Tag Archives: behavioral changes

In celebration of she

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Today we gathered as a family to celebrate my moms life.   My sisters and brothers families were there, we were minus only a handful to make the gathering “whole”.  My mom would’ve loved to have seen us all there together, and as I watched the “goings on” of all,  I know she would’ve been so pleased that so many came the long distance, and at great expense, to honor and celebrate her life.    My parents divorced many decades ago, but my dad and his girlfriend came.   I saw my dad physically choke up once or twice,  particularly when he was watching the slide show that my niece’s husband put together from our combined collection of pictures of my mother.  My parents were married 27 years, they had five children, built two family homes from scratch to finish with very little “contracting” out.   At one point I walked up to my dad and hugged him, told him how lucky we were to have him.  His reply?   “No, Donna, how lucky I am to have all of you!”

Alongside the pictures of my mother playing on the screen, depicting happy times, a playlist I had created for my mother a couple years ago played in the background.   The choice of flowers, white mums, roses, and a spray of blue delphinium, were absolutely beautiful.   My mother would’ve absolutely loved it.  Filling the inner circle of this wreath sat a beautiful urn with mother of pearl enhancements that contained my mothers remains.   My mom loved mother of pearl, abalone, it was her favorite stone.  On the same table were “keepsakes” that mom had saved, postcards, letters, cards, pictures.  It was so tastefully done, and I know my mother would’ve approved.  I know she would have!  Also included were pictures of my youngest and oldest sisters, whom I hope and pray mom is reunited with.

Last night my niece made dinner for all of us, including my dad, his girlfriend, three of my brother’s four children, daughter-in-law,  My sisters husband, both of her children, son-in-law, and two of her grandchildren, my brothers friend, and her daughter.

One of the nicest things for me to hear was “young cousins” playing, laughing.   It was magical for me, and reminded me of my own, our own childhood gatherings with cousins.  It helped give sense to my moms passing – New generations making memories that will hopefully last them a long lifetime.   Oh the truly innocent and silly things they were doing, like making farting noises down a heat vent from the second floor of the farmhouse into the  first floor kitchen where the adults were gathered.    It was their laughter that I hope to never forget, I hope THEY never forget!

I could not be happier with how nice today turned out, the last couple of days actually.  I’m writing this blog so that in the days to come when we are all back to our busy lives, and feeling the loss of my mother, I can come back to this to recall, relive, reunite with the love that flowed, commonality, my family.

My mother was the strongest woman I’ve ever met.   I will always love her and be grateful for giving me life, and teaching me all she did.  I will miss her love, her encouragement, her help, her care when I was ill, her sense of humor.   I will miss her!

Now, personally, the events of this past week, up to and including my mothers passing, has made me realize that I have some work to do on myself.  I will likely share about this in future blogs, because writing is a valuable, helpful tool for me.   But it’s going to be okay, I will be okay, because I know I’m still teachable!

My daily goal, first and foremost, is peace.   In order to achieve this, I need to learn some new skills on how to handle my own emotions, particularly “anger”.    This is probably something most learned in childhood, but I was such an “emotional child” (annoyingly sensitive I’ve been told!)  it was easier for my family to not deal with my emotions, to perhaps “pacify” me.   I am NOT blaming anyone, I believe my parents, my family, myself, we all did our best.     But what worked then (well, it really didn’t even work then either), no longer works and is not appropriate.

I have spent the last couple months stuck in anger.  This wasn’t the first time this has happened, the last time it was this severe was a few months after my sister died.   I ended up hospitalized with such.  I have made many changes in my life, I have consistently improved upon myself, and the quality of my life, my choices, the people in it.   I’ve created a safe, loving, peaceful (for the most part) life for myself.   But what good are these changes,  learning how to set boundaries, recognizing when I’m being taken for granted, standing up for myself, and all the changes I’ve made if I don’t go “all the way” and change my OWN inappropriate behavior?!?    I am the only one who can do this for myself!   Anger scares me – my own and others.    Certainly I can learn new skills!   My life, my relationships will improve.  Particularly when circumstances and opportunities to which the only control I have is how I handle myself!       Yup!   It’s time.

Tell those you love how much they mean to you.  Forgive others who trespass against you.   Forgive yourself.    If you can’t say it, write it, or say it with flowers, or sweets.    To quote Nike…..     Just do it!

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The “What if’s” ?

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Like any other behavioral change, the decision to make positive changes is much easier than the follow through.    I am working on, or some might suggest I say “I am” practicing positive thinking.

For years I lived with a death grip to the laces on the infamous impending “shoe to drop”.  I became accepting that this was how to live your life… cautiously.   But then again, there is a difference between being cautious and being negative.  This borders on both!

I’ve done enough behavioral therapy to understand the concept.    The last behavioral therapy I did was “ACT”  which stands for Acceptance Commitment Therapy.   I have found this to be the most effective, but there again there is never anything that’s cut and dry.  It depends on the space one is in, mentally, physically, “readiness”…    I learned this therapy 2 years ago.   In short, it is effective with me because of the visual I have.  On the left, what is the behavior?  On the right, my values, my morals, my dreams…   Is this behavior or choice walking me towards what I desire or opposite?    Cognitive changes are hard to do but possible.

I do not believe that anyone has only good days and consistently sees the good, the positive, the beautiful.   Even someone like Joel Olsteen, one of the most positive people in spotlight, has his bad days.    He’s human!  But I would bet his good days far outweigh the bad because of his attitude, the choices he has made to “be happy, be positive”.   I am seeing it today as a choice.

On my long ride home last night in 5pm Boston traffic I had plenty of time to think.  For some reason I didn’t want the radio on because I wanted quiet.   This is something fairly new to me.   It’s comical to hear my friends and family say “You are unusually quiet”.   It’s a good thing.   I’m internalizing, in a healthy way, my thoughts, making decisions based solely on what I feel is best.  Perhaps it is because I’m learning to trust myself?  Perhaps I am listening to my inner voice and sharing it only with God?  I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter.  Truth is, I’m in unfamiliar territory.   I’m paving new ground for me to walk on, and this will eventually become comfortable ground.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but I am determined and have made a decision to do so.  But I digress…

The thought that came to mind is “Failure is not an option”.    This is my new mantra.  I can do anything I want to do if I’m willing to be consistent.   Making my way a little everyday, not going hog wild left or right winged and petering out.   A little bit everyday.   This is how I will achieve success.  This is how I will learn to sit with things, to deal with things, to walk through things.  This is how I am and will feel good about myself.   The days of “Tomorrow is another day” need to cease, or at least the percentage of.   Today, just a little bit today.

But this thinking is perfectionism.  I have to do it ALL, NOW, & PERFECTLY!   I’m not perfect.  I will never BE perfect.  Get over it already!  I am capable of change, I am capable of changing behaviors however small or large this may be.  But I will not be successful doing it all at once.  Motivation?  Momentum?  Important… but this perfectionism I am identifying, this black or white thinking, and this instant gratification crap that I reach out to needs to stop.  One step, one day at a time.

So now I’m asking myself…. What if?   What IF I could be successful?  (that is a loaded statement there, how am I determining my success or failure?)  What IF I could get everything I want?   What IF I could realize my dreams?   Ultimately these questions should be spoken in terms of “I have all that I want.  I am successful, I am enough just as I am, I am, I am, I am…  I am a work in progress, and I am right where I am supposed to be.  Well, this is true if I’m doing my best, right?  If I’m not doing my best, is this statement true?  Hmmm, perhaps.  I know when I’m in a bad place I am the only one who can pull myself out of it.  No one can do this work for me, I have to do it myself and I WANT and AM committed to doing it.    I am becoming a vessel of positivity, peace, the glass half filled and power of now.  THANK GOD!

And now?  Within the scope of this beautiful day we are having, I am happy, I am hungry, so now I am going to eat a pb&j!   How am I going to eat the pb&j?   One bite at a time!!!!!!!!   ♥