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Friday, December 31, 2010

Take it easy on yourself

So here we are at the end of another year. Usually around this time every year, I am thinking about my goals for the coming year and mapping them out. This year though, I just don't care. Well, I care, but not in the same way I used to. I believe this is called personal growth. 

Every New Year's Eve, people make resolutions that they are not likely to stick to and then when they find that they have not stuck to them (usually somewhere around January 2nd), they get all depressed and fall into a cycle of internal anger, which is soothed by a cookie and there goes the weight loss goals, which begins a downward spiral into not exercising, which brings about more self-loathing, which is soothed by some alcohol...yeah, you can see where this is going.


People...TAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF! It's not a bad thing to have goals and it's not a bad thing to map them out. It is bad to think this particular day of the year is the only time you can do so and that if you fall down on some of the goals, you have to be upset and let go of the goals until the next New Year's Eve. Do not put a huge amount of importance on this one day. Work steadily EVERY SINGLE DAY throughout the year to make progress toward what you want to do and if you fall down once or twice, get back up and keep on going.


We all put too much emphasis on particular days such as New Year's Eve and in the end, that can be harmful to our plans. Make your list of resolutions, but recognize that they are an all-year project and that it's OK if you "fail" on some of those days because you have 365 of them to work with. As long as you're doing well on the majority of the days, you're good. Remember that and take it easy on yourself. Your success is not defined by one day, it is defined by what you do every single day and whether that adds up to achievement of your goal(s). So give yourself a break and go forward!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Calm

Always

This morning, I prayed. I needed a favor from God. It wasn't anything major. In fact, it was something small, but I really needed it. I prayed hard this morning and then I got up to do the things I needed to do today. On my return home, I found out God had granted my request. And I realized, finally, what it means to have faith. To know that God does all the things for us that we need and that if we ask, He will provide. Sometimes it's not the way that we think we need it and sometimes, like today, it's exactly what we asked for.


Either way, I now know that God has it all under control. I've always known this in the abstract and I've had an incredible number of miracles take place in my life. I just didn't see them fully and completely for what they were. Today though, when He granted the request exactly as I had asked for it, I realized "Hey! God has my back. It's all good." And that my friends may be the greatest miracle of all - to finally know that I can let go of the anxiety about the millions of little things that I worry about. This was God's way of showing me that He is with me and that I do not need to worry. Thank you God for granting my request and for always, always being with me. I am never alone, He is always with me, always guiding me, always keeping me. Always.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tested

It's been an unbelievably busy week. Wednesday was a staff meeting/Christmas party at work, Friday was an afternoon holiday party and then an evening murder mystery "Who Killed Santa" holiday party for a company I do contract work for. Saturday evening was a birthday dinner for a friend of mine and today, I am hanging out with another friend doing a pizza and movie day. It's our Christmas gift to each other - the present of presence. I have wonderful, amazing friends and I am so grateful for every single one of them who loves me for all my great qualities and my, well, not-so-great qualities. My friends are a gift that I am given every single day.

It's a good thing those friends are in my life because 2010 has been really difficult for a lot of us. I blogged about that just recently. There has been a lot of loss and a lot of pain for a lot of people. A lot is the key word there. I know 2011 will be better for everyone. I feel it in my bones. The time of a lot of pain and loss has passed. 

There will always be pain and loss in life, but I am of the belief that it should be spaced farther apart than it was this year. I know that this year was about faith in every area of my life. It was about knowing that God is in control and will take care of my needs if only I will let Him. I have decided to let Him because He always does a better job of it than I ever will. I am grateful that God is as forgiving as He is. I have needed that this year. Faith untested is faith unknown. We must be tested if we are ever to declare that we truly have faith. Faith is easier said than done. It's only in the really hard times that we know if we truly have faith. I like to think I have passed the test.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Pawlidays from Shutterfly!

Those who know me know that I love my dog, Peanut. She is more than a dog to me, she is my baby and I treat her as such. This includes taking a yearly picture of Peanut with her doggy brothers (and yes, I do love them too!). This year, I will be getting our Christmas cards from Shutterfly as I have done in past years. They have excellent card designs and they are super easy to make. I don’t know that there is another site that is more user-friendly.

Of course, I always take a million pictures of Peanut and the boys at Christmas so I may have to go with a card that allows me to use several pictures on one card. Shutterfly has those if I decide to go that route. Or, I could just go with a single photo on one of their many awesome card designs. It’s tough to choose. Whatever we go with, I know that our friends and family are going to love the cards! Peanut is just so cute and so are her brothers. I love taking their photos every year and sharing them with our loved ones.
I need to pick a card format. Tough to do, but these are some great ideas: 

How cute would Peanut and her brothers look in this Christmas Tree design? 


Or maybe, this single photo card so they can be seen with a neat border?




This one is great too because the blue would match the pink in Peanut's little pink coat. Hmmm...


You'll know which one we chose when you receive our card. Thanks Shutterfly for so many great options!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Me too

I have heard many people say that blogs are a reflection of narcissism - that is, that people who write about their lives are wrapped up in themselves and looking for others to supply them with adoration, self-esteem, etc. Clearly, I do not believe this.

There are two big reasons that a lot of people write blogs in my opinion. First, it's because we need to purge our thoughts and feelings. We need to be heard if only through the screen. People in real life are often very bad about listening and being there for others. We are often told to "suck it up" and "other people have it worse" as if our trials and tribulations are "less than." Other people's suffering does not negate our own. And yet, we are often treated as though we are not allowed to feel badly about a loss or disappointment. Blogging allows us to purge those feelings of sadness, of loss, of loneliness, of "DAMN THIS SUCKS!" We all need that.

Second, I believe people write blogs because it's a way to know that we are not alone in our feelings, our losses, our disappointments. There are few people in real life to whom you can say "I feel sad and lonely. I am hurting." Most people, outside of therapists, have no idea how to react to that kind of statement. They get flustered and awkward because they don't know what to say. In the blog world, people take their time to compose comments to your feelings, comments of hope, love, and most of all, of connection. There is great comfort in hearing someone say "I understand" and then, in the rest of their comment, they go on to tell you exactly why they understand. And you know they do. You know they really, truly get it. There is such peace in knowing that.

There is also peace in knowing you are not alone. It is a joy to read a blog and say to yourself "Me too!" To realize how many times you have felt the way the blog writer is feeling, how many times you have hoped you are not alone in your feelings. And then, to read someone else so eloquently express what you have felt, what you have suffered with, what you have been hurt by...well, there is nothing better. I can only hope that my blog has done that for someone. Feeling understood, feeling accepted, feeling as though you are not a freak for what you think - those are powerful and soothing feelings.

 We don't know everyone who reads our blogs and we never will. But someone, somewhere in the world is reading and thinking about how our words have, in some way, soothed their loneliness, their pain. And we are doing the same when we read someone else's words that seem to speak directly to us. That is not narcissism, it is kindness.

Friday, December 3, 2010

What we lose and what we gain

This has been a difficult year. It has been a year of great losses and yet, tremendous gains. This week, I had a conversation with two different people at different times, both of whom said "This year has been hard. Next year will be better."

Those conversations made me think about what we lose and then, what we gain. A dear friend of mine lost a baby this year at nearly 20 weeks along. The baby had genetic defects that caused his death in utero. My friend got pregnant again two months later and miscarried that child as well. She is now pregnant again for the third time this year. She has two healthy boys already so she knows she can have healthy, beautiful children. And yet - there is always a cautious outlook whenever you have lost a child (or two). There is always a tightness in the chest, a feeling of "what if," but at the same time a feeling of incredible joy that a new life is on the way. We lose something and we gain something - a feeling of joy born of previous grief and hope.

Death has been a central theme this year for me and for many others I know. On November 30, my mother's best friend of more than 50 years, Becky (known to us as Beck), passed away. She had battled health problems for many years and passed peacefully in her sleep at the hospital. She was like a mother to me and her son is like a brother to me. Her son and I went to law school together and survived some tough times both in school and outside of it. I ache for him and for her daughter as well. They are both such amazing people. Her son is married and his wife is pregnant with what would have been Beck's first grandchild. We have lost her, but there is a child being formed by God right now whose grandmother is watching the formation, and will forever watch over this very special child. What we gain...

The death of our loved ones is always a tremendous loss. There are no words of comfort, nothing that can make it better, nothing that will bring us the peace we so desperately crave in those first few days. We do not get over it, we simply get used to it. There is always a tiny hole in our heart where that person has resided for the time they were in our lives. But we gain the strength of having survived their passing and of knowing there are others who are grieving with us. We gain the knowledge that they are watching us, guiding us in those subtle ways that we don't always connect with them, but that upon reflection we know can only be their work in our lives. What we gain...