Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Compassion, Courage, Egos, Emotions, Get Over Yourself, Happiness, Holiday Spirit, Insensitivity, Kindness, Love, Manners, Negativity, Relationships, Respect, Thankfulness, Uncategorized, Understanding

The Season of Giving……Year Round!

‘Tis the season of giving…….actually, I think giving is healthy year round, especially if you are giving of your time, support, sentiments, prayers, etc.  I have people in my life who I would do anything for.  I don’t give to them for recognition, or because it’s expected.  I do it because it’s the right thing to do.  I do it because I care.  Sadly, I have learned that others just don’t care as much.  I may be limited on finances, and sometimes my health hinders how much I can do, but I still try.  There are other ways of giving.  There are some people who never give, and I actually don’t understand how they can live with themselves.  There are some who give because it’s expected of them.  There are some who take advantages of others’ generosity.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “tis better to give than to receive,” which is from the Bible, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35).  I don’t want to get preachy here, but it’s something that can and should apply to all of us, even if you don’t follow Christianity.  Unfortunately, some people just don’t know how to give, or be gracious when receiving.

I have met narcissistic people, who care about nothing but themselves.  They don’t understand or care about the pain they cause by not appreciating everything others are willing to do for them, and aren’t considerate of others’ feelings.  They just don’t care.  Maybe they were spoiled as children, and they aren’t capable of appreciating the little things in life.  They always put themselves first, justifying this by saying they “deserve” to do that, or they’ve earned it.  There is nothing wrong with rewarding or treating yourself, but when that becomes your focus, over what you can do for others, then maybe you aren’t a very nice person.  People like this take advantage of those who love them, and don’t think about how it hurts.  But then…..I guess they don’t care.  They’re very selfish and Ebenezer Scrooge-like!

Don’t be a Scrooge.  Give something…..and give it year round!  Give kindness.  Give manners.  Give politeness.  Give compassion.  Give a smile.  Give understanding.  Give patience.  Give gratitude.  Give communication.  Give humor.  Give of yourself, and don’t take advantage of those willing to give so much to you.  Someday, they may not be there anymore.  Leave your egos at the door, and try to do something for someone else for a change, appreciating what others are willing to do for you.  However, if someone continually rejects your acts of kindness, or shows they don’t appreciate you or care about you, you certainly don’t have to continue giving to that person!  Protect yourself in this process!  Feeling rejection is painful, and damaging to your well-being.  Don’t be unkind, but make sure you focus where the need is.  It doesn’t mean you can’t still offer a smile or politeness to that person.

With our current political and social climate, we are seeing enough egos, negativity, narcissism, and arrogance.  There are enough Ebenezer Scrooges in the world. If we expect things to change, or we want a nicer place to live, then we need to be getting along with each other, and be the givers. Stop putting ourselves first, and think about what a difference we can make in someone else’s life just by giving a small act of kindness or compassion.  And do it year round…….make the season of giving a year round habit.

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Anxiety, Childhood Innocence, Christmas Movies, Christmas Stories, Happiness, Holiday Spirit, Holidays, Innocence, Laughter, Love, Season's Greetings, The Polar Express, Uncategorized

I Can’t Stand The Polar Express!

Why does everyone but me love The Polar Express movie?  I will admit, that the book, written and illustrated by Chris Von Allsburg, has beautiful illustrations, but an entire movie about it????  It’s dark, and creepy, and sad.  I find nothing enjoyable about it at all.  The season, and the movies that accompany it should be joyful, happy, and make you feel GOOD!  So before all of you Polar Express fans start beating me with your Christmas bells, let me explain…..

So many things don’t make me feel good about this movie.  Children get on a train in the middle of the night with strangers.  Haven’t they ever heard of “Stranger Danger?”  It’s a fairly modern tale……I know there are stories from the past that have children doing all kinds of dangerous things (Home Alone has dangerous antics, but at least it’s funny), but this is creepy. If my kids took off in their pj’s when they’re supposed to be in bed, I would hope that law enforcement would issue an Amber Alert…..even if it was Tom Hanks who took them!  Haven’t they told their kids not to get into a car (or a train) with a stranger?  Not only do they board a train, but they also end up on TOP of the train with a hobo, who is also played by Tom Hanks.  Who the heck was that guy?  Why did he need to be in that movie?  Is it symbolism that was lost on me?  I could not connect the dots for this one.  He serves no purpose except to add more creep factor, in my opinion. That entire scene made no sense, and really scared the crap out of me!

There are a bunch of hot chocolate guys who dance and sing through the car.  Why?!  It doesn’t flow with the rest of the story at all.  Strange little men, doing acrobatic type stunts with hot liquid on a train car full of children.  They may as well be running with scissors too!

The characters aren’t attractive or appealing either.  They look very cold, expressionless, and sad.  At first, I thought it might be because of early computer animation, but the conductor looks just like Tom Hanks, so I don’t think that’s it.  They’re just unattractive and stiff!  And the poor little boy sitting in the car all by himself…..what’s that all about?  Is he being punished for being poor?  Tom Hanks’ conductor character is rather intimidating and impatient.  Why is he working with children? He needs to be more patient to work with kids.  Why would a child go with him when he isn’t exactly oozing with charisma?  He actually seems a bit threatening and mean about those darn tickets, even if he can make art with his hole punch!

The scenes from the North Pole seem like an industrial country left over from the Cold War.  The way the citizens/elves and children cheer for their leader, Santa…..also voiced by Hanks, is rather reminiscent of the old film footage of the citizens of communist countries cheering for their leaders…..or like a cult worshiping their leader…….spooky! And Santa isn’t merry and jolly and happy…….why?  Where is our happy Santa?  Why is this movie so dark???

I need joy, laughter, and happiness for a Christmas movie.  I don’t want to be afraid, confused, or see characters as something scary or dark.  Give me Elf, A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, and the original Grinch.  Those each have a happy ending, full of love and hope.  They don’t leave me asking questions about the plot line or symbolism.  The Polar Express leaves me feeling sad and depressed, and has me completely freaked out while I’m watching it!

As much as I love Tom Hanks, Christmas movies, and the holiday season, I just can’t get into this movie, no matter how hard I try.  Believe me, as an educator who has to watch it every year, and a mother who’s youngest child loves it, I’ve tried!  I just don’t like it.  I’ve always wondered if there are more people like me out there…..hating on this movie.  Anyone?  Or am I alone in my disdain for this film?

Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Change, Compassion, Courage, Family, Happiness, Kindness, Laughter, Love, Loyalty, Making life interesting, Married to My Best Friend, Relationships, Respect, Thankfulness, That's life, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Two Years and Counting……

Tomorrow is the second anniversary of marrying Alfredo (as my daughters love to call him)……one of the happiest days of our lives.  Al and I have so much to be thankful for.  We’ve had our share of problems, but they’ve been things that have been out of our control, or from outside sources….not things we can help.  With each little (or big) hurdle, we seem to come through it even stronger, and closer.  I sometimes wonder if our commitment to each other is being tested for everything we have dealt with. We are there every step of the way for each other, which of course, is the way it should be!  Our pastor sent us each a text today, calling us, “Team Desport.”  It’s true.  We do make a good team, and it’s nice when other people see how much stronger we are together.

Since he moved back to the USA, I helped him finish his college degree, which is something he had given up on.  I watched as his confidence grew with each completed course.  I helped him buy his car, sign up for health insurance, apply for jobs, update his resume, and navigate the ins and outs of a system he hadn’t been a part of for 30 years.  He’s working in the public school system with special needs children now, and is really very good at it!  He also works part time at a community center in a rough part of town, with kids who really need a positive male influence.  And, he referees youth basketball games during the basketball season….he’s making a name for himself in the area, and children and adults alike are always happy to see him when we run into them in public.  I love hearing little voices from across a store or parking lot, saying, “Coach Al! Coach Al!” They love him!  He’s a church deacon, with a line of little old ladies waiting for hugs every week, and helps serve breakfast to homeless people once a month.

He’s also been there for me, especially when it comes to protecting me.  He corrals me when I’m sleep walking, and herds me back to bed, keeping me safe.  He “rescues” me from any creature that I may encounter unexpectedly.  He walks me to my car every morning, making sure I am safe (I leave before the sun comes up), and occasionally scrapes ice from my windshield.  He helps me when I have car trouble.  He helps me with my school work, folding, cutting, or preparing projects for my class.  He sees when I need to take a break, and tells me that we are going for a walk on the beach, so I can clear my head.  He cleans the bathrooms and does dishes! Yesterday at church, I really felt awful (I probably should have stayed home).  He knew how bad my head was hurting, and that I was dizzy.  Just to have him put his arm around me, and kiss me on the head, lets me know that he understands how much I’m suffering, and that he’s there for me.  Then, he changed the words to the hymns to something a little bit inappropriate, making me laugh…..which is also something that I appreciate so much!  His incredible sense of humor is the only thing that gets me through a lot of days!

We vent to each other about work, society, politics, family matters, pop culture, and anything that might be weighing on our minds.  We spend hours and hours talking and listening to each other.  We enjoy traveling, watching movies, or just having a quiet evening at home (most every evening).  We rarely argue or have a disagreement.  We have both experienced some pretty serious health issues in our lives, so we are appreciative of every day we have.  We’ve both had some personal disappointments in life, and are happy to be sharing our lives together now.  We’ve spent a lot of time raising our children, and living and working a world away from each other. Ending up together took time, faith, trust, and was a lot more work and complicated than most relationships, since we were on two different continents.  We definitely had to be friends first. We were very protective of our courtship, and are still very protective of each other.  And here we are……for better or worse, sickness and health, richer or poorer…..as long as we both shall live!

It may have taken us awhile to get here, but HERE is where we are, and it’s the best place for US!  Two years down, the rest of our lives to go!

Be Happy, Christmas Stories, Family, Growing up, Happiness, Holiday Spirit, Holidays, Laughter, Love, Season's Greetings, Uncategorized

My Favorite Christmas Story

Everyone has their favorite (or least favorite) Christmas stories, right?  Certain Christmases stand out more than others, or you remember getting something very special that you had really been wanting.  I have a few of those memories, mostly from childhood, but a few as an adult too.

I remember my grandparents taking their first trip on an airplane, coming from Alabama, to celebrate with us in Sikeston, Missouri.  That same year, I got a little high chair for my dolls (I still have it).  My grandpa gave me a piggy bank at that time, which I also still have.  I remember the year that all I asked Santa for was a box of crayons, and I got it!  I’m not sure why they were so important to me that year, but as a 6 year old, it’s all I wanted.  I’m sure my parents were thrilled that I didn’t want much!  “Santa” still brings me a box of Crayola Crayons every year!  I remember the year that our Boston Terrier, Pepper, ate my chocolate candy cane, leaving the foil in little pieces all over the living room carpet, and I cried.  I remember Christmases at the farm in Alabama, in Wichita at my other grandmother’s house, and in many homes that my family lived in during my childhood.  We had a lot of good food, and played games, but we also always got to hear my favorite Christmas story…..I know what you’re thinking……it must have been about a little baby born in a manger in Bethlehem, right?  Well…..yeah, that’s a pretty nifty story, but the one I always looked forward to hearing was about the time my dad shot Santa Claus.

If you knew my dad, you know he liked to tease, and was very funny.  He was also a great story teller!  I’m not sure how old he was in this story, but I think he would have been in his late teens or early 20’s.  Daddy had two nieces, Martha and Bobbie, my Aunt Estelle’s daughters, who were maybe about 5 or 6 years old, and they were at the farm for Christmas.  The family had gone to Christmas Eve services at church, and my dad and uncles decided to play a trick on my cousins.  They put rocks and sticks in Martha and Bobbie’s Christmas stockings! The girls were obviously upset, and crying, asking why Santa would have done that to them when they had been such good little girls.  Daddy and his brothers announced that he couldn’t do that their nieces, and decided to “take care of him.”  Daddy grabbed a shotgun, and they went outside.  He fired a shot in the air, one of my uncles let out a yell, and they came back in, declaring, “Well, we got him!” My cousins were a LOT more upset then, and so was their mother!

By the time I started hearing this story, my cousins were adults, and Bobbie was telling me she would never forget when my dad shot Santa Claus.  She was, of course, laughing about it.  I’m not sure my aunt ever forgave her brothers for that, but I think she probably did.  I am completely anti-violence in any way, shape, or form, and I’m not crazy about guns, but I think this is a pretty cool story…..how many of you can say that your dad shot Santa Claus?

Anxiety, Bad Attitudes, Be Happy, Be Kind, Compassion, Happiness, Holiday Spirit, Holidays, Innocence, Kindness, Laughter, Love, Negativity, Passion for Living, Season's Greetings, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Stay Off the Naughty List!

Each year at this time, I’m reminded of the time I was at the grocery store a couple of years ago just before Christmas.  The place was a madhouse, packed with busy, stressed, uptight shoppers.  Apparently, I wasn’t moving fast enough for one shopper, because she very impolitely ordered me to, “Get the hell out of my way!” I moved, but looked her in the eye, smiled, and said, “I guess we know who’s on Santa’s naughty list!”  She didn’t appreciate it, but I got a good chuckle out of it!

I have a ton of holiday cheer.  It’s not unusual for me to be playing Christmas music in the car, in my classroom, at home while I cook, in the bathroom, etc.  I love my decorations and my tree.  I love Christmas movies.  I’ve talked about this before, so I won’t bore you with it again.  But the most wonderful thing about about this time of year is the spirit.  Yet, I try to keep the spirit alive all year with a positive attitude, cheerfulness, appreciation, and compassion for others.  I don’t like it when someone tries to kill my spirit.  That lady at the grocery store tried to kill my spirit.  People who insist on taking the fun out of Christmas or other times of year are attempting to kill my spirit.

I used to stress about the holidays, trying to get everything done with my kids, my family, shopping, wrapping gifts, traveling, cooking, and also taking care of my students, planning fun activities for them as well.  It was ALL on my shoulders.  I felt such pressure to make it all perfect for everyone else, and I really didn’t take the time to appreciate the true meaning of love, sharing, giving, and togetherness……and I never felt appreciated for all I did. I have learned not to stress as much, and to let some things take a back seat to others.  Because of my health, I’ve also learned to say no, and stop with a few unnecessary things.  I’ve scaled back on my decorations a lot, but still have a houseful.  So when someone else puts grumpiness, anger, negativity, or extra burdens on me, it makes me upset that they are trying to kill my spirit.  I want to enjoy this time of year without feeling pressure to do what everyone else expects of me.  I need to stay healthy, so I can’t do it all anymore. I have to slow down and take time to enjoy the spirit.

I decided today that my dog needed a new sweater for Christmas because his is looking a little shabby (Shhh!  Don’t tell him).  I went to the little shopping center where the pet shop is, but I couldn’t find any parking spots.  I drove in circles through the parking lot, trying to find a place to park, for at least 10 minutes.  It seemed like it was taking a lot longer.  I had a couple of spots picked out, and was waiting for the other driver to pull out.  I waited patiently with my blinker on, only to have someone pull in from the other direction before I could get in.  I could have become angry and cursed them out, but what for?  What good would it do?  If they didn’t do it intentionally, then I might be ruining their spirit by getting mad at them.  If they did it on purpose, I wasn’t going to let them ruin my spirit by getting angry.  I eventually found a spot, and enjoyed a nice little (long) walk into the store to find the doggy sweater.  When I got into the store, I was surprised by Santa Claus, who was taking pics with pets.  He was sitting alone, and caught me off guard.  I said, “Oh!  Hello Santa!” He said, “Hello Little Girl.  Have you been good this year?”  I actually stood there, and thought about it for a minute.  Then I told him I have!  I’ve been really good!  It’s been a rough year in a lot of ways, but I’ve been good, and I’m still full of happiness, positivity, good cheer, and holiday spirit.  He wished me a merry Christmas, and then welcomed a couple of little dogs in elf hats onto his lap.

Others can choose to be negative, angry, suspicious, manipulative, mean, and critical.  They can attempt to kill my spirit when they have none.  Others can choose to rush, and put pressure on themselves to do everything, feeling stressed and drained of any Christmas cheer.  Don’t force that on others who choose to be appreciative of life.  Take your “Bah humbug!” somewhere else.  Find your true Christmas spirit, and keep it all year long!  Spread true Christmas cheer year round.  It will most definitely keep you off of the naughty list!

Be Happy, Coping, Family, Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Love, Relationships, Togetherness, travel, Uncategorized

Togetherness

Well, the holidays are officially here, and I am now ready to celebrate with the decorations, food, and Christmas music…..not a bit too early!

This Christmas is one I am looking forward to.  I always do, but this year, Al and I are hoping to make a trip to Kansas City to see my three children, my grandson, at least one of my sisters, and maybe a few other family members.  My son will be home from the Navy, so I am anxious to see him, and spend time with my girls.  I am one of five daughters, and my parents were each one of five children, so we have a pretty big family.  But I haven’t seen any of them since July, 2015, and it was for less than 48 hours, since we were there for my nephew’s wedding, and then went to spend a week in New York.  It has been over five years since I have seen all three of my children together at once.  Think about that for a minute…..going years without seeing your family…….as different as my sisters and I are, I still love and miss them every day.  I haven’t seen my best friends (and won’t on this trip either) for 2 1/2-5 years or longer.  I love and miss them terribly too.  I do have a couple of uncles, aunts, and cousins who live about an hour from here, but we don’t see them very often.  It’s nice to have some family a little bit close though.

Since Al moved here in 2014, we have been to New York to see his mother and sister three times, and he has gone twice by himself.  He has been to Miami with his friends from Sweden three times.  We’ve been to Orlando to see his father three times.  We’ve been to Sweden.  We’ve also taken a couple of trips to New Orleans, and a short honeymoon cruise, but the focus the last 3 1/2 years has been to make sure he gets to see his family (especially his parents) and friends, after spending so long living out of the country.  Now we have an opportunity to go to Kansas City, between Christmas and New Year’s, and it’s all I can think about.  Kansas City is beautiful during the holidays, and I will get to see my “babies!”

I have friends living all over the country.  But, as women, most of us don’t take the time to take many getaways on our own.  At least, that’s been the case with me and most of my friends.  We have our jobs and responsibilities with our homes, children or pets, and don’t feel like we can take a break from it all.  I’m usually the one making sure everyone has what they need, and I forget to think about what I need.  I’m trying to do better with that.  It’s hard for me to do without feeling selfish.  Since funds are tight, and now with my health conditions, I can’t exactly justify taking off for a week or weekend to hang out with my friends by myself.  Traveling alone wouldn’t be a good idea because of everything going on physically with me.  I’ve been working very hard at school and also trying to get started in the real estate business, to try to get us a little bit ahead.  Frankly, between that, and all of the medical crap I deal with, I’m worn out, and need a change of scenery.  Maybe someday, I can travel alone again, but not now.

While I love living in a warm climate (even though they are predicting snow this Friday!), and it’s much easier on my arthritis, sometimes I need a break too.  Hopefully, I can get a much needed break to see some of the people I love and miss.  And what better time to do it than at Christmas in Kansas City?

Acceptance, Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Being Strong, Coping, Courage, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Laughter, Love, Passion for Living, Thankfulness, That's life, Uncategorized, Unexpected Life Events

Just Keep Going…

It’s been 130  days since my AN diagnosis.  Since then, I’ve been through loads of doctor appointments (I’ve lost count), a variety of tests, another diagnosis of an infection in my mastoid bones (behind my ears), which seems to be resistant (I’ve been on 4 different antibiotics so far), and a seizure.  I’m now on anti-seizure meds, and a few things to try to control my headaches.  This seems to be the new “normal” for me, and we just keep hoping for the best with each appointment.

I try not to miss any work.  I’ve actually only missed 3 days out of 70 so far this year, and have taken an early leave here and there for doctor appointments.  I also go in early almost every day……a habit I’ve had for a very long time.  I know if I sit at home, I would get depressed…..something that is easy to do with any illness.  I don’t want to add depression to the list of conditions and symptoms.  Besides, I love my students, and appreciate that this is probably the best class I’ve ever taught!  I guess I need them right now.  They let me know how much they love me, and how much they care about me.  They tell me constantly that they love me, they hug me, they make pictures for me, are pretty well behaved, and they understand that sometimes I can’t get up too fast!  I told them about my recent EEG, and they enjoyed imagining their silly teacher with the 25 electrodes coming off of her head.

I don’t let a lot of people see me when I’m feeling bad.  I have learned to manage that very well.  The teacher who teaches next door to me, Tamesa, has become such a great friend.  We vent, laugh, cry, and support each other every day!  She is one of the few who sees me holding my hurting head, or can tell by the look on my face that I’m in pain, and knows what is going on, without me having to say anything.  It’s nice to have a friend/co-worker like that, but she also understands my fierce independence, and knows when I just need to push through.

I have had people ask me how I do it.  How do I keep going?  The commute? Teaching 1st graders? The work load? One of my husband’s friends in New York said in his thick NY accent, “She’s a troopah!” Well, what choice do I have?  Like I said before, I don’t want to sit home and get depressed, having no interaction with anyone.  While I might need more rest now, I still believe that I can manage this more effectively by continuing to keep busy, and keep a normal schedule. And…..I don’t want to give up my way of life.  I don’t want to get old before my time.  Young at heart = hopefulness and positivity.

I have seen people with chronic illnesses give up, go on disability, stay home, and become old before their time.  If you know anything about me, you know I have a sense of adventure and fun, and a curiosity to learn about people and places.  I love travel.  I love museums.  I’m not old enough to give up that part of myself.  I might stumble a bit here and there.  I might not hear everything, especially in a noisy room.  I might be hypersensitive to loud noises.  I might have headaches.  I might feel pressure in my ear and head.  I might have vertigo that makes life feel extra wobbly.  I might have to be more aware of the signs (auras) of an impending seizure.  I might have to eventually have surgery. But my life will not stop being enjoyable because I have a chronic illness! I refuse to give in to this.  I guess this is where my stubbornness pays off!

Over the last 130 days, I have learned so much.  I’ve learned that I am much stronger and more determined than I ever realized.  I’ve learned that I keep my balance better if I give myself more time and turn on lights!  I’ve learned that my husband is a jewel (I actually already knew this, but he has just confirmed it, as he helps me up every morning so I don’t fall, reminds me to be careful, and is understanding and supportive with my fatigue and limitations).  I’ve learned who really cares about me, and who is there to support me on this journey, wherever it leads me.  Fortunately, there are a lot of people supporting me that I never knew cared so much!  I’ve learned that naps are not only enjoyable, but they really do help!  I’ve learned a lot about two illnesses that I have, that I never dreamed would affect me.  I’ve learned to really appreciate small acts of kindness, quiet moments, fresh air, a good laugh, a walk, and all of the positive things in life.  I want to be the best me I can be for my children, who I know have been worried and scared through this.  I want them to enjoy their silly mama, who loves to laugh and embarrass them in public.  I want to be the best me for my husband, who shows me his strength every day, but I know he worries and gets scared from all of this too.

So the last 130 days of knowing what is wrong with me has been an emotional and physical roller coaster, but I appreciate what it has given me.  Things can always be worse!  I can do this…..with a few adjustments and a lot of support from those who love me.  I’m not ready to give up anything yet…..and I won’t.