Tag Archives: gratitude

Pity Party

We all go there sometimes, with or without hats, streamers, and blow horns. We may have been invited by a disappointment, or we may not even know how we ended up there in the first place, hog-tied and teary eyed. Pity parties are the parties that everyone has gone to at least once. And if you have only attended once, count yourself especially special. We have a million things that make us happy. We have things in our lives that make our hearts smile, people in our lives that are there when everyone else goes to their own pity party and ignores the invite to ours. That’s okay.

That doesn’t mean they’re any less of a friend any more than it means we’re any less of a friend when we can’t step out of our own muck to join in theirs. Which is why reflection, during times of joy, is particularly useful and powerful for all of us. If thinking about what we don’t have can get us into our own pity-party, then maybe thinking about what we do have can get us into our own celebration of gratitude – which is typically much healthier, not to mention good for our spirits.

I spent too much time over the holidays indulging in my own pity party. I even pulled others in, and blocked some out completely. It’s easy for the guilt-ridden part of me to focus on that, to drown in my own stupid selfishness. But now that I’m done with that party and my sunshine has shone its rays across the horizon of life again, I find that I have no interest in going back. Sure, the raccoon bagged red eyes were a beautiful site. The hunched over zombie crawl of going through the motions has its haunting attraction. But maybe it was a little ungrateful and self-indulgent of me to be that version of myself. I don’t have Cancer. I have two amazing kids. I have some of the sweetest friendships, a man who loves me even through my obnoxious moments, and a dog who revolves her days around the comings and goings of her two-legged mommy. Sure, I’ve experienced lots of death & heartbreak. I’m 40.

Still, I have 100 New Years Resolutions, and only one year to make it happen. 365 days of self-pity-free openness to life. That should cover all 100 resolutions. I’m so far from perfect, and I’m not so rose-colored as to think that I won’t struggle with this mission. But like anything else worthwhile and life-changing, I’m taking it one day at a time. My wish is that everyone takes time this year to reflect on the good, take inventory of the blessings, to reach out to those who struggle more than ourselves, and journey toward that ever-changing silver lining. Pity parties after all are so 2016. 2017 is about JOYful gratitude.

Reflection on the mirror

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a reflection worth? For most of my life, I would’ve answered ‘about five cents’. I never gave much credit to my own reflection. She was too short, too stout, with chunky cone-shaped legs, a muffin top, and sagging breasts. In fact, this dialogue had gone on so long inside of my own head that I had grown quite comfortable with the discomfort of myself within my own skin. Apparently, and to my surprise, many of those around me have had the same struggle. It was always easy to accept the inside of me, to even ‘love’ myself internally without ever ‘accepting’ myself externally. When we are self-aware, we become pros at this dynamic – loving one part, and rejecting the other. 

The problem is that if we do not accept and embrace our complete selves, then can we really ever ‘love’ ourselves? When we fall in love with someone, we generally love them completely, or at least – that’s how we should love. 

We all have a choice in this. If we do not love some part of ourselves, we have an opportunity each and every day to change that part for the better, and if we focus on what we want to become – I truly believe that is what we will become. But we cannot settle for our own excuses, and that my friends, is difficult. 

As for my own story, I have been putting in the work for a few years now, the fix what was broken inside of me that caused me to linger on the negatives I saw in my reflection. That work began on the inside, the spirtitual, the psychological, the emotional, and eventually transcended to the outside once I felt stable enough to add that work. I have always worked out in some way – yoga, pilates, kickboxing, running – but I never could achieve that ‘number’ – size, weight, measurements, that I so desparately wanted….until now. I had to get to that place in my mind where the voice pushed me farther when I wanted to quit. I had to delve deep down into my ‘hunger’, into my relationship with food, to understand why my choices were sabatoging my journey. 

In our society, food is largely accepted as its own reward. We socialize around food, comfort with food, and reward with food. But food isn’t really the problem here, anymore than a gun without an operator kills. We need to fully understand our thought process, question our own ‘hunger’, and most of all, we need to stop telling ourselves that eating healthy means we are depriving ourselves of the very happiness that others around us have the joy of receiving. When we make choices, they only effect our own bodies.

I am not perfect, by any means. And as my boyfriend would tell you, I still have slight mood swings when I eat foods that are unhealthy because I still battle the guilt of those choices. But for the most part, I make good choices now because I am motivated by this new feeling of acceptance that I have for – not just the inside of me – but for the outside as well. It has taken me almost 38 years, but for the first time in my life, I believe that a reflection is worth a gazillion words, and not just pretty words, but words of strength and self-awareness. I have a deep-seeded need to help others get here, not for reasons of vanity but for reasons of acceptance and self-love, because in all reality, if we stop battling ourselves, we also stop battling everyone around us who love us. We cannot change our reality by excusing ourselves. We can only change our reality by accepting ourselves. Acceptance and self-love ripples from us and into our relationships by transforming self-doubt into self-love, which also just happens to make happinesss a little more contagious.

Lucky Charms

Anyone who has ever experienced the joy of being in a new relationship with an old friend can attest to the butterflies that take up residency in the pit of the stomach; the nerves and anticipation at joining two worlds together; and the crazy infatuation that, if given the right nourishment, can blossom into the deepest and most transcendent of loves. Yet there are so many logistics that play into this major shift in lifestyle that the sheer ‘getting together’ can seem more like a chess game than the organic progression of spirit that falling in love should be. Somehow, if it’s right, the headaches that should logically play into planning seem to dissipate, and the whole world opens itself up to possibility where there once were only tightly locked chamber doors.

This is my life right now, and I simply could not feel more blessed. The only problem lies in the cluttered messes that have resurrected in the lives of people around me. When you’re in the state of unending bliss, it isn’t always easy to come up with solutions for people that aren’t in the same neighborhood. I find myself wanting to wave the magic wand my hand seems to have latched onto, and POOF there lives right into the same worry-free lightness in which I now live. My heart is exploding with a love that is both unconquerable impenetrable. I want to bless everyone and everything around me. While I’ve been in love before, it’s never felt like this. And I know that no two loves feel the same, but I’ve never been in love without worry, without doubt, and without some ominous gut-feeling that something unknown is lurking in the shadows threatening its very existence. Yet now, without that worry, I find myself strong enough to try and save the world from drama, natural disasters, scary scorpions hiding in the dark shadows of my best friend’s bathroom…whatever! But I am helpless.

I absolutely know that I would not be where I am without Faith, but I want that same Faith to quickly rush in and save everyone around me before they give up on God. It’s frustrating to look around and wonder (very quietly) what more can go wrong in peoples’ lives. Can’t I just swoop in with a bowl of lucky charms, four leaf clovers, and rainbows, and promise them that every obstacle is just a stepping stone toward the direction they are meant to travel? Sometimes I do participate in talks with God and actually say, ‘Can’t you just give her an inch? You gave me a mile!’. What I’ve learned is exactly that. I asked for an inch and have been given a mile, or a thousand miles really. My only prayer at this point is gratitude for what I’ve been given, and a large pleading cry for help for those around me that are facing some of their darkest hours.

All I know for sure is that those darkest hours turn into the brightest sunrises. They always do in time. It’s just the waiting that makes us edgy, cranky, hopeless, and (let’s face it) human! God’s time is always right on time, sometimes we just have to wait for it.

From the Ashes

 

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The most beautiful thing about life is that we always have opportunities to change its path. In the past three years, I have learned this well. Meeting one of my oldest and dearest friends today for lunch granted me the opportunity to hear her story, and learn her version of this truth in a way that left me literally in tears. For the sake of anonymity, we will call her ‘Jill’.

Jill and I met when I was only 8 and she was 6. We roller skated together, and quickly hit it off with our quirky personalities. Jill’s parents were going through a violent and malicious separation, and Jill herself had been witness to some pretty terrible physical fights, yelling matches, and emotional manipulation. So much so that she learned how to lie with the worst of them. Deception became a way of life for Jill, and a means for survival in such a deplorable environment. Her father was an alcoholic, and had taken to stalking and bullying she and her mom on a daily basis until he finally moved out of state and left them to clean up the many messes he had strewn across their lives. They lost their home, lost their support, and eventually lost friends who had continuously tried helping them.

Throughout the years that followed, Jill became more and more distant with me because she had started exploring the world of drugs and alcohol, which led to more lies and deception. Our friendship suffered, no matter how much I tried reaching out to her, because she was ashamed. She knew better. I never fully confronted her, nor did I burn that bridge, out of a hope that someday this ‘little sister’ would find her way and return. I decided at around 18 that I had no other choice than to love her from a distance. She had closed me out, locking the door firmly…. but not permanently.

Nineteen years and thousands of tears later, she let me back in. Only this time, she stands on solid ground with a good 6 years of sobriety under her belt. She spends her days and nights helping rescue others from the path that almost took her life. By the end of our lunch today, we were both sharing tears of gratitude. I am so proud of her, of what she has been through, and risen from, but more than that, I am proud of her for telling her story and changing her path.

Although our paths have been very different, we both have ended up finding the same answers. We have both struggled with such issues as abandonment, self-destruction, and co-dependency. But we have both come to the conclusion that none of these problems should ever define us, excuse us, or end our journeys. There is something to be said for rising from the ashes. We all must learn how to spread our own wings, make our own way. No one can do that for us. We all have different ashes from which to rise, and we all must find a way to unburden our wings. When we do this, and fully commit to flying as far from the ashes as gravity allows, we learn that we were actually meant to soar.

Lost ship

It’s been one of those days. I woke up without wanting to. I crawled to the shower, scrubbed, shampooed, shaved, and dried off without singing. Singing just makes it worse sometimes. Going through the motions has to happen. There is no choice in this. I am grateful. Yes. I try that; starting my thank-you’s each day before the first foot hits the cold floor. Mostly that works. It starts the engine and the wheels of gratitude begin to turn. Then there are days when that voice inside shrinks to a whisper.

Missing mom, missing those that are no longer here, is at times unbearable.

Because I run a company that she built, drive a car that she bought, and live in a home that was once hers, means that at every turn I am faced with her memory, or rather her legacy. Today was my first huge challenge as a small business owner. My newest employee was accused of theft and I had to let her go. I wanted to find a nice cool cave somewhere. I wanted to curl up and sleep. I wanted to call mom and ask her what I needed to do. But since none of those things were real possibilities, I handled it.

That doesn’t make me superwoman, it just makes me responsible. I’m responsible for the jobs of 9 girls right now (when it should be 12 girls). I’m responsible for making sure that 130 houses get cleaned every month, and the even bigger challenge of making sure two boys are loved and guided every day. On days like this, that seems like too much.

In truth, however, it’s not too much as long as I realize that I can ask for help. Sometimes it’s enough just to know that I can vent or have a small breakdown on someone’s shoulder. And sometimes that someone is an employee. But employees are like children in the sense that they learn from you, in how you react to adversity, and how you pull yourself together and carry on instead of throwing in the towel.

So as much as I feel like a lost ship sometimes, I learned today that I may be just that. But also that I may be a lost ship with lots of rescue boats surrounding me. I just have to let them know that I’m out there and need help. This isn’t an easy task for onelies because we tend to believe we can take it all on. Pride takes over and sinks us sometimes. But humility, the sheer recognition of our limitations, can rescue us from ourselves, and guide us back to that island where no man (or woman) stands alone.1339301066156