I woke up this morning to a whole new world, literally and metaphorically.  We spent the night in New Orleans, a place that has held my heart captive since I was a teenager and introduced to the writings of V.C. Andrews.  I have always wanted to visit Louisiana and see those story book places come to life, although admittedly not the storylines themselves; in my line of work, I have seen the story unfold more times than anyone cares to know.

It took over thirty years to get here, but I woke up to the hustle and bustle of the Bayou Classic weekend.  There were parades and sports enthusiasts everywhere.  Not being a college football fan outside of my own state and even then I use the term fan loosely, I had to research what all this hoopla was.

As I looked out the window of my hotel, I thought how vastly different the view was from my normal world.  When I look out my world, I see rows of single family homes, regardless of my viewpoint from my home or yard. The homes all look similar in shape and size.  Here in New Orleans, the skyline is much more diverse.  It changes even based on time of the day. It also changes based on where I’m standing.  As I stood there pondering the idea, I realized how much of life is shaped by our viewpoint.

Experience can change our viewpoint.  For example, I never understood how out of touch I am with my emotions, until I developed a friendship as an adult with someone who is more emotional.  And it still wasn’t as clear until I participated in a group with all emotional thinkers.  I was in awe of how in touch each lady was with how they felt.  I participated in the same group earlier with different women who more thinkers.  We talked about what we thought about our life experiences, versus how we felt.  There is a big difference I realized in being in touch with the emotions behind an event than being able to process the event and what I think about it.  Experiencing something new opened up a view to a piece of my life that had been mostly shut-off.  My viewpoint has changed as I consider not only the facts of an event, but the emotions also.  Allowing myself to process both takes time, but definitely broadens the view.

Where we are changes our viewpoint.  I see this all the time at work, with staff, patients and families.  As a social worker, I help people navigate difficulties in life.  I can be objective because it is not happening to me.  I can help provide solutions outside of the patient’s frame of reference because I have walked others through similar situations.  However, I also have a viewpoint different from many of my coworkers because I have walked through some circumstances that families I work with face.  I can bring a personal perspective because in some situations, I have been where my patients and their families are.  Where I have been and where I am now provides me a different perspective and a broader view.  But there are other times that where I am, doesn’t allow me to see the forest through the trees.  Where we are and where we have been also changes our view.

Time can also change our viewpoint.  Sometimes just the passage of time can provide a different viewpoint.  I think about how I experienced my father’s illness and death twenty years ago.  Looking back, I can see things about it that I was completely oblivious to at the time.  Sometimes even a few hours, days, or weeks can change the viewpoint.  As a child some things seemed so important, yet I can not even remember now as an adult unless something triggers the memory.

Reflection can change our viewpoint.  Being able to analyze something that happened is a great way to get a fresh viewpoint.  There are events in my life that going through, I thought would destroy me.  Now being able to look back on them in light of the lessons I learned from the events gives me a fresh appreciation.  Being able to reflect back on difficult times of my marriage, helps me see how much God has worked not only in my marriage, but also using those times to being about changes in me.

Out point of view shapes our life, but our life also shapes our point of view.  If we don’t want to expand our viewpoint, it is fairly easy to stay small-minded and keep in the routine of life never gaining any new perspectives.  However, if we are open to it, we can add to our viewpoint through experiences, changing where we are, time, and reflections.  We also have the ability to change our viewpoints through literature and exposure to other’s experiences, location, time and reflections.  When you find yourself feeling trapped by circumstances, I encourage you to open up your mind and get a fresh point of view with which to see your circumstances.  You never know what opportunities might arise out of a fresh viewpoint.



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