It only matters what works for you.

Archive for April, 2016

Appreciate the journey.

Not long ago I got philosophical about the difference between gratitude and appreciation. I think we all need more appreciation in our lives. Certainly I do.

An issue I’ve had for a long time is the admonishment to ‘enjoy the journey’. That life isn’t about the end result. It’s extremely difficult to ‘enjoy the journey’ when you are limp and in pain, but now that I’m feeling better and moving forward with my life again, I’ve come back to that idea with some new insight.

By taking time to appreciate things in your life. To “to understand the worth, quality, or importance of something”, really can help you to slow down and enjoy the journey by reminding you that each minute can be precious, just like the books say.

We have a practice in our house where, should you see a moment of amazing natural beauty or a particularly adorably sleeping cat, then that moment should be mentioned immediately so that the others in the area can admire and appreciate it too. This does not count as an interruption of whatever is going on around it, rather it’s an elevated moment that is much more important that what was going on.

It can be very difficult to do that with more prosaic things. It’s easy to give thanks for the amazing spread at a special holiday meal. We’ve lost, many of us, the habit of giving thanks for the smaller meals of every day. It used to be a very common part of religious observance. The understanding of religion is changing, but maybe we should look back at some of those regular observances and see what they still have to offer.

A recent topic of conversation in our house has been the untempered need in American society to increase. Every business must get bigger. Every person must become richer and more successful. My beloved’s company has been small and doing extremely well. Somehow they determined they had to grow, and suddenly things haven’t been doing nearly as well. The partners were all making a very nice living and running a company that did excellent work and had very happy employees. Why did they have to decide that wasn’t enough?

Have we always been that way, or have we lost the understanding between wanting to be more versus wanting to have more. Certainly if I look around it isn’t difficult to see that the dollar has become the bottom line for everything.

I’m pretty sure the value in the journey isn’t supposed to be about the price tag. How do we get away from that? I guess I’ll stroll along for a while and see if I can figure it out.

 

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Positive outlook, positive outcome.

That’s what they say. Attitude is everything. Create your reality. You get what you expect.

Well, here’s my chance to prove that. I recently got a letter saying that the doctor I like and trust and worked so hard to find is leaving practice to spend more time raising her children. I completely respect her choice. But my first reaction to that letter was panic. It took me 5 tries to find her.

I could continue to panic. To rehearse in my mind all the various problems that I’ve had in the past. How much trouble others have had.

Or.

Or I can take this as an opportunity to walk my talk. I can trust that I’ll be given what I need. I can believe that this is an opportunity to improve my situation, rather than an irredeemable tragedy.

I’d like to think I deserve better health care than ‘pleasant’ and ‘non-obstructionist’. This could be my opportunity to find someone who will invest in working with me to figure out how to optimize my health, rather than just keep it from deteriorating. Dare I say, someone I can trust to actually know more than I do about what is currently not functioning correctly?

I am definitely up for something better.

Is it gratitude?

 

Gratitude is a big thing right now in the spiritual communities that I partake in. “The way to get what you want is to be grateful for what you have.” is a phrase I’ve heard so often and in so many places I can’t even attribute it. I get what they’re saying.

But.

In my day job, I’m a writer, and a word geek. And the exact denotations and connotations of words are fun and exciting to me. How they can make us feel a certain way without us even realizing it. I love how you can express an exact and precise feeling when you find the right word, even though your audience might not catch the nuance. It warms my geeky little heart.

But I digress. Back to gratitude. I think we’re using the wrong word.

Dictionary.com defines it as “the quality  or feeling of being grateful or thankful:”

Freedictionary.com says it’s “The state of being grateful; thankfulness.   also a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, as for gifts or favours.”

So first I had to check up on ‘grateful’, since that’s the word they were using to define the state. And I get “thankful for gifts, favours, etc; appreciative”

And that, right there, is why I think we’re using the wrong word. Because when I hear the discussions about offering gratitude, that’s the definition I hear and understand, “to be thankful for gifts and favors.” And I absolutely agree that we should be thankful for all the things that we have. Those of us privileged to live in the west have things at a level the rest of the world finds insane. And clean running water. And public education.

The thing is, I don’t think we always appreciate them.

Appreciate. That’s the word I think we need to be using here.

Freedictionary.com gives us this for appreciate:

1. To recognize the quality, significance, or magnitude of: appreciated their freedom.
2. To be fully aware of or sensitive to; realize: I appreciate your problems.
3. To be thankful or show gratitude for: I really appreciate your help.
4. To admire greatly; value.
5. To raise in value or price, especially over time.

To recognize the quality and significance. To admire greatly. To be fully aware of.

Those, as well as thankfulness, are what I think the teachers mean when they tell us to practice gratitude. To appreciate what we have and where we are. And if you think about it like that, you can almost imagine that the last definition in there, to raise in value, could almost be a hint.

 

Quivering with anticipation

Nope, actually it’s something called essential tremors.

My dad, for a number of corporate political reasons, recently and abruptly retired. My step-mother is still working and enjoying her job, so they haven’t moved. But since they live in the Middle East where a stay-at-home husband is practically unknown, his social opportunities are limited. One thing he’s chosen to do with his excess time and excellent non-US insurance is to have a number of health issues looked into, just in case.

My hands shake. Recently I was carrying a plate into the living room to eat dinner and watch The Voice. My hand was shaking hard enough to make the fork clatter against the plate. I thought I was just hungry. I used to assume that my hands shook because of my asthma medicine. Which, if you’ve ever taken albuterol is a perfectly reasonable assumption. It does make you shake. Of course, I haven’t taken medication of any sort for asthma in years. But there’s always something that would make it perfectly reasonable.

My dad’s hands also shake. It’s one of those things he was getting checked out. And, you know, my grandmother’s hands shook, and later in life her head jerked a bit and her voice quavered.

Essential Tremors is one of those things they diagnose by your symptom not being caused by anything else they have a test for. Parkinson’s is a biggie that it looks like, but apparently the Parkinson’s test is readily available and quite definitive. It’s not that. Essential Tremors is also genetically dominant. Like Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder, which causes me and my father’s other biological children* to naturally get up at the crack of dawn and to fall asleep about an hour before the party ever really gets started. There are no dedicated treatments for this, it doesn’t have a high enough profile. There are some medications that can help, but oh, get this, they are contraindicated for asthmatics. I’m sensing a cosmic joke here.

Me: “So, you’re saying that we have another highly irritating medical condition that can’t be treated except by drugs we can’t take.”

Dad: “Yeah, that’s about the size of it.”

Me: “Gosh, isn’t this fun.”

And then I gently explained that in my next life, I was really going to have to find a new genetics purveyor.

 

*See, I have siblings who are not my father’s biological children, hence the cumbersome description rather than just saying ‘my siblings’.

 

Things in the media

I was thinking this morning that when I first started this blog I would often post a link to an article or a video that talked about food or health in some way. Then I got in the groove of having things to say myself, or, to be honest, I’d get away from posting for months at a time. Busy, or just limp and not excited enough about anything to write.

As I was thinking this through this morning, I realized I had just seen something that belonged here.

The idea that a woman can be ‘too fat to be raped’ is so wrong I might be frothing at the mouth.

It starts with the idea that rape has anything to do with sex instead of everything to do with power. I promise, ugly people get raped every day.

And then the idea that just being fat negates us as sexual beings.

Nope.

The problems fat people have with sex (aside from fat-phobic jerks) are that of our own self image. An unwillingness to be vulnerable to others when you perceive yourself as less. A fear that your bed partner will find you as unattractive as you find yourself, in your culturally brainwashed mind.

For all I’ve been fat my whole life, I’ve never had trouble finding a sexual partner when I want one. I’ve been turned down, maybe more than someone thin and conventionally attractive, but I’ve had plenty of admirers too. Some smarmy, and plenty of perfectly nice people looking for fun and companionship. And I definitely haven’t had any complaints after the fact, so you can be sure a good time was had by all when things went down.

Our culture is so determined to reduce fat people to non-people, now even the satisfaction of surviving something horrible and coming out the other side strong and sane seems to be something they’d like to deny us.

Meatloaf anyone?