Be thankful and stop complaining

Be Thankful Mantra

Someone posted this on Facebook the other day. Bang! It hit home for me in a HUGE way! It will be my mantra this year. Not only that, I plan to ask people who are complaining to “be thankful and stop complaining.”

How did I get into this rut? I’m not sure. But looking back over the past few years I remember complaining…a lot.

When my daughter calls me she sometimes needs to vent. I get it. I’m her mom. We tend to dump our problems on those closest to us, whether it’s just to use someone as a sounding board or when looking for advice, but mostly just to vent. At the end of the conversation she usually says: “Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer, mom.” Yep, that explains it perfectly.

A friend of mine, Doreen Pendgracs, and blogger extraordinaire has several blog posts about being thankful, for example: a salute to 2012: it’s been a good year. I’ve read her blogs, and hundreds of posts and blogs on the Internet all focused on this topic. So why is it that I never really got it? And what is it about this small poster that finally opened my eyes, or at least made complete sense to me, as opposed to the messages within all the noise that’s been bombarding me for decades?.

Don’t get me wrong. I do question why I’ve been so blessed. I’m sitting here in my office that’s probably as big as a tent that houses a family somewhere in a refugee camp. I’m not saying I don’t think about that. I do. A lot. Every day. But I still complain about silly little things – the slow driver ahead of me, the fact that it’s cold outside, I don’t like how my hair looks today, I feel fat (when others are starving all over the world). There is definitely inequality going on here. And I get that too. So why don’t I do something about it? I’m going to make that my mission this year.

In the meantime, it’s enlightening to find out how others spent their holidays. Please check out this article.

EXCLUSIVE! On Berkeley’s Telegraph, Few Creatures Stirred X-Mas Eve — Or Did They? by Steed Dropout WARNING! GRAPHIC LANGUAGE!

It’s what really prompted me to write this post and realize that I am so very fortunate; again, not an epiphany but all these things have brought this to the forefront for me, today, the first day of 2013.

So it’s another new year and today is January 1st 2013. Now it’s your turn. What do you have to be thankful for? What will you do this year to make a difference?

New year, new day, new hour…but the fight continues

depressionI haven’t posted anything on my blog since September 2011. I have started several posts, but never finish them. I think I have to face the demon that haunts me before I can start blogging again.

I told myself that I was going to make a new start this year. I told myself the same thing last year. Other than a few small changes, things remain pretty stagnant.

I have this hill that, at some point in my life, grew into a mountain. When I am able to climb – hands in the soil, nails full of dirt – and get near to the top, I slip back down again. It’s a recurring nightmare, but I’m never asleep.

It may seem cliché. Everyone knows someone who claims to have this malady. Those who don’t understand say: “It’s mind over matter, so get over it.” I wish it was that easy. Even with the intervention of medical remedies it never really goes away.

So no matter what people think of me I’ll post it. I suffer from depression. More often than not it’s well hidden. When it’s not I am usually alone – by choice. Everyone feels sad some times. But those of us who suffer from depression feel it tapping us on the shoulder even on ‘good days.’

To most people I look ‘well adjusted.’ I smile when I’m supposed to. Often it’s because I want to, but when I don’t, as I said, I prefer solitude.

Sometimes I swim – constant and unending laps in a pool; trying to clear my mind, empty it so I can start fresh, or refreshed. It helps, temporarily.

For me, depression has been a prerequisite for writing. Poetry was my medicine when I was younger. It helped. But now depression impedes my desire to write.

I want to write something that people will read and connect with. I want to create words that have meaning, quoted and remembered long after I’m gone. But I don’t have the faith in myself to believe this will happen. This may just be my legacy – the sadness that envelopes me in a dark shroud.

So, now that I’ve written about it maybe I can start writing something again.

My finger hovers over the ‘enter’ key. I hit it. This blog is up and posted. My soul is revealed. And tomorrow, hopefully, will be a better day.

Things I learned from my granddaughter…

We had our granddaughter (age 7) stay with us this week. I realized quickly that all the angst that goes with parenting disappears with grandparenting. Things like dishes to wash can be put off until later. Reading a book together before a chore gets done is o.k. Wearing chocolate from an ice cream cone on your face won’t permanently damage your pores. Things don’t always have to be done on precise schedule; flexibility is always a an option.  Here are a few of the other things I learned:

  • Play now, there’s time to do whatever tomorrow.
  • Don’t sit at the side of the pool – Dive In, Swim, Enjoy.
  • Fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Laughter is priceless.
  • It’s o.k. to treat yourself. Buy an ice cream treat from the corner store and eat it BEFORE dinner.
  • See the world through a child’s eyes and take joy in the little things.
  • Indulge in small pleasures every single day.
  • Laugh until your sides hurt, then laugh some more.
  • Body noises are actually funny.
  • Eat potato chips instead of salad and pretend they’re a vegetable.
  • It’s o.k. to dance around naked and sing after you come out of the bathtub.
  • Be proud of everything you do. A pictured colored outside the lines can still be beautiful.
  • Children grow up far too fast. Make the most of your time together.

What things have you learned from a child?

Because we care

My friend and fellow writer, Doreen Pendgracs, recently wrote a blog about being a caregiver. I wanted to comment on it, but what I wrote was my own mini blog. With Doreen’s gentle prodding, I realized that writing about something personal can also be a valuable use of words.  So here are my thoughts.

Most of us don’t go into relationships thinking about our possible role as a caregiver, but I knew from the day I met my husband that this would be my lot in life. I was in my 20s; so young and sure I could cure the world. It didn’t happen, and fighting it only wore me down.

We were told the original illness would eventually burn out, but if it has happened, it never really ever goes away. Like a chameleon it transforms and reveals itself in new forms, and I go into my caregiver mode again as we rush to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Our daughter grew up thinking that that all of this was normal for any family. As my husband convalesced in hospital following yet another surgery I would bring her, along with paper and crayons, and she would sit there creating her make-believe worlds with the reality of pain and suffering as her quiet background. When it was time to go I would lift her up and she would carefully navigate through the mass of tubes and IV lines to give Daddy a goodbye kiss until tomorrow. How could anything so unnatural feel so normal? And yet, for us, it always was.

I believe care giving can sometimes be more draining on the person giving the care, because of all the worry we go through. And with the health care system as it is, we have to be strong advocates for those we’re caring for.

I have had to make numerous phone calls to track down the right specialist to take on a new manifestation of the illness that was once easily diagnosed. I have had to yell at interns until someone listened. And I have cried on my own when I couldn’t take anymore, but I couldn’t let anyone else see how overwhelmed I was.

I think care giving is humbling and an important role in life. We do it because we love, and because we care. And because we care we give of ourselves.