Archive for the ‘thankfulness’ Tag

A few things 

Here we are, more than two weeks after my last post, and I’m copping out with another listy post. Truth is that I want to write more, better, and more frequently, but I am in my own way. My inner critic and the demands of my daily life sometimes overwhelm my creative urge to express. The simple goal of one post per week for the remainder of the year seemed so reasonable and achievable when I set it a few months ago. But it has proved much more challenging than it should be. 

Still, I want to write, so I’m writing. Even if it’s just that paragraph and the following list, it’s something. I set the goal for myself, so any progress is also for me and I’m counting this as some (small) progress. 

So here goes, a few things I want to share:

  • Wil Wheaton, actor and author and Internet personality, is someone whose work I admire. Truthfully, on the basis of only his public persona and online commentary, he himself is someone whom I admire, in addition to his creative works. I’ve followed his blog for a couple of years and almost always find in it something to think about, laugh at, or learn from. I love the wit and intelligence I perceive in his writing. This week he posted, as he does not infrequently, about his struggle with mental illness. I so admire his honesty and willingness to be vulnerable about his condition for the sake of helping others. Read his post, please. Even if you don’t struggle with depression, this is a message on self care and realness with yourself that everyone needs to hear. I got a lot out of it and I hope you will too. 
  • Summer time is awesome. I don’t do as much outside as I should, but I still appreciate gorgeous blue skies, warm breezes and sunshine. 😎☀️👍🏻
  • As my work responsibilities have increased over the years, I have grown to deeply appreciate the exceptional benefit that is the work of a good executive assistant. The amount of burden and bother an EA lifts off the shoulders of anyone they serve is enormous! I’m so so lucky that my boss’s EA does so much for me. She’s just volunteered to do a job for me next week that is absolutely not her responsibility, but will save me a half a day of lost productivity, the value of which far surpasses the dollar value of my time and hers. It sounds overly effusive to the point of being fake, but I am genuinely overwhelmed with gratitude that she’s taking that off my hands. Perhaps that speaks somewhat to the level of stress I’m working with right now. Probably. But it also says a lot about how valuable a good assistant is. 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of sunshine and things to feel grateful for. 

Pasting on the positivity

I promised I’d stop whining and pull myself out of the funk I’ve fallen into lately. And, to show that I am not churlishly unwilling to ‘look on the bright side’ as I have been admonished to do, I’m challenging myself to find at least one thing in each day for the rest of the week that is positive, uplifting, or for which I am thankful.

This is me faking it ’til I make it–deliberate positivity until it becomes natural. Paste on a smile and marshal onward.

So for today, Wednesday March 11, 2015, I’m happy and thankful for the Spring-like sunshine warming my office. It gives me hope that the frigid winter is coming to an end and the greening of the countryside will soon begin. Sunshine is a great cleanser, it drives out the gloom from both sky and heart and irradiates away the germs of melancholy. I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to view the sky outside my window and enjoy the warm rays while I work.

Anything in particular you are happy about or thankful for today? Let me know in the comments.

May your day be full of sunshine, even if only in your spirit. 😃☀️👍

From the gut

Stretched. Pressured. Burdened. Constrained. Laboring under expectation. Pulled in every direction. In demand. Responsible. Needled. Tightly wound. Everything is too loud, too bright, too demanding. Swirling. Dizzy. Confused. Irritated. Annoyed. Anxious. Unsettled. On edge.

These are some of the things I’m feeling right now.

“Why” doesn’t matter. “How to fix it” isn’t the aim of this post. Sometimes you just need to say some things “out loud” (as it were), to take away their power by admitting that they exist.

My life is good, blessed, full to the brim with great things–love, family, friends, health, plenty, to name a few. But, like all of us, I have challenges, obstacles, stressors in my life. From time to time, I get to a point where the stressors swamp my brain’s ability to balance them against the always more numerous blessings in my life.

That’s when I begin to feel too much. Noise and light and smells and people’s voices and insignificant irritations (wind, dust, cold, scratchy clothing, inane remarks, intelligence-insulting tv commercials, etc.) all become needles that prick at my skin and psyche and sense of equilibrium until something breaks. It’s usually my temper and it’s usually at the least significant thing.

Most times that breaking of temper manifests in me shouting or throwing something in the solitude of my car or office or bedroom. Aside from the occasional snapping at a sales guy or speaking more sharply than I intend in making a point, I am usually pretty good at not taking my temper out on others, especially innocents. But the irrational temper tantrums nevertheless happen.

They shame me. I despise that loss of control. Worse is if someone does get an unintended blast of that temper; I’m doubly ashamed of the lapse and the unwarranted discomfort inflicted on the innocent. So I actively suppress my emotions and consciously control my reactions. But I don’t always succeed.

There’s no neat and tidy resolution to this post or the conditions I’ve described. Taking time to be silent and solitary is rarely possible as, like most of us, there are people who depend on me and who need my time and attention. Sleeping more is a pipe dream for the same reasons. Vacation, travel, spa days, all suffer the same shortcomings: time, money, competing priorities. And drink and drugs (of all kinds) are out of the question for me.

So, this is my stop-gap, to vent my frustrations into the ether via this blog. I’ll survive and get past the fug of this bout of stress-induced meh. It does help to just say it to another person, to know that there’s at least one other soul in the universe who knows that a struggle is happening, even if no one can do anything about it.

Therefore, consider this my confession to the sisterhood of unresolved frustration: I’m irritated and fighting to not let it rule me, even if the irrational 2 year old in my head is screaming to throw all the things in reach and take temporary satisfaction from the shattering.

Positively Thankful

Last year I participated in the 30 days of thankfulness blog challenge in November, timed to coincide with the US Thanksgiving holiday. I fully support the challenge and it’s underlying principle that we all have much to be thankful for and intentionally counting our blessings is a healthy exercise. But I also believe that it can help turn around a sour mood and refocus the mind on blessing in general, regardless of the date on the calendar.

And so, because I find myself grappling with a major bout of negativity, doubt and anxiety, I am going to practice intentional positivity and thankfulness. I don’t know if I will do the entire month, or just today, but I know that even one day of focusing on the positives in my life will help push back the dark wave of negativity that seems to be looming over me.

This morning I’m thankful for:

– My Lulu, who is a blessing and comfort, especially when I am not good for much when I’m suffering a headache.

– A delicious lunch packed and ready for me to grab on the way out the door by a thoughtful and generous sister in law.

– Clear blue skies and a glorious sunrise after nearly two weeks if gray and rain.

– A small reclamation of the water tables by two weeks of rain and cooler temps.

– The freedom and ease of a safe neighborhood, loving family and an income sufficient to my needs.

There is so much more to be thankful for in my life, but those are top of mind this morning.

My positive intention for the day:

Ignore the discomfort of aches in the body, doubts in the mind, insecurity in the spirit and embrace the day. Do what you can, plan for what must wait for tomorrow, and let go the burden that is not yours to carry.

Thankful for…the joy of gifting

As you prob’ly know by know from some of my grumbling on Twitter, I don’t like to shop. In fact, I hate it and avoid it as much as possible, save for the online variety and a trip to Walgreens every few weeks. But the problem is that shopping is a necessary evil when it comes to giving gifts to the people I care about. Even the hand-made gifts I try to give require shopping for supplies. I just hate dealing with crowds and noise and sensory overload, all endemic to retail shopping. But I do it, because I really love giving gifts.

There’s a part of me that feels a tiny bit guilty that giving presents to people makes me feel so good. It’s as if the act of giving and the joy the receiver feels is somehow diminished or re-directed to me, instead of staying on the gift’s recipient. But that’s just a micro-fraction of the overall sensation of giddiness and fun that I get from choosing just the right thing for someone I love.

So today, I butched-up and went shopping. I joined in on Small Business Saturday, a movement all around the US to focus holiday shopping dollars on local small businesses. It’s a commendable goal. Keeping small businesses alive helps keep entrepreneurism alive. And so many small businesses focus on the uniqueness of hand crafted items, which makes giving even more special.

I can’t say what I purchased, or even the genre, because that would spoil the surprise for a few folks. But I can say that I’m excited for the holiday season and the joy of giving thoughtful, fun gifts customized to the recipient. The anticipation is already building. And with each gift wrapped, each package sent, the reflected joy of giving builds up in my soul and makes my enjoyment of the holidays fly high.

I’m thankful for the people in my life and the joy they bring to me and I’m happy and thankful for the blessing of joy I receive from giving a tiny bit back to each dear one in the form of small gifts selected with care just for them.

I’ve enjoyed this 30 Days of Thankfulness writing challenge and the insights into my own happiness that the self-examination has wrought. I’m thankful that you’ve shared it with me, too.

Thankful for…bookstores

Don’t get me wrong, in many noble and community-minded ways, libraries trump bookstores by a long way. But specifically today, when madness of crowds seems to be the rule everywhere we go, I’m thankful for the bookstore.

Despite the occasional screaming kid in the kids section, the bookstore is a welcome harbor of relative peace in the midst of the throngs of people. I don’t do well with crowds and I really despise shopping at the best of times. But I’m out today to support my sister-in-law who does so very much for me. She loves this shopping madness and wanted to dive into it, but wouldn’t go alone. I couldn’t let her miss her fun, after all she does for me.

But I’m so thankful for the welcome break of relative quiet the bookstore offers. While she braves the genuine madness of ToysRUs (I just am not that brave!) on Black Friday, I’m ensconced in a quiet corner of the coffee shop inside B&N, typing this post, having a cool drink, and resting from the sensory overload after the mall.

Though I feel mildly guilty for experiencing a rush of relief at getting to hunker in this corner, I’m hugely grateful that the book shop is here and they offer this oasis of rest.

Good things to drink, nice smells from the coffee & pastries, and a table and high-backed booth to offer a welcome separation from the press of shoppers–all are part of the blessing I find in having a bookstore at the shopping center.

I suppose I should have butched-up and offered to run the toy-gauntlet with her. But since I didn’t, I’m going to enjoy this short season of reprieve and read a book, sip my craft soda or maybe a latte, and stay out of the way of the power-shoppers.

Happy Friday to all.

Thankful for…tradition

Today, Thanksgiving Day in the US, is a day of traditions. Throughout the US, family’s of all shapes and sizes will engage in a lot of holiday-esque activities, eating, making merry, giving thanks in myriad ways, and keeping a dizzying array of traditions alive.

This day is a big day of small traditions for my family. My family is small and we’ve always been more focused on Christmas and New Year’s Day, over Thanksgiving. But we do still have a few traditions that we try to keep alive.

My favorite is the actual giving of thanks. We have a practice of starting the Thanksgiving meal with a prayer of gratitude, followed by a recitation of the one thing each person gathered there is most thankful for. Holding the hand of the person next to you during prayer connects us all together. Focusing, at least for that few minutes of solemn gratitude, on the gifts in our lives is a powerful means of bringing perspective to lives that sometimes get so routine that the blessings get lost in the stress. And letting each person speak uninterrupted, listening to each person’s confession of blessedness, is often quite moving.

Another tradition my family kept all through my childhood is the delivery of meals to the less fortunate in our church and neighborhood. Often, we found ourselves at a nursing home or hospital, shaking hands, giving meals and singing to those who had no family to bring them holiday cheer. I’ve let that slip away in recent years, I’m ashamed to say. I need to get back into that habit. That tradition has a purpose beyond the giver’s blessing and it’s a great boon to those who receive.

The holiday meal itself, is a tradition. The turkey or ham, potatoes or stuffing, green bean casserole or salad, and pies or cakes…all of it has a special significance for each family. Growing up, my family rarely had turkey on Thanksgiving. Instead we either had a ham and all the side dishes, if my mom prepared the meal, or a steak and potato meal from my dad. Today, we’re having a turkey cooked in a rotisserie, stuffing and gravy, and cranberry sauce–very American traditional.

Then there’s the entertainment. Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, playing cards and board games and, most important, the football! Friendly (or not so friendly?) competition between siblings and cousins in the silliest imaginable games has always been a part of my family’s holiday tradition. The flag football, an American staple, isn’t such a big deal for my clan. But cribbage? That’s a hotly contested event for us. And watch out for sneak canasta tournament take-overs!!

All in, this holiday has always been about family. These traditions get perpetuated and expanded or contracted, depending on the year’s attendance. But always, there is a familiar atmosphere of festivity, excitement and gratefulness to be together.

I’m thankful today for all the countless blessings in my life, including the tradition of giving thanks, recounting blessedness, and gathering with loved ones.

May your Thanksgiving Day bring you blessings.

Thankful for…my crew

I don’t talk about my job all that much, other than the occasional grumble about bone-headed sales guys and the odd mention of the stress I feel sometimes. But I have mentioned that I’m an in-house attorney for a software company and that I really love my job.

One of the things that makes it great is the fact that I work with great people. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful staff of skilled, smart, hard-working lawyers, paralegals and administrators. They are an amazing team. Together, the ten of us handle all customer-facing legal matters for the company’s operations in the Western Hemisphere. Mine is a billion dollar plus company, so that’s a LOT of business!

Without the hard work and dedication of my team, neither I nor my company could survive for long in this business. They do all manner of small miracles and favors and magic tricks to get the work of multitudes done by just a handful of folks and in a time-frame that is mind-boggling in the context of the amount of work performed.

The cool thing is that they all have a positive attitude and a get-it-done mentality. Though they definitely feel the pressure and occasionally snap at a sales guy or three, they like their jobs and do them well. They like each other, work hard and look out for the company’s interests. They are a cohesive unit and are engaged, enjoying (mostly) what they do. As a manager, I can’t ask for more than that. They inspire my admiration and respect every day.

I’m grateful today for the help and camaraderie of a fabulous team of great people.

Thankful for…catharsis

I’ll try to keep it a short one today, because I’ll follow it with a much longer post of a different sort. I’ve been working through a lot of stuff this year, pulling my mental and emotional s&@t together and examining who I am. For the most part it’s been a positive, uplifting experience. But there are times when it really all gets to be too much.

The last couple of days, and several days sporadically over the last couple of weeks, have been fraught with emotion and high tension. Sunday night was full to bursting with roiling, powerful, stressful emotion. But it was a tipping point. The discussion that stretched late into the night and the painful yet necessary examination of a lot of different feelings (eeeew!) seems to have been the key that unlocked the blockage in my head.

I’ve had a set of thoughts weighing heavily on my heart and mind for weeks now. But they just wouldn’t gel into a coherent post. But the release of the last couple of days, together with the patience and compassion of my beloved, has loosened the binding and allowed my thoughts to coalesce.

Make no mistake, the result is raw and the release doesn’t solve the underlying issue. But siphoning off some of the boiling angst into a semi-cogent essay and setting it free into the universe lifts my spirits immensely. It frees me to deal with the core issue, rather than the distracting feelings.

So, today I’m thankful for the catharsis of unburdening my spirit and the love of my Lulu, who provided a safe, supportive, non-judgmental space for me to do so.

Thankful for…forgiveness

Everyone knows that sick, sinking feeling when you discover you’ve messed up and hurt someone you care for deeply. That remorse can be sharp and long-lasting, regardless the size of your blunder, if the pain you caused your loved one is acute or aggravated by emotion. No one likes to be a screw-up, to be the cause of anguish to a loved one. And no one likes to be the one who gets hurt.

That’s why forgiveness is such a miraculous gift. It’s not an obligation for the person who is hurt to forgive. No one is entitled to it by right.

Rather, forgiveness is an act of charity of the heart, a gift freely given in spite of cause to the contrary. In my view, it is evidence of that unseen, intangible, undefinable force that shapes lives: love. I honestly believe that forgiveness of any significant wrong is impossible without some level of love, in one of its myriad forms, between the forgiver and the forgiven. Which, in turn, makes the gift of forgiveness even more significant, rare and beautiful.

Whenever I find that I have hurt someone, no matter how slight the offense, I feel the sick regret and the rebuke of my conscience sharply. I hate causing pain and disappointment. So I also feel each gift of forgiveness as deeply. The blessing is profound.

I am so grateful that the ones who love me in this world have gifted me their forgiveness.

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