Beautiful Distractions: How to stay focused on joy and peace

Well, friends, I'm beginning to sound like a broken record. My health issues (that stem from my muscular dystrophy) just keep progressing and pushing to the front of the line, so they become the biggest part of my day. It seems like it's all I have to talk about.

I want to change that.

For the most part, I have no control over any of my symptoms (one of the MOST frustrating things). If I think about this for too long, I start to spiral into worry and anxiety. So, despite feeling yucky, or even when I get little pockets of energy, these are the distractions I use to keep my mind off of my complaints and focused on joy.

Watch a Show

Selection depends on my mental focus, so it could be a mindless competition like America’s Next Top Model or Blown Away. More often, I gravitate towards uplifting, feel-good shows like Queer Eye or Long Island Medium. Sure, they might make me cry, but in a good way. I’ve also found joy in rewatching movies from the nineties and early two-thousands. One of my favorites is Secondhand Lions.

Create Something

For me, this means writing, either making monthly blog posts or working on revising my memoir. This requires a bit of energy, both physical and mental, so I have to take the moments where I can get them. I also got a couple of Harry Potter Lego builds in my Christmas stocking, so I might break open those boxes soon.

Make a Video Call

One of the best things to come out of the pandemic is the video call. When I can’t visit my sister or her family due to Covid risks, we can still see each other on Duo. There’s such beauty and joy in a smiling baby taking her first steps or a first-grader showing me his latest Pokémon card.

Look Out the Window

I’m grateful to live in a place with such a beautiful view of the mountains. It’s especially magical this time of year when a special glow comes on as the sun is setting, turning the peaks and skies shades of pink, indigo, and purple.

Open Up to Friends

I’ve written before about the value of vulnerability with trusted loved ones. Recently, a friend from church called to check in on me, and when she asked what I needed, I gave it some thought. “You know what I’d really like? A few cards in the mail. Nothing big or fancy, just something with a fun picture.” My friend was happy to arrange this, and over the next week, I received about ten cards (including two e-cards). It was such a joy to open each one and read the notes of support and love. Other friends and family also checked in, and I was honest about my struggle. They sent encouraging texts, dropped off a care package, and delivered flowers to brighten my days.

Take a Nap

When all else fails to distract me, or in moments when I’ve reached the end of my energy, I take a nap. It doesn’t matter what time it is or if I’ve already taken a nap that day. I give myself permission to rest whenever I need it, and I put aside any guilt or regret about “wasted time.”

Pray or Meditate

I’m still learning this one. It’s difficult to live in the present moment, to give your worries to God or a Higher Power, but I want to try. During those rough minutes and hours and days, I find myself longing for a deep soul connection, so I sit in stillness and clear my mind as best as I can. When I relax and close my eyes, I can tap into my inner Spirit and feel the flow of Divine Light through my body. It’s peaceful. It’s comforting. It’s holy.

These distractions don’t take away my challenges, but they do help me avoid some of the worry as I make my way through the bad days, and I’m grateful for this kind of beauty.

What kinds of distractions do you use on bad days?

How do you find moments of peace and joy during rough times?


  1. Love every word of this, Lisa... but not as much as I love YOU. :) Your Uncle Denny and I watched Secondhand Lions together. I don't think I could EVER forget his laughter. I think his favorite part was the chewing tobacco scene. The other movie we watched together that made him laugh was Harry and the Hendersons. It's an oldie, but goodie. Sending much Missouri love to both of you, plus a big virtual hug.


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