Sometimes the circumstances of our life just look dark. Sometimes even really, really dark.

Like earlier this week, for instance. For the last few weeks, a nasty flu-like virus has run amok through our household. We first caught it on a wonderful family trip to Barcelona a few weeks back. One by one, we have succumbed to the sniffles, sneezes, chills and coughs. It has been so utterly nasty that we’ve fondly given it its own special nickname: the Spanish bird flu of 2019.

For weeks of sore throats, stuffy noses, aches, chills and coughs (not to mention travel), Jason and I have mostly kept our sense of humor. We’ve stayed connected, graceful through the low, supporting each other to keep the household and business up and running.

Until last Sunday. Sometime around mid-afternoon on that day, we both were hit by the low-mood gremlins. At the same time.

Which makes no sense whatsoever, because for the first time that morning we both felt well enough to get outside and have some fun together. We woke up to a foot of new snow, motivated early and were in the lift line by 8:40am (for a 9am opening), after which we got an hour and half of dreamy fresh tracks and absolutely glorious skiing. And neither one of us actually hacked up a lung, even though we may have sounded like we might.

All good news! But I guess we overdid it, because when the exhaustion and overwhelm hit at around 4pm, we both went downhill fast. It still amazes me how quickly life can go from looking rose-colored to looking a distinctly dingy, gross gray.

It was as if I suddenly put on dark glasses indoors. Everything dimmed. Everything was tinged with “ick.”

My two sweet teen boys suddenly seemed bratty, rude, spoiled and ungrateful when mere hours before I had been having a phone chat with a girlfriend and sharing how wonderful they are.

Jason suddenly seemed annoying, selfish, and irritating, when mere hours before he was my perfect ski buddy, my perfect life buddy.

My house was suddenly messy, dirty, gross, when mere hours before I saw it as warm, cozy, chaotic, perfect.

You get the idea.

And that’s just how it works sometimes. A switch flips because we’re exhausted, sick or for no reason at all. And everything goes gray. The exact same circumstances that look rosy one moment, look depressing and hopeless the next.

The beautiful thing is that after all these years of living with the inside-out understanding, I’m not fooled. I’m not fooled into thinking there’s anything going on but a drop in my own state of mind, a drop in my own consciousness. It still feels awful, but I know with a deep certainty that it’s perfectly okay. That in a matter of minutes, hours or days, the darkness will lift as suddenly as it descended. Like the sun suddenly breaking out after a storm, my state of mind will lift and everything will look bright and beautiful again. My husband, my boys, my home will all once again look like the precious gifts they are.

Knowing this with certainty even in the midst of the darkest, nastiest “thought storm” is truly a gift. Because it means I don’t have to do anything at all. I don’t have to resist my thoughts or change my thoughts. I don’t have to do anything about my thoughts or communicate my thoughts. I just have to watch, feel, allow and not worry about a thing.

It will pass like it always does and I can count on the sun always shining behind the clouds, no matter how gray and ominous they might look in the moment.

So I watch and wait, wait for that first little beautiful lifting of the gray tinge that indicates that the storm is passing. It often looks like a little, hopeful, positive thought for the first time in hours or days. A tiny little ray of sunshine that is distinctly less gray, less heavy. A positive thought! A little miracle!

I notice it with amazement and hope. I  breathe a sigh of relief, and I welcome with open arms the feelings of hope and optimism as they flood back in, coloring the circumstances of my life with clarity and love.

I fall back in love with my life. Again.