Green: Living like Goldie

Renae Green column

July 9, 2008 was a difficult day for our family. We lost our beloved pet beta fish, Goldie.

Goldie had been with us since… the previous month. He was a good fish. He swam with grace, flowing fins trailing behind him. His absence left a hole in our lives that wasn’t easily filled. (Actually, it was filled for $2.50 at the local pet store, but that’s not the point.)

We held services in our bathroom. My husband o-fish-iated. Loving words were spoken, stories told. We concluded the service with a hymn: “I’ll Swim Away.” Then we said our final goodbyes and watched Goldie swirl to that home beyond the sewer.

Goldie may have had a short life, but it was a good life. He had a nice fish bowl with lots of fishy toys and a gorgeous, turreted castle. His one purpose was to bring us joy. He didn’t waste time longing for the ocean. Nope. He swam around, waving his fins at us when we brought him food. He seemed to enjoy every moment. I guess you could say he lived well. He’d learned the secret of being content.

I’m still learning that secret.

It seems the longer I live, the shorter life seems. It’s a shame I’ve wasted so much of it worrying over things out of my control instead of enjoying the things I have. When I was single, I wanted a spouse. When I was married, I wanted children. When I had children, I wanted a bigger house, a better job. When I had those things, I dreamt of financial freedom, of retirement. Then 2020 happened, and I just wanted the whole year to disappear. If I’m not careful, I’ll wish my life away.

This year, I’ll focus on being mindful, on being present in the moment, and on being resilient.

Goldie was resilient. I’m sure he wouldn’t have chosen life in the fish bowl. But he took what was handed him and made the best of it. A resilient person is one who adapts well to stressful life experiences. Below I’ve listed a few tips to help build resiliency:

• Be Present: Keep your mind on what’s happening right now. Don’t focus on the past, which you can’t change, and don’t focus on your fears for the future. Pay attention to the people and blessings you have right now, in this moment.

• Be Active: Get off the couch and move! Take a walk, or dance to your favorite music. Play basketball with your children. Throw a Frisbee with your dog.

• Connect: Spend time with family and friends. Reach out to those you haven’t seen or talked to in a while. Plan phone conversations. Make appointments with live online apps like Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts.

• Learn: Sign up for an online class or learn a new skill by watching YouTube videos.

• Be Generous: Look for someone who needs help. Perhaps they struggle with anxiety. Maybe they’ve been emotionally or financially affected by COVID. Find a way to help another person, and you’ll feel better, too.

Resilient people understand what not to do, as well. Avoid stressful situations like negative social media posts or engaging in online arguments. Turn off the evening news, which is filled with stories that raise your blood pressure. If you need to know something, your family and friends will tell you.

Pace yourself. The lingering stress of COVID-19 and the year 2020 will not go away overnight. Being resilient means knowing where, when and how to disengage, rest, recover and renew.

From now on, I’ll view things through Goldie’s eyes. I’ll remember that life is short and not a moment should be wasted. I’ll appreciate what I have instead of longing for what I don’t have. Someday, when I go on to glory, I want to people to say, “She lived well.” Swish!

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it,” 1 Timothy 6:6-7.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com