Thankful or Just Pretending ?

~This I want you to know~

I have written this blog in my head for a few weeks and from different angles. I have stopped myself because I do not want to to offend or hurt anyone. I decided to let the chips fall where they may. The chips will fall exactly as they are meant to fall. I firmly believe this.

With the holiday of thanksgiving just days away there may be resentments around the  dinner table . Deep old hurts and new comments masked as “just joking” may be floating through the air.  There maybe the boastful brother or brother in law or the bragging sister or sister in law.  There is often the aunt or uncle who have the most perfect children. These children are all amazing athletes, busy running a charity,  all while being a stupendous students. Or if they are older these same children are CEO’s, own incredible apartments or homes and are often on the way to having their own perfect offspring. Try to ignore this or at least don’t buy into this person’s need to have you and your family measure up.

There may be great political divides. Even with a moratorium on politics at nearly all thanksgiving dinners, there is often a conversation that quickly escalates and goes awry. You witness, that one sly comment as it is said and the reaction from the other party is fiercely angry. Perhaps, a sentence is uttered and misinterpreted. Immediately one or both people are now upset. Hopefully, you an quickly turn the conversation around or tell a joke.

Often at least one family member is struggling to be part of this family meal. Maybe they are hiding monetary, job or health worries. Perhaps they are distressed about a struggling child or spouse’s physical health, mental health or a drug problem. But, they have shown up. They may look just fine. They have plastered some sort of smile on their face or covered themselves with steel armor. These people are hoping you can’t penetrate their force field of protection. They truly want to be exactly where they are, with you. But, they are afraid of cracking and let the pain out. They may have mastered the art of small talk. Or they cannot say much so they get engrossed in the football game or helping in the kitchen. But, if you really look, you may see these people and their pain. You can let them know that they are seen, noticed and cared for.

Sometimes, a person just doesn’t show up. They can’t make themselves go to this meal even when they have been invited.  They may want desperately to be surrounded by family and all those that have mattered so much to them. Yet, they can’t forgive themselves or other family members. They just aren’t able to let go of the past. Or they don’t know how to start this relationship again. Maybe you can help them begin again.

How many times have we said or heard “family is everything”? Many times we truly believe it. Others times, our actions and words do not show that  the entire family or that one particular person is anything at all. I like to think of families as a group of unruly children. Everyone wants to be heard and noticed all at once. Everyone wants their successes to be be acknowledged and applauded. Even when we act poorly, everyone wants to be accepted and supported in spite of their bad behavior.  Everyone wants to be loved no matter what.

This thanksgiving and all of our days, I hope we can manage to put the old hurts behind us and trust in the fact that we can let the bragging fall on deaf ears. I pray that all our families political pundits stay silent in the same way we wish some politicians would.  We can acknowledge the person who is struggling and let them know we care. My wish is that the person who is unable to show up finds a way to close the family gap if not on this holiday, then another day very soon. I anticipate that we can applaud one another   for showing up even with a plastered on smile. I’d like to count on all of us to love one another in spite of everything. Let’s show each other the true love we carry in our hearts. I believe we can do this because family is in fact everything.

What do you owe?

~This I want you to know.~

I have been thinking about what we owe ourselves, then those we love the most, then the people we feel close to and really like and then those in our more external lives. For the record this is a departure for me. I have notoriously put those I love most above myself. As part of my personal growth this has been something I have been evaluating and I continue to work on changing.  I am working on prioritizing myself more and at the same time trying not to make others take a back seat. It maybe an impossible challenge.  Or somedays I am priority while on others I am not.  I am focusing on ‘me doing me’.  I am trying an arrangement where I am certainly always figuring myself and my needs into the delicate balance of family, friends, and other responsibilities.

As my children become more independent adults how much do I owe them? Does parenthood always equal putting one’s children first?  Let me be perfectly clear. I am not  talking about the days or periods when our children are facing trouble or are ill. I am referring to the ordinary days when we have a sense of peace because we are not facing an imminent problems or danger from our children. Do we have to sacrifice our desire to do something we want to do because they are lonely or having a hard day at work? Must we constantly talk them off the cliff?  Or can we enjoy a dinner with our spouse or friends?

I wish I had a clear cut answer. I know so much of this depends on the individual parent and the individual child. I know it depends on what exactly is going on. It depends on how much the individual child can handle at eighteen, or twenty five, or thirty two year old.

It also depends on how we grew up and what we feel our parents did right and what they left room for improvement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, we owe it to ourselves and those we cherish the most to show up in the most sincere and caring way.  Sometimes, when we are being sincere and honest it can appear that we are not caring. This can occur whether we are speaking ourself in the ongoing thoughts or monologues we often hold in our own minds about ourselves.  Honesty can  feel brutal to the receipent  but sometimes honesty is the truest form of caring we can give those we care deeply about.  I am not sure if we have a responsibility to be honest, even if it is the truest form of caring we can offer if we will hurt those  we show our version of honesty or our truth about this other person. I am only sure we must very careful and think before we speak.

 

We owe it to ourselves to figure out what we really want in life, what we desire,  what we want to accomplish.  For some just acknowledging what we want to do other with our leisure time or our careers.  We owe it to ourselves to figure out how we want to treat the money we earn. Do we want a home and a mortgage? Do we want other types of investments? Do we want to get married and raise a child or children? Do we want to stay single and raise a child or children? Do we want to focus on no-one  other then ourselves?

 

Decisions, Decisions

~This I want you to know~

Have you ever felt that something was off or felt something pulling on your mind or an issue weighing on your heart?  Has the weight of the world engulfed you like the oceans waves when there was a dangerous undertow? Were you were picked up by the oceans ferocity, tossed around and as you emerged from the water,  were you even more disorientated?  Did you feel like you didn’t know where you were or what to do?

We have all felt pressure, confusion, and even down right anxiety or panic when faced with certain dilemmas or problems. Some pressures are a normal part of modern life like trying to fit in one more task at work or chore at home into our day. There are also the days when we feel pulled in many, many directions all at once and at these times the things we would like to focus on often are not the items that need our immediate attention. But, confusion, uncertainty and even their more intense cousins anxiety and panic seem to visit so many of us today.

As society we now have all embraced the information highway or the internet.  We have the possibility of so many answers at our finger tips.  We can find answers for parenting issues, relationship questions, marketing and business problems, and even health issues. We can search and find results that can allay our fears,  give us suggested ideas or down right scare us and send us over the proverbial edge.

Yet, more and more people seem to be anxiety stricken and may even panic over things that a generation or two ago people would have handled in  different ways.  I don’t believe for one minute that people didn’t have the same types of thoughts or emotions during earlier time periods. People often relied more on close friends and family and shared their burdens with them because there existed a combined trust and respect for the person they were confiding in.  Although, this was not a foolproof system of guidance, very often the person who was being confided to knew all the people involved, the social structure and then gave very practical and easily applicable advise. Even when the advisor didn’t know the all the people involved it was the human contact, voice and touch that has great value and benefit to anyone distressed.

Some of this advice could have ranged from:

“Why don’t you talk to your teacher or professor and explain that you really don’t understand the information?”, “Why don’t  you ask for an extension because of a death or serious illness in the family?”.

“Why don’t you tell the boss that you really need and deserve a raise?”. “I know how much you do at your job and how many customers you have brought in.”

“Why don’t you explain to your child(ren) what they are doing really isn’t their best interest? Why don’t you tell them that you want so much more for them? That you see the their potential and you are here to support them.”

“Why don’t you go the doctor about this concern?  I will definitely go with you”.

These were the headlines. The conversations that followed usually contained realistic details in which information and direction were offered. These discussions often consisted of truly useable suggestions that turned into solutions.

So what do you do when you feel there is something off or that there is something weighing on your heart or on your mind? I can tell you what I do. As a women who has dealt with a variety of issues from raising children and all that entails, moments of trouble in martial happiness, health issues in those I love, business situations, and all the day to day challenges that are small but feel big at the moment, I try first to gain some perspective or analyze the issue by myself. I think about the thoughts running through my head and I try to breakdown the problems and my emotions surrounding the matter at hand. Then I try to come up with plausible answers. In the past year or so I have gone back to writing or journaling what troubles me especially if thinking it through in my mind just hasn’t worked. Somehow, seeing it on paper, in my handwriting makes me think more critically and drives my mind to focus on clear answers.  Also, I am very big verbal processor so if steps one and two haven’t worked I  then talk to my family or a few close friends about whatever the problem that I am facing . Usually, between thinking things out myself, writing them down, talking to the trusted people in my life and listening to what they have to say I feel calmer. Then using my own intuition or answers, guidance from those I have shared with I am able to move foreward.

Sometimes, the process of moving on involves doing nothing tangible or saying nothing at all. In these times my job is just to sit with my emotions and really feel all the uncomfortable issues and feelings they bring up. When I chose not to talk about whatever is troubling me to person that I am unhappy with, it’s because what I want to say will not be heard the way I mean it and intend it to be heard.  It will be taken out of context and it will create drama or problems that are larger then the relief or understanding I would have gotten if I expressed my truest feelings.

Other times the answer is to have a heart to heart dialogue and work on the dilemma with the other person as team,  a couple, or a family and come up with the best possible solution.  Sometimes, the solution is simply to step up, volunteer to help or support someone. It’s to do the research for the best doctor, cook a meal, or proof read information. It is to offer a hug, lend an ear,  and remind the person who is facing a difficult period that you are with them and for them today, tomorrow and as long as you are granted days. Sometimes the answer is something large and  will require significant change like a career switch, a move and relocation of your family along with you, or to pull your child from a certain school and move them to a school that will help them academically or remove harmful influences from their lives.

But, I know that the answer is always, always to decide to do something.   The anxiety that people feel often seems smaller or even disappears when we decide to do something. The mind knows when something is right around the corner. While the possibility of something new can make us feel unsteady or uneasy we want the new experience or challenge all the same.  If it is not absolute true anxiety that might be holding us back  but a more specific fear like fear of failure, the mind also feels better when we decide to take the leap and try whatever it is that’s frightening us. People desire new stimuli in the way that only new experiences can bring it to them. When we decide to open a business or our hearts we know that if  we didn’t earnestly make this decision nothing would move forward. Our professional ambitions and our personal objectives would never come to fruition without the resolution to take a risk to begin something new or to try something again.

I can hear my father’s voice saying “Debbie, take chance what do you have to lose? What do you have to win?”.  I can also hear one of my favorite poems:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
from -The Road Less Taken By Robert Frost
So ask yourself, what do yo have to win? What do you have to lose?  Take the chance. Sometimes, just take the road less traveled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness

 

~This I want you to know~

Forgiveness and apologizing are very difficult for some. These people get stuck in the situation, the problem, their point of view. Many seem to think they are right and that it is more important to be “right” then to continue the relationship or repair the bond between the injured parties.

This has seldom been me. I am not good at keeping the anger going for extended periods of time. The process of staying actively angry, hurt, disappointed takes up too much negative energy and space in my head and heart. It suffocates me by drowning out my happiness and the joy of living.  I wish I knew how people devoted all that time and energy to staying in the anger zone. I am referring to the kind of disputes that cause  members of families not to talk for years. I have heard stories where brothers or parents and their grown children lived on the same block for many, many years and would not even make eye contact. Things had gotten that bad. Sometimes, unfortunately it is too late. Too much time has passed and there is no foundation left on which to rebuild  the relationship. Or sadly one party is no longer alive.

This is not to say that forgiveness always comes easily. When I was thinking about this blog earlier today, I realized that it is easier for me to forgive if I have been  personally wronged or hurt then if one of my family members has been hurt. My protective instinct goes into over drive regarding my family and closest friends. I am actively working on not taking on other people’s burdens even the people I love most in the world. It doesn’t help those around me to have their hurt feelings fueled by mine. Also, it doesn’t give them the necessary room and time to process what they are thinking and feeling. I am trying to be quieter and if called upon to just be a sounding board. My feelings might be affected but my feelings are truly secondary and need to remain in that spot.

But, when our feelings are directly affected  sometimes we need to forgive the person that has not asked for forgiveness. Occasionally, this person is unaware they have hurt us. But, more often I believe this person does not or cannot deal with the ripple effect of what they have caused. There are times this person is so self centered or acting in a egocentric manner that even if they do know what they have done they will not change their decision. Or, they cannot seem to utter an apology. This is the hardest type of forgiveness to serve up.

It is very difficult because you are not actually accepting an apology at all. One has not been offered. Yet you forgive. This type of forgivness allows you to go on with your relationship with the person in question because it releases you of your negative or hostile feelings. Suppose you have a parent or friend that didn’t know how to be better, love more deeply or didn’t respond to your needs in the way you wanted. You can forgive them for their lack of ability or knowledge. You can choose to continue the relationship. This is a process in and of itself. Especially the first few times you forgive someone who is not asking for forgiveness. It has taken me time to get to the point that I can comprehend the other person limitations. It has taken me time to be able and ready to release the pain I have been carrying regarding these types of scenarios. I have done this at times in my life. I have said out loud to myself regarding certain people and situations “I forgive you. I forgive your inability to be there for me. I forgive your lack of insight and how difficult this situation has been for me.”  Or, something like- “I forgive your harshness. I forgive your lack of empathy and callous manner to things that mean so much to me”.  I have quite literally been able to breathe easier and have felt the weight of the hurt released from my shoulders, neck and stomach after forgiving.

Forgiveness does not mean that things go back to exactly the same way they were before you got hurt. You have learned about this person and acknowledged their limitations. But, you accept them anyway. You may lower your expectations for this  person or you maybe more guarded with your head and your heart. Sometimes, the way this person acted during one particular interval in life is not representative of them. Then things maybe fully resorted.

Most of all, offering forgiveness releases me of the burden of suffering and drinking the poison of anger or resentment day in and day out. Forgiveness permits me to move on with an open mind and lighter heart.

 

As The Fall Approaches

~This I Want You To Know~

As the Fall approaches I often find myself searching for something. I’m not sure if it originally was tied to being a student, then a teacher, then a mom. For most of my life I have been in one way or another tied to the school calendar. Each school year with new teachers, new notebooks, fresh pens and pencils always felt like a new beginning.

I have a feeling that my desire for a fresh take on life is tied to the Jewish autumnal holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The meaning behind these Holy Days has to do with a New Year, a fresh start and wiping the slate clean. All souls crave renewal and sustenance. Our souls want to be involved in doing good and reaching higher levels of moral development. It really doesn’t matter what religion you are or what you believe in. Anyone can understand the desire for a new beginning. You might believe in God, the Universe, or some other powerful being . Nonetheless, we all yearn to turn the page and hope for a more evolved, transformative beginning.

In order to move forward, we have to look back.  I was just discussing the other day that there are things I would have done differently as a parent when my children were young.  I would have tried to slow down the pace of running from school, to after school activities, homework, dinner, baths or showers, bedtime routines . Ultimately, I would have liked to find a way to take us all off the hamster wheel that I felt we were spinning on. I would have liked to teach my children to stop and notice the little things in life. I would have liked to point out that the flowers are blooming, the leaves are changing colors, the days are growing shorter or longer. But, something tells me that I did point out the little things. I just don’t think I did it often enough.  I would have liked to have said, “You have done enough homework today. Forty math examples is ridiculous. You can do, all the odd or even problems instead.”  After all, you either know the work or not after completing twenty problems. I would have liked to have found more of a middle ground between wanting my children to excel (they had the ability) and wanting them to be children. But, they were children. They played with every toy imaginable and every type of block, paint, clay and creative element I could find or their minds and hands would design. Yet, there always seemed be some sort of parenting pressure.  Pressure that inadvertently, I passed onto my children.

When I look forward I’d like to eliminate the pressure I feel internally to sometimes be MORE of everything. More focused, more controlled, more knowing when to push or withdraw, when to talk or guide and when to be silent. I’d like to do this not only for me but more so, to be able to transmit to my daughters that they don’t have to be  MORE  of anything then they are already. They are enough. They count. Their individual thoughts and ideas, the strength of their opinions, their convictions and their voices all show how much they matter. It is so easy for us to forget how much we mean to others.  And, it is easy for us to dilute how much what we say or do matters to those around us. I never want my daughters, or your daughters to disregard themselves and the impact they make daily on their corner of the world.

Yet, very often we are all faced with an internal tug of war. Sometimes the inner war is focused on the very big things like doing good verses doing not so good.  I genuinely  believe that we really don’t  want to choose to be or do evil acts.  Sometimes the inner tug of war is smaller like choosing to whether to eat the cake or not. But when the tug of war is significant – like choosing to come from love or to come from ego – there often doesn’t feel like there is a choice. We know what we must do. But often we choose wrong and mess up.  Even with soul consciousness we let our ego win.  This is part of the human condition.  We all struggle. We have custom designed struggles of our own. We know we must come from love, compassion and comfort. We know that’s how we want to be treated.  We want understanding and love.  We have it in our power to begin again, start again, choose to come from love.

So whether or not you will celebrate the Jewish Holy Days this fall,  know that you are enough and you matter.  You do not have to suffer from the internal tug of war all the time because you very often you know what is correct and soul elevating. You have the ability to choose to come from love daily. When you mess up, just like I do, you and I have the opportunity to pick and come from a better place, right then and there. We are so fortunate that we get to start over multiple times each day if necessary. We get to be kinder,  more caring and show more empathy and adoration to our loved ones and to ourselves.

Here is what I pray for myself and you all as well. May you be blessed in the Book Of Life with a year filled with good health, joy and opportunities to be better then you were last year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missed Conversations

Very often when I think of my dad, I think about how I wish I could have had one more conversation before he passed on. I often think how I would like to ask his opinion or advice on something going in my life now. I think about how I’d love to hear him tell a joke or a story and make his family and friends laugh. This is not to be.

Then I think about conversations I have not had with my family. There are days in which I feel an internal struggle. I desperately want to say something that could be useful or uplifting but I dare not say it. I don’t speak because I fear being shut down by the other person involved in the conversation. I don’t speak because I don’t want to deal with the brash attitude or hear “I got it”. Then I think to myself, “you may have it, or you may not have it. But, I am sure there is something I could share with you that you have not thought of”. I don’t speak. I don’t know in what manner,what I yearn to say will be received by you. I don’t speak because it is clear to me the conversation is over. This person doesn’t want to listen or can’t hear me now. I retreat with a lump in my throat and tension throughout my body because leaving things unsaid is uncomfortable and painful for me. I think about what happens if things never get said. I know it is very real possibility.

When I was growing up very little went unsaid. In my memory, my parents said what they thought and what they needed to say. There was no fear of my reaction to what they were saying. Good, bad or indifferent they were the parents and authorities. I was the child, a semi adult child, then an adult and they still had knowledge or an opinion. Today the relationship between parents and children seems so different to me.

It is not just me who feels this struggle of “should I say what am thinking or let it go?” Many, many of my friends and family have told me they “don’t ask questions to things they may not want to know the truth about” and they “don’t offer an opinion because they don’t want their idea to be thrown back in their faces. Especially, if the suggestion they have given doesn’t work out”. I am not sure when this shift happened or if my generation of parents is weaker or smarter than previous generations of parents.

The weakness maybe in not wanting to ruffle our dear children’s feathers. We never want them to have deal with anything uncomfortable at all. Without a doubt some of this is completely inherent in the way parents have been parenting since the 1990’s. We want everything to go smoothly for our children. We don’t want them to face any bumps with friends or teachers when they are in elementary school and beyond. We never want them left out. We give everyone a trophy for participating on a sports team. We want them to be happy all the time. We have clearly not parented from a realistic point of view.

We have not given them the skills to deal with very common defeats such as not making the sports team or not getting the role they desire in the play. If we say anything at all we tend to say ” I don’t want you to be upset if you don’t get the part or make the team”. We don’t know how to have the more delicate conversations. We teach them to be the best but we rarely talk to our children about what happens when they lose or are not the best. We don’t even talk to them about having a bad day until that bad day happens. We play Monday morning quarter back and then rush in to smooth our children’s bruised hearts.

When I think about my own childhood and the time I grew up in, I know that a certain sensitivity to the child who had a bad day or a rough go at it didn’t always exist. Some people shared with me that they were told “You think this is bad, you don’t know what a real bad problem is”. Some were told “that’s life, you can’t get what you want all the time”. Some were made to feel awful for not being successful. Some had a deep sense of embarrassment and learned not to share anything negative at all with their parents. Some were lectured at when they needed time to think and feel. They were not ready to hear the “lesson”. It is true that this generation of parents also tried to smooth their children’s feelings over after the bad or disappointing day occurred. Yet, instead of appearing to be coddling they were matter of fact and on to the next thing. I am sure that his generation of parents were not smarter. Rather they had a more clear cut vision of their job as parents.

We are in desperate need of more conversations in our children’s formative years that teach them how to lose gracefully, how to handle things when life seems so unfair, how to regroup from a day that has made them feel stressed or very sad. We may need to learn the skills we were never taught about discussing these feelings. We may need to learn how to deal with our own bad days and disappointments before we can talk to our children about their feelings. So much of learning how to parent is learning on the job. And, we need learn how to have difficult conversations in a productive way. Our children need us to have these conversations and teach them what we know.

I certainly do not want to miss any coversations regarding life’s most important moments. I know this because I want more conversations with my own dad.

 

 

Sometimes, only sometimes I am a little bit mean

So, I have been thinking that I’m this really nice woman. Caring daughter, loving wife and mom, supportive sister and sister in law, and fierce friend. But, today I was  thinking  about social media and all the people that bug me.  These are the people that I follow on instagram or twitter. They are the same people I will probably never, ever meet in real life.

These are not real celebrities that I think the world of because of all the hard work and dedication it has taken to get them to where they are professionally. These are not even politicians that I may disagree with on any particular topic but are doing something they believe is good.  These are ” pseudo celebrities”, who have a big following in the same vain of the Kardashian’s. In other words,  they are famous for being famous.  Many started out that way and now have deals or as they call them “partnerships” with a variety of clothing lines, jewelry designers, house ware companies, shoe manufacturers, storage companies and the like. They are making big money now. But, that’s not my problem with them. I am actually happy that the American dream of prosperity has found a new marketplace all over the internet and new people are becoming very well off.

What bothers me is the excess consumption and the lack of values they are portraying.  It is hard  for me to watch some of these insta-stories. It is not that things look too perfect. We all have become accustomed to that from Facebook or Fakebook as someone brilliantly called it. What turns my stomach is the constant things they are modeling or selling. It is the over consumption with no time, no attention, or thought being put into how they can donate all these clothes, or body lotions, or hair accessories, make up or pajamas to those less fortunate. Seriously, there are not enough days in a year to wear or use all these products. It is giving a enormous value to a life of possessions. These people are saying the more I have the better my life is and the better your life will be  too if purchase tons of things you don’t really need. This type of life is without any personal depth or emotional connections, spirituality.

I own too much stuff too. I sometimes have trouble  eliminating and saying good bye to the clothes I own but no longer wear. I think to myself as I am cleaning out a closet or drawer, “I may want or need this someday”. But, I am actually cleaning out and donating my gently used or worn items to those in need.

So I am a little mean. I use my values as  my moral compass. Unfortunately that sometimes includes  silently, judging others. That makes me a little mean and whole lot uncomfortable with myself. I am uncomfortable with my own judgements because I truly believe that in order to make this world a better place, we have to be much more tolerant of everyone’s physical appearances, political, religious beliefs and differences.  I do not care if you have pink hair, wear  blue button up shirts everyday, call jeans dungarees, wear flip flops in a snow storm. I do not care  what religion you practice.  I do not care what your political views are unless yours are going to hurt a group of people. I know we need to have softer hearts that open easily and minds that are eager to hear and learn another persons perspective. I know that is how we grow and evolve as both individuals and as a society.

So when I judge someone I am going to remind myself of a few things. First, I am going to realize I am judging and remind myself that I do not like how I feel after a judgement runs through my head. It doesn’t even have to be said out loud for me to be upset afterwards. Once, I am coming from a place of judgement I can no longer be open to hear, see, learn and think.  Secondly,  I am going to stop the thought in its tracks. Then, I will start with a new thought which will be  better and kinder.  Thirdly, I will come from love. I will tell myself what I already know to be true. I only know part of any story or part of any one’s life. No one, not on instagram, and not even our closest and best friend’s share every thought, feeling or nuance of their lives with us.

I ‘d love if you would make a vow to ourself to stop your judgements. I would love our lives to become judgement free zones.

 

Those Days

You know those days? The days in which we feel just out of sorts or really crappy? It maybe for a variety of reason. You may feel disappointed that you didn’t get the job or promotion. You feel sad or angry that you didn’t get the support from your best friend, boy or girl friend, or spouse when you really needed it. You feel hurt and heart broken that your significant other or spouse doesn’t want you anymore.  Your self-esteem is taking a serious hit because in all these scenarios you don’t feel appreciated or wanted.

Basically you feel disappointed in yourself, your career, those that are supposed to be closest to you. You feel like things could never be different.  Now let’s suppose that really crappy day persists and you are now barely bobbing along in the shallow water. Some may call it a pity party. I prefer to think of it as the time it takes to regroup or dig yourself out of distress.

I have read and heard “take an hour to be sad, feel it, really feel the emotions and then move on”. I sincerely want to know how that works, whom it works for, and how they do that. One hour for heart break? One hour for job loss? One hour, sixty simple minutes. I am going tell you, that unless the shoes you wanted cannot be found anywhere and are out of stock you are not going to get over it an hour. You know the shoes I am talking about? They are the ones you have been drooling over and hesitating to buy because they cost the same as a car payment? You finally decide to pull the trigger or rather the credit card and they are gone. Pfft into thin air.  That you can get over in an hour. Of course, it’s the hour after you have exhausted every possible store & internet search. You say to yourself things like “I am better off with the money in my pocket”, “it wasn’t meant to be”, “the heels are so high I would have broken my ankle”.

It may seem ridiculous. It may seem simple. But there is a skill in that situation which can be used when feeling low or the next step in the downward spiral emotionally. It’s the next level or the level after that of intensity on the anguish scale.  Shoes have nothing to do with this kind of pain.  These are the feelings of more intense disappointment or serious sadness seeping in.  Most of the time when the loss is small we utilize the skill without even knowing we are doing it. We make ourselves feel better by explaining or justifying our behavior or outcomes of situations with logical reasons.

When it comes to ‘getting over’ something it is not as simple as forgive and forget. I really wish it was. I like anyone my age, have had my fair share of disappointments, hurts and sadness. By releasing the anger, sadness and resentment that often pairs with the hurt or disappointment you are honoring yourself . Honoring yourself means you believe you have the ability to make things better. It means believing in yourself.

To get past the event or disappointment, we need to accept that it is not solely about how the person didn’t see us ,or how we seem unheard, or stuck career wise. We need to recognize that each event or situation is an independent incident.  When you did not get one specific job  it does not mean you will never get a job. It means that this particular job wasn’t the right position for you. It means that the job was filled by a higher ups’ friend or family member. Or that the interviewer was having a rough day and couldn’t see you and your worth for all the magnificence you embody. The same is true with a boyfriend or girl friend or spouse. They had their own agenda, they had a bad day. They don’t like their life because they are unhappy with themselves. It doesn’t mean you will always be alone and it certainly doesn’t mean you are unloveable. We think we know all about the event that made us unhappy. We use sweeping generalizations such as: “I will never be loved”, “My career is destined to suck”, “I will be alone the rest of my life”. Yet, truly we don’t what the other person was thinking. We only know our own perceptions or our side of the story.

This leads me to balanced thinking. Balanced thinking is a skill in which you ask yourself the following questions which can be used in a variety of situations:

Has this ever happened before? What was the outcome? Was it as bad or as good as you thought it would be? How do you know X will happen this time? What makes you think or feel that way?

So, have you ever gone on another date or job interview? Or have you sat home alone forever? Have you been out of work since you graduated school?  Have you put yourself or your resumes out there? What was the outcome? Was the date or new job as good or bad as you thought it would be? How do you know you will fail or mess up? How can you be sure things will never be good again? Have you been in a  successful relationship, even if it ended? Have you had successes at work?

When we can invoke balanced thinking we are beginning to regroup, move away from the feelings of intense distress, and  move towards healing. The next step after proving to yourself that things are not as bleak and dismal as you thought, is to come up with new feelings. These new feelings can be called restorative thoughts. If you put all your thoughts and energy into the anger, grief, disappointment, it is all you can feel. Instead when you feel the negative emotion look for the opposite feeling, name it and restore yourself and  your spirit with a more positive thought. So if you are feeling lonely ask yourself how you’d like to feel. If the answer is you want to feel connected to others call a friend, plan a get together, plan to volunteer, or to start a class on the hobby or skill you always wanted learn. If you are feeling disappointed and you want to feel calmer or more cheerful go for a walk, sit in a coffee shop, make your favorite meal, play music and have a dance party even if it is just for you. If you are feeling agitated and want to feel unworried or comforted, journal, take a bath, call a friend, read a book, do puzzle. You get the idea.

The final two-steps in ‘getting over’ something involve planning for the future. First picture what you really want. The relationship in which you feel surrounded by love. The fun you feel traveling with your friends. The job in which you are asked your opinion and are valued. What do these pictures in your mind look like ? How do they make you feel?  Be very specific! The second is to accept the past. To fully accept anything you do not have to agree with what happened. It does not mean that you weren’t suited for the job or that your ex-treated you fairly or saw you as you really are. But it is accepting that these were the cards you were dealt and that you can either hold onto the negative emotions or play to win.

Releasing your self from sadness, grief, anger, resentment, and disappointment is like the gift of a new day. It opens you up to the possibility of starting over and to the future that you want.

1- Honor Yourself & your ability to make things better. Begin to release the anger,resentment & disappointment.  2-Stop The Generalizations to free yourself of negative thoughts.                                                                                                     3-Use Balanced Thinking to prove to yourself things have not always been and will not always this way.               4-Use New Feelings Or Restorative Thoughts to move to a more positive frame of mind. This includes planning action steps for your future.                                                           5-Picture What You Want  so you have a true and clear cut vision of the way you want this aspect of your future to unfold.                                                                                                   6-Accept It & Play To Wincards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Television and Real Life

My husband really wasn’t interested in watching another television show. We watch several shows together, usually on DVR so that when our schedules mesh we catch up. It is a nice consistent element to our lives. Sharing anything we both enjoy simply makes us both content and feel more like smiling. Since he is a night owl and I am not he watches other shows in the late night hours. He just wasn’t into another show. I persuaded him to give the the new show The Village a try.

 We didn’t plan on watching this show and it was not taped.  We talked through the commercials. He mentioned that he didn’t get what was going on with television programming and wondered why there are a lot of serious or deep television shows in the last few years. As we watched my mind wandered back to what he said.

After the show finished, I acknowledged what he had said and I told him “I think I see a blog here”. The shows that we watch together that seem to fit into this class are: This Is Us, New Amsterdam, and The Village. I watch A Million Little Things also. It fits into the same genre. These shows all have key components in common, and if you watch them I think you will agree. They are first and foremost about people. They show the characters’ past and present lives, and dangle a carrot about their future in front of us. These television programs are about the interwoven connections of the characters to one another. They draw us into the mental or emotional difficulties and the physical limitations or illnesses that the cast portrays. Shows like this expose humans being fragile and vulnerable. These shows illustrate life’s truest equalizers: death, addiction, morbid obesity, cancer, war, fertility struggles, loneliness, and relationships in which the losses are overwhelming. They try to depict reality as clearly as they can in a one hour time slot with commercial breaks. They make us feel, truly feel. Many times we feel empathetic and identify with characters. They are doing the job that scriptwriters and actors set out to do. Perhaps, they even guide us and give us some insight into our own lives and struggles.                                                                                                                                                                 

My husband talked about why we no longer see good quality comedies on the air.  There really aren’t a lot of comedies on television these days, and the ones that exist certainly do not have the meat or the bite that I remember from years past.  There are no new comedies like M*A*S*H and All in the Family – shows that are funny, but also have depth and messages.  There are no comedies that make to water cooler or coffee talk.

M*A*S*H  was on television from 1972 to 1983. It followed a group of doctors and support staff stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital Uijeongbu, South Korea. It was characterized as a “dark comedy” or “dramedy” because the subject matter often had serious or dramatic  undertones and political implications. The show’s early seasons aired while the Vietnam War was still ongoing. M*A*S*H* was forced to walk a tightrope of commenting with innuendo and also clear opinions of the war without seeming to protest it.  After the war ended, the show took an even deeper turn with episodes consciously moving between drama and comedy to drive home thoughts and opinions of the U.S.’s involvement in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. 

All in the Family was televised from January 1971 to April 1979. The show revolved around Archie Bunker, who was a working-class bigot, and his family.  Archie, his wife Edith, daughter Gloria, and Gloria’s husband Michael Stivic, lived together in Astoria, Queens, New York.  On the surface, the show was was a comedy that drew upon the characters’ idiosyncrasies.  Edith was the sweet and understanding, albeit naive and uneducated wife.  Gloria was kind and good natured like her mother, but also had her father’s stubbornness and temper.  Michael was a college student with very liberal views, which often  challenged Archie’s thinking. The two couples illustrate the real life clashes of the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers, and living under one roof created ample opportunities to irritate each other. The show was considered ground breaking because it portrayed many  issues: racism, antisemitism, infidelity, women’s liberation, rape, religion, miscarriages, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause and impotence. It became the first television show to top the Nielsen ratings for five years in row.

Both of these shows were set during times of great political divide and vast changes taking place in the country. Today, as a country, we are also going through times in which religion is a hotbed topic, women’s rights are at the forefront, and we are drowning in international struggles. The Me Too movement, priests being sentenced for years of child abuse, shootings at churches and synagogues, separating children from parents crossing over the border from Mexico, anti-semitism and anti-zionism, and our relationship with Russia, Israel,  and other countries, all exemplify these types of vicissitudes.  

We now have twenty four hour news on television, and even more of it at our fingertips online.  During the 1970’s and early 1980’s we had television channels 2 through 13. We did not have twenty-four-hour news and we did not have the internet. Printed newspapers were still the largest source of news. Today we cannot imagine only being able to watch the world news at 6:30 or 7pm on the major networks. Today, many people could not cope with missing the news for the evening.  The world is moving much faster and we are the recipients of this fast pace.

This has given us local and world wide news overload. We wake up and the first thing we do is check our cellphones for updates of personal and world events.  We crave information, and at the same time, crave distractions from our issues. One of these distractions comes in the form television dramas.  Watching another family’s lives on a television show distracts and coddles us. Each show brings us a comforting familarity even while taking us through their experiences with tough topics such as death, war, suicide, illness, addiction and unintended pregnancy. In the pain we share as bystanders to these lives, there is a certain sense of safety watching while we sit at home. Part of the reason we are comfortable is that these once taboo topics are now openly discussed almost all the time and everywhere. The other part of the reason we find them somewhat easy to take, while at times emotional, is that they are not dealing with politics and political  commentary. 

Nowadays, we vehemently thrust our opinions at other people. When we post on social media, political controversy seems to rear it’s ugly head. Often I find that people feel they must emphatically argue their point with their friends or contacts. Do they really think they will change someone’s opinion this way? We know of stories in which people have lost their friends or barely speak to their families due to social media wars about political candidates or news. To me, this is is as sad or even sadder than the shows we watch for entertainment or diversion.

I do think that comedies with a certain weight and purpose can be relevant to our world and at the same time distract us from all the problems. But, in recent years this has not been done while walking the thin line of subtlety and suggestions. It is as if everything around us has grown brash and garish. There is no softness in the political world, no quiet innuendo in comedies. It would be wonderful if intelligent script writers could write comedies that make us think  about the present issues without forcing their political opinions down our throats. Until that time I see us wanting television to distract us from the twenty four news cycle.  Due to all of the various social media platforms impact on us, we want to feel real connections to our families, friends and colleagues.  Sometimes, television dramas are a substitute for the intimacy missing from our lives. More often, it makes us feel that our problems are not atypical and we are not alone with our challenges.

We want our world to be a little quieter. We would love our planet to be still like the top of a lake on a warm day. While we certainly do not want to be faced with problems,  we know with certainty that they will always come along.  So,we want television to warm our hearts, soothe our minds,and make us feel less alone.

 

 

When the stories we tell ourselves no longer serve us

It has happened again to me. I am sure it has happened to you at least once. For me the “IT” are the stories I have told myself over and over again. They come to the surface when I am alone and lost in my thoughts. Or they appear when I look like I am daydreaming. Yet, these thoughts are nothing like a dream. They are very disconcerting and can upset one’s sense peace and equilibrium. Someone perhaps a parent, teacher, partner, or even by ourselves we have ingrained these ideas into our very essence. This thinking does not feel separate and apart from us. Rather these thoughts encompass us. These thoughts are not positive and they certain do not uplift us.

There are all kinds of other half-truths or lies we tell ourselves. I am not smart enough. I am not a good enough spouse, parent, or child to my own parents. I cannot make my dreams into a reality. I am unlucky. I do not have what it takes. The people who do have what it takes are mentally stronger than I am. I am lesser than others. I am not of worthy of whatever I want. To all of this I say slow down, not so fast.

How do you know your thoughts are true? What evidence do you have to support your opinions about yourself? Do you have good and loving relationships with your children, parents, or spouse? Have you stopped dreaming of what you and your life could fully be? Have you tried really throwing yourself into making your dreams a reality? Have you consulted with people to get expert advice to obtain your goals? Have you taken a class just to maximize your potential growth and achievement?

Now let’s say you truly know that you could have a better relationship with a loved one. Perhaps your conversations only skim the surface. The emotional connections and depth you crave are not taking place within this particular relationship. I know what this is like. There was a time when I actually pulled away from someone I loved because the relationship felt shallow and meaningless. I thought that by speaking less frequently we would have more to say to one another when we did communicate. It was a mistake for me because by speaking less often we didn’t seem to have the basis for a true and honest dialogue. I know there are things you can try to make the interactions more to your liking. I have tried them with good levels of success. While not every relationship will grow deeper, from my experiences nine out of ten times with effort, and the right type of effort relationships will become enriched. A good place to start might be to speak to the person more frequently. When you do you could ask them more meaningful questions about themselves and their pursuits. You could also open up more of yourself and be slightly vulnerable about what is going on with you and your life. Taking a genuine interest and opening up both go a tremendous way in deepening relationships. If your relationship becomes more to your liking then you have corrected something important to you. I implore you to update the story you tell yourself to a the newer and better version. If you genuinely exerted energy trying to modify the friendship and it did not workout the way you hoped you also should rewrite the story you tell yourself in a positive manner. In this case you should praise yourself for a valiant effort. When we are dealing with others sometimes we cannot get things to improve. But we should always acknowledge our efforts and growth.

At times the lies we tell ourselves are deeply buried. Sometimes we do not even want to acknowledge that we thought our lives would turn out differently than they have. In a sense, we delude ourselves from thinking about our past and our former passions. I suppose we all have dreams in which once upon a time we thought we would make an impact on the world. I used to think I would be an award winning a journalist. I would uncover situations in which people were suffering, or corruption was going on in the government or in medical care. I thought people needed to know about these issues and I would be the one to break the story. I really didn’t have the bravery that it took to go to war torn parts of the world in my early and mid-twenties. Back then, I was actually pretty timid in unknown situations. I didn’t have the forcefulness to get into people’s faces with a microphone or recorder. I did try on this career while I was in college when I worked at a local television station. I discovered it wasn’t a good match for who I was at that point in my life . It was a dream and I haven’t forgotten that it was my dream.

The wonderful thing about dreams is that they can be revisited and adapted. A new version can come to fruition. I have taken a writing class and I plan on taking more. There is nothing like learning from experts when it is what you want to learn and become. When I was younger there was no such thing as blogging or becoming a self published author. Now they both exist. They are both possible and I have begun to make the updated version of my dream come true possible as a blogger. So far as a blogger I have not interviewed anyone, but; I am sure that if that is an avenue that I would like to pursue I will make it happen. I also had another dream in which I wanted to do something in the helping professions. Today there is a relatively new career which is working as a life and career coach. I went back to school to earn that certification as well.

My point of all this isn’t to say “Oh, look at me. I am fabulous. I can do anything I want to do”. My point is that I have honestly felt that I cannot make my dreams into a reality. I am unlucky. I do not have what it takes. The people who do have what it takes are mentally stronger than I am. I am lesser then others. I am unworthy of whatever I want. These statements are difficult for me to put out into the world knowing that anyone could read them. Yet, I think they are of immense importance to state them because we all feel lesser or overwhelmed at times. We all tell ourselves half truths and even lies about our most precious person, ourself. Often we do not know where or how to begin. Sometimes we do not remember our dreams. There are times we cannot even identify what we want to do with our lives or what we want to be. In those instance we feel frozen or locked within ourselves.

For many years I used to say “I am not sure what I to be when I grow up”. Let me assure I was already very much an adult when I was saying this. I had bills, a house, and a family. I was working but not very fulfilled creatively or professionally. I knew something had to change. For years I didn’t know what direction this would take. I didn’t know if it would ever happen. I do not know if you believe in the universe aligning, God, or using determination and your will to make things happen and transform. I believe in God. I believe in the universe aligning with God. But, mostly in cases where change and tenacity are required I believe in deep down soul searching. I know what it feels like to go through true, profound internal searching that takes us to places where comfort no longer resides. It is from the discomfort that you arrive at the spot that feels bare and almost raw. You then are able to be completely honest with yourself. It is within this space in your mind where you let go of what others will think of you. In this space you realize what decisions mean the most to you. I know it is important to believe that your drive, fearlessness, and backbone will see you through the days in which you say to yourself “what have I gotten myself into?” On those days which I have often, I use my dedication to my goals. I summon the courage of my convictions to myself and to my dreams to stick with it. I do so because living this one life in the most purposeful and dynamic way is my gift to those I encounter and to myself. I also know that I deserve to rewrite my stories which will make me happier and more successful. You are worthy of rewriting your stories too.