What a difference a year can make. Last year at this time I was highly stressed over everything. I was dreading the holidays, and looking for answers to my dysfunctional family of origin. I was burdened without knowing where my next home might be and uncertain as to our future regarding EVERYTHING.
I carried my disappointments front and center all the while trying to make sense out of things that had no answers. This practice lead me to intense sadness, and counter-productive thoughts. Even though I logically was writing about solutions which contained numerous rationalizations, I wasn’t really seeing positive results.
I used to describe my living condition as a sort of limbo hell both physically and emotionally. In essence that was what it was; limbo hell.
I wrote. I read. I planned. I learned. I tried everything, nothing worked.
You know why nothing worked?
Nothing worked because I thought writing the ideas, reading them, and believing I knew something would be enough to make things better. I am going to tell you right here and now….”knowing” anything is worthless without “doing.”
And that is where I am now. I am in the “doing phase.” I am, once and for all, dropping all the slights and the hurts that I perceived over the past several years of my life. Seriously, in order to get anywhere you have to stop “feeling” the past. I use the word ” feeling” the past instead of living, or thinking about the past because it’s how you feel that squashes out your light.
Very soon after I started this “journey to living better with less” I broke down and cried when told I had too many framed photos. That scene made me well aware that my journey was about much more than just “stuff.” I know why I cried. Inside all those frames I saw photos of better times. I cried because I was forced to acknowledge time had vanished into thin air faster than a blink. It all hit me at once like a ton of bricks. I was without. I was in limbo.
Fast forward to now:
This year I am hosting Thanksgiving for my entire family, including my family of origin and I am doing it with an open heart. That’s right, for those people who I have said terrible things about and who I saw as a problem. Those who I shut out and avoided. I am kind of shocked about this myself, but I have thought about this for a awhile and it feels right.
They say time heals, but I don’t think it is time. I think we heal by our own choice. I am not saying it’s easy, but at some point in time you have to move on and you have to let go. You need to live in the present, and see the here and now and you have to eliminate feeling the past. The past is gone.
So now, maybe now, I can say I have grown. Maybe I am capable of putting everything I have learned to work. I’ll tell you this much, it feels like a huge heavy boulder has been remove from my soul, and that is a good thing. I don’t plan on ever holding on to emotional garbage again. From my experience emotional clutter is far more destructive than any of the items collecting dust in my storage unit.
Time to carry on. Cheers!
I am seriously finding my focus, after surviving the last horrid holiday season of my life. Spent Christmas eve in the emergency room, my Mother broke her arm in two places and she goes tomorrow to find out if it will need surgery.
We learned that no pharmacies anywhere close to hospitals are open on holidays at 12 midnight, and we met Johnny, the lone pharmacist. He was a double for the assistant on 30 Rock.
Once again, I am reminded that no one else will even consider helping with the care giving. It’s me and my family or nothing. Haven’t seen the siblings since Christmas day.
I am on a mission for change. I mean it. I know its going to be hard because it was hard before… but determination has a key role here.
I’ll catch up soon. Happy New Year – or else!
She lay lifeless in the medium. Two people were standing over her without any expression, as if they themselves were not there. Four cars scattered about in the snow covered grassy area separating the westbound from the eastbound traffic. A fifth car sat damaged on the far right shoulder of eastbound lanes.
It never occurred to me that I would see a dead person on my drive to NYC. She had obviously been thrown from one of the vehicles. Her body was tangled on top the snow in an unnatural state. I could tell she was dead from a distance.
Thoughts rushed through my head; like if I had left 3 minutes earlier, I might have been in that accident. Or I bet they were just heading out to go shopping and in no shape or form did they expect this. That poor woman, her family, her children, oh my God! All because of a slippery road, an accident. No one wanted this to happen. No one.
It was the first snow of the season, and the roads had not been touched. No salt, no plowing. Actually there wasn’t enough snow to plow, but there was plenty to make it extremely slippery and dangerous driving. It was awful. As I continued on my way there were more fender benders, a pick-up that had rolled-over, and another truck that lost it’s front wheel (not just the tire – the entire wheel) – it must have hit something with high impact.
My driving speed raged between 20 and 40 miles per hour, I was considering turning around. But little by little it cleared up, the roads improved and I was decidedly on my way.
Traffic was light until I hit the Delaware Gap, from there in it got worse, much worse. Jill, my GPS voice, is
old out-dated. She doesn’t know anything about the detours and construction before the Holland Tunnel. By this time, it was dark, she directed me onto several side streets in Jersey City. Surprisingly these streets were loaded, completely packed full, with Christmas lights. It was stunning. Fast forward through the H-tunnel and Canal Street (both total chaotic messes) and I finally made my way to Brooklyn, arriving only one hour past my original ETA.
Today I cracked 100,000. miles on my Odyssey. All miles that we put on the car. We’ve never done that with any other car, so it’s an accomplishment of sorts. I knew it would happen on this trip.
However what remains is the snap shot of what I didn’t expect. Except for the two people gazing over the body, each driver stood alone motionless next to their own cars.
In my head, they are all still standing there, frozen in time.
(Post note: I have been unable to verify any details of this accident, maybe she lived)
“#” is representative of the number of years since you [I] decided that, well, you weren’t cut out to follow the herd. The # number of years that have past since the time in your mind when you said this or that is bullsh*t. Or the time you said, I don’t think this how I want to live, I want to live differently.
I am not there yet, not after many ## years..
It is kind of obviously from my tormented posts, and my ups and downs and my vacillation and creative rationalizations. I fall into the category where I can easily identify the steps anyone else, except me, should take to change their lives. I am excellent at telling others what to do. But I try to do it for myself and I try really hard, and I fail.
Each time I fail, I start to settle for less and then I begin to procrastinate. I justify my failures, and I rationalize them away with excuses as to why some thing didn’t work. This leads me right back to the place I was when first I decided wanted life to be different. That, I will tell you is why my posts are a roller coaster. There are many times I stop believing I will ever get “there.”
I read several other blogs, and I love them all. I see I am in good company with some bloggers. But there are others bloggers who were able to do the hard work and really change their lives. Success stories. Those people have moved on to bigger and better things expanding their lives and living their dreams. And they manage to make it all work out fine within the confines of the need for money, shelter, work, love and fulfilling responsibilities.
I enjoy reading them, especially the honest ones. But they have done it, they are “there.” These blog are inspirational in a way that says,” I did it, so can you.” But they are so far beyond the point I am, that I barely identify with their reality.
Unfortunately, I think I need to see the the process. (someone’s progress other than mine because mine sucks) I want to see how they made their choices, and what they would do differently and how they learned from their mistakes ( if they had any). I want to know how they balanced responsibilities with their dreams. If they ever felt like they were letting anyone down, or possibly crushing someone’s dream to get to their own.
I understand nothing is simple, and one size will never fit all. This is a difficult journey.
For the sake of a simple example; one small change I am doing, trying to do, is I am changing Christmas and it’s not going over well. And maybe I will change it back. But right now, it’s most unpleasant to be the one that stands up and changes something that effects others. No one talks about how they really feel and I am just plain worn out from the dysfunction and I want it to end. So I am ending it.
I will be viewed negatively, and be seen as the odd-ball who “just can’t get along.” I already have be given the silent treatment on my proposal. Zero acknowledgement that I even spoke the words. Nothing negative or positive. Nothing. What I said was so inconsequential, it didn’t deserve the most basic level of respect, an acknowledgement.
And this is why, people who actually accomplish anything challenging, who create change, are so incredibly awesome. Because it really isn’t easy, no matter what “advantages” you may think someone has. To create real and lasting change of any sort, epic or teeny-tiny is quite possibly one of the most difficult things in life to do.
The tide of time never stops and it makes me wonder if we will ever get there.
Tip: Some people are happy with the status quo, they rarely understand those who seek to live differently.
Inspiration: “The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself.”- Oscar Wilde
One-day one-thing: Ignore your detractors, as best you can.
We are all alone.
Even those of us in the best of situations are alone. It’s scary. No one really knows how you might feel at any given moment. No one can see the years of pain and suffering inside, because in our society, and probably in every other society, people put on the “face.” The face of happiness and contentment.
Even on the internet, people say things, they think will “read well” and won’t make them look like a jerk or like a pitiful sour person. Which, may be exactly how someone is feeling at the time. Facebook is notorious for this. If an alien came down to earth and used Facebook to gauge human feelings, they’d ask to smoke what all the Facebook posters are smoking right away. “I want what their having”
Life is hard for everyone, and if it isn’t hard for you now, it will be difficult sooner or later. And that’s most often when you will find yourself: alone. Just you and your thoughts.
On top of that, our society has painted a picture that being alone is bad. Having it all, isn’t being alone. Plus did you know everyone can have it all ? That is if they are rich, or thin, or beautiful or if they buy this or that. Maybe if you had college degree, you would be a more worthy person, or if you drove a certain car people would respect you. If you drink this beer, you can get laid. If you shop at this store, she will love you.
We’ve also been conditioned from an early age to worship youth, which is ridiculous. Insane even. The one truth in a life span is aging. Everyone ages it can not be stopped. And we age alone.
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So it goes to reason after hearing these twisted messages from birth, when you find yourself alone, you may feel depressed and lonely.
No one, no thing, nothing outside of yourself can make you whole. No one can repair your sadness or erase your fears. No God is going to swoop down and fix you, no secret angel has your back. There is no magic.
The only thing you can do is stop waiting, and start growing your love. Be kind to yourself. Try to eliminate hateful and negative feelings, especially the ones you direct towards yourself. To grow your love, start with yourself.
I am starting with me. For my “new me resolution” ( which I have already started, because a calendar means nothing) I am attempting to totally redesign my life to eliminate all the falsehoods that I have grown up believing. The only thing I know is real is love. Love is limitless and timeless, and it feels good and it makes me happy. And if I am alone, which we all are, then I have to make my love grow.
So during this time of year which is heavily promoted as the best of all possible times for people who “have it all” or are trying to “get it all” – if you find yourself alone, don’t sweat it, everyone is alone.
Focus on what is real; cultivate love, be generous with your love, and appreciate any small miracles that follow.
Recommended reading: Return to Love
It’s funny this time of year how people profess wishes for Peace on Earth, Joy to the World, and Love thy Neighbor and “There but for the Grace of God go I.” Yet when push comes to shove, for many people all those sentiments seem to fly out the window without a shred of shame.
I, like the next person, falls into the trap of getting all caught up in my own life, and trying to get by and navigate some extremely tough terrain. But I don’t have it that bad. Uncomfortable, awkward, stressful, sure, but no one is trying to assault me,
silence me (I take that back SOPA) or kill me. But I have been witnessing way too many things that I find so disturbing. I have to speak my mind.
When people cheered and applaud the record number of executions in Texas, I really wonder what has happened to people? It made my stomach turn. I lived in Texas. Most people there are Christians. Is that part of their belief system? To kill? Sister Helen Prejean would peacefully disagree.
And whether you agree or not with OWS – For centuries our soldiers have fought, been crippled, killed and tortured while fighting to protect the freedoms and rights of Americans to assemble peacefully and express their concerns. Young college students who were educated that peaceful demonstration was a civil right in America, were pepper-sprayed close range as if they were cockroaches. And that’s okay?
Gingrich says to OWS: ” Go get a job right after you take a bath” and the crowd enthusiastically applauds. Last time I checked unemployment was one of the major problems in our economy. Taking a bath gets you a job? Does taking a bath and getting a job take corporate money out of politics? Does it remedy the foreclosure crises that is killing entire neighborhoods? Does it fix the healthcare cluster-f*ck? No it doesn’t.
On a main street scale; look at behavior on Black Friday. I mean seriously, how can anyone think Americans are a people with any character, dignity or integrity? Add in the ongoing of reports of adults at children’s sporting events getting into fist fights? I’ll never forget the father who was beaten to death on the ice in front of his family at a children’s hockey game. Let’s also remember the child predators who were free to abuse over and over again – or the many people over the years who turned a blind eye to the sexual assaults on vulnerable children.
And PLEASE watch this video about bullying in our towns and schools.
The unbelievable decline of civility and basic decency in our society is chilling.
I better get cracking. My starting point: I have nothing planned for Christmas and I am mentally and emotionally spent.
In my de-cluttering mode I sold our
fake artificial Christmas tree. I had no place put it anyway and I figured we would get by with less. Everything else for the holidays is in here.
Just an fyi, if anyone is seeking a nice Christmas tree, Costco has beautiful real trees, cut, for 29.99. They even tempted me. They have short needles and are a good height and shape. I think the tree is a good value plus you get that fresh pine scent in your house.
This year’s challenge is to make Christmas memorable, fun and easy with low stress levels – without spending a ton of cash.
Unfortunately, it’s a super busy month even without the holidays. First I have a business trip to Monterrey. It will be beautiful, maybe stressful but maybe not. Next I’ll be driving to NYC to chauffeur two of my children home. I’m not complaining at all, I love both places, it’s just time consuming.
In New York I’d be happy to walk around with a coffee. I like the sparkling silver star that hangs high above 5th Ave near Tiffany’s. ( if you go to Tiffany’s jewelry repair, 6th floor as I recall, you an get an awesome view of the silver star) I also love looking at Bergdorf Goodman’s windows, they never disappoint.
We’ll play it by ear. It’s not like my kids are teens and I can tell them what we are doing. It’s more like they are mini-grown-ups, you know, with big ideas of their own. I remember when I was their age, I went out partying all winter break, without my parents.
You know what? I am going to buy that Costco Christmas tree and put it up. Why not? Dress it with lights, garland and ornaments, and put some presents underneath. Bake some cookies for everyone to decorate and make hot chocolate. Wow, a somewhat normal and simple Christmas. So what if it’s in a basement?
That’s all it ever has to be….simple and real. In my heart, I knew this all along.
Post Script: We lost the second house we bid on. It was a multiple bidding situation once again. Heavy sigh. I feel like the world is telling me something, something like “stop what you’re doing- it’s not working.”
Tip: Concentrate on shared experiences instead of things.
Inspiration: ” Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by simple things.” ~ Noam Chomsky
One-day one-thing: If you’re giving gifts, wrap them as you get them – it’s the only way.
Linus: “Life is difficult, isn’t it, Charlie Brown?”
Charlie Brown: “Yes, it is. But I’ve developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time.”
I admit, I am a little late to the Charlie Brown party. When I was young I never paid him any attention. But now I love him.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I basically hate the holidays. Last year my friend died on or about Christmas day, I knew she wasn’t a picture of health, but I had no reason to think she would die. I didn’t get to say good-bye. Rather I had to call the police to do a “welfare check.” The next car to arrive was the coroner’s. My gift to her was returned to me by her brother and it sits in my office hallway still wrapped.
We moved out of that neighborhood. Her house was sold. One day I drove through the old hood, and her house was leveled. In an instant her house was gone, just like she was. Also last year, a high school senior who played soccer with my son committed suicide early Christmas morning. When I was in college my friend hung himself the night before Christmas. The Christmas before my Dad died, I was too sick to make it to the celebration. It was his last Christmas.
I’ll stop, because it’s too sad.
The holidays are brutal for many people. We have been lead to believe that Thanksgiving through New Year’s is some sort of never ending party; full of good cheer, and laughter and love. Everyone is in love, presents flowing and good times rolling , smiles abound, no worries, no real problems. We are bombarded with images and ideas that are unachievable for nearly everyone. Yet we still ooh and ah at these images.
When we don’t experience that euphoric holiday scene, we feel sad and we think somehow we are lesser people, we feel a sense of hopelessness. I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s right.
I don’t believe fighting over cheap sh*t from China has anything to do with the Christmas spirit. Nor does spending more money than you have because you are “expected” to be somewhere far away, or you’re “expected” to get everyone in your family a gift.
(btw : One of my New Year’s resolution this year is to stop swearing….)
My hope for this year’s holiday season is to get through it without becoming emotionally battered. The other night at Thanksgiving dinner, I was told (to my face) that a 3000 square foot house isn’t really too big for a single person, two people at the table agreed. Hence the can of emotional whoop-ass was opened and directed straight towards me.
Anyway, I know and I realize, I have to make it the best I can. I am grateful for so many things, and many more people. I have to be grateful that I am even allowed to live in my Mother’s house until we find a place. I’ll make it through, but I will be wounded and scarred. I know it, because it’s already started. It’s no wonder I dislike the whole season so much.
I have decided I will be donating chickens to needy families and put the donation the family names as a gift. Step one accomplished, make something good out of a crappy situation.
“………… I only dread one day at a time.” That’s pure gold Charles Schulz. Thank you.
Tip: Find a way to balance your mind and wear a Kevlar vest.
Inspiration:” Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” ~Benjamin Disraeli
One-day one-thing: Smile and know this isn’t forever.
Hopefully you are in a place where an abundance of joy and love are thriving. Maybe you are visiting your new grandchild for the first time. Maybe you are sleeping in or making an early morning trip to buy bagels for everyone, before a day of cooking commences. Maybe you are hosting and cooking a turkey for the first time ever.
I am having dinner at a restaurant with three siblings who have shown me nothing for as long as I can remember. But the part that really hurts is that during my last very rough year and a half, not a word. Not one single communication. Not a single mention of empathy or kindness. Not one offer of help. Zero compassion. Zero anything.
I don’t expect anything from them and I never will. So for me to write about me being thankful for them, is like person lying about being married. It’s untruthful and I don’t care to live like that. I am am thankless for them.
(sounds harsh to even me, but it’s true)
Obviously, I have a different definition of what “family” means than they do. I carry my idea of family to my family, my husband and my three children and our pets. I even extend that level of caring to my friends and co-workers, even most strangers; ( believe it or not ) that is without breaking normal boundaries.
I’m going to this dinner solely for my 84 year old mother. She asked us to join them and I first said,” No thank you.” She said ,”Well they’re coming over here anyway, whether you come or not.” (we are temporarily living in my mother’s house until we buy our own) I said, “Okay we’ll go.”
What I learn from this is that I am not alone. Many people have families full of dysfunction. This holiday, there will be families who dis-own their own children and grand children solely because of sexual preference. There will be racists remarks made to bi-racial couples who are nothing but deeply in love. Political differences will spark arguments. And I know this is morbid, but there will be Thanksgiving killings today. Some families should just stay away from each other no matter what man-made holiday tells them they need to be together.
So to those of you out there who will suffer through this holiday, acknowledge you don’t have to be thankful for the toxic people in your life, even if you are breaking bread with them or if you are related by blood. Remember you are not alone. Family wounds run deep and never truly go away, this I know. At the table, I will say a silent prayer of support for you and your struggle.
Take this day and be thankful that you can create your own life to be the way you want it to be. Be thankful that holidays only occupy a small segment in the timeline of your life. Be thankful for the lessons learned of how not to be. Be thankful for the people, or person, in your life who is kind. Be thankful for your dog or cat, or whatever little soul you consider part of your family. Be thankful that you have the power to spread kindness to others. Be thankful to know compassion. Be thankful you can express gratitude. Be thankful just to be.
Cheers to you!
Tip: Concentrate on these tips to get through the day.
Inspiration: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
One-day one-thing: Keep your sense of humor today, as this too shall pass. :)
I’ve been taking mental notes of talk that puts my mind into a negative or an overwhelmed and hopeless place. Most of the time it’s discussions about something I can’t control, and I don’t like, or things that make me sad. Talking about issues that make you feel small and helpless can make you crazy. It can raise your blood pressure and it can causes stress. And even worse, once you’re finished with the conversations, nothing has changed for the better.
It seems this is time of year we are frequently reminded of the hungry, even though people are hungry every day. We are informed that some people don’t have heat, homes, or even shelter. We can read about countries withholding clean drinkable water as a means of political control and we see images of hungry babies. All these horrible scenes play out everyday of the year.
So why do I do it? Why do I allow myself to go there? Why? I do it because I want “it” to change for the better. I want the world to get better. I want wrongs to be righted. I want life to be better for everyone. But I know talk is cheap and I know I can’t change the world. There are just so many different areas that need fixing. It is entirely overwhelming.
Still, I have to believe if we try harder we can find individual ways to actually improve another persons quality of life. If everyone contributes to a small improvement imagine the accumulated overall effect.
I like to use Angelina Jolie as an example when I explain my feelings about helping individuals. Granted she saved the lives of more than one, but I believe she is of the mindset that ” if I can help one person I will” That’s a mindset I truly admire. She didn’t have to do what she did, she did because she felt she had the means and she wanted to.
Same with so many other people not as famous as Angelina. People like my neighbors who vacationed in Africa, and never expected to come home with their new eight year old daughter. People like this open their hearts, homes and families to children who had little to no chance of a decent future in their own country.
Not everyone can adopt a child, I realize that. It’s a recurring thought for me, but I realize I don’t have the resources required. But there are other ways to touch, improve, and help someone’s life.
Below are few of my favorite sites that to do just that. When you donate to an individual or family they actually benefit right away. (or shortly there after)
One laptop per child: http://one.laptop.org/
Buy a goat: http://www.heifer.org/
Micro lending, invest in people in other countries and get your money back plus some. http://www.kiva.org
Buy your eye glasses on-line, and someone gets a pair for free: http://www.warbyparker.com
Get the gift of giving water. http://www.charitywater.org/
Donate blood. http://www.redcross.org/
Please add your favorites unique charities in the comment section. Cheers!
Tip: Honor of someone else by giving in their name.
Inspiration: ” The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give.” – Walt Whitman
One-day one-thing: On strike