Getting “buy”…

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emotional health / human experience / kindness / responsibility

IMG_3630     With each new day of the holiday season people find themselves either, a.) simply overwhelmed at what they haven’t completed yet when they foolishly compare themselves to their neighbors, b.) joyously overwhelmed by the lights and the beauty and the magic, or c.) agitatedly overwhelmed at the sheer magnitude that a new year brings regarding responsibility or “fresh starts” with unknown resolutions due to life not lived as they’d promised the year before.

Then there are those who, like me, are so emotionally scattered (brained) that the time required to think isn’t utilized to it’s greatest potential. That overwhelming feeling of grace and the awareness of the beauty isn’t often seen in this case, though it could be and has been and needs to be. It’s all a flash of madness and yearning that bring up all scenarios and feelings of  past, present and future at once. It’s extremes…highs and lows. The relief I get from beginning a new year of possibility is still too far away for me to count on.

So I say to myself….be present.

For those of us not familiar with or affected by mental illness, an umbrella term for the many diseases of the brain, I can tell you that as overwhelmed as we are with shopping, friend-visiting and preparations for one of the largest celebration seasons in the world, there are those who cannot manage even that well. They will and do require more of our time, attention and prayers. This goes for those with any and all difficult conditions that they must manage when times arise that are supposed to bring together family and friends. There is some significance to it all; and for too many, these are one of the years greatest challenges.

So I say to myself….be kind.

Tensions may arise, old unresolved feelings get brought back up, and family not present for whatever reason can cause a myriad of personal difficulties, either real or imagined. “Merry Christmas” isn’t always merry and “happy holidays” together with “happy new year” aren’t necessarily happy either. Too many of us suffer in silence on these occasions. The very pressure to feel light hearted and optimistic can just exacerbate a source of sadness or frustration already somewhere in one’s subconscious. It is not for us to judge.

So I say to myself…..be gentle. 

Ideally, everyday should encompass the holiday spirit with which we see and treat people, all people; however, that might be a bit exhausting for the givers in the world. As just as there are the overachievers in our children’s lives (Scout Leaders, Homeroom Moms, Coaches….etc…) these givers are a minority.  The remainder of us sit back in awe and praise them for the magnificently decorated cupcakes, for example, which have somehow captured all religions and races so beautifully as to warm every students heart at the “holiday” party; all in one fantastically sweet treat! We wonder where on earth they came up with the idea and the resources to set up an actual planetarium in the school cafeteria during “Mars Month” and we encourage their heroics by feeding them praise and offering to send in a bag of whatever our grocery store has to offer to help them better teach our children for us.

So I say to myself…..be supportive.

And it’s not until one of them suggests innocently, “Yes, please send in some marshmallows shaped as stars! Oh, the kids will love it!” That we smile and nod, thinking to ourselves, WTF?! I’m not the overachiever, SHE is! Kids are getting plain, spherical shaped marshmallows; who cuts marshmallows into star shapes?? Who has that kind of time? (and yet you know she’s right…the damn kids would love them!)

So I say to myself…..be patient.

Maybe that is how come we have these seasonal celebrations. The weary can gear up for a time when giving is not only appreciated but expected…we even get tax write offs if money is exchanged! A two-fer! Feel good about yourself for ten minutes and fill your quotient of tax grace! What if the only thing we had as incentive to give was the actual act of giving?

So I say to myself…..be generous.

Where would you place yourself in the spectrum between giver and taker?

What is close to your heart that could use your time and talent?

If not now….when? Causes…people…dream fulfillment can use us anytime of the year. We can be the marshmallow-retrievers or the planetarium-creators. We could be the family member who educates herself on her mother’s diagnosis of depression, or we could visit that relative in the hospital or nursing home.

So I say to myself…..be aware.

What if we faced our fears and opened ourselves up to embracing a loving heart…people who have died and left us with sadness…people who have wronged us somehow with conditions they didn’t ask for…people who simply need acknowledgement, a caring touch, validation, genuineness, kindness.  All of which no amount of money can buy.

So I say to myself…..be forgiving.

Stretch Yourself. Today, tomorrow, the next day. Give a shit. Make something matter to you and work it. You are bigger than that which holds you back.

Go make a difference in your world.

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 ~people. all people. not things. matter~

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The Author

I am a licensed clinical social worker who just happens to adore the written word. I have had a private practice and am now writing a memoir on my life in the company of my father and many of my clients who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I hope to dispel some myths and break down some barriers for those with mental illness. I write out of need and complete joy, which I hope to convey throughout my blogs. The human experience is not exclusive to one group. I hope to appeal to most as I touch on some pretty heady material with some self-deprecating humor and raw emotion thrown in for good measure. I have four amazing children, one HUGE dog and a tolerant husband. I am blessed.

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