Thoughts – Count My Blessings

I had a recent medical scare that really got me thinking about things. A couple of weeks ago, I found some moles on my back that looked really bad. I did some research online and by all means it looked like melanoma or skin cancer. Pretty scary word, cancer. So, even without insurance and pretty much broke – you don’t put something like this off. You have to get it checked. So, doctor appointment made, the two week wait to see him gave me time to think about things. I talked to friends and family. I started to think “what if this is cancer?” What if’s can be a bad thing sometimes. Regrets can eat you up. But, sometimes, it can really help you re-evaluate your life and look at things in a different way. It can wake you up to things that maybe you are missing. Remind you how blessed you are in your life. It made me realize how many people I have in my life that I love, and that love me. How many people are cheering for me, pulling for me, helping me. How important it is to live life, love life, and love those in my life. Because, even if you aren’t dying from cancer, even if you don’t have health problems, even if you live a long, healthy life – there are only so many days to everyone’s life. There is only so many chances to tell someone that they are important to you. There are only so many years you can do certain things. If you don’t do them when you get the chance – you may never get to do them. I see all the time, especially online, things that remind you to say I love you as much as you can, to hug those around you often, to stop and smell the roses, to take chances, to live life to the fullest. Because, before you know it – it will be gone. The loved ones around you may pass before you. The ones you love will be left behind when you go. Then all that will be left is memories. Good memories, as well as bad memories. To me, it is important to make as many good memories as we can before we go.

I looked over my goals that I’ve made for myself this year and the changes I want to make. They are good goals. And focusing on me is very important. The changes I want to make are very important. But, just as important are the goals that include others. When I go, I want people to remember the good memories about me. I want people to remember the happy times. The times where I helped them, or they got to help me. The times we laughed together. Even the times we cried, but were there for each other, because those are important too. I want to be remembered as a good person. A person who cared, who loved, who gave, who lived their life to the fullest. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going bunjee jumping or jump out of a working airplane. That may be something some people want to do. But no, not me. Me, I want to read some of the books I’ve been putting off. Do some of the things with my kids that I’ve been wanting to do. I want to stop saying tomorrow and do today. I want to remember to say I love you every day. I want to make someone’s life better each day. It’s not hard – a smile, a thank you, a hug. All of these things are small but make a huge difference. I want to look into the joy of my youngest son’s face and see the world through his eyes. I want to listen to music with my teenage son and appreciate his opinions. I want to talk to him. I want to talk about all kinds of things – stories from his past, plans for his future. I want to laugh with my oldest daughter and appreciate the woynderful adult she is. I want to share with her my recipes, my thoughts, hear her plans for the future, and let them all know how special they are to me. I want to re-connect to my husband. The last six years of working opposite shifts, struggling with money, and facing numerous challenges has had its toll on my marriage. I want to remember how I felt on our wedding day. But, it doesn’t stop there, I want to re-connect to everyone. I want to talk to my sister about our lives. I want to hug my mom – she won’t be here forever. I want to enjoy every day I have with her. And friends, and other family. Because when it comes down to it – the stuff you have in your life is just stuff. The really important things in life, the things that really matter are the people who love you and care about you. The people you share your life with. In that way I am very, very blessed.

Thankfully, when I went to the doctor yesterday, it wasn’t cancer. It was something called seborrheic keratoses. They can often be mistaken for melanoma. But they are harmless. Due to my skin type, heredity, sun exposure, they form, but really are nothing. But the doctor was very glad I had them checked out and said it was the smartest thing to do. So, that is not a battle I have to fight today. But, I am thankful for it anyway. Because it reminded me of what is important in life, and who is important in my life. And I think sometimes we all need to stop and count our blessings in our life. Before it’s too late.

What? Me Worry?

I am a worrier. I worry about everything, most of the time. I worry about me, my family, the bills, my job, the world, politics, the environment, my car, and on and on and on. Now, I know that worrying about things is not good for me. Stress, blood pressure, and all kinds of other things happen when you worry too much. Letting go, relaxing, and not worrying are much healthier and productive. But, I do, I struggle with it. And recently, that worry hit a high pitch. It seemed like an ocean of waves kept hitting me. Every time I would wrap my mind around everything happening, we would get hit by something else. A couple of weeks ago, I started to seriously wonder if we would be able to steer clear of everything – bills, problems, jobs, kids, car, money. And they weren’t small problems. They were big ones, with no clear answer. I spent an entire weekend on my panic meds trying to get a grip. But yet people seemed to keep looking to me for answers. What should we do? What are we going to do? Where are we going to live? How are we going to handle all this? I didn’t have any answers, and I was worried. Beyond worried, I was losing my grip. So, after that weekend, I took an honest look at things. Obviously I couldn’t go on the way we were going on. I couldn’t spend the next, oh say, 10 years on my panic meds. I couldn’t solve all the problems in a day. I couldn’t even figure out what we were going to have for dinner. It had to stop. Not the problems, they won’t go away simply by me deciding that I didn’t want to deal with them. But, what could stop was my way of dealing with them. I couldn’t worry any more.

There are those who believe in God and can turn it over to him. In fact, I attended a Christian church at one time that had this wooden cross. And by the wooden cross were a hammer, some nails, and slips of paper. When you had a problem you couldn’t deal with, you wrote it down on the slip of paper and nailed it to the cross “turning it over to God” and letting it go. Yeah, not so much for me. I’m a bit more of a control freak. Also, I honestly don’t believe that simply nailing it to a cross is going to do much for us. But, I did have to let it go. I did have to stop running in circles like Henny Penny. I needed to go back to the baby steps. So, I looked at all the things we needed to deal with and prioritized them. By immediate needs, by time frame, by necessity. And as each one comes up, I am dealing with it. If it isn’t next, I am not worrying about it. It doesn’t mean I don’t think about it at all. But man, that list was so long, and I was going over it in my head again and again. And it was a circle of madness. Who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed? but nope, not doing it anymore. One thing at a time. I am one person, I will deal with it as it happens. And amazingly, the stress levels dropped greatly. I got my grip back.

So, a couple of days later, my husband starts asking, what are we going to do about (blank). So I said “I don’t know”. He looked at me and asked me again. I answered him again “I don’t know”. Then I asked him “So what are we going to do about (blank)?”  He looked confused. He answered me “I don’t know”.  I laughed and said – then what makes you think I have any answers? If you have no clue, why should I? He stopped asking. Although I do have to keep him on track with which issue we are dealing with. He keeps wanting to jump ahead, push to deal with more, but I stop him. If he wants to go in circles and worry, let him. Me, I’m not stressing it. Things will work out. Not sure how, not sure when, but they will work out. Sometimes, the less we plan, the better things are. And it sure is a heck of a lot less stressful. Bad things are going to happen. And sometimes lots of bad things happen all at once. We can’t stop that. We can’t stop life from kicking us in the ass. But, we can choose how we deal with it.

Goal Progress – I’m a Wuss That Can’t Commit

If you have seen the movie Dead Again, you may remember this scene. If you haven’t, you should watch it. It is a great movie about reincarnation and murder. Awesome movie. But the scene I’m talking about doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the movie. Kenneth Branaugh plays a private detective named Mike Church. He locates a psychiatrist who has inherited some money, Dr. Cozy Carlisle, played by Robin Williams. He goes to see him, where he is working in a grocery store due to losing his license. While talking to Carlisle, Church keeps eyeing a pack of cigarettes that are sitting there by Carlisle.

Carlisle “You want a smoke?”
Church “No, no, I’m trying to quit.”
Carlisle “Don’t say you are trying to quit. Trying to quit is for pussies that can’t commit. Either you are a smoker or a non-smoker. Make up your mind which you are and be that. There is no in between.”

Well, brilliant words for those who have that kind of strength to commit to something, anything. But, some of us, we are wusses, who can’t commit to forever. Imagine if everything were in those terms. Alcoholics Anonymous would not need twelve steps, it would be one step – stop drinking for the rest of your life. People would just be – whatever. But, yeah, I’m not that strong. With smoking, with changing, with so many things. To me, it’s all about baby steps. When I look at doing something for the rest of my life, I shake. Be it, oh not smoking, or marriage, or heck – living. Whatever it may be. I don’t know many people who can look at something they need to do for the rest of thier lives and not falter a little bit. But, the good thing is, you don’t have to do it the rest of your life. You just have to do it now, today, or for the next five minutes. Whatever it takes to get you through. It doesn’t seem so intimidating that way. And for me, it carries me through a lot of things. Such as school. When I started back at school, I looked at how long it would take me to finish and thought, I can’t do that. I can’t work midnight shift, go to school, and take care of my family for the next two years. But I didn’t. I took it one class at a time. And got my first degree. When I saw that I could do it, I started my next degree. Two and a half years. Wow, long time to keep doing this. But, again – not forever. Just one class at a time. Then, when I had to stop due to financial aid, I was trapped in this job which is killing me. But, can’t quit, can’t not have a job. So, while I’m looking for another job, how do I face doing this one? One night at a time. One step at a time. If you break it down to baby steps, it isn’t so overwhelming. It’s doable.

So, now I’ve mastered the concept of baby steps. It can be frustrating, especially for someone who likes to make great leaps and bounds (often without looking). I like big changes. But the problem with big changes? They don’t stick. To decide suddenly that I am going to going to eat vegetables, and never eat unhealthy foods, probably wouldn’t happen. But making one or two small changes in my diet each week, before I know it, a much better diet. I want my entire apartment clean and organized – NOW. But, it is a hard thing to do when we all have bad habits, it’s a mess, and there are tons of other demands on my time. So, how do we do this? One baby step at a time. Over time – clean and organized.

So, what am I doing with this brilliant wisdom I have acquired? Well, a lot of different things. I am making changes to my diet. I have cut out fast food. I have stopped drinking sodas. I have cut my sugar intake down. I have tried replacing some of the unhealthy foods I cook with better choices. I am eathing more regular meals (at least as much as I can on my schedule). So those are a few of my changes to my diet. I have also started the task of organizing my apartment. It’s little steps, which are harder because I am fighting against the tide of other people. But, I got laundry sorters, picked up as much of the  laundry as I could, and have been trying to do at least a load a day. We aren’t caught up, but we aqre getting there. I have also gotten rid of 7 bags of clothes to the thrift store. More to come. Each step I take helps me to build the confidence I need to take the next baby step. And now, I am ready for a bigger baby step. I want to quit smoking. Wow, a biggie for me. I have tried and tried and tried. I’ve tried cold turkey, I’ve tried medications, I have tried the gum, the patch, the smokeless cigarettes. I’ve been to a hypnotist. All failed, big time. I never lasted for more than a week or two. And I have to quit. I have to. I hate smoking. But I can’t even imagine not smoking for the rest of my life. Wait a minute – I don’t have to quit smoking for the rest of my life. I can just quit smoking for today. Or this morning. Or this hour. Or this 5 minutes. That I can’ do. I can make sure I don’t smoke in the next 5 minutes. And this hour. And this morning. After that, I don’t have to worry about. Because for now – baby steps are enough. Baby steps get you there just as well as giant leaps. And there is far less of a chance of breaking something in the jump.