Gratitude

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

I remember a few years back gratitude journals were thee big self-help/spirituality fad. Oprah talked about it, even, and it became fairly mainstream.

I’ve been listening to a bunch of interviews with successful people (free content, here and here and here). And the feeling of gratitude is strong, especially in the woman-centered spiritual groups, but really, in most of them. Even in the Amos Winbush interview I referenced yesterday, part of his daily affirmation is “Thank you, LIFE!” and he used it even in his darkest times.

I’ve tried, in thee last few years, I’ve really tried to find things to be grateful for. There was a point, even, where I hand-wrote and sent “Thank you” cards to various people in my life in one of my darkest times.

R, who has been my friend since 6th grade, once sent me a postcard saying, “You suck for never writing to me!” because, well, in our whole friendship, I’ve probably written to her less than a handful of times, even when in the military or separated on summer vacations. When she got hers, she called me to make sure I was ok, since it was so unusual for me to actually mail something.

I tried keeping a gratitude journal, but I’m sporadic about journaling to begin with and it quickly went by the wayside.

This fall, there were a lot of people on Facebook and blogs and stuff doing “30 days of thankfulness” for the entire month of November. I just couldn’t come up with anything to write about.

I can always say that I’m grateful for my daughter, and for N for sticking by me even when I’m a totally selfish shit, and my imaginary intermaweb friends. . .

And that was it.

I couldn’t come up with anything else.

An indication of my depression, maybe?

Suddenly, today, I’m bursting with gratitude for the strangest things. . .

I hated my job at [small company]. I mean enough to make myself a nervous wreck and physically ill at times.

But that job helped me go from renting a room in a toxic person’s house to being in my own place again. It introduced me to the person I bought my car from, which was a very serendipitous event. It introduced me to the woman who helped me come up with a name and logo for my tutoring business. I managed to maintain a good relationship with the company and even got a glowing letter of recommendation from them (and how often does that happen these days?). They sometimes didn’t want to but still ended up being flexible around my school schedule.

And I still have a business relationship with them. It’s not much, but in the last 6 months, the small checks from them have really made a difference. It showed me how much the owner’s attitude and force of will can shape and set the tone for a company.

And it modeled for me some things I would never want to do if I owned my own company – and that, too, is a blessing.

I’m still so, so grateful to R and N for always being there even when I push everyone away.

Modern forms of communication. . .  and even the ability to look up someone from long ago. I’m even grateful to J for looking me up last spring, because it was a huge push I needed to finally stop wallowing in a particular pile of shit and become open for what could happen next.

My imaginary intermaweb friends, who are always so encouraging and protective and helpful, delivering hugs and a kick in the ass as needed. You know, even the grumpy old uncle and the guy living in Pleasantville – as annoying as they can be – have their place in that community [the people who need to know, know]. 🙂 When I was completely unable to connect and communicate in the real world, you guys were there.

And now, my comfort level with electronic communication has me researching all kinds of crazy things.

No idea where it’s going to lead, but I’ve ignored my intuition for a long time, and maybe it’s time to stop doing that. So, I’m riding this thing out and taking copious notes.

Changing thought patterns

I’ve been working on this for years, how to change the negative tapes in my head that say:

I’ll never amount to anything.
If you’re so smart, why aren’t you more  ___________ 
What the fuck are you doing with your life?
I can’t do anything right.
I’m too disorganized to do anything the “right” way.
No one likes me.

And on and on and on and on. 

I know that these thought patterns are destructive, and they only feed depression.

I know the origin of most of them; they have the same voice in my head. 

I used to think it was completely programming I had as a child, but now I’m not so sure. Because C grew up with a LOT of positive reinforcement. I never said those things to her. And yet, somewhere around age 14/15, these started coming out of her mouth – her own internal programming brought these same words up, including body/beauty image issues.

Maybe there is a biological component to these thinking patterns.

But can we change them?

M recently accused me of being an optimist, which is pretty funny if you’ve only known me in the last ten years, but he knew me long ago, when I was very optimistic about everything. 

I did ask my friend sync if he thought I was an optimist. His response:

You are more so than you think.

You generally do think you can accomplish various things, although when push comes to shove you often need to be pushed and shoved.

You can make it RIGHT UP to an important point, then you kinda freak out about it and try to talk yourself into thinking you can’t do it.


Hmm. 
I’ve been running that around in my mind for the last week or so, since the conversation. And he’s right. 
I still can’t believe that I totally choked on the finish line of my credential. 
I blurred out my name, but there it is, framed and hung on the wall.
After taking 7 years to finish my B.A., after an intense year of working and tutoring while taking grad school classes, after a horrendous semester of student teaching, including surgery in the middle of it (and only missing 4 days of teaching for it), I choked on the finish line. The list of what I had to do to complete the process was ONE freaking paper (and I had until June to do it), two of these stupid things called Teaching Performance Assessments (and the groundwork is all done), a CPR class (I used to teach it, for fuck’s sake). 
That’s it.
Everything else was done.
I was only doing about 5 hours of contract work a week, and a little tutoring between January and June.
I had time to work on it.
But I didn’t.
Self-sabotage at its best. I seem to be an expert in that.
I could have been actually teaching this year, instead of worried about how I’m going to pay the bills now that unemployment has run its course.
But I have been making a conscious effort to work on changing thought patterns ever since J called last May
Another imaginary intermaweb friend, Monday’s Child, posted on my recent happiness post about her step-mother’s philosophy:

Happiness is a decision.
She taught me that happiness isn’t something that is *caused* by anything. It’s a deliberate decision you make, moment by moment if necessary.


Which falls right in line with a wallpaper image I got from Goddess Leonie (yeah, I know I’m talking about her a lot – I get fixated on things, ok?)






At first, this was the only one I downloaded, but now I have all of them, plus a few pictures I thought were beautiful, and a couple of random things, like this mandala I colored a long time ago. They rotate as my desktop background every 15 minutes.


Last year at this time, if the computer was on, I would have always had a browser open and would not even see my wallpaper. But the longer the “Joy is an Option” poster was up, the more I closed the browser and just left the computer on. I usually set the laptop up on a shelf right across from my comfy chair [“nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”] and I now leave it open so when I glance over I see an inspiring message or just a pretty picture.

I really think that the Joy poster is at least partly responsible for finally flipping my mood around.

So, I am really getting into the affirmations this year. And I’ve even decided to go ahead and do a Vision Board. I’ve never actually done one before. I understand the psychology of it – it’s not really magick, per se, but it keeps certain things happening in your head to help you recognize and bring about your goals. I guess I just thought I was  . . . above? needing something like that. 

I bought this pretty (and cheap) poster board with clouds on it, and I’m ready to get started. . . 

As an aside – What sparked this post was a conversation on Facebook. I wanted to talk about how another of my internet friends today reposted one of my “inspirational” reposts on Facebook. When one of his friends said, “I did not expect this from you,” his response was that he was trying to make changes in his life, to wit, to become “less of a dick.” He also said, “I cannot explain how much better my attitude is about everything after just a few months of reprogramming.” If RJ can change his attitude about things, with a little “reprogramming,” maybe I can, too?