Monday, May 31, 2010

Re-entering Blogland

Monday, May 31, 2010

This is my first post in two weeks or so, but it feels good to "be back." I had a total knee replacement done three weeks ago, and I had no idea I'd need so much rest time after the first week in the hospital. Naps are my new pastime, it seems.

The surgery went very well, and I'm recovering very well, too, I'm told by the experts. I'm extremely grateful to live in a place where such a surgery is not only possible, but excellent. My aftercare in the hospital and here at home have been wonderful. My new knee is great, and my tired, foggy brain is slowly clearing.

I look forward to getting back to posting on a pretty regular basis now. Talk to you soon.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Choose not to Compare

Friday, May 14, 2010

In my morning mental meanderings today, something brought to mind a thing that often happens when someone is going through a difficult time. At least one person will say something like, "Well, think of all the people living in war-torn countries or so-and-so who just lost his whole family, or...," etc. etc. You've probably heard it. Maybe you've said it yourself.

People who say such things intend to help. They think that by getting your mind off your troubles, you'll feel better. They think that if you're reminded of how much worse life can be, your troubles won't seem so bad. Unfortunately, I don't think that's how it works. Statements like these may distract the afflicted person for the moment, but that's not necessarily a helpful part of healing or of dealing with what's going on. In addition, these statements encourage everyone to ignore difficult feelings like sadness, grief, anger and so on. As I've written before, ignoring hard feelings doesn't make them go away; it just makes them go underground. Later, they may very well emerge as headaches, depression, colds, back troubles, cancer, rage, self-pity, and many other peace-blocking symptoms.

So this morning, it occurred to me that one benefit might be found in the statement, "It could be worse. Look at so-and-so's problems." That benefit could be to recognize that in this physical life on this earth, troubles are not uncommon. They happen every day, and they happen to regular people, people just like you and me. So since we're all equally human, there's no reason to expect total lifelong freedom from difficult times. I suppose there might be people who never face calamity and loss, but I don't know too many, if any.

The other possibly helpful part of such statements is to remember that there's no quota on loss and pain. I don't know why, exactly (though I have some theories), but I do believe that's the case. I have certainly, definitely felt like I've had my share, but that doesn't seem to be how it works. When I feel like I'm getting more than my share, I remind myself there's no such thing as "shares." And this is not a depressing thought. I refuse to think and live like a victim anymore. I choose instead to be honest about my hard times and how they affect me. I choose instead to accept that other people will make choices that sadden me or cause me pain...and that I can choose how to deal with that. There is nothing about my "me-ness" that exempts me from experiencing the full range of being human.

Are pain and loss excruciating at times? Yes. Do I wish they'd go away? Yes. Do I sometimes feel like I can't take anymore? I sure do. At those times, I rely on a loved one or my spiritual source to get me through. Some days I can only manage to put one foot in front of the other until it's time to go to bed. I sometimes decide to temporarily ignore my rotten feelings and just keep busy...but I make sure that as soon as I can, I unbusy myself and deal with my feelings.

I do not advocate comparing ourselves and our troubles to someone who is "worse off." However, if you hear such words, you can use them to remember that all humans are human and that we always have choices about how to deal with our humanity.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Playing Around with Gratitude

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You’ve probably heard of having an “attitude of gratitude.” Well, I’m all for that. Noticing what's going on around and within us and then expressing gratitude feels good. We’re more likely to help others, have more physical energy, and worry less. Express your thanks to whomever or whatever you want; I believe that's less important than the decision to look for something to be grateful for. 

I started playing around with the phrase "attitude of gratitude" and came up with a bunch of other kinds of “-itudes.” Just for fun, consider the following:
Gladitude – making happiness a habit

Raditude – being far out, man!

Gonaditude – deciding to make a baby

Baditude – Whoa! Get outa the way!

Maditude – ticked off all the time -- Grrrr......

Saditude – Even when there’s nothing wrong, I feel blue.

Daditude – Father knows best. OR Your daddy loves you. You pick.

Faditude – least until it goes out of style

Haditude – stuck in the past

Caditude – what a jerk

Paditude – home sweet home

Plaiditude – Gotta love those Scottish prints.

Straditude – There's only one violin worth playing.

Taditude – always chopping life into tiny little bits

Aditude – what you need to make it in an ad agency

Additude – avoids subtraction whenever possible

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers & Families

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Today is Mother's Day in many parts of the world. With a varied history in North America and elsewhere, this day of honour and celebration is observed for various reasons -- familial, political, societal, emotional. It is also celebrated at different times; in fact, July and September seem to be the only months in which it is not celebrated somewhere.

A related holiday called National Family Month is sponsored by KidsPeace, an American "private charity dedicated to serving the behavioral and mental health needs of children, families and communities."  National Family Month is celebrated annually from Mother's Day to Father's Day and "encourages family relationships and focuses on developing healthy, confident kids."

Holidays such as these strike a strange chord within me. They remind me a bit of Valentine's Day, which I wrote about on February 13th and 14th. The concept is great: love and honour the ones around you, and demonstrate your appreciation.

What gives me pause is that the reality on the other 364 days of the year often doesn't match the concept on the one day. Mothers (and non-mothers) are still being beaten, manipulated, raped, marginalized, and descriminated against 365 days a year. Children are getting the same treatment on the same days. Some fathers get the same treatment, as well. Even with so much social programming and nice little holidays, families are in big trouble. Individuals are in big trouble.

However, ranting solves nothing (as satisfying as it can be once in a while). On the other hand, actions -- one person's actions -- can solve something. I can do my own healing and recovery work so that I no longer carry the shame that others shovelled onto me when I was a child. I can accept responsibility for my own choices. I can show kindness to my mother, no matter what happened in the past. I can forgive a father whose harm to me is incalculable...because I have shaped new beliefs about life, relationships and myself. I can honour and enjoy my children, stepchildren, and grandchildren for the worthy beings they are. I can extend a hand to the fathers and mothers I know, especially when they're having tough times.

These actions are the best way I know to truly honour myself and others as mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children, and so on. Not that a sweet card and a fistful of flowers does any harm. They just mean so much more when they're backed up by action during the rest of the year.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May You Celebrate!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A great many people must pull out all the stops once spring truly arrives. How do I know this? Well, aside from my own experiences with springtime bliss, there's the incredible number of observances and celebrations that take place in the month of May! After I excluded those which don't in some way apply to relationships, healing or personal growth (plus the irresistibly quirky one or two, plus those that apply to books and writing), I'm still left with over thirty celebrations for the month. Amazing.

Though I'm a little late getting this posted, here's part of the short list of celebrations and observances for the month of May. May you observe them with solemnity or joy or whatever sort of honour you wish to bestow. Click on the links below to learn more.
  • Mental Health Week in CanadaClick here to play a brief public service announcement about Canadian Mental Health Week.
  • Mental Health Month in the U. S.: "Mental Health America continues its tradition to celebrate "May is Mental Health Month" which began in 1949. This year, our theme "Live Your Life Well" challenges us to promote whole health and wellness in homes, communities, schools, and inform those who don't believe it's attainable."
  • Older Americans Month"The mission of AoA is to develop a comprehensive, coordinated and cost-effective system of home and community-based services that helps elderly individuals maintain their health and independence in their homes and communities."
  • Heal The Children Month:  "To encourage survivors of childhood abuse and neglect to speak out. By revealing their painful experiences, they can inspire others to prevent children from suffering the same ordeals."
  • Meditation Month: Check out this page of links where you can learn more. 
  • National Foster Care Month
  • National Teen Self-Esteem Month
  • Family Wellness Month
It seems a particular shame that I was late with the May observances, because May 1 was Stepmothers Day, at least in 2006, when I was as much a stepmother as I am now. I like the idea of there being a special day for stepmothers. Even the wicked deserve a break now and then.

Three other special days I missed on May 1 are Loyalty Day, School Principals Day and...wait for it... Join Hands Day. I hope you joined hands with somebody on Saturday. But it's not too late. You could do so today, too.

To finish off, I encourage you to pat a puppy or enjoy an elephant this week during Be Kind to Animals Week, from May 2-8. And it's definitely not too late to show your gratitude to somebody's teacher from May 2-8, because this is also Teacher Appreciation Week. While you're at it, please, please celebrate this: Get Caught Reading Month.

So, I urge you to celebrate, congratulate and appreciate this month. It's a great time of the year to do them all.