Monday, December 29, 2014

Then and Now

I was packing to go house sit at my sister's house for their annual anniversary trip, and started thinking about how things that are important to me have changed.

When I was younger, my drive ad desire was to try to be as "successful" as I could be.  I strove to excel in every career I held, from the military to office managers later.  I don't regret holding my country or my service to it in high regard.  I don't regret the hard work I did through all the years near or far from family.  I've lost friends in the mail, when I, they or both of us moved.  I took that in stride as just another thing that happens when you live life and are on the move from one place to another.  What I do regret from these times are the years lost that I could have spent with family that I love and who love me.  I regret not taking better care of the health problems I knew about because I was just too busy to notice they were getting worse, or just thought if I kept moving they would stay in check because a thing in motion "stays in motion".  Well, it may WANT to stay in motion, but sometimes it comes to a screeching screaming halt.

As my hearing approaches this upcoming month, I reflect on the fact that what has become important to me is my family.  It's not all I have, though sometimes it may feel like it, but it is the most precious thing I have.  I'm very glad that I can be closer to them now.  I no longer feel the need to be "successful" as society views success.  What I value is being able to applaud those in my family that can do, and are striving to do it, and also are doing their best to keep their family close to them.  I find so much happiness in seeing their successes, triumphs and happiness.  I see that we might share some of the same or similar health issues, and pray that in them they don't develop like they have in me.  I don't want to see them have to slow, or halt their lives due to things like this.

I look at my youngest brother and I'm so proud of the daddy he's become.  He is getting to be such a good father, and his daughter is a joy to be around. Success!  Just to watch his interaction with her is amazing because he was such a wild young boy and man, and now he's a DADDY!  It's just amazing to see such a transformation in him and know he's still my baby brother, who, when mom and dad would go out would refuse to go to sleep or lay down unless I lay down on the floor next to his crib.

My next younger brother is such a driven man, but he seems to also take the time to enjoy life.  I'm so happy to see him happy with his new girlfriend since I know it was quite a ramp he hit when things seemed to fall apart so badly.  He's pulled it back together and it's amazing to me to see him so happy now.  He loves his boys, and his boys love him and his girlfriend too, so I'm glad that seems to be coming together nicely.  He's had to start nearly from scratch from a hard blow going from one job to another but I'm happy that he's stuck to it and seems to be making it work for him.

My older brother, patiently patiently waited for an opening at his job, while he worked as a temporary employee.  I'm so happy to see him feeling better and more stable since he's now a full time employee there.  He set himself a goal and waited while he saw others picked before him, but yet he stuck it out, as frustrating as that can be, and I'm so proud of him for being so patient.  He's a good man, a good employee, and a good friend to those he is close to.  I'm happy he's my brother.

My sister was always a little shy.  You didn't always know it because I think she felt the need to NOT be shy since she was the oldest of us.  She had the pressure of showing us the way, and she did the very best she could.  She's always been a little high strung, because I think she sometimes held so much inside.  She had to be "fearless" for us, and so I'm sure there were times she felt torn between what she wanted to feel and what she felt she needed to feel for our sake.  I'm so happy to see that she's not only become more relaxed, but also more outgoing.  Genuinely, not like she feels she has to TRY to be that so that us younger siblings looked at her being fearless.

My mother, the most beautiful mom in the world.  She's always been gentle and kind, although she was a rough disciplinarian when we needed it.  I'm not sure if others see just how much she bears the weight of our trials on her shoulders.  She worries for us all, though I wish she wouldn't.  I for one adore her for it.  I'm not sure how much they see, I know my sister does for sure, but I'm pretty sure my brothers feel the same way too.  Everyone should have a mom as beautiful as my mom.

My stepfather takes care of mom, and I'm glad he's there to take care of her and watch over her.  Honestly, that's the most important thing, to know that mom doesn't have to have a rough life, because I think she deserves all good things.  And he's doing his best to see that she has a good life.

What is important to me?  Now, it's seeing my family succeed, being there to cheer them on.  I know I may be limited on what I can do right now, but I can be their personal cheerleader and remind them of how proud I am that they're doing so well.  I want them to always know, I'm not bitter that physically I have some issues, even though some days I think I can do more than I can and end up regretting it LOL.  I want them to always feel how proud I am of them for what they do and how they live their lives.  Being such great Dad's, Brothers, Uncles, and Aunties.  I'm so proud of them for being brave enough to reach for the goals they have set and strive to get to them.

In short, society's view of success has no hold on me any longer.  My success is loving my family as best I can so they know I will always be there to be proud of them and their achievements.

Well, I guess I've put off packing long enough LOL, back I go! :P HAPPY ANNIVERSARY SEESTER AND BROTHER IN LAW!

Friday, December 26, 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Or whatever Holiday you observe and hopefully it was JOYFUL!

Hello all!

Thought I would do a post Christmas blog.  We had a great Christmas.  First we had a Christmas all for our little lady at my brother's house since her mother was going out of town to her family on Christmas day.  That was fun and it was great to see her get so excited about everything she got to open that day.

Then we had the family Christmas at Mom and Dad's where we got to meet my other brother's girlfriend for the first time.  I was glad to see that they both seem happy with one another, and she was relaxed with the family too.  Everyone picked out some really great and fun gifts for each other.  Our family does YaYa's for the girls and about a year or two after we started that, the boys wanted to do YoYo's for the guys.  So this year we just decided to do only the YaYa's and YoYo's.

My gift to the girls was a bag of therapy things.  I couldn't really explain too much when I told them it was a therapy kit, because I didn't want to give away what was in it, but I think mostly it's self explanatory, and I think my sister definitely gets the idea since she said she smells her sprinkles at work if she's feeling anxious or stressed.  My sister sells some really great stuff for Pink Zebra, which are cute and awesome things, so if ever you're interested in long lasting really great products let me know and I can put you in touch with her.

At any rate, I thought I would explain here what a therapy kit is about.  First I think it's important to understand that there are what are called natural emotions and manufactured emotions.  Natural emotions are what we witness in infancy, the joy, sadness, fear, all these you can see happen naturally without being taught them.  For instance a baby might see a bird or butterfly, and they might start laughing, showing happiness or joy.  They might hear a loud noise and be startled or cry showing fear in something they didn't expect or understand.  Natural emotions simply refer to those emotions that we do NOT need to be taught to feel, they are things we feel instinctively.  Manufactured emotions are emotions we are taught.  Some examples of these would be, anxiety, worry, shame, guilt etc.  The problem with these emotions isn't that they aren't important, because they are important.  The problem with them is that we as a society focus TOO much importance on them.  We are taught to feel shame about how we look, how we interact with others, feel guilt for even the slightest thing, or worry too much about details at our work that really don't matter.  How we ended up here I don't know other than to say that we see them so much more readily than our natural emotions via media, by which I am referring to television, magazines, internet etc and not simply the news agencies.

Well, as I've said in other posts, I have had some big anxiety issues, so one of the first things my therapist taught me was about self soothing when I noticed I was in high anxiety mode and my chest was hurting etc.  The idea is to take the focus OFF the manufactured emotion because it's OVER taxing you right now.  Instead focus on one of the things that soothes you.  In my kit for the girls, I included, sight, smell, touch and taste.  Sight would be any one of the items that is pleasing, from the cute little beanie babies on a carabiner or the cute little stone boxes with a flower on it.  The beanie babies are also super soft, so they would be an example of touch if touching something soft is what focuses you on that action or feeling and small enough they can be taken anywhere.  Also there was a soap stone container with a perfume in it, which you could simply open and smell, or put on and smell.  I also put in some Dove's dark chocolate and Werther's.  That way if someone wasn't partial to chocolate they can do the same with a different candy.  My mom was funny, when she saw the candy she says, wait, this is therapy too?  And I said yes, you focus on the taste, and I can't remember if it was her or someone else that said, I LIKE YOUR THERAPIST, but it cracked me up.  I also put in a little stone box that was empty with a little flower on it.

So, how this works is, say you're stressed or worried, or like me in super high anxiety mode and your chest is hurting.  What you would do to self soothe is to STOP.  Recognize what you are feeling at that moment, then stop.  Find the thing that helps to soothe you, whether it be a smell, a touch a sight, sound or taste.  It could be smelling lotion that smells nice, or it could be putting it on which FEELS nice.  It could be touching something super soft or a funny video that makes you laugh or feel happy.  Whatever the THING is, that's what you focus on in THAT moment.  Focus on that and ONLY that, then when you're done go back to whatever it was you needed to do, and you simply feel so much better.  This doesn't mean watch every video on youtube, or eat every piece of candy in a bag, or put on lotion until you're wrinkly like you were in a tub too long......which would be a LOT of lotion LOL.  When that happens it turns into avoidance, which is not a good thing either.  Too much avoidance can have adverse affects of it's own.  The idea is focus on that smell, or that piece of candy or that one video for that point in time, and when it's done go back to what you were doing.

It doesn't take long lengths of time, but BOY can it help you avoid some really nasty things.  I think we forget we can do that.  We think I have to go go go go go go go go until it's done and we just feel SO rushed, stressed or worried we finally just break down.  Taking that ONE moment can help save SO much other negativity.  That was the full point of the gift I gave.  To remind the ladies in my life that it's OK to stop and take a moment to focus on natural emotion.  Hopefully the guys get it too, because I love them also, so they can also do some similar things to avoid emotional back up, buildup, crash or whatever you want to call it or whatever it ends up being.

I can tell you, now, I MOSTLY remember that if I'm anxious and my chest hurts, I can pop in some tictacs or a piece of gum and focus on that and guess what, my chest hasn't been hurting 24/7 since I started getting better at that.  It takes practice, we are SO hardwired to be "A" type personalities in our society it seems, so practice practice practice.  If you forget one day to take your moment at a high point it's OK, you just forgot and that is OK.  So also, don't stress just because you're not perfect at instituting your therapy moment to retake your natural emotions and find your bliss LOL.  Trust me, I'm STILL not perfect at it, but I'm a heck of a lot better than I used to be.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and I hope that you remind the people in your life, family and co workers alike, TAKE YOUR MOMENT.  I can not tell you how much of a difference this has made in my life, you simply have to see for yourself.