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Be Grateful – Be Happy

Grateful people are happy people.

Loss

sharynandcaryn

This week I lost my best friend.  This is the kind of friend I expected to know until we were so old we may not recognize anyone else but one another.  In the day since I heard the news I have been on a rollercoaster of emotions. I miss my friend.  I feel this loss so many ways.

Let me tell you about our friendship.  We met in kindergarten.  We became friends and were in class together many years.  In first grade, we scheduled that she would come to play at my house after school.  She normally road the bus and I walked, so we had permission slips signed and we walked home after school.  The moment we walked in the house my housekeeper (it isn’t as posh as it sounds, my mom was a single parent and a housekeeper was daycare before daycare) stated “she” never agreed to this play date and she forced my friend to call her mother to come pick her up.  This story remained alive as a tale from our childhood even to the last decade.

Fast forward a few years to middle school.  My friend is crazy about horses and ends up taking riding lessons a few days a week.  I end up riding along and learning about grooming horses and picking hooves.

We start growing friendships outward with some really great girls. Moving into high school we were pretty much inseparable.  When we didn’t like the outfits we were wearing we often would switch in the school bathrooms.  We got ourselves into trouble.  We made stupid teenage decisions.  We fell in love with boys.  We hurt the people we loved.  Then my family went into a drug treatment program.  That forced a breakup of our friendship.

I apologized when I did it.  Her friends protected her from me and because of that, we didn’t see each other or talk for 25 years.  That was my single regret in my life.  I could never ask for forgiveness.

Then came Classmates.com and Facebook.  And after 25 years I was able to tell her how much I regretted the actions of my 15-year-old self.  We met just before New Years’, husbands in tow and it was as if no time had passed.  We stepped right back into our friendship.  When we went to dinner the first time, with our spouses, and the restaurant staff thought our spouses were brothers.

Over the past 7 years, our friendship has been as strong as ever.  We checked in often.  We kept up with each other even though we were far away from one another.  I knew we were there for one another.  I knew I could count on her and trust her friendship was equal to mine for her.

When her husband gave me the news, the wind came out of my sails.  This was the person I knew was going to my “partner in crime” as an old lady if we ended up old ladies at the senior center.  I saw those days.  I have never had any other female friendship like that in my life ever.  I had one that was close once, but that ended.  I worry that I will never have that again.

So, how does this tie into gratitudes?

Last night when the word was being delivered to people a couple friends specifically reached out to me to see if I was okay.  I was touched by their concern.  I was still in shock and wallowing in my own loss and these two amazing women took the time to see how I was and offer me some comfort.  I am truly blessed by these women “who also knew me when.”

While I am still very heartbroken that my friend is gone and I will never see her, hug her, and have her in my life again, I have some wonderful amazing caring and beautiful people that reach out when I need them, even if I don’t realize I do.

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Life…

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June 2016

It is not always easy keeping sight on the “bright side of life.”  I have been writing my gratitudes on Facebook for the better part of 3 years now and, for the most part, I do have a better outlook on life than when I don’t write the gratitudes.

My mother is officially diagnosed with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease.  While I am sad to make it official, I have no regrets for things left unsaid.  My brother was diagnosed with throat cancer in May of 2015 and has had to fight with insurance plans for months.  He is finally going through his treatment and today is, hopefully, his last day of chemotherapy.  He was very lucky that his cancer was caused by a virus as it is treatable and has a 97% cure rate.  Funny how life can turn on a dime.

So, what in these circumstances makes me grateful?

  1.  I had the means, and home, to allow my brother to be able to only focus on getting better.
  2. I do not have regrets for things left unsaid with my mother.
  3. I learned that I am not a natural caregiver.  Seriously? That is something to be grateful for?  Yes, I have learned this fact about myself.  Now I can work find ways to grow the caregiver skills by stepping outside of myself and find ways to help people.
  4. When I keep to my daily gratitudes, I find that my daily frustrations are more readily managed.

Taking some time to write things down is how I make sense of my life and my place in this world.  I love to help people learn new things, but I am not a fan of repetitive training sessions or attempting to teach things I don’t feel I know as an expert.  I would like to have the help I need to better understand certain things so that when I share it with others I am not guessing.

Star Wars Inspiration

Star Wars

The past few weeks the “buzz” was centered around the new chapter of Star Wars released in theaters just before Christmas 2015.  Prior to my risking disappointment in the theater, I discovered the Ted Radio Hour podcast that discusses the “Hero’s Journey” which piqued my interest.

The podcast discussed the “Hero’s Journey” as an average person where their life circumstances force them to embark on a journey where they learn and change.  I was reflecting on this when I  decided to go see the movie on Christmas Eve (a great night to see a movie).  Enlightened by the podcast, I was so pleasantly surprised by the movie.  I won’t give away any of the plot of “The Force Awakens” but I was thrilled to see a film where the female characters were not only respected but kicked some ass!

Now it is two weeks later and I received a blog post from James Altucher who wrote a very moving Blog called “The Force Will Awaken in 2016.”  In this blog he spoke directly to my heart.  Believe in the “Force.”  He enumerates all the horrible things that have happened to all the main characters and that they do not spend a lot of time over their losses they simply realize that the “Force” is good and bad and sometimes cruddy things happen and we can choose to dwell on the negatives or we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start again.

I fully admit I have found myself stuck in a pit of dispare.  I have enjoyed my pitty pot, long and deeply, from time to time.  But as soon as I make a decision to move forward I instantly feel better.  Decisions are hard, but we do inherrantly know where we want, and need, to be.  When we stop fighting against the tide and we can see and grab the branches and pull ourselves back.

For me, grattitudes have done so much for turning around my attitude most days.  I still get migraine symptoms nearly every day.  When I try to reduce my caloric intake to lose a few pounds, headaches get worse for a while, but every step I take toward my personal goals can eventually lengthen the time between the bad parts of life.  I am very lucky to know and have such amazing people in my life.  I truly appreciate the inspiration I draw from podcasts and blogs.  I hope you are inspired too.

New Year Reboot

2015-07-03 19.42.542015 was full of many ups and downs for me.  I wasn’t feeling very grateful the first portion of the year.  A family illness was the catalyst to move our butts back to Colorado, only to have a flooded basement that insurance didn’t cover.

But, some of the worst circumstances can be blessings in disguise.  I was able to return to my former employer; a good reason never to burn bridges you may need to cross again.  They took me in and I was able to learn many new things.  Now, I am embarking on a new opportunity where I can leverage my strengths and I am very excited.

So, now it is 2016.  I am back in a place that makes me happy.  I have good quality friendships.  A social life that sometimes conflicts with other social opportunities.  And, my family and I are pulling together to heal both physically and emotionally.

I am grateful that I had the means to move back to Colorado.  As tight as finances may be, we had what we needed to do what we needed to do.  I am grateful for those who were willing to give me another opportunity.  I am grateful to live in a state where I can run outside even in the winter.  I am grateful for a body that, even with challenges, lets me exercise and work on my physical health.

Remember This When At Your Lowest

I so needed to read this today.

Positive Outlooks Blog

This is an important lesson to remember when you’re having a bad day, a bad month, or a bad year: things will change. You won’t feel this way forever. And sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your soul needs most. I believe you can’t feel real joy unless you’ve felt a real heartache. You can’t have a sense of victory unless you know what it means to fail. You can’t know what it’s like to feel holy until you’ve seen evil. And you can’t be birthed again until you’ve hit rock bottom. — unknown

Man walking at sunset

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What sorts of things make you happy?

 What things in life bring you joy/happiness?

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Wind pushed these pine cones into marching order.

I have to admit, the simple things in life really do may me happier than then things.  However, I do like my things that make my life more connected.

What it feels like to be the last generation to remember life before the internet

Funny, I hadn’t thought of it this way. I remember black and white TV without remotes, I also remember the first personal computers, programming in basic on my Atari 800 and a tape drive. Amazing how far we have come.

Building my brand.

Colorado Love lock found on the Love Locks Bridge in Paris, France.
Colorado Love lock found on the Love Locks Bridge in Paris, France.

After an amazing trip with the love of my life, I come home to Connecticut and realized that I am not warming up to the state, or even this part of the country. But, I work in a job where I am respected, I am able to make decisions with a good level of autonomy, and to feel I am making an impact on the company I serve… pretty much exactly what I asked the Universe to provide through my skills, education, and strengths.

So, why is it not everything I ever wanted?  I wasn’t specific enough.  I want the whole package, a job I enjoy, feeling that I am helping the success of the company each day, and a life that the job supplements.

Recently, I came across an article, written by the Human Workplace, talking about being too smart for the job you have and it mentioned a point that I have been guilty of, in the past, and experienced in my work:  

The choir sings from the Tried It – Didn’t Work! hymnal.

This hit home in two ways:  1.  I have been guilty of signing the “tried it” song when I felt very little power to affect change, and 2.  I heard that when I wanted to introduce a new approach in my job.  

People need to feel that there is value in the work they do and without worry about paying for their house and home needs on their earnings.  So, it is my new mission to fight for that in my work.  Not take ‘we tried that – it didn’t work’ as an acceptable answer. And… build my personal brand.

I am grateful for all the experiences I have had, and I have no regrets in life, because every decision and every mistake helped me become the person I am and helped guide my path.  No decision (excluding the end of life) is permanent.  Mistakes made are lessons learned.  

Now it is time to build and sell my personal brand and determine where my path may lead.  I am grateful that my husband is such a great partner in my life and is willing to jump with my in the hope that we will find a utopia that works for us.

Bursting out in my own colors.

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I recently discovered the Fuchsia plant in my new resident state of Connecticut.  This is a sneaky little plant bursts out of its shell in beautiful color and contrast.  Like Winter relinquishes itself to the Spring and rains bring life to the seeds sewn the seasons before, the steps we take, good or ill, germinate into growth.

Often I find myself questioning the decisions I made and which path leads my husband and me to a life where we can enjoy one another with some security that we won’t end up eating cat food in our old age.  Every decision leads to an uncertain future, yet every experience is an opportunity for growth.  

Being grateful helps me get through the hard days, and the biggest challenges.  Every day I am grateful I have an amazing partner in life.  Having a best friend and partner who loves me through the good and bad makes everything better.  I am very lucky to have found him.  His humor and dedication to us as a team brightens my days and gives me something to hang on to even in the toughest times.  Knowing some amazing people and keeping touch too helps me to remain grateful.  I have friends in many different stages in life and their experiences and lives inspire me and give me the opportunity for learning from experience.

I am a lucky person.

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