The Gratitude and the Struggle…

Dear Readers,

Disclaimer: if you are feeling overwhelmed and not willing to look at the things you have to be grateful for, and simply want to focus on the struggle, I respect that.

I vacillate daily between, “this really sucks” and “it’s not really that bad”.

But then, I heard Brene’ Brown’s podcast and she urged us not to engage in comparative suffering, but to practice extreme empathy, especially with ourselves.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that fear and scarcity immediately trigger comparison, and even pain and hurt are not immune to being assessed or ranked. [However,] the refugee in Syria doesn’t benefit more if you conserve your kindness only for her and withhold it from your neighbor who’s going through a divorce.

Brene Brown

I am guilty of this.

Typical phrase.

“There are people dying, why am I complaining about how much I want to go to the gym or how frustrating it is to not see a show I wanted to see.”

We minimize it, even using words like, “it’s such a first world problem” – or “I really shouldn’t complain/vent/bellyache about this, but…”

Why? Why do we minimize what upsets us?

Sometimes it’s a way to gain permission, because you are testing the room to see if the other person is ready to listen and support, or if they are going to try to outcomplain you… or try to make you feel better by saying, “at least you have a job” because they don’t or something similar.

I am going to stop saying, “first world problem” and just talk about what I am struggling with and I invite you all to do the same. It might be that you are sick of your four walls, it might be that you feel useless because you can’t go anywhere.

I am frustrated that this virus is stopping me from going to the park with my little girl. She keeps saying “park” and “gym” and I have to keep saying, “no, we can’t go to the park”. I hate that. It frustrates me, not the saying no part, that’s parenting. I hate that it’s not my choice. I hate that I can’t see her face light up when she runs to the swings right now. I have a lot of pictures that I can look at, and there is nothing like that look of pure joy she gets when she is delighted, so I miss it.

On the flipside, I am grateful for the chance to discover new ways to get that look on her face. For example, tonight, we were doing some coloring and she told me, color turtle green, so I did. I asked her, “do you want to color it or do you want Mommy to color it?” She squealed (squeeeeee) and said, “Mommy!!!!” and there was that look. Ah. There you go, munchkin. Look, we figured out a new thing to make you happy and I am grateful for it. I am grateful to my friends who keep checking on me, since they know I am a social butterfly currently stuck in a cocoon…

I am grateful to my friend, Erin who inspired today’s post because while we send a gratitude list (literally a list of things we are grateful for) to each other, it was her idea to talk about the struggles too. Yin and Yang.

I tend to look at life through rose-colored glasses, and in the last year, that has become a whole lot harder to do, and it’s that much more important to maintain.

Take a minute to reach out and tell someone your struggles and your joys (things you are grateful for) right now!

Think About It!!

The Professor Helps

Feeling pretty helpless? You are not alone. We are not alone. It may feel like it, and sitting in your house and looking at your four walls might make you feel like it, everyone is a phone call (wouldn’t it be nice if people called each other more because of this?) text, FaceTime or (insert your favourite platform here) away.

Today’s message? Look for the good, and if you don’t find it. BE The Good!

Look for the good…

Dear Readers,

I don’t know about you but I am pretty freaked out about this virus.

And before you ask, no, I am not high risk for it, and it’s still scary as anything any of us have ever faced, excepting maybe the Holocaust, which by all accounts is cited over and over as the worst thing ever in the so my use of the example should be a good indicator of how little frame of reference I actually have for this thing.

I have several friends and family members who are high risk and it’s terrifying to think that someone they don’t even know could get them sick and they could die if they get it. Scarier still, I could have it and not know it and give it to them.

I think if we are honest, we are all very scared and making the best of a bad situation. (Insert FaceTime -and other Virtual platforms here)

Viv and Mom on Facetime

How about you? Are you calm? Freaked out? Nonchalant? Somewhere in the middle or none of the above?

I will say that I am relieved that we have so many cities taking it seriously and insisting on “stay in place” orders to help “flatten the curve” and stop the spread.

So what to do to feel better?

1. Make sure to follow the CDC guidelines-

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html

2. Consult with a therapist, (but Professor Haston, we can’t leave the house, how can we see the therapist?)

Glad you asked! Welcome to teletherapy! In response to this pandemic, several therapists are offering care via virtual platforms.

3. Review the guidelines, wash your hands and ask, am I doing all I can do to prevent the spread?

4. Find an outlet- Meditate, draw, sing, dance, This can be a great opportunity to write your book/song/YouTube Channel show.

5. Read the news (sparingly!) to stay informed and if/when you feel your anxiety ratchet up, reach out to a friend, and make a plan to “virtually hang out”

6. Look for the good. There are lots of stories out in the news about moguls giving money to help find a cure. That’s good, and isn’t getting shared as much as it could be. Also, if you can’t find the good, be the good. Thank your grocery store clerk for being a hero/heroine for coming to work with a smile on their face, and if they are stressed (who wouldn’t be?) say, wow, it’s tough, or something like it, you might be the only person who notices them and really SEES the human in front of you.

So that’s my message this week, look for the good and be the good in the world.

It’s a great time to be kind.

Think About It.

Be There…. Virtually

Dear Readers-

It’s scary out there so please be sure- (for the millionth time) to wash your hands and practice social distance.

Read articles from the CDC to get your information and more importantly share your information.

Plan ahead- if you are going to be somewhere stay 6 feet away from the other person!

I reiterate, it’s so important that we be there- VIRTUALLY right now.

It took me a long time to stop the needless worry and to “healthy level of concern” and I want to continue that even in this time of fear and worry.

Wash your hands, stay safe and tell me about something you cancelled or was cancelled for you, and the flip side, what are you doing to “stay social” through social distance?

The Professor Helps! Professor Haston- speaker, writer, author- Inspiring YOU to your best life

The Value of Being There…

Dear Readers,

This past weekend, I got to spend time with my best friend, Dr. Keya Howard Litt!

In preparing to write today’s post, I started thinking about the longevity and depth of the friendship as we got some real quality time (in person)!!!!!!!

This is pretty rare for us. Why? Because she and I have lived in different time zones and different countries for most of our friendship. Especially in milestone moments.

For example, when I got married, she came to Texas to “be there” from many miles, and vice versa! (Her from across country, me from across the state, but why quibble?)

The Doctor and The Professor

Come to think of it, she was there when I did my first show in two years, she came to not only support me (while job hunting, mind you!) and providing her niece childcare and my husband and I, a very much needed “day date”

It’s a real gift to be so close to someone that you often think the same things, and even now after 16 years of friendship, we have discovered new things about each other, for instance, she HATES avocados and I LOVE them. We both dislike beer, and enjoy cider (thanks for the suggestion, Dr!!)

I could tell lots of stories but it all boils down to her “being there“ over and over and over again.

Movie Time!

In millions of ways and for oh so many days, she is “there” and it’s a wonderful gift. It is better known as quality time in the lexicon of love languages and it can be quiet, (a text when she knows it’s a hard day for me) or loud when we scream with excitement together.

“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing we can do is just show up”- Brene Brown

As this goes to print, I am delighted to share she will be a Mom soon and that will be a new and wonderful (often frustrating) thing we will have in common.

I look forward to a lot more chances to “be there” for her and my nephew.

Thank you, Dr. Howard Litt, you are an amazing friend and I love you to bits and pieces.

Who do you have in your life who ALWAYS is there?

Take a minute to thank them publicly or privately. I am sure they would love it.

Think About It!

Missing what you never had….

Dear Readers,

Today is a hard day for my husband and I, because five years ago, we had a miscarriage.

It still hurts, and every year on this day, I get a twinge and I am reminded all over again about the baby we lost.

John Alan Haston- 3/10/15

It’s so interesting to me, that our day of sad remembrance is a day of jubilee for others.

I remember clearly a friend telling me, “Don’t hold back your sad news in the face of my joy or your happy news in the face of my sadness”

I often think about that when this day comes around, and while it’s true that you cannot have flowers without rain, but the rain can be so cold and unforgiving, it’s hard to forget it does have a purpose.

I am going to go on sharing this because it’s something we as a society, do not talk about enough. So my call to action to you, dear readers, is if you have a similar experience, or someone who has had a miscarriage, please please post a heart or a ❤ on this post to stand in solidarity with those who have had loss.

I am sad today, and that is because we lost our child.

No amount of “sorry for your loss” changes that, and it’s something we say because in loss, there is little to say to bring comfort, other than to just “be there”

It’s often underestimated as a thing to do, and sometimes it is the only thing to be done.

Think About It.

When Something Sucks, It Sucks!

Dear Readers,

In my life, I have known some loss, and sad to say, I will likely know more, that’s part of life.

(Really missing Poppa Joe today)

My message today is “If Something Sucks, It sucks”

If you lost your job, whether fired or laid off, that sucks.

(It has happened to me four times and each time sucked just as much as the first)

If someone dies. It sucks.

If someone has cancer. It sucks.

Frankly no amount of “spin” can make a loss feel better- Professor Haston

Trust me, I know what I am talking about. You have to let grief and sadness and anger and rage have it’s turn.

The message is simple, into each life, a little sadness must fall.

When you are in the middle of something hard, and you seek comfort, you aren’t looking for someone to tell you how much better life will be because this horrible thing is actually a good thing. I can’t think of anything less comforting to hear, though people say it to people frequently in times of difficulty.

It’s easy to understand why, because we all really want to comfort our fellow human in time of crisis and we don’t always know what to say, so we reach for a platitude, something, anything to avoid the pain and frustration they are feeling. Here’s an idea, the next time a fellow human comes to you and shares their pain, why not say that?

“I don’t even know what to say right now, I am so glad you told me”

Believe it or not, that helps more than “at least you had someone you loved so deeply” or “at least (insert mitigating factor to existing pain here)

I wish I could take credit for that, but it belongs to Professor Brené Brown-

“Embrace The Suck” – Professor Brené Brown

In the beginning of the event, you need to feel your feelings, you need to be scared, you need to be as angry as you feel. It’s only after time passes (the waiting, Ugh!!) that you have the ability and perspective to see these things.

I am all for being positive and “reframing” and there is a time and a place for it to have maximum impact, and skipping over the bad and sad to “get to the part” where you feel better isn’t really going to work. Trust me, I have tried this, multiple times, that scene will not play.

You must go through it to get to the other side, there are NO shortcuts.

So back to “embracing the suck” – calling out that thing which sucks, is just as important as if not MORE so than the act of “reframing” or painting the situation with a yellow brush or silver lining.

Easy to say, HARD to do. I know.

Think About It.