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.

 

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 2: Devotion

There is a question on the dating site OKCupid that asks what is more important in a relationship, devotion or passion.

Most relationships begin with a lot of passion. If you are not devoted to your partner, job, children, and the world around you, then everything else is likely to fail.

Becoming complacent in anything we do in life will greatly sabotage the likelihood of success. Doing that in what should be our most important relationship is essential. The importance of being devoted to our partner is one of the most important things we can do.

Attraction, lust, and passion can often fade away. The biggest way we can show love in any relationship is to stay devoted to our partner. The idea of our partner being our best friend is that that is often thrown around on dating sites.

What does that mean exactly? It can mean many things depending on who is asked. Always being there, especially in a time of need, respecting our partner and the vows said if the relationship was entered into marriage and supporting them through whatever happens during the length of the relationship.

It can mean many things in other aspects of our lives. How devoted are we to are job our children, our community our country, our religion and what does that mean?

If we work for someone else, being devoted is showing up for work every day on time, getting the work done that is expected of us and acting within the expected culture of the company.

If we work freelance or have our own business being devoted is doing what is expected of the clients, charging a fair market rate and finishing the job within the time that is agreed upon.

What about the other aspects of out life? That can get far more complex and ambiguous about what devotion means. With our children that should be unconditional love.

We should love them no matter who they are. Showing that love should also be expected and done. If we don’t do that, how does and will it affect them growing up and the rest of their life? It can impact their confidence and self-esteem and their life path.

The other aspects of devotion in our lives should come secondarily. We all have a responsibility to the community at large around us. Everyone is part of a town, city or village a country and the greater world at large. Depending on where we live the expectation o

Everyone is part of a town, city or village a country and the greater world at large. Depending on where we live the expectations of how we are to be devoted to that and contribute to those geographic areas vary greatly by nationality, culture, religion and even upbringing.

Once we lose devotion to anything it can take away that part of life and turns it more into existing than living.

 

 

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 1: Mistakes

We all make mistakes. They are a part of life. It is impossible to be perfect and without mistakes how would we learn.

Mistakes are an ingrained part of life. We learn from them almost from the moment we are born. If we touch a hot stove and hurt our hand we learn not to do that again. How we react to mistakes, learn from them and our willingness to not be afraid to make them can shape the person we are.

The most successful people take chances because they are not afraid to make mistakes. For someone with anxiety or a fear of something that can often be difficult and something that can hold them back from success.

The fear of failure prevents us from taking a chance on doing what it takes to succeed. That ultimately leads to the same result of trying, making a mistake and failing. If we are constantly afraid of making a mistake we don’t learn the steps necessary to avoid making mistakes and doing what it takes to succeed.

Most of the most successful people have attempted things and failed. Michael Jordan was famously cut from his sophomore basketball team in high school. In the game before his legendary shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989 to clinch a five-game series for the Bulls, Jordan missed free throws that would have won game four and made game five unnecessary.

The Missoulian Newspaper spoke with Singer/performer Aimee Mann about mistakes and she said:

“I didn’t know anybody who doesn’t repeat their mistakes…I wrote a song with John Roderick, ‘Poor Judge,’ about heading back into something and making the same mistake again. You realize that this is what people do to get through their lives: ‘I’m going to do the same thing, but more of it.’ ‘I’m going to try harder to do the same thing that didn’t work the last time.’

“You use the same brain to think your way out of the same problem. Your brain doesn’t have any new info to think it through differently. How do you get the new information? You get perspective from other people, but you also have to be willing to listen to it. Most people really aren’t. ‘Tell me what you think, and I promise not to get mad at what you say.’ What they really want to hear is, ‘It’s not your problem, it’s them.’ If it’s ‘them,’ there is no solution. If it’s at least partially about you, there’s at least hope for change.”

It’s often said the toughest thing is to self-identify a problem. Mann is correct that the hardest thing to do is to get information to get out of the problem. The old unattributed quote that says “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got”.

Learning the correct information and coping mechanisms to avoid making the same mistakes continually is what will help us get past making the same mistakes over and over again.

The reality is that new we will make new mistakes. The important thing is to learn from each mistake and why we made them. That is how we learn and grow as individuals.

30 Days of Gratitude: Prompt 30: Clarity

Some people have more clarity in their life than others. Getting clarity about who we are and what we want out of life comes early for some and much later for others.

The clarity in my life came when I was about 12. My sister was born when I was nearly 11 years old and about 10 months. It was the summer between fifth and sixth grade.

I remember helping my mom feed her her bottles and how much I loved holding her. It was at that time that I knew I wanted to be a father someday and raise a child.

It was also around that time my parents bought me a record player (definitely aging myself) with a microphone on it. From that point on I also knew that I wanted to be in radio as a profession.

I did two radio shows as a DJ freshman year in high school three years later and would produce a small radio show as an adult about ten years later. Neither would ever lead to me being able to become professional in radio.

I also interned for someone just as he was starting his radio career with a show on once per week. He told me when he made it big he would take me with him. He is now one of the biggest media personalities locally with a tv and radio talk show.

Not only did not take me with him I found out years later he also told the same thing to someone else that had interned for him.

I did go on to get married and have four children with my ex. Sadly I lost custody and a huge part of my life that gave me clarity. I have been a writer off and on since I was in eighth grade.

I have been pretty consistent as a blogger for about the last 15 years plus. My ambition to be a writer is what now gives me clarity on a daily basis more than anything else. I want to write a memoir someday.

Participating in the gratitude challenge has given me some clarity about writing the book. I will still need some more clarity on some things about writing, including research, but this has shown me that I have the ability.

The idea behind the gratitude challenge was to write every day. That didn’t always happen, but I was always able to catch up and get the prompts accomplished.

The additional clarity I will need to write the book would be to learn more about the process. I would like to gain more knowledge about writing a memoir and learning more about the law and medicine that would go into what is likely to be a complicated memoir.

Someday I hope to make this a reality and to be able to write a memoir that will help others face difficulties in their life.

30 Days of Gratitude: Prompt 29: Boredom

Boredom can have such a broad meaning and aspect in our lives. It varies greatly depending on where we are in life.

When I was growing up I would tell my parents I was bored. My father would always respond to bang my head against the wall. I have learned that there is a difference between monotony and boredom.

For three and half years I was the primary caretaker of my kids as the only parent living with them. While each day was often the same it was never boring. I would have to get them up in the morning, get them ready for school, pack lunch for my oldest during the school year and for all of them in the summer, feed them dinner and bathe them at night.

On the weekends I would have to find activities for them. When the weather was nice we would frequently go to the park after dinner and on the weekends. I miss that monotony.

They now live with their mother. Whereas before my life could be monotonous but extremely busy, now it is monotonous, lonely and often boring. Without the ability to write and social media my lonesomeness would be a tough thing to deal with.

I often search for others to engage with, chat to and just be connected. My life often feels like I am existing, not living. There are often times I am afraid to leave my house.

In the two years since losing my children, I have been laid off from two jobs, lost my attorney, been turned down by 20 attorneys to take my divorce case and searching for another Psychiatrist to no avail. My life feels stuck.

Writing does a lot to cure my boredom. I would like to write more often, but I often get stuck on a topic. I don’t really get bored with it as much as I don’t know how to proceed. Some I am not sure

Some topics I am not sure how to approach, others can be too personal or emotional and others are just generally overwhelming.

We all have a choice on whether or not to be bored. In the past, I wrote about the one thing from the movie city slickers. It’s a good theory to follow. A way to avoid boredom is to find your one thing. Whatever it is, is up to you.

30 Days of Gratitude: Prompt 28: Drive

The word motivation is often used for someone’s want to get something done. I view motivation as the want to do something and drive as the will.

I have had the motivation to do a lot of things in my life. I often struggled with the drive to get things done. My anxiety often crops up when I want to get things done. It makes it difficult for me to organize my thoughts about how to attack the things I want and need to get done when it’s a longer term project or something I need assistance with.

My depression which is not as prevalent as my anxiety can also hurt the drive I need to get things done. When I think about where my life is versus where it could be and where I want it to be it often hinders my drive to get things done.

When I have the drive to get things done it often occurs because of a deadline or immediate need to get something accomplished. When the goal is right in front of me I am able to be calm about something and just do it.

Doing laundry, cooking dinner, taking care of my kids when I had custody, taking a shower once I get up in the morning are all things that come easily to me.

When I have a long-term deadline to work on I look at how I am going to do it, stew over it, analyze and worry about what I need to do to get things done.

My kids used to drive me every day more than anything else. Losing custody of them took away most of my ability to care about much of anything. I feel numb most days.

My mother recently said to me on my childrens’ birthday was that she could only imagine how sad I felt that day. No day is any different.

The drive I have now comes from the monthly quota of blog posts I have to get done to get paid and the daily things that need to be accomplished that I mentioned above.

I hope to one day write a memoir about the complexities I’ve encountered in life. Doing prompt book and challenges is something that has driven me lately. It is helping me learn more about myself and the things I want to write about when I am able to get everything together to write a memoir.

For now, I rely on the things every day just get me through each 24 hour period.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 27: Enjoyment

How we get enjoyment out of life is different for everyone.

What makes someone tick, what makes them happy and what drives them is what makes us all different. I have been on an eternal search for enjoyment throughout my life.

There is the general enjoyment of being happy with where we are in our lives and the secondary enjoyment about being able to find and do activities through which we find enjoyment.

The thing I wanted more than anything in life was to find love, get married and raised a family together. I was fortunate enough to have that for part of my life before my ex-filed for divorce and then got custody of our kids.

I now have to seek out other ways to find enjoyment in my life. I do little things to get enjoyment out of life. Being able to make myself a good meal, spending time in nature hiking, watching TV shows and sports that I enjoy, seeing live music and spending time with friends are ways that I am able to get enjoyment out of life.

I am fortunate to have friends that check in on me and some to go out with to be able to enjoy myself and momentarily forget about what I have lost in my life.

The constant battle within myself is being able to enjoy myself. My mind tends to go more towards what’s missing than what I have. I do have the ability to be silly with certain people and make myself laugh. I am grateful I am able to do that.

I have been spending the time trying to do things I have always wanted to do but never did and other things to get to know myself better. Some I have enjoyed, others made me feel like an outsider. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to at least try to enjoy myself doing them.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 26: Miracles

As I have become older and gone through a lot of adversity I have become less religious. The one thing I still somewhat believe in is angels. It’s my version of believing in miracles.

My belief in angels is someone who comes into your life at a certain time when you need them. This has happened to me multiple times. I also believe that most of the time that person comes in your life and stays until you no longer need them. This has happened with all but one person I would describe as an angel.

The first time was when I decided to go back to school to earn my degree as an adult I had friended a woman named Heidi that was self-made. She had been through a lot in her life. I knew had to go back to school and that the timing was good. I was very nervous and apprehensive about doing so.

My first go around as an undergraduate was difficult. School was always difficult for me. I found a program that was solely writing papers and did not require any exams, tests or quizzes. This was perfect for me and my abilities. It played to be strengths and avoiding my weaknesses.

I was still nervous about going back. Part of the irony was that I was one of the youngest ones in our class of 15. We would all stay together through the entire 16-month program. All but one of us made it through to finish the program.

Heidi helped guide me as I prepared to go back to school and instilled in me the confidence I needed to get through the program. At the same time, I became good friends with a co-worker of mine named Lisa.

Lisa was incredibly smart, but a bit flaky. She was someone I would have liked to have dated. We were good friends, but primarily at work. Lisa was kind enough to agree to proofread my papers for school.

She did this for every paper of mine in the 16 months that I was in the program. Without her support, I would never have gotten through school.

My third angel is my cousin. When my ex got sick he did not have a job at the time. He and his wife had only been married for a few months and did not have any children yet. We have always been close. Our relationship often ebbs and flows but he has always been there for me during tough times.

He would speak to me on the phone every day. It was an extremely difficult battle that he helped me get through the best he could and I could. Without him, I would have been in a much darker place.

He is the one person on this list that I am still in contact with.

The final person on the list is a woman I connected with a few days before I lost custody of my kids. She lived halfway across the country, but we knew many people in common.

Our lives crossed many times where we were younger but we either didn’t remember each other or didn’t meet. The timing of when she came into my life does not seem like a coincidence. She is a beautiful woman, but even more beautiful on the inside.

She did not judge me at all. The connection I had with her was stronger than I ever had with a woman. I used to joke with her that I felt like I knew her my whole life and maybe we had.

We would text every day for nearly 18 months. She became my best friend. I could confide in her more than friends I have known for decades and my family. It was the most difficult and most devastating time in my life. She provided me the love and caring I so desperately needed at that time.

These people came into my life at the perfect time and/or provided me something and someone I needed to help me get through a time in my life that otherwise would have seemed impossible without them. They are and were my miracles.

30 Days of Gratitude: Prompt 25: Music

Music plays a role in almost everyone’s life. Most songs will trigger a moment in life for everyone.

I can remember the song I danced to at my wedding, songs that remind me of moments of my favorite sports team or a past relationship and the song that was on the radio when I got my first speeding ticket.

I don’t listen to music as often as I did growing up, but when I go out, its frequently to see live music from my favorite band. A few of the members of the band were high school classmates of mine. I have since gotten to know most of the band.

This past weekend I went to see two of the members of a new band they joined. It was a Grateful Dead cover band which isn’t my favorite, but it’s always nice to be out. When they played truckin’ at least I knew that song.

Music can touch us and speak to us in ways that many others things can’t. Whether it’s a song with lyrics we can relate to or an instrumental music can bring us back to a place in our life or put us in different moods in the present.

Music moves us like few other things do in life. It unites us, comforts us, makes us move, literally and figuratively and has a genre for virtually every interest. It often brings people together that otherwise might not be connected.

Music is different from many other areas of interest in life. Sports, politics, and religion are often ingrained in us. They can be a result of the family we are born into, where we grow up, our culture and economic status.

Music can definitely be influenced by those things, but are more often than not a connection deep into our soul, our own interests and what is important to us as individuals.

Music is the soul of life. It speaks to a wider audience than other aspects of life. It’s the most popular form of art and one that always needs to be cultivated and never suppressed.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 24: Masculine

Following up on the previous prompt, we have been asked to write about what masculine means to us. When I think of society’s observation of masculinity I think of strength, ordinance, and power.

As society evolves hopefully that can change. Being nurturing, loving and communicative are also important aspects of being masculine. My ex once told me I talked more than any men she had ever met. It felt like it came to be she resented me because my strength lied more in being nurturing to her and our children more than being the provider of the family.

My ex once told me I talked more than any men she had ever met. It felt like it came to be she resented me because my strength lied more in being nurturing to her and our children more than being the provider of the family.

I’ve always felt like a contradiction. I have the masculine stereotype of telling it like it is and being a big sports fan. My more feminine traits are that I am emotional and nurturing.

I was vilified in my divorce for being home with our children more than their mother. My ex’s attorney asked me if we ever discussed that I would be home more often than she would be. I froze and said no. The truth is we discussed it somewhat before we ever met in person. We initially connected online.

I have been told I am strong minded. I can be stubborn. I was strong for a long time following my ex having an illness. For three and a half years I had custody of our children following that and her filing for divorce.

I was strong as long as I could be. I allowed them to wear me down. I was determined and often rational, but the emotion of the time wore me out.

I have always balanced the feminine and masculine in my life. Being nurturing, loving to cook and spending time with children have been things I enjoying. Having the drive needed to become successful has always been something that has come difficult to me. I hope to be able to tap into that in the future.

It’s a shame that we are still in an age where there are stereotypes about gender expectations. Hopefully that change in time.