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HAPPY HOLIDAYS — 21 Comments

  1. Joyce, thank you SO much for the Bucket List article and I hope that your Holiday has been peaceful and full of contentment.

    I began reading Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search For Meaning,” while sitting in the ER with Bob – he had a terrible meltdown and wanted to go in-patient to sort out his medications and, perhaps, have a proper diagnosis. He believes that he may be bi-polar, and he came to this on his own without my input. Needless to say, the closest facility was about 2 hours away and the Behavioral Health Counselor that came in told him to “hold on” until his appointment with his current psychiatrist, later next week, and begin looking for another one.

    What does this have to do with the bucket list and personal resolutions? Well, I’m getting there……LOL

    By this time, I had expected to be a successful artist and instructor – to be guiding those out there who “cannot draw a straight line” into their own realm of creativity. I had expected to have a lifetime partner who put integrity and partnership, first. I also expected to be living a “comfortable” life where food, heat, clothing, and other basics of life and living were not going to be a struggle. Well, none of these “expectations” turned out. BUT, I am “successful” in that I was born an artist and nothing can take that away from me. Fanning that spark of my Art Spirit back into a flame is a challenge, but it’s happening one nano-meter at a time.

    The loss of anything – our dreams, hopes, and expectations – are deserving of grieving. Absolutely. But, those are all things over which we don’t really have any control, especially when it involves our teenaged or adult children and their choices.

    It has been a long, hard, and challenging road for me, Joyce, just as it is for everyone who experiences a loss, or several. At this point, the first thing on my personal bucket list is to LIVE WELL and be emotionally healthy. “Living well” does not mean that I am wealthy beyond description – the financial struggle is building a certain “character” in me that has been lacking all of my life, if that even makes any sense. To “Live Well” means SERENITY to me. To have that inner peace and serenity is such a desire.

    So, this is a very poignant article with some extremely important facts. Wishful and wistful thinking isn’t a sin, but it doesn’t bring me to “acceptance” which, in turn, brings serenity and inner peace, in due time.

    May every day bring you (and, everyone) peace and serenity. We all deserve these two gifts that are there for the taking.

    • To clarify about achieving personal goals, these things ARE within our control. We can each find our own individual Life and Healing Paths – we can. The things that we don’t have control over is what other people do, how they think, what they perceive, etc.

  2. Truthy, I am so sorry about your son, Bi-polar is difficult to diagnose and sometimes doctors see only the depressed part of the equation and give medication for depression which may actually cause the patient to become manic.Treatment for bi-polar is a dicy combination of medications and therapy as well as educating the patient to be aware of their own moods so that medications can be changed as necessary. It is a difficult balancing act sometimes. There are several types of it and I suggest that you go to a reliable site and learn all you can about Bi-polar and help your son to do so as well. Knowing about the disorder is the best way to help him combat it and hopefully he can find the treatment he needs.

    I think about the advice of the Apostle Paul to some of the early Christians. Some were actually slaves, and he told them that if that was the case, and if they could get their freedom, fine, but if they could not get their freedom and had to continue in the state of slavery to behave in a good manner, and to not resent their state…that however they were, that they should find satisfaction and peace and serenity (he didn’t use that word but that’s what he meant I think) in their lives.

    I think we do well to heed that advice as well. There are some things about our lives that we cannot change, and others that we can’t go back and get a “re-do” on, that once we have taken the road to the left we cannot go back and take the road to the right…the path in life is generally ONE WAY…and we must accept that.

    To find peace and acceptance in our circumstances, regardless of what they are, is to me the goal in life.

    I’m glad that you are reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Dr. Frankl, it was the turning point for me. As I read what he endured in the camp I felt (at first) ashamed to be whining and crying over what I had endured (as I sat with a full plate and warm) but then when he talked about how pain behaves like a gas, filling the vessel completely I realized that my pain was just as TOTAL as his pain, and that all of us feel TOTAL pain from our losses. So if you were more “abused” than I was, or I was more “abused” than you were, it doesn’t make a whit of difference to how much our pain hurts…pain is total.

    But his book also taught me that there are only three ways to deal with it.

    1. turn our faces to the wall and die
    2. become bitter and angry
    3. Find meaning and peace

    That little book was the TURNING point in my healing, and gave me great comfort. He was an amazing man with an amazing heart and while it is and remains difficult for me to find meaning and peace, I do not intend to turn my face to the wall and die, and I do not want to be bitter and angry and a “perpetual victim.”

    I hope you enjoy the book and find as much meaning in it as I did. I think it should be “required reading” for us all…for everyone for that matter because it gives an appreciation of what blessings we do have.

    I was reading a National Geo last night, a very old one, and it was about the famine in the Sudan…and had pictures of the starving children there, and talked about how the aid that was sent from other countries was stolen and did not get to the starving people and how the war lords required huge bribes to let the planes land…it seemed so current, but I looked at the date and it was 1989.

    When I was in the Sudan in 1965 it wasn’t much different. People didn’t have clean water to drink, or fuel to cook food if they had food, and 50% of the children born die from disease and starvation before age five, and those that live are mentally challenged from lack of protein.

    In this country even the homeless usually have enough to eat, or places to get water, so there are many blessings that we have that we dont’ stop to consider, BASIC things like water and enough to eat.

    I hope for all of us that 2014 brings on many positive things and that we are able to deal with the challenges effectively. God bless us all.

    • Joyce, Bob is determined to get himself sorted out, and his own words were, “If I can put a name to what’s wrong with me, I have a place to start.” It wasn’t just lip-service, either. He has many amazing qualities and insight, even though he can be very immature, impulsive, and off-the-wall. When he isn’t in the midst of a mania or down in the pits of despair, he’s an amazingly insightful and delightful human being.

      So, it may be that his breakdown was necessary and will be a catalyst to his own recovery and healing. Even Bob is grateful for his breakdown, and there IS meaning to our individual suffering, at some point, IF we are able to choose the option of searching for it.

      2014 is another year, and another year is another chance to either begin to sort it all out, or continue sorting it all out. I’m grateful, and hopeful, at long last.

      • “If I can put a name to what’s wrong with me, I have a place to start.”

        THIS! This is where I was lost for a long time with what I had to deal with in the spath. I had nothing to pin down, no way to figure out what I was dealing with. Nothing to explain the behavior, the financial decimation, nothing to go by, I just. had. nothing…

        Once a friend of mine said he had sociopathic tendencies and I looked it up online- it was like hitting the jackpot. He’s textbook! Now I had an idea of what I was dealing with and how to handle things. It was one of many small reliefs in life to come.

  3. Truthy, it surely takes “determination” on the part of anyone who has issues and/or mental illness to find solutions to these things, and many times denial of “there’s nothing wrong with me” etc. and failure to follow through with changes and/or treatments waylay the solutions to problems. Many times there are uncomfortable side effects of medications that put people off of taking them, or they fail to follow through with treatment for any number of reasons.

    Determination is necessary on the part of the person wanting to change their lives, that’s for sure…but where*I* failed was in the follow through. Having to flee for my life was my catalyst, so maybe this is his. I always had the determination to change my unhappy life before, but didn’t know what to do to change it and got side tracked in the quest.

    So I would suggest that you as much as he is ready, educate Bob. Maybe this will be the turn around for him. You are in my prayers.

    • What is encouraging about Bob is that he “knows” that something is amiss. He is aware and concerned enough for his own progression to want to get answers and solutions. Sadly, many people believe that they “did something” to develop a mental health issue, and that’s not typically the case. It’s either a genetic predisposition, or a result of extreme trauma. Nobody ASKS to be bipolar or a victim of a violent assault. And, there is such a heavy stigma associated with “mental health” that most people are fearful that they will lose all of their Civil and Personal Rights if they are diagnosed.

      Oh, my…….it’s going to be a tough road for Bob, and for me, but the fact that he is willing (even desperate) to get answers and help are a hopeful sign.

      I appreciate all of your prayers and positive thoughts – they most certainly are helpful and comforting. (((HUGS)))

  4. Truthy ~

    I am so glad Bob was able to realize something is just not quite right AND wants to do something about it. That is so positive and is indeed the first step. The journey, for you both will be a difficult one, but hopefully it will eventually all be worth it.

    A proper diagnosis, the proper meds and therapy will make all the difference in the world.

    You and Bob are in my prayers.

  5. Great timing and article on the bucket list. I wish everyone a blessed New Year!

    A couple of years ago my best friend turned me on to an idea for something instead of resolutions. You choose a word for the year. Something inspiring, something flexible, something you would like more of or less of, a direction you would like your life to take, but you choose one word or phrase to best describe it.

    As the year goes on, you will see that word pop up in your life at various times, you think about how the meaning of the word changes for you, the definition of it applies to different situations and where you go from each one. One year my word was Jump or Leap. I took a few Leaps of faith that year, Jumped into a few things of uncertainty and in the end- everything turned out better than hoped for or expected. Last year I chose Transitions as my word as I knew there would be many and I hoped they would all go smoothly enough…

    I am thinking about what word I will choose for next year. There are plenty out there, I just have to figure it out and determine what it will be, where I want my life to go and what I can do about guiding it there.

  6. Happy New Year to all, Joyce, Skylar, Truthspeak, milo, The Phoenix, etc. May God be with you and your loved ones ALWAYS, but especially in 2014! For whatever reason, we’ve all had our share of struggles (needing a break from most of them PERMANENTLY) – hopefully, PEACE will wrap it’s arms around us in the New Year.

  7. Skylar & Joyce- the words a lot of people have been using or have used are- Hope, Peace, Serenity, Happy, Joyful, etc.

    Resolutions are almost setting yourself up for failure. Why go there????

    • Happy New Year to everyone!! Adios, 2013!!!!

      Phoenix, “resolution” is misused, all of the time. When I resolve to do something, whatever that challenge might be is approached with caution and deliberation. Making “New Year’s Resolutions” is setting ourselves up for failure, I agree 100%! New Year’s resolutions rather put a time frame on whatever it is: gotta accomplish this in the upcoming year, months, weeks, days. There is, I think, an ongoing process where even reasonable goals are a daily challenge to meet.

      I “aspire” to be peaceful, serene, and calm. I’m working on it, daily. So, for me, 2014 is the “Year Of Aspirations!”

      TOWANDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. After much deliberation I think my word is going to be ACCEPTANCE….which is something I know that is part of what I must do in order to have the other things I want, like Peace, Joy, etc. Without accepting what IS then I don’t think that anything else is even possible. So my word of the year is ACCEPTANCE.

    This is a great idea Phoenix, so thank you for suggesting it. I’m interested in hearing the words that others pick and why.

    I know the people who are posting here have all had their “trials and tribulations” this year in the journey of living after dealing with offenders and the results of those dealings, those “trials and tribulations” have ranged from and included, financial devastation, emotional turmoil, fear, physical and emotional effects of stress in both themselves and their families, shame at the behaviors of the offenders, and many other assorted problematic things, but the one thing I can say is that we have all survived and are thriving. I am proud of each and everyone of us.

    We are choosing to be survivors, and we are even choosing to move onward from there and not letting the past define who we are. We have choices and we are choosing to be something besides a beaten victim.

    Congratulations to everyone who has not only endured, but grown and prospered in all the points that really matter.

  9. It has been quite the journey hasn’t it…

    I have decided my word for the year is going to be Direction. Sometimes we need to step back and take direction from others, other times we need to step forward and give direction to others. There will be times I let myself drift with no direction and times I set my course in a determined direction. It’s all good. I’m waiting to see which direction things go from here. Some things I will have control over and others I will not. Such is life and so it goes.

  10. It’s looking like my word is going to be Community because together we are stronger. Community is what offenders can’t ever have. They oppose togetherness and everything is adversarial for them, they are always competing even when they pretend to be cooperating.

    Community is a gift that the social animals were bestowed with.

  11. I love all of the words that are being typed, here. They are all words of HEALING. “Acceptance,” “direction,” “community,” are all words that are soothing and healing. And, when I consider my frame of mind when 2012 came in, the willingness and desire to include THESE words in my vocabulary to replace, “despair,” “destitution,” “desperation,” “misery,” and all of the other negative things that I was immersed in is a tremendous and indescribable gift, and that gift came from all of you.

    Indeed, “community” is something that offenders CLAIM to have between one another, but it’s just another of their illusions. They’d literally stab their own brother/sister in their backs if there would be something to gain from it.

    A community of recovery is priceless. So, I’m glad that you’re here, 2014!!!!!! And, God bless each and every one of us!

  12. Skylar, I’m with you, “community” is important to us all, and I agree that the other “words” are important to us all as well….Thank you Phoenix for suggesting that we each choose a word to represent what we are striving for in our life’s journey.

    In thinking about which word is “mine” and thinking about the other words that have been adopted by others, it gives me a sort of positive focus on the meanings of these concepts, not just words, but the CONCEPTS that they represent.

    Once I decided to write my own “mission statement” sort of like a charity would have, or even some companies have “mission statements” and in writing that “mission statement” I had to look long and hard at what I wanted my own personal mission in life to be. The summing up of that mission statement in ONE word, however, is an interesting way to look at it and actually makes it easier to conceptualize, so that when I find myself wishing and pining about things not being what I wish they were, then I can simply say “Joyce, you need to ACCEPT what IS and not grieve over what is NOT because you do not have control over that.” It’s a good way to keep the focus on the things we need to focus on and not let other things blind us to the beauty of life, to the goodness of life, to the things that REALLY matter.

    Happy New Year to you all and I hope all your buckets are filled to the brim and over flowing in 2014, may God bless us each and every one and keep our community strong!

  13. I guess my word would be “freedom,” wanting to be free of anything that weighs me down, prevents me from “flying.” Peace to each one of us.

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