Yesterday was an amazing day. Not in the typical 'everything went right' type of amazing day, but quite the opposite. In fact, it had all the makings for a this-day-kind-of-sucks type of day. But I won't get ahead of myself.
Yesterday was mid-February. Here in Wisconsin, it should be bone chilling cold. We should have snow. We should have ice on our cars and our woodstoves should be hot right now to keep our houses warm. But yesterday it was close to 60 degrees out. That's right. 60. We were on our decks, barefoot and short sleeves, soaking up the sun and all of the beauty around this country space we live in.
It is no secret that I have a neighbor who needs more attention than most. He is an older man that seems to have his days wide open with not much to do, so in the past, he has focused on us and not in very healthy ways. He kind of reminds me of my children when they were little. When I would give them positive attention, they were great. If I was distracted and didn't have my full attention to give them, they would do things that would REQUIRE my attention. We all know this basic parenting issue...kids live for our positive attention, but when they don't receive it, they would rather have the negative attention than to be ignored.
Well, enter my neighbor.
We, at one point, were 'neighborly', but then the boundary pushing started and I noticed some very odd and unusual behaviors that didn't fit well with the continued well-being of our family. I won't go into the details because, well, the point of this blog is that love always wins, not how to gossip most successfully about the people that annoy us the most (check the title, if you don't believe me). And I promise, I will get to the love part...but in the meantime, suffice to say that our privacy was being invaded by said neighbor and I felt the need to keep him at arms length. As I mentioned above, when you ignore or otherwise not pay full attention to a child (or grown person, in this case), they resort to upping the ante with annoying behavior.
Now, I could continue on with this story discussing my neighbor in not such an amazing light, but, again, not the point of this blog. It is about writing an internal story that has you rise above any negativity, that has you dig deep to find the causes of such animosity, that has you push aside your ego and see people for who they are wanting to be, despite who you would like to make them out to be. It is about seeing people in their best light.
Yesterday, my neighbor decided, on this beautiful day, that he would take his ATV through my neighbor's land on the other side of me, drive up in front of our house and sit on our property line (literally sitting on the property line) to 'take pictures' of nature. For four hours. A lot of the time, his binoculars were directed right at our house seeing if what he was doing would garnish any attention from us. I routinely offer to land share with friends and invite folks to come onto the land for fishing, hikes, etc...but since this person has pushed boundaries in the past with our privacy and space, this seemed very attention seeking and intentional.
And, my afternoon was being ruined. This 60 degree day in February of reading out on the deck, watching my children play, hiking down to the creek...it was being ruined by my neighbor. I kept watching him to make sure he wasn't doing anything unusual. I was spending a lot of time focusing on him, which was causing me to be impatient and upset. I was curious why he was on someone else's property, when he had much land of his own to explore. I messaged the lady's land he was on (who was out of town at the time) my concerns and they were met with much indifference. I was on my own. And I had a choice. I could continue to interpret everything my neighbor was doing in a way that related back to me and how he was intentionally doing this to annoy me, or I could rewrite this story to have a completely different outcome. I got the boxed red wine out and dug deep.
I looked at what was happening and turned it into a personal lesson...one that needed to be learned or it would keep repeating itself in my life until it was..something great was going to come of this and I would be a better person for it. I took a deep breath and asked for guidance. This is what I came up with.
I pictured my neighbor, in my mind, as enjoying the outdoors, photographing nature and getting great joy out of what he was doing. It didn't matter that he was sitting on some arbitrary line that said, stepping here is now mine and not yours for you to enjoy. I looked at him and in my mind said, you are welcome to be here...please enjoy this space.
I have to admit, after my first glass of red, this became increasingly easier.
I rewrote what was happening. I turned a "creepy stalking" neighbor into an old man who appreciates these little areas of nature and this makes him happy..which in turn, makes me happy, too. I stopped wasting my energy and time on negativity, because I was only hurting myself, anyway. I opened up my heart to experience more love for the people that probably don't get very much of it to begin with and accept that everyone really is just trying to get through their days with as much love and grace as possible.
To think that I almost spent the entire day upset. I almost wasted a 60 degree day in February, in Wisconsin, by not enjoying the outdoors myself. I almost let hate win.
And we really have enough of that going on right now.
I challenge you (wine or no wine) to look at people that make you really upset...look at them right in the eye and think nothing but loving thoughts. Breathe through the hate, the annoyance, the indifference and realize that compassion and forgiveness is essential.
And love. Love is everything. Let love win.