Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell 2009!

I have been searching all day for a positive to my husband breaking his hand yesterday.  If you are not on facebook- he broke it in two places and Saturday morning he has to have surgery to have pins put into the hand so that it will heal properly.  I guess the positive is that since it is his right hand he won't be bowling for at least a month (the pins are in for 4 weeks) so that will help dent the medical bills. 

I really have been very blessed this year.  For every "bad" thing that happened- two or three good ones came on its heels.  I have spent a lot of time with my parents, I got to see Joshua and Jim's family.  I got to see many of my friends when I went back to Massachusetts.  My RA is very much under control (knock wood)and my fibro is not in too bad a place either.    I have met a group of very smart, very funny and very positive folks who live with chronic illnesses on both the blog world and Twitter- I am proud to call them my friends. 

As I look forward to 2010 and the bringing of both a new year and a new decade- I would be remiss if I didn't make some resolutions.  The best resolution I have heard thus far came from @LupusChick on Twitter and that was simply to Laugh More.  So I am definitely using that.  So- here goes my list:

1- To Laugh More
2- To continue on the positivity path.
3- To read from my "Simple Abundance: A Day Book of Comfort and Joy" each day.
4- To continue to practice Gratitude within my life.
5- To take better care of myself.
6- To make the hard choices to improve my life.
7- To take a hard look at who and what I invest myself in. 
8- To find a way to share my gratitude with others. 

That is it for me.  Oh- last but not least- to look forward and not backward.

 There is so much to look forward to in the next few years. * In 2011 I will celebrate my 25th anniversary with my darling husband and four days later- my parents (and role models) will celebrate their 45th.  For our 25th we are hoping to go to Disney since my honey has never been there.  So this coming year we are filling a five gallon water jug with our change to get us on the way to that trip.   It will be fun to see how much we can put in there and put away.  *I am looking forward this weekend to emptying my vision board and resetting it for the coming year.  *I am looking forward to re-reading two of my favorite books- The Secret and Eat, Pray, Love.  I think I will take The Secret with me when I sit in the hospital on Saturday along with my journal.  *I am also looking forward to going through all of my Real Simple Magazines and heading down the road to a simpler life. * I look forward to cultivating friendships with others in the same school of thought that I am in and being a friend they can count on. 

2010 looks brighter and brighter!  I hope you all have a safe and happy end to 2009 and a very blessed 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Does No News Equal Good News?

I mentioned before Christmas that we were watching my liver levels.  Well, the test was 11 days ago and I still haven't heard anything.  On one hand- each time the levels have come back high I have gotten a phone call within a week to tell me we had to re-test.  On the other hand- it is the holidays so the lab could be running with lower staff.  I don't know what to think.  I would like to speculate (thinking positively) that when I called to move my appointment from January to February yesterday that they would have mentioned it if there was a reason for me to come sooner but they didn't.  So I am holding on to hope.

The pups are doing very well in my estimation.  Miss Harley put Auggie in his place yesterday when he tried to take her rawhide which for my super mellow pup is amazing.  Yesterday when I crated him before work he started to wimper and she went and sat by the crate with him.  I am sure that she didn't spend the whole day there, but when Jim came home- she was there again.  Last night they both spent the night in our bed and right now they are curled up on the couch about a foot apart.  I am really looking forward to this weekend when we have four full days at home with them.  We did have an "accident" from him last night before our walk, but I am hoping that it was because he is not used to our routine yet and not because he is not fully house trained.  Either way- we will work through it.  My parents invited us to bring both babies down this weekend but I think it is best that we keep them here and let them bond and let him get used to our routine before we take him someplace new (and potentially soil their beautiful carpet) and to meet new people.  I also need to get used to controlling the two of them on leash as they are very different in how they walk and I pulled a muscle in my back this morning trying to keep them both going.  Even so- I am feeling blessed that we got him.

I asked on Twitter about Resolutions yesterday and I got the best answer from @LupusChick.  She said her resolution was to laugh more.  I love that.  I am definitely adding that to my list!  I hope you all have a wonderful day. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

Back to work today and a way to say thanks!

It's a short week though though we messed up and because of a lack of communication- we are in for some long days.  We didn't realize that most of the school is only open from 10-2 this week- so we didn't change our hours and I think it will be too late now.  Oh well- I guess we will see how it goes and hopefully get a lot of work done.  I may be able to change the hours for Wednesday- which would be helpful since I have to run the end of month anyway.  If not- that's fine because I had planned on being there anyway. 

Xerox is doing something pretty neat to say THANK YOU to our troops.  If you go to this site, choose one of 80 cards drawn by children around the country, enter your name and home city/state and choose one of 10 messages and submit.  Your card will be printed and sent to a soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan and other hot spots around the globe.  It literally takes as long as it takes you to choose your picture and your message.  Good Job Xerox!  I have tried to send a card each day since I have found this site.  If you are on facebook and would like a little reminder (in the form of an "event" above your birthday reminders) message me on facebook and I will "invite" you!  It's a great way to have that reminder every day. 

I have been thinking about New Year's resolutions a lot.  I always make the standard ones (quit smoking, lose weight, blah, blah, blah) and fail them in short order.  Last year was my "best" year because I resolved to give thanks for the blessings in my life- and we have over 140 examples of that here so I did well enough that I can check that off as a win.  I have been thinking and thinking about what I want to work on in 2010 and hope that by Thursday's blog I will have a solid list.  In the mean time- I will be thankful that I was able to spend this year realizing how truely blessed I am. 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's a BOY!

Boy puppy that is.  If you are on my facebook- then a photo of him is already posted.  It is amusing.  My darling husband and I have been thinking about adding another pup to our family for a while now.  Before Thanksgiving we went to the Animal Care Society in Louisville where we had gotten our little love Harley 20 months prior and we met "Augie" a little Pekenese mix.  He was a little sweetie, had been brought in with his "wife" (a rat terrier) and 5 puppies.  Jim fell in love instantly and would have brought him home immediately but cooler heads (mine) prevailed when I reminded him that we were traveling to NC in just a few days and that there wouldn't be any time for him and Harley to bond prior to that- and that we were going to my sister's home where there was a sweet dog and two somewhat anti-social cats.  Needless to say- we did not bring him home. 

During my recent vacation, I had a very vivid MTX induced dream and the little guy was in it.  When I woke up I looked at the website and lo and behold- he was still there.  We went back to see him yesterday and today took Harley to meet him and that was it.  At the moment, he is sitting on the couch, she is on my hassock and they are both just as cute as can be.  They have passed two "tests" so far- they have shared and tugged over toys (each has their own and they have three new toys to share) and they just ate dinner side by side.  So far so good and the big test comes tomorrow when he is crated tomorrow while we go to work.  We know he is crate trained- we just don't know how she will react to him being crated while she gets to run free. 

It's funny how things work out.  I guess it was just meant to be.  So now I have another new four-legged love to be thankful for every day of my life. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blood Tests and Vacations

Well- it's "D-day" for my blood tests.  In the last four months, I have had to have blood tests every month and my liver enzymes have been up-down-up-up.  If they are up again today, I will be referred to a heptologist.  The most likely scenario is that they will take me off of all of my meds for a few months to see if my liver rebounds and possibly perform a liver biopsy to see if there is any permanent damage.

I am not showing any of the typical signs of liver damage.  No pain (there) and no jaundice.  Because of this I am not afraid of permanent damage.  What I am afraid of is both giving up my methotrexate and the timing of this.  MTX has been my minor miracle in terms of my treatment.  And really, who wants to invite more pain and stiffness- especially in the winter when "normal" people feel it too.  For "us"- the bitter cold can be just plain horrible. 

On the bright side I start my final vacation of the year today.  I am going in to work until about 10, off to my lab appointment and then home to pack and nap.  I have a Christmas party at 6.  I am going for an hour or two then home to grab my bags and my puppy and head to my folks.  My honey has to work tomorrow, and most of next week so he will be joining us at some point on Christmas eve.  I am very much looking forward to spending the next week with my parents. 

In case I don't get the chance to blog while I am away- I hope that you all have a wonderful, safe, pain free holiday with your loved ones! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

From the bottom of my heart

I am so very greatful to not suffer from depression.  At the beginning of this week, a man that I knew committed suicide.  He was charming, witty, handsome, athletic, well liked- your typical "All-American boy".  He was not perfect, he made mistakes, but never, ever would I (or anyone else I have spoken to) have guessed that his demons ran so deep that he would do something like this.  I have been told how, and the probable why (who can ever know for sure?) but it still does not compute.  I just don't understand- and I am very thankful that I don't. 

I have been thinking about this since I heard the news.  I cannot imagine no matter how far I stretch my mind, being in such a depth of despair that I would take my own life.  I have been incredibly sad many times in my life.  I have grieved until I felt completely wrung out, I have been hurt to what felt like the bottom of my soul- but never once have I been so far down that I felt that was an option.  I cannot fathom how that would feel.  Call me selfish but I don't want to find out either.  I just don't understand it.  I don't understand how anyone could be so far "down" that they would not, could not, see even the smallest blessing and grab hold of it.  We all have them- even in our worst hour.  We just have to look.  That blessing may be the one person who will help you find the help that you need.  It may just be something tiny but the very thing you need to stop the spiral and begin to climb out.

Tonight I am praying that my friend found the peace he was looking for.  I pray that his family and friends will cherish their good memories and heal from the tremendous pain of this tragedy.  I am choosing to remember the man that I knew who made me laugh, who always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.  I also pray that if any of you reading this are struggling with depression; that you will find your blessing, focus on it, give thanks for it, and that out of that gratitude- your blessings multiply until the emotional and mental pain has lessened.  I also pray that anyone in this world who is contemplating suicide at this moment will find the strength ask for the help that they need to get through this. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's a big day- a big week.

So very much of my work for the last few weeks has led up to today.  I am hosting our first ever open house for our faculty.  We have invited them all in to check their orders, see if their books are on the shelves and to have a few nibbles while we talk to them about their particular courses and any issues they may have with their books.  We have worked tirelessly to get as many books on the shelves as possible, to process any orders that have come in, to change out shelf tags so prices are correct, to buy back as many books as possible from the students and to be just ready by today.  I am doing this because many times, students will go to class unprepared and when the professor calls on them they say "Oh- the bookstore didn't have my books."- which leads to an irate call to us- only for the faculty to find out that we do in fact have books on the shelf.  Or- we will order books based on a sales history only to find out a week into classes that the class enrollment has exploded and there are double the usual number of students so we have run out.  We also make mistakes and this way we will have two weeks to correct those problems.  I thought that if we could head some of these problems off at the pass- it would make for a smoother semester for all of us, especially since we are shorter on staff this year.  We were not able to meet my goal of getting every book in our back room out on the shelf for today- but we know what is back there and can intellegently answer questions about titles that have not hit the shelf as of yet.

After today- I have two days to  "clean up" any problems, place new orders and then one to get everything in place to begin processing our online book reservations and make my lists for what needs to be done during my vacation and generally making sure everything is prepared for me to be able to spend the week of Christmas with my parents.  When I get back- we open the textbook section for the Spring semester and really gear up for the kick off to the year.  At the beginning of the year we start two to three weeks of twelve hour days again before things really calm down on February first.  We are very fortunate that for the next month we have extra help in the students who work for us and we can really dig in and get everything done without having to do everything ourselves.   There will be a lot of overseeing- because I am pretty neurotic that way- but I am finally feeling confident that we will be able to complete everything we need to do.  

I am feeling much calmer and more at peace with where we are today and that will mean that I can sleep better at night at least for a little while.  My hands have been protesting so I did a nice paraffin dip last night and today I am wearing braces where needed but so far (knock on wood) I have avoided a flare- which is amazing, so there is that to be grateful for as well.  Plus there is the fact that starting Friday at 10- I am on vacation- which is much, much needed.  All in all, I am feeling very grateful for all that we have gotten done in the last few weeks and for the "calm before the storm" of the next few weeks. 

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I can never say Thank You enough

Our men and women of the armed services do so much for so little. As the daughter/wife/daughter-in-law/sister/granddaughter of US Vets- I will be going here often and encourage you to join me in thanking our troops.

The light at the end of the tunnel

Well- here we are at 6:30 on Saturday morning.  I am up, in the middle of my first (of many-lol) cups of coffee for the day, dressed comfortably for the day and getting mentally ready for work.  Though I am still writing down my hours (I am salary- there is no OT) I have given up keeping a mental tally because it is just depressing.  I would estimate that my colleague and I, if we were to take all our comp time at once would have two weeks off in a row- and it isn't even our "rush" time yet.  That begins on the 28th and goes until February 1st.  Rush will easily be 12 hour days.

My husband has been wonderful about this.  He knows that we are working our butts off and that it won't be forever so he has been great about cooking for himself and taking care of the dog.  I refuse to give up her walks because I need that time to start and end my day on a normal, calming note.  Just taking her out for her walk can change my mood and my stress level from cranky and high stress to calm and ready for bed.  I am so thankful that we have that time together, morning and night, to walk and have some quiet time to get my head to a good place. 

I had a bit of a snit this week.  I am not proud of it but it rather enabled me to get through the rest of the week.  At one point we were on a conference call and it was very busy so we were feeling the pressure in a big way.  Our boss was talking about deadlines and non-compliance.  *Now* we used to pride ourselves on hitting our deadlines each and every time and most often being early- but we know- darned good and well- that  we are missing some because we are scrambling to do everything that our recently departed colleagues did, the work of the folks that are out on medical leave do, and our own jobs.  We were both feeling a little overwhelmed already and this conversation just hit a raw nerve.  I was starting to get angry and my colleague was in tears and that just sent me over the top.  Rather than storm around and let it stew- I fired off an email to our boss.  You could tell that we were both upset but once I sent it, I was able to go back to work, get back in front of customers and not let it affect my service.  Thankfully I have a wonderful boss who is very aware and called in the morning to talk through the situation.  She assured us she knows we are working very hard and she is really proud of us for holding things together and we discussed who the message was meant for in the big picture.  I am fortunate that she is who she is and that is someone I can admire.  I have said a million times to different people that she will do anything she can to make you successful because if we are successful- she is successful.  I am just grateful that she took the meltdown in the spirit in which it was intended and won't hold it against us. 

So the light at the end of the tunnel- I am going in to work today.  I am giving myself ten hours to get done whatever I can and that will be it.  I am going in with a specific task in mind (that usually takes two days when the store is open) and I am going to not let myself get derailed.  I will NOT go in tomorrow no matter what.  Next week is going to be a bit hectic as well-but I am not spending as many hours as I have been there and on Friday morning, when I leave for my labs- I am not back until the 28th.  I cannot wait.  I am also very, very thankful that my RA and Fibro are not out of control with all of the stress and physical work I have been doing.  I have minor "flares" here and there but usually by this time I would be in full body mode.  Maybe my body knows I just can't do this right now.  At the moment I can just brace up and go on about my business.  That in itself is something to celebrate! 

I am also a little proud of the fact that I have been able to let go a little and not beat myself up.  I am not going to be able to get everything done that I wanted before our Open House on Monday but I am okay with it. I can run reports to show what I am talking about and I can talk through any issues and I will be okay with it.  I was giving myself a very, very hard time about getting everything done but at some point this week I just threw up my hands and said "What will be,will be. "  Once I said that- I was okay.  The weight lifted and I started sleeping a *little* better.  All in all- it has been a crazy, busy, enlightening week and I am so very glad it is almost over.  I am looking forward to next week to get everything on track so I can leave for the holiday and not worry about it.  Oh- AND I finished my Christmas shopping!  SO much to be thankful for!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Post and Run

Well, if yesterday was any indication we will definitely hit our goals this week- but it's going to be a tough week overall.  This is when we are feeling the crunch of our lack of people.  On the bright side, when we finish - we can raise a glass of Sparkling Cider (no Champagne thanks to the darned MTX) and feel very proud that we have gotten so far. 

Despite the long hours, despite the fact that my co-assistant manager and I are VERY cranky @ the end of the day, despite the hard work- we can be very proud that we made it.  More, I can be thankful that I have a husband who is handling not being sure when I will be home and working with it so well. 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hard Lessons

Well, I thoroughly overdid it this week and  it looks as if the next few weeks will be the same.  In a way it's my own fault- but on the other hand, it really can't be helped.  They downsized about a month ago at work.  We lost 3 full time people.  We also have two more who are out on medical leave.  That means that where we had 8 full time folks last year at this time- we now have three.  The work doesn't change no matter how many or few people we have so it has to be done. 

I work in a college bookstore.  This time of year is our "crunch time".  From the fall to the Spring semester we only have weeks to send back all of the fall books that are left and bring in all of the Spring semester books.  Obviously Spring to Fall is much easier as we have months. Last Monday when I got back from vacation- by the end of the day we had NINE pallets of books in our back room.  On top of that, our buyback is ramping up- next week is the major week for it and kids have been coming all week this past week to sell their books which has kept us hopping.  Because things have been so crazy, I have been going in to work between 6 and 6:30 and leaving between 6:30 and 8pm so that I can get things done before and after the store is open.  Yesterday, I spent four hours putting out new shelf tags for new orders and shifting books to make room for new ones.  Then, I spent 6 hours opening boxes and stocking shelves.  It is hard physical work.  I got a GOOD workout- which would be great for my weight loss efforts if I wasn't in so very much pain this morning.  The biggest problem is that we have deadlines.  This week I will be out of the store the majority of the day doing buyback in a different building-and the rest of the store will be doing the same thing on site so we won't get much done in the back room.  Next Monday we are having an open house for our faculty- by which time every book needs to be on the shelf.  Period.  I could easily go in today and work for another 10 hours and not be done.  And it is freaking me out. 

Now here is why it is on my head as well.  It would be very easy to just say that we don't have the time or people and let things go a little- but I just can't do it.  I feel like my store manager (who is out on med leave) my regional manager and our client are counting on me to make sure that service does not suffer in the wake of our personnel issues.  I also planned this very first faculty open house for our store.  It is so that we can network with the professors and show them that their books are here, as they ordered and that we are here to make their semester start smoothly.  I am trying to remedy the disconnect that has been in place for years and the last thing I want to do is fall on my face.  So,  I am feeling the pressure and that is driving me to over do it.  I just can't make myself let go and not be involved with every step because I feel like it is on my shoulders. 

What does this mean?  It means I have to make a choice to either let go- or live with the pain.  At this point I am choosing to keep going- but after this is over and after rush (which is our first few weeks of the semester-rush ends essentially Feburary 1st) it will be time for me to really reevaluate.  I know that next year- I cannot push myself like this- and that makes me fearful for my career. 

This has been a very difficult and eye opening lesson.  I am grateful to have it.  It is changing the way I see myself (what do you MEAN I am not invincible!?!) and my visions for my future.  I am only thankful that I have time to look at it and make whatever decisions will serve me and my body best.  I am also thankful that I have the week of Christmas off to recover before heading right back into rush. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Getting to Gratitude - Having a Positive Day.

Little Things You Can Do to Have a Positive and Gratitude Filled Day

For my final post in this series, I wanted to share some small, simple things that I do to make my day one of positivity and gratitude.

  • Start the day off right. Before your feet hit the ground- think of something for which to give thanks- even if it is just that you woke up this morning!
  • While you are getting ready for your day- visualize the things you have to do in a positive light. See your commute going smoothly, meetings going well, your day being productive. Take a few deep breaths and see your day going exactly as you would like it to go. When you approach your tasks with positivity even when things don't go your way it is not so bad.
  • Do something for yourself. It could a special treat, a gift of quiet time, a few solitary minutes to pray or meditate. You can give yourself a facial, a bath with essential oils, a manicure and pedicure. Check a book out of the library that you wanted to read. Anything that is just for you! You deserve something special in your life.
  • Do something for someone else. It could be as simple as opening a door for someone whose hands are full or letting someone go before you in traffic. It could be completely anonymous or very personal. It doesn't have to be big. One example of this is recently when I was at the grocery. I was a little bummed out about my very limited budget and was starting to stew. I knew that I had gotten everything that I needed and between sales and coupons- I would have a dollar or two left. Waiting to be rung up I looked and looked at the chocolate (I was hungry while shopping- big mistake) as I was feeling a little sorry for myself. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the “donate a gift of groceries” slips stuck up on top of the soda cooler. They come in $1, $2 and $5 denominations. Rather than choosing a candy bar (those Turtles were calling my name)- I chose the dollar slip and added it to my groceries. As she rang it up I thought to myself “My budget may be limited- but at least I can afford to share a little- things aren't so bad after all.” It brought a smile to my heart and made me feel better about my own situation.
  • Give yourself something positive to focus on. Plan to do something that you enjoy on the weekend or in a week or two so that you have something to look forward to in the coming days. When you do that- plan something else. Always keep something good coming down the pike.
  • Reach out to someone that you love. Send them an email, a handwritten letter or give them a call just to tell them that you appreciate them and are glad they are in your life.
  • Take a walk around the block. Notice the color of the sky, the sun or the stars. Find something particularly unusual or beautiful and give thanks for having found it.
  • Embrace your inner child. Go to a park and swing on the swings. Color a picture with crayons, finger paint, anything that you haven't done in years that brings back fond memories of your childhood.
  • End your day the way you began it. As soon as you lay down in your bed, think of things you are thankful for that happened throughout the day or that are on your mind. Ending the day focusing on things you can be grateful for makes for more peaceful sleep.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Getting to Gratitude- Getting to YOUR Attitude of Gratitude

How to find YOUR Attitude of Gratitude.

There are many different ways that a person can cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude. Just one of these things will start you on your own path and as it becomes habit, you can add another and another. These are just a few of the ways that I kick my gratitude into gear when I am feeling down or feeling the negativity creeping in to my life.

1.Give yourself a few moments each day to think back over your day and give thanks for the best thing that happened to you.

2.Start a gratitude journal. Whether on-line or on paper, when you write down the things that you are grateful for they become concrete and powerful.

3.Change your perspective. When you are having a bad day or are feeling negative- STOP. Take whatever is bothering you and think of ways that it might be worse. Realize that while your problem IS a problem- you are fortunate that it isn't worse.
  • 1. Did you have a bad day at work? You have a job and many don't.
  • 2.Do you have the flu? You don't have pneumonia!
  • 3.Kids driving you crazy? They are healthy, they are yours and they love you.
  • 4.Roof sprung a leak? You have a roof over your head and a bed to sleep in tonight.
See what I mean? Any situation can be turned around if you stop and think about it and find the blessings inside it.

4.Use post-its to remind you. On your bathroom mirror, on the fridge, on your steering wheel or any surface that you see on a regular basis, post this sentence: “Right now I am grateful for_______”

These are just a few of the ways that you can begin to bring gratitude into your life.  If you are stuck for ideas on things to be grateful for- I suggest Googleing it.  Gratitude has become a huge movement and there are pages galore with things that folks are grateful for. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Getting to Gratitude...

Getting to Gratitude-

I have devoted a lot of space in this blog to the changes we have made in our lives by making this move. For that reason I am not going to spend a lot of times on how our lives have changed but skip that and get to the gratitude portion.

Not long after we moved out to Southern Indiana I was sitting on my porch one morning, with a cup of coffee and reflecting on all of the wonderful things that had happened since I had begun to see the positives in my life. While I was sitting there, looking out at the peaceful setting I realized that I was happier then than I had been in a very long time in my old life.

I began tracing my steps backward one good thing by one good thing until I realized that all of these changes in my life that had brought me to this point had begun with my diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. In that moment it came to me that what should have been the worst thing in my life had actually brought me so very much for which I could be grateful. It was a revelation for me. I was shocked, I was awed, and I felt very much at peace in that moment. Shortly after, my hubby woke up and we went on with our day but in the back of my mind for the rest of that day and many days after that revelation was sitting there working its way around in my brain.

I started taking notice of the blessings in my life. The more I noticed- the more I found and the more thankful I felt. That morning was a definitive turning point for me. I found that I could start and end each day with giving thanks for something- big or small in my life, and when I did this, my day was a little brighter, my stress level lower and the peace I felt inside was bigger.

It is not always easy. I have bad days when I just forget. I have days when I am so tired that I just want sleep. I have days when I find that I am going back to the same things over and over and get into a rut. It was one of those ruts that inspired this blog. This blog has given me an outlet, a record, a lasting look at the wonderful things in my life. I share my joys here and my struggles and I am lucky enough to have folks who care enough to read these words and give me their feedback. When that happens- I know that I am not alone in the journey to remember to be grateful and to find peace in my life. That in itself gives me more to be grateful for.

I have learned that blessings and gratitude are cyclical. The more you see your blessings and are grateful for them- the more blessings you receive. I have also learned that negativity works in the same fashion. I don't know about you- but I would much rather live my life with the positives than the negatives.

In my very first entry to this blog I wrote:

It's very easy to get caught up in what is "wrong" in your life. Focusing on the bad things not only allows us to wallow in our own misery but it also invites everyone we come in contact with to a giant pity party. Physically, it drags us down as if the weight of the world is on our shoulders. It causes tension headaches, TMJ disorders, ulcers, and various other physical manifestations.

Have you ever spent a fair amount of time around someone who is always down? It is not a pleasant experience. You either spend all of your time taking in their stuff until you are down with them- or you expend all of your energy trying to raise their spirits. They are energy vampires and you are their prey! I don't want to BE that vampire! I want to learn to let things go more quickly and to focus on the positive. I want to radiate inner peace. To do that- I need to focus on what is great in my life, not take the little things and blow them up into all consuming issues

I still feel that way today. I also feel that though I have made progress- I still have a long way to go and if I can help one person find something in their lives to be grateful for, I will be successful. I thank you for joining me on this journey.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Getting to Gratitude -Sometimes Life just Works Out

Sometimes Life Just Works Out

During all of this going on in my life- there were other things going on that were out of my control and very stressful. The owners at my second job (and hubby's job) started looking for a buyer for their business. One of my beloved uncles was diagnosed with lung cancer and we lost him very, very quickly. My darling – and young- mother had a stroke and scared the daylights out of all of us.

My husband and I sat down and talked about our possibilities. Because I had a “child” who was actually an adult and my sisters have smaller children, we thought it might be best for us to consider moving closer to my parents. Even his parents were very supportive of us making this change in our lives.

I had already begun practicing a positive attitude and looking at the good things in my life and again fortune smiled on us. My main job is with a national company who believes in moving their people up and around. I put my resume out there and let my regional manager know what area I was looking for. Within a few months- I was offered a job that was only two and a half hours from Mom and Dad's house.

It was as if it were meant to be. The company paid for the move, I was able to schedule it for after my finals and we had enough time to really put things in order in our “old” life and prepare for our new. It was as if a weight had been lifted from our shoulders. We had no fear, we had only high hopes. Our only regret was that our son decided not to join us on this journey, but it is for the best for him because he is learning a lot of life lessons that he may not have had he come with us.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Getting to Gratitude - My Support System

My Support System-

One of the most important things you can have in your life is a solid support system. It can make a HUGE difference in your life. My support system has been one of my biggest blessings in my life.

At the time of my diagnosis- I was a wife, parenting a teenager, working two jobs (hubby was working tons of hours a week at his job), I was going to college and just didn't have time in my life for this! I got angry again- and then I got determined. Maybe there was no way to be cured- but I didn't have to let RA take over my life. My illness may be a part of my life but I would not allow my disease become who I am.

Fortunately, I am blessed with a husband who is willing to support me in anything. You would not believe the number of stories that I read where the writer's family was either just not supportive or where the family broke up under the weight of the diagnosis and ensuing treatments. When I needed to cry- my husband held me. When I was angry, my husband put up with me lashing out at him for anything and everything under the sun. When I became determined to change the way I was handling this whole situation- he was my biggest “cheerleader”. He was willing to listen and learn along with me the different options for treatments, he would ask questions I did not think of and he would help me by bouncing ideas back and forth. No matter how crazy or radical my ideas were, he supported me.

I was also very lucky that when I was diagnosed my son was 18 years old. He was old enough to understand, to be concerned, to ask insightful questions. He was also at an age where he could be helpful when I needed it and be scarce when I was being miserable. In retrospect I am very glad that I had insisted that he learn to cook, to clean, to do his laundry and to be independent because I don't know how people in my situation handle raising small children. We already had a system in place because of all three of our work schedules, his karate schedule and other life “stuff” and that didn't have to change much. We only had to tweak it a bit to accommodate the things I needed more help with.

In addition to my son and husband, I had a good work situation as well. At my main job- my boss was also a dear friend. Each step of the way I could talk to her about the ups, the downs, the information that I had learned, the questions that I had and what I was feeling. Having a friend at work helped ease the situation and took the quandary of whether or not to tell my job about my illness out of my hands. At my “part time” job- it was an equally easy situation. Having been there for over 10 years, I had made some terrific friends and my bosses knew me. They knew my work ethic and they knew that if I was unable to do something- I was definitely not slacking off. It was because they had worked with me for so long that they were willing to let me tailor my workload to my pain and energy levels. An added plus was that my husband worked there full time and so they were kept in the loop through the whole process. It was a bonus that many of my friends also worked with me at one or both jobs and were interested enough to learn about the disease and easy my way when necessary.

Finally there was the rest of my family. Though we lived scattered across the US- they have always been only a phone call or an email away. When I received my diagnosis- I think we collectively burned up the Internet- each of us researching everything from the disease to the medications to the side effects and potential issues. We talked and talked, we emailed, and we passed info back and forth. Through the whole thing, I knew that they were there no matter what. The best part about my family is that each and every one of us comes from the place of “I love you and we will get through this.” It was when I thought about what I would say to one of them if they were in my shoes that this attitude kicked in. We have always been like this- it just took me some time to remember that.

I truly believe that had I not had all of this love and understanding in my life, it would have been a very different journey for me. I don't think I would have been able to develop the will I needed to change my life as quickly as I did. I might even still be allowing negativity and stress and my workaholic ways to dictate my life and I know I would have much more damage to my body.