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Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume 42

And here it is Tuesday again, and as promised, Total Gratitude Tuesday has returned.

I’ll be honest – it’s been rough keeping up with my gratitude practice lately. The last few months have been a genuine struggle overall, and as anyone with depression knows, it’s rough to keep up healthy practices when depression takes over. While writing is sometimes therapeutic, I’ve found that the pressure of finding a positive spin to put on things has paralyzed me into a kind of long-term writer’s block. That’s a limitation that I’ve put on myself but it’s also because I know that I don’t have any particular interest in writing a blog that’s just a diary of depression, nor would I have any interest in reading one. I’m the girl that likes looking for (and hopefully finding) the silver lining, not just the clouds. It’s the cruelest irony that depression takes away your motivation and energy to do the very things that would help to alleviate some of the symptoms.

And when you add recent events across our nation and the world to the mix, the struggle becomes even more difficult. I have never been someone who could build any armor around my heart and I have a really hard time tuning out the misery of others which means that there are times when the weight is too much to bear. It’s difficult to keep a positive outlook when all you see around you are people being cruel to one another and on such a grand scale. I try to bear in mind that the world has always been a cruel place in some ways, but with those silver linings in human form to give us hope.

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Still, there are silver linings even if they are difficult to find sometimes. And I am ever grateful for the love and support of friends and family, as they do make even hard times easier to bear. I am especially grateful for those who understand my need to retreat to my spiritual blanket fort and don’t get irritated with me over it.

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And a big “thank you” to my husband for always being understanding about my need to retreat when life gets overwhelming. This photo was taken on a hike we took in Yellow Springs to get away for a few minutes after a particularly rough few days. I love that he “gets” me even when I make no sense to myself.

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And on to the gratitude list – this is at the top for the moment. My husband and I went to see Duran Duran and Chic live last Tuesday in Clarkston, Michigan. First of all, if you’ve never been to Clarkston, it’s a neat little town to check out. The main street reminds me a lot of my hometown but because it’s just outside of Detroit, Clarkston is jumpin’. There are some great restaurants and gorgeous buildings to check out and lots of neat little boutiques and such. We stopped at Union Woodshop for some of the best barbeque I’ve ever had. (Yeah, in Michigan! Who’d have thunk?) And then on to the show. I have waited to see Duran Duran my whole life. I mean, it really was a check on the ol’ bucket list. And the fact that Chic opened for them? Absolute perfection. I am an unapologetic fan of disco. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with music for the sake of dancing and feeling good, and nobody does it better than Chic. And they’re just as good as they were in the 70s and 80s. And Duran Duran – what can I say? They lived up to every single expectation in every way. They still have the same energy and vibe and the music is as great as ever. I missed Nick Rhodes not being there, but even so, it was perfection. And a quick getaway with my husband is always good medicine.

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This is the KEEP Collective design I wore to the concert. I’m pretty sure the guys could see it from my spot out on the lawn. 😉 

On the professional front – it’s been a slow couple of months with KEEP Collective, which is pretty natural in the summer. Everyone’s got plans, myself included, so it’s hard to live up to the stellar month I had in May, but even so I just found out that I earned Level 1 Consistency Club (qualifying 4 of my first 6 months with KEEP) and will get a $75 product credit and recognition at Hoopla (our conference) which is in just a couple of weeks!

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Had to take this photo at an angle because of the glare in my bright orange kitchen!

And thank you to my best friend Amanda for this beautiful gift and also for being another person who understands and supports me when things get rough.

And odd as it sounds, I’m really thankful for the whole Pokemon Go craze. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen more kids out on bikes than I have in the last fifteen years and my own grown kids have met people all over the place and had conversations and gotten out in the fresh air and explored our city – all good things in my book. Pokemon fans have caught a lot of shit online from people who I guess have nothing better to do than criticize other people for their hobbies, but to me, it seems like something that’s bringing people together in a fun way, and where’s the harm in that? I should think with everything that’s going on in the world right now, people would see it as a good thing.

Onward and upward, right? One foot in front of the other and looking forward to a good week.

Much love. – Mama Bear

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Happy Firstaversary!

That’s right – Mama Bear Said So is one year old! They grow so quickly, don’t they? *sniff*

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I wish I could say that I deliberately skipped “Total Gratitude Tuesday” to celebrate the first year anniversary of this blog, but in reality, the holiday weekend messed me all up and I went around all day yesterday thinking it was Monday. Just FYI – it wasn’t. So today’s post is a combination of a celebratory post and a gratitude post. A two-fer, if you will.

I’m not sure if the blog has evolved as much as my attitude about it has. It’s very easy when you start blogging to get too caught up in all of the chatter about monetization and ads and audience and numbers. There’s a constant push to get your numbers up, to work on SEO, to get your name out there, to make money…it gets exhausting, especially if you’re the type who doesn’t have any desire to become a millionaire motivational speaker and isn’t terribly concerned with how many thousands of followers you have on social media. I basically just wanted to write, and it’s taken me a long time to be okay with that being my main ambition – not money or followers or fame.

But like most things in life, it just takes a little bit of peace and quiet and ignoring outside voices to find your own true voice. And trying to keep up with all of the reading and advice on how to make this blog bigger and better was exhausting and took a lot of the joy out of blogging for me. But I’m finally realizing that staying true to my own ambitions and wishes for this blog, and being authentic to my own vision is what will make this venture a success. It may not ever be a success according to the blog gurus, but if it feels like a success to me, that’s all that matters. So, with that in mind, I plan to return to blogging on a more regular basis and do it my way. It’s so much easier to enjoy yourself when you’re focused more on the journey than on the destination, whatever that is.

So a giant thank you to everyone that’s come along with me on this journey. I hope you’ll stick around for the next leg of the trip!

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And now for this week’s helping of gratitude…

We had a big holiday weekend! Saturday night we went out to our friends’ house for their annual July 4th bash. It’s always a big to-do with fireworks and lots of great food and fun. Sometime during the evening, there’s also a ritual sacrifice of a stuffed toy so that none of the adults operating any fireworks will be injured. This was this year’s victim:

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Yeah, I’m sure you have a lot of questions about this, but let’s just leave it alone, ‘kay?

Later that night, in spite of having had nothing to drink most of the day, I wound up getting a bit tipsy (or maybe a lot) and schooling a few young’uns at flip cup. And then I got all maudlin about Prince and a few other things and sobbed for awhile and went to bed. Overall, a really great day, even with the sobbing! We also got to spend some time on Monday with my extended family, who I don’t get to see nearly often enough. Again, great food, great company and a lot of fun just hanging out with the people we love best.

And last night, we had a great meeting with Equality Springfield. It was a long one and emotional, given all that’s happened in the last month or so. We talked a great deal about how to open dialogue with people who perhaps don’t necessarily share our views on equality, and how important it is to keep the conversation about the violence in Orlando going and to remember those lives lost in a meaningful way. I’m so glad we found our way to this group. Equality is something I’ve always been passionate about, but it’s frustrating to feel that you can’t find a way to put your passion into action. Finding a group of other people who think the same way and want to put their efforts toward making progress toward equality has made a real difference. It’s also helped to keep some of the pessimism that’s set in lately at bay. It’s easy to forget how many good people there are in the world when the news is full of danger and turmoil and violence.

And wow, yesterday was a fantastic mail day! For starters, we got this bit of loveliness in the mail:

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It’s the wedding invitation for our son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law! It’s just a bit over two months now until the wedding, and we couldn’t be more excited! Somehow seeing the invitation just made it more real, I think.

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And then I got my stack of “Skinny” bracelets from Color by Amber yesterday, too! Aren’t they gorgeous? I love supporting fellow direct sales sisters, but especially when I can get something so pretty, like these little resin beauties! I especially love the map and novel ones.

So it’s been a pretty big week! And the next couple of months are going to be just as big. I’m really looking forward to what the coming months will bring!

Take care and have a beautiful week!

Much love. – Mama Bear