Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Letting Go and Moving Forward

When my husband passed away, I went to 2 group counseling sessions and then met with a grief counselor several times.  There are basically 2 steps to start the healing process.  Step 1 is to accept and admit that the loved one is not coming back.  Step 2 is to remember your relationship with the person in a realistic manner. Some people focus only on the good things.  This makes the loved one nearly perfect and the survivor feels unworthy or even guilty for not seeing the perfection while the person was alive.  Others focus on the negative, and they feel angry towards the deceased. There’s no closure available for that anger and so it drags out and makes the survivor miserable and also guilty for feeling this way about someone they loved and is no longer here.  Ideally, of course, is to remember the person and the relationship as it really was.  The ups and the downs.  The good with the bad.

No matter what your particular situation, it all comes down to the same process.  Whether the person is remembered as a saint, an ogre, or somewhere in between, really makes no difference.  Whatever negative feelings we are holding onto, either of ourselves or them, we need to just let go.  What makes it so difficult to do is the inability to talk to that person to resolve conflict inside of us.  We can’t apologize for what we did or didn’t do, and we can’t extract an apology from the deceased if they hurt us.  The only way for us to move forward, is to not dwell on the past.  Memories are fine and great, but when they consume our daily lives and fill us with regret, then they aren’t the kind of memories that are comforting.  Find an outlet for your feelings. Talk out loud, shake your fists to the skies, write a letter or even a blog post.  Whatever you have to do to enable yourself to move on. 

I am writing this to help me move on, (coupled with a 12 page letter to my husband), and if it helps even just one other person, then I can feel good about the start of my new life.  We don't need to ask for forgiveness, nor try to forgive those who have left us.  God does the forgiving in both situations.  Learn from the past, don't spend your life living there.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A New Year's Revolution

It's a "revolution" because it's time to change the status quo.  It's time to take a firm stance that I'm going to improve.  I learned that some of the problems with New Year's resolutions are that they need motivation in order to work.  We can only motivate ourselves for so long and often times, its not long enough to turn a new way of life into a habit.  You need at least 6 weeks for that, and even then, its easy to slip back into our old ways.  We have this mental block towards New Year's resolutions.  They are usually a big departure from our normal way of living, and we give ourselves a lot of slack to fail, because, they're "just" New Year's resolutions; not to be taken seriously.  Knowing this and being somewhat of a hopeless optimist (sometimes), I'm trying a little bit of a different approach, and starting a bit later too, to avoid the rush at the gym.  So, my New Year's resolution is to devise a list of:

"Rules to Live By"
(in no particular order)

Only eat if I'm hungry.
Stop eating when I'm full.
The couch and laptop are not bodily parts, so make an effort to break away from them once in a while.
Go for a walk.
Take care of tasks as they come up instead of adding to the never-ending "to do" list.
Just "be"; live in the moment.  Quit reliving the past and worrying about/planning the future.
Forgive.  Let go.
Try new things.
Do what makes me happy.
Say what I feel.
Relax.  Meditate and pray.
Be kind.
Help others.
Count my blessings.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I’ve had a bad day

I’ve had a bad day.  Not bad in a significant way, just more of a Murphy’s Law kind of way.

Sometimes when I get up in the morning, I’m just able to tell that its going to be “one of those days.”  I even contemplate going back to bed, but I never do and always regret it later.  This morning I woke up to foamy, white, little puddles of dog bile on the rug.  I looked at the dog.  She looked at me.  I decided I needed a cup of coffee before I could deal with this.  Then I fed her and took her outside where she proceeded to choke herself trying to get to 3 different locations of frozen poopsicles from the previous day.  I dragged her back in the house and had some more coffee.  

My intention this morning was to do a few computer things on my pc, like upload files to dropbox and update my iphone os.  I knew it would take a little while for it to warm up, so I had some coffee, checked some emails, etc. on my laptop, all the while, Velvet is making these choking/gagging noises that made me think she was going to throw up, but she never did.  In between she sat there and stared at me, like she was trying to use telepathy to get me to feed her again.

Trying to ignore her, I looked at my phone and there were two notifications for breaking news; both involved traffic accidents with trucks.  My BF drives a truck for a living, so my heart always stops for a second when I get these alerts.  Read them, they weren’t him, I breathed a sigh of relief.  Then I went to check on the pc, but it still hadn’t finished booting up.  So, I figured, there would still be time to do everything, I’ll just go ahead and take a shower.  When I finished, I went to my pc and it had finished booting up, but there were windows everywhere, wanting me to upgrade this, search for missing plug-ins, renew my virus software, make recovery discs, etc, etc.  By the time I finished with all of that I didn’t think there would be time to get the other stuff done, so I turned it off.

After breakfast, I cleaned up the puddles of dog bile on the rug, (note to self:  clean rug, or just be sure to wear shoes in there), then went outside to shovel up the poopsicles using a very old, heavy, and awkward shovel; I swear its made of cast iron.  Then I took Velvet out, little determined hound dog that she is, she went around to the 3 places where there once was poo and ate the ice where the poo had sat.  How desperate can she be?  Back inside, she started making the gagging noises at me again.  

Before I left for work this morning, I decided to check my account balance.  I never do this on a Monday because everything over the weekend goes through on Tuesday.  I log in through my phone and the screen turns blood red.  Big, bold alerts, and exclamation marks covered my screen.  I could hardly understand what was going on, but in my mind, I could hear sirens going off and the robot from “Lost In Space” twirling around, flailing his arms, shouting, “danger, danger Will Robinson.”  When I finally sifted through all of the warning signs, I discovered that I was seriously overdrawn.  A transfer I had initiated on Friday was trying to go through 3 times.  That’s just great.  I decided to contemplate what to do over another cup of coffee.  Then, another breaking news alert showed up.  A house fire.  By now, I’m really starting to consider going back to bed, but I think, things happen in threes, so it should be safe to venture out.  I almost forgot to call in my prescriptions.  Got that done, scraped the ice off my car, listened to some calm relaxing music, then realized, I can’t pay for my prescriptions, because my bank thinks I’m overdrawn.  And, one of them I’m completely out of.  

I get to work.  I call the bank about the transfers.  The customer service lady was very nice.  I explained to her that I hit the submit button just once, but then it seemed stuck, so I hit the home button.  The home button took me to the homepage, but then started loading the transfer from where it had been stuck before, so I (guess), I hit submit again.  She said they’ve been having trouble with their system and she would take care of it.  A couple of minutes later she came back and said it was all fixed.  I was so relieved.  This is how the rest of conversation went (all of her responses are said with a smile on her face; I could just hear it):
Me:  Thank you, so the money won’t come out of my account?
Her:  Its all taken care of.
Me:  So will the money transfer?
Her:  It should stay where it is.
Me:  Where is that?
Her:  The correction is immediate.
Me:  Ok, good.  Thank you.
Her:  You’re welcome.  Please allow 2-3 business days for the correction to show up.
Me:  So the money will come out of my account and then be put back in?
Her:  No, it won’t come out.  This is immediate.  Your money will stay where it is.
Me:  Where is that?  Your institution says pending that its coming in, and my bank account says pending that its coming out and looks like its going to overdraw my account.
Her:  Yes.  That’s correct.  Is there anything else I can help with you with today?
I hesitated, but thought this is going nowhere, like the “Who’s on first” bit by Abbott and Costello.
Me:  No.  You’ve done enough.
Her:  Thank you.  Have a nice day.
I hung up and imagined my money floating around in the clouds, like in some kind of internet banking purgatory; a black hole of particles, pieces of data that just linger in the atmosphere until a computer with the correct id and password, with 3 security questions, pulls them into a server somewhere in India.  Just then I get another alert on my phone; this time from my bank.  It says that my bank account balance is below the $100 threshold that I had set.  I thought that was a really nice way to say ‘you’re nearly $900 in the hole and there’s nothing you can do about it’.

Since I was at the office, I decided to get some work done.  I had a project that needed to be finished for an early morning meeting tomorrow.  I was making excellent time on it and everything was going great until around 4:15.  I sent the drawings to the printer and they came out with streaks and little pools of ink everywhere; they were a mess.  It took about an hour to fix the printer, and amazingly, I did it without getting ink on me.  So, I just needed to make about 15 minutes of changes to the drawings, print them, and then I could run my errands, go home, and then relax.  The printer ended up taking 15 minutes to check what I did and make sure I did it correctly (some nerve).  Then, as happens every time I’m trying to get a project out in a reasonable amount of time, everything starts to choke up.  The computers, the printers, the network, one by one begin to fail me.  I lose work that I had done; I tear out my hair waiting for a drawing to open.  It is so stressful.  Two hours later, I’m finally finished.  I decide to go home first before running my errands because I figure by now, Velvet is probably sick and is probably crossing her legs waiting on me.  I get home, and amazingly, there is nothing to clean up.  So, I feed her and take her outside.  While I’m waiting for her to do her business, I look up and see that a gutter nail is working its way out.  I envision it breaking there, allowing all of the snow to filter to the weak point, eventually breaking off the entire gutter.  But, there’s nothing much I can do about that right now.  Back inside, I opened a package I received today.  It was a ring that I’ve been waiting for.  I was so excited it was here.  It is so pretty, and, its too big.  Big disappointment, but just really a drop in the bucket at this point.  

So, then I decide to nuke a frozen meal for dinner.  Every meal says to pull back the corner of the plastic cover to vent, so one would think that the plastic should be strong enough to be able to be peeled back.  Not today it isn’t.  This one takes me like 5 minutes because every place I peel, it tears into small pieces.  At this point, I’m laughing, a bit of a crazy laugh, but I figure, at this point, there’s nothing I can do about it.  I do decide not to leave the house again today, just in case the Universe is trying to tell me something.  I followed the frozen meal with Weight Watchers ice cream (and I may be having about 5 more of those tonight if things don’t improve).

Finally, I’m in my jam-jams, have a beagle curled up next to me snoring like drunken sailor and I’m thinking, this would probably be a good time to call it a night.

Good night everyone.  Prayers for a good Tuesday.

This song always makes me feel better...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 1, 2013 is Now


I always love January 1st, because like so many others, I see it as a chance for a fresh start; a chance to try, try again and hopefully get “it” right this time. Its a time to make promises to oneself and to vow to become a better person. Its a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. However, I think that when we look back, we see our mistakes and focus on the regrets of our lives. This causes us to look to the future in order to hope that we can do better next time. Instead, we should look at our lives right now. Its really very difficult to do, but if accomplished, brings a person into a state of happiness and fulfillment that can’t be found by reflecting on regret and hoping for something better.

As each minute passes, I realize that that moment in time is gone forever. I can never get it back and no matter what I did with that minute, I can’t change it now. I can plan for the next minute and try harder to make the next minute count, but by doing that, I’m wasting the current minute, and now its gone and I can never get it back. The next minute I’ll spend doing what I planned for it, but once it passes, I have no plan for the following minute and so I have to choose whether to regret that one, or use it to plan the next one. By not enjoying this current minute, there can never be any satisfaction. If I’m always looking backward or forward, I’m never enjoying the moment. There’s never a chance to just simply “be”.

Reflection and planning do have their places in our lives. Its as important to learn from our mistakes as it is to set and achieve goals. We just need to keep these things in balance. They need to afford us the opportunity to enjoy our lives. Imagine standing in a small plot of beautiful garden. If you look behind you, you see grey skies, desolate, cracked ground and a long, empty road that leads nowhere. You wonder what happened to the beauty that once existed. You stress about the choices you made. Leaning backwards, you long to return to that time to do things differently. It upsets you and pulls your focus away from what’s good in your life right now. Back there is more comfortable because you’ve already been there and you feel like, by going back, you can rid yourself of regret.

If you look ahead, all you can see is a deep fog. There are a few shapes in there, but those could just be your imagination and you spend a great deal of time and effort straining to see something among the clouds. You worry and fear what could possibly be hiding in the thick fog.

You repeat this process over and over again. First, looking behind you, then looking ahead, but you never, ever look down. Therefore, you never, ever see the beauty that’s all around you. You never see the good in the moment.

Count your blessings. Look at the beauty and peace that is your now.

For 2013, let’s think beyond ourselves, reach out to others, and come together as a unified front against all that is wrong in our world today. Strive to achieve a random act of kindness.

The past is gone; the future is uncertain, but right now, we can accomplish anything.