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Giving thanks

10 May

It’s Grati-Tuesday. I am in a Facebook group of women (there may be men, or people who identify in other ways, but I’m not sure) who support and encourage each other. I used to see posts from Mona, the group’s leader, almost every day, but I have missed many of them of late. Today, however, I saw her post suggesting that we make a list of 15 things we are grateful for — and 20 if we didn’t feel like it. I don’t feel like it, so here’s 20:

  1. I am grateful for my sister, Megan, and her family. I moved here to be closer to them (and my other family members). I cannot express how grateful I am to be able to see them frequently.
  2. I am grateful for the opportunity to play games with and read stories to my nephew and nieces.
  3. I am grateful for hugs and kisses when I leave their house.
  4. I am grateful for my coworker who gave me a hug and told me she loved me today. She even said I was on her top 5 list of favorite people, and I know she meant it.
  5. I am grateful for another coworker who gives me a daily double fist bump.
  6. I am grateful for Charles, my Caribou bourista boyfriend, who makes delicious drinks for me.
  7. I am grateful for bacon. Let’s be real here.
  8. I am grateful for depression and the intense and frightening feelings I’ve been having lately because they allow me to reach out to and truly understand other people who are feeling suicidal.
  9. I am grateful for the friends who know what this feels like.
  10. I am grateful for the Facebook mental health support page.
  11. I am grateful for coffee. That should have been #2.
  12. I am grateful for Melvin.
  13. I am grateful for Instagram because it makes me feel popular, and yesterday a woman I follow commented on my post when I made her turkey kale appel meatballs and said my idea to add cider vinegar and sauteed apples to the sauce was amazing! Squeeee!
  14. I am grateful for my health.
  15. I am grateful that I can run.
  16. I am grateful for all of the teachers I’ve had and especially for my friends who are teachers today.
  17. I am grateful for the YouTube video I watched this morning. It was a powerful message from the father of the young man  who died of suicide last week in the town where my mother lives.
  18. I am grateful for surprises.
  19. I am grateful for laughter.
  20. I am grateful for Mona, who encouraged me to ponder gratitude today.

Remembering bits and pieces

26 Apr

I’m trying to lose weight. Fifteen pounds (as of today) to be exact. Usually I weigh myself on Thursdays. I use the scale at my gym, and I go there in the morning after I’ve used the bathroom (TMI) and before I’ve eaten breakfast. Today is Wednesday. I needed to weigh today because I can’t do it tomorrow.

Something has been off in my body and spirit for a week or so. I’ve had tummy troubles, and this morning I woke up with a terrible headache. Not that there are good headaches. Funny that I always feel the need to qualify my headaches so you know they are bad.

Anyway, headache. Didn’t want to get out of bed. Didn’t feel hungry or even want coffee, which is a sure sign that I’m in bad shape. Been feeling so, so, so very sad, and I don’t know why. Nothing has changed in my diet or my routine. I am not experiencing more stress. Yes, the weather has been rainy and cold and windy, but I live in North Dakota and it’s March.

So I was running late and I went to the gym, stripped off my coat and shoes, and stepped on the scale. I gained more than a pound this week. Last week I stayed exactly the same as the week before. Previously, I had been losing close to one pound per week.

I threw my coat and shoes back on and got in my car to drive to work, and I cried. Lip quivering tears with little whimpering sounds like kittens make. Over a weight gain. Really there has to be something more going on, because I’ve fallen into a funk and I can’t get out.

When I got to work and stepped out of my car, I was thinking, I wonder what would happen if I didn’t eat anything today.

Since I started feeling so low, I’ve had bits and pieces of a quote I believe I once read floating around in my head. It has to do with what gets us down — like you can tell a lot about a person by the things that get them down, or make them upset. I have been Googling the bits and pieces and can’t find it.

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This isn’t the one, but it’s good. And Einstein.

The quote itself doesn’t matter. What matters is that when I start crying about gaining (or not losing) weight and start thinking maybe I shouldn’t eat, it really makes me say, Geez, Wendi. Is that all it takes to get you down? Aren’t there more important matters in the world?

There are more important matters, and I have a lot to be grateful for, but at this very moment I know something is going on that needs my attention. There is a dis-ease in my body or spirit. Yesterday I thought about suicide — not making plans but just the thought that flies into and out of your head. It happens sometimes, and I know it’s important.

Instead of not eating, which I honestly don’t think I could EVER do, I decided to let go of two things today: the scale and tracking my food. It will be hard for me to do that, but ultimately I think it will help.

Thank you for reading this far. Please understand that I don’t want any advice about weight loss or mental health. I would, however, appreciate your support and understanding. Like, “I understand this feeling, Wendi. Is there anything I can do to help? Would you like a latte or a million dollars?” Like that.

 

Believing I’m enough 

8 Apr

For most of my life, I’ve felt like I was too much — too fat, too loud, too crazy, too emotional — too much of the bad things and never enough of the good. In the last few months, that has changed. 

I’ve been focusing since October on wellness, which for me means making changes or improvements in several areas of my life. I began a running/training program designed to reduce stresses, increase the body’s use of fat as a fuel source, and strengthen the heart. It is much lower in intensity than the typical training program, and for the first several months I saw little improvement. But lately I’m making steady (and kind of huge!) improvements and it’s incredibly rewarding. 

I also made a goal to change my nutritional habits so that most, if not all, of my choices were supporting my training and helping me live my best life. In March I started the Whole30 and it really has changed my life. Every day I eat a lot of whole, real, delicious food! I’ve lost weight, I sleep better, and I have more energy than I ever have. 

I’ve made other changes to my thought processes, relationships, and in my approach to dealing with conflict and frustration. I don’t have everything figured out, and I don’t hope to. But I’m moving forward and it’s empowering.

Just this morning, I thought “I feel like I am enough, not too much or to little. Just right.” My wish is for you to feel like you’re just right, too. 

Imagining where I would be

6 Mar

Single Woman’s 30-day Blog Challenge, Day 7: Where you are in your life vs. where you thought you would be at this point

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When people ask me, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I always want to say, “I have no $^&(%#*\ idea.” I don’t even know where I see myself tomorrow, let alone years from now, and I don’t know if I ever have.

Sure, I used to daydream about my wedding day and write out the first and middle names of all of the children I was going to have with my imaginary husband, but that was years ago. I mean, more than ten years ago.

For much of my life, however, I could not imagine my future because I didn’t want to have one — I wanted to die. It wasn’t until age 36 when I decided to stop drinking and entered a program of recovery that I was able to consider what the future might hold for me, and then I started living my life one day at a time.

I’ll tell you what: I never imagined I would be 45 and living in a small apartment in North Dakota with an antisocial cat (and no spouse or children). I never imagined I would have a job in a car dealership. I also never thought I would be running marathons or working part-time as a personal fitness coach. And I never considered the possibility that I would feel better and be happier and healthier at age 45 than at age 25.

I never thought I’d be where I am now, but I sure am glad I got here.

Managing Melvin

9 Feb

Melvin is going to be 10 years old in March. For the first half of his life, he rarely made any noise that I can recall. Then shortly after his older brother left us for the catnip field in the sky, Melvin became more chatty. Still, he uses his voice mostly to complain and yell at me, and often he makes a sound that reminds me of Marge Simpson when she gets exasperated.

Melvin is my feline companion. Lately he has an anxiety disorder or maybe some pent-up aggression. He gets mad and freaked out at least twice a day. Every time he does, I say to him almost the exact same words in the exact same order:

Boo Boo, why are you so mad? You should not be sad in your heart. You should be happy in your heart! You have food and water and a clean litter box and kitty crack and treats and a warm bed and a scratching post and a kitty condo. You have a mom who loves you and hugs you and kisses you a hundred times a day. You don’t have any reason to be mad!

This week on Monday and Tuesday, I was in a VERY BAD MOOD. I could (and did) speculate about the reason or reasons why, but the bottom line is I was choosing to be angry and I was one hundred percent aware of that fact. On Tuesday night I fell asleep obsessing about an issue in my life and rehearsing the piece of my mind I was going to give to the person I was blaming for a good chunk of my unhappiness.

And then on Wednesday morning, when I was managing Melvin’s morning anxiety attack, it occurred to me that I should do the same for myself.

People in the recovery community often suggest that you make a gratitude list when you are feeling upset or depressed. When anyone suggests that to me, I want to punch them in the face. But obviously there’s some merit to focusing on the positive rather than the negative — in almost any situation.

So instead of feeling my anger, which was wearing me the hell out to be honest, I started to think about all of the reasons I have to be happy. They are numerous, for I am a fortunate, healthy, and privileged person. And wouldn’t you know it, Wednesday was a much better day.

If you ask me for advice when you are struggling with your emotions, I will never tell you to make a list. I will, however, suggest that you give yourself the same comfort you would give a friend, child, or your pissed off pet. I bet you will find your soothing words helpful.

Ending the day

25 Jan

What do you do at the end of the day?

I put on my pajamas, if I haven’t already put them on the moment after I walked into my apartment. I sleep in rather embarrassing clothes — currently flannel Christmas cats wearing socks and a shirt from the first Turkey Day 5K I ran in 2009. And sometimes I wear socks because my feet are always freezing until, magically, in the middle of the night, they are on fire.

I brush my teeth because I am a little bit obsessed about dental hygiene, and I use a plethora of products on my face. A “repair” regimen, it’s called, because I am at that age where one starts to think about the “signs of aging.”

And then I crawl into bed with Melvin, who curls up on my left side and sets his little head on my shoulder and turns on his loud purr motor, and we rest.

I literally fall asleep most nights with a smile on my face because I am so excited about drinking coffee in the morning. Well, I used to be that excited. I drank French press coffee mixed with about 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream, an egg yolk, and a teaspoon of coconut oil. It is the most delicious concoction you can imagine, but it’s high in fat and acid and it made me develop horrible acid reflux. So now I’m off it, which feels like punishment for all my sins from at least the past 10 years.

I don’t pray anymore, or meditate at all, or make a gratitude list, or take my inventory. I should. I should do all of those things. But instead I fall asleep thinking about coffee and sometimes breakfast. I suppose that means I live a rather un-examined life, or perhaps I’m selfish.

When I lived with my ex, we borrowed a ritual from a former coworker of mine. Whether she and her partner were together or not, they would end their day by sharing their best thing from the day and what they were most grateful for at the time. Today, my best thing was Skyping with the man I am getting to know, and I am most grateful for the mild temperature and lack of wind during my run tonight.

How do you end your day? What was your best thing, and what are you grateful for?

Expressing gratitude

11 Jan

Today wasn’t a great day, not because anything bad happened but, I think, because I’ve been carrying around some heavy, dark depression for a few days. As I get older, my hormonal shifts have been more drastic. Maybe I have some thyroid thing happening, too, or I should start consistently taking vitamins.

Anyway, I did not feel awesome today. Tomorrow is a full moon, and by Sunday it’s supposed to be 22 damn degrees ABOVE zero, so I suspect things will be looking up soon for me.

A woman I follow on Facebook has a “Grati-Tuesday” post. She invites you to share 15 things you like, love, appreciate, or are grateful for, and she says if you don’t feel like making the list, you should write 20. So here I go:

  1. I like running under the light of the moon even when it’s -1 degree
  2. I love babysitting for my nieces and nephew
  3. I love my mom because she is funny and she loves me
  4. I am grateful for my sisters and brothers
  5. I like getting text messages early in the morning from two friends who share their experience, strength, hope, and good wishes with me
  6. I love fun socks
  7. I love Melvin, my asshole cat
  8. I like clearing the snow off my neighbor’s car. I don’t think she knows I do it.
  9. I love coffee. I love it so much. At night when I go to bed, I am very excited to wake up the next day to drink coffee.
  10. I appreciate my coworker who insists that I smile (with teeth bared) every single time I see him
  11. I like getting “hello beautiful” text messages from that guy who will probably never date me
  12. I love, love, love the sound of little kids laughing
  13. I am grateful that I have clean running water and heat in my home
  14. I like my skin and hair. I think they are my best features.
  15. I love both of my jobs
  16. I am grateful for my health
  17. I am grateful for friends who ask if I am ok and what they can do to help when I am not
  18. I love that I am sensitive and caring, even when it hurts like hell
  19. I am grateful for the low times because they help me appreciate the high times
  20. I can’t even tell you how grateful I am that I can start my car with my phone

What about you?