#294 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Aside from all the personal benefits… taking the time to babysit for someone who needs a break may just be the thing that allows them to be a better parent…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#294

Babysit

This may sound like an odd suggestion for increasing happiness but indeed – it may be just the thing you need as children have a tendency to remind us how precious life can be. Even if you have your own children, another child can offer a fresh perspective. Children know how to be present and in the moment naturally and they instinctively understand what it means to be authentic; traits that we adults, need reminded of far too often.

If you have children:

Babysitting another child can offer perspective on the value of your own children. It can be another form of the blessing you experience every day and/or it can be a reminder of the potential your own children have. It may remind you why you made the decision to have children in the first place.

If you don’t have children but are thinking about it:

Babysitting other children may inspire you in your decision to move forward or it may cement the decision not to commit. Spending time with someone else’s child may demonstrate the joy that a child can carry into your life or it may validate the concerns you’ve had about readiness.

If you’ve made the decision to never have children:

Babysitting will remind you of life’s innocence. It will help you put life stressors into perspective and open your eyes to another way of viewing the environment surrounding you.

If you are an empty nester:

Babysitting your grandchildren and/or another child will have you counting blessings in many directions. There’s nothing quite like the spirit of a child to brighten our space, our spirit, and our sense of purpose. And… they seem to find all the things we’ve hidden or lost!

Aside from all the personal benefits… taking the time to babysit for someone who needs a break may just be the thing that allows them to be a better parent; returning to their own child/ren refreshed and ready to tackle a new day. It’s an extension of kindness in a subtle way and yet it really a personal treat each time we…

Babysit

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

When Darkness Knocks

He does an amazing job but I watch him and I am sad and pissed and helpless and scared.

“If you want to find happiness, find gratitude.” ― Steve Maraboli

In the beginning of the year I started a gratitude challenge on my Counseling Facebook page. Each day since then – except for two – I have listed three things I am grateful for that day. I’ve tried not to replicate anything, which has been hard because every morning when I am writing them I am always grateful for my coffee! Certainly, at first it was easy as there are many obvious pieces of my life that I am always thankful for … a roof over my head, a warm room, comfy pillows, enough food, etc.

I’ve noticed as the time goes by however that unless I begin duplicating items, I must stretch my awareness a bit and it has been interesting to extend my awareness beyond my immediate surroundings to include the sound of my wind chimes and birds chirping. I am so grateful for those things. Not only do they represent the fact that I can hear but they are pleasant sounds and by noticing them, I also notice how they resonate in my body – my spirit. They create a nice sensation; pleasure.

It promotes more consciousness of people smiling, friendly service, and kind hearts. It stimulates my recognition of generosity, helpfulness, and benevolence, which are all contributors to the experience of happiness. Indeed, I believe I’ve felt a little bit happier than usual despite the negativity that tries to inject itself into my life.

It’s one thing to be a mental health counselor and experience the sadness, frustration, and negative emotions of clients – that’s my job and I am sufficiently capable of keeping it away from my personal psyche. Along the way, I learned the art of allowing clients to dump their stuff in my office without feeling as though I needed to pick it up. I rarely experience a derogatory impact of my clients affect. Don’t get me wrong… if there is something deeply sad – a client who lost a child or someone so deep in their own pain that they are suicidal – I feel sad but I don’t hold it. I can walk out of my office and leave it there.

It’s a whole other thing to live in an environment that is frequently heavy. Our political climate is currently stressed – no matter one’s affiliation – every day there is some element of drama pumped into our consciousness and we are exposed to exhausting bickering, draining our enthusiasm and confidence.

I am still adjusting to the whole ‘empty nest’ experience. While I quite enjoy the clean and constantly straightened atmosphere of my home, there is an eerie silence here that highlights the absence of my family. I miss the anticipation of hearing the creaking steps as one of the girls would come home from work at midnight or the sound of the shower and blasting music in the morning as she prepared for her day. I am blessed that they stay in contact with me via Face time or regular phone calls but it’s entirely different from the smell of their perfume lingering in the air.

And then there is the reality of Harlan’s illness. Coping with fatigue is one thing but coping with pain is another entirely. Every day is filled with the blessing that he can still work and concurrently filled with the reality that he does it battling the effects of chemo and the relentless pain of bone lesions. I see him getting tired. He does an amazing job but I watch him and I am sad and pissed and helpless and scared.

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I don’t like those feelings yet I know they are real and appropriate. They exist like fleas that jump on me when I walk in the door and every time I think I have fumigated their existence with my coping skills, they find another entrance or they are simply re-birthed into our experience. The early spring weather allowed me the opportunity to open the windows and replace the dark sad air with fresh spring hope and then it got cold again. I can feel the air thicken and so I walk outside where the sun is starting to stay longer and a bit brighter.

I live by the motto that there is something good in every single experience; not only on a global level but day by day. What is good about today? The gratitude challenge that I am conducting forces me to pay attention, to look beyond the obvious, to deny those damn fleas too much of my blood. It helps to push the pendulum back, to balance the scale, to make life tolerable.

When I am sad that he is hurting, I am grateful for his doctors. When I feel helpless to fix it, I am grateful to hold his hand. When I am disappointed that we aren’t bike riding, I am grateful to sit next to him on the couch. When I am frustrated that he goes to bed so early, I am grateful that his body heat warms the sheets on my side.

Please know that this is a ‘work in progress’ and I am – in no way – perfect in my efforts to find the silver lining every. single. time. But I keep trying. My daily expression of gratitude is one of the ways that I am working to create balance and a stronger sense of happiness in a time when darkness is constantly knocking on our door.

Won’t you join me? Hop on my HCC Facebook page and add your own three things. The more positive energy we can put forth in the world – the better.

 

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A Little Christmas Love

May the light of love shine in everything you are and do!

“Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves”. ~Eric Sevareid

I celebrate Christmas and would like to wish you a very, merry Christmas if you also celebrate that holiday. If you are, or recently have celebrated another important holiday in your home then allow me to wish you “Happy Holidays”.

I am going to take a break from posting ~ perhaps not from writing but I am imagining the focus for all of us to be on our families, our hearts, and our spirits… not on what I have to say today or tomorrow.

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!”~Hamilton Wright Mabie

I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts, though. Christmas, of course, is the celebration of Christ’s birth and for me… the presence of Jesus Christ on this planet was God’s gift of knowledge. The energy of the Universe providing an example of what each of us has the capacity to achieve if we allow ourselves to tap into the love that is innate and woven into the fiber of our cells. What perfection might exist if we only ever utilize love in our thoughts and interactions?

My promise to myself is to practice this today and tomorrow as best as I can and I would like to encourage you to join me. May I remind you to practice in ALL areas of your life. Beginning by looking in the mirror… “Good morning (self) – I love you” or “Good morning (self), you are the embodiment of love”.

When we ‘feel’ love, we are more apt to share it. Stay focused today in love. Remember that if the people in your home love you, any derogatory interactions are probably a reflection of a negative emotion they are struggling with – not a statement about a degree of love they have for you.

“No Christmas gift is greater than the gift of love. Thank you for giving the best gift ever!” ~ unknown

I’d like to say thank you for all the love that I have received over the course of these last several months. Just this morning I received a text message thanking me for “the gift of these daily readings”. I cannot overstate how meaningful the encouragement and support has been to me. I hope you all feel the love I am sending to you in these words.

I’d like to share a few of the gifts that I will be rejoicing in this Christmas.

  • All three girls will be here to celebrate the day with us. As many of you can relate to, there is no better joy than the sounds of your family together.
  • Frank and Rosie will be Skyping with us Christmas morning and I am happy to share that they will be parents in a few months and I will have a new name! Mémé or Nan or Gran… I think we’ll let BabyK decide when he or she makes a connection. It’s the most precious gift to the family and I am quite grateful.
  • Additionally, we saw the Oncologist yesterday and H is doing great. It’s been a rough fall but a recent round of radiation has almost alleviated the intense pain he was having and the virus that has taken many of us down this season is also seeming to fizzle out. He is sleeping better and has more energy. His goal for the next several weeks is to begin rebuilding strength – it so quickly diminishes during the dual course of chemo and radiation. The doctor is encouraged by the most recent scan – the treatment is currently working the way that it is supposed to and we are dropping down to only one doctor visit a month instead of the every two weeks that we’ve been doing all year.
  • The greatest gifts are the love and prayers, good wishes, and hope that people send our direction. Please know they are being received with replicated love and gratitude.

“Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most”.–Ruth Carter Stapleton

May the light of love shine in everything you are and do!

I’ll be back.

: )

God’s Will

I remember thinking that it wasn’t fair of me to make the decision based solely on how I felt, that as his partner, his wishes should also be a major consideration.

“As much as you want to plan your life, it has a way of surprising you with unexpected things that will make you happier than you originally planned. That’s what you call God’s Will.” – Unknown

My friend Michele and I talked daily. Since I had crossed state lines, we found a discount phone company that offered us a really low rate. It was a pain to call a number, enter a code and then another number but it saved us a ton of money on a monthly basis. We talked about our families, our challenging relationships, our soap operas. We would get together every week or so with the kids so that they could play and we could chat. It was an easy relationship to have and I depended on her friendship. We could talk about anything.

One morning in early October we were chatting away and Michele shared that she thought she might be pregnant as she was a couple weeks late getting her period. This would be baby number four. We gabbed about babies for a few minutes when the wheels in my mind started churning… remembering prior talks… wait a minute. “Michele… I think the last time we spoke about this it was because we seemed to be on the same cycle… I remember laughing about it – that even through phone lines, our pheromones were in tune. “Michele” I cried, “If you are late – then so am I!!”

Just a handful of weeks ago Hubby and I had talked about having another baby. Frank was 12, Sara 3, and Erin 2. He really wanted to try and have a boy he could name after himself but I was pretty sure I was finished having children. It had been a hard couple of years with two only 16 months apart, an older child who was involved in activities, I was working part time out and part time at home for Hubby, and I had a household to manage. I attempted to keep up an appearance that I was maintaining it all and in control. In truth, many days it was simply too much. I never said no to anyone. I gave and gave and gave most days until I felt flat. I continued to believe that if I was unable to give to people what they needed / wanted from me, that I would be – could be dismissed. That belief ran just under my subconscious for more than a decade, only a few times bearing itself for all to be seen.

Generally, this stress manifested as if I was someone who had to be in control of all things. I eventually came to realize that I didn’t want to control anything, frankly I had more responsibility than I really wanted. It was the load of that however that made it necessary for me to manage MY life in a way that allowed me to feel emotionally and physically safe. It was always about generating a sense of safety for my own mind. After abandonment by both my mother and of course the death of Rocky…. I felt unsafe under a lot of layers. Obtaining control of my environment assisted my psyche with the idea that pain would not exist there. If a person was IN my space, then they were sucked into the ‘controlled circumstances’. Of course, I wasn’t able to touch those realizations back then and eloquently describe what was happening so instead, I was simply known as a ‘control freak’ and people internalized my intent. *sigh*

I recall one of the most intense arguments that Hubby and I had was over a simple question regarding a diaper bag. It was when Erin was about 14 – 25 months old and we were trying to get out of the house to go somewhere – his mom’s house maybe? He asked if there was anything he could do to help.

Great question – I appreciate that you offered, I think. I replied “Yes, you can pack the diaper bag”.

Considering we had carried a diaper bag with us now for almost three solid years, I believed it was a task of little effort. His reply:

“What do you want in it?”

In that moment, something snapped. Everything that was ‘too much’ came up – overflowing my being, through my eyes in the form of daggers, through my hands as I threw something, and through my mouth as I shouted unending obscenities at the highest decibel I had available.

“How is it possible that you don’t know the answer to that question?”

“WTF do you think goes in a diaper bag?”

And the insults continued to travel through the air from my overstimulated voice box throughout the house and probably through the walls into the universe.

Needless to say, my rage was not received well. This man who was my husband was only trying to help by making sure everything “I wanted” was in the bag. His intention was to be supportive and helpful but that’s not what I heard. I heard ‘do a little more work and tell me what to do. Keep this on your plate and describe to me step-by-step how to make your life better.’ Sadly, in that moment, if I was going to keep it on ‘my plate’ then explaining only made it worse. I could do it much faster and with less effort if I just did it myself. It was not one of my best moments. Nor did it turn out to be one of his…

The fight was ugly. He left, I stayed home. I honestly can’t remember how many, if any, or all of the children went with him. What I do know is that in this one argument, the energy of far too many elements had come flying from my inner self as if it had vomited relentlessly the essence of all the surly, fearful, and distressed thoughts I’d been accumulating for several years. It took a few days but we agreed to forgive one another and to keep moving forward. We should have taken stock of that moment right then but instead, we plowed along doing our day to day stuff that kept our ugly files tucked neatly in the very back of our mental cabinets.

So, here I was, talking with Michele and remembering the discussion I had with Hubby about more babies. I remember thinking that it wasn’t fair of me to make the decision based solely on how I felt, that as his partner, his wishes should also be a major consideration. I agreed to let God decide. We would stop all forms of birth control and see what happens for a year. I was 35 by then and would be in the category of high risk if we waited too much longer. Now, discussing biological processes with my girlfriend, I am realizing that nature took its course quite quickly. Michele and I were both going to have baby number four. Our due dates were two weeks apart.