Sometimes changing your life requires a shift in perspective. In this week’s episode, Krystal’s Aunt Olive teaches us a valuable lesson: If you’re struggling with what’s in front of you, just look beyond and you’ll find the beauty.
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Hi, I’m Krystal Jakosky and this is Breathe In, Breathe Out, a weekly mindfulness and meditation podcast for anyone ready to own their own shit and find a little peace while doing it.
Hello and welcome back to Breathe In, Breathe Out. I’m Krystal Jakosky. I’m thrilled that you’re here. And I’m so excited about this podcast today.
I’m going to tell you a story, but I’m going to tell you why I’m telling you the story first. Perspective has been a huge thing in my life. I have worked really hard to understand other people’s perspectives because I understand that mine is going to be different than yours is going to be different than your parents, or your kids, and I think that our perspective is what really drives us in our lives. It’s, “I feel this way,” “I think this way,” “I’m going to move forward in this direction.”
And we can really lose sight of connection when we decide that our perspective is the absolute correct perspective and that anyone who doesn’t think the way that we do is wrong. A long time ago, I decided there are three sides to every argument. There is my side, there is the other person’s side, and then there’s the truth somewhere in the middle. And it doesn’t have to be an argument. This can be, I mean, it’s any experience that you have.Read More
So that’s where I’m going with this podcast today and bear with me because we’re just going to see where it goes.
I had a great grandma. She did not like to be called great grandma. So she asked us to call her “Aunt” instead. So we called her Aunt Olive. Now Aunt Olive was a beautiful soul. She was just, she was a lesson in and of herself just in how she lived life and what she did. And she suffered from polio when she was in college. And as she aged, she gradually lost use of her legs.
I can remember going to take her for a ride and we would wheel her out of the house in her wheelchair. And we had this board that my grandfather had sanded down and then epoxied, and it was shiny, smooth, and safe. And she would just kind of scoot herself along the board and into the back seat of the car. And then Grandpa would put the wheelchair in the trunk and we would go for a drive, whether we’re going to the theater, or the grocery store, or just to go around and enjoy being out for a little while. She just always had a smile. She was always happy to see you and grateful to have visitors. And you would never hear a negative word come out of her mouth.
And I remember seeing these nylons tied to the handles of her wheelchair, and I asked her one time what they were for. And she explained to me that it was so that she could keep up her arm muscles so that she could keep moving around. And it was cute to see her grab it and then punch forward and stretch that nylon so that she could just build those muscles. And she was very happy that she was able to do that and could at least push herself around in her wheelchair.
And then I also remember going to her house. She loved puzzles. And later on in life, her vision wasn’t so good or she wasn’t as patient, or I don’t know what, but I remember going as a kid and she would have this puzzle in front of her. And there would be pieces that were in the wrong spots.
Us kids would come in and we’d see that the pieces were in the wrong spots. And we would very deftly help move it from one spot and put it in the correct spot and then just gently put into place so that grandma could finish this puzzle. And grandma, Aunt Olive, every now and then she would try a piece in every which way that she could. And eventually if it wouldn’t fit, then she would put it someplace and she would pound it with her fist to try to make it go into place.
She was just, I just, I could talk about her forever evidently. This is just me and my great Aunt Olive. And I just loved her. She was so unique and different. And to this day, I actually now have her table. That is the one thing of my Aunt Olive’s that I have, and it’s this beautiful Oak table that was built in the late 1890s. And it expands and you can have 14 people around it. And it’s just like, how many family gatherings has that table seen? What stories could it tell if it had that ability?
So, because I loved Aunt Olive so much, and because I really enjoyed spending time with her and getting to know her a little bit, and she was always so positive, I decided that I wanted to sit down one day and learn more about her, learn more about her past, her life, what she’d accomplished, what she loved, what her challenges were.
So I was probably 16 or 17 and I went to her house and I had my little notebook and my pen. And I was going to go just interview my grandma and have all this great information. And I went into her room. She was still in bed that day. So I sat down in a chair next to her bed and she had one sliding door window in her room and then another super large picture window in her bedroom.
And I sat down next to her bed facing her, but it also meant that I was facing this picture window. And I kept asking her these questions. I was like, well, what about this? And what about that? And I think that I hit some painful challenges because at one point she just kind of went quiet and I had asked a question and I just kind of waited to see if I could get an answer. And just as I was getting ready to nudge her and say, “hey, Aunt Olive are you there?” She said, “Isn’t that beautiful?”
And I remember looking out the window and seeing this barren tree. It had snowed the night before and this tree just looked so naked, and so cold, and so sad. And I just looked at it and I thought, huh.
So I asked her, “You mean that barren, that tree without its leaves right there?” And she said, “No, no, look further.”
So I look out the window again. And when you looked through this tree that was pretty close to her window behind it, further out in the distance you saw this majestic – like, worthy of being the white house Christmas tree – huge Christmas tree that was dusted. And it was a pine tree and it was dusted with snow and it just looked so picture perfect and so beautiful. And all you had to do was take a moment and shift your perspective from what’s right in front of your face. And isn’t that exciting to something a little further away that is unbelievably gorgeous, and beautiful, and inspiring.
That was the biggest lesson that I learned from my Aunt Olive that day, was the power of perspective. Power of a shift. Here was a woman confined to a wheelchair, that day confined to her bed. I’m sure that my question had hit a nerve and was just something she could not deal with. And instead of being upset about that, she looked out and she found some beauty to bring in.
I’m sure you can see why I love my Aunt Olive. She’s long ago left this world and yet her lesson still sticks with me. And it will stick with me forever and ever. And it is a lesson that I share anytime that I feel unnecessary. And I think right now it’s just a fabulous thing to bring out. I think it’s a fabulous opportunity to open minds and open hearts and look at something different.
Every one of us goes through life and we all have our choices. And sometimes we are in love and excited and just doing really well. And sometimes we are struggling and we are overwhelmed and just need a break. In those moments when we are really down, in those moments when we really just need a breather, if we take that moment and we take that breather and we look past the challenge that’s in front of us, we might be able to look through that sad looking tree and see something beautiful on the other side.
I am a cancer. That’s my sign. I was born in July and that means I’m a crab and crabs tend to come at problems sideways. They do not walk forwards. They come up at things sideways. And I can tell you that when I am set with a problem or an issue, I am going to go sideways to try to figure it out instead of hitting it head on.
Now, sometimes head-on is the way I need to do it. However, sideways is a little more comfortable for me. You know what sideways does for me though? I may see a brick wall in front of me. I may see that there is no end in sight. I may see that I am absolutely stuck in this moment yet moving sideways, it lets me look around that brick wall to the possibility.
It lets me gain a new perspective. It opens my eyes to possibility, to opportunity. It’s a chance to shift, to change, and find something new. Is there a challenge in your life right now? Can you flip it on its head? Can you look for a different perspective to try to say, “Hey, I don’t like that. Let’s try this.”
A good way to do that is instead of saying, “I don’t want…” say, “I do want…I do need.” Instead of, “I don’t need”, “I do need.”
What do you need? When you don’t need something, of course, you don’t need it. However, how do you fill that need if you don’t know what it is you need to fill it with?
So changing from a don’t perspective or a not perspective to a do perspective could be just the shift that you need to get over that hump to find something joyful, to open up a new possibility. I don’t like my job. Okay. What do you like and what do you want and how can you shift that? How can you change that? How can you open it up?
If you have a challenge with a friend, or a family member, or an acquaintance, some kind of relationship, stop for a minute and look at that and say, okay, this is my perspective. My perspective is ABC. And then sit with that for a minute and perhaps take a moment to think about the other person and their perspective. You know your challenges, you know what you’re facing, you know your own hardship. You may not know somebody else’s hardship and it totally could be that they are reacting to you in a certain way because of their own challenges, because of their own perspective, because of their own life experiences that make it a challenge for them to work through whatever’s going on in the moment.
If you take that moment and try to understand somebody else, if you try to see their perspective, then perhaps instead of being angry and frustrated about the whole situation, you’re able to go, yeah I see you. I understand how you feel that way. It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them. It doesn’t mean you have to feel the same way. However, finding that little bit of compassion, finding that little bit of understanding can soften it from a large problem that is just a huge brick wall in front of your face to maybe it’s a picket fence that you can at least stand in your own truth and shake hands across the fence and say, that’s okay. I get it. Let’s agree to disagree and remove the anger and upset from that because we understand each other perspective. What I see and what you see.
We may both look at a painting from a famous artist and you may see one thing and I may see the other, and yet, you know what? In the end, it’s still a beautiful piece of artwork. It’s still this beautiful creation that we get to enjoy. So in your relationships, can you apply that same thing? In your life can you apply that same thing? If you have kids and they’re really just set on something specific, do you have the ability to step out of the frustration of the moment, understand where that child is, and then take a moment to meet them on a different level? And how would that shift the entire experience for you and that child in the moment that you decided to stop and say, I validate you and your feelings in this moment. I still care for you. I want to help you. I’m not going to buy you that candy bar. And yet I understand. So how can we move forward from there?
Taking a moment on those perspectives completely changes life. It completely changes so many, just everything. To me, it’s almost like a game in a positive way because I’ll sit there. If there’s something that just doesn’t really sit with me, I play that game and I try to understand. And then I’ll go and talk to the person and say, “Is this what was going on for you? Is this where you’re at? Can we talk about that and maybe work through it and make it better?” And they’re usually like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thanks for understanding. Thanks for taking that opportunity in that moment to really dig in.”
And in that way, the relationship is healed because we took a moment to see it from each other’s side. It means that I also have the opportunity to say, hey, I was a little frustrated too, and this is where I was coming from because I took the moment to see from a different perspective, because I took the moment to find understanding and opened my heart.
Take a minute and think about an experience that was really frustrating for you. Go ahead and feel all of the upset, all of the emotions that were there, because you’re thinking about it. You know what’s going to happen. You’re going to see that. Because that is you and that is your experience.
And now take a second to try to understand the other person’s point of view, what might be going on in their lives that would contribute to their reaction. What weights do they carry on their shoulders? What pain or loss may they be experiencing? Is it possible that in this reaction, they weren’t actually reacting to you more so their own personal pain and frustration.
In taking that step back, in taking that moment to see them really, truly see them in all of their beauty and their challenges, are you as angry, or hurt, or as upset now understanding as you were before? Notice the shift, notice the change. It’s all in perspective.
I encourage you to play around with it. I encourage you to see what might shift, see what might change, take that moment and apply my aunt Olive’s teaching of just look beyond. Change your perspective, whether it’s with relationships with other people, or perhaps it’s a relationship with yourself. Can you get over that hump with yourself? Can you give yourself a little more love, a little more acceptance? Can you shift your perspective from their perspective that other people have given you on who you are and find a new perspective of who you believe yourself to be? What gift can you give yourself?
Shift your perspective, shift your life. You got this.
I hope this moment of self care and healing brought you some hope and peace. I’m @KrystalJakosky on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. And I hope you check us out and follow along for more content coming soon. I look forward to being with you again here on breathe in, breathe out. Until next time, take care.