijuana) in their pocket, it would make her sick. She figured this out when she tried to go to college in Boulder, Colorado (well known for its pot culture). 

Julie has taught me not to live in fear. She went to New York City for a week by herself when she was 16 years old. She stayed with the grandmother of a friend from school. She went everywhere in that huge city alone. She wasn’t stupid; she avoided restaurants with fish, but she went and had a great time. It would have been easy to focus on the puzzle piece that says New York City is too dangerous for a young adult to go to alone, but we could see the big picture that she would learn about herself and not let fear lead her in life. It worked out well and helped her learn that she could do things on her own. 

She also taught me about love. It used to be when she would call me; my heart would sink because about 70% of the time, it was because she was having a severe allergic reaction and was on the way to yet another emergency room. It was hard to step back and see this from a larger perspective. But when I was able to do that, I could find the lesson in it all. I learned that when it is my child, spouse, or parent calling, answer it! Even if it is just to say, “Are you ok? I’m in a meeting right now. Can I call you back?” 

I am a workaholic. I love to work. Julie taught me that family and life are more important than work. If you need to leave work to be with a loved one, work will survive. The truth is none of us know when it is our time. Make sure that the people you love know that you love them! Julie reinforced my need to see the world through the lens of Laughter, Love, and Lessons. The main lesson Julie taught me is to let go of fear as much as possible and to let love lead. 

When Alex and Julie were born, Julie’s birth only took about five minutes. But after she left, Alex was in no hurry; he finally had room to move around. I had to be put under anesthesia for an emergency C-section. When I woke up, there was a woman from church standing by me. I thought, “That’s weird. I like her, but I didn’t think we were that close!” Then I remembered she was a doctor, a Geneticist. 

“Lynda,” she said, “I am here to let you know that your son has Down syndrome.” Wow, that was a puzzle piece I wasn’t expecting. I really didn’t know much about Down syndrome at all; I had only known one person who had it. I became very focused on that one puzzle piece, that one word that changed my life. 

When Alex was about four years old in 1997, I went to a past life regression class with a friend from work. At the time, I didn’t believe in past lives, and I’m not here to prove or disprove reincarnation now. In the class, the facilitator hypnotized us as we lay on the floor. Then, we walked back further and further in time. I got a vision of a woman standing in a kitchen in what appeared to be the mid-1800’s. Next to her was a little red-headed boy. I got an immediate ‘knowing’ that it was Alex and I in different bodies. I got an overwhelming feeling that during that life, Alex had fought in the Civil War. He came into this life with Down syndrome so he wouldn’t have to fight in another war. 

Talk about instantly allowing me to see the entire puzzle! I could suddenly see Down syndrome for what it was. It was perfect. It also allowed my family to learn many lessons from Alex, like the lesson of unconditional love, patience, compassion, and staying in touch with your inner child. One of Alex’s puzzle pieces is that he shows love when others don’t see it. Like when he went to an ear, nose, and throat doctor. The first thing the doctor said to Alex was, “You are obese!” Alex was unphased by this comment. When his appointment was over, he hugged the doctor and said, “I love you.” The doctor responded, “You are one of the few.” The main lesson I have learned from Alex is that we are all perfect, just as we are, and we are all worthy of love. What a beautiful puzzle that is! 

These quotes from Pierre Pradervand’s book, The Gentle Art of Blessing, have helped me to better understand my entire puzzle. I hope they will help you too. “The infinite love which governs the universe needs you- because an infinite being lacking even an atom, not to mention an individual like you, would be neither infinite, nor perfect, nor complete” (Kindle p.231). Now, I want you to close your eyes and imagine the beautiful hands of the universe, holding your face lovingly, whatever that looks like for you. “You are absolutely unique. The love which governs the universe cherishes you completely. In her eyes, you are infinitely precious” (Kindle page 231-2). 

As you open your eyes, begin to see through your new lens of Laughter, Love, and Lesson. If you practice this as you look at yourself and your life, you will be able to see the entire picture of your puzzle and how each piece fits together perfectly. It will give you the tools to focus on the lesson and continue to grow.

Sending love and blessings. Lynda Drake

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