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The Big D

Everyone at some some point will get depressed or a little down.There could be so many different reasons – a death, loss of job, loss of a relationship, or a thousand different things. And this is perfectly normal. I think it is a fallacy in life that we should never feel anything but happy and shiny Because that just is not realistic. And who says it is bad to feel bad sometimes?

Sometimes feeling down can motivate us to make much needed changes in our lives. Because depression is a place to visit not a place to live And eventually we will get sick and tired of being sick and tired. The problem is once we are in a funk, how do we get out of it? Especially when the funk makes it hard to get off the couch, much less be motivated to be a mover and shaker in your own life.

But that is indeed what we need to be. And sometimes getting a root canal seems easier than getting motivated. But you just have to pick yourself up by the bootstraps. But how?

I really don’t know exactly, but I do now what worked for me. First, you have to get very quiet, and go deep where the heart meets the soul and you listen. At first you may not hear anything, but eventually you will. That is God’s voice, your gut instinct, your intuition. Remember what brought you joy before, and concentrate on that, and on following that inner voice.

When I was 19, I went through an extremely difficult time. And when I did not feel like getting out of bed, I would decide every single morning that I would find something to be happy about. I would decide on a winter day that I would search for a flower, or look for children playing happily in a puddle on a rainy summer afternoon. Sounds stupid or silly? It probably is. But those little goals are what would get me out of bed.

And every day there would be a goal, and I promised myself that I would smile once completed. I also made a decision, every single day, to find moments to specifically enjoy on purpose. If life was terrible, I would at least find solace in a sunny day, or in the three minutes of my favorite song playing on the radio.

When I got older and lost the rest my family, even those goals were hard, so I cried a lot. And then there were no more tears. I started having a few moments of not being in a funk…and then the moments would last a little longer. I put up a goal board, and I refused to watch depressing or sad movies, and I watched funny TV shows and I made sure that I was around good, positive people who were supportive. And anyone who wasn’t supportive was cut out of my life.

I also decided every morning hat I was going to be happy that day – maybe for only a few minutes, but I was going to find some kind of happy. And I wrote things (affirmations, if you will) around the house to help keep my positive mindset. “I am stronger than the grief.” I am stronger that the depression.” “I can and I will”

And eventually, slowly the clouds started to break and the sun would shine. But it starts with you. Because it is easy to get into the habit of depression, especially if you are alone. And that is where your will power comes in. It takes a lot of strength, so don’t be afraid to ask for help or pull others in. Even when you are tired, ask a friend to come over. They don’t have to go and do anything big. Because your friends can help dust off the cobwebs and help you smile…maybe even laugh.

There are many who say that you have to find it all within yourself. But I disagree. Yes, you yourself have to be committed to getting out of the funk, but that doesn’t mean you have to have all of the answers or face the challenge alone. Those who love and care for your will be more than happy to help.

It may be a long road but it is not impossible. Take baby steps, and soon your will look back and see you have traveled miles. Each heartbeat gets you that much closer. And in the space between the seconds, you will find the inspiration to hold on.

Life is short. Make a decision every single day to make the best of it. Most people think that happiness is easy, but it’s not. It takes a lot of work, every single day, to be and stay happy. And some days are easier than others. But we can do it together, holding hands as we cross paths and share time in this life.

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Sitcom Moments: The Dark Crazy Family Comedy

One thing almost everyone has to deal with in their lifetime is aging parents and health issues that come along with them.  It’s no secret that my parents have faced their share of health issues  – my mother diagnosed 15 years ago with stage 4+ Ovarian cancer, my father with liver cancer.  Bother of them are in remission.   Obviously I come from very strong stock.

One of the many reasons my parents have beat the odds (the first reason being a lot of faith and prayer), is the fact they are simply stubborn as he-ell. Notice the hyphen in there…that’s two syllables, because one syllable isn’t enough to describe that level of stubborn. And I think it increases with age.

Another thing that everyone must deal with is the fact that their family is crazy. Yes, including yours.  At some point in our lives, we must come to the realization that our families are insane.  And there is no shame in it, because we are all in the same boat, paddling up Crazy Creek with a broken paddle. My family is crazy. Just take a deep breath, repeat that statement and let it wash over you. I’ll wait.

My mother can relax now that my father’s cancer is in remission in theory. If only she would.  Don’t get me wrong, I love her with all my heart, but she is 5’3”, 80lbs of pure, unadulterated stubborn. And she will argue with you that she is not stubborn all day long…and into the night. And the next morning. And next week. And next year….

So now that she is getting older and has some health issues, life is interesting.  I do my best to keep in mind that she is very old school southern, very proud, very private and can take care of herself, THANKYOUVERYMUCH (all caps on purpose). It’s like a dark and twisted comedy, because there are many moments that you cannot believe are actually happening.

She is only 80lbs because she doesn’t eat…and seems to like it.  Conversations usually go something like this:

{I can see this conversation happening on Modern Family or Raising Grace, or similar show, where the characters are so over the top that it’s funny. Welcome to my world.}

Me: So what did you eat today, Mom?

Mom: I ate an egg with cheese and toast, like I do every morning, had an energy shake for lunch and  then your dad and I ate pork chops and mashed potatoes for dinner. I eat like that every day.

Me: That’s a great day of food Mom. How much do you weigh?

Mom: 82 lbs.

ME: Mom, you’ve lost 4 pounds in 1 week…so you are either not telling the truth about how much you are eating, or you are very sick and we need to get you to the doctor right away…

CLICK

The reason for the hang up? Because you are not allowed to say that your mother might not be telling the truth. Oh yes, I received a firm scolding on respecting the woman who carried me in her womb for 9 months, endured a painful birth, and sat with my in the hospital as I was so sick as a baby. Yes, Ma’am.  But I still say if you were eating the way you say you are you would be gaining weight…CLICK.

She has a very bad back – spinal stenosis. Excruciating pain.  There is a doctor who will do laser surgery on her back, but she won’t go.  Too busy, she says. Same thing with getting her cataracts fixed.  So here she is, hobbling, wobbling along, feisty and stubborn as he-ell, not really able to see, but can still see well enough to point a finger at you to say mind your own damn business! I’m your mother, you don’t have the right to tell me what to do.

We went to talk with a cancer counselor at the hospital about how Dad’s cancer has affected the family.  I explained that it has been very stressful, since we nearly lost him 10 times in the past 4 years. Once the doctors even telling Mom that they were sending him home to die and he would be more comfortable at home. I cannot even imagine what that was like.  After I described, in detail, all of the family issues, the counselor looks at my mother and asks what her how does she feel?

Mom: “I’m fine, not stressed at all. This has not been hard on me, I’m fine. I don’t need therapy. But she does (meaning me).  If she wants, I will go to therapy with her to discuss anything that she wants, if that will help her.  Because she needs LOTS of therapy.”

I nearly fainted.

Me to Mom:  You mean taking care of Dad when the doctors said he was dying and nursing him back to health was not stressful, at all?

Mom: No.

Me to Dr:  Yes, I need therapy. Lot’s of therapy. Can we set something up, immediately?

Welcome to my crazy family. Grab a cup of coffee, or even better, a glass of wine.