Happy New Year or Else

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be”
Abraham Lincoln

For years my skeptical response to honest Abe was, “Bullshit, you obviously don’t know how my life sucks. Let me count the ways.” Life happened to me, and I interpreted the facts my way and reacted. Life was a string of events I viewed with my ego and a dirty pair of glasses. I was boxing with an opponent that was stronger and faster than I was. The best I could do was worry and cry, or rage and act out. I was not happy, and didn’t understand how my mind and thoughts could change how I felt. Didn’t I have to feel my feelings and let my emotions guide me? Remember Primal Scream Therapy?

I didn’t just wake up one day and suddenly understand what Mr. Lincoln was talking about, but today I believe he is right about happiness being a choice. How I perceive external events determines my “reality”. I have an egocentric and negative bias, and often react as if it’s all about ME. If I pause to question my perception, I usually reach the conclusion that I am not the center of the universe. Now I know what I tell myself is not always the “truth”. Just because I think something does not make it true. For example, when a friend is curt to me, and before I travel down the road of “Nobody loves me.”or “What a bitch!”, I consider other possibilities. Maybe she had a rough day at work, or is very tired, and I am not part of the equation. I check it out and ask for clarification so I can respond appropriately. Assumptions often make an ass out of me!

When I catch myself using the words “always” or “never” I know I have put up roadblocks to my happiness. I am not always rejected, nor is it true that I never succeed. When she needs to confront her negative interpretations (or mine), my best friend Susan asks, “Would it hold up in a court of law?” No lawyer would accept my case! Life is not black or white, and there are much more than fifty shades of gray.

The single attitude that fundamentally changes how I view my life, and my level of happiness, is gratitude. For years, when gratitude was the topic at my Al-Anon meetings, I groaned and grumbled. I had no Attitude of Gratitude, that’s for sure. So what has changed? I determined that I would list five things that I am grateful for everyday, and my sister Lisa started a life changing blog “Habitual Gratitude”¬†. It is as simple as what you focus on grows and gets stronger. With practice, your mind gets better at recognizing what is good and beautiful. Gratitude is a proven path to happiness. Go ahead and take the road less travelled, but travel with gratitude.

Make a Happy New Year! Choose a Happy New Year!

Happy New Year or Else

Christmas

I pressed my nose against the cold window glass and kept my eyes peeled for Rudolph’s Red nose and Santa’s sleigh. My breath fogged the window and I had to keep wiping it off. Mom had told me to keep an eye out for Santa. Translation ” You’re driving me crazy, get out of my hair and watch for Santa.” I figured if I saw a red light it was Rudolph’s nose, and the next sound I would hear would be reindeer hoofs on the roof. I saw a lot of red lights and heard hoofs on the roof, but Santa never came down the chimney. Soon I was distracted by supper and the decade of the Rosary we always said, on our knees, before we could search for Santa’s presents. Sometimes Dad slipped out, but I never suspected. After the Rosary, we were led by Dad to places in the house that Santa may have left our gifts. Of course Dad took a round- about way to get to Santa’s delivery. I was so excited for the gifts to be divvied up so I could tear the wrapping off and see my treasures. This was Christmas Eve….

Spoiler alert. There is no Santa Claus. Don’t tell Virginia. In 1897, the New York Sun responded to a letter from Virginia “Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus.” Not true! Our parents buy the gifts and pretend that Santa came. The editorial in the Sun does beautifully affirm the spirit of Christmas. Read the entire editorial and you will be believing in Santa too. In my home town Santa came to town in the back of a red pickup traveling slowly down Main Street. Oh the excitement! Every child got a little bag of candy and trinkets. And if Santas beard was a bit askew who cared?

Three wiseman followed a star to worship the baby born in Bethlehem. What are the names of the three wisemen? If your guess is Bubba, Dude and Billy Bob you are not smarter than a fifth grader.

Cups is “my” coffee shop, and right now I am listening to the Christmas music playing. I know all the words, so I sing along in my head. I have my favorites and some Christmas songs should be banned. I sang soprano in several High School Christmas concerts. I loved it! How can you feel bad singing Christmas songs? One year the girls wore silver paper dresses. Really. The silver was set off by pink or red collar wraps. I remember the crinkly sound of the dresses as we walked in and took our places on the steps. I worried if the lights were too hot we could burst into flames. Fa la la. No smoking.

The Three Wisemen brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. What is myrrh? Can you smoke it?

My son teaches logic at CSU, he will tell you all about logic. It’s too bad humans don’t seem to be very logical, or even make much sense most of the time. I am experiencing emotional contradictions this Christmas. How can I feel hope for a growing season for me and still feel very sad . I think it is called bittersweet. I just checked google for the definition of bittersweet: 1.pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret <a bittersweet ballad> 2 : of or relating to a prepared chocolate containing little sugar. Being a dark chocolate lover I get definition 2, but living the “suffering or regret” of definition 1., AND feeling hope and joy at the same time is difficult. Dr. Spock is right, this is not logical, but it is my Christmas this year.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas

12 Days of Trump

On the first day of Trump my true love gave to me:
A Putin in a pear tree

On the second day of Trump my true love gave to me:
Two rigged elections

On the third day of Trump my true love gave to me:
3 degrees global warming

On the 4th day of Trump my true love gave to me:
4 conflicts of interest

On the 5th day of Trump my true love gave to me:
5 pussies grabbed

On the 6th day of Trump my true love gave to me:
6 Russians a hacking

On the 7th day of Trump my true love gave to me:
7 drunk fact checkers

On the 8th day of Trump my true love gave to me:
8 Crooked Hillary”Lock her ups!”

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me
9 KKK’s a chantin’ Trump

On the 10th day of Trump my true love gave to me
10 Mexicans a raping

On the 11th Day of Trump my true love gave to me
11 tweets disgusting

On the 12th day of Trump my true love gave to me
12 immigrants behind the Wall

For the 3 million people who gave Hillary the popular vote election victory, but were “Trumped”by the unaccredited Electoral “College”. Expressing my contempt for President elect Donald Trump is a wonderful Christmas gift to myself. I can “use my words” to share my opinion. What a gift!

Next week I will share my heart full of Christmas.

12 Days of Trump

What Elephant?

We all know about the elephant in the living room, the one that everyone is walking around while claiming there is no elephant. One elephant is named DENIAL. “That’s not a problem..it never happened…he will grow out of it????” DENIAL is used to cope with a realitythat scares the hell out of most people. DENIAL is not alone. Secret, Shame, Guilty ,Rape and Rage usually hang out with DENIAL. Welcome to the elephant corral!! I come from a very large family (12 siblings) and both of my parents came from large families. Family reunions and the uninvited elephants, what to do? An elephant corral was the only solution for DENIAL and all of his friends.

At family gatherings, I loved to hang out at the kitchen table with my Mom and her sisters. Sprinkled in the conversation about recipes, and who died , my aunts shared tiny bits of scandals and secrets. My little girl curiosity wanted more information, but these tantalizing conversations were quickly squashed. Prickly realities did not deserve a place at the table. It was OK to say: “Uncle Joe likes his liquor.”, but not o.k. to say “Uncle Joe is a raging alcoholic and reeks of whiskey”. The elephants were out in the corral, so it was easier to create alternative realities, especially if a child insisted otherwise. Sister Carol was not mean and did not hit students, never mind you saw her do these things with your own eyes. The message was the adult version of the truth was the only acceptable version.. All of the elephants in the corral could not change this fact. I have since learned my senses and perceptions are quite trustworthy.

Big bull elephants, like rape and shame, ¬†were almost impossible to make disappear. Several generations had to repress or deny their truth. Uncle Harry was to be avoided, and we were reminded to not be alone with him. Uncle Harry was “different” and did bad things. I learned the truth about Uncle Harry when he exposed himself to me. I wish the truth about Uncle Harry had been explained to me. I was a second generation victim. Uncle Harry had done bad things to my Mom and her younger sister. Elephants can pass between generations.

Culturally there are topics, i.e. Death, capable of starting an elephant stampede that no one hears or sees. Even DENIAL is useless in the face of death. Current events have convinced me that people can, and do, ignore elephants in living rooms all across America, especially when he is as subtle as a bull in a china shop. Forgive the mixed metaphors! See no evil, hear no evil? And to set the record straight he is not an elephant , he is an ass who tweets.

What Elephant?