Gratitude without platitude

Thoughts to Ponder

 “… When you receive, not only do you affirm your own worthiness

and open the way for more,

but you make possible greater joys for the giver….

*The Universe

So many holidays this time of year can lead to stress or to joy. That choice is entirely up to us. We start the season with Halloween and giving candy to Trick or Treaters. While we’re still eating the leftovers we’re shopping for Thanksgiving. We cook for days and dinner dishes aren’t finished yet when stores begin their Black Friday sales. From then on, preparing for all the winter gift giving opportunities keeps us on our toes, trying to avoid traffic jams at the malls, watching the ads for sales and telling the kids that, “That expensive toy may not be in Santa’s budget this year.”

Each winter we have Hannukah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Years, all gift giving and receiving opportunities. We go to store after store looking for perfect gifts. Some of us actually started craft projects months ago. Either way we are putting a lot of thought and effort into our gifting opportunities.

We should put just as much effort into our receiving opportunities. This is not to say we should heap flatteries over an unwanted item. But we should recognize that the giver made an effort to find something we’d like and acknowledge that. One example of not receiving graciously is my mother who was taught to be a humble receiver. Humble is good, degrading yourself is not.

No matter what I gave her it was too much and/or too expensive. After years of her denigrating herself as well as my gifts, I said, “Mom, you take all the fun out of giving.” To her question of how, I replied that each birthday and Christmas I tried to find the perfect gift. Each time she said it was too much. Her negative comments made me wonder why I tried so hard to please her. After a moment of silence, she responded, “My friend told me last week that I take the blessing out of giving.” I said, “Your friend is correct. Can you just say thank you and stop there?”

Can we, each of us, offer sincere gratitude for gifts received without extraneous commentary? That is unless the gift is really fantastic. In that situation we can bubble over with complimentary adjectives.

I must admit that bit of wisdom did not originate with me. After years of saying that gifts were “too much” a friend gave me that same talk. Fortunately, I listened to her advice and years later my mom listened to mine.

Spirit: You shower us with gifts every day and we express our gratitude by thanking you for the new day, new opportunities, trees, flowers, grass, birds, animals and more. We know that you freely give those gifts that we can never earn. We express our gratitude by enjoying those gifts. We can we do no less in our personal interactions. And, so it is.

*A Note from the Universe, www.tut.com, December 2, 2016

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 2, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as a paperback or e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.

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Healing to Growth

December 17, 2015

“The more we try to keep our wounds concealed,

the more they will emerge into the areas of our life that do not pertain to our wound.”

Window of Wisdom 985*

That single sentence says in a few words what it takes most of us years of talk therapy, 12-step meetings and journaling to understand. Some of us just go about our business hoping no one guesses what we have endured or cope with in our daily lives. We think our bravado and competence erase all traces of pain, but we’re wrong. It slips out in little ways.

We may lose our tempers when a situation really doesn’t warrant that reaction. We may accuse a person of being an alcoholic, thief or slacker. We may demand punctuality without excuse, valid or not.

We may laugh too much at jokes or maintain a jolly demeanor. We may overly dramatize an unpleasant situation when relating the story to others. We might act like a hurtful event had no impact.

We’ve all experienced wounds and have learned to cope in various ways. The most effective way that I’ve found, and is recommended by most therapists, is to feel the pain in the moment, even if the hurt is just a rude word. Take whatever time necessary to feel the feelings, but not wallow in it. Continue going to work and follow your regular schedule as much as possible. Don’t use it as an excuse nor try to overcompensate.

Here is one example. My father who had lived the horrors of Alzheimer’s Disease for many years transitioned three days before his birthday in December 1993. I had watched him slide from a strong, humorous man to a frail body lying in a nursing home. I was so relieved that he was out of his misery that I had little reaction to his leaving Earth. When anyone asked I said, “He’s out of pain and confusion now. I’m glad he’s in a better place.”

In May 2010 my mother who had lived with the discomfort of colon cancer and chosen not to treat it, departed the Earthly plane. Again I was relieved that she was out of pain and her own personal sadness. After a few tears, I took affairs in hand and did what had to be done. Soon after returning home I called work and said I was ready to return. My supervisor questioned that decision, but I insisted all was well.

The next year my son passed of a heart attack on the anniversary of his grandfather’s funeral. I took the news fairly calmly to not upset his partner who was still grieving the loss of her son. After hanging up the phone I descended into hysterics. Fortunately, a friend came to my rescue. She told me to breathe, breathe again and yet again. When I was mostly coherent she told me how to notify his sisters and each thing I had to do to prepare for the three day drive to Minnesota to handle his affairs. As I began to pull myself together I put my pain in a safe place and soldiered on. Soon I was back at work and participating in all my normal activities.

The following December the grief of all three losses hit me like a brick. I was working at a place where Christmas is the busiest, happiest time of year. Fortunately, I’d learned a little about myself and how to deal with life. I told my supervisor what was happening and that I was going to allow myself to feel my feelings and at the same time try to be a pleasant helper to our guests. He, of course, kept a close eye on me.

After Christmas our business closed to prepare for the next season. That gave me time to allow the feelings about all three passings to flood over me. If I felt like crying, I cried. If I felt like swearing at them for abandoning me, I swore. If I felt like talking about them as if they were saints, I did that. By the time work resumed I was ready to be back to work. I had done what I needed to do to heal myself.

I realize not everyone has the gift of a three-month quiet time to heal their wounds. However, everyone has a few minutes each day to feel their feelings. They can honestly evaluate where they are in the process of healing pain, dealing with an angry situation or just slogging through daily events. Taking this time is the key to healing. It is a vital step. It sets the tone for the rest of their lives. We can say, “It’s all behind us,” but only this quiet time will tell us the truth.

Beyond healing our pain there is another upside to surviving personal devastation. It’s called Post-traumatic Growth (PTG).** “Growth results from an active, engaged process of dealing with a stressor – not the stressor itself.”***

This occurs when we have accepted and learned to live with our personal disasters. For example: from my dad I learned to be sad, angry and fearful when I’m with a safe friend. The rest of the time I can look at life’s foibles with a sense of humor. My mom taught me in a backwards way, that it’s okay to feel sad but not to let it dominate my days and years. I learned from my son to be more adventuresome and willing to try new experiences. What a gift they’ve given me.

Spirit,

Thank you for this opportunity to heal everything and anything that weighs us down. We know that releasing our pain is the only way to heal. We know that we will continue to have periods of sadness, but because we have done the healing work we need not worry that the pain tumor will burst at an inopportune time. Thank you, again.

And, so it is.

*”A Window of Wisdom,” December 14, 2015, https://awindowofwisdom.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/window-985-stop-suffering-and -release-the-pain

**”Is There and Upside to Tragedy?”, Ginny Graves, quoting Richard Tedeschi, PhD, University of North Carolina-Charlotte and Lawrence Calhoun, PhD., O the Oprah Magazine, July 2015

***Suzanne, Danhauser, PhD, Wake Forest School of Medicine, “Is There and Upside to Tragedy?”, O the Oprah Magazine, July 2015

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 17, 2015

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.

Christmas Newsletter 2015

We all receive disgustingly cheerful newsletters listing dubious progeny accomplishments this time of year. Here is my contribution to the trend.

The holidays are upon us once again and our family has much for which to be grateful. We are finishing our Christmas shopping and eager to place our gifts under the tree that Husband dragged home yesterday. I’m not sure where he found it, but it smells like he found it at the county landfill. This tree is so scraggly that even Charlie Brown would reject it. The good thing is that the tree was easy to decorate. A single string of lights runs straight up the trunk and ends just below the star that is leaning precipitously to starboard. We were able to toss two strands of tinsel onto the limb stub. Three strands overloaded the stub and made the tree list to port.

Because of the economy, our gifts this year will be simple. Son #1 asked for a package of socks with extra wide tops to warm the lovely ankle bracelet generously given him by the judge. He finds the ankle bracelet attractive, but tends to fuss about the frostbite that forms on his leg. Additionally, he is beginning a trend by inspiring his friends and siblings to achieve his greatness. Already, three of his “buds” are sporting their own ankle bracelets. They cheerfully text each other about how many phone calls they are receiving from the police department when the bracelets set off bells at the station.

Son #2 is aspiring to earn his own bracelet, but so far is receiving only probation. He also wants extra wide-top socks so he will be prepared when his turn for a bracelet is approved. He also requested an ergonomic pillow for study hall naps. Classmates have learned not to criticize his snoring. His nap habit has contributed greatly to the economy as the school nurse’s office needs to keep a large stock of nose bandages.

We are so proud that Daughter #1 is achieving greatness at her high school. She passed chorus this year when the choir director generously agreed to accept her reggae version of “Stairway to Heaven” as an entry in the school’s alma mater contest. Luckily, the academic advisor has decided that she no longer needs to pass such courses as biology, math or history and will be graduating two years early. This daughter was easy to shop for, because she just asked for a year’s supply of black nail polish, black lipstick and green hair dye.

Daughter #2 won honors for selling the most Girl Scout cookies in her troop. She accomplished this by blackmailing her middle school teachers. I’m not sure where she found all that salacious information, but our family had fun reading it. It’s too bad the teachers bought the cookies, because we’d really love to share these stories with the school administrators. No shopping problem here either. This daughter requested a gift card to Slut-Mart.

Husband is doing very well. He was awarded Slacker of the Year award by his company. They said he is doing so well, that if he keeps up the good work, he’ll be given a permanent vacation. Can you imagine how much fun we’ll have with all that spare time?

As for me, I’m learning how to cook without setting of the smoke alarm. It only paged the fire department once this week when I baked brownies for Daughter #2’s Girl Scout party. The girls smiled bravely as they gazed at the brownies and held tissues over their noses to protect the tray of well-done brownies from their cold germs. They showed their generous spirits by tossing the entire tray into the snow to feed the birds.

Happy Holidays to you and your family. We hope our year has been as wonderful as ours.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 3, 2015, edited from 2009 version

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.