Gratitude virtue

Total Gratitude Tuesday: volume V

 

Gratitude virtue

It’s Total Gratitude Tuesday again!

I started this particular series as a way to make sure that I kept up with the writing of this blog, no matter how things were going in my life at the time. It was a commitment I made to myself and to the blog – I would write at least once a week by making sure that I did this weekly post. I had hoped that it would also reinforce a habit that I was trying to cultivate in my own life, which was simply to focus more on gratitude. I’m still amazed at what a difference this one habit has made in changing my outlook. Even when I’m struggling with depression, I can find something for which I’m grateful, even if it’s something as basic as having a roof over my head and food in the cupboards. I find that the more I focus on what’s good in my life, the easier it is to deal with the rough days.

On to this week’s list!

big magic

So this is what I’m reading right now, and it is really changing the way that I look at creativity and what being creative really means. You might know Elizabeth Gilbert as the author of the bestseller “Eat, Pray, Love”. This book is a radically different way of looking at what it means to be a creative person because according to Liz, everyone is creative. So it’s not some elitist group of magical people that you and I can’t be a part of. I really love any book that challenges my preconceived notions (like what it means to be an artist) and makes me think in a different way and this book really does that on a grand scale. She also talks a lot about her struggles with anxiety and how she decided to push past her fears to start creating. It’s page after page of revelations and challenges to your mindset about creativity. It’s amazing! (Click on the photo of the book to see it on Amazon or to order it.)

And while we’re on the subject of books,  I have to mention libraries. I don’t know how I’d get along without them. As soon as I was old enough to ride my bike on my own, I was riding a mile each way to the library several times a week to borrow books. This continued through childhood into my teenage years until finally, when I was 22, I got a job there. At one point, I was working part-time at the public library here in town and as a school librarian as well! I could spend all day at the library (and have from time to time) wandering the stacks, leafing through reference books and doing genealogy research. I don’t know how much money they’ve saved me through the years (even after taking into consideration the overdue fines I’ve paid.) Although I have bought a lot of books, I’ve borrowed thousands and thousands in the 40 or so years I’ve been using libraries.

cottonelle

Social media is a big part of blogging, and while I feel like I can figure out Facebook and Instagram well enough, Twitter has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve never really understood the point of it, but for whatever reason, I got exposure for my blog more easily on Twitter than some of the other platforms, so I resolved that I was going to learn how to use it properly. And then I came across the SITS Girls and their Twitter parties and I am so glad I did! The SITS Girls is a website that has formed a community for bloggers with help and tips and they also help connect influencers and companies that need them. About once a week they run a Twitter party with a sponsor and I’ve joined in on several of these. They’re lots of fun, I get a chance to meet other bloggers and sponsors and on my second Twitter party, I won a prize pack and a $100 VISA gift card! I’m still learning but the SITS Girls has become a really valuable resource for me and I have to say winning prizes makes the learning curve a little easier to bear!

And finally, I was featured on another blog Inspire Passport this week! The post was all about the beauty of dreams and making plans for the future. It’s my first time as a guest blogger, so I’m pretty excited about it! I love the idea of working with other bloggers and plan to do it here in the upcoming months (so stay tuned for that!)

And that’s what I’m grateful for right now. I’d love to hear what you’re expressing gratitude for in your life. Comment here or find me in my new Facebook group The Happy Tribe, where we’re sharing gratitude, positivity and happiness every day!

Much love – Mama Bear

if you're going through hell

If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going

if you're going through hell, keep going

I have that exact magnet on my refrigerator, and I’ll tell you why…

This weekend marks the sixth anniversary of the beginning of a period of dramatic change in my life. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the beginning of one of the roughest periods of my life as well. It began when one of our pugs, Coco, who was only 5 years old, died suddenly in our home. Just four days later, my dad was involved in a DUI that was so bad that the EMTs and police were sure that it was a fatality when they arrived on the scene. I actually drove by the scene as they were cleaning it up but had no idea it was my dad until the following day when my husband heard through it through the grapevine and had to come home and let me know. I was fairly certain I was going to lose my mind at that point. I was so shaken up at the idea of nearly losing Dad and so angry with him for not letting the emergency workers contact me to let me know that he’d been hurt. He was so concerned with keeping the fact that he’d been drinking from me that he couldn’t understand why I was so hurt.

Then just two weeks later, I got a call letting me know that my beloved grandma Dorothy was dying. I’ve talked about her before – she was my heroine, my role model and really, the only mother I ever knew. Even though it scared me, I stayed there in the room with her and my other family members as she passed. I’ve since come to realize that it was a profound gift to be there with her when she left this world, even though the pain of losing her was almost unbearable.

Over the next year or so, I lost two more family members. I never felt like I healed from any of those wounds before the next blow came. Then in February 2011, I went in for surgery to repair herniated and blown disks in my neck. While I was healing from my surgery, I found out my mom, who was living in New Mexico at the time, was gravely ill. She’d suffered a stroke and some other health issues right before I went in for my surgery, but it seemed that she was healing, albeit slowly. Within a month, she was gone. Even when my brother came to my house to prepare me (he’d gotten a call letting him know that Mom wasn’t going to last the night), I kept thinking he’d come to tell me that she was improving. Up until we got that final call, I still didn’t believe it. Her funeral services are a blur to me – I had a friend ask me recently if she’d attended Mom’s viewing, and I honestly can’t remember for sure. Those days I could barely get out of bed and the only thing that kept me from absolutely breaking apart was my family and Xanax. A bunch of drama blew up after she passed, but at that point, I didn’t even care.

Then in May, my grandpa Chester passed away. He’d been fighting Alzheimer’s for years, following a series of strokes and heart attacks, but he always seemed so strong even in spite of all that. The shock of losing him never fully set in – I had become so numb from all the other loss I think my mind just shut down at that point.

Soon after all this, our two oldest children moved out on their own. I wasn’t prepared at all for how that would affect me. They only lived an hour away, but not seeing them every day was just one more loss I wasn’t prepared to deal with.

Things were quiet for awhile and then in April of 2012, we found out my father-in-law George had lung cancer. Within 7 short months, he was gone. Even when the nurses said he only had 3 weeks to live, I thought they were full of shit. This was a guy who should’ve been retired but could never sit still long enough to enjoy retirement. He was still working, still mowing grass, working on the house, helping all of us out with various projects around our houses. George was a do-er. He was a man of steel. Invincible. And then he was gone. I didn’t even know how to help my husband and children grieve his loss at that point. I remember seeing my dad at the viewing, shaking my husband’s hand, giving me a hug, not knowing what to say, feeling so helpless. I knew how he felt.

Three months later, Daddy was gone. It happened so suddenly, and the circumstances were just horrific. I still have no idea how I got through the week leading up to his funeral. My dad wasn’t married, so it fell to my brother and I to do all the funeral planning, which I think was actually a lifesaver. It kept me busy enough that I didn’t have to think too much or feel too much. The day of the funeral came and I remember feeling so angry. Angry that I’d lost him so soon, angry at all the stupid, pointless things people say in those kind of situations, angry with myself for being angry at people who were just trying to be nice, angry that I hadn’t had a chance to say good-bye, angry that I wasn’t there with him when he died. The funeral itself is a blur. I remember getting hysterical at one point when they handed me the flag from his casket, but I don’t remember much else.

Six months after Dad died, his brother Doug passed suddenly. It was like losing Dad all over again. I hadn’t even begun to start grieving my dad when I lost another family member. At that point, I was just pissed at the entire world. Sick of funerals, scared to death to answer my phone for fear it was bad news, and convinced that I was cursed somehow. I really felt that life was testing me – pushing me to see just how much it would take to finally break me. I was terrified that something would happen to my kids or my husband because I knew that would be the thing that would send me over the edge.

And every day I’d pass by that goddamn magnet. I’m pretty sure I nearly threw it away about a dozen times. I’m absolutely sure I flipped it the bird a time or twelve. “Keep going”?!? Like I had any other choice! I cried and ranted and raved and broke things so many times and yet I kept going. I didn’t know what else to do. Lucky for me I’m stubborn as all hell.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, it’s not for sympathy. And it’s not to one up anyone who’s gone through their own hell. It’s to prove a point, and that is this: that stupid magnet is right. The only way to get through hell is just to keep going. If I’d stopped at any point and let all that shit catch up to me, I’m not sure I’d be here right now. If I’d allowed myself to climb into a beer bottle or a bottle of Xanax to cope, I’d be stuck right in that same hell. I had to keep going and I was determined not only was I going to keep going, I was going to somehow create a better life for myself out of all the wreckage. And I have. It’s been years of progress and setbacks, of soul-crushing depths and also moments of heartbreaking beauty. It’s been a dirty, nasty, knock-down-drag-out fight, but I survived it and I used it to make the life that I have now. And my life now is pretty damn good.

Does any of this make me an expert on depression or grief or recovery or any of that stuff? No, not at all. It just means when I talk about changing your life by changing your thinking, I know it can work. It means that I know that it’s not easy to overhaul your entire mindset with positive thinking and self-care, but I know it can be done and I know that it’s worth it. It means that I’ve been through hell and clawed my way out of it. I’m not saying this as someone who’s had a rough day here and there and decided I wanted to write a self-help blog full of perky quotes. I think that there’s a bigger “why” in all of this and I think I made it through not just so that I could finally have a peaceful, happy life, but so that I could share what I’ve been through and hopefully make others see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not an oncoming train! I’m not someone who’s necessarily comfortable with showing all my scars, but I don’t think that any of this matters unless I’m honest and open about why I’m passionate about what I’m doing.

So if you’re going through hell, keep going. And trust me when I say that it’s worth the fight. YOU’RE worth the fight.

Much love – Mama Bear

 

happy tribe small

Introducing The Happy Tribe!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce a new Facebook group – The Happy Tribe!

The Happy Tribe

The Happy Tribe is a project that is near and dear to my heart. It’s a Facebook group based on the idea that we all do better and are a lot happier, when we find our “tribe”. In this case, our tribe is made up of people who are devoted to the idea that positive thinking and whole living are vital components of a happy life. We’re devoted to acceptance and building one another up, in good times and bad, and celebrating one another’s successes – big or small. And we’re dedicated to lending each other an ear, a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on when we’re having trouble finding our smile. We’re committed to educating ourselves and others about the best ways to deal with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. And we’re headed out into the big, wide world to spread the love and positivity in any way that we can.

And since you’re reading this blog, I’m betting you’re interested in at least some of those things, too. So how would you like to come be a part of our tribe? We’d love to have you. Just click on the photo above to be taken to our Facebook group (or any of the underlined purple links) and put a request in to join the group. I promise you’ll be happy you did!

Come on over and join The Happy Tribe!

Wishing you peace, love and a happy weekend! – Mama Bear

darkest night IG

Total Gratitude Tuesday – Volume IV

Here it is Tuesday again already! The weeks seem like they’re going faster and faster the closer we get to winter!

This week was a bit slower than the week before, which is good but I still had plenty of things for which I’m grateful, including:

Last Tuesday night my husband and I went to see Paul McCartney in concert. Yes, THE Paul McCartney. It felt absolutely surreal to even be there. I’ve always liked the Beatles, but when we started dating in high school, my husband was definitely the biggest fan I’d ever met that was our age. I can remember so many long nights when we were just becoming friends, sitting in his car listening to their songs on the car stereo, talking for hours on end. (Yes, talking. Lol) And then I remember our very first date on a very cold, blustery February night, driving to a restaurant an hour away, stomach full of butterflies, while “The Beatles 1962-1966” played. I think that was our soundtrack to falling in love with one another. And here we are, almost 28 years later, and we got to see Paul McCartney sing those songs live. I can tell you, if you get a chance to go see him, do it. He’s 73 years old, yet his voice and his music skills are just as good as ever, and he’s just a ball of energy on stage. He puts on an absolutely amazing show! It’s without a doubt the best concert I’ve ever attended. And most of the night it felt like it was just the two of us even though there were probably 20,000 other people in the arena. What a wonderful experience!

paul mccartney stage

Okay, this may seem like a small thing, but I’m also super stoked that “The Walking Dead” is back on! If you’re a diehard fan (and I am), the wait between seasons seems like it lasts eons. We don’t have cable anymore, so we had to watch it online, but wow – it’s definitely been worth the wait so far. I love that it starts in October – perfect way to lead up to my favorite holiday – Halloween!

And finally, if you read my last post, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling with my depression a bit lately. While I’m not necessarily thankful for the struggle, I am thankful that I’ve done the hard work to improve my attitude so that it’s easier for me to remember that these rough patches don’t last. It’s so much easier for me now to sit quietly for a time and wait it out, meanwhile making sure that I’m taking good care of myself. Realizing what triggers it for me, recognizing the signs that it’s getting worse, and knowing what to do when it happens have been invaluable tools in working through the bad spells. I just tell myself that even if I don’t feel great right now, I’ll get there again.

As always, I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for this week – comment below, find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and let me know!

Take care. – Mama Bear

darkest night

you do you

You Do You

I’ve been kind of quiet lately. I’ve been really busy, I’ve had some health issues that I still haven’t solved to my satisfaction (the next doctor that says the words “menopause” or “at your age” is gonna get punched), and to be completely honest, I’ve been struggling a bit. I’ve made some life changes that weren’t really accepted as well as I’d hoped, and while it didn’t surprise me all that much, it still hurts. That’s not something I’m always comfortable admitting, especially to people I don’t know really well. I’ve started to write a couple of times, but I would stop midway through a post and think, “Nah, I’m not going to go Debbie Downer on everybody.” Then I realized that maybe being totally honest is exactly what I should do since it’s pretty much my entire reason for starting this blog.

I don’t beat myself up for my need to hibernate anymore. I used to be so critical of my need to hide from the world and lick my wounds when things got tough. Now I have come to realize that it’s simply my way of coping. I also used to have people in my life that criticized me for it – for “hiding from the people that wanted to help me” – and even lost a few friends along the way because of it. But y’know, I don’t criticize other people for the way they handle things, and I don’t try to change them (unless of course, they’re involved in something that involves self-injury or self-medicating) so there’s no reason I should expect any different from others, or from myself. So yeah, I’m an introvert. I’m not really comfortable with people “helping” and I’m not always really open with my life and my problems and you know what? That’s okay, because when I’ve had my much-needed mental hibernation to mull things over, I come out and I talk it out with the ones I love most. And they know me and understand that about me.

I tend to get overwhelmed when my life gets too busy, even when it’s busy with happy things. I’ve felt like I’ve been meeting myself coming and going lately, and I know without a doubt if I don’t slow it down for just a little bit, I’m going to pay for it. I’ll wind up worn out and my immune system will pay me back by making me susceptible to everything that comes down the pike. So before it gets to the point that I’ve picked up bubonic plague from someone at the grocery store because I’ve let myself get run down, I’m learning that it’s okay to say “no” every once in awhile and take some time to recharge my batteries. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing this week.

I am changing, in lots of ways, and I’m far happier than I was even a year ago but I realize I still have a long way to go. Depression’s not going to let go that easily. But the good news is, because I’ve taken the time to learn more about depression, how it works for me, and to become more accepting of myself, I don’t doubt anymore that the sun is going to shine again, even on the darkest days. Because I’ve learned that self-care is important, and have devoted time to taking care of myself, I’m rewarded with more sunny days than cloudy ones. And even when my changes aren’t popular and are misunderstood, I’m able to get through it because I’ve built a solid foundation of self-love and self-acceptance and have worked hard to surround myself with people who love me just as I am and accept me, warts and all (I don’t really have warts).

So what’s my point in all this? Well, my point is, however you need to cope, as long as it isn’t hurting you or someone else, is okay. If being quiet and binge-watching Netflix with your phone on silent is how you get through a rough spot, do it. If you need to sit and cry for an hour and then get up and dance in your undies a la “Risky Business”, do it. If you need to call someone at 1 AM and rant senselessly for a bit, do it. If you need to write or paint or dance or drive or pet a puppy or go to the zoo or go shopping and it helps you, do it. Don’t max our your credit cards. Don’t eat until you make yourself sick. Don’t call someone that’s not going to help you or be accepting of you. Don’t have risky sex or binge drink or take pills or drive like a maniac because none of that is going to help you. And don’t kid yourself that it will. My point is, do what helps you. Like the kids say, you do you. And if someone can’t understand or accept that, well, do it anyway. And here’s some Kevin Hart because he makes me laugh my ass off every single time.

you do you

 

Take care of you. – Mama Bear

purple experience collage

Total Gratitude Tuesday – Volume III

It’s Tuesday again and you know what that means – time for Total Gratitude Tuesday!

This past week has been a whirlwind, but in all the best ways!

First of all, I had a series of medical tests, some of which weren’t pleasant, but they all turned out to be normal, which was a great relief! I’ve still got one or two more to go but it looks like I’m in good shape. Those kinds of things are just a part of getting older sometimes, but wow can they be a pain in the ass! 🙂

Second, I joined a Twitter party with the SITS Girls group and wound up winning a $100 VISA Gift Card! If you’re not familiar with what the SITS Girls are, they’re a giant resource to help bloggers find and grow their audience, learn the technical side of blogging and find sponsors. They really are an invaluable resource for so many bloggers, and their Twitter parties are just a tiny part of what they do to help bloggers, but they’re also lots of fun! I’m kind of notorious for not really “getting” Twitter, but the SITS Girls are great for helping people like me who might be a bit…skittish about social media and tech stuff. If you’re a blogger, be sure to check out their site!

Third, I had an absolutely wonderful date night with my husband on Friday. We went to see my all-time favorite cover band, The Purple Experience. I’ve been a Prince fan since 1982, and this really is the next best thing, plus they have the original keyboard player from The Revolution – Dr. Matt Fink! We went with several friends, one of whom is just as big a Prince fan as I am. It was like taking a trip back to the best parts of high school – sitting in my room, playing “Purple Rain” on vinyl over and over again. This is the second time my husband and I have seen The Purple Experience and we can’t wait until the next time!

purple experience collage

Then on Saturday, we got to go to a food tasting for my son and his fiancee’s wedding. They’re getting married next September. It’s really a blessing to be involved in the planning for the wedding and seeing how excited the kids are getting about how everything is coming together. And there’s really nothing better than seeing young people in love, especially when they happen to be two young people that you care about so deeply!

And THEN, my amazing sister-in-law Lori asked me to go with her to see Kevin Hart in concert Monday night. The show was hilarious- he’s one of my favorite comedians, but the highlight of the evening was getting to sit down and spend some time talking with Lori. We don’t get to see one another often enough, but anytime we do, it’s a great time! I have a real and deep appreciation for people who are authentic and who go beyond small talk and talk about the stuff that really matters, and Lori is just the right partner for those deep talks! She’s always been very special to me and a true friend through thick and through thin. I have always said that one of the blessings of getting married so young was that I got to basically grow up with my husband’s sisters, and I feel so lucky to have them in my life. Oh and Lori is also a blogger at Mommy Mower Moments – go check it out!

And finally, I had an opportunity arise last month to sign up to do a Podcast on Skype with the lovely Joanna L K Moore and today was the day we recorded it. I have to admit I was very nervous – as I’ve said before, I’m pretty introverted and I really hate talking on the phone, mostly because small talk and those awkward breaks in conversation make me uncomfortable. So I really wasn’t sure how comfortable I was going to be since Joanna and I don’t know one another. We met through a website called Puttylike which is all about “multipotentiality”- a fascinating way of looking at folks like me who have multiple interests and multiple talents and don’t necessarily focus on any one thing too much. As it turns out, the discussion went wonderfully – I think we could have talked for hours and hours! It’s just one more case of me taking a chance and doing something even though it scares me, and being richly rewarded for taking the chance! Be sure to check out Joanna’s website – it’s wonderfully fun and full of good information. And Joanna, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for putting me at ease and making our time together so much fun!

So that was my week – so full of blessings it’s hard for me to believe I crammed them all into 7 short days! What are you grateful for/loving/totally crazy about this week? Be sure to tell me in the comments section, or on Facebook or find me on Twitter or Instagram! Seriously – I love to hear from readers!

Until next time – have a beautiful week! – Mama Bear

 

You are not alone.

Think You’re Alone? You’re Not. I Promise.

Sometimes the worst part of being depressed are the tricks your mind will play on you. And one of the worst tricks your mind plays is telling you that you’re the only one feeling this way. No one else could possibly understand because there’s obviously something wrong with you, and just you. You’re damaged goods. You’re crazy. You’re not good enough. No one wants to be with you because all of this is patently obvious to the rest of the world and they’re probably just humoring you by pretending to care about you anyway. You are alone. Any of this sound familiar?

Well, I’m here to tell you every bit of it is complete and utter bullshit. How do I know this? Because right now, roughly 350 MILLION people in the world suffer from depression. I’m not making that up – that figure is straight from the World Health Organization. Think about that for a minute. That means roughly 1 in every 20 people suffers from depression, just like you do. Odds are, you know a dozen or more people who are dealing with depression just like you. Not only that, but a lot of famous and highly successful people throughout history have had depression. Here’s just a few:

John Adams
Alan Alda
Buzz Aldrin
Woody Allen
Alec Baldwin
Christian Bale
Halle Berry
Beyonce
William Blake
Jon Bon Jovi
Terry Bradshaw
Wayne Brady
Zach Braff
Barbara Bush
Truman Capote
Drew Carey
Jim Carrey
Johnny Carson
Winston Churchill
Eric Clapton
Calvin Coolidge
Sheryl Crow
Edgar Degas
Johnny Depp
Princess Diana
Charles Dickens
Emily Dickinson
Bob Dylan
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Harrison Ford
Paul Gauguin
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Ken Griffey Jr.
Jon Hamm
Anne Hathaway
Audrey Hepburn
Sir Anthony Hopkins
Janet Jackson
Billy Joel
Angelina Jolie
Ashley Judd
Samuel Johnson
Henry James
Franz Kafka
John Keats
Jack Kerouac
Stephen King
Hugh Laurie
Kendrick Lamar
John Lennon
David Letterman
Abraham Lincoln
Henri Matisse
Ewan McGregor
Michelangelo
Joan Miro
Moby
Marilyn Monroe
Alanis Morissette
Morrissey
Mozart
Bill Murray
Isaac Newton
Friedrich Nietzsche
Conan O’Brien
Robert Oppenheimer
Patton Oswalt
Gwyneth Paltrow
Dolly Parton
Brad Pitt
Edgar Allen Poe
Trent Reznor
Anne Rice
John D. Rockefeller
Mark Rothko
Ronda Rousey
J.K. Rowling
Winona Ryder
J.D. Salinger
Charles M. Schultz
Brooke Shields
Sarah Silverman
Britney Spears
Rick Springfield
Bruce Springsteen
Gwen Stefani
James Taylor
Tchaikovsky
Emma Thompson
Mark Twain
Mike Tyson
Vincent Van Gogh
Eddie Vedder
Kurt Vonnegut
Joey Votto
Mike Wallace
Gerard Way
Pete Wentz
Walt Whitman
Tennessee Williams
Owen Wilson
Oprah Winfrey

I’d say we’re in pretty good company, don’t you think? And those are just the people that we know about. There’s no way of knowing how many millions and millions of people suffer from depression and never seek help for it.

We’re not alone. You are not alone. 

You are not alone.

I think that’s a very important thing to bear in mind, especially when your mind is telling you the complete opposite. But that’s the entire point – depression turns your own mind into your worst enemy. And not only that, the stigma that still exists concerning mental illness makes us less likely to talk to others about our struggles or be completely honest about how we feel, even with those closest to us. That feeling of isolation, of loneliness, will make us feel worse and more alone when all around us, we have a community of people who are going through much the same thing that we are. The trick is to realize when your disease is trying to isolate you from others, trying to make you feel alone, and fight back.

And that’s why I’m here, and hopefully why you’re here. To share our experiences, to be part of a community of people who understands what we’re going through, who can share insights and ways to help one another. Just to not feel so damned alone. Because we’re not. As a matter of fact, we’re in pretty good company! And our honesty about what we’re dealing with, our stories, will help fight the stigma and help people understand what depression is.

So the next time your mind starts in on you, telling you you’re the only one, remember those 349,999,999 other people who are right there in that same boat with you. And remember that long, long list of famous and incredibly successful people – some of whom are still struggling and fighting right alongside us. Think of their accomplishments – those are presidents, artists, actors, writers – people who changed the world. They managed to do all of those wonderful things while fighting the same disease that you and I are fighting. And you can, too. The sky really is the limit because remember – you’re not alone.

Take care of yourself. – Mama Bear

Battlefield Memorials

Total Gratitude Tuesday – volume II

Wow – this has been a really amazing week for me! I hope yours has been great as well.

So here’s what I’m grateful for this week:

Our trip to Gettysburg was just amazing in every respect except that it was just too short! There’s no possible way to see everything in just two days. I really had no concept of the scope of the battle itself or the beauty of the town before we went there. After touring the visitor’s center and then driving through the town and battlefield, I was left with some really strong impressions. It drives home how absolutely horrific the idea of Americans fighting other Americans truly is. You can walk the grounds and feel the misery and pain that was suffered by so many thousands of men right there. And the wounds that the Civil War caused still haven’t healed completely, as recent events have shown us. It also shows how dangerous it is to forget that we’re all Americans and to get too caught up in any version of an “us vs. them” mentality. One of the flags on display in the Visitors Center read “Unite or Die” – how true.

Pano

Panoramic View atop Little Round Top – key point of defense for the Union Army.

So the reason we were able to make this fun trip to Gettysburg was to attend my cousin Natalie’s wedding. I absolutely love weddings. I know a lot of people kind of groan when they get invited to one, but I love them. And Natalie’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met so it was a real honor to be able to be there to see her get married. The wedding was wonderful, and the reception was so much fun! I hope Natalie and Brad have many, many happy years together!

sign2

And believe it or not, I became an aunt for the 15th time on the exact same day as the wedding! My niece, Charlotte Emory was born about 15 minutes before the wedding started – what a day of blessings! I got to meet her yesterday – she’s absolutely beautiful and both she and her mama are doing just fine. She joins her older brother Sully and her older sister Caroline at home. There’s nothing like holding a baby to make your heart feel full to bursting!

And today I received my copy of “Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges”! If you haven’t heard me extol the virtues of the Tiny Buddha website on my Facebook page, I urge you to go check out the site and sign up. There’s so much great information about living in grace and mindfulness and building a happier life for yourself on the website – I’ve learned so much from the articles there. Getting published there is actually one of my long-term goals. And this book is full of daily challenges to help the reader add more love and grace to their everyday life. Check out both – I promise you – you won’t regret it! (Click on the image of the book to be taken to the Amazon ordering page!)

tiny buddha

And that’s what I’m grateful for this week – I don’t mind telling you it’s been an absolutely amazing week – full of love and laughter and learning. I hope the coming week will be wonderful for you. As always, feel free to share what you’re grateful for in the comments section, on the Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Have a beautiful week! – Mama Bear

Self care is not self indulgent

The Importance of Small Attainable Goals in Dealing With Depression

I’ve already admitted to my list-making addiction in other posts. And even with all of the technology at my fingertips, I’m still an old-fashioned paper list maker. I don’t know if that will ever change because I get so much satisfaction from using a pen to scratch an item off after I’ve accomplished it and I just don’t think there’s any way to mimic that with an app. In addition to keeping track of what we need from the grocery and what I need to get done in any given day, I’ve found that making lists of real, attainable goals has been invaluable for me in treating my depression.

One of the most damaging effects of depression is the distorted thinking that goes along with it – that “demon voice” telling you that you’re worthless, you’re lazy, you’ll never accomplish anything and on and on. The perfect remedy for that is being able to accomplish things so you can tell that voice to shut the hell up. But that’s awfully hard to do when your mind is working against you. When getting out of bed to take a shower seems impossible, it’s awfully hard to convince yourself that you’ll be able to reach goals that you’ve set for yourself and anyway, why try? It’s too much work and it doesn’t make any difference. (There’s that voice again.) And if you’re looking at it as a whole, it might feel like it really is too much work. That’s why it’s much easier (and smarter, in my opinion) to start with small, attainable goals. When you’re in the midst of a depressive episode, it’s asking an awful lot to try to tackle your ten-year plan. Especially when you’re just trying to get through the next ten days, or even ten hours!

So what do I mean by small attainable goals? Well, let’s start with a small goal – setting up a daily plan for self-care. Think of it in these terms – what small things do I genuinely believe I can accomplish today to take care of myself? What are five things I can do that I know for sure will help make me feel better? For me, the list might look like this:

little list

(I wasn’t kidding in my Total Gratitude Thursday post when I said that I love these little tiny list pads from Target’s One Spot! They’re perfect.) All of the things I wrote on the list are things that I know I’ll have time and energy to get to today, even if it takes a little bit of pushing. And when the end of the day comes, and I’ve checked off those five actions, not only will I have a sense of accomplishment that I’ve been able to check them all off, I’ll also have devoted roughly an hour and a half of my day to taking care of myself. Both of those are vastly important when you’re trying to help yourself through a depressive episode. You’ll notice I didn’t have anything like “run a 5k” or “clean the whole house” on the list. That’s because neither of those are realistic or attainable goals for me right now. So putting them on my list of goals is self-defeating because that’s just one more thing I’ll have “failed at” when the day is done. I put that in quotes because it isn’t a real failure – just something my depressive mind would tell me I’d failed at.

Sometimes I make multiple lists. I’ll make one for me (self-care tasks to accomplish for the day), the household (small things I can do to make the house run more smoothly), business goals (in my case, relating to the blog, etc.). Again, all small, realistic goals of things that I can actually get done in the time period I’ve specified for myself. I would highly recommend a daily self-care list for anyone dealing with depression. It might be something you can print out and check off every day, or something to put on a dry-erase board or chalkboard, or if you like techie lists, download a list-making app and then make sure you have it set to remind you daily. But setting up a list of things you’re willing to do to take care of yourself every day lets you take a role in  your own health and well-being and reminds you of how important that is when you might have a hard time remembering to do so.

Self care is not self indulgent

I found what I think is a really good resource to use for teaching yourself these skills, and for dealing with depression in general. It’s at the University of Michigan’s Depression Center website. They have a downloadable Goal-Setting Worksheet and a whole Depression Toolkit that is full of tips and ideas for how to help yourself when you need it most. Be sure to read up on the self-care section – it has an amazing amount of information on how to make sure you devote time to taking care of yourself.

So that’s your assignment for this week – set up some small, attainable goals for yourself and set up a list of things you’re willing and able to do every day to take care of yourself. You’re worth it.

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on the University of Michigan Depression Center website, your own self-care list or goals in the comments section, on the Facebook page, or find me on Twitter. I’d love to hear from you!

Have a beautiful weekend! – Mama Bear