Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

“A Heavy Heart” by Cindy

Last week, I blogged about how the feeling of disappointment is a trigger for my infertility grief. Well, I’m pretty sure grief might also be a trigger for grief.

Last week, we found out that our dog, Bobo, has cancer. We don’t know what kind, yet, but based on the speed and the location of growth (his face), the vet is not optimistic. Hence, this week is characterized by my heavy heart.

Poor Bobes had to go under anaesthetic on Friday so they could take a biopsy, and being the sensitive dog he is, he worked himself up into quite a state on Saturday. We had to get anti-nausea and diarrhea drugs for him. He’s pretty much back to his normal self now, but he is a lot slower than he was even last week. This does not seem like a good sign.

We are very sad. He is an older dog at 11 years, but he seemed in pretty good shape, and we thought we had a couple more years with him to look forward to. Now, we are not sure how much time we have. He’s done so well with adapting to our life changes, and I really believe that he has helped me get through the last couple of years a lot. There were definitely days when I only got out of bed because I knew I needed to take him for a walk, and just the act of taking him for a walk would help me get fresh air and a fresh perspective on the day. Plus, it doesn’t matter if I leave the house for 5 minutes or 5 hours, he is always so excited to see me when I get home, and I’m always excited to see him. It’s a lovely thing to have every day.

Perhaps this is the thing I will learn from him – how valuable it is to show the people you love how happy you are to see them every time you see them.

This week, we are going to try and focus on enjoying our time together and trying not to overthink what the vet might say when the results come back from the pathologist. We can only focus on what is in our control, and try and be grateful for the time we have had and the time we have left.

bobo (1 of 1)

“Grief vs Gratitude” by Cindy

I read on a blog somewhere (I think puttylike) that it is good to take a walk of gratitude every day.  Since I walk the dog every morning before work, I thought I could stack some functions and try and focus on gratitude.  I walked along, thinking of all the things I am grateful for, and there are many, and somehow, I felt more and more upset with every step.  It wasn’t working, and I felt completely powerless to make it work.

So, I thought, in my inner angry voice, in the rock-paper-scissors game of life, gratitude does not beat grief.

I felt very profound. I think I even smirked a little.

But I was angry.  Angry at everyone who says to focus on gratitude to get through each day. Angry at myself for being so selfish as to not be able to make myself feel better.

Yesterday, I fully realized that a big part of my problem is that I don’t have a faith system to turn to for comfort and purpose.  I can’t think of any reason for us to go through this while there are babies around the world popping out accidentally, and if it’s all random, then what is the point of anything?

I wish I could just believe in God, but I don’t.  I can’t just suddenly start believing either because my brain just doesn’t work that way.  My lack of belief is not in reaction to anything that has happened, I have just never believed. So I turned to Dr. Google, and I looked up “grief counseling for atheists”.  I discovered that this is quite a problem because a number of counselors subconsciously employ their beliefs in supporting patients.

I think I wrote about a woman in my online class trying to comfort me by saying something along the lines of “God sometimes disguises blessings as misfortunes”.  I was offended on so many levels that I couldn’t even respond. I have no idea how she thought that would be comforting, even to a religious person, and I thought, “man, if I wanted to believe in God, it sure wouldn’t be that one”.  I mean, what kind of jerk decides to manipulate people’s lives in such a way? If you have that kind of power, and a good reason for me to not have kids, how about making me not want them in the first place?  Or at least somehow making it clear what I am supposed to do instead? (here’s another lady who has said this better than I have: http://yetanotherbitterinfertile.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/infertile-atheist/)

People are accustomed to using religion as a comfort, and it is pretty handy.  We say that loved ones who have died have “passed on”, or “are in a better place”. It sounds nicer in that case.  Even if I could believe that though, where is the comfort for us?  This would mean we would have to believe that on some level, being with us is not the right place for those potential babies, and what does that mean for us?

I’ve never been able to wrap my head around belief because I’ve never had it.  It seems so illogical to me.  There are times in my life when I can convince myself that I believe in some sort of order in the universe, some sort of cosmic plan, but I’m in a pretty dark place right now, so that all seems like total crap.

There are lots of things that I don’t understand about the world, and I used to be OK with that.  I didn’t really think it mattered what the meaning of life was because I knew that I would feel bound to and responsible for my children (whether biological or adopted), and in the meantime, I was getting prepared.  So now, I’m trying to find reason in this life, a purpose that I can cling to, and I am too angry to listen to any of the ideas that cross my mind.  I don’t want to try and save the world for other people’s kids.  It’s probably too late anyway.  I don’t want to just live a hedonistic life because I don’t know what the end goal of that would be.  I love to learn, but again, what for?

Which, I guess, all brings me back to gratitude.  I want to be grateful because I want everyone I love to know that I appreciate their presence in my life.  I want to be grateful because I know that I live a comfortable life with many luxuries.  But who should I be grateful to? Gratitude as a healing agent, is, I think, a tool for believers. And grief is for everyone.

Take Two

Original post title: “Time Flies”

I had an ESL student once, who used to say, “Time is flying, people are dying.”  His sentiment loses some of the meaning without his cheeky grin and waggling eyebrows, so I still smile when I remember it.  It was his own carpe diem expression, and although it seems to focus on the negative, it reminds me that I only have so much time in this world, so I better try to enjoy as much of it as I can.

I think I’m pretty good at that, actually.  I am really grateful for everything I have, and everything I have been fortunate enough to experience.  I have a wonderful husband with the softest and cutest cheeks, a supportive family, and a fantastic group of friends who appreciate my quirks and push me to succeed.  I also have an affectionate dog, a nice house, an amazing job, and good health.

Are there things I stress about?  Absolutely.  Every day.  I am trying improve myself every day, and I have some bullshit to work on so that I can turn some self-sabotaging behaviours into success-building ones, but we all have those.

What?  What kind of talk is this?  Has Cindy become one of those new age hippie types focused on self-love and being one with the universe?

Well, perhaps a little.  My job, the one that I can’t believe exists and that I get to do, has led me into a place of self-work that I am relishing.  I teach, or rather, facilitate, a life skills program for women preparing to enter the trades.  For six weeks, we talk about self awareness, feelings, conflict resolution, and self management strategies that will help each of us set and achieve our goals.  Then, I get a week or two to refresh and re-organize my desk, and then I get to do it all over again.  How lucky am I?  I am about to start with my sixth group (holy crap!), and I learn something new from each group and each woman who goes through the program.  I am inspired by the life changes these women make and the vigour with which they face their challenges and prepare to enter a male-dominated field.  When grads come back and thank me for what they learned in communications class, I smile and feel such pride to be part of a program that really makes a difference, knowing that I am more a witness than a leader.  The trades offer an opportunity for women to be self-sufficient and make a living wage.  They may start at $14 an hour, but within four years, if they apprentice and work towards their journeyman status, they will be making more than I am.  If I didn’t love my job so much, I would consider taking the program myself!  This program makes a real difference in addressing poverty for women and their families, and I look forward to meeting my next group of trainees.

Because I take my job seriously, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I should walk my talk and get some help with some of my own personal demons.  So, I took advantage of my EAP and started seeing a counselor.  As wonderful as my life is, I have issues, just like everyone else.  The two main things I am working on is anxiety when traveling as a passenger by car, bus, or plane (because although the red wine helps, it doesn’t really seem like a healthy coping mechanism, and I really don’t want this anxiety to keep growing until I stop traveling altogether) and when hiking or camping (my fear of bears kept me clinging to a flashlight and trying to analyze every sound all night when we went camping in August), and body image issues.  Erg – do I really want to tell everyone I know that I have body image issues?  Does anyone I know not know this already?  According to my husband and my closest friends, who often encourage me to be a little less conservative in my fashion choices, this would be of no surprise to anyone.  Plus, in the spirit of authenticity and open dialogue, I think it is important that it be OK to talk about these things.  I have recently watched a few TED talks about authenticity and the power of vulnerability, so I am all about owning my shit and letting other people know it is OK to show our real selves, pimples and all.  Prepare yourself world, Cindy is no longer holding back.

What a year this has been.  11.4 months ago, we packed up the truck and came over the mountains.  Since then, we have started new careers, bought a new car (or rather, signed ourselves up for 7 years of car payments), bought a house (or rather indentured ourselves to the bank for a while), started a permaculture design course (a topic that will be the subject for many more blogs to come, I suspect), gone through some uncomfortable fertility testing (which told us nothing really, other than everything they can test for before doing IVF seems good, and as we don’t want to do IVF, we will just keep trying the old-fashioned way), and just plain lived a great deal.  We love our new neighbourhood, with its proximity to downtown (so John can walk to work), its short walk to many amenities including good burgers and breakfasts and a lovely dog park with reasonable dog owners willing to let the dogs work things out, and kind neighbours.

Our house is in a bit of disarray due to some unfinished renos and our lack of love for cleaning, but we are comfortable here, and it is feeling more and more like our space with every choice we make.  Our budget looks good, and even if it isn’t as nice as we would like it to be, we finally feel like we are moving ahead financially.  We even have a charity line in our budget, and that feels great.  My superstitious side wants me to be careful about expressing how good things are, but I want to quell those irrational fears and enjoy what I have while I have it.  I am working on not worrying about things that are out of my control, as hard as that is, and that means loving life and dealing with disappointments if they come, rather than expecting them and marring my enjoyment of the present by waiting for the axe to fall.

So there we are, full circle in this post, which has turned out quite differently the second time around.  Time is flying and we are all dying, so it’s best to try and love every minute we’ve got.