New Year’s Ramblings


google images/yesterdays

google images/yesterdays

January is a great month. At least I think it is.

I know we can start anew anytime we want, but January seems such a perfect time. In Michigan the days are long and cold and dreary for the next two months. Unless you ski, which I can’t, it is a great time to reflect.

For me that means examining  my habits, my relationships, my desires, etc. It also means looking back and figuring out what brought me joy and what didn’t. What were the situations that rocked my boat or caused me angst. What can I do in the future to avoid that? Are there attitudes I need to change? Are there people I need to distance myself from? Are there people I need to draw closer to? In what ways do I need to expand my life? In what ways do I need to draw my life in?

Even as I write, the questions and thoughts flow from my mind right to my fingertips and right on this keyboard with little conscious thought on my part. I love that. I love how blogging seems to be almost magical for me. I write things I didn’t even know I was thinking. Blogging is perhaps the most efficient and self-revealing activity I do. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes it isn’t. It always worthwhile however.

So today I encourage all of you to take time this month to think through this past year. I’m a firm believer that life worth living is the life that is examined now and then. Why stand still when we can grow? And let’s be sure of one thing.  We are generally either moving forward, moving backward or remaining stagnant. Stagnant anything is usually “stinky”.

Remaining stagnant is not being at peace. Some people confuse the two. When we are at peace, we are not stagnant. Peace requires decision and decision is an action.

One resolution I made last year which was to let a couple of friendships settle into a natural rhythm rather than me trying to make them something they’re not,  I have done a pretty good job of keeping. It wasn’t easy and even today I’ve been reminded that this resolution will be carried into the year 2015. But this year, I hope to accomplish it with even more grace and acceptance.

Anyway, that’s my New Year’s Ramblings for today. As I progress through this month you will be updated as to  my final Resolutions for 2015. I may not keep them all. They will probably be redefined as life changes, but they are always a good place to start.

Let me know what resolutions you are considering. I would love to hear from you.

Happy New Year.

. .

an alphabet of thanks “T”


google images

google images

Tough Times. Double “T”. No, I am not a saint because I say this. I don’t like tough times anymore than the next person. I wouldn’t purposefully choose tough times. And certainly it depends what tough times we’re talking about. I am not referring to terminal illness, death, unemployment etc., But I am referring to those times when life is just tough. Lots is going on in our lives. It usually involves relationships.

When I look back on my life, I know it’s been the tough times that have defined me, that have forced me to grow. I’m not one of those who believe that one can’t learn during the good times. I have. But the learning of the qualities that make me better person certainly has been the result of the struggles, depression (depressionsgift.com) being one of them.

Depression is one of those struggles I certainly wouldn’t knowing choose or willingly take on. Yet, it has been that struggle to remain firmly planted on a rock that has made me a better person. I will admit though, that much like a “recovered ” anything, I sometimes seem less sympathetic. Not because I don’t understand the struggle but because I don’t accept any self-indulgence or self-pity. It simply doesn’t help.

If you’re going through difficult times, I’m certainly not suggesting you should be grateful for it. I don’t mean that at all.  But I’m just saying that for me, it’s how I’ve grown.

an alphabet of thanks “O”


Choice
Choices (Photo credit: anyjazz65)

Today’s choice was narrowed to “obvious”, “openness”, “organize” and “options”. I like things that are obvious. I don’t like playing guessing games with life. I like concrete answers. I like people that are open. I don’t like people that have an agenda, you never know where you stand with them. I like to organize-things, my schedule, my life. I don’t like chaos. I could write volumes about each of these but I’m going to settle on “options” because “options” is really just another word for “choices.” And I’m a big believer that we all have choices about most things in our life.

We’ve been updating our big old farmhouse. I had a general idea where I was headed with the house. I wanted to ditch the heavy, wood-grained look and go for something crisper.I have made a lot of painting color choices. In this case I wish I hadn’t had so many options. At one point, I had nine, NINE, samples of white paint. I never realized there were so many different whites.

Painting the furniture,however, was a no-brainer. I had been studying decorating websites and magazines for months and months and when the time came to decide, it all just kind of fell into place. I am fairly confident in my decorating abilities as it is one of my passions. It’s been my experience that when we’re passionate about something we’re usually good at it. I feel like I make good decorating choices. At least most of the time.

I have a cousin who is passionate about cooking and she’s a wonderful cook. I’m not passionate about cooking-enough said about my culinary skills.

But when it comes to people, our options can become very complicated. Things are just things. People are people; they can hurt and they can be hurt. Relationships can be damaged forever if we choose the wrong words for example.

Sometimes there are more options than the obvious but they usually only show up after we’ve let some time lapse. Most things in life can sit on the back burner for awhile. Often they resolve themselves if we let them sit and simmer.That’s the wonderful thing about options. You even have choices about your choices!

a hurtful remark


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(google images)

Hmmm, what to do when someone lets you know of a hurtful remark someone else has made that is directed at you.

This is what happened to me yesterday. The person that shared this information has done this to me often. It’s someone who loves me deeply, so the question that begs to be answered is, why would she do it? But she’s not unique. There are lots of people like her. People who seem intent on hurting your feelings. They operate from their own deep pain. And instead of saying something themselves when they might have to face your anger, they make sure the anger is directed to someone else.  Have you had it happen to you?

The person who told me the remark is very passive aggressive. For some strange reason, my happiness is something she has seemed determined to stab at on occasion.  The person who supposedly made the remark is someone who  is difficult to understand at times. Our friendship began because of a family connection. It has since changed to that of a friendship without that particular tie. I’m sure she said what she did as it rings true with remarks I’ve heard her make myself.  But I think I understand how she meant it and I choose to believe our friendship is genuine.

What do you think I’m going to do? If you’ve read my posts, you know I hate ambiguity. I believe in confronting issues. But I’m learning that talking things over isn’t always the best for me. And frankly, these days, I’m doing what’s best for me. That may sound selfish and self-centered but it’s anything but. One of the best ways for us to love others is to make sure we don’t put ourselves in harm’s way. The Christian Bible says in Proverbs 4:23,

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”.

I believe this means we avoid placing ourselves in situations that continue to do us harm. I want what flows from my heart, all the things I do, say, and feel, to come from a place of peace. It’s not only best for me, it’s best for everyone in my circle of family and friends.

I’m choosing not to make an issue of it. For one thing, I wasn’t there. There’s all those nuances and vibes floating around that I wasn’t privy to.  Secondly, I think I know why she said what she said and it’s perfectly understandable in light of other things she’s said. Should the opportunity present itself in a natural way, I might address it but I feel no compulsion to do anything more.

As far as the person who divulged the information, she speaks from her own hurt and  mixed motives. She’s not going to change. She doesn’t want to. She has suffered from severe depression all her life and just cannot let some things alone. She never forgets a hurt. I’m choosing to be merciful to her. It won’t be easy as she’ll undoubtedly bring it up again and ask if I’ve addressed it but I’ll deal with that when the time comes.

I’m not a saint that I am able to do this. There’s nothing special about me. I’m no more capable of demonstrating mercy than anyone else. I’m sure I’ve said things that could be taken out-of-context as well. What I am capable of is not getting caught up in unnecessary drama. That’s why I’m choosing mercy. It’s for me as much as it is for them.  We always have choices. I’m picking and choosing my battles carefully these days. I feel good about this.

Have any of  you met someone like this? Someone who is really passive-aggressive? If so, I would love to hear from you so we can discuss it.

(p.s. Why the rose picture you might ask. Because it reminds me I want my spirit to be sweet-smelling which means letting go of anger.)

that ole’ green-eyed monster


lnc-green-eyedToday’s daily prompt is all about jealousy. The question when is the last time you were truly jealous of someone? Did you act on it and did it hurt your relationship?

Jealousy is not something I deal with often. (I have other issues. This just doesn’t happen to be one of them . 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever been jealous of a person but I have been jealous of their skills.  I have a close friend who has torn down walls, put up drywall, refinished a bathroom and a kitchen, including the plumbing and electricity and is now tackling some other projects. But then I tell myself, I could do it too.  She learned by reading and doing. It wasn’t innate. I figure could learn by reading and doing as well. I just don’t want to. And if that sounds like, “I could’ve gotten a better grade if I’d studied more”, so be it.

I have another close  friend who is an amazing baker.  I’m not even close. I envy her flaky crusts. Her pastries are the best I’ve ever had and I’ve been to Paris several times, the epicenter of flaky pastry. Her pastry is better. Could I learn to make crusts as good as her? Probably. It just doesn’t interest me that much.  I’d rather eat the fruits of her labor than labor myself.

These same friends though would both tell you that they envy the skills I have. They would not even think about trying to create and administer a blog. They are technologically challenged. They are also directionally challenged which is why if we go somewhere together, I do the driving. When it comes to decorating, they see me as far more talented and seek out my advice before doing anything in their homes.

I think one of the reasons I don’t have a huge problem with jealousy is that I figure that given enough time and effort, I can pretty much accomplish what others can do given enough time and hard work. It’s not that I’m that sure of myself but that I know that I’ve beat some big odds through my tenacity and I figure tenacity is half the battle in learning anything. Boy, I hope that’s true for blogging as well.

Oops, I did think of one thing I do covet. Bloggers who have beautiful blogs with great pictures.They have all the bells and whistles, the great cameras. I can’t even find the bells and whistles. I keep refining my blog and everyday I pray for new knowledge. I keep my “WordPress for Dummies” and my  “Blogging for Dummies” books right next to my computer. I find getting this blog to look and act the way I want it to is hard work. The staff at WordPress has been great when I can’t figure it out myself and I try hard not to bug them unless I really run into a road block.

So maybe that’s the thing about jealousy.

As long as we’re pursuing something we’re passionate about, we don’t have a lot of room for envy. I’m glad my friends are able to do what I can’t.

I’ve never acted on my envy  so it’s never affected our relationship. I’m too busy pursuing the things I’m interested in to worry about what doesn’t appeal to me that much in the first place.

So the cure for jealousy? Find something you are passionate about and pursue it.

(ps. This was also posted to “depressionsgift.com”)

caring enough to hurt


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(This was also published to “depressionsgift”.  This version has been edited somewhat for possible post to Facebook.)

I used to think I was too sensitive. It is certainly true that things seem to bother me more than other people.  I “read” people and situations very well, a blessing and a curse. For the longest time, I thought it was a curse. After all, I’m the one whose feelings are hurt, right? I’m the one taking things to heart, right?

Wrong.

(p.s. hope the “more” tag shows up.  First time I’ve used it.)

Lately, I’m coming to appreciate my sensitivity albeit I still wish the volume was turned down a little. It dawned on me today that there are people in my life who would no longer be in my life were I not sensitive enough to identify some issues between us. Of course I realize that the loss might not have been of the same magnitude to them as it would have been too me. Why is that, do you suppose? Why is it some of us seemed doomed to experience more disillusionment than others? Is there something innately wrong with us?

I don’t think so.

I’ve often thought how my life might be different without my sensitivities. Yes, I wouldn’t have been hurt as often but I also wouldn’t have loved as much, cared as much, invested as much. Which is worse? Too care too much or to care too little? I think not caring is certainly easier and less tumultuous. Maybe those people who seem “hard” are that way because they, too, have been hurt so they adopted an “I don’t care about anyone else” attitude. Kind of like a shield. Keep everyone away and live for yourself.

I have to be honest; I’ve tried that lately. It’s not working.

I can no more give up caring than I can give up my five o’clock cappuccino. I even said,”I don’t care anymore.” “I’ve had it.” “I’m not going there again.” Sound familiar? But what’s the alternative? Not caring?  Maybe authentic living is all about:

Caring enough to be hurt. 

I really wish I were different. I’m just not. My husband says it’s my greatest strength-the caring part, but that it also keeps me from enjoying my own life at times.

I knew someone once who sailed through life. I swear if she ever had a deep thought, I’ve not been privy to it. She has an uncanny ability to keep her life focused on herself.  She was pretty high maintenance. Down deep I envied her.  A part of me would like to be like her.

I wish I could make my life more about me. I mean that. I really do. I would certainly feel less stress at times. I’m one of those people who takes life and responsibility a little too seriously. Consequently, I’m too vulnerable. I  guess I’m stuck with me. The me God created. “Hey, God, don’t you think you could have made me just a little tougher?”

I’m trying to think why this post and why today?  I’m having a good day. I think it might be because of a few blogs I’ve just read. It seems that there are many “sensitives” out there, people sensitive to a fault. You think deeper than most. You evaluate your relationships more than most. All of these are really good qualities. I’m a firm believer that “the examined life is the only life worth living”. It boils down to this:

You want to feel an intimate connection with the people in your life and when you don’t, you’re hurt and confused.

There you go. That’s it. That’s it for me. I want to know the people in my life that I care deeply about, care deeply about me as well. And I want more than words. Can I just say, words can be very cheap. They’re also easy. Words by themselves, no matter how loving are simply not enough to sustain a relationship.

I want the phone calls.I want to discuss things. I want others to share with me when they’re struggling. I want to be invited over. I want to know I’m thought about. I want to know what’s going on in their lives. I want to just “chat”. I want to have fun with them. I want to feel I’m a part of their lives, etc.

Are you wondering if I follow my own guidelines?  I do.

So maybe this post is a wake-up call. Maybe there are some of you that are struggling with some of these same issues, but when you look at your own behavior you realize there’s some things you need to be doing. Maybe you’ve been waiting for others to always come to you. From one who does do the initiating, I can tell you that always being the initiator gets really old, really quick.

Of course we need to be aware when we’re too sensitve as well. Being a sensitive person means we care and, of course, that’s a good thing. But we have to be careful that we aren’t so nitpicky in our relationships,we expect too much. From another’s perspective, that can get old, too. We don’t want to always find faults in a relationship.  I’m not talking about that. What I’m addressing here are those behaviors in others that are causing us continual confusion and hurt.

I’m glad that when I was writing this chapter in my book, I actually took some time to define what I want from a relationship. It keeps me from getting caught up in a shallow relationship that’s only one-sided. I read something several years ago that has served me well. It goes something like this: “When you’re in the beginning of a relationship and there are some behaviors in your friend that really bother you, you have one of two choices. Talk to them about it or decide to live with it. Because one thing is for sure, this is how the relationship is going to go.”

We have to realize that no matter what we want, some people may not be able to give it. Or they  have a different criteria altogether.That’s a hard one. A really hard one. How far can we go with that?. Do we want to stay in a relationship where we’re carrying most of the load? Is it worth it to us? It might well be. There might be enough other good aspects of the relationship that more than make up for the fact that it doesn’t fit within our definition of friendship.

I think each of us has to decide when a crossroads has been reached. When the hurts outweigh the hugs.When the balance of the “reciprocity scales”  never tilts to their side.We can put up with it until we decide we’re tired of being hurt and they’re not going to change

OR

We can decide to re-invent the relationship and start all over putting different parameters in place. If it’s a relationship worth saving, it’s worth giving it a try. I’ve had some newly born relationships that I’ve completely let dissolve.The reciprocity wasn’t there from the beginning and I decided I didn’t want a relationship like that. I’ve had others where I’ve been willing to change some of my own expectations because the relationships are that important. There’s a lot of history.They haven’t knowingly hurt me, they simply haven’t defined friendship the way I have.

The issue then becomes how do stay the same person who by their very nature is the initiator, the giver, and yet back away a little so as not to be put in the same situation over and over again. I think that what we do is fine tune our expectations. Wipe the slate clean and start over. We are not obligated to tell anyone what we’re doing. It’s all from our perspective anyway. We continue to give but we’re just a tiny bit less generous. We hold back a tiny bit. We initiate a tiny bit less. We make sure that whatever we give is given freely and we entertain fewer expectations.

We back away a little in the hope they will come forward a little.

If they don’t, we learn to overlook it and not let it consume us. We let the relationship find its normal set point ,like water seeking its own level. This is NOT easy. It goes against our very nature. But for our own sake, it needs to happen. If it’s a strong relationship, it will survive this “settling”.

Life is all about relationships.The best ones are open and honest, with shared responsibility. But even those that are not ideal might be worth keeping. You are the only one that can decide that. Take your time. Give it much thought and if you pray, give it much prayer. No one should give up on any relationship unless they’re one hundred percent sure it needs to end.

We need to decide in other relationships whether there are some bonds that supersede this whole reciprocity issue.  We should never let a relationship disintegrate because of our rigidness.  We can always initiate a little less, call a little less and thus keep from  feeling resentful when the other person doesn’t.

Depression plays a big part in this discussion. When I’m depressed, I’m even more sensitive than usual.  Depression seems to do the thinking for me and so I have to watch out to make sure depression isn’t also doing the  “talking” for me. Depression invades every part of our lives and most certainly our relationships.

I hope today’s lengthy post helped if you are struggling with some relationships in your life. If you’re not, I would question the intimacy of those relationships because I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t shared that particular person in their life that they seem to always be unsure about. I take that back. I have met ONE such person. I didn’t like her. 🙂

One thing is for sure. Don’t keep circling the wagons.  Don’t keep rehashing the same thing in your mind. Make a decision. Take as much time as you need but intentionally bring yourself to a place where you define what a healthy relationship means to you, how much you are willing to accommodate, how much you expect to be accommodated. It’s not easy cutting someone out of your life. It hurts. We’re afraid we’ll be left all alone if we do. But you know what? There are lots of people in the this world that would love a friend. The universe will provide them if you make room for them.

(A marriage relationship deserves far more consideration. Didn’t want anyone bailin’ on their spouse due to what I’ve written.