Friday, December 30, 2011

The Day After Christmas and Why I Am Happy

Note - I wrote this on December 26, 2011.  

Today is a good day...I am happy.
Yesterday was a good day too! Probably the best Christmas day we have had in a long time. The gifts I got for everyone were a big hit. That made me happy.

Here's a peak at their favorite gifts...

Over Thanksgiving break, my son Tyler and I were joking around about the movie Finding Nemo and he said he wanted a Nemo for Christmas, well he should have watched what he wished for. I got him a stuffed Nemo and it has been with him ever since (yes he is almost 21). Every time I see him with his Nemo it makes me happy.

I surprised Bryan with a tool set. He is out on his own now and I'm sure he will need tools sometime. He did Get to use a screwdriver from it yesterday...another thing that made me happy. But his most favorite gift were the NY Giants glasses I got him.

As for Meagan, she was the most surprised of all. In May she was held up at gun point and among the things that were stolen was her Louis Vuitton purse. 2 days ago Hubs announced that we can get her another purse. I didn't have enough time to pick one up so I wrapped a pic of the bag in a big box of packing peanuts. Seeing how surprised she was made me happy too.

Then came time for dinner. I always make sauce for Christmas dinner. It's a big deal in my house. I cook it for 2 days. I put an eye of round roast and a rack of baby back ribs in it for good flavor. Then we have the meat with the pasta on Christmas. The house smelled wonderful for 2 days. At around noon the tasting began, I have well over 50 teaspoons for just that reason. Within an hour the tasting spoons were replaced with bowls and bread. They loved it! That's another reason to be happy. Actually having my family enjoy the food I make is one of the best feelings in the world to me. (Here's a pic of my brand new 16 quart pot with the sauce cooking).

We ate supper early, about 2 pm, so by 7 pm they were all hungry again. I took out the leftovers from supper and made the kids plates. Yes it was work, but I very happily did it. Last Christmas I was not able to do much, I had just had surgery that had a very long recovery and I was barely able to stand up for more than a few mins at a time. So being able to do things for the family made me happy this year.

The shopping season was relatively stress free. I knew what I was going to get everyone. Making any gift decisions is usually very stressful for me, but this year I had a plan of attack...note to this next year. So that's another thing that made me happy.

In my immediate family (hubs and kids) we don't have family drama and I know how lucky we are. My family however is not drama free and my feelings were hurt by someone yesterday, but with the help of Hubs and the kids I didn't let them ruin the day for me. Having that kind of support also makes me happy.

So there you have it, I am happy as a clam today. And I hope to be happy tomorrow too. I plan on making a happiness journal and just jotting down happy things everyday (hopefully). Why not join me? There's so much stress in our everyday lives that we should all try to look for things that make us happy.

This year we lived by the saying 'life is too short' and I plan on continuing that in 2012!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tis' The Season

It's that time of year when we are all running around getting gifts for our family and friends, baking, throwing parties and lots of other fun things. Out of all the things we do at this time of the year, the gifts seem to be on everyone's mind.

I don't know about your family, but "what do you want?" is a question that I ask or is put to me in another form such as "I really want XYZ for Christmas/Hanukkah this year". Then at some point my husband makes the decision to give the kids money to get what they want themselves. He mumbles something about making sure it's the correct thing or some other nonsense like that. Then I put all my effort into their stockings and usually spend way too much on that stuff, but it was the only thing I could surprise them with.

Fast forward to this year. Things are a little different now. Our oldest is out on his own now, so I made the decision that since he makes his own money the days of giving money for gifts is over. My theory is that he has a good job and can afford to get things he wants. Plus I love surprising them, I think that's the best part of gifts. They should be something that is thought about and picked out specifically for the person you are shopping for.

A little history now...I grew up with parents who always knew the right thing to get us and it never involved money. I can't even remember any kind of cash gift. And not once did they get me something I didn't like. We got 8 gifts for Hanukkah, some years they put all 8 gifts on the dining room table and let us pick one a night and other years they hid them and brought us 1 per night out of their hiding place.  But it was always exciting and made me happy.

But I digress, after I decided that we weren't giving money to Bryan for a gift, it didn't make sense to give the other 2 cash either. I wanted to have gifts for them to open this year. And somehow I got Hubs on board with this idea, although he would still rather have given money (I think he thinks it cheaper, which it probably is). So this year I won...I got to make the rules. Of course I am hearing a lot of "what if I don't like what you picked?" and "how do you know what I want" talk, but I decided to ignore those comments and go on my merry way buying gifts.

This got me thinking...all over the blogworld there have been tons of giveaways and many had a question regarding what your gift wish is for this season. I decided that I enjoy giving the gifts more than getting them (I think the main reason is that no one in my family has vision and they don't want to put any thought into a gift for me...and I am probably the least picky person around). So I am asking you what gift you are most excited to give this year?

I think I did a good job at picking gifts for the Hubs and kids this year. I got them some things they wanted and some things they needed and some things that I picked just for them. Since they are all adults now (much to my chagrin) they will not have the same number of gifts, but I can live with that knowledge. My favorite gift that I am giving is a tool set to Bryan. He moved into his own apartment in July and I thought a tool kit would be helpful.

So that's the favorite thing I am giving this year, how about you?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The way it is suppose to be

As you might know this year has been a struggle for me. I know I might seem like I have it all together, but I suffer from this illness as much as everyone else. This past year started with my dear Mother-in-law being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and is ending with me once again recovering from surgery. Along the way good things did cousin got married, our oldest got his masters in molecular pathology and got a job and we connected with some family members that we had missed, to name a few. And some sad things Mother-in-law passed away, my husbands sister is now estranged from the family thru her own choice and I have had some health issues.

Right now I am struggling with the fact that I wanted to have 2011 be the year that I had no major medical problems (2010 was pretty bad) and well...that ship has sailed already. I also miss my Mother-in-law a lot, especially at this time of the year. This was her time...she loved the holidays. Being Jewish, I never had a Christmas, but since Hubs is Catholic once we got together I had my first Christmas. She let me be a kid on Christmas morning, even though it was in a spectator capacity (yes we did gifts). It was also the 25th anniversary of my son Eric's birth and death, which just happened and I really don't think I have dealt with yet.

It's the time of the year to reflect back on the past year and this year there's a lot that I have learned, quite a few things that I have started working on, as well as things to work on in the future. I have not been successful in every endeavor, but I did try to learn something from each thing I attempted. That is who I am...I try to learn and teach, it's just built into me.

This year I learned that:
I am strong
I am not alone in the world
I can't do much about my past mistakes, but I can learn from them
Life is too short to let those negative feelings in
I am in charge of me, I make my own decisions and no one else
I am loved by my family for being who I am
I am going to make mistakes, it's part of life
I can't give from empty
Don't sweat the small stuff
Take victory in each little step, no matter how small
I can not change people, I can only change myself
And many more things that elude me at this time.

I know these to be true, although I still struggle to remember them.
I think everyone should write a list of what you have learned this year about yourself. This is how we change and grown, which I believe is an essential part of life.

More importantly I learned this:
That sometimes I am suppose to feel sad, mad, angry and afraid to name a few feelings. Yes these are what I consider negative feelings, but they are also a part of life and everyone feels them sometimes. What I have tried to share with you this year is ways to 'talk back' to your bad feelings, since people who suffer from depression and anxiety usually have a harder time letting go of these feelings.

For instance I went to my Psychiatrist (PDoc) after I got back from my month in New York which ended with my Mother-in-laws death. I told her about the major panic attack I had after the funeral. It started when we went to Eric's grave site. By the time we got to the car, I was in full blown panic mode. When we got back to the house I went right to the bedroom and to sleep. She said 2 things...first she was proud that I didn't call her for an emergency pill (she said she would have given me some if I had asked), but more importantly she said that was OK, I was probably suppose to feel like that on that day at that moment. She also remarked that I was able to handle it by going to bed for a while. She has said that more than once since, about other panicky times I have had this year. I am learning that sometimes I'm feeling what I am suppose to feel. There are times that having these feelings and emotions what we need.

As it says in Turn Turn Turn
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late

It seems to me that although we suffer from a horrible illness and we want our meds and therapy to 'fix' us, that there are times we need to 'feel'. Now I am going to get on my soapbox for a moment...If what you are doing to 'fix' yourself, be it meds and/or therapy, is not might be time for a change. A new PDoc, a talk with your PDoc about your concerns, using a PDoc instead of a family doctor (I am not slamming family doctors, they just don't have the knowledge and experience to handle most cases), changing therapist, starting therapy to name a few. But please think about your treatment and be your own best advocate for your treatment. If it's working for you, like it is me, that's great. My wish is for everyone to find wonderful PDoc and therapist. And if you don't know where to look, there are places to call. Every state and I would think area has mental health help. It might be hard to find, there are services out there. And there's always the phone.

And while we are on the subject (OK maybe I am not off the soap box yet) do some research. It overwhelmingly shows that meds alone do not do the trick. You need to learn how to cope with your feelings and find ways to train your brain to think differently. Please think about this over the next few weeks. I am not saying that everyone needs a therapist (I know the cost could be prohibitive), but there's other ways to work on yourself. Reading, journaling, etc.

I just wanted to share these thoughts with you. And would love to hear your thoughts.

Also I know I dropped the ball on the book...another lesson is on its way, I promise.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Other 90%

Today I came to a realization...well its been stewing in my head for a while now, but I let it get the best of me today.

I am different than most people, I would say at least 90% of people, maybe more. I don't mean that my likes and dislikes are different, that uniqueness is what makes the world go round. I mean that I think differently than most people.

I used to say that there's no gray in my life, but I have changed it to there's only red, blue and yellow. I don't mix colors well. This is evident by my reluctance to do many things such as use scraps in my quilting, being able to shop at yard sales or even do anything on the spur of the moment. You should see me on vacation...I need everything planned well in advance. In other words I can't color outside the lines and usually stay way inside the lines just to be sure of not crossing that line.  

I think its this that makes me feel afraid of many things. I don't know what would happen if I went over that line. Who would I let down? Would I be safe? Would I be able to recover if I was hurt or g-d forbid live with myself if my actions hurt someone else physically or emotionally.

Realizing this is hard to deal with and is breaking my heart a little. 6 weeks ago I was doing fine, making strides to have friendships with people and now I am becoming a hermit again. Yes the surgery might have helped move that along, but I don't think it's the prime cause. I just feel different. I also don't feel accepted for who I am but It's probably because I am not accepting of others. I have become judgemental, which I know comes off as a 'know it all' sometimes.

Why am I sharing this with you today? I don't really know why. I know I hurt another person who lives in my IPad that was friendly with. But really I would like your advise and understanding on how to handle these feelings. I figure I  am always happy to dish out advise its about time I listen for a change.

Plus tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of my son Eric's passing. It's always such a hard time, but is even harder this year. I'm sure I will post all about him tomorrow.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Assignment #2

How did you do with the first assignment? Did you learn anything? I found that chapter eye opening because I never realized how I was sabotaging myself. I saw myself in quite a few of those twisted forms of thinking. Did you?

These next 2 weeks we will finish the first part of the book on Understanding Your Moods. I am sure you can see that you have to be able to understand that you have a problem before you can get help for it. Don't despair, we will be on the chapter about changing the way you feel soon enough.

For now I would like you to read chapter 3 and 4 (pages 49 - 69) and do the exercise on page 51. You will probably see yourself in 1 or 2 of these types of mood disorders. Please remember that this does not take the place of a doctors diagnosis, but will help you understand which mood disorder you have once diagnosed. For instance there are 7 different types of Anxiety and Panic disorders and 4 different types of depression. I found it very interesting not only to see what I did have but mostly to see what I didn't have. I am the glass half full type of person so any bit in that glass was great!

I'll check in with you next week and until then remember to...

"Make Today a Great Day No Matter What!"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How Do You Handle a Panic Attack?

Tomorrow I leave for Houston. I am attending Fall Market and I am so stinkin excited! But I am also very nervous. My anxiety level has been higher than normal, I went thru about 18 months with out any panic attacks so this is concerning. I did go to my doctor and she is changing my meds a bit, slowly this time. I refuse to have to go in-house again for a medicine adjustment.

Knowing that I have been having panic attacks lately and knowing that I am going away with out my husband who is my anchor, I am very worried about having a panic attack at Market. I will be there with friends, so I know I will be safe (safety is one of my 'issues') so that's not whats bothering me. I just don't want to cause a commotion by having a panic attack. My attacks can be anywhere from getting dizzy and lightheaded to looking like a heart attack. What I want to be able to do is handle these attacks one my own, although I will grab a friend if I need to. However I am not planning on having an attack, I know my triggers and too much stimulation is one of them so there is a distinct possibility that I will have one.

So what should I do? I am a planner, which can drive people crazy, but I have come to understand that planning is one way to feel safe. Last week in Therapy we talked about this very subject and came up with a plan of action if this does happen.

1. I will find a 'quiet' place to sit. These big places have great hiding places sometimes, but there's always the ladies room. I will find my place when we get there so that will be planned too.
2. I will have my Ipod with me, music calms me down so listening to some music will be helpful. My Ipod is just a 2G one (its very old, but I love it) so my playlists are limited. I have Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and a ton of Glee songs...yes that's right I am a total Gleek!
3. If that doesn't do the job I have an 'emergency' medicine I can take, but that is a last resort for me. Part of recovering is learning to handle these attacks on my own with tools I have learned and not pop a pill. But I will if I have to.

That's my plan. Do you have one? Do you know your signs of a panic attack? Everyone is different. I suggest that you think about this and make a plan that will work for you. Especially if you are attending a big event like what I am going to tomorrow. Write it down if you need to.

I hope you do this, even if you don't ever plan on going anywhere like this. If you suffer from anxiety then you never know when an attack might hit. This will help.

If you are working in the Feeling Good Handbook, how are you doing? Have you finished the homework yet? Sunday I will post the next assignment.