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. 😀