Recycled Thoughts

By: Lara Dustin Scriba


(4 min. read)

This past week, I found myself struggling, desperately needing a break, but schedules and weather did not allow for it. We had to push on; a break was just around the corner, just a few more days until we could settle in one place for a few weeks and allow ourselves to regroup.

We finally made it to our new anchorage a couple of days ago, and after we settled in, I started noticing that everyone on our boat was struggling, not only with fatigue but morale was low. Consistently, the tone was short, sharp, sarcastic, or critical, despite my best efforts to change the narrative.

I sat down to journal, taking time to reflect, and realized that I was literally surrounded by the quality of my own thoughts; my internal voice had manifested outside of myself. Unconsciously, my internal tone had bled out to those around me, compounding the misery 

Struggling to keep my head above water rather than keep myself afloat with compassion and patience, I had become frustrated and intolerant of myself and everyone around me, and it showed.

It all became so clear as I began to write and process. I may not be able to control the weather outside of this boat, but I can control the emotional storm within me. Accountability to myself is key; right the ship by patching the holes. Slowly, I settled back into the soothing rhythms I know so well: meditation, writing, movement, and taking the time to create nourishing foods. The ship began to right itself, or did it?

With four of us on board, whether we like it or not, we are enmeshed in each other’s moments and movements. Silence and solitude are hard to come by unless you stay locked in your own berth indefinitely. Despite the early nights and fun-filled days, I was starting to feel better, but my crew was not. What was I missing?

The narrative within me had changed; I was soaking myself in all the positive thoughts, mantras, and movements, but my external environment had not. Suddenly, I remembered a book I used to read to the boys when they were little, “How Full Is Your Bucket?” It is a story embracing the concept that we all have a “bucket,” and every interaction we have throughout each day fills or empties our bucket. Better yet, when we fill others’ buckets, we also fill our own; it is a win/win situation.

I needed to find a bucket… so I started to dig through our recycling and grabbed two old yogurt containers, decorated one for each of my sons, and placed them on the counter. Throughout the day, every time I noticed something that I appreciated about them, impressed me or made me smile, I wrote it down. Little folded squares began to fill the bucket, and I noticed the shift begin.

I no longer looked for ways they were not showing up how I hoped, correcting their bad behavior or addressing negative comments, simply recycling the negative thoughts. I was looking for those precious moments to notice the ways they brought joy to my day and simply allowed the other moments to pass without commentary. 

It took until dinner time for them to notice their buckets on the counter, and I was surprised by the amount of interest they had in them. I told them I’d explain after dinner, but simply playing the guessing game during dinner ignited a more playful mood as they gobbled down their food in anticipation.

Finally, I passed each of them their buckets and asked them to take turns sharing the contents. One by one, they unfolded their little squares, and smiles exploded onto their faces, along with my heart. There is such joy in witnessing someone feeling seen. They giggled as they opened my messages and began sharing moments of their own that they enjoyed throughout the day or things they appreciated about one another. The positive energy was palpable, the shift notable. Drop by drop, one bucket filling the other, the joy of being together had returned to our table. 

Collectively, they decided they wanted to continue this new trend to see how it would make them feel. Not wanting to throw away their older messages, we’ve created little envelopes to place inside the bucket to save them, and daily, I’ll add new ones to read and share at the end of the day.

I’m excited to see how this develops, as we are all finding new ways of growing both as individuals and as a family afloat. I hope as we face the challenges that come with exploring this amazing world, we also continue to explore even more opportunities to be a mirror for one another and take the time to reflect the joy, beauty, and love we each uniquely contribute. 

Lara Scriba
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC
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