12/26/07 02:04 - 36ºF - ID#42654
Holiday (and Holiday Artifice)
Now its a focus on New Years Eve. Wasnt sure exactly what I would be up to.. various invites.. still feeling rather anti-social, but I think I will venture out to the estrip party. It was particularly fun for me last year as (e:ladycroft) and I dressed up in Ab Fab style. (e:theecarey,36120) We carted around multiple bottles of champagne, big hair, lots of make-up and hysterical outfits (red and purple plaid pant suit, hahahaha)
Now that my partner in all things odd-silly-adventurous-etc is half way across the world, it would not be the same to find some character to dress up again as. Ha, maybe I will anyways.
ahhh, I'm rather looking forward to seeing everyone.. faces I haven't seen in awhile and faces I have never seen at all! Jeez, its been awhile!
The "holiday" was quiet. Its usually low key, which can be a good thing after hearing about drama in other peoples lives. Plans to head over to a friends place came to fruition last evening; something that I was looking forward to... just felt so peaceful, amused and sane of which I am grateful. Other elements to the evening I will refrain from here, but I mention for my own record. Somethings I want burned into my memory forever. It was a super nice way to end the day..
and thats the truth.
Hope all is well with everyone
EDIT: The following was written originally on 12/16/07 at www.myspace.com/marquiscut
"Writers Deluge- Holiday Artifice"
Greetings! You are in for a lengthy delivery, if you choose to read to completion.
As I cleared out word documents from my computer, I stumbled upon a few titles that did not seem familiar to me. Curious and not wanting to delete anything of importance, I proceeded to open the document in question.
What I found was a copy of a journal entry written for another blog community earlier last year. It was a pleasant find as it is rather intriguing to see what and where my past thoughts traveled. After reading the document, the message lingered. Combined with recent conversations pertaining to holiday expectations one train of thought begot another, and surprisingly, the need to write ensued. Alas, a writers deluge!
The first half of this posting written in 2006 is in response to a question posed to me regarding excitement, elation.. happiness. The second half of this posting is current, the product of the need to write after such a lengthy hiatus. The two entries will be distinguished as indicated by differing font size yet they are complimentary in content and context and can be read as one.
Ready? here we go..
"When was the last time you were so excited that you couldn't contain yourself?"
Happiness manifests in many forms; if you allow it.
Growing up, the strongest sense of elation and happiness was brought about by milestones and novel life experiences. Birthdays (all of them, but especially those centered around turning of age events), Firsts (riding a bike, winning a fight, drink, kiss, car, sex, etc), and Achievements (out of the diaper and onto the toilet, haha,- yeh, I remember these things- also school projects, graduations, personal hurdles, for some; marriage, babies, divorce, reconciliation- anything you deem an achievement). Other means for that sense of elation are those that center on Newness-- new relationships, new friendships, new job, new car, new toys, New Newness.
When we become adults,(ie; you accept responsibility and make choices beyond yourself) our experiences shape our daily outlook and attitude. Milestones become more random and sometimes dreaded. At this point, we must be active in attaining that sense of elation.
Many moments of elation stem from a singular event. You look forward to IT, you work towards IT, IT appears to be happening, IT happens, You are HAPPY because of IT: Temporarily. Then the feelings surrounding IT seem to fade. That is natural progression of how our brains operate. Major events bring upon short lived elation. Blame it on neurotransmitters. This is just what it does when you are with someone you really dig:
(and neurotransmitters can also depress the ability to feel happy- which is not indicative of a persons choice of lifestyle or attitude- but of their mental make-up, ie; clinical depression, so this would not necessarily apply; in which I offer hugs, an ear, and support in any way you need.. not so much from the life-wisdom tool box.. ).
So how does one become a happy individual? I don't have that answer. I do however, have observations built up over time; have noticed trends among the categorically "unhappy" and "happy" that I will share.
So in response to the question posed to me, I observe that although we can't quite achieve that sense of elation (naturally) for an extended period of time, there are ways to increase your sense of happiness on a regular basis. It begins by standing back and taking a good look at yourself, your lifestyle, your situation, values, ideals and most importantly, your attitude. I am confident there are those of you who this comes naturally to. Good for you.
So this happy feeling- Are you ready to go there?
Each day you must find things that make you smile, laugh, think, feel good, feel safe, feel grateful for-did I mention laugh? Try it- try to find one of each, then progress to two. If you consistently find it a challenge to observe and experience these things, then consider it a barometer that tells you something needs to change. We can not subsist day in and day out on focusing on the negative. It snowballs easily and transfers to other people, perpetuating the negative state. Then we wait for something big to pull us out of our misery. To wait for the next big thing- or next newness is striving for a temporary boost at best. Think about it. Now surely, it is great to feel the excitement of something new or feeling a sense of accomplishment when something you have worked for has come to fruition. Sure, it can be the catalyst for greater things to come. However, for the sake of this discussion, lets go deeper than that..
At the beginning of your day, if you are so inclined, ask yourself, 'How can I make this day better?' (what can I say, do, not do), at the end of the day, reflect-'How could I have made this day better?' Neither are ones that you would do daily, if at all.. and for some, they already do, even if they are not aware of it; and if you are, that is very powerful stuff. For some, asking themselves these questions helps to place them in a state of mind that allows them to feel in control. They can choose how to react, they can choose to let go, they can choose to aim for better results. They can choose to have days to just feel like crap; but they know that it will pass; because more or less, they are in control. So don't wait for someone or something specific to make you happy. Again, believe it or not, you have quite a bit of control in that area.
And trust that I know this can be difficult; because although we can control how we behave and to an extent how we feel, we cannot control others. And contentment often appears to stem from external situations. So how do we deal with that, and how do we maintain our sense of control?
I don't mean walking around with a cheesy smile on your face and ignoring all that is going on around you.. (although sometimes it is tempting.. ), I mean, your outlook on life, the degree to which you feel you are responsible for the things that go on in it and expecting the best for yourself, knowing you can pull through anything that is thrown at you, letting go of things you cannot control, biting your tongue when all someone needs is an ear, having gratitude, cherishing those people who are in your life that you care about, worrying less about what people/society expects from you and follow through on your own expectations. Letting it out rather than bottling it in, compassion for peoples stupidity (rather than devising ways to get back at them), FIND HUMOR in as much as you can; view life as a comedy. Laugh at yourself. Pat yourself on the back. Be KIND to yourself-your negative thoughts will have an overall effect on you. And others. You are so deserving of happiness. Embrace the opportunity (or challenge, if you will).
Your attitude is your responsibility. For those that are not aware of this responsibility, they will find that there are in a perpetual cycle of starting and ending things in pursuit of this elation feeling. People will continually seek the Newness, and when that fades, they gravitate towards the next New Thing. Its ok to seek a new challenge-but it has to be out of personal motivation and perhaps the need to change as opposed to forming a temporary sense of well being. Jumping from one relationship to another? Job hopping? If either are truly bad situations, get the heck out, and good for you to have the strength to do so. However, jumping in and out simply for the sake to shake up your neurotransmitters? Then that's something else to look at.
Think about this: there is happiness in perseverance. There is happiness in the bond and history you share and build with someone, when it is the right time in your life to do so. Think about the friends you have had 'forever'. Or the job field you are in. The 1200th day will feel different than the first 3, yet if it still feels right and you are growing, then you have a nice foundation to appreciate your situation and observed contentment. Some of this perseverance would not have occurred if it were not for the systemic effects of the initial IT that you went for. Initial elation feels damn good, doesn't it? For example, I was intensely elated upon gaining entrance into ....Grad.. ..School..... That feeling has faded.. however, I am happy that I am formally learning and challenging myself. I know that my life is better for it. I enjoy the intensity and challenge. It is all for me and I feel in control. I am a better person for it. On the relationship side, I imagine that after the initial newness has subsided, as fun as it is, that other feelings will replace it, permanently; which will be deeper than the initial superficial elation. That person will be included in my world of being able to laugh, smile, think, feel safe, share, take on the world together, be cherished, and that my attitude will work to make the days as happy as possible. Every day, in the best way I can; not limited to singular "traditional" events to demonstrate our appreciation of that person; ie Holidays, Birthday etc.
So many things contribute to our happiness or lack of. We will encounter trying times in our lives, but if we can label it as a temporary glitch as opposed to a permanent state of being, then perhaps we can live more freely, live to enjoy more moments, have an authentic ability to reach out to others. When we feel more moments of happiness than not, it is easier to return to that state than if we never really knew what happiness was to begin with. We can re wire our brains. As the plethora of neurotransmitters can dictate our feelings, it is our thought process that can influence the brain chemicals. (Again, clinical depression and such, aside) A variety of strong feelings is favorable in terms of what your outlook is on a situation. Again, it is a barometer to tell you where you stand on a situation, where your passions lay, whether psychological dissonance is a threat or an opportunity. To reiterate, it's attitude; strong feelings with highs and lows compliment our level of satisfaction; or perceived sense of happiness. In summation, it is your choice; you can choose to take control of your happiness or you can choose to have your happiness controlled.
Questions to reflect on: What do you find happiness in? How can you go about increasing those moments? Who do you feel good around.. and why? What past and current situations influence your state of mind; how can you retrain your thinking so that those events are no longer maladaptive triggers?
To end on a personal note, I include the following reflection.
- I find happiness in simple things. Much of it is in the things, experiences and people I love and appreciate.
- I don't wait for the perfect moment to do or say something. Some moments are better than others, of course. Sometimes I am too chicken to say and do things.. ahh I have plenty to learn !
I am not constantly running around with a smile on my face, full of bubbling cheerfulness (yikes).. I do love my "manic" moments and I try to learn from my down or 'off' moments. I encounter sadness, I allow it to pull me in and it sucks. Yet in the back of my mind, I know its temporary (whatever time line that may be). I wallow in my "mental funk" and aim to come back up when I'm ready.
For the record, I do not have life down to a science- I don't know everything. Often I feel that I do not know much at all. Yet I find myself thinking, wondering, forming thoughts, then I share them. I am aware. I listen. I observe. I learn. I unlearn. I make mistakes. I don't always do things right, but I try to do the right thing.
Random moments off the top of my head.. (2006).
- Elation at finding out about my entrance into grad school.. will be done in August, yet graduation ceremony is Friday May 19th at 1pm.
- Finally coping with issues, stress, feelings in a positive manner-not backsliding into self destructive behavior. A little is fine, used as a crutch and not dealing with underlying problem, is not. I had a moment a couple of weeks ago, that I was so damn proud of myself that I felt that tinge of elation-before I burst into tears, haha.. Seriously though, that has kept me going.
- Photography: Jumping into icy ....Lake.. ..Ontario.... for a close up shot of an icicle, that was amusing- of which has not been an isolated incident. I do entirely random stuff.. I don't care. I like it-contributes to my happiness .
- Good music, dancing, letting go.. feeling it and moving to it.
- Appreciating little things, moments in the day that tickle me or that I can reflect on. .
- Seeing, experiencing, being intricately part of the progress of a particular (autistic) child that I work with. I am deeply proud of him on a daily basis. Just today we played catch with a nerfball. This coming from years of zero eye contact, no interaction with the world around him, limited verbal and high frequency of severely intense, aggressive, dangerous behavior. Too see him look at me and laugh along with me while we played catch. Amazing..
- Deeply appreciating friendships; knowing who I can talk to.
- Great conversations, connections, bonding, spending time with people whose company I thoroughly enjoy.
- Writing, singing, nature, closeness, comedy, playing outside (anyone up for some nerf tossing?)
- Ahh, kissing. The kind that you can fall in love over.
- Embracing my child-like ways (not childish- there is a distinction)- big Happiness factor.
Hmm...so the last time I felt that sense of elation was...
(end 2006 post)
Although I had written this mid 2006, other than a few situational differences ie; I have since graduated from school and no longer work with autistic children (for now), I will conclude that my thoughts on it pretty much remain the same.
I must take my own advice and step back and reframe my life right now. I've come to realize that I tend to enter into a bit of a funk this time of year. As it is, the holiday season is in full force. There may or may not be other things going on to compound it or perhaps it is the other way around. Whatever the case may be, I am in control as to how I allow it to affect me; now and in the future.
The holiday season, more specifically Christmas, is so rarely celebrated in the context that it is meant to; to celebrate the birth of Christ. Bountiful shopping seems to dominate the season. Giving and receiving can be a beautiful thing, but does it have to be at the literal expense of our wallets? I feel so exploited when I watch commercials on television or see ads pertaining to "the perfect gift for the person you love"; and it is some materially insignificant item with a high price tag; one that hits our wallets and our sense of guilt. Marketing is powerful as is, but compounded by the heavy concentration during the latter part of the year and the generally accepted attitude that spending money equates love and appreciation, really takes its toll on people. If we happen to have extra money to blow or have been putting away money into a "Christmas fund", then we can join the barrage of holiday shoppers without concern. You can shop away any guilt or sorrow you may have otherwise had. However, if you happen to be in a financially difficult place for any number of reasons, if that wasn't difficult enough, now you are dealing with people who are "in the Spirit" or more succinctly, "in shopping mode" hence exacerbating your sense of lack, guilt and intense desire to hide until it is all over. People have an increase of depression during this time, and even those who don't, there is the well known 'let down' feeling after the string of holidays have ended. Add to this, "buyer's remorse" after they see the new balance on their credit cards. This effect is not coming from a place of love and appreciation. My friends, it comes from decades of manipulation! What are you celebrating and why? No no, please don't get me wrong; I inquire earnestly. I want to know if you truly know what it is that you are celebrating. If you do, fantastic; some don't. I know that in my family we 'celebrate' out of conditioning and expectation and more to do with a fat guy in a red suit than a baby in a manger. We are not religious, so the intended celebration would not apply anyways. To complicate matters, we have an estranged family. Fortunately our perception of the "holiday" has changed over time and it is evolving into something more authentic, to which I am grateful. But still, what is "authentic". If not celebrated under the religious context, then I view it as a time to re connect, reach out to others and perhaps use this time to express our gratitude and appreciation for those in our lives. Sounds rather nice, right? My qualm with this time is that it is just that: a specific time carved out in the calendar year to express things that should be expressed throughout the whole year. Yes, I know that not everyone is emotionally open or ready to think, feel and act that way. So in this perspective, I can understand. Some people regard the holidays as the one and only time during the year that they get together with friends and family. Perhaps it is the only time that they are aware of their gratitude surrounding family, friends, and life in general. Maybe it is the only time that they can tolerate their family and so called, "loved ones". This may be the reminder they need in order to demonstrate love through words, actions and or gifts. For some, this is their only chance. If the holiday season is the only catalyst for this, then carry on.
As I was saying, my family structure is fractured. I hold close the people in my life; I deeply appreciate my friends and family. Recently my mother stated that she does not want me to spend money on a gift for her; "just be my daughter. I love you", she said. It sounds like something she would say, but I thought it interesting that she made a direct point to communicate this to me. It was more than the "oh you don't have to buy me anything" speech that is usually uttered by people. She means it. However, I am in the process of making something for her, if all goes well. Admittedly, usually I buy in excess; typically only feeling "Christmassy" once I am wrapping gifts or baking cookies a misguided attempt to fill a void. Interestingly, I felt that there has been something missing from the total holiday effect since I was in my teens. Every year since then, I make an attempt to figure it out, usually in the form of writing about it, but with little progress as the reflection gets shuffled aside amidst everyone's excitement or depression. Due to the fact that I no longer want to succumb to these negative feelings on an annual basis, I am actively evaluating my thoughts and deciding to makes changes.
It is good to finally clarify where I am at regarding this, and I must say that it was initiated by recently shared thoughts and feelings with other(s). When you see your own thoughts mirrored back to you, it is hard not to take notice. Thank you. Since I continue to want to participate on some level, this year, the majority of my gifts are more in alignment with how I want to perceive the season. I do not foresee myself avoiding the season altogether, as for one, I don't think that is feasible to ignore the time between Thanksgiving and New Years, and two, I don't think that is the answer. What is, then?
Altering my perception and looking for deeper meaning. As I clarify my thoughts, I am able to carve out how I wish to encounter future holiday seasons. I ask myself what I can do to make it a time to look forward to. What can I do to celebrate the season in a way that is personal and rewarding to me? What can I do to develop my own tradition, so to speak? What makes me feel good, feel like I am making a positive impact and can be something I can commit to each year? Since it is psychologically and spiritually rewarding to do things for others that make them feel good, feel loved, then (through recent conversation and "connecting the dots") I would like to help others; reach out in ways that they might not be able to for themselves. Seeing as the holiday season is a struggle for me, I am sure it is even more so for others for much more dire reasons. When you are feeling down, look down and put your hand out to reach out to someone else. Whether it be volunteering at a soup kitchen, gathering items for donation, sponsoring a family to "adopt" or lead a youth group in related activities, the idea and meaning behind the season, religious based or not, is connection and doing things beyond ourselves. Sure material gifts will still be exchanged but it will in no way be the emphasis. And mostly, I would be honored and delighted to share in this 'tradition' with others. As much as engaging in any one or all of the above activities is for someone else, in fact it would be for me too. It does a great disservice to my well being to spend several weeks of it in a funk. If children were involved, what sort of impact would it have on them? How about the impact on others in my life? The decision can be made to make things better, to choose a heightened sense of empathy, connection and happiness. As stated in last year's blog entry, I have the choice and its all in my attitude. Now I just need to keep thinking about all of this and see how it manifests. It shouldn't be difficult seeing as in little ways; I do what I can for others.
It can be during this holiday time that a more concerted effort be employed as the activities involved would not occur during the remainder of the year and it would be something to look forward to. I'm trying this thought on for size and it is feeling right. Why hide, when I can reach out? I tend to show those who I love and care for my appreciation in various ways over the course of the year anyways. This may include any number of things whether it is a favor, a kind word, a listening ear, an open heart, respect, or a material gift. Elements of me are entangled in what I give. It won't be limited to a "Hallmark approved special occasion". Most of the time, it will be "just because". It won't be because a commercial told me that it will demonstrate my love and that the more I spend the more love I apparently have. The price tag won't dictate my decision one way or another. Whether it is pricey or free, it is because that is what I chose for that person in that moment.
Gifts of all kinds are fun, enjoyable and deeply appreciated when received. So while I enjoy the heck out of unwrapping gifts; it does not need to be centered on one or two days out of the year as an expectation. Do it anytime, lol. Seriously though, It doesn't *need* to happen at all. Do it because you want to. I love when I receive something that someone wanted to give to me, they thought that I might like it- not because it was on my list, spelled out. Sure, that comes in handy when I've been unable to provide for myself, and a parent covered my needs under the air of "gift". We'll always be children to our parents, regardless of our age, so that is apt to happen anyways. We will also encounter those that can't help but buy for us even after we say, "don't buy me anything". Their gift giving tendencies is for them, really. Why deny them that? hahaha. However, if the majority of exchange was initiated out of love over shopping expectations, then we may feel significantly less pressured to max out our credit cards or "find the perfect gift". Give what feels right to you. However, I do recall a time when I had received a significant wad of cash from a boyfriend (long term relationship status). I didn't deny the "gift"; but it felt superficial, to which I felt sad. If it were a matter of that being his unique way of expressing himself, then that would have been acceptable; but I knew it had to do with simple lack of effort. Yet a note scratched out on steno paper listing things that he appreciated about me was amazing and forever cherished. It's nice to think back on even though it is no longer relevant. I recently found a slew of such notes in an old 'memory box'. But I digress.
Its up to us individually and collectively to decide what matters most, in terms of the "holidays" and the rest of the year. I'm still figuring it out and have a long way to go. This entry served as a starting point in organizing my though process. Perhaps some day soon, I will have a better idea of what I want and need from a time that is so intrinsically meshed within our homes, schools, stories, media, shopping ads, and so psychologically daunting.. Ultimately we need to feel good, feel alive, feel happiness more often than not; appreciate, respect and cherish those in our lives, and worry not so much about things that we can not control. As I find myself saying more and more.. Live and Love, NOW.
Thanks for reading...
Location: Youngstown, NY
12/18/07 02:17 - 30ºF - ID#42571
first day out
perfect day for XC skiing.
The snow has a nice crust where it is directly in the sun, other spots are just fluffy and rather deep. Either way, it was a good first day out this season.
A little sun and fresh air is a good thing.
Location: Youngstown, NY
12/16/07 02:11 - 23ºF - ID#42533
Boasting eight inches
I drempt that I awoke to fields of Green, the snow storm having bypassed this entire Lewiston/Youngstown area. Funny thing, is that this is usually the case; as you all know that I complain about it yearly. So in my dream I was rather upset that we didn't get a single flake.
To my great surprise we really did get snow. A lot. And its still coming down! Yes, the reports said that we would get it.. and I put my car in the garage-just in case- but come on, its Youngstown.. we don't really get snow.
Its an APOCALYPSE!
or something.. haha
Seriously, the north end is being hit, and the south is pretty much being bypassed. When does that ever happen..?
My driveway has been plowed 2 times in the past 5 hours.. and looks like it can be done again soon. CRAZY!
well, time to get the XC skiis out :D
and a mug of hot chocolate with a peppermint stick (and Baileys!)
Stay warm :)
Location: Youngstown, NY
12/12/07 12:38 - 33ºF - ID#42490
Sassy Old Bat- Maxine
I just love the sassy old bat, Maxine.
Location: Youngstown, NY
12/10/07 09:31 - 33ºF - ID#42465
Thanks in advance. I am sooo clueless.
I'll see what other info I can find online..There is a bunch of stuff, but everything is saying something different. I am wondering what your personal experience has been with it.
well, in getting it out..
or in how the wax got there, lol ;)
either one, hehe
Location: Youngstown, NY
12/08/07 07:51 - 31ºF - ID#42440
Allen Street tonight..
oh wait.. i think i am going to Brick bar. hehe.
come out. call/text or send 'post-it' (with your name & #-- since it goes to my phone as 'guest'). It would be nice to catch up with some of you (e:peeps)!
where you at (e:vincent)?! I know you'll end up around there sooner or later. :D
Location: Youngstown, NY
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