30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 12: Wonder

Dealing with anxiety, the sense of wonder is a constant. This works in both positive and negative ways.

My mind is always working. I am constantly thinking. This works in both positive and negative ways.

I consider myself an information hound. When I am unsure about something that interests me, I usually wonder enough about it to look it up. Growing up I use to read the encyclopedia.

I now use Google or Wikipedia to look something up that I wonder about. By doing this I learn about something that I didn’t know before. This can often increase a sense of wonderment about something related to what I looked up in the first place.

It’s important for all of us to have a sense of wonder about the world. The internet has made the world a much more accessible place. When we wonder about something, we now have supercomputers at our fingertips to look something up or connect with someone thousands of miles away.

The negative aspects of wonder are something I constantly battle with. The unknown is something that is an internal struggle that often goes on in my brain.

The list of second guessing and wondering what is going to happen is seemingly endless for me. It can involve applying for a job, trying to get new clients, making an important phone call or attempting to kiss a woman after a first date.

In anxiety, wonder is a constant. The Wikipedia page for Wonder says:

“French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer René Descartes (1596–1650) described wonder as one of the primary emotions because he claimed that emotions in general are reactions to unexpected phenomena. He noted that when people first encounter a surprising or new object, “… this makes us wonder and be astonished at it”. Descartes therefore propounded that “Wonder is the first of all the passions.”

There are many beautiful senses of wonder in life. We always have a sense of wonder early in a relationship. We learn more about our partners as a relationship evolves. Their likes, dislikes and discovering them intellectually and physically.

When we enter the world we all have an almost daily sense of wonderment. Being able to see the world through a child’s eyes is an ever evolving sense of wonder. Children see the world in a different way and are almost always wondering about something.

Wonder gives us all a sense of learning and exploring the world. Without it, we would stay in our own communities, own comfort zones and life would be far more boring.

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 11: Fire

There are many reasons for man to be grateful for fire. The two biggest are that is provides us with a source for cooking and heat.

Via the source of gas, fire still continues to provide us with heat and a source of cooking. The fire is under much greater control than it was when Neanderthals discovered fire tens of thousands of years ago.

Fire is something us to be grateful for in many ways, but it can also be a scary thing that causes tremendous damage each year. We can still have a sense of gratefulness towards those that work to fight fires.

As technology advances the fight against putting unwanted fires out seems to continue to get better. Accidental fires can happen for many reasons. Some happen through nature from lightning and other sources, while others occur from man-made sources or arson.

Most of us take much of what we have in our daily lives for granted. Having fire is something that we don’t usually think about consciously think about. It’s always prevalent in our lives.  We use fire to heat our homes and with a gas stove cook our food.

When we roll our garbage cans out to the curb once or twice per week do we think about how the garbage is disposed of? It’s picked up by a garbage truck and eventually brought to a landfill where the waste is slowly burned off.

Fire can also be used in many other ways. Other sources can be to provide light, energy, blacksmithing and glass making all require fire. Without fire, most of the things we take for granted would come to a halt.

Although most of us don’t use it directly, on a daily basis Fire provides us with most of the things we now consider necessities to live, thrive and survive.

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 10: Friendship

There are not too many things in life I am more grateful for than my friends.

Several friends have been there for my through my adversity more than anyone else in my life. One friend, in particular, has called to check in over the last six years more than just about anyone else.

My friend John has called me once or twice per week to check in and see how I am doing. He doesn’t judge me, despite knowing the mistakes I’ve made and everything I have been through.

He always listens to what’s going on in my life without judging or withdrawing from me. I have had friends over the years who have become distant because they don’t want to listen to the difficulties I’ve faced in life.

I have learned that friends can be defined differently for different people. Our closest friends listen to us, are compassionate and have an interest in everything in our lives, not just the triumphs.

Other friends are there as social friends. These are friends we meet in social situations. This can encompass many different aspects of our lives and often depends on our interests.

I have one friend I almost always seem to see only when we are going out to high school classmates of ours that are in a band. The only exception to that is when we have spent two of the last three New Year’s Eve’s together.

We both like to be outside and be active. I have asked him to go with me when I spend time in hiking groups. He always says no when I ask him to do anything other than seeing the bands our classmates are in.

In the past, I would have become frustrated and not gone out with him at all. I have learned to be grateful he likes getting together to at least see the bands play. I love seeing live music and it’s nice having a friend to go out with.

For people with a variety of interests having friendships that fit those interests is important. It’s better to be grateful for the friendships we have then to expect more from them.

 

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 9: Losing

How we react to success and failures in our life often speaks a lot to our character.

As I spoke about in the last post society in many ways has created environments to shelter people from losing. This goes all the way AYSO to the professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. Those leagues have done everything they can to eliminate ties.

Prime examples are the overtime rule in college football that greatly favors the offenses to the shootout in the NFL. Fans in American and Canadian sports leagues seem to always want a winner.

I had been struggling with how to approach this post. I then read a post from another blog about defeat. The post had multiple points that touched and made sense when discussing losing or in the case of his post defeat.

“Once you accept defeat, it is easier to be defeated. Once you accept losing, it is easier to lose.”

Many times in a battle, the ability to wear down an opponent can lead to victory. I experienced this in a custody battle. My ex simply had more money. She was able to do far more to tip custody in her favor. It was an emotionally taxing experience.

“When you focus on the pain that is often associated with defeat, it begins to control your life and define every facet of your existence.”

This is even more difficult for those with anxiety and depression. Not being able to reach a goal in life or losing something that is important to you is devastating. Significant loss in life will likely exacerbate anxiety and depression.

For someone predisposed to mental health issues a loss in life can be much more difficult to deal with.

“It is important to keep in mind that there is a difference between experiencing defeat and seeing yourself as defeated. Because you suffered a loss does not mean that you are a failure”

There is a fine line here. Some people say think positive. For those that already have issues with depression and anxiety that can be difficult. Being able to learn and how to implement coping mechanisms to make them feel like they are not “losing”is important.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy can help steer someone’s thoughts to become more positive. The phrase losing and someone is a loser is thrown around far too often.

Everyone goes through adversity in their life. The varying level of adversity that people go through in their lives should have us show compassion towards others. Referring to someone as a loser or losing is often unfair and always subjective. 

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 8: Winning

Winning is likely different to each individual person. The broad definition has to be have we reached the goals we set for ourselves in life?

Charlie Sheen coined the phrase “winning” and made it popular a few years ago. He went on tour to discuss his version of winning.

Throughout our lives, we often have to redefine what “winning” means. There are many aspects of each life that we strive to be successful in and “win”.

Most people want to be successful in their careers, get married, raise a family, have close friends and hobbies that they can thrive in. As we raise our children we have hopes for them as well. 

As we raise our children we have hopes for them as well. We want them to go to college, become successful in the things they chose to participate in in their life and to accomplish the same things.

Society has deemphasized competition and that the outcome of most competition now has a winner. In AYSO everyone gets a trophy and has to play. The score of the game isn’t kept until the kids get older. There is also no standings.

In little league baseball, everyone also gets a chance to play. At least there a winner is determined and there are standings.

The world is a competitive place. It is somewhat ironic that while we have de-emphasized winning for children, in the U.S. at the higher levels of sports we have done everything we can to eliminate ties and make sure there is a winner. 

There needs to be a happy medium. Winning should not come at all costs, but it we also need to teach children that not winning every time is reality. 

In Europe ties in soccer (or as they call it footy all) are not uncommon. Phil Jackson discuses in his memoir sacred hoops that the journey was more important than the destination.

Learning how to win together as a team is an important process in the journey. If teams didn’t have the goal of winning in sports what are they truly working towards? 

While hoisting the actually trophy at the end might not be important, the goal of winning is. That can be different in so many aspects of life and for different people at different times. 

Often the most successful people who are “winning” at life are the ones who can redefine themselves throughout their lives and recreate what winning truly means. 

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 7: Sorrow

When I originally saw this prompt I was going to write it on the sorrows in my own life. A few hours ago the world found out that an explosion occurred at an arena in Manchester in the U.K. and 19 are dead.

Hundreds more are injured. The explosion occurred after an Ariana Grande concert had concluded. There have been conflicting reports about what caused the explosion. The initial reports are that are speaker caused the explosion. The more recent reports coming out are it was an act of terrorism.

Dozens if not hundreds of families are suffering sorrow tonight out of what should have been an evening of joy. We now live in a world where no matter where we go there seems to be a possibility for something tragic to happen.

Since 9/11 there have been major acts of terrorism in multiple cities in Europe and the United States. They have caused thousands of deaths and injuries. Just as many families have suffered sorrow because of these cowardly acts.

These have occurred at outdoor stadiums, arenas, workplaces, movie theaters, national celebrations, outdoor markets, night clubs and America’s most icon road race.

The world has evolved. The attack on 9/11 was horrid as were the attacks on the train stations in Madrid and London. The ones over the last few years have felt different. Movie theaters and churches have also been affected.

This has caused sorrow in places we should be able to go and enjoy ourselves. We now have to think twice before going out. It’s much safer to watch a movie, a game or any others events at home. The likelihood of something happening while we are home for the majority of people is significantly reduced.

Isn’t that what any terrorist wants? It doesn’t matter if it’s an Islamic extremist or a white supremacist. When we stop going out to enjoy life they win. For the families that suffered loss or had their lives dramatically changed, they will always have sorrow in their lives. If we

For the families that suffered loss or had their lives dramatically changed, they will always have sorrow in their lives. We have to be able to live our lives every day. We can do so cautiously while continuing to be able to enjoy ourselves.

The report is that the bombing took place outside the arena. The question is where was the security outside the arena to monitor any suspicious activity.

Once again, the world mourns a terrorist attack and we will feel sorrow for the lives lost unnecessarily.

 

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 6: Purpose

Finding a purpose in life helps us to appreciate the life we have been given.

Purpose gives us a sense of accomplishment, a goal(s) to work for, an identity, a stronger sense of self and stronger self-esteem.

Some people have innate sense of purpose, while other might search their entire life for a sense or purpose. Most people fall somewhere in between.

My sense of purpose in my life has been tied to a few things. The two main ones revolve around being a husband and father and the other is media and sports.

I was nearly 12 when my parents brought my sister home from the hospital. I instantly bonded with her and helped my mom to take care of her in various ways.

As I watched her grow up it made me realize how much I wanted to be a father. That was also around the same time I was beginning to learn about women. From the time I was in 13 in seventh grade, I had wanted a girl/woman to notice me.

As I made my way through Junior High, High School, College and into adulthood my entire method of dating revolved around wanting to find the right woman to fall in love with and raise a family together.

My sister was born the summer between my fifth and sixth-grade years. I remember getting a record player with a microphone around that time. I was a big sports fan from as early as I can remember.

My dream was to combine those two interests and work in radio with something relating to sports. Sports talk stations were still about 15 years away at that point. I dabbled in writing on and off from eighth grade through right after college.

The biggest pull I felt with a sense of purpose was that of being a husband and father. It took me until I was 33 to get into a serious long-term relationship. We dated for two years before getting engaged.

Our first child was born nearly five years after we went out on our first date. Being in a relationship and having someone special to share my life and create a family together was the realization of more than two decades of dreaming to get there.

After nine years of marriage and over 11 years together my ex filed for divorce. Losing her was devastating. Three and a half years later she got custody of our children. I had lost everything I dreamt of having a nightmare come to life.

It made me re-examine my life’s purpose. Being in radio was something that never materialized despite a few attempts to get there. Writing has become my biggest purpose in life for the time being.

Writing helps me to organize my thoughts and connect with others who have similar interests and who might have been through other difficult circumstances in life.

Many people do not find their place in life until later. I hope to make writing my profession. It provides me with a sense of accomplishment, an ability to connect with others and helps me to feel good about myself.

 

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 5: Water

According to the United States Geological Survey, about 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water.

Every living organism needs water to survive. Without water we become dehydrated. Water provides us with so much in life. It is essential in cooking, cleaning, and washing, and allows the plants around us to grow.

Water is also used in many recreational activities. People like to time to relax via spending time at the beach or a pool, going swimming, boating and other recreational activities that revolved on near water.

Keeping a balance of water is essential in nature. Either too much or not enough can have devastating impacts on nature and the environment.

Too much rain or snow or a tsunami resulting from an earthquake can have devastating results on civilizations and the environment. The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The Japanese Tsunami in 2011 caused the deaths of over 15,000 people and the destruction of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Flooding worldwide causes death and devastation

Flooding worldwide causes death and devastation annually far more often than the Tsunamis which are far more infrequent.

The lack of precipitation can also cause just as much devastation. We see problems with wildfires on the west coast each year. In impoverished nations, droughts can cause the far more serious problems of famine.

The importance of everyone worldwide having access to water is a global issue that can hopefully be worked out and can help curb some of the world’s biggest problems.

How seriously do we take the need for water in society? The water levels have risen globally as the result of global warming. In many areas of the world, the levels are in the initial stages of dangerous levels.Do we take water for granted in our own lives? When we take a shower, boil water for a meal or water our yards? I am grateful to not have to worry much about these issues in my personal life.

I am grateful to not have to worry much about these issues in my personal life. Hopefully, as a society, we will take heed to them as we become more aware of how important water is to us in our everyday lives.

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 4: Color

Color bring definition to our lives. It makes the world a happier, brighter place.

When winter comes with less sunlight and often grayer skies, people are often more depressed.

When I think of color I think of the movie Pleasantville. Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire travel to their town of their favorite TV Show Pleasantville. Pleasantville was set in the 1950’s in a simpler time in black and white.

As the plot progresses they realize how much they miss color. I am grateful for color in my own life. We are currently in an amazing time of year with the colors of spring and the landscape becoming more green.

As the spring storms move into summer we will see some spectacular colors during storms with lightning, the aftermath of possibly seeing rainbows and beautiful sunrises and sunsets to watch.

Color is what makes our life come alive. Color can come into our lives in many ways. Color is all around us. During the change of seasons, we see the trees changes colors and flowers bloom. In our personal lives, our lives are enriched by interacting with people of many different ethnicities and colors.

In Pleasantville, they ban everything and everyone relating to color. Paintings are only allowed to be in black, white or gray. Imagine food was colorless. Would we still enjoy it in the same way?

How would we look at carrots that were not yellow, tomatoes that were not red or orangeless oranges? Would the food still taste as good? How would our taste buds react without all the beautiful colors that most food provides? How would we taste food without sight?

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Color brings so much into our lives and enhances it. Color provides beauty in our life in so many ways. When we see someone with striking blonde or red hair we often stop in our tracks. We comment on someone’s tan, the way their face turns red when the blush.

Colors help us illustrate much of what is going on in and around our lives. Without color, our lives would be very dull just as the lives in Pleasantville.

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 3: Sadness

If it wasn’t for sadness in our lives how would we know how to be grateful for the things in our lives that are good.

Sadness conjures up deep emotions. We can think of loved ones that have passed, good times that were but are not now and missed opportunities. For me, there are two days in my life that embodied sadness more than any other….and by a wide margin.

My ex-had been in the hospital for almost a week except for 12 hours at home. Less than 48 hours to her return to the hospital she had to have a routine procedure to drain fluid from her wrist.

She came out of the procedure without any pain. This had been after a week of being in the most excruciating pain of her life. I received a call from the hospital that she was being rushed to another hospital for emergency back surgery.

When I arrived at the hospital to see her before she was transferred I was informed she had no feeling from the chest down. She became paralyzed for the rest of her life. The surgery saved her life.

I was devastated. It really clarified my love for her. The first two months of her illness I cried myself to sleep every night.

Eleven months after her paralysis she filed for divorce. It was a three-year custody battle that her siblings turned into a nasty power struggle. Thirty-four months after she filed for divorce she gained custody of our children despite her condition.

I was once again devastated and my innate feeling of sadness matched what had been 45 months earlier. It was a feeling I thought I would never have again.

I didn’t cry myself to sleep this time. I was too numb to even have any feelings anymore. That was almost two years ago. I don’t feel much different and the sadness has not gone away.

I always wanted to raise children. The ability to do so on a daily basis was taken away from me. I deal with sadness, depression, and anxiety regarding this every day.

The love that I lost I can try and regain with another person. Losing my children is something I will never be able to replace.