In my case…

Bitter sweet is an over used phrase that describes a moment a feeling sad and happy at the same time. This is double the work for the over thinker. I become living proof every time a teardrop follows dead flowers into the garbage can. And every time the predictable post vacation sadness kicks in.

I thought that clarity would stop the head spins. But this empty room’s memories of little heads in my lap are not fun to be with. In a minute though, when I stretch my legs and dominate the remote, the solitude won’t feel so bad.  If walls could talk, I would be in the middle of a never ending dispute. One like peace while the other misses chaos. One likes cleanliness while the other misses fingerprints.

Like anything that is not good for you, unwanted thoughts are a bad habit. You know you shouldn’t do it, but you still do. Time has made it a part of you. And while you know you have a choice to stop, a twisted comfort doesn’t let you.

If you are afraid of change, you are not alone. Choices become repetitive when we realize that we like how they make us feel. In my case that’s vanilla over chocolate…drama over comedy…sweatpants over skirts. In my case it’s pinching a piece of skin to stop tears with a dam called pain. It’s better than being falsely accused of being unstable or under the influence.

In my case it’s working every single day on creating new and better habits. It’s praying for karma over plotting revenge. It’s dismissing over dwelling. It’s appreciating more. I asked a question in my very first post and I ask it again. Will you go treasure hunting with me? You don’t need a shovel, just a mirror.

YOU are a treasure!

 

Crazy Talk

When or how did you last say or think of the word crazy? Did it describe a situation, a thought, a person? Was it a circumstance that threatened your comfort zone? Was it someone who, Heaven forbid, didn’t think or act the way you thought they should?

Is crazy a mental status as described by our dictionaries? Or, is it an insensitive reaction to contrast? Crazy according to Sarah is allowing differences to weaken relationships that we want and need. The selfish will not understand this. Allow me to share some real life examples:

Parking lots make me nervous, so, I almost always get front door service while my husband walks alone. I have turned many perfect moments with him into unprepared therapy sessions. And, the poor guy will probably never see all of his bucket list destinations because I am afraid of…well…just about everything.

Do my “issues” make me unlikable or give me character? Is this selfless man crazy for putting up with me or am I crazy for letting him? Is he crazy because he can ignore clutter or am I crazy because I can’t?

If we allow differences to limit our interactions, we accept a risk of loss; loss of more knowledge, loss of more companionship and so on. My daughter puts ketchup on her eggs. I find that completely disgusting, yet she will always be one of my favorite people to be around.

Ask “why” more often. You may find that adventure lies ahead. You may find a reason to feel sorry for that person who treated you poorly. You may find a reason to love yourself more. You should because…

YOU are a treasure!

Shift

Words can hurt when they hide behind devices and screens. That’s why verbal communication is still sometimes preferred. But for some of us, the keystrokes are therapy through brave expression. It’s a risky opportunity to connect with people you may never meet, because they just get it.

Fellow blogger Brittany Morefield’s descriptions of anxiety and depression are brilliantly unfiltered. In a recent post titled “In Case You’re Still Wondering About Anxiety,” I learned that she too is often asked for advice on “getting through it.” Her response reminds me of why I started the journey. I also had to “learn to help myself first.”

The following piece was written many years ago. It’s words represent the first sign of hope that I was going to fight. I recently blew the dust off and would like to share:

Today I smiled at my face in the mirror

For the first time in years

I picked up the pieces of what was a future

Whose weight once brought me to tears

I’m trading in my mask for some new mascara

I’m letting go to put time on my hands

The fog is thick and coated with wonder

But, the clearing tells me I can

Shift into gear and drive out of this haze

Where demons dance on the roads of a maze

Where temptation dangles from every tree

And sin lives in shadows that no one can see

I wasn’t dizzy today when I lifted my head

So, I stretched to pat my own back

Reintroducing myself to myself

To forget how to run with the pack

My goals spread their wings because I’ve given them choices

So, I unite a need with a plan

While on my knees watching stained glass reflecting

I believe that I can

Shift into gear and drive out of this haze

Where demons dance on the roads of a maze

Where temptation dangles from every tree

And sin lives in shadows that no one can see

Shift into gear and drive out of this haze

The new air delivers her pleasures and praise

The truth doesn’t hurt because it wears a new face

And I breathe to fill my soul of this place

While I sing goodbye…

Thanks for reading. YOU are a treasure!

 

On Purpose

It’s encouraging to know that I am not alone when it comes to believing in the connection between appreciation and happiness. Recently, a friend shared with me an article titled “Gratitude and Appreciation: Why We Should Indulge Daily.” It was written by Yana Hoffman, C.D.C.C. and you can find it on psychologytoday.com. This is a really good read, especially for those of us who struggle with consistency.

In this traditional time of resolution making, let’s try harder together. You see, I also believe that a portion of our destiny is predetermined, but there is plenty of room for us to have an influence. I am not suggesting in-genuine or radical behavior, just a baby step in the form of five minutes to start.

Appreciation is too often an instinctive reaction instead of an on purpose one. For example, receiving a gift, compliment or favor, makes us feel good, but sometimes the “thank you” is automatic; said without thinking. This happens when the person in front of us holds the door open or the server gives our coffee a “warm up.”  On purpose appreciation is choosing not to ruin an innocent cashiers day because you disagree with a coupon policy.  Instead, breathe and decide whether or not you really need the item in your hand. I know, it seems easier to ask the cashier to not be effected, but what if he or she can’t help it?  I am not a professional, but I can definitely prove that methods such as the “get over it”one do not work for all people.

2017 was one of the best years of my life when it comes to events, circumstance and results of hard work. Yet, I still wake up almost each night with stomach pain caused by depressions poison. This is not an exaggeration. And some days, behind the smile, nothing wins the title of remedy. Not a vision of Cinderella’s castle. Not a random heart emoji from my husband. Not even the contagious riff of “New Orleans Is Sinking.”  Fond memories don’t work because the queen of darkness reminds me they are over. Things to look forward to will also eventually end so she wins once again. What’s left is the now.

In your “now,” try harder not to hurt feelings. Treasures don’t do that.

YOU are a Treasure!

 

Dear Sarah

A letter to myself as the Holiday season begins…

Dear Sarah,

When you spend so much time putting others first, it’s normal to feel exhausted and anxious this time of year. But, at the start of this journey, you made yourself a promise…a promise to create the happiness you deserve by making changes both big and small. Though it was not a perfect year, you made progress. May the following advice help bring internal peace and memories worth cherishing:

Don’t feel guilty that twinkling lights and sleigh bells aren’t enough. You are wired differently, but still a good person.

Leave the dust on the floor. You can create a beautiful environment in many other ways.

Serve the semi-burnt cookie. At least you tried.

Make a gift for someone and think about how much they mean to you the whole time.

Don’t make a wish list. It will distract you from what you already have, which is enough.

Put your change in the red bucket and be grateful you can afford to.

Be proud of what you celebrate and don’t be offended by differences.

Smile when it’s hard. There are many people spending this time alone.

Above all, never ever forget that YOU are a treasure.

With the most love I have ever had for you,

Sarah

The Right To Play Dress Up

For a couple of years, my best friend was a floppy, red-haired figure named Raggedy Ann. She loved me no matter what. I knew that because her heart told me so. One day, with the help of some fabric, yarn and a creative mom, I became her. I made those around me giggle and smile. I was “cute” instead of buck toothed and awkward. That was the very first Halloween I remember.

As years changed, so did the fads and costume changes. I have stayed true to my appreciation of the day that society says it’s OK to be something other than yourself. Though my children now have memories of embarrassment and questioning my sanity, I selfishly have no regrets. It felt good to step away from the roles of maid, chef, homework checker and nag.

The right to responsibly have fun and escape from routine once in a while has no age limit. I strongly suggest you exercise this right as another Halloween draws near.

To the princess: Let that sparkle make you feel like the beautiful person you are every day, but forget as chores and deadlines wear you down.

To the villain:  Here’s your chance to be the bad ass you sometimes wish you were. Be proud that respect and professionalism lead you to the right choices when things get tough.

To the superhero: Enjoy the cape and shield, but remember you don’t need them to fight sadness, worry, disrespect or any other emotional intruder.

And to you, no matter who you are or choose to be. Every day. Remember.

YOU are a treasure!

MSCT

A hand made sign hangs by our bathroom mirror and it reads “Make Smart Choices Today.” Purposely, the first letter of each word also begins the first name of each member in our family. You could call it our motto. Over the years, I am certain these four words have been read and interpreted many different ways: “Do your homework,” “Avoid peer pressure,” “Eat well and exercise,”Fight that depression.”

Choices are not just actions, they are also reactions. They are opportunities to peel back ugly layers that hide some really valuable treasures. These layers call themselves jealousy, selfishness, denial, and defeat. Victory does not satisfy temptation and negative emotions. They never go away. But, each time we lift our chin to the sky, the devil will raise a brow. Our strength makes him nervous.

You can chase rainbows, or you can chase rain.

You can forgive, or you can hold pain.

You can seek vengeance, or you can forget.

You can recover, or you can regret.

The choice is yours.

YOU are a treasure!

 

 

You Can’t Smell Google

Based on a true story, today’s thought will open similarly to a joke, but end with a punchline in the form of a treasure:

A guy walks into a bar. He finds his place at the stool he unofficially owns as the barmaid prepares his order without asking what it is. He was already there when my husband and I arrived, but I would bet that is a pretty accurate scenario. To put it simply, he was an obvious, harmless regular.

Our dining entertainment was the friendly banter between the two. And that night’s topic… a seasoned member of society’s theory behind what’s wrong with the world today. In the opposite corner, an equally passionate individual defending the world, for there is so much of it still ahead of her.  She tried to explain that the “evil” internet is the reason she is still able to pursue a degree while working the long hours required to get by. He countered with memories of conversations without screens and the set of encyclopedias he’s proud to still use. Both had valid points. He preached. She poured. They both smiled the whole time.

It was hard not to eavesdrop. At first, I tried really hard not to. But, then it happened…the patron turned friend referred to the world’s lost piece as appreciation. My ears perked like a puppy and I turned to face him. After what I hoped was his last sip of the day, he sat his empty glass down and said: “You can’t smell Google.”  The glass was retrieved with the promise to see him soon.

The routine visit and opportunity to give another lecture probably made his day. The hour or two with her mind off the daily grind may have made hers as well. Stumbling upon this beautiful relationship most certainly made mine.

My son gave me a flower on the eve of his graduation. That night, I placed my nose to a pedal and slowly inhaled. You are so right, friendly stranger. You can’t smell Google.

YOU are a treasure!

Scratch and Dent

My house is full of character. I am not talking about my collection of Disney figurines. I am referring to those distinguishing qualities that make things unique. You know, that scratch, that dent, that crayon drawing on the wall. These are traits that are often called flaws.

Let me tell you the story of our first piece of furniture that did not come from a curb on garbage night.  I chuckle knowing that I once thought that buying a new oak dresser for an elementary-aged boy was a good idea. That dresser got character before it’s first coat of pledge. It’s still there today…a five-pointed star with two eyes and mouth smiling from ear to ear (if stars actually have ears.) Boy, was I angry at this unexpected introduction. I did not care if it was a star. I did not care if it was smiling. I did not care if this was my son rebelling or marking his territory. I was angry.

The inability to afford another dresser kept me from discarding it. The lack of time and energy kept me from buffing it out. My friends, as I share these words, I am just weeks away from my carving artist being on his own. I promise you that I am going to look at that star and finally give it the returned smile it’s been waiting for.

The moral here is that we all have imperfections, some on the surface and some beneath. Think long and hard before deciding to change or discard. People will still love you with that blemish or scar. People will still visit if there are weeds in your garden or dust on your shelves.

By the way, just because I upgraded to Craigslist doesn’t mean I stopped my treasure hunt. I have projects waiting that were inspired by things another person no longer had use for. There is accomplishment, quality time and beauty in my future. It is true that one man’s trash could be another man’s treasure. Share with me yours! What do you currently have that didn’t shine the same way for another?

YOU are a treasure!

The Bodyguard

I have bodyguards. Believe it or not, so do you. They are just not easily recognized because they don’t look like Hercules in a suit and sunglasses. Because we are not royalty or of celebrity status, we may not purposely seek protectors. But, we are worthy of them and, like the treasures I speak of so often, they are around us.

Indeed, the bodyguard that responds to the ad on Monster will most likely need to know how to throw a punch to qualify. But, we are made of more than skin and bones. We can be hurt without being hit. Harm’s way does not always lead to large crowds or dark alleys. For some of us, an idle mind is a scary predator.

I can throw some darn good pity parties, but I don’t subscribe to them. Instead, I seek out distractions. I call this treasure hunting. It has made red lights, pumping gas and long lines much easier to deal with.

These words are dedicated to some people who will probably never read them. This includes the woman who started a conversation with me at Wegmans, the co-worker who talked me through what was not a real crisis, the guy who broke out in random dance while waiting for his bus to arrive, and whoever posted the most recent adorable monkey video. For a few moments, you fought off worry, my worst enemy. You lifted some weight off my shoulders by just being you.

Thank you, strangers. Thank you, friends. Thank you, inventor of those tiny televisions at gas pumps. You sparkle like diamonds.

YOU are a treasure!