My cousin, Sirena Riley, is a jazz artist. She sings in smoky jazz clubs in London and has a CD circulating the jazz circles of Europe. Critics have lauded her as an up and coming singer with a sunburnt voice and poetic, often confrontational, lyrics. She’s a serious musician.
I am a memoirist. Continued on Patch…
I’ve been told my Patch column, “A Discerning Eye,” needs to change its subject to all things Mommy. Some people would be annoyed with this. After all, I had a perfectly good column that was enjoying a decent readership – especially since Patch owner, AOL, has done no advertising for its Patch sites. I could write about whatever struck my fancy. It was a joy writing “A Discerning Eye” each week.
But, unlike most changes, this one didn’t bother me at all. I think I’ve finally learned to look on the bright side of things. After all, I am a mommy. My son just turned two years old and I’ve got lots to
vent write about. Patch just gave me a reason to let my column completely slide into an unapologetic mommy blog. That’s not what I ever wanted. But, I’ll deal. Actually, I’m gonna write the hell out of this column!
Very frequently, life presents us with changes in which we have no choice. I guess I could choose to stop writing for Patch, just as people could quit jobs when the tasks morph or divorce partners when they gain weight, but I’ve finally wizened up. I’m learning to let myself be edited a bit.
It’s freakin’ cold outside. Freezing rain falls every other day. Work is piling up, and I fondly remember the good old days of two weeks ago when my most pressing issue was whether or not to bring my son’s stroller as we traipsed about a Caribbean resort on vacation.
Now that I’m back to reality, I find myself reluctant to let go of vacation-mode… Continued on Patch…
This morning, I woke up full of promise. I was going to finish writing the chapter summaries for my memoir, begin an SEO keyword analysis for my new client, and review writing posts from my book proposal classmates. I also planned to write a blog post. Each of these tasks is a necessity.
Here’s what I actually accomplished today: I ordered holiday cards for my family and my business, wrote half of the chapter summaries, reached out to contacts for my client, and am now writing that blog post. The blog post is about five hours late. And, I only have about an hour left to get “work” done before I go pick up my son.
What does this tell me? I need to prioritize better. I feel like a broken record here. Prioritize, plan, schedule, blah blah! But, how else am I going to reach my goals?
I’m going to consider more facts before planning my days from now on. My first deliverable to my client isn’t due until “before Christmas.” My book proposal class is over on Wednesday. I’ve got to plan for random administrative tasks like holiday cards that eat their way into my time. So, the days need to be planned with looming deadlines in mind, not just what “should” be done.
Make sense? Of course. Simple? Not really.
The pursuit of happiness is being studied around the world. Britain is even funding a nation-wide survey to assess its population’s level of the emotion. Here in America, we’ve just celebrated a holiday that actually holds a secret to reaching that desired state.
Though Thanksgiving is over, perhaps that feeling of gratitude should be continued. Continued on Patch…
Last week, I attended the Northern Virginia Business Women’s Conference. All of the speakers were inspiring and enlightening, but one stood out above the others. Carolyn Adams Miller gave a speech on happiness at the end of the day that seemed targeted to me personally. And, maybe you, too.
Happiness is a topic that has roused the intrigue of celebrities, authors, and entire countries. America’s own idea of the “pursuit of happiness” is so important that it’s in our Declaration of Independence. Britain just recently launched a nation-wide survey to determine its subjects’ propensity toward the emotion.
This is crucial stuff, and it’s Miller’s specialty.
Miller mentioned that one of the top five traits of happy people is gratitude. Here’s how her book Creating Your Best Life expanded on this:
“People who express gratitude in any number of ways – such as thanking someone else verbally, writing down a list of blessings on a regular basis, or mailing a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life – have the power to increase life satisfaction and hope. Gratitude is also linked with lowering depression and anxiety, and may be the most powerful and long-lasting way to make someone happier.”
I also did a little bit of research on the internet. Indeed, while gratitude hasn’t been proven to make people happy, happy people tend to be grateful.
In honor of Thanksgiving and in an effort to start a new good habit, I’m starting a Gratitude List. Each week, I’ll add another five reasons to be grateful.
Gratitude List #1
- My husband does most of the cooking.
- I’m smart.
- My mother is not a lunatic and I can count on her for sound advice.
- My son is healthy and happy.
- I have four friends that I can call in the middle of the night if necessary.
What makes you grateful?
So, I need to remind myself of this verse by Rilke yet again:
I beg you… to have patience with everything unresloved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer…
That is all. Use it as you wish.
You’ve probably heard that several teenagers around the country have taken their own lives in the past week. Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres are speaking up about bullying and lesbian/gay issues. These are certainly subjects worth discussing, but many people are bullied. Not everyone breaks.
When I was 22 years old, I downed a bottle of Prozac and landed in the mental ward of PG County Hospital. I only spent five days there; but the experience changed the course of my life. A friend of a friend is currently going through some similar issues. She feels completely alone and can't talk to anyone about it. For B and other women like her, I'm writing some thoughts down…
I know that there are chemically imbalanced people out there… But, sometimes, for some people, sanity is a choice. I met some of those people in the mental ward. Actually, everybody that I met there had a choice.
You can choose to be sane or you can just let go. Choosing sanity means different things for different people. The nurses and doctors of the mental health profession would prefer their patients to regularly attend psychiatric therapy, take mood altering prescription drugs, and blend into society. That’s definitely a valid strategy for a lot of people. But, really, choosing sanity is about owning up to who you are and about not driving yourself crazy trying to be the person you or someone else thought you should be. Choosing sanity means figuring out what you need to stay grounded – whether that’s yoga, therapy, love, writing, or clown shoes – and being faithful to your course no matter what. Choosing sanity means making a commitment to discovering where the wrinkles will crease your face, a commitment to survival.
Letting go is the opposite. And, the funny thing is, letting go is not necessarily a choice. It’s a lack of action. It’s simply not choosing to be sane. It’s letting the days go by and letting the depression or anxiety or alcoholism or drug addiction worsen simply because you’re too set in your rut to do anything about it. Letting go leads to trips to the ER and to the mental ward. Almost nine years ago, I’d let go and I hadn’t known it.
My roommate on the crazy wing was 20 years older than me and had lost count of how many times she’d been in some hospital's mental ward. She was friendly and well-kempt. She even looked a little like me. It was a wakeup call. I didn't want that to be my life. And, so I chose to pull myself together. It wasn't an easy task. But, the first step towards being a sane person content with life is to choose sanity.
B, I hope you choose sanity soon. It'll be hard. But, it's worth it.