No Worries

A few more days and the holiday season will be over. I wonder how you could measure all the stress of the Christmas season. For myself, this was the second Christmas without my father. I felt his presence around me a lot. I think he knew I needed him. This was the first Christmas since the break-up. The ex was not big into the holiday thing because of his family. I always tried to make sure he felt included in what my family did. Everything definitely felt weird this year.

I don’t like this kind of stress. For one thing, it took me a week to figure out what the issue was. Then I lost all my focus. I haven’t been able to concentrate, haven’t slept well, haven’t eaten right. I got sick, wrecked my car. Overall, I’m glad Christmas is gone. My aunt asked me a couple days ago how long it had been since I meditated. It’s been at least a month. That’s way too long when dealing with holiday stress. And January makes a whole year for the separation. Time to file those divorce papers. I think when it’s finalized I’ll through a big party. If that sense of relief is anywhere near the sense of relief I felt after Christmas, a party would be good.

I may repeat myself here, forgive me. It’s important to deal with issues in a manner that is healthy. You can’t keep all that emotion bottled up. I have a couple of writer friends, both guys, who don’t deal well with stress. They bury themselves in their writing and don’t speak to anybody for days. It’s good to keep writing. It would be better if they were actually writing out their frustrations as opposed to hiding. I know if either of them read this they would argue that they aren’t hiding, just trying to be productive. But when something major stresses them out, they burrow into the writing like it’s a security blanket. They don’t deal with the issue at all. What is this doing to them? One drinks, (yeah, I know, not all the time) and the other has a heart condition. I know the one knows what would solve a lot of his problems. But he claims he is too old and too set in his ways to make any changes now. So he continues being unhappy and hiding behind his computer. The other one, I don’t know if he truly realizes he has the power to change his circumstances or if he is simply overwhelmed by the task of deciding what action to take.

The important thing is that you recognize the situation and do take action. I’ve been trying to make time to meditate. In concession to that I have Celtic music playing while I write this and a candle burning. You have to let go of all that stress or it will eat you up inside. It helps to have a friend you can talk to, even if it’s just to talk about bullshit so you can clear your mind. Sometimes our friends know when we need to talk even when we don’t. So even if you’re in the middle of a scene, pick up the phone. It may be just the person you’ve been looking for.

One is the loneliest number…. Or is it???

Four people live in my house. Very rarely do I ever have the house completely to myself. My brother works third shift. He usually sleeps during the day. The rest of us are home in the evenings. I play poker at least once a week with 15-30 people I consider friends. We usually have a blast. I’m in an online chat group for writers. I consider all of those people friends, too. Some I know just from the group. Others I have gotten to know well enough we call each other on the phone just to say Howdy. You’ve heard me say before that people will come and go in our lives when we need them. So while I’m rarely alone, I am lucky enough to also rarely be lonely. Do you know the difference?

Lonely is when you have no one close and you’re sad about it. I don’t feel lonely often. I try not to put myself in a position to feel that way. I don’t go to restaurants by myself. I don’t go to the movies without a friend. Since the break-up of my marriage there have been other times I’ve felt lonely. I miss having the companionship of a partner. That closeness, both physical and emotional, being able to share things that you wouldn’t otherwise, knowing there is always that one person who will listen no matter what, those are the things that I miss. I’m still not sure I’m ready for another relationship, but I’m always watchful for that spark of attention.

Alone is simply without accompaniment. I don’t have a problem being alone. I will go out alone. Friday night has turned into my Me night. I’ll go do my personal shopping, browse Barnes & Noble, maybe sit somewhere and people watch with a notebook and pen in hand. Sometimes I need to be alone just to slough off the emotional debris of people I come into contact with through work. I meditate, which is a solitary pursuit. It helps me focus on myself, to shed that baggage, to be able to look honestly in the mirror.

There are other times when I need people. I need that interaction, the flow of conversation, the simple touch of someone’s hand on my shoulder. Having been assaulted twice before I was out of high school, I’m sometimes hesitant to get close to some people. I’ve tried really hard to overcome that. Trust is something that has to be earned. But once you have it, I am the touchy-feely type. People I consider friends will get hugs, not handshakes.

It’s important to know how to stand alone. To support yourself really is a major thing, especially if you’ve never been given the opportunity to do it. I’m learning that now. I live with three of my favorite relatives, but we are all very independent people. I think I like it that way.

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

I have had many friends in my 37 years. Some are still around. Some have drifted away. I’m a firm believer that the people we need in our lives will be there at the time they are needed most. I have helped many friends with their problems, and several have helped me. Sometimes all that is required is an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, or open arms for a hug.

Life is too short to hold a grudge. It’s not fair to ourselves or anyone else to carry that kind of baggage around. Emotional baggage will make you old before your time. I’ve been shedding a lot of baggage and I feel so much lighter. At times I feel like a teenager again. The girls who work for me don’t know what to think when they come to work and I’m bouncing and giggling and singing. More than one person has noticed that I’ve lost a few pounds. All I’ve done is find my happy place. I have friends who have helped me get here. It’s been an interesting ride so far, and it’s not over.

Think carefully how you treat your friends. The best way to make a friend is to be one. Listen when they have something to say. You may want them to listen to you someday. Lend a hand when you can. Share a cup of coffee. Don’t keep your smiles all to yourself, spread them around. Laugh whether the joke is funny or not. Be honest with yourself and your friends. Hold on to the ones you have, welcome new ones. If you get a second chance with a friend, grab that chance and make the most of it. If you find something that changes your life, let it. No one ever said life would be easy. But it’s definitely worth it.

Love deeply, laugh often, dance like no one’s watching. There’s little else you need in life.

Ripples on a pond….

How do you get a two year old to make a decision? You limit his choices. The red Popsicle or the blue Popsicle? Only two choices. When we get older this method still works. Whether we apply it to the people around us or to ourselves, we have choices. As we get older the choices we make become infinitely more important. No one tells us when we are kids that the choices we make will effect the rest of our lives. No one tells us that the way we learn to make decisions and choices will effect the rest of our lives.

Changes we make at any stage in life will create ripples we may feel the effects of for years. One little change makes a ripple around us. Then another change adds to that ripple. Eventually, if we make enough changes, we unleash a tsunami of energy. The waves of change will ripple and eddy around us until it’s felt by everyone we come in contact with.

I’ve learned that I am only responsible for the choices I make that concern me. I can’t make choices for other people. I can try to influence their choices, and hope they choose the way I want. But it’s not my choice to make. If you don’t like what choices someone makes, sure you can confront them on it. But be sure you really want to know why they chose to do things that way. And you better have damn valid reasons to present when you try to change their mind.

Not everyone sees the choices they make. Sometimes we need a friend to smack us in the head and say, ‘What are you thinking?’ That’s when we need to look closely at the choices we’ve made and examine why we made them. This is the hard part, ciphering our deepest desires and motivations. It requires looking at the nitty gritty of what makes each of us a person.

I’m a Libra, which means I look at all sides of a situation before I make a decision. It also means I won’t abandon the possibility of choosing a different path. The choices we make can alter the path we take through life. We choose to be miserable like our parents. We choose to make the same mistakes as our parents. We choose to continue the endless cycle of learned behaviors we get from our parents. If you flip that coin over, something amazing happens.

You choose to give your kids the tools they need to survive in this world. You choose to let your kids grow up and make their own decisions. You choose to do the things that make you happy. You choose to be with the person that makes you happy. You don’t have to justify your choices to anybody but yourself. Each of us has a path to follow. If we are lucky, our paths will cross with someone else’s who will turn out to be the person we were looking for anyway.

Road Blocks

Do you consider yourself a positive person? Do you know someone who is always negative? The way we approach life is very important to how events play out. There are two ways to approach situations: with a closed fist, or with an open palm.

If you approach new or old situations with a closed fist, you are setting yourself up to fail. A closed fist is very aggressive, very negative, unavailable and unapproachable. This type of person is never truly happy. He/She will encounter lots of obstacles in life, many of which he/she will have put there. Even reasonably intelligent people set up road blocks in their lives. Most don’t realize they do it. When you clench your fist, you tighten up on whatever is in your hand. It can’t go anywhere. Nothing will escape you, but nothing new will get in, either.

If your hand is open in front of you, you are ready to receive whatever life has to offer. An open hand makes you ready for new friends, new adventures, new experiences. You can’t be happy with things until you let go of the baggage you’re holding and open your hand, your mind and your heart. You are more likely to get what you want in life when you approach it with open palms.

You have to be able to find the positive in all things. A closed fist does not let the positive get through. Open your hands to receive and life is much sweeter.