How to find inner peace in the midst of turmoil

I keep telling myself that I cannot wait for things to slow down in my life so that I can tackle my long list of projects. Life in general feels more complicated, especially since my husband’s death more than 6 years ago, and I seem to have trouble finding a comfortable balance.

Of course, winter doesn’t help. It keeps adding chores I don’t need, but still have to do so that I can function — like lugging around wood pellets and shoveling snow. I have yet to clean off my front steps from the recent blizzard. There is a wall of ice shielding my front door and so much snow, with ice underneath. And there are various paths that need to be shoveled to key areas like oil fill pipes, propane tanks and in the dog fence.

What a mess.

My snow and ice encrusted front steps.

My snow and ice encrusted front steps.

But it isn’t even that really, because I have learned to prioritize. It’s life’s other stuff. It’s all of the things I immersed myself in to fill my hours and my mind after Jim died so that I didn’t have to think about my reality — primarily dog sports. I’m reluctant to give up any of those because I still enjoy them.

It’s also that I am getting older and don’t have the same energy level that I did, and the things that are important to me are shifting. Although my house could use a nice thorough cleaning beyond the normal, I am apt to put it off in favor of time with family or friends, making memories that will last rather than a nest that is spotless.

It’s a little physical bone-weariness perhaps, partly due to my physical limitations, but mainly from the effects of a long winter filled with ice and snow and cold and lots of shoveling.

My life used to feel more organized and predictable to some degree. I took that for granted when I was younger; and I certainly took it for granted when Jim was alive. Maybe it never was any more organized than it is now; it just had a familiar flow that ended with Jim’s death.

Unexpected things always happen. That’s not unique to widowhood. It’s simply life.

Loved ones become ill. People close to us die. The state plow truck buries the mailbox and newspaper box again. You become ill with the office crud that lays you out for a few days. A key light fixture goes on the fritz. You forget to put the trash out because you’ve lost track of what day of the week it is.

You know. Normal stuff that goes on in all people’s lives.

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I think the key to dealing with all of my turmoil is to find what creates my own inner peace. The elements of peace can include quiet time, faith, or special activities such as listening to music, reading, spending time with family, friends or pets. Or a combination of any of these.

But it is essential to figure out that combination. I’m still working on it, but all of those things are pieces of it. It seems odd that the very things that cause chaos in my life also provide the essential elements of my inner peace. The root for my inner peace is my faith in God from which the various branches grow.

Inner peace lets me deal with the uncertainties of life. It bolsters my core and makes me more confident and resilient. It helps me find focus more easily. It provides an oasis in the midst of the worst storm life can conjure.

And the sooner I accept that with my Type A personality, my life won’t slow down until I’m dead, the less tumultuous life will feel to me. The best I can do is find the balance between tumult and happy experiences that strengthens my inner peace.

And my real hope has nothing to do with my personal well-being. It is that somewhere along the way, in all of the things I’m involved in, I hope I might make the world a little better for someone else. This also adds to my inner peace.

The outdoor temperatures are supposed to rise for the next few days, so there will be melting, causing its own mess I’m sure. But whatever snow and ice melt away from the front door and the various paths that need attention will be snow and ice I won’t have to shovel and chop.

As for the rest of it, I’ll either get to it or I won’t. And with a strong inner peace, I can live with that.


Julie Harris

About Julie Harris

As a longtime employee of Bangor Daily News, I have served many roles over the years, but I now have a dream job as Community Editor. I live in Hermon with my four Brittany dogs: Sassy, Bullet, Thistle and Quincy, who keep me busy in various dog sports. I was widowed at age 51 when my husband, Jim, died of pancreatic cancer.