Gratitude and Holiday Choices

Our kitchen sink water pressure stopped working. Barely a trickle. Hot water became hard-won and cleaning dishes took on a whole new level of groaning. A few days in, I was irritated with it.

But then I thought, you know, I’m lucky to have water at all. Or a sink, for that matter. Running water that can heat up, a refrigerator to keep my food, an oven to cook with ease, a heater, and air conditioner to keep me comfortable.

I stopped being irritated by the leaking water pressure level.

I started being grateful.

 

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I am not saying we should minimize the small pains in our lives (talking of real issues here now, not low water pressure).

A bit of perspective is all I’m asking here. Of myself. And if you want to join in, you too.

We are so blessed.

We have so much in this country. There are many things to complain about. But this holiday season, can we please, please, look at some of the great things we have?

 Focus on what to be grateful for. We have many of those. Even in times of pain and suffering.

 

I tend to complain about what I don’t have. What isn’t working. I’ve lived in loads of places where jerry-rigging the mickey out of a problem is what you do. At first, I was annoyed. After a while, I became aware of how ridiculous I was being. I don’t get upset easily anymore and when I do, I remember a lot quicker to take stock of things as they truly are.

 

I remember.

There are children in hospital beds for the holidays, eating out of a tube. Some with cancer that can’t eat at all. Puking everything up. With no friends. Alone and in pain, much more pain than I’ve ever experienced.

There are men and women whose bodies won’t work the way they’re supposed to. So instead, they spend their days and nights in hospital beds or back bedrooms with nowhere to go and not much to do with their lives. There are people, able-bodied and strong, without a smidge of love in their lives. Struggling to make money enough to buy dinner.

There are people who don’t have access to food. Or clean water. At all.

I’m not trying to hit your shame, guilt, or uber depressing buttons. Rather, trying to put this world into a big picture for myself.

I challenge you to do the same. Put your world into perspective. Seek out a joy in your life instead of focusing on your downfalls or afflictions.

 

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This holiday season, I will remember that I am blessed. I will not belittle my real issues and pains in life. But I will always, always remember that I am so very blessed.

I will say a silent prayer, send a hopeful thought into the universe, that those suffering will feel loved by another. They will get what they need without harm to themselves or others.

I pray that you are surrounded by love and can easily see the greatness in yourself and your life.

If you are not the praying type, that’s all good. There are many kinds of prayers. You do your thing. But we could all use a little goodwill toward mankind, don’t you think?

We can use a little nudge, a little reminder.

That hey, I have a home. A family. People who genuinely love and care about me. People who I love and genuinely care about. I have hopes and dreams and goals. I have food and water and clothes and ways of getting everything I need with ease. I am blessed. I have excess.

 

I choose to look at the silver lining. The hidden blessing. The positive side. I am an optimist, even when life has me sobbing or enraged.

I will never give up on believing that there is goodness in this world and in this life. I hope you don’t either. You are worth it. I am worth it.

We can find ways to healthily cope with the pains in our lives. We can find ways to smash the darkness with mini holiday twinkle lights and light it up until the darkness is dizzy with wonder and a little fright. Or personal demons don’t get to dictate that we must live as scared little children, hiding under our beds. They live within us. That gives us the power to feed or destroy them.

 

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Instead of focusing on our tedious tasks and oh so annoying bumps in the road, instead of focusing on the pain in our lives.

Just for today. Just for this moment.

Let’s look at the beauty, soak it in. Breathe in the joys and little wins and laughs and smiles and happy accidents, until we’re so full that the misery can’t touch us.

The gigging toddler. The panting happy dog that wants nothing more than to play with you and love you. A knock at the door. Letter in the mail. Hug from a friend. Call from a long-lost relative found anew. A bright sky. Relaxing, rainy nights.

Let’s stand in awe at the wondrous magnitude of beauty, of brilliance this world has to offer.

None of us are perfect. None of us have realized every desire or dream. But we’re worth striving, becoming, learning, and most of all, enjoying.

Enjoy this life. It’s uniquely yours, for better or for worse. And most of the time, you can choose for it to be better.

Let’s find that naïve, childlike wonder inside each of us. Feed it. Keep it alive. Don’t starve the innocence within yourself. Deal with the reality of the dark days and nights but don’t be consumed by them. Allow the light of this season to push back any darkness encroaching on your rightly deserved life.

This season isn’t about presents or price tags, winning holiday dinner competitions or playing one-upsmanship around the table. It isn’t having the brightest lawn of decorations or the biggest number of shiny boxes and bows under the tree.

It isn’t about my leaky sink. It’s about the ease with which I could get help and the fact that I have water, regardless.

It isn’t about the confusion over Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, or Kwanzaa.

It isn’t about the tree or the candles or the wish lists.

This season is about peace, hope, and love. Forgiveness and new beginnings. And while these things may sound corny or trite, they are no less honest, important, and needed.

Let’s focus on what is right in this world. The best in ourselves and others. The hope for better, for healthier, for more joyful lives, financial situations, and relationships.

What we focus on is what we’ll attract, accumulate, and become.

This holiday season let’s choose to become a little kinder, more hopeful, a lot more grateful, attain a healthier perspective. Let us remember that inner peace isn’t something that comes out of a cereal box or shines up children movies alone.

I wish you harmony and peace this holiday season, within yourself and your life. It’s possible. Depends on our choices.

 

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Holiday Season Blog Gratitude Challenge 1

Alrighty then.

We’re going to play a game. Kind of like tag, except I can’t smack you and get away with it (because, “YOU’RE IT!”) because I can’t reach you.

 

Holidays are great.

Holidays are lovely.

But we also have a way of sucking the joy, humanity, and reason for the holidays right out of the season.

Yay us!

NO *shakes head*

 

So, screw whatever we’re supposed to talk about during this time of year. We’re going to talk about being grateful. And I’m going to ask you questions, even some personal ones. Well, if you stick around I’m going to do this. If you click out I am so not going to chase you down, chain you to a desk, and force you to answer. I’m too worn out, cuz you know, I have my own life that I’m working on.

Let’s get to it.

 

 

These questions need the following answer: how you’re grateful for them and why.

 

5 Life Lessons

  1. Budgeting – boy will I not mess up on this one.
  2. Forgiveness – it’s hard but has helped me heal and gain strength to put up healthy boundaries.
  3. Eat Healthily – seriously.
  4. Healthy Boundaries – no joy without them.
  5. Attitude of Gratitude – focusing on what I’m grateful for doesn’t erase the nastiness or pain. It does, however, give me more joy and less suffering.

 

5 Trials You’ve Lived Through or Are Still Living Through

(you didn’t think I was going to make this easy on you, did you?)

  1. SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)

This gut disease has taught me a lot. I’ve changed how I eat entirely. I eat completely healthy and when I eat chocolate (daily, come on now) it’s healthier with real sugar and no GMOs or fake ingredients. I feel so much better. I’ve discovered that how I eat has a huge impact on how I feel physically and emotionally.

  1. RLS (restless leg syndrome)

Okay, so for a month I was walking around in the bathroom and sobbing at night because I couldn’t sleep. I’d pass out in bed for fifteen to twenty minutes on and off at night, equaling up to two hours of sleep in every twenty-four hours. Not fun. I finally got on a medication that stops, for the most part, the RLS. What this taught me is how important sleep is. Getting eight hours, every night is needed. But what I feel most of us don’t do, is make it a priority. We act like because we have work or children or other obligations that it isn’t possible. It is. And I’ve decided to make my health a priority and see to it that I get the sleep I need.

  1. Psychological Abuse

I would never sign up for abuse. But I can say that living through it has taught me a lot. Most people don’t want to exist inside their own skin and so distract themselves out of it. We walk around numb and ignorant of ourselves. Being abused caused me so much issue that I had to take a look at myself and get help from other human beings. This is how I learned to get out of denial and choose my own life.

It’s also taught me that a lot of people turn their noses up at emotional issues. They think therapists are idiots or pointless and think people ought to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, smile and bear it, and/or simply knock it off, get over it. But never, ever talk about your problems and never ever, need help. Let me tell you, there is so much arrogance and ignorance in a person like that, that it’s unbearable. And they’re generally not all that happy.

  1. Bipolar

I’ve heard so many people tell me to pray to God and He will take this away. I’m Christian so I can tell you, they’re not saying this out of faith or belief or spirituality. It’s a load of crap. Let’s just get that out there. Some tests in life are for life.  I truly believe God (or whatever your Higher Power is) doesn’t give us more than we can handle. And yes, much is expected of us. Life is hard work.

Being diagnosed has allowed me to stop thinking there is something wrong with me. I honestly didn’t know what my issue was. How was I so messed up? Knowing I’m on the bipolar spectrum has allowed me to view my past and realize why.

Now I have a name to put to what I feel, what I’ve experienced. And life is a lot less scary and a lot more doable. I can’t deny part of who I am. Trying to would only bring more misery.

  1. Jobs I Loathed

It took me a while to realize I didn’t love them, didn’t even like them. But having jobs I didn’t enjoy has shone a light on what I want to aim for.

 

 

5 Things from Today

  1. Petting Lucky
  2. Internet
  3. Work
  4. My religious practices (brings peace)
  5. Love

 

5 Things from the Past Week

  1. Thanksgiving – really enjoyed this holiday this year. I love the focus of gratitude this holiday brings into focus. I don’t care how it came about or how many lies its steeped in. I love what it’s become.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly happy white men tried wiping Natives out, I simply choose to focus on the goodness in humans at this time. Which is a lot harder than one would think. We humans can be terrible. But we have goodness in us, if we so choose.

  1. Birthday – my twenty-sixth. I did absolutely nothing and loved it. Hung out with family. Best.
  2. Walking Lucky – I love my sweet, fluffy boy. He brings me so much joy and taking him for a walk, away from everyone else and simply being outside, watching him sniff around in curiosity – it’s peaceful.
  3. Applied, Paid for College Class – SO excited for this one! I’ve never been to college before.
  4. Ability to Change – can you imagine never being able to change, grow, learn and make different decisions? We’d all be screwed. There’d be no point to life. So I embrace change.

 

5 Things About My Health

  1. I can eat solid food.
  2. I can walk. I can run!
  3. I have all my limbs and they all work properly.
  4. I don’t have a disease that is going to kill me.
  5. I have my mental faculties in working order.

 

 

5 Favorite Traditions

  1. Birthdays are important in my family. We always celebrate, regardless of age. It’s the day we came into this world. Of course that should be celebrated. It’s a time for reflection and goal setting. A time to take stock of what I’ve done and become and what I want to add to my life and self.
  2. Hope Chest. In my family, when you turn sixteen years old, your parents buy you a chest and begin filling it with things for when you begin your own life. I love this tradition, I will be passing on.
  3. Dating. We don’t take this one for the gift it is, I believe. We have the right to choose who to date, dump, and stick with. In other countries, people don’t have this option.
  4. Marriage. I don’t feel we take this one seriously as a society any longer, but it’s still important to me. I feel like marriage has become a joke, sexless, loveless, and well, okay, a joke! That’s not what I want. I’m going to marry for commitment, for love, for a real relationship. A sharing of souls. It’s easy to make fun of, but that doesn’t make it any less important to me.
  5. Allowing people to think for themselves. It’s something I very much intend to carry on. If my children have different likes, desires, hopes, dreams… go for it. I find that many of my friends in high school were given no choice in their life. Their parents had planned everything out for them and they lived in a rigid world without freedom of character, choice, or personal lives. It’s a strong truth in my life; we are each a unique person and what we each need and want, is what we need to go for.

 

5 Freedoms

  1. To work. As a woman, that wasn’t always an option. I couldn’t imagine living in the past. I don’t want to imagine it. I won’t even read novels in the past because the way women were treated disgusts me.
  2. Control over how I deal with my mental illnesses. Stigmas are still alive and strong but at least my freedom isn’t stripped from me. I can look at what is happening, realistically, and choose the healthiest way in which to deal with it.
  3. We aren’t exactly, “of the people, by the people, for the people” any longer, but I am extremely grateful that I live in this country, which allows me to make my own vocational and life choices.
  4. Freedom to worship. I love my spirituality and religion. It brings me strength, choices, respect for life and love, and peace. I wish all humans on planet earth were allowed to practice their beliefs (as long as they’re not abusive) in their own lives.
  5. To marry whomever I please, whenever I please. I mean, come on, we all know that at age 26, I’d be an old maid in the past.

 

 

Last 5

  1. What do I wish I wouldn’t take for granted?

Technology, running water, modern conveniences.

  1. What is something I am grateful for that I probably partake of too much?

Chocolate.

  1. What is something helpful I have that my parents did not?

Internet. Thank you, Google, for helping me adult properly. Also, the ability to talk about things. I cannot tell you how annoying it is that people didn’t “talk about things like that” in the past. You know, human things.

  1. What is something I have that my parents did not that is not helpful?

Too many options. TV stations, internet stuff, etc. How much time have I wasted on something that doesn’t matter? It all comes down to personal choices, but sometimes I feel all the unnecessary choices make life harder.

  1. What was I most grateful for as a young child?

Feeling safe. It was a rarity I appreciated more than any treat or toy.

 

 

Okay, TAG!!!!

(pretend I just smacked you upside the back of the head)

Your turn.

Erase my answers and add in your own, then tag someone. And check back for my next blog gratitude challenge in the weeks to come. And don’t forget to link back here so I can see your answers. 😀

A FLAME’S PERSPECTIVE

I already commented on the Northern California fires. I told you some of what I felt and how I let it work for my good while I waited to see if the fires would reach me or not.

It also allowed me to do something else.

Change my opinion.

Or, rather, my perspective.

 

ONE

We are all equal when natural disasters look at us.

Hurricanes destroy the rich and the poor. Fires burn the athlete and the old in age with dementia. Earthquakes split highways regardless of whether there are black people or white people, Native Americans or Asians, navigating them.

A flame doesn’t look at someone, their life, their behaviors, decisions, bank account, yada, yada, yada. A flame doesn’t look at you. It burns you.

But natural disasters give you a lot of room to grow. Everyone knows we learn best from pain, whether it be emotional, physical, or a combination.

I heard about a man with fireman equipment at his home and was capable of keeping the fire away. Instead, he helped the people without vehicles that he could see wouldn’t be able to make it out of the fire’s path on their own.

A woman lost her entire house, counted herself amazingly blessed to have family in town to live with (keep in mind she still lost all of her and her family’s hard worked for belongings), and spent the rest of the fire helping mothers and their infants to whatever they needed from her shop in town, free of charge.

People, where I live who were untouched by the fire, took time to listen to people’s stories, grieve with them, spending time with them. We donated clothing and plushies, time and love.

 

 

TWO

I decided to stop seeing only my pain.

And start seeing, appreciating, and focusing on my joy.

It’s no secret, I have a lot of medical issues. I was recently diagnosed with a new one, one that proved more challenging than all my others, and equally intent on staying.

I’ve been focusing on how much I can’t do. How I can’t keep a full-time job. Ways I cannot help people in life.

After the fires – no, during the fires, I realized real solidly how negative that was.

So, I stopped. I’d already been working on it, but the fires really woke me up.

I can help.

I do work.

I care about people and I can find my callings in life. Just because I’m not physically able to do the jobs most people can doesn’t mean I’m a failure. It means I get to do some other things. We all have things we excel at. Time for me to find mine instead of ‘boo-hoeing’ on not excelling at what others do.

I can become who I am, joyfully. Validated by myself, my conscious, and my Higher Power.

Instead of looking at who I can’t be, all that I can’t do, and wringing my hands in despair.

 

 

THREE

Be actively grateful.

For me, there’s a difference between being grateful and really acting grateful.

To me, it’s the difference between two people.

The person who says they have so much to be grateful for (but typically only list off the same five or so and don’t really seem to feel what they’re saying) and then go right back to complaining about all the wrongs in their life. They don’t want to make changes. The focus on the bad things in their life and/or health.

Don’t get me wrong. We all have reasons. But that doesn’t make them excuses not to do what we can do.

Being positive, focusing on the good instead of only on what’s horribly wrong in life, is something we can all do.

The second person is someone who understands this. Recognizes their limitations and does what they can. And they do it well. They excel at it because they try. They aim to find what all they can do and enjoy doing it, while coping with the illnesses and pains they have in life. They find what is wrong in their world and if they can, they take steps to change it.

I want to become more like this second person.

I’ve been in a limbo in-between them for quite some time now. Not complaining but not really searching for the positive.

And so I have. Become positive. Grateful.

I can jog, write, read, play with my dog, communicate in meaningful ways with my family and friends because my legs work, I have the proper coordination, I’m not blind, not deaf, not mute. I’m not missing limbs. I’m not eating through a tube. I’m not in a hospital bed. I don’t have cancer, I live in a country with running hot water and refrigerators, ovens and laptops. I have a solid roof over my head and air conditioning and a heater. I have so much.

How often do I really count my blessings?

I heard this slam poetry kinda thing earlier this week and I loved it. The last thing the poet said really struck me.

“You are alive. Act like it.”

I don’t think we’re really acting like it if we have a ‘poor me’, ‘look at all this horrible stuff in my life’ attitude.

Look at all the beauty. The opportunities for change. Look at all the good.

Halloween (and lost weight)

By the way, this was me on Halloween night. I was wearing glow in the dark skeletal shorts underneath, only I didn’t realize they were glow in the dark until I put them on that night. I was worried I’d be walking down the street and my butt would start glowing. Thank the Halloween stalker demons that it didn’t.

(Yes, this is me bragging that I lost all that stupid weight. Don’t fall over, have heart failure, or drop your gremlin dentures. I’m allowed to brag now and again. And yes, I’m standing in front of my own front door like a totally dorky chick. Cuz I’m totally dorky.)

 

Daphne Shadows Halloween 2015
Daphne Shadows Halloween 2015

 

What did you guys do for Halloween?

Because chocolate.

Anything Halloween-like that you want to share with me?

Any ghost stories you particularly like? Anything creepy?

What did you guys dress up as? (if you dressed up) Any adorable munchkins or fuzzy munchkins dress up this year?

 

ALSO – people please remember that Thanksgiving comes before Christmas. Have some gratitude before you stomp people to death looking for presents.

Oh – and who else thinks “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is both a Halloween and a Christmas movie???

Any plans for Thanksgiving?

 

Wow, that was a lot of really random questions.

Anyone have any really random (but related) answers?

Not Enough Crisis?

What to do about Thanksgiving…

You guys already know I’m grateful for my family, the food, clothing, and hotel room we have. So what to post about?

 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on what we focus on and it boils down to two words.

Not.

Enough.

I feel like that’s all we focus on. We don’t have enough this, we aren’t enough that. We haven’t done enough of this, we haven’t fixed all of that, or upgraded our new this.

What’s wrong with that you may ask? Well, it’s a snowball. This way of thinking is a spider web. A crack in the glass doors, spiraling out and deeper until the entire door shatters. Leaving us with a mess and a lot to fix.

If only fixing people was as easy as fixing a glass door. But we’re not. We’re much more complicated and there are many more details and sticky strings involved in a single human being than in a million glass doors.

So we should probably try not to brake ourselves too badly if we can at all avoid it.

 

Humans are hard to fix.
Humans are hard to fix.

 

COINCIDENTALLY

Instead of complaining, being upset over what we don’t have, don’t have enough of, or haven’t accomplished, fixed, or finished, why don’t we focus on what we do have. On what we have accomplished, what we have fixed, what we have finished.

Even issues can be a blessing. Every problem can bring something positive. Every issue can stem from a blessing. Everything can be taken multiple ways. It’s all how you look at it.

I’m not saying to take a look at the corpse you left lying around in your basement and decide that because it’s given you soil workable for a high end garden, that it’s a good thing you murdered someone.

I’ve been thinking about this for the past couple of months but I haven’t written anything up on or it even talked about it with anyone. Yesterday I clicked into wordpress and (miracle of all miracles) it loaded! The first blog that popped up on my reader was one by Kristen Lamb. And guess what it was on? Being thankful instead of complaining. I think she sums up pretty well what I’m trying to say here. For example, she says:

“I am thankful for the dishes that need washing, because it means I didn’t go hungry.”

“I am thankful that I sometimes have doubts and confusion about my future and my purpose when I think of the lives cut short before they ever had a future.”

Exactly what I mean. Take your complaints and find the blessing in them.

I’m not saying there aren’t things to complain about. I am living in a hotel and wearing the same clothes over and over again, here. I’m not saying suck it up and get on with your moping self. I’m just saying that focusing on the negative, on all the failings and shortcomings will do nothing positive for us.

Focusing on the good in your life, the blessings, the small things in your life that make it better can only make you happier.

 

CRISIS = DANGER + OPPORTUNITY

I listened to a few authors talk and answer questions on writing and publishing for free a few months ago, and something the last author touched on really stuck with me. Being the avid note taker I am, I found my notes, as it was on a Chinese character. And I definitely don’t know Chinese. Hence, needed to find the notes.

The Chinese character for “crisis” is made up of two words. “Danger” and “Opportunity”.

Every crisis can be dangerous. But every crisis has the opportunity to bless you, to give you something beneficial to your specific self and circumstance. If you let it help you, if you seize that opportunity. Pretty big “IF”, don’t ya think?

 

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So there it is. That’s what  my Thanksgiving post is on. Focusing on the blessings. On the positive. On what makes you happy. Trust me, it will help you to be happier overall. I’m not saying ignore whatever is wrong in your life. No, of course you should work on it. But be happy about whatever is going right in your life. Focus on the good. It could always be worse. And once it does get worse, most of the time we’re stuck wishing we wouldn’t have taken our past circumstances for granted.

Smile for a good reason. It’s there. You just have to allow it in.

 

What little things are you thankful for? Are there things you complain about that you could probably count as a blessing?