A year in review…or- Byeeeeeee 2019!

Dear Readers,

For the last two years I have been collecting microcosms of my days.

The first year I did it was last year and when our family was hit hard with health issues in June, I dropped it for a while, maybe 3 months but this year, from Day 1 to Day 365, I have made an entry about the following three things. In and of itself, I am really proud of that.

The double meaning of (Age) / The time is going by, so I am aging and also

A

G

E

ing-

A- Accomplished

G- Grateful

E- Enjoyed

In this jar, there are 365 small scraps of paper telling my story of 2019.

There have been ups

and downs

and while I try my best to keep things positive, I am going to go on record for the first time EVER with fervent farewell wishes to 2019. This year has really sucked and been full of struggle and loss. Not just for me, several of my friends have indicated a similar sentiment.

But you know what? That’s life and sometimes it’s more up than down and this year has been way more down than up, so take note and look into the face of 2020 with hope, my dear reader!

So why am I telling you this? Simple, because this daily ritual has FORCED me to find that good, and feel gratitude, and take an account of what I accomplished. It can be very easy to get bogged down by the rut of life and think things are ALWAYS going to suck and to paint things a lot darker than they truly are, so the ritual of looking back through my notes on the last day of the year, helps me find themes and commonalities to my year. It’s a great exercise and I recommend it to all.

There is no wrong way to do it either. If you want to use a box, go for it! If you like the jar but want to decorate it with polka dots, more power to you! Ooh, I might have to do that now. If you prefer to “go digital” and put it on your phone? Type away. However you do it, it’s bound to provide an impact to you and your life, trust me!

How about you, what rituals will you start or drop in 2020?

Think About It.

It’s Okay NOT to be Okay-

Dear Readers,

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, except it’s not that for everyone.

I really do try to keep it positive and spin things for the good as much as I can but this year has really sucked.

This weekend I attended my second funeral in as many months and that sucked.

One death was expected, the other was not.

To put it bluntly, this year has really been hard for my family.

Because of the unrelenting storm of stress and strife, it’s been pretty hard to find my holiday spirit this year, but I am doing my level best. Watching movies, listening to carols and putting up our tree.

Last week we did our family giving ritual, complete with our own little elf,

That last one usually does it, and again, this year it’s been hard. Especially knowing that so many of my friends are facing job loss, health issues, infertility struggles, and general depression.

So this got me wondering how many of us are walking around with fake smiles plastered on our faces, pretending to be “okay” or even “jolly” when we are anything but?

I think in this season especially, there is TREMENDOUS pressure to pretend all is merry and bright when in fact it’s the opposite.

So what can we do?

First, if you are not okay, acknowledge it and get some help and support.

Whatever that looks like, friends, family, therapy, do what you need to do. That might also mean limiting time with family and friends so you can avoid more stress. See last week’s post about boundaries.

Second, don’t assume everyone around you is holly and jolly. Ask people how they are doing today, and you know, listen.

Finally, be kind to everyone, even if it’s hard, even if they seem angry, you might be the only person who is kind to them anyway. So many people are unpleasant as a defense mechanism (I have definitely been unkind when not at my best) and very often a single act of kindness can turn that tide.

Rules for Success-

1. Be Kind

2. Be Kind

3. Be Kind

-Fred Rogers

Please know, if you are not okay, it REALLY is okay.

Promise.

Think About It.

Boundaries and Buffers

Dear Readers,

Have you ever said yes to doing something and immediately regretted it, and wound up resenting the person you said yes to?

You know why? Because you were choosing to please other people instead of adhering to your own boundaries.

Put another way-

You chose resentment over discomfort. – Brene’ Brown

It took me a loooooooooooooooong time to stop the constant people pleasing.

Due in large part to my good friend, Jessica Brill

And before her, my mom- Joan Ellen Young

That’s right, it took two people to stamp out the rampant “people pleaser” behavior that I was prone to exhibiting.

In fact, it took even more than that, because each person who I said “no” to was another person who helped me keep my boundaries strong.

I fervently wish I had recorded that first “NO”

Then again, I guess it would be weird to call that person and remind them I said “No” thus defining a boundary.

When we were getting out of debt, my husband and I got a lot of practice saying no, it’s not in the budget or really just “no”. We also learned a metric ton about the usefulness of a buffer. Like, you always want to have a little extra in your accounts, in case of “the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing” happens and now you have 50.00 less than you thought, which dovetails nicely back to boundaries, less money, more “no”.

After all, “No.” is a complete sentence.

In this holiday season, it’s easy to overcommit yourself and your time, so please, do yourself a favor and set some boundaries and buffers.

Start small, say nothing when someone asks you to do something or go somewhere and really think, Do I want to?

If the answer is no, and you can’t quite bring yourself to say “no” yet, say, let me think about it and get back to you. Then think about it and get back to them.

If you are feeling it, go ahead and say, No.

I know it will feel awkward and like you want to add a sorry, but don’t.

Also, build in a few self-boundaries or buffers for yourself while you are at it.

For example, if you know something is due by 4pm, if you can have it done by 3:00, why not design your day to get it done early? I get there will be times that you can’t build in a buffer, but when you can, do it.

“Between buffers and boundaries, you will find a great deal of inner peace” Professor Haston

Think About It.

And then, SAY NO.

Waiting……

Ugh! I don’t know about you, but I HATE to wait!

Dear Readers,

I have been working on this post for a while. So you were waiting, but didn’t know it.

When I think about waiting and what it means, I cast my mind back to when I saw the movie, “Rudy” and when he waits by the mailboxes for his letter of acceptance. Each time with a hopeful smile and spring in his step. I find that movie to be so inspiring on so many levels and hope to meet the real life Rudy someday.

But, back to me, and waiting.

First things first- let’s define the word wait-

It really depends what you are waiting for as to what definition you most identify with.

I can’t speak for you, but over the last six months I have been in one of these two states.

When

All

Is

Transitioning

Or, on darker days, it means

When

All

Is

Terrible

Not to put too fine a point on it, no matter what way I define it, it SUCKS out LOUD to WAIT.

Why is it so hard? I think it really comes down to the uncertainty of it all.

Because while it also really sucks to be told no, it’s still a resolution. You can not like the outcome, but it’s still an outcome. The uncertainty of “waititude” is what makes it so hard, you can’t move, you can’t plan, and you can’t take action. I think that part is the hardest and creates the most difficult byproduct to waiting, worrying.

A quote I have heard that I like is

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.

Corrie Ten Boom

It hits me right between the eyes, because I am a recovering worrywart, I used to worry about everything. It’s been a slow slog, and honestly, it was my Mom who helped me most with it, when she said, “I know you worry about everything so…”

I stopped her and said, “No, that isn’t true any more. I have a healthy concern but I don’t worry needlessly any more”

She has never said that about me again which is a powerful motivator for me to keep it true.

So how did I learn to stop worrying needlessly?

Well, it’s not magical, it’s engaging those logical and rational members from the “classroom of my brain” and examining the following three questions:

1. What do I want?

2. What am I doing to get it?

3. How is it working for me?

(If the answer to number 3 is “not that well” I look to see if the outcome of what I am waiting on rests with me or with others, and if it is up to me, I adjust my strategy or do what I can (in other words, control my controllables) If what I am waiting on rests upon others, I let it go, because it’s our of my control therefore nothing I do or do not do will impact the outcome.

If you are a control connoisseur like myself and so many are, these are words that engender a great deal of frustration, but I invite you to reframe that into freedom, because if it’s not up to you, you just have to wait and do your best NOT to worry.

If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.- The Dalai Lama

Easy for him to say, right?
Please do not misunderstand my words, I am not trying to diminish the awful and tiresome frustration that comes from waiting, rather trying to offer some tools to help you make it stay in the waiting category and not move to worrying needlessly over the things you have zero control over.
By the way, let me do a public service for anyone who is waiting on something and tell your well-meaning friends and family. Please stop saying insipid and unhelpful things like.

“It will all work out”

“Don’t worry about it”

“Things happen for a reason”

Just stop this, please.

The danger is when the waiting becomes synonymous with worrying. -Professor Haston

The other thing I try my best to do is remember times in my life that waiting was part of something wonderful (eventually)

Here are some examples-

If you are like so many I know that are waiting, please take heart and seek out a friend or support to lean on in this time of stress and try your best to avoid worrying, and focus your efforts on what you can do.

Think About It.