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Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume IX

It’s Tuesday again, and time for some gratitude!

Also, I just realized I’ve been counting these in Roman numerals, so long about the time we get to around week 90-something, we might have some issues. Grade school math was a LONG time ago! (Anybody else learn Roman numerals from deciphering the dates on old movies and Bugs Bunny cartoons? No? Just me, huh?)

It’s Thanksgiving week in America – a time when we’re supposed to spend some time focusing on the things we’re grateful for in our lives. It often winds up less an exercise in gratitude and more a day of gluttony and football (and anymore, sales) but anyway…

I am grateful for peace of mind. Sometimes it’s a bit shaken and it takes me a minute to get back to feeling centered, but given all that’s gone on in the world lately, I’m grateful that I can still find my happy place. It’s very easy to get caught up in all the gloom and doom, but I’ve always believed that human history is an endless cycle of positive and negative and that it repeats more often than not. It’s easy to think that the world’s more violent now than it has been in the past, but when you look back at history, you realize that isn’t so. Humans are as they have ever been – the majority are good people trying to live their lives and provide for themselves and their families and find meaning in existence. And there are a few heinous assholes thrown in the mix just as there always have been. And generally, assholes get more press than good people do. But that doesn’t change the fact that the good outweighs the bad. And that’s what I always come back to.

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I am also grateful that my children are able to be home during the holidays. Though they’ve never lived far away (an hour at most), there were several years when they worked at jobs that limited their ability to be home with family during the holidays. I’m glad that isn’t the case so much anymore. It’s funny to think how much we take it for granted – spending the holidays with family – until we aren’t able to. Growing older has made me more appreciative of the family that I have and makes me treasure every moment we get together.

Last Friday night, my husband and I got to go see my beloved University of Kentucky basketball team play at Rupp Arena. They won (duh). But what made the night even more special was getting to spend it with my sister- and brother-in-law. The older I get the more I appreciate people who are just genuinely, unashamedly themselves, and who accept and love others unconditionally. It’s so comforting to just be able to relax into the company of someone that you love and be yourself completely and know that you’re loved for precisely who you are. It’s a damn rare thing to find sometimes and one of the true pleasures in life.

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I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and get to spend time with those you love best. Also, if you haven’t done so yet, make sure you go and enter the Happy Tribe / Mama Bear Said So prize bundle giveaway. You’ve got a chance to win one of 4 prize bundles full of stuff to make your day a bit brighter and all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post: http://www.mamabearsaidso.com/the-happy-tribe-prize-bundle-giveaway/.  Two winners will be drawn at noon EST on November 30. Good luck!

Take care! – Mama Bear

happy tribe prize giveaway

The Happy Tribe Prize Bundle Giveaway

*Sorry, folks – this giveaway has ended! But no worries – there will be another one soon!*

I’ve wanted to do a giveaway for a long time now, and here it is: The Happy Tribe Prize Bundle Giveaway!

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The Happy Tribe is a Facebook group run by myself and some friends. The group is a place for anyone who’s interested in adding some positivity and happiness to their lives and also for anyone who might be struggling with mental health issues, grief or just keeping a positive outlook. We plan on sharing our stories, our successes (no matter how big or small) and support for one another and lots of laughs and warm fuzzies. I hope you’ll join – I promise you’ll love it there! You can find us here (or you can click on the photo above.)

Two of my readers and/or fellow Happy Tribe members are going to get their choice of one of the following prizes:

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Here are the rules:

  1. You must leave a comment on this post to be eligible for the giveaway/sweepstakes. Be sure to add your e-mail address with the comment so that I can notify you about your win and find out where to mail your package!
  2. The drawing will run from November 18, 2015 11:00 PM EST until November 30, 2015 12:00 noon EST. No comments left after November 30, 2015 12:00 noon EST will count as prize entries.
  3. Contest is open to entrants ages 13 and up worldwide.
  4. Prize packages will be mailed using the US Postal Service to winners within 72 hours of receipt of winners’ addresses.
  5. Two winners will be drawn randomly using a plugin on the blog. Each winner will get their choice of 1 of the 4 prize bundles shown. Should both winners choose the same bundle, whichever winner responded to their notification email first will have first choice.
  6. Immediate family members of the blogger and their blogger herself are not eligible for the giveaway/sweepstakes.
  7. Remaining prizes will be given away in another giveaway/sweepstakes at a later date.
  8. One entry per e-mail address, please.

Note: Although I make it a habit to always respond to comments on my blog, I can’t in this case because the plug-in that’s randomly choosing the winner could choose me from among the blog commenters. So I’m just going to say thank you and send you all love and luck from here. – Mama Bear

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Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume VIII

This week’s been a tough one. In addition to all the horrific news all around the world, we’re all contending with the anger and division that’s running rampant on social media and the news. So this week, more than anything, I am grateful for comfort and support.

I’m grateful that my “job”, such as it is, allows me to stay home and do most of what I do in pajamas, if I wish. It gives me the ability to hide out for awhile and hibernate when the world gets overwhelming, as it often does. It affords me the opportunity to do things at my own pace, without having deadlines (for the most part) and bosses breathing down my neck. And if I have a particularly rough day, I have the ability to put some things on hold and work my way through it and I am glad for that. It’s a luxury not many are afforded and I am thankful for it.

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I am grateful that I have a roof over my head, food on my table and all the creature comforts so many in the world do not have.

I am grateful for the loving kindness of friends and family.

More than anything, I am grateful because I know that no matter how rough today might be, at some point, it will get easier.

Much love. – Mama Bear

 

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Paris, Je T’aime

I’m at a loss. The world makes no sense sometimes. And sometimes I feel like I’m not meant to live in a world this cruel. I don’t understand how human beings can treat one another the way that they do.

I love Paris. And when I say I love Paris, I don’t mean that I love the idea of Paris. I LOVE PARIS. For the first 44 years of my life, it was a long distance love affair. I learned the language, read books, watched movies, talked to people who had been there, planned and dreamed and longed with my whole heart to walk those streets – never dreaming I’d actually get that chance.

But last May, I did. And it was more than I’d ever dreamed.

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I was prepared to be disappointed. I really was. I’m a dreamer and am given to building things up in my mind to such fanciful heights that reality is destined to be a disappointment. I even poked a little fun at myself about how high my expectations really were – “Yeah, it’s not gonna be you walking hand in hand with your beloved on a bridge over the Seine while a guy plays ‘La Vie en Rose’ on an accordion.” But that actually happened. That is the magic of Paris. And from the moment we landed, I knew I was home. And I haven’t been the same since. I joke that I left part of my heart there, but it’s more than a little true. If my dearest wish comes true, someday I will live in France.

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Twice since we’ve been home, there have been terrorist attacks in this beloved city. Twice cowards have tried to tear apart the very essence of what it means to be French. They failed in January and they will fail again. For all the cruel jokes about the French and their “white flag”, the reality is that they are a nation that has fought wave after wave after wave of would-be conquerors and they are still standing and still proud. And tomorrow morning, they will be standing and they will be proud. And the cowardly acts of a few delusional murderers will have united the rest of the world in solidarity with France (and with Beirut and all the other victims of such senseless brutality) in their resolve to eradicate this disease masquerading as religious dogma.

I’m trying to make sense of this violence. I’m trying to use my hope and optimism to find something to hold onto while my heart breaks for the city and people I’ve come to love so dearly. And all I can do is try to remember that the sun is going to rise in Paris in just a short while. And with it, a new day dawns for her citizens. With that new day comes a new opportunity for hope and peace. And somewhere in Paris tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, the people will take to the streets as they always do, to show that they are not defeated, they are not broken and the cowards did not win.

Vive la France.

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It'sTotal GratitudeTuesday!

Total Gratitude Tuesday – Volume VII

I really have to start paying better attention – Tuesday almost got away from me again! Not to worry – I’m here as always with my list of things for which I am grateful!

This week –

I am grateful that my son’s fiancee, Taylor, included me in her trip to find a wedding dress this weekend. Any mother with sons can tell you that no matter how old they get, they’re still your little boy. You always hope that they’ll find someone to love them as much as you do, who will treat them well and make them happy. And it’s even better if it’s someone that you can love, too. In our case, we got all that and more. She’s a beautiful girl, inside and out. And though she did say “yes” to a dress, as much as I’d love to share that photo, you’ll have to wait until next September for that.

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I’ve just newly discovered Goodreads Giveaways! I know, I know, how did I not know about this? I’ve been using Goodreads for years to keep track of my never-ending list of must-read books but until very recently I had no idea they did giveaways! As luck would have it, I’ve won two books in the last week: “The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill” by Andrea Warren and “Find Your Balance Point: Clarify Your Priorities, Simplify Your Life and Achieve More” by Brian Tracy! I can’t wait to read both of them. After all, there’s nothing better than sitting curled up with a good book on long winter days.

Last but not least, I’m grateful for the connections that I have with other bloggers. It’s amazing to have other people to learn from, lean on, and gain inspiration from. In particular, this blog post really spoke to me this week. It’s about maintaining a creative business while dealing with depression and I was completely blown away by the timing. Wonderlass (the author) is a blogger in a Facebook group that I’m a member of and she posted this yesterday. I’m telling you, it was an epiphany. I know on an intellectual level a lot of writers and artists and other creative types also struggle with depression, but the fact that she posted this particular article at a time when I really needed it drove home the fact that I’m not alone in this fight. I don’t need to be afraid of losing everything I’ve gained because the depression catches up to me every now and again. I’ll admit it – that really does scare me. I’m proud of the strides I’ve made and I’m proud of this blog and all the work I’ve put into it but sometimes it feels like the more successful I become, the more I risk losing if depression gets the better of me. And that’s scary. If nothing else, I know I’m not alone. I know I have a community of people who understand what I’m going through and I also know that I can get through it because I have before.

And that’s my week. I hope yours has been amazing and full of things to be grateful for and I hope the coming week is, too!

Take care – Mama Bear

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12 Tips For A Happy Relationship

My husband and I have been married for 26 years now. I don’t think this necessarily makes either of us experts on the subject of marriage, but I do think we know some valuable stuff. And we know a lot more of it than we did 27 years ago.

eiffel tower(My husband and I celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary with a trip to Paris – we’re on the Eiffel Tower and we have our handstitched berets on a la “European Vacation”.)

Now before someone who knows me personally points this out, yes, my husband and I were separated for about 2 years and divorced for exactly 11 months back in the early 2000s. We usually don’t count it because we were still very close during that time apart while we were working on our issues, and we’ve always been best friends. And though I couldn’t have seen it then, it actually did us a lot of good in many ways. I wouldn’t go through it again, but we’re stronger for it.

(Just a note: when I refer to “spouse”, I mean significant other. If you’re in a long-term relationship, I think all of this applies whether you’ve got a marriage certificate or not.)

So here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Don’t take one another for granted. It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget to nurture your relationship and your partner. But just like anything else in life, something that’s neglected will not grow. Look at your relationship as a plant or a child – it won’t grow unless you feed it and take care of it. Little things go a long way – a love note in a lunchbox, a hug while you’re cooking dinner, a message written on the bathroom mirror or just a compliment when they aren’t expecting it – little things mean a lot. And ladies – don’t discount the little gestures. We’re all raised on fairy tales and rom-coms, but this is the real world. Not every guy can write poetry and sing you ballads, so don’t expect it. Someone doing a load of laundry for you when you’re exhausted or buying your tampons when you’re crampy or giving the kids a bath so you can finish your homework is every bit as romantic as roses and candlelit dinners. Fairy tales are for little kids. And a real, honest, loving, long-term relationship is far better than any fairy tale.
  2. Relationships aren’t 50/50 – they’re 110/110. If you’re only doing half the work, you’re not doing enough. You both have to put your all into your marriage and it has to come first. I’m not saying neglect your children or your friends, but you shouldn’t be putting off date night simply because you’re parents. And you shouldn’t be spending more time with your girlfriends or your buddies than you do your spouse. Again, what you focus on will grow. If you don’t make time for each other, and you don’t put the effort in, you’re headed for trouble. As with everything else in life, you can’t be successful if you’re lazy.
  3. Don’t talk shit about your partner, don’t let anyone else talk shit about them, and if your friends are in toxic relationships, be careful how much time you spend with them. Misery really does love company. My husband has often told the tale of how often his co-workers would get in bitch sessions about their wives when he worked in a factory. And inevitably, it would be his turn and he’d be silent. So one of the guys would ask, “What about your wife?”, he’d either deflect or just stay silent. Because our relationship is private. We don’t bitch to our parents about each other, we don’t complain to our friends and NEVER EVER to our children. NEVER. I can’t emphasize that one enough. Do not involve your children in your problems. And we both try very hard to distance ourselves from people who trash talk their spouses because it’s too easy to get caught up in their drama and the next thing you know, you’re mad and you don’t even know why. I am my husband’s biggest fan, and he is mine. And everyone that knows us knows that. If you need someone to talk about your marriage with, talk to each other. If you need more help, find a friend that you know will be supportive of both of you and give you straight talk, not someone who will trash your spouse because they think that’s what you need to hear. Or go to counseling. And if it’s not “cool” to be happy among your friends, you need better friends.
  4. Get your shit together. It’s true, we all have issues but you owe it to yourself and your relationship to get your issues worked out ASAP. It’s not up to your spouse to be your free therapist and trust me when I say your odds of being in and staying in a happy relationship will improve drastically if you have a healthy mindset. Otherwise, your spouse stands to inherit all the anger, bitterness, disappointment and sadness you’re carrying around with you or they will spend all their time trying to make up for the love, approval, attention, etc you didn’t get before you met them or the damage your parents or your last girlfriend did. And that’s not fair. And if you’ve suffered trauma, GET PROFESSIONAL HELP. There is absolutely no way you’re going to be able to sustain a healthy relationship if you have untreated trauma. I wish someone had told me all this when I was younger. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that you need help.
  5. Don’t turn your spouse into your “project”. If you have a list of things you need to change about them, why are you with them? Don’t go into a relationship with someone who says they don’t want kids and think they’ll change their mind later. Don’t date Seth Rogen hoping you can change him into James Bond. Your spouse is a person, not a project. He’s not some rundown house you’re trying to flip. And guys, you can’t take a girl with a shit ton of issues and hope that your love is enough to fix all of them. Love them as they are. If you can’t take the fact that he wears t-shirts and jeans, change your outlook – don’t change him. Be with someone you don’t want to change.
  6. Learn to communicate. I think we do a great disservice to our kids by not teaching them to communicate properly. Yelling is not communicating. Neither is slamming doors. Or the silent treatment. Or trying to find their weak spots so you can hurt them. Manipulation isn’t either. Work on telling someone what’s bugging you instead of just assuming that they should know. Don’t expect them to be mind-readers. No matter how much someone loves you, they can’t develop psychic abilities and they shouldn’t have to. If you need a second to figure out how to word something so it’s not hurtful, then take a break but make sure you tell them that’s what is going on. And don’t threaten to leave. That’s cruel. If you don’t have those skills naturally (and most of us don’t), read books on relationship skills or go to couples counseling. Most of us learn by watching our parents, and most of them weren’t taught to communicate, either.
  7. Grow up. Being selfish and being immature isn’t conducive to a happy relationship. Both of you will have to make sacrifices along the way. You won’t always get to have everything you want and you have to be okay with that. You’ll need to learn to save money (another thing not all of us are taught as kids). There will have to be compromise. If you’re not ready to give up your partying to spend weekends at home with a family, realize that before you commit and act accordingly. If your single girlfriends can’t understand why you can’t go out with them all the time, that’s not your problem. If you can’t afford the man cave, the boat, the craft studio, the BMW, the 21-day European tour, the old Victorian that needs $200k of work, then deal with that reality. Don’t go crazy into debt trying to keep up with the Joneses, or make your spouse feel guilty because they can’t provide those things. Here’s a secret: no one needs to pamper you like a spoiled kitten. And “things” will never make you happy. And if you want a house, a new car, a vacation – make a realistic plan TOGETHER, save money TOGETHER, and make sure that you’re both working toward that goal TOGETHER. I always wanted a great big old house that we could fix up and always dreamed I’d have that. Then I grew up and realized a) I hate home improvement b) I don’t want to clean a 2,500 square foot house c) we could probably have that, but that meant we’d never be able to afford vacations or going out to eat or to the movies and concerts d) I’d rather not have my husband work himself to death to afford that e) We wanted one of us to be home with the kids. So we lived in our starter home for 20+ years, didn’t buy a new car every 2 years, and I stayed home with the kids and we got to go on vacations and go to concerts and spend more time together. Those were the goals we set together. And we’ve always been proud that we did it ourselves, with very little outside help and we created a happy life and a happy family.
  8. Don’t lie to each other. Just don’t get in that habit. If you have to lie about something, chances are you know you shouldn’t be doing it. And you will always get found out. Don’t lie about how much money you’re spending. Don’t lie and tell her you worked late and then go out with the boys. Don’t lie and tell her you paid the car payment when you blew the money on lottery tickets. Don’t sneak a smoke or a drink when he’s not around just because you know he’ll be upset. And again, if you have friends that encourage that, you need to take a good hard look at whether or not that friendship is a healthy one. You cannot have a healthy relationship if it’s based on lies. I know a lot of us hide things because we don’t want to deal with disapproval, but the easier solution is to talk it out or just not do whatever will bring on that disapproval.
  9. Remember that you’re a team. We got married really young, (4 days after I turned 19) and we had a 3-month old baby and I’m pretty sure there were plenty of people who thought we’d never last. That just made us more determined to make it work. Even when we were separated, we spent a lot of time talking and working on our own issues and trying to be better people. And when things got tough, neither of us went running back to our parents or friends – we circled the wagons and stayed up all night talking and arguing and crying until we got back on track. And we really are each other’s best friend and biggest fan. My husband promotes this blog more than I do! Why? It’s not making him any money or earning him any fame. But it’s because it’s something that makes me happy and because he’s proud of me. When one of us is sick, the other is there to help out. I’m even trying to understand football a bit. Not because I love it, but because he does and I want to share that with him. And because his happiness is important to me. (It still doesn’t make much sense to me, but I know when to cheer, so I’m doing better.)
  10. Learn to say these two words and MEAN them: “I’m sorry”. Let your pride go. It doesn’t make you less of a person to apologize – it makes you more of one. I’m not a huge fan of Dr. Phil, but there’s one thing he said that I’ve always tried to keep in mind: “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?”. There are a lot of really lonely people out there sitting real secure in the fact that they were right, but personally I’d rather be happy. Have you ever sat and listened to a couple argue over one ridiculous detail in a story and wanted to slap them both? “No, it wasn’t March 14th it was March 15th.” “No, I distinctly remember it was the 14th because…blah blah blah.” They’re both so damn sure they’re right and it makes not one bit of difference in the story but they’re gonna argue it out for the next 20 minutes anyway. How is being right THAT important to you? But we’ve all done it from time to time – I guarantee it. And if you’ve hurt someone’s feelings, apologize. Even if you didn’t mean to hurt them, you should still apologize. We taught that to our kids from a young age and I think it’s a valuable lesson. Whether you think you’re in the right or not, it’ll go a long way toward building a happier relationship. Trust me in this. (Plus Dr. Phil agrees.)
  11. Realize that things will change as you grow older but that’s not a bad thing. It seems like society always looks at the young, passionate lovers as the ideal but there’s a lot to be said for the comforts and security (and yes, still passion) of a long-term relationship. Sure, it’s great when you’re first together and you just can’t get enough of each other and it’s all x’s and o’s and all that. But as you grow older, things change and if it doesn’t stay like that, that doesn’t mean that your relationship is bad or that it’s over. Realize that relationships change and so do people. They change with having children. They change with aging and illness and a lot of other things. Learn to groove with that. Both of us have grey hair, neither of us look like we did at 18, and we’ve been through health scares and deaths and a million other hardships and struggles. But I wouldn’t trade one second of what we are now for those early crazy days together. It took me 20 years to realize that this man was in it for the long haul. Yeah, is that crazy or what? I wouldn’t go back to being that scared, insecure girl for any amount of money even if I did have a better body back then. I know without a shadow of a doubt this man will be there no matter what, no matter how old I get, no matter how infirm and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Show me a couple that’s been married 50 years that still holds hands – that’s real love.
  12. And finally – don’t go into a relationship with an “out”. Don’t go into it with the idea that you can always leave. Instead, go into it with the idea in mind that you’re going to do everything you can to make it work, even if it’s something scary (like going to therapy), even if you don’t think it’ll work. You can’t have a successful relationship unless you’re both all in. Give it everything you’ve got. Love with your whole self. Don’t hold anything back. Be stubborn in your defense of your relationship. Make it work and don’t give up until you absolutely have no other choice. And even then, keep fighting to make it work.

Holy hell – I wrote a book! Like I said, I’m not an expert, but I learned a lot of things the hard way and I really would love it if nobody else had to do that.

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Try to always make time for fun together. <3

Wishing you much love, much happiness and much laughter. – Mama Bear

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When a Swift Kick in the Ass Is in Order

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I’ve been looking at these two images for over a month, trying to decipher something, anything that might put me at ease. And I’ve been looking more intensely over the last week since my ob/gyn told me that what I’m looking at is a 9 cm by 5 cm complex ovarian cyst.

It all started with a trip to the urologist, followed by the ultrasound a month ago. We were trying to make sure my bladder and kidneys were okay because I’d been having some issues. I kind of suspected something was going on when the ultrasound tech seemed SUPER into my right side for whatever reason. It was like the paparazzi trying to get photos of Beyonce and Jay-Z – he was there for days, it seemed like. The urologist mentioned that I had a cyst but didn’t seem overly concerned when I told him I had a check-up with my ob-gyn scheduled for the end of October. But good news on the bladder and kidneys – just a couple of teensy kidney stones but everything else was okay.

The ob-gyn also didn’t seem overly concerned but when she told me how big it was, it freaked me out a bit. Then when she said we were going to wait a month before doing a follow-up ultrasound, I knew I was in trouble. She wanted to see if it would shrink on its own (they sometimes do) and then we’d figure out a plan (which might include surgery). That’s a full 32 days for my inner anxiety monkey to drive me full-on crazy. And I was right. Immediately it started in…

“What if the surgery goes wrong? What if she has to take your ovaries? What if it’s not just a cyst but something worse? Am I going to get slammed straight into menopause overnight? What if I have to have surgery during the holidays? How the hell am I going to get the Christmas shopping/decorating/cooking done with all that shit going on?” and on and on and on and on. And lucky for me, I had WebMD and internet message boards to fuel my anxiety bender.

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I talked to a couple of friends, my husband, my kids, my mother-in-law. I read up a lot about what complex cysts are and how they’re treated. Honestly, a lot of it was reassuring but that didn’t really help quiet my mind. You probably don’t know this about me, but jumping to conclusions is one of my superpowers. Jealous? Yeah, I’ve been playing my favorite fun time game – “Worst Case Scenario”. That’s what happens when you have a vivid imagination, a mind that never stops, anxiety and lots of free time. And facts and rational thinking don’t always help when you’re dealing with anxiety. If you tell me that only 1 out of every 10,000 planes crash, I can come up with 10 scenarios why MY flight will be that one. That’s how anxiety works. I didn’t really share too much of my thought process with anybody else because if it’s driving me crazy, I figure it’s not going to be a picnic for anyone else to listen to, either. To be fair to myself, I also tried to meditate and lurked in my Happy Tribe a bit, did some reading and tried to think positively. But still that monkey kept right on going.

Finally, it got to be too much for me. I was sitting here with that monkey going batshit in the cage and I actually said it out loud.

“ENOUGH.”

Enough. Holy hell, enough! Enough with the doomsday shit. Enough with the negativity. Enough with worrying and feeling sorry for myself and beating myself up for dismissing how I was feeling as just my hormones. Just enough already. I had just finally gotten fed up with myself. The happy quotes and reading and positive thinking weren’t what I needed right then. What I needed was a good swift kick in the ass. And so that’s what I did. You know it’s bad when you’re getting on your own damn nerves!

jump to conclusions mat

I’m self-aware enough to know that my mind really is like a wild monkey or an unattended toddler. If I leave it alone in a room for too long without something constructive to do, it’s going to make a god awful mess of things. So I made a few rules for myself:

  1. No more endless worry loops. I can fret for 15 minutes and then I need to move on to something else.
  2. No more researching symptoms/conditions/outcomes online. Period.
  3. Hit the to-do list. I now have a mile long list of stuff to do when I’m having trouble staying focused and have free time to spare. Activity is one of those things that helps me stay positive and makes me feel better.
  4. No more pity party. Yes, I physically feel like shit, but the doctor told me to take it easy and take care of myself, so that’s what I’m going to do. Good sleep, good foods, good energy. Wearing myself out further isn’t going to change the outcome and it’s also not going to help me deal with whatever lies ahead.
  5. If all else fails, talk to someone.

Like I said, activity is one of the things that helps me. And in this case, the activity I needed was a good swift kick in the ass. It’s helped remind me that I’m more powerful than I think  sometimes and that worrying isn’t going to change what happens; it’s just going to make me miserable until then. There’s a quote that I love – “Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair – it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”

Besides, there must be something more important for me to obsess about, right? And then there’s the whole garage that needs cleaning…

Until next time, take care. – Mama Bear

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Total Gratitude Tuesday – Volume VI

Woo – just about ran out of Tuesday before I got this written! But here it is just in the nick of time – my list of what I’m grateful for this week!

Halloween – it’s my absolute favorite holiday. I love everything about it – the costumes, the scary movies, the decorations, the way it almost seems the veil between this world and the next is just a little bit thinner. It’s one of the few things I actually like about the fall (I’m a summer baby all the way!). And my family likes to celebrate in style.

I’ve always been fascinated with personality tests, and lately I’ve been studying them a bit more in depth. I’ve always been interested in what makes people tick. But lately I’ve come to understand a lot of things about my own personality that used to bother me. I could never understand why other people seemed to really enjoy parties and social gatherings and going out all the time when most of the time I’d really rather be at home, or in a library or at dinner with my husband and kids. It always felt like I was being rude by not enjoying socializing with other people. And I could never understand why it made me so uncomfortable to be put in a position where I felt a quid pro quo was expected of me from someone who was comfortable sharing all their personal business. I’ve spent a large portion of my life faking being far more comfortable and extroverted than I really am. But the older I’ve gotten, and the more I’ve come to understand about my personality, the more I realize that there’s nothing wrong with me. And there’s nothing wrong with people that like to socialize. There’s nothing wrong with people that like to share. I’m just not one of them and I probably never will be. It’s kind of funny – when I posted my Meiers-Briggs personality assessment result – an INFJ – on Facebook, I had so many friends that were just completely surprised at the “introverted” part of the result. I’m not shy at all but it really wears me out to be in a lot of social situations, even though you’d never know it by the way I act. So yes, I’m thankful for personality tests for making me realize there’s nothing wrong with being just what I am.

INFJ

And finally, I’m grateful for The Happy Tribe. It’s a little group that some friends and I made on Facebook and it’s just a wonderful little place to hang out, get support, share your happy thoughts and talk with other people who are trying to change the world through positive thinking. We’re all there to support one another in good times and bad. It’s just a little group now, but we hope to make it grow with more people who need a little sunshine in their day. If you’d like to join, click on the link above, or the photo below and submit a request to join. We’d love to have you!

happy tribe small

And that’s it for this week! I hope you’re having a wonderful week, full of things for which you’re grateful!

Take care – Mama Bear

Be yourself. Everyone elseis already taken.-- Oscar Wilde

10 Tips For Starting Your Own Blog

This isn’t my usual subject matter when it comes to this blog, but I’ve had lots of people asking me about how to start a blog since I started this one, so I thought I’d offer a few tips. I haven’t been blogging all that long so I’m not an expert by any means but there are a few things I can tell you that will definitely help you on your way.

  • Figure out your “why”. Why do you want to start a blog? Are you hoping to use it to make money? Are you hoping to use it to segue into products that you can sell (books, downloadable content, etc.)? Are you using it mainly as an online journal? Figuring out your “why” will help you in every other step you take with the blog. With this blog, my long-term goal is to have downloadable content and a book.
  • Figure out your audience. Who are you writing for? Are you a new mom wanting to reach out to other moms to talk about your parenting experiences? Are you a world traveler and want to share your knowledge of the places you’ve gone with other travelers? Are you a gamer who wants to do game reviews to let others know which games to try? Or you might just be writing for yourself – to get something off your chest. In my case, I am someone who’s dealt with depression for 30 years, with varying degrees of success, but I’ve learned quite a bit along the way about different ways of dealing with it and how positive thinking and whole living can help with it and wanted to share my insights with others who might be dealing with the same issues.
  • Choose what platform you’ll use – that’s the website you’re going to use to build your blog. Blogger and WordPress are probably the two biggest platforms, but there are many others like SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly.
  • Learn some of the basics of blogging. You don’t have to be an HTML guru, but it helps to know some of the basics, like what domains are, what it means to self-host, and how to use the dashboard on whatever platform you choose. Any of the “Blogging for Dummies” books are a great place to start, but there are plenty of great websites that will help, too. I’d recommend searching by whatever platform you’re using and then “for beginners” (for example “WordPress for Beginners” or “Blogger for Beginners”).
  • Look at other blogs for design tips. I know a lot of other people recommend reading a lot of other blogs to get ideas of what you want to do, but I don’t recommend that. It’s one thing to get design tips, but eventually if you spend too much time reading other people’s content, I think you’re bound to wind up copying their style, even inadvertently. In the end, you want your blog to represent YOU, not someone else.
  • Find your voice. There are some really great bloggers, just as there are great writers, but as much as I admire Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain or Dorothy Parker for their wit, I have to write like myself or I risk being a cheap knockoff of what they are. It’s one thing to admire someone’s work, but you’ve got to find your authentic voice otherwise it’s all for naught. Being yourself is the only way to be successful at what you’re doing. And in a sea of millions of bloggers, if you want to stand out, you’ve gotta be you.

.

  • Mind your grammar. You don’t have to be a Grammar Nazi but making sure you don’t have tons of typos, grammar errors and misspelled words will make your posts much easier and more enjoyable to read. If you’re worried your skills aren’t up to par, get some help from a website like Grammarly. You can use it wherever you’re writing – even in your e-mail program and it will find grammar and spelling errors that even Microsoft Word can’t. And it’s free.
  • Find a blogging community. Want to promote your blog? Have a question about how to change this or that in your design? That’s what blogging communities are for! Facebook is a great place to start – just look for blogging groups. Or just type “bloggers groups” in your favorite search engine. You’re bound to find a community of other bloggers that will be there to help. That’s one of the most amazing things I’ve discovered about blogging – how ready other bloggers are to help one another.
  • Ask questions. There’s going to come a time when there’s one little design glitch or one widget that threatens your very sanity. You’ll be up until 2 AM banging your head against the wall trying to figure it out. Fear not. I guarantee there’s been someone else in the same place, and they’ve figured it out. Let’s say you can’t figure out how to put a button on your sidebar. All you have to do is go to the search engine and type exactly what you’re trying to do and you’ll find a community of gurus who have been willing to use their knowledge to help the rest of us out. I don’t use other platforms, but I know that the WordPress support website is just amazing.
  • Write. No matter what your “why” is, or who your audience is, you’ll need to write and you’ll need to do it on a consistent basis. Do what feels natural as far as how often you write, but make sure you’re writing. It helps keep your creative juices flowing and it helps your followers want to keep following to see what you’ll write next.

And that should get you started on deciding how you want to proceed with your blog. Or make you run screaming in the other direction! It’s a lot of work, but it can be very rewarding, too.

Take care – Mama Bear

Be yourself. Everyone elseis already taken.-- Oscar Wilde

10 Tips For Starting Your Own Blog

This isn’t my usual subject matter when it comes to this blog, but I’ve had lots of people asking me about how to start a blog since I started this one, so I thought I’d offer a few tips. I haven’t been blogging all that long so I’m not an expert by any means but there are a few things I can tell you that will definitely help you on your way.

  • Figure out your “why”. Why do you want to start a blog? Are you hoping to use it to make money? Are you hoping to use it to segue into products that you can sell (books, downloadable content, etc.)? Are you using it mainly as an online journal? Figuring out your “why” will help you in every other step you take with the blog. With this blog, my long-term goal is to have downloadable content and a book.
  • Figure out your audience. Who are you writing for? Are you a new mom wanting to reach out to other moms to talk about your parenting experiences? Are you a world traveler and want to share your knowledge of the places you’ve gone with other travelers? Are you a gamer who wants to do game reviews to let others know which games to try? Or you might just be writing for yourself – to get something off your chest. In my case, I am someone who’s dealt with depression for 30 years, with varying degrees of success, but I’ve learned quite a bit along the way about different ways of dealing with it and how positive thinking and whole living can help with it and wanted to share my insights with others who might be dealing with the same issues.
  • Choose what platform you’ll use – that’s the website you’re going to use to build your blog. Blogger and WordPress are probably the two biggest platforms, but there are many others like SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly.
  • Learn some of the basics of blogging. You don’t have to be an HTML guru, but it helps to know some of the basics, like what domains are, what it means to self-host, and how to use the dashboard on whatever platform you choose. Any of the “Blogging for Dummies” books are a great place to start, but there are plenty of great websites that will help, too. I’d recommend searching by whatever platform you’re using and then “for beginners” (for example “WordPress for Beginners” or “Blogger for Beginners”).
  • Look at other blogs for design tips. I know a lot of other people recommend reading a lot of other blogs to get ideas of what you want to do, but I don’t recommend that. It’s one thing to get design tips, but eventually if you spend too much time reading other people’s content, I think you’re bound to wind up copying their style, even inadvertently. In the end, you want your blog to represent YOU, not someone else.
  • Find your voice. There are some really great bloggers, just as there are great writers, but as much as I admire Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain or Dorothy Parker for their wit, I have to write like myself or I risk being a cheap knockoff of what they are. It’s one thing to admire someone’s work, but you’ve got to find your authentic voice otherwise it’s all for naught. Being yourself is the only way to be successful at what you’re doing. And in a sea of millions of bloggers, if you want to stand out, you’ve gotta be you.

.

  • Mind your grammar. You don’t have to be a Grammar Nazi but making sure you don’t have tons of typos, grammar errors and misspelled words will make your posts much easier and more enjoyable to read. If you’re worried your skills aren’t up to par, get some help from a website like Grammarly. You can use it wherever you’re writing – even in your e-mail program and it will find grammar and spelling errors that even Microsoft Word can’t. And it’s free.
  • Find a blogging community. Want to promote your blog? Have a question about how to change this or that in your design? That’s what blogging communities are for! Facebook is a great place to start – just look for blogging groups. Or just type “bloggers groups” in your favorite search engine. You’re bound to find a community of other bloggers that will be there to help. That’s one of the most amazing things I’ve discovered about blogging – how ready other bloggers are to help one another.
  • Ask questions. There’s going to come a time when there’s one little design glitch or one widget that threatens your very sanity. You’ll be up until 2 AM banging your head against the wall trying to figure it out. Fear not. I guarantee there’s been someone else in the same place, and they’ve figured it out. Let’s say you can’t figure out how to put a button on your sidebar. All you have to do is go to the search engine and type exactly what you’re trying to do and you’ll find a community of gurus who have been willing to use their knowledge to help the rest of us out. I don’t use other platforms, but I know that the WordPress support website is just amazing.
  • Write. No matter what your “why” is, or who your audience is, you’ll need to write and you’ll need to do it on a consistent basis. Do what feels natural as far as how often you write, but make sure you’re writing. It helps keep your creative juices flowing and it helps your followers want to keep following to see what you’ll write next.

And that should get you started on deciding how you want to proceed with your blog. Or make you run screaming in the other direction! It’s a lot of work, but it can be very rewarding, too.

Take care – Mama Bear