The List

As the 5 year anniversary of my Mom’s passing approaches, my mind goes back to the months following that day. As many of you understand, the first year after the loss of a loved one is full of firsts — firsts days, first weeks, first months and so on. In the midst of this comes the first holidays, birthdays and anniversaries and no clearcut guidelines as to how to approach and deal with these events. Looking back, the first few months are a blur and I really don’t know just how I processed those first few months, especially that first Mothers’ Day — I just know I did. As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approached, I found it to be more difficult than I though it would be — you know what I mean. It had been several months and I was “supposed to” be getting on with my life and starting to heal, but that wasn’t the case. Because of this I knew that I would have to make a concerted effort to bring my focus back to where it needed to be. My Mom would not want me moping around feeling sorry for myself and missing out on the true purpose of these holidays, so I made a plan and, thankfully, I stuck to it. Sometime in October I made my mind up that on November 1st, I would start a list of things I am thankful for and post it to Facebook each and every day the month of November. Looking back, it really did allow me to search for things that were a positive in my life and there were many. I also chose to stop posting them after November 30th; that doesn’t mean that I stopped being thankful, it simply means that I make it a more private endeavor — and the things became more and more personal as Christmas approached, but the habit was in place. For that I am very thankful because I needed the focus for a while longer. For some reason, I kept that paper with my list — I guess it was a symbol of how strong I could be when necessary; then I lost track of that list, or so I thought…

While going through some papers the other day, that list reappeared and at that moment I remembered why I had put it in that place. It was one of those days that I needed a pick-me-up and I was not disappointed. In honor of April 23, 2009, I want to share this list with you. Please keep in mind that the list you are reading is a much condensed version of what I posted each day to Facebook in November of 2009, but I am still thankful for each and every one of them. I hope this list brings positive things to your mind.

I am thankful for:  You, yes you…God is… True Friends… Music… Family… Forgiveness… Freedom… Today… Military… Veterans & their Families… Inspired Writers… Justin… Change of Seasons… Laughter… Andy… Andy’s continued employment… Memories… Random Acts of Kindness… Conversation and Dialogue… Andy’s Contest Entry & win… Another Day… Time with Mom… In-laws… Joy… Thanksgiving… Relationships… Love… Anniversaries… Simple Pleasures…

When originally posted, I expanded on some of these a little, others a great deal and still others were simply left alone — it all depended upon how much I chose to share at  the time. At first sight of this list the other day a smile immediately came to my face and a lot of emotions followed — yes some sad, but mainly happy. While it is true I am a fairly private person, I needed to share this list 5 years ago, but I also need to share this now. Looking back, my list is in no way complete — it doesn’t even come close to covering all that came to my mind while I was doing it. This list helped me through a tough time, but more importantly, it taught me that I could and would make it through a very rough time in my life. I hope those of you that are going through something will be inspired to find your strength to persevere and push forward.

My Mom is no longer here with us, but her spirit, her memories and her energy will always be a part of my life. Was my relationship with my Mom perfect? Absolutely not, but there are plenty of good things and pleasant memories I have to keep her alive in my heart. Maybe one day I will write a blog on her, but we will have to see about that.

 

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

Merry Christmas — and a day full of Peace!

Ah Christmas — that free-flowing, relaxed, pressure free time that we can just put out feet up and enjoy those around us!! Those around us are those that we hold most dear and just enjoy having around all year-long; no pressure, no stress and of course no guilt!  Such a wonderful time of the year!

Wait — What?  You think I am crazy? Well, the jury is still out on that, but you may have a point about my opening statement. Most of us, myself included have had the exact opposite of the peaceful, joy filled experience referenced above at least once in our lives. We live in a time where there is much pressure in place to make the Holidays “just so,” throw the “perfect party,” or simply find “the” gift; we feel the need to match someone else’s idea of Holiday cheer or be labeled a failure by others, or even worse, by ourselves. If for some reason we don’t spend enough, look long enough or labor hard enough, our Holiday is a complete disaster and we may as well have just thrown in the towel to begin with because we knew from the outset that we were just not up to snuff, so why did we even try?!  WHY oh WHY can’t Christmas just be over already!!???

OK  — STOP!!!  Breathe… good.  Inhale…Exhale…good. Repeat as necessary — I’ll wait for you!  🙂 Continue reading

Enough

Christmas — the most wonderful time of the year! At least that is what the song says, right? It’s the time for us to run out, make snow angels, smile all the time and just generally make merry and walk around with tons of boxes wrapped just so– right? So, what’s up with that?  Hmmm…

The reality of it all is that for many, maybe you, it is a great deal less than ideal. What should be a magical and festive time of the year has become a stressful, debt inducing, socially crazy and out of control monster. For others, it is simply a reminder of how things used to be, but cannot be anymore. Maybe due to the loss of a special loved one, lack of employment, sickness or a whole myriad of other reasons, Christmas just isn’t quite so joyous for you this year. I get it — I really do. Sometimes life just gets in the way and it is difficult if not impossible to overcome “stuff.” No matter how many times we are told to keep in mind the real reason for the season, we just can’t get there.

Even for those of us that absolutely adore Christmas it can seem that society has hijacked our perfectly good Christmas with a spirit of over-commercialization and grandeur that only the most wealthy are able to maintain. We feel the pressure to keep up with the Jones’ or the Smith’s or whoever; then for some reason, instead of joy and peace in our lives we are left with a sense of guilt and shame that we “couldn’t do more.” Too often we are left just wanting the whole Holiday season to be done so we can go back to our normal lives and not worry about this stuff anymore.

Still others concentrate so intently on the baby that the man he became is lost somewhere in the shuffle.

I know some reading this will be able to say that they don’t fall into any of the above situations, and I say that is FANTASTIC!!! I just ask that you think about those around you that do.

Regardless of how you feel about Christmas — love it, loathe it or just don’t care at all — I want to encourage you to take a fresh look at the Season this year. I hope that you will find something — just one thing to start with — that makes you smile. It might be an ornament, lights or just the smiles on the faces around you — ANYTHING — Just choose! Once you do, you can go back to it in your mind’s eye when the negative “stuff” comes rushing in. You might just find that it is your anchor, your oasis. Because when we get down to it, at its most basic, Christmas isn’t about the gifts, the tree or even the lights and songs. Christmas isn’t even about a baby — it is about relationships; the true spirit of Christmas is not to brag about how much you love Christmas,or its true meaning — it is about showing how much you love people. Christmas is about giving — giving from the heart; sometimes that doesn’t involve any money at all. Christmas is about love…Christmas is a chance to make a difference.

Some time ago I read a story by Bob Perks in one of the Chicken Soup books. Part of the story included the following passage:

“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Good-bye.”

For Christmas this year, I wish you Enough!

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!