Ten Things of Thankful: Blessings Beyond Measure

It has been such a long time since I have written a “Ten Things of Thankful” post.  I was a bit worried the group had broken up, but it makes my heart happy to find that the same core group exists, and they even have their own webpage now (which you can access by clicking the above link).

Someone once said that there are so many flowers at a funeral is because people have more regret and guilt in their hearts than gratitude.  I don’t believe that is true, but I do believe that people, in general, including myself, specifically, don’t always access their gratitude to the same degree that guilt and regret can be at the forefront of the mind.  To make things even more complex, there are some circumstances or people or events or states of being that people feel both regret or guilt for, yet are intensely thankful for this particular item in their life.

One of the often-mentioned “thing of thankfulness” is a person.  I know I am incredibly grateful for the different people in my life, but I also have great amounts of regret and guilt about how, perhaps, I have handled some of the situations I have found myself in with certain people.  It follows that my feelings towards some people are a mixed bag, just as my feelings toward certain events are mixed, are a sort of paradox.  How dialectical, right?  (Ok, Ms. DBT, we get it!)

In no particular order, I am currently, at this moment, crushingly grateful (and sometimes regretful of certain bits) for:

(ONE)

LarBear continues to be my daily rock.  Sometimes we disagree, sometimes we even have harsh words with each other, but we always come back together, stronger than ever.  We don’t ever let an argument or disagreement last very long, and we are both keen to point out to the other just how much we love each other, just how good we are together in so many ways, and how any negativity that might exist between us is always overcome by a sincere appreciation for the love and caring that we have for each other.  I had to kiss many frogs (toads, even) to meet my prince, and I don’t think my life would feel complete without him in it.

(TWO)

There are the obvious people in life that I am thankful for, namely those people making up my inner circle (when added to LarBear).  I have to say that I am happy with the relationship I have with QoB and Mikey Mike, moreso than ever before.  I feel like we all understand each other better than at any other moment in time, and also feel like I have been able (with some prodding) to step out more into my own life and not rely so heavily on them, but know that they are still available, and still right there.  My  dad is also a great support, and is often “the one” who gets selected to talk me off the ledge, if you will.  He can, at times, insert such compassion and common sense and reason into a conversation, that he can truly set my many anxieties aside.

(THREE)

My sister, Ab…wow, I am just so proud of her, for the great mom that she is, for the amazing things she has done with her life, for her accomplishments professionally and personally, but mostly I am proud of her because we have worked and worked at building a relationship and I feel like we are really getting there.  She is teaching me things about life that I never knew, never appreciated, and I would like to think that she is realizing the things that I have to give to the relationship that are of value.  I am very thankful for my network of online friends.  While there is only one or two people that I “speak” with on a regular basis, it seems that I can return to these relationships after months of being “gone” and things can be picked right back up.

(FOUR)

My mental health treatment team is pretty amazing, and I was lucky enough to be in touch with Goddess of Mindfulness lately, and that just made me realize how far I have come in so many different areas.

(FIVE)

I haven’t been in the crisis center or the hospital for just over one year now, with my last stay being in April of 2016.  There have been several times when nurses, therapists, family have wanted me to go, but I have (stubbornly) resisted and here I am, still standing and doing pretty darn well.

(SIX)

My jewelry is starting take off at the gallery, after nearly a year of it just kind of sitting there.  I am getting better at my craft, and taking more pleasure from it.  Like my original art therapist said, take pleasure in the process and everything else will fall into place.

(SEVEN)

I have managed to get into an exercise and nutritional plan that works for me.  There have been tweaks along the way, but I am seeing some success and I am staying away (for the most part) from any eating disordered behavior, and I haven’t been able to say that for ages.

(EIGHT)

I have found a new friend, and she has introduced me to a new church.  I am taking things slowly, but it feels good to be back in a church and I really am enjoying the people in this particular place.

(NINE)

Kizzie and Lucy continue to keep on keeping on, even though now they are considered to be something of “senior” dogs.  They still play and want snuggles and pets and pretty words and treats, and I plan to just keep enjoying every moment we have with them.

(TEN)

Last, but certainly not least…I have a new niece!  Miss Adelaide Louise was born to my sister and her husband earlier this month and she is sweeter than sweetness itself.  More to come about her and my nephew, Oscar, who is now THE big brother!

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I Have Hope For Hope

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Hope.  It comes and it goes, it fluctuates wildly over the course of every day.  Some moments, I feel downright defeated, and others I feel as if I can take on any little issue that comes my way.  Today was a day where hope varied widely over the course of the day.  What counts is that there is hope in this moment, and so I have hope for hope, hope in the future.

If I am being entirely honest with myself, and can put to side all of the niggling irritations that I sometimes let consume me, I don’t want my life to look like it does now in five years, or even five months.  There are things I want to do, to accomplish, to weave into my day-to-day routine.  I want things to be *better* and I want things to be *ok*.

If I am being completely honest, “things” ARE better than at certain moments in the past.  Quite a bit better, actually.  Sometimes I go back in time and wade through blog entries of years past, and I see that I have come a very long way in many areas.  At this moment, I can count back even a month or two or six and see what a vast distance I have traveled.  Rosa on the bipolar train, it goes around in circles, but it is altogether *better* than it ever has been, even while I can see many improvements that I want to make.

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I have a secret, y’all.  Someday, I want to work again, even if it’s just a little bit.  I want to work in some capacity where I am helping people, like I used to, in my former worklife.  It obviously can’t be as stressful or have as much responsibility behind it, but I itch to do something, anything that makes a difference in someone else’s life.

I feel like I come from a place where I have all of these tools I have learned, and I really think maybe they could help a person or two.  I don’t have everything figured out, but on a clear day, I have quite a bit figured out.  I don’t claim to be better than anyone else, or know more than anyone else, but I do have a unique angle, I do have a life that other people (I think) could relate to.

I’m thinking about talking with my DBT leader about someday (we’re talking months, maybe a year) being in a peer support role, where I attend DBT meetings as someone other than a client.  I have had years and years of DBT — I truly believe it is something I would be good at.

If I could teach just one person how to find willingness, man, that would be something.  I have a few blog friends who consistently over time have encouraged me to write a book.  It is only in the last month or so that I have started to take that advice seriously, and have thought, just maybe I could.  Maybe I SHOULD.

mind will believe

If I can rise over the negativity that seems to settle cloud-like around my brain nearly every day, without warning, then I think there is hope.  I think that this photo to the right is true, that your mind believes everything you tell it, and maybe I should start telling my mind that I CAN and I WILL and surround it with love.

None of this is rocket-science, and I may lose sight of everything I have written today by the time tomorrow gets here, and maybe this is all just a little bit of hypomania thrown into the mix, but things are really starting to make sense, to click, and I think the key just might be the hope I am holding out for hope.

Ten Things of Thankful, Home-Life Edition

**Just a word to the wise, there is not currently a link-up for Ten Things of Thankful, but you CAN find them on Facebook.  It’s a closed group, but just type Ten Things of Thankful into your search bar and you can request to be added.  I am not sure how much longer there were cease to be a linkup, but you can get more information there.

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Another week down, another whole bunch of things to be thankful for.  I like to try and do TToT “themes” each week, and this week is no different.  I am a person who prefers to be at home, or to at least be feeling that “at home” feeling even when not at home.  I can get that at my house, and a select few other places.  This past week, I’ve really tried to be “out” more, and it makes me appreciate the weekend and nowhere I really have to be (today), that much more.

When I was in the crisis residence, I was surrounded by people who are currently homeless and some who had been homeless for very long periods.  It’s never happened to me, but it’s not impossible to think it would ever happen, albeit it’s unlikely if I keep up with my mental health treatment and continue to have family around that cares.  A house and a home are two things that I never take for granted, though, and so I’d like to dedicate this week’s TToT to all of the home-related things that I am thankful for:

  1. A fenced-in backyard.  For my dogs, for my sanity.  I really enjoy being outside, and I am thankful to QoB for making sure that every home I have ever lived in has had a pleasant outdoor space.
  2. The current house I live in has a very nice, large front porch.  It is very nice and cool in the afternoons, and breezy yet warm in the mornings.  Recently, my mom came and trimmed up all of the rosebushes (of which there are several,  VERY large) and laid mulch.  The porch was swept off and all that is on it are a few comfortable chairs and a footrest/table.  I have been loving sitting out there with company, and with LarBear.  It is also a good way to get a break from life, in general, by myself, with just my thoughts and a cold drink.
  3. A house as opposed to an apartment.  This is my personal preference, and I have been exceptionally lucky to do very little apartment-living (save from college years).  Houses are so much quieter, so much more private, and are what I am used to.  I feel almost spoiled by this one.
  4. Hardwood floors, with a few nice area rugs.  I really detest wall-to-wall carpet, and I think that is just because I was raised with hardwood floors and area rugs.  I really don’t like to vacuum, and I don’t like all the dust and dirt and grime and (potential) messiness of carpets.
  5. My kitchen has a large closet that has been converted to a pantry.  I didn’t have a pantry in the last two places I lived, and it seemed like I always had things stacked up everywhere.  With a pantry, you can put everything away and you can stock up on things without worrying about having the room to put it.
  6. I absolutely love that I have a driveway of my own to park in.  I have lived in places where I had to park in the street or in a large parking lot, and I hated it.  In the town I live in, it is pretty typical that most houses have a driveway and more often than not, there is also usually a garage (at least in this neighborhood).  I do have a garage, but I choose not to really use it for various reasons, some of it being sheer laziness.
  7. Being able to choose the colors of my walls has always been important to me.  I am not a fan of neutral, and really appreciate my yellow kitchen and lavender bedroom and green bathroom.  It makes it more homey to me.
  8. All of the Rose of Sharon bushes, Crepe Myrtles, and other various bushes that my mom planted on the west side of my house, in front of windows when I moved into this house.  They are grown up now, and it is lovely when they are leafed out, because I can keep the curtains open day and night and no one sees in, and they are also very pretty to look at.
  9. For the past few years, I have had an inflatable kiddie pool in my backyard.  I am spoiled by it now, and fully expect to put one up again this year.  You can get them for about $30 to $40, and as long as you keep chlorine in it, and sweep out the bugs/leaves/debris, they stay nice all summer.  There is nothing better than sitting in your own backyard in 30″ of water.
  10. I grew up in a house warmed (partially) by a woodstove and with no central air until I was well into high school.  I didn’t really think anything of it at the time, but I must say, I am very, very grateful for central air and heat.

Wordless Wednesdays — Its the Little Things

Sometimes, the smallest things can bring inordinate amounts of joy.  I broke into song when this showed up on my door step yesterday!  Now I can actually write down addresses and phone numbers instead of asking people again and again for their contact information.  What a concept!

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Ten Things of “Keepin’ It Sane” Thankful

10thankful-bannerWe all have our little tricks that keep us going in the worst of times.  I choose to use this Ten Things of Thankful to highlight the ten things that keep me sane which I am most thankful for.  Don’t forget to go check out Lizzi at Considerings, the originator of this little blog hop, and to link your own at the end of her page.

Sometimes a little gratitude list (even if its for the really, really small stuff) can bring about a big positive change in your attitude.  I try to do this blog hop once a week, (which is also perfect because then I don’t have to think too hard about what to write about), but the reason I do it over and over, is simple…it WORKS for me.

  1. Unlikely, but included nonetheless, super-heavy-duty ponytail holders save my sanity every time.  There is nothing worse than having whispies or big chunks of hair touching your face all day.  (and yes, when I said touching, I put my fingers up in the air and wiggled)  I know I am not alone in having hair that can drive one straight up the wall, although I admit that it’s a bit strange to be my number one item on this list, but I have taken down and put my hair up about nine times today.  The long hair struggle…it is real, y’all!
  2. indigo-wild-zum-body-0091_8(1)Anything lavender-scented.  My current favorite is a lavender-lilac candle my dad bought me,and I would swear to you that using the lavender lotion by Zum can sometimes be about the only thing that will calm my raging anxiety.  Or at least that was the case yesterday.  Heaven knows it will be something else tomorrow.
  3. Kizzie.  Kizzie belly rubs and Kizzie kisses and Kizzie barking happily at me and feeding Kizzie treats and Kizzie, Kizzie, Kizzie.  If she wasn’t so wild, she could be a certified therapy dog, but she is my therapy dog, so that is what matters.  She knows when I am sad and when I am anxious and plants herself in my lap.  She licks my tears away, and will lay calmly at my feet through almost anything.  I really don’t know what I would do without her at times.Kizzie4.  And Kizzie leads straight into Lucy, the standard poodle that I have opened Lucyour home to, who used to live with my mom.  She is so darn happy here, it’s amazing — she and Kizzie play and leap around like puppies half the time.  With the addition of a little carprofen (which I am also grateful for), her arthritis is kept at a minimum and she can focus on being the Princess that she truly is.

5.  That I have managed to actually blog a few times this week.  It has been cathartic and freeing and enjoyable and lovely to interact again.  I hope I can keep that stuck in my head and repeat over and over.

6.  5-Things-New-Bloggers-Can-ReTeach-You-www.lovethehereandnow.com_-800x533Fairly related, I have found several new bloggers that I am excited to follow.  I hadn’t added a new blogger to follow in a really long time, but some super awesome people have stopped by this ol’ place and I am excited to put time and effort into it, like I used to.

 

 

7.  The fact that LarBear and I both believe in buying the actual CD of an artist’s music.  We buy ours mostly from Amazon, and have found some real winners lately with Chris Stapleton, Old Dominion, Cam, Keb Mo, Jana Kramer, and Kacey Musgraves.  Just Google, you will find…they are all spectactular!  And seeing as music is one of the main things that calms me down, I just consider that we are buying cheap therapy.

8.  It’s that time for the Interpersonal Effectiveness Tool, “FAST”, to rear it’s head and I am READY.  I have several situations where I do not want to over-apologize, where it is important for me to get across my point of view without losing my self-respect.  I have already tried it out a few times, but I am building up to a really big FAST that will be unveiled soon.

9.  I am thankful that I have reasonable insurance and that medications are filled as they should be and I can get in to see my treaters when need be.

10.  I am thankful for friends who are only an email away, who never give up on me even when I have been gone for a really long time, and who I can start BS’ing with just like old times the moment I am back in the picture.  Thank you.

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Ten Things of Thankful (Muddling Through, Not-Giving-Up Version)

Well, I couldn’t find a current TToT anywhere to link to, but I know that these things happen on the weekends, and its the weekend (I think…ha!), so I’m going to throw it up here anyway.  Life has been a series of ultra-rapid-cycling bull-stuff, going on, so some of this may be a stretch, and some of it might only make sense to me, but I’m going to continue on anyway, because I have made it this far, and I will not give up:

  1. The realization that certain persons may not give a damn, to the degree that I had previously thought.  I really want to be done asking myself why I try so hard with certain people.  Other people, more deserving people, could be getting that love that is so thrown away by others.
  2. The realization that certain persons DO give a damn, more so than I had originally thought.  I would really like to stop asking myself WHY (and questioning!) these people love me the way they do, and instead enjoy it.  These people, would be the more deserving people of the love I have to spread around.
  3. Pandora Radio — one of the only things keeping me remotely sane, is playing nearly 24/7
  4. Mostly positive Christmas celebrations.  Meaningful exchanges, warm conversation, good food, flickering fireplaces.
  5. Love.  Even though I am feeling up and down, around and around, I still have love.  Granted, I am realizing that some love I thought existed does not, I have newly-opened-eyes to how huge the love is of certain persons.
  6. The ability to turn my mind.  I may have to practice it over and over, repeat, repeat, repeat, but I CAN turn my mind, if only for a moment.
  7. Not impulsively burning bridges, and realizing that this has served me well over the years.
  8. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) — thank you for teaching me how to save my own life, once again
  9. The possibilities of addressing deeper issues in the new year in therapy, possibly looking at doing EMDR.
  10. Having learned to ask questions when I need validation or support.

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Ten Things of Thankful: Coping Skills Edition

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Through living most of the last twenty years of my life with Bipolar Disorder and PTSD, I have picked up a trick or an idea or a method that works to help calm the pain inside my addled head.  Much of it is learned from DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), a lot of it is common sense, and so much more came to me through the process of trial and error.

Captain Jack is right — it is often how you think about a problem, and your attitude toward a “problem,” that is the issue.  While I don’t often think of these skills after the storm has passed, when I am in the thick, I am really thankful for the ten random things listed below that help me get through:

  1.  An extreme attempt to change body temperature.  From going and standing out in the winter air in shorts and a t-shirt, to a cold compress to the back of the neck, this is my number one go-to coping method.  It also works in the form of a super-hot shower, a super-cold shower, frozen bag of peas behind the knees.  I don’t know the science, but the temperature change trick almost always snaps me out of hysteria.
  2. Coloring or doodling.  I have several “adult” coloring books and a seriously large collection of markers, pens, colored pencils, crayons.  This is becoming a more popular choice among many anxious people, and has even turned into a big of a “fad.”  The thing about this “fad” is that is REALLY works.  If you can get yourself coloring or doodling, you will find that you can turn your mind over much more easily than if you are just sitting and angsting.
  3. Phone a friend.  Not just for “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”, this coping strategy works especially if you have one person in your life that can talk to you for five minutes and bring you outside yourself.  For me, this person is usually my dad and sometimes my mom.  They both know me well, and often five minutes after picking up the phone, I am mostly calmed down, or at least I have a plan to calm down.
  4. Get a hug.  A hug, or really any physical contact, can be helpful.  LarBear knows that if I am really upset and he rubs my neck or my back, that I can start to calm down.  There is something reassuring about human touch, something that makes us not feel so alone.  Sometimes I can calm down if LarBear simply sits and holds my hand for awhile, even if he says nothing.
  5. Get up and move.  Of course, this is easier said than done.  In the midst of hysterics, its tough to get up and do anything, but I find that if I can even get up and do a little pacing, or, even better, find a small area of the house to organize (like a drawer or a shelf…think small!), I can calm myself.
  6. Five senses meditation.  This is a great grounding exercise and it is exactly what it sounds like.  Out loud, name five things you can see, five things you can touch, five things you can taste, five things you can smell, five things you can hear, five things you can feel.
  7. Get it in writing.  Blogging is great for anxiety, but journaling or even free-writing can be helpful.  I have numerous written pages, where I have been extremely anxious, and have put pen to paper for a set amount of time (usually five minutes) and written down things as they flew through my brain.  It is an excellent way of letting thoughts go on down the road.
  8. Mind your breath.  After the temperature-change exercise, the thing I do most to calm down is to focus on my breath.  There are many ways to do it, but my favorite is to do a breath in to the count of five and a breath out to the count of seven.  You might have to play with it to see what works for you, but if you can put all attention on your breath, you may be able to calm yourself that way.
  9. Hug a tree.  No, seriously, I mean it.  Go outside and hug a tree.  Panicked, anxious, sobbing your eyes out?  Go hug a tree.  This is a very grounding exercise, and, similarly, sitting or laying in the grass can be almost as helpful.  Concentrate on the textures and feelings through your hands or on  your legs.
  10. PRN medication.  As an opportunity of last resort, after I have tried all of these things, or if I have tried several and none are working, I will take a teensy dose of Klonopin.  I don’t do it everyday anymore, or even every other day.  It is meant for short-term, very occasional use, and I really don’t think there is anything wrong with using that tool in my toolbox, as long as I am not abusing it.

Do you have any coping skills that you use, that I haven’t mentioned?  I would love to hear from you and have a blog post full of what works for everyone!  In the meantime, as a PLUS-1, maybe take a few minutes and put a Ten Things of Thankful list on your own blog.  ‘Till next time!

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