Every Day is a New Day

Too often we begin a new day with regrets for what he didn’t accomplish the day before.  That is just a waste of time.  We cannot change yesterday, but we can change today.  Look forward, not backward.  Plan your day around positive thoughts.  Move ahead and stop looking back.  While the past is with us, we don’t need to let it completely affect the future. 

Learning lessons from the past is always important, even if those lessons are hurtful, but we don’t need to dwell on them.  Acknowledge what you have learned and adjust accordingly.  Look forward to at least one thing every day.  Find the tiny bits of joy in each day, and focus on those.  You get to choose your focus, your actions and re-actions.  Begin each day just as it is…a new beginning.

Coming Undone

I have written and re-written this post a few times, and am just not thrilled with what I’ve written, so here I go again.  For years I have ignored depression, sadness and betrayal over and over again.  In my twenties I actually broke down and went into counseling, however, as soon as I realized the extent of the issues I needed to face, I quit counseling and continued to carry on, stuffing my problems into various boxes – physical abuse, verbal abuse and emotional abuse and then nailed the covers shut.

Through my work with the elderly, I know that this is not a solution.  Many of my elderly women clients had never dealt with their traumas and betrayals and were looking down their final years in a state of depression and extreme regret.  While I realized that this was no way to live – these lovely, hurt women were testament to this – I was aware that I also was heading in the same direction.

Of course, me being me, I did nothing to rectify this.  Why not?  The simple truth is that from the time I was born, I was told over and over again that I was unworthy.  Born long before accurate tests, the doctor told my mother I was a boy – they got a girt to their everlasting regret.  Not only that, I was a breach birth – so was “trouble” directly out of the womb.  In fact, my nickname was “Little Miss Trouble”, and it was assumed that no matter what happened, it was my fault.   Of course, my older sister took advantage of this to cover her own naughtiness, because who wouldn’t?

There were emotional, verbal and physical abuses aplenty during my childhood.  Many of these I have excused and refused to acknowledge for years and years.  No, it’s not normal to restrict food to the point that your child can’t sleep because they are so hungry.  No wonder I’ve had food issues for most of my life.  It took me until last year to admit to myself that this was not normal, and in fact was abuse.

Facing my issues and actually dealing with the legacy of them is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  Realizing that I was systematically treated as “less than” and “worthless” by my own birth family has been heart-breaking, but also has led me to realize why I treat myself so badly and accept the abuse when my husband, son and sons’ girlfriend heap abuse onto me.  I believe that I must be punished simply for being alive. 

My many fantastic coping mechanisms are failing – which is why I am coming undone.  As a child I hid between the covers of books and that I can still do.  But I have lost my abilities to deliberately forget abusive comments and actions.  I am working toward wellness with the help of therapy.  I will share what I learn about coping and healing.  I sincerely hope that you all are in a better place where your physical, mental and emotional health is held in loving, supportive hands.

Believe in Yourself

Belief in ourselves is one of the hardest things to achieve.  While it’s typical to remember all the negative things that we do and that other people may say about us, we need to focus on the positive aspects of life.  Creating negative commentary in our heads that we then listen to leads to an over-abundance of negativity that we subject ourselves to.

One way to promote belief in yourself can be to write down each positive action every day and look over your list before bed every night.  Write down your list and make sure that you don’t forget any positive actions or thoughts.  Paying bills is a positive action, washing the dishes, going to work, tackling that organizational project – all are positive things that you should pat yourself on the back for.  And, taking credit for all those little things – and any big things, too, is how you build up your belief in yourself. 

Positive thoughts can help you take on the larger and scarier obstacles to your happiness.  Creating change in your life requires at least some belief in yourself.  Trying to change while still feeling full of doubts usually doesn’t lead to lasting changes.  Although, if you tie it to positively thinking about yourself and your journey, that can lead to lasting change.

While I am well aware of the fact that thinking positively about yourself is an extremely difficult thing to do, I encourage you to try your best.  This is something that I have struggled with my entire life, and I really don’t want to see any other person caught in a situation that seems to be beyond their control to change. 

When I worked with the elderly, there were only a few of the women clients that believed in themselves.  The rest of the women were full of doubts and regrets for the way their lives had played out.  For a variety of reasons, they had no self-belief and questioned why their lives did not meet their expectations.  While most of these people deferred to their family members for the large decisions in their lives, many of them never took the steps to create the life they wanted.  Their regret for not doing so was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.  So, think positively about yourself.  Remember to give yourself credit for your actions and accomplishments – the small as well as the large – build your self-belief up, and you will find it easier to create the life you dream of.

February – it May be Short, but it’s Tough!

Why is February such a tough month?  Personally, for me, there is a lot to love about this wintry month – my daughter was born this month – during a snowstorm to be exact – because what else would be going on in February?  But even so, I have a hard time.  I think that cabin-fever starts to strike right around now.  This year has been even more difficult since we’ve been on lock-down for over a year, and there seems to be no end in sight.  I’ve only been to the grocery store, one trip to Walmart, and outside pick-up at the library for over a year and oh yes, I’ve been to the Transfer Station (dump) weekly.

We’ve had either wind-chills in the below zero’s or lots of snow for almost a week at this point, so no daily walks.  Yes, I am getting a little loopy.  Between the cold and the snow, I feel like I’ve had enough, but we still have the rest of the month to get through plus March and April – snowstorms have come through in both March and April – whee!   When will it end?  And, of course the rain and mud are going to appear right after the snow.  See where I’m going with this?  I’m on a loopy loop! 

One of the things that I’ve been using to occupy my time is that I’ve started watching Call the Midwife on Netflix. (I recently finally finished watching Supernatural which left a huge hole in my emotional life).  This has helped, since it gives me a chance to think about something else.  Anything that helps with occupying my mind is great as far as I’m concerned, and of course I’ve still got my nose in as many books as I can.

But, now, after a year of lock-down I am finally getting antsy.  Hopefully the snow and cold will let up so that I can go on my daily walks.  With the vaccine, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we just have to keep trudging on toward it.  Do you know the quote on trudging from A Knight’s Tale?

So, let’s trudge together – at least in spirit – and try to find the bright side – snow is beautiful, fires in wood stoves are captivating, and cold wind can be refreshing.  See, see?  There is always a bright side.  Trudge on…I’m with you.

We Need to Say Something

Well over 440,000 people are dead.  They are Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Fathers, Sons, Brothers…they are us, only unfortunate enough to no longer be here.  There are untold numbers of family members, friends and colleagues grieving, and I don’t see their pain being addressed in any kind of a meaningful way.

During the Trump administration the talking points from the White House were to ignore the deaths and the destruction that the Pandemic has caused.  This new administration has plans and has addressed the pain and grief that so many of us are feeling.  However, the need to do something is vital, and while there are plans, not enough people are wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.  In fact, there are still plenty of people out there who seem to love yelling against and defying science – scientific facts should not be ignored, especially by people with no specific scientific background.  We should not rely on getting our “facts” from people on social media who have no actual scientific knowledge. 

While the internet is a great tool, we need to check out who the authors are and where their knowledge has come from.  Was the study paid for by the industry who is looking for “facts” to support it?  For example, the tobacco industry is still funding “studies” that claim tobacco does not cause lung cancer.  The same is true of oil industry funded studies that claim fossil fuel doesn’t cause climate change.  Receiving facts from independently funded studies with peer reviews is the best way to gain knowledge. 

To return to my comments about how many people have died (world-wide that number is over two million), be kind to one another.  Treat each other with the care you would take with your own family and friends.  Look out for each other.  Wear your masks, social distance and keep each other safe and healthy.

Starting from Where you Are

I don’t know if you do this, but one of my fondest dreams is that I wake up in the morning and I’m suddenly the person I want to be and have the life that I want to have.  I get up and do all those things that I know I should do, and not only that, but I do them well.  My life is organized, it runs smoothly, I get everything done that I want to get done.  My writing life is simple and prolific, my family is wonderful and my house is perfectly organized.  Then reality strikes when I wake up with the same unorganized, messed-up life I went to bed with – what a tremendous disappointment!

Most of us want to change either a few things, or lots of things.  It’s the actual work of changing that we have problems with.  To literally undertake change is uncomfortable, time consuming and difficult.  Old habits are hard to break, each thought and action requires a consciousness that is deliberate and has to be maintained in order to implement lasting change.  In other words, it’s hard.  And that’s where the problems begin.

Maintaining norms is easy, requires no planning, and in many ways is automatic.  Living for some fantasy life is easier than creating it.  Fantasizing about “someday” helps us stay safe in our unhappy present, but creates even more misery in our lives.   Changing can upset the status quo, can make other people in our lives uncomfortable (sometimes to the point of their sabotaging our efforts), and this agitation can be difficult to say the least.

So, what do we do?  Reflection on how dedicated we are to living our best life can help.  Sometimes the status quo needs to be destroyed.  There are reasons for us being unhappy, and if your routine is making you unhappy, it’s a good bet that a perpetually disordered life is not helping your family either.   Also, there is a lot to be said for fulfilling your goals, your aspirations and not always living for someone else.

Start where you are.  If you are unable to make the huge changes you want to make right this moment, break them down into steps and work on those.  If your health is an issue, work on creating a healthy meal plan, walk around the block, mediate or just sit in silence every day.  Take care of yourself in small ways, do whatever it is that you can do right now to walk toward your best self.  Don’t insist that you have to change it all right now.  I can tell you from experience that it seldom works that way.  Take small steps if that’s what you can do at this time.  Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.

 

Taking Responsibility

One of the hardest things to do is to take responsibility.  Managing to do this requires self-knowledge and admitting that your actions may have added to the problem.  No one likes to take responsibility.  And there are many things that happen to us that are completely out of our control.  As an example, when my son was eleven, he was run over by a car – he didn’t cause this, and he bears no responsibility.  He was lucky as the remaining problems include only knuckle issues on one hand.  Obviously, this accident was not his responsibility – the woman driving the car was talking to her children with her head turned toward them and not the road.  However, what he was responsible for was what he did after coming home from his (three day) stay at the hospital.  Being eleven-years-old, he didn’t want to do his physical therapy, but did anyway – with some major urging from both his parents.  So now, he can use his hand normally, although it aches horribly in cold and damp weather.  With help, he did what he needed to do in order to “fix” the issues to the extent that he was able to, in other words, with encouragement he took responsibility for his actions.

I’ve been thinking about responsibility for a while now.  I have been hiding my head in the sand with regard to a lot of issues that make me seriously depressed and unhappy.  Like most people I’d like to state that none of my problems are my fault and that I don’t have any responsibilities toward them.  This is a lie.  Of course, I can’t change other people, but I can change myself and how I act.  So, I’ve been looking at issues in my life – some are easy – organizational or cleaning.  Some are difficult and require me to look at how I can change my reactions and actions – those are the most difficult ones.  Depression and long-held beliefs regarding self-worth, etc. are difficult to deal with.  A person needs to commit to change, do the hard work, and hopefully come out the other side.

Part of being a human is that we change.  Hopefully we change for the better, but often we get stuck.  Sometimes we simply give up.  I’m tired of giving up.  I’m tired of not changing for the better.  I’ve been looking at my problems and have decided that it’s time I change what I can change.  I need to become the person I was meant to be.  It’s now or never time, and never is not an option – we are given one life and need to make it the best it can be.  Become yourself.  Be brave and take responsibility for your own life.

January 6, 2021

At the moment, I still can’t wrap my head around what happened last week.  What we all saw was something that happens in other countries, not in the USA.  If we take a little slide into history we can see where the seeds were sown, and how they were encouraged to bloom into five (maybe more) dead.

During the Reagan era, 138 members of his administration were investigated, indicated, or convicted for various scandals.  Reagan helped to bring more corruption into Washington – not that the corruption needed too much help.  Reagan also put “trickle-down economics” in place.  This is a scheme to give the rich as much money as you can, while telling everyone else that this stolen money will magically “trickle down” on the rest of us.  With our Federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, and billionaires proliferating into trillionaires we can see how well this has worked (sarcasm).  Reagan also worked as hard as he could to destroy and demonize unions.  This is still going on today as the GOP puts out propaganda against unions almost continuously.  Since Reagan was able to hide behind “family values” and ignore the AIDS epidemic, he and his fellow Republicans self-righteously caused many more deaths than there should have been. 

If we follow these actions, we can see how this led to the GOP’s problems.  They have made making money off the misfortunes of others; for example buying stock in companies that make body-bags at the beginning of the Pandemic; passing laws that were written by lawyers working for the actual industries (oil, Wall Street, etc.) that the laws were initially intended to control; and raising taxes on the poor while lowering taxes on the rich (the top .01% of the rich); keeping federal minimum wages at $7.25/hour while telling the middle class that all the problems in the country are caused by the poor, people of color and “illegal immigrants”.   By ignoring and villainizing the people who died of AIDS, Reagan and the GOP actually helped acclimate their followers to the idea that AIDS didn’t exist (and if it did), blame the victims, and additionally demonize science by disregarding it.  This was the beginning of the belief that science really isn’t factual.

So, the actual seeds to our problems today were initially sown years ago.  FOX News watered them, other “news” outlets poured plant-grower on them, and the GOP helped to legitimize them.  But the real problem is the people who believe everything they hear and see.  There is little critical thinking going on.  This is also a problem caused by the GOP in their race to de-fund education.  See, for years we’ve been de-funding many programs around the country.  Public education has been replaced with “magnate” and/or “charter” schools.  These schools are often run by large businesses with an agenda.   Look up Betsy DeVos schools.  These schools often have a curriculum that “white-washes” history and/or simply ignores history that may be uncomfortable to their “preferred” student – white and Christian.  There is little to no critical thinking being taught.  Even teachers have problems with talking about critical thinking.  Much of the way that students are taught relies on rote learning and repeating back what the teacher said. 

What happened on January 6th was the culmination of these various factors.  After all, the electoral college not only elected a President who has told over 30,000 verifiable lies over the last four years, but he did not even win the majority of votes.  However, instead of being called lies, the media calls them disinformation.  Disinformation is lying.  Remember that.

When a mob of violent domestic terrorists invades a federal building with the intent to kill legitimately elected officials, we need to call it what it is.  Sedition, insurrection, DOMESTIC TERRORISM.  We cannot let any of these individuals, including the GOP legislators who helped incite this, “get away” with these actions.  Bludgeoning Officer Sicknick to death, destroying property, stealing mail, urinating on federal property, writing on walls with fecal matter, bringing bombs, guns and other material with the intent to blow up and kill any number of people is NOT peacefully protesting.  Arrest and charge to the fullest extent of the law.  There should be no uniting with these terrorists.  Have each one of them go to jail for the fullest extent of their sentence.  Shut down the lies.  Educate.  And, once and for all, white people, realize you are a world-wide MINORITY!  As whites, we are not superior to any other person.

6 Million Wasn’t Enough

I am heart-broken.  I am angry.  The hate I saw on those faces threw me and others into depression. Many of these people claim to be Christian, so do why aren’t they following Jesus Christ?  Do whatever it is that you can do to support democracy.  Pay attention to what is going on around you, when you see injustice speak out against it.  But most of all, be kind.  Treat others as you would like to be treated.   Nothing happens in a vacuum, what effects one, effects everyone, for we are all one.

Working on Goals

Sometimes when we make goals, we are really setting ourselves up for disappointment.  We enter a new year with grandiose ideas that this is the year that we will completely change our lives.  While in theory that seems like a fabulous idea, the reality is really quite different.  Changing our lives is a process, and when we set extremely high goals with no thought-out plan to attain them, we set ourselves up for failure.

The question of whether or not we unconsciously set ourselves up to actually fail is not one that I’m going to get into here.  While that conversation can be enlightening, what I really want to do is to help you actually work toward your goals, and eventually attain them.  And, in that way I can also help myself do the same.  After all, having a conversation is helpful for many reasons.

So, how do you not fail? I’ll use one of my 2021 goals as an example:  Over the past year, I gained back all the weight I lost (I swear, those potato chips just jumped into my mouth with no help from me)!  Instead of making a goal that I will lose a certain amount of weight this year, my goals are two-fold:  a) I will make healthier meals and snacks using various vegan cookbooks; b) I will get back into working out every morning along with my 2+ mile walks (with my puppy).  As you can see, there is no set weight that I’m moving toward, and I’ve worded my goals with health in mind.  Who among us doesn’t want to be healthier?  As we age, both our diets need to improve and our physical selves need to be more active.  So, instead of a set weight goal, I’ve focused on health and fitness.  I also did not focus on the negative – you will lose x number of pounds by the end of the year.  I’ve found that goals like that just make me crazy and make me crash and burn – after all, I have a hard time following “rules” and will do almost anything in order to circumvent them – up to and including binge eating just to sabotage a weight goal.  Yes, I do have authoritarian issues, and have been known to cut off my nose to spite my face.

Other goals for this year include writing and publishing goals, house and personal organization and reading the non-fiction books that I’ve been acquiring for many years.  Most of these have to do with self-improvement and I’ve been meaning to read them for a while now.  So, the plan for reading is one non-fiction book a month. 

Organization is an on-going issue for me.  My house is stuffed with not only my things, but my husband’s, my son’s and his girlfriend’s (my daughter’s things are mostly confined to her room, so that’s not a problem).  While I can’t do anything about their “things”, I can go through mine and decide what I want to keep.  This goal is perfect for setting down actual steps regarding each room and closet to clear out.  Again, I’m not going to overwhelm myself, so I plan on taking the entire year to finish, if that is what it takes.  I’ve found that weekly steps work well with this type of goal, so I’ll split everything up into monthly goals and weekly steps. 

What goals have you made for this year?  How are you going about attaining them?  Let me know – maybe we can all learn improved ways of fulfilling our goals.  Good luck.

It’s the End of…

As 2020 winds down, how are you doing?  This has been a terrible year world-wide for millions, if not more, people.  How did we survive?  I gained weight, but not an alcohol problem.  I stopped working out, but not my daily walk.  My family has been extremely lucky since four of the members of my household are considered to be essential worker, no one has gotten sick (knock wood). 

There is some light at the end of the tunnel.  Hopefully most people will be able to get vaccinated in the next six months, if not sooner.  Are you going to take the vaccine?  I think that a lot of people have questions and worries about it, but I’m mostly sure that I’ll take if when and if I can get it.  Of course, being able to get it may be a problem.

I hope that we’ve all come out of 2020 with some positive experiences.  I hope that your family relationships have improved, that you’ve perhaps leaned some new skills – learning how to amuse yourself is a good thing to know.  If you’ve been alone, be of good cheer…hopefully your isolation will be ending within six months or so.  

I know that I’m looking forward to the end of the Pandemic, and I’m sure you are too.  One of my take-aways from this year of restricted interactions has been that I’ve realized how good I am at amusing myself.  Reading has saved me.  But not only reading, I’ve gotten really good at my game of choice, Destiny.  I’ve watched more Netflix than I want to admit to, and adopting a puppy was probably the best thing I’ve done this year. 

So, even though this has been a year unlike all others, it wasn’t entirely horrible.  I started the thinking that the most life-changing experience that was going to happen to me was that I would be embarking on a new decade of my life, but I was wrong.  When I hit that milestone, I realized how lucky I was that I am alive, healthy and able to stay in my home.  This was my biggest learning lesson of the year.  Be grateful for what you have.  Hopefully this is not a lesson that I will forget.  I’m looking forward to 2021 with hope, joy and gratitude.  I wish the absolute best for all of you.  Happy 2021!