Tuesday, December 21, 2010
As of yesterday afternoon I am off work until January 4th and boy, am I ready to be off. I know I don't have half the troubles or the stressors in my life that most of you have but I think that each of us has their own stress limitations. Maybe is is because I have faced mental illness throughout much of my life that I can say that.
Don't get me wrong, some stress is good for me but I can tell when things are rapidly getting out of control. It is then that I really need to step back and have a good talk with myself. Unfortunately, I don't always listen to myself and try to push myself and push myself. One of these days I'm going to push myself off a cliff!!!! Ha!
Last week I let my whole Spark Plan slip by the wayside. I walked once and used the excuse that the time I was walking could be better spent on the tasks that really needed to get done. I ate a lot of take out for the same reason and deep down I think I gave up drinking so much water because heaven only knows how much time I could save by not spending it in the bathroom....please say you are laughing when reading this....
Anyway, it was 9:00 last night and I looked at my husband and said, "I'm going for a walk in the woods...are you game" Thankfully he was, so off we went armed with our flashlights. There was a heavy mist falling, we couldn't see the road to save ourselves but boy was it nice! The dogs, of course, just loved it although we've discovered that Louisa is afraid of the dark while Maddy would take on the devil! I felt cleansed after I arrived home.....probably because that morning's makeup was probably washed off my face by the mist.....but regardless I felt great.
So here is to making exercise a priority and not something I only do when I'm feeling good! Lesson learned....I hope!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I'm writing this blog today to talk about something that has really been bothering me lately. A lot of you have made comments on my SparkPage that they consider me a good friend, etc. Well, while I really appreciate the votes of confidence it made me pause for thought.
If ,for example, I was given the opportunity to go back to just being a soul, would I choose the same physical and personality characteristics that I have now?
Several years ago, I would have screamed a resounding "NO" because I was under the impression that if this or that was different about me I would finally be happy. If I was taller, if I was thinner, if I was smarter, if I didn't have depression, if I didn't quit university, if I didn't date so and so, if I had studied this subject, if I had been more disciplined...you get the picture!
At the heights (or should I say bottom) of my depression, I was referred to a wonderful no-nonsense psychologist. In the first six months, I'm sure all I did was complain about things that had happened in my life until finally one day she stopped my "pity party" (her expression) and was told to rethink the past. These things were all in the past and yet I was dragging their memories along for the ride much to the detriment of my mental well being.
It was like a light bulb went off in my head and slowly I became to accept those things about me that I didn't like and realize that those very experiences made me into the person I had become. I could have continued to berate myself for quitting university (I eventually went back and graduated), for not being smarter, for not being at the stages that my friends were all at, but for what? I would have developed into a self-loathing individual and that very self-hatred would have eventually destroyed me.
One of the very first things I was told to do was to write down things a good friend would like about me. This was very eye opening and allowed me to see me as others would and not as my inner critic. Believe me, this journey didn't happen overnight and I continued to see the psychologist for three years until she retired this past spring.
But now, if I had to go back in time and could start life over, I really think I would choose the same physical and psychological characteristics that I was born with.
I'm not perfect, I'm not great, I'm just me! I have come to appreciate my rich inner life because my mind is always active. I have come to know my limitations and I view them as self-preservation rather than excuses. I've come to realize that I'm not very important in the grand scheme of things but I am very important to me!
It is funny how the more laid back I am becoming with myself that my urge to take care of myself is becoming more pronounced. I thought it would be the opposite but that isn't the case. I've recycled my "all or nothing" attitude into one of "every bit counts" and it is working.
Hopefully I haven't bored you with my ramblings!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
As many of you know, I have lived with depression for many years. I know some of you are shaking your heads and thinking, "but she is always so upbeat" but it is true that I deal with this demon on a daily basis.
I think that a lot of people, whether they have a diagnosed depression, or not, find the holidays a wee bit of a downer. The past couple of days I have had my moments too when I found myself really in a gray mood, when I've been so close to tears that I could feel them. I'm fortunate that both my husband and I recognize the "signs" and we both do our part to ward it off. Last night's therapy was to grab some takeout pizza and drive around for a short time looking at Christmas lights. Worked like a charm as did the walk I took around our block when I got home.
Okay, so here is my opinion on why some of us feel "let down" by Christmas. I think we all have these preconceived notions that the holidays are a time for "peace and goodwill towards all mankind". While this is a great concept, I think it is a bunch of phooey. If you have problems in your family dimension throughout the year, they are not going to magically disappear over the holidays. My cousin's daughter is married to a pompous jerk (see, I tell it as it is!) and I know there is going to come a time during over the holidays that I'm going to feel like sticking the roasting fork in his eye but then again, I feel like that all the time towards him! Ha! I am NOT going to expect anything different from him or expect to feel any different towards him because I've learned the hard way.
Ditto for mother-in-law!! We all live in the same small town and yet we never see them because of how they have made me feel over the years. My beloved mother-in-law has a tongue like a knife and has cut me so many times with it. The Christmas Eve we got engaged, John wanted to tell his parents (like you would) so off we went. My FIL gave me a big hug and said he was happy for both of us and his mother took one look at my engagement ring and said "that won't look so pretty on your hands when your hands are chapped from scrubbing toilets". Yep, so needless to say I'm not having any expectations about having warm and fuzzy feelings about her this Christmas!
So, now you are all thinking that I'm a cold-hearted person but I'm really not. I have just learned not to have too high expectations that the holidays will magically erase any awkwardness in my extended family. Mom is going to come up to my house on Christmas Eve, spend about one hour in our company and they go to bed with a box of chocolates. Then the next morning she is going to have a massive headache and beg to be taken back to the home where she lives! It is actually quite funny if you look at all from a certain vantage point.
Please don't think any less of me for my honesty! I'm just telling you like I see it. Depression is normal around the holidays even for people that normally aren't affected by it. But is it any wonder? Allow yourself to lower your expectations and I think you will discover a part of the secret to inner peace!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Here at the college where I work we are in the midst of our Secret Santa week. Everyone is welcome to participate and we are to buy four gifts that cost between $2-3 and one final gift that costs around $20. (On a side note, we used to do this in university back in the 1980's and the four gifts were to cost no more than $1 each....how times have changed).
I enjoy this week for many reasons. The shopping is a lot of fun because everybody sort of competes to see who can be the most creative with their limited money. You'd be surprised at some of the things you can find! Then there this is the "gift delivery" as nobody wants to be caught in the act. We've had elaborate schemes over the years that have involved clues hidden throughout the building, students acting as delivery people, etc.
The fun, in my humble opinion, is way more important than the actual gift-giving and receiving. Case in point: yesterday our rather uptight librarian received some children's party favours yesterday and his note said he had to be seen in the library playing with them. You talk about funny! Here he was with one of those exploding sphincters that shoots out streams of paper and he was acting like a kid! He absolutely loved it and I loved it because I got a chance to laugh (like I need an excuse!!!!) as did all of the students! I've never seen him enjoy himself more and I've worked with him for almost 20 years...so it was great!
Okay, now on to the second part of my blog. I decided to tell you about the best gifts I've received and given over the past years.
1. My engagement ring from my husband on Christmas Eve in 1998...or was it 1997? oops!
2. A hammer my now husband gave me back in 1994. Yes, he gave me a hammer and I was really upset about it until I heard the reason why. He had just bought an very old fixer-upper house and he said it was his way of telling me he wanted me to share my life with him. I always retell this story around Christmas and most women say, "and you believed that stupid story?". I did believe him and still do because that is just the way he is.
3. The whole WillowTree nativity set that my father bought for me his last Christmas alive. He said he wanted me to put it up every Christmas and think of him. I put it up a few nights ago and shed a few tears in his memory but then became thankful for having nothing but beautiful memories! As it turns out my father-in-law built me the most beautiful creche that Christmas and so I have both of my "fathers" in mind when I look at it.
4. My last Christmas with Peaches. She was still ripping open presents and even got herself stuck in a gift bag! She was always so nosey and just loved bags of any sort. We managed to get a video clip of her walking across the floor stuck in the bag and all you could see was her tail!!!
5. A DVD my dear cousin did for all of us in which she had random pictures of all of us set to Christmas music. One of my favourites is a picture of my father (taken in Saskatchewan). He was on board the Via rail train and is waving to me and I was just outside for some fresh air. It looks like he is saying farewell and I just bawl like a baby when I see it. But then, later on I laugh because there are some mighty funny pictures put on the DVD as well.
As for my favourite gifts...I'm not really creative but I do have one particular gift that I gave that means to most to me:
A few years ago, when my grandmother was 96 and still living in her own apartment, my cousin and I spent hours with her going through recipe books. Nan was quite the baker in her life and we all have wonderful memories of large family gatherings where there was more food then their were mouths to feed. We didn't really tell her what we were up to but we gathered them all and got contributions from other family members and made up a 100 page family recipe cookbook! We had them sent to various family members (including my brother in Australia) with the instructions that nobody was supposed to open it until the same time on Christmas Day. We had also sent along teabags (such a Newfoundland thing to do) and we all sat back at 9:30 a.m. and shared a cuppa with each other even though we were all miles apart. We were were overwhelmed with the thanks we received for doing it and everybody treasures the memories the cookbook brought back!
Anyway, thank you for reading! Any good stories about Christmas out there? I love the responses I get when I ask questions!
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