Welcome Family and Friends!

I hope you all enjoy my efforts here!

Jun 28, 2008

Checking in....

Hi Everyone!

It's been a busy and fun trip so far. On Thursday morning, we made the drive from Chicago to Milwaukee. The funny thing was, we decided to create our own route, a scenic one driving alongside Lake Michigan as much as we could, from Chicago to Milwaukee. This meant no mapquest, and hit or miss decisions as we went along. We got ourselves lost a few times, and laughed ourselves silly over the predicaments we put ourselves into. One of the first times we stopped and asked questions, we were laughing so hard, we couldn't hardly get out of the car to go ask our questions. Mostly, we had no idea what questions to ask. I can't tell you how many times we were laughing so hard we couldn't talk! We saw lots of different and interesting parts of this area, that we never would have seen if we hadn't decided to do it this way! We had no regrets, and met delightful people to re-direct us.

When we finally found our hotel room in Milwaukee, we were a little "adventured out" for the day. We were thrilled to find we were right next to Texas Roadhouse! One of the best places to go out to eat! We have a little kitchenette and have enjoyed how much easier it makes the travel. I brought Jenny Craig breakfast cereals and some snacks, and we bought a few other things to keep here. It's he way to go when you travel.

I ran into quite a few colleagues from Utah on Friday, after the convention started. We went out and had a great dinner together at a local german restaurant. We had a It was a fun dinner, despite part of our walk to the restaurant being in a sudden downpour without an umbrella!

One of the things I've loved at this convention, is how easy it is to meet people and make instant friends. I've loved getting to know people, then lots of waves and exchanges the next time you see them. One new friend I met today, via a new friend I met yesterday, was going down the escalator while I was going up. He introduced me to another new friend as we pass each other and reach out and shake hands as we go pass!! How funny is that! In a session this morning, I met a mom of a deaf girl, then later her husband, and then still later in the day her kids. One of the things she told me is that she feels like there's such a connection among people here. It's like everyone is instant family, when you meet, because of the things we have in common. So true!

I found out from Paula that I'm a real flirt! I didn't know that. I guess the way I tease and compliment some of the people, she sees them really responding to me she defines it as "flirting". That's an interesting perspective. The first day, when I was registering and checking in, I was getting various ribbons to add to my badge for the various groups I belong to. The person checking me in was telling me, there's no ribbon for "funny" here. Guess I was cracking that person up with my comments as I checked in and went throught the registering process!

I've also learned that through this renovation journey I've been on, I've shed the negative layers and inhibitions that restrained me for so long and just kept me from just being "me". I guess there's a self-confidence to me now where I am so comfortable in my own skin, and love just being me, that I feel no need to hide from the world. I'll share an experience today to explain this a little.

I was visiting the Exhibit Hall at our convention. I was in the Cochlear booth when I started to hear music. It was like someone was hitting little drums or tambourines were being played. I started dancing to the music some, looking for the source of the music. I then saw a parade of the little deaf kids playing their little instruments as they marched through the exhibit area to a little theater they were headed to. I continued to dance to their music, smiling and waving at them, and just cheering them on. It didn't matter to me what anyone else thought of my behavior, or that I was the only one dancing. All that mattered was that I enjoyed the moment and cheered on those little kids and tried to make them feel like they were making great music! I was living in the moment and enjoying it. I was being me and not caring a whit about what anyone else thought of me! What an awesome thing to realize I've reached a point in my growth process that I can seize the moment, experience the joy and have no inhibitions or shyness holding me back! Ain't life grand?

Gratitude entry: Folks, I'm just going to be simple here today! I'm just grateful to be alive and living with joy!

Jun 25, 2008

Comparisons Show the Changes

As you all know, my big adventure started today. I flew into Chicago. My flight came in about 5 hours before Paula's. I'll go pick her up a couple of hours from now, when she gets here.

Waiting for her to arrive, gives me plenty of time to share some of the thoughts I've been having today, as I flew in. Flying isn't something I've done a lot of, so my experiences are often more memorable, especially the flights in the years preceding my "renovation" project.

To start with, I remember flying to Seattle for my birthday, back in 2004. This was about a year or so into Dick's ALS diagnosis, and about a year before he passed. I felt strongly about going and spending some time Dick, as I've explained in prior posts, we'd built a very strong supportive relationship. I had to buy two round trip tickets in order to go. I started out buying one ticket, but was informed that I needed a 2nd ticket after I got to the airport. I just didn't fit in one seat, and it wasn't fair to make someone else not be able to fit in their seat, because I spilled over into it. I was kind of prepared that it might happen as I was fully aware that I was way too big. Nevertheless, it was mortifying.

At that time, I was struggling to walk very far, and should have been on oxygen 24/7 (I can't remember if I was on it yet at this time, but if I wasn't, I should have been). I know I didn't use it in Seattle, because at sea level, there was more oxygen in the air. Anyhow, between the fact I couldn't walk far, with my bad knee (bone on bone), too much weight on my feet, and not able to get enough oxygen; it was more than I could handle in the airport. I had a wheelchair meet me curbside, and wheel me to the gate. Flying was a nightmare. Once I was on the airplane, I had a special card I was given to place on the seat next to me, I guess so no one would say there was an empty seat that really wasn't empty. The stewardess would bring me a seat belt extender, which was really a struggle to fasten, as I didn't fit even that much bigger belt. There were times I hid the buckle part underneath my blouse, so that no one could see I couldn't fasten it, even with the extender. I couldn't put my tray down, because my stomach took up so much space. The tray could only go about a fourth of the way down before it would be stopped by my body. I remember thinking how they make the seating areas on airplanes way too small. I felt at the time, they should've been doing a better job of making sure the seat could fit "real" people. I would need to put the tray down for the seat next to me in order to put my soda and what not on it.

It's been quite a while since I've flown. Here I am, within about 25 lbs of goal weight now. The contrasts were startling to me, because of how different this experience is from whenever the last time I flew was. In my regular life, I've had a lot of changes over the time period that I started losing the weight in December 2005. However, changes in most things happen gradually over many months, so there's not a stark comparison of how it is now, vs. how it used to be, and sometimes I forget how it used to be. With flying though, I don't do it much! This makes the differences stand out soooooooooo much! It boggles my mind.

Today, I walked into the airport, stood for quite a while to get through security (I could never stand for long before), with no difficulty. Oh, and it was no big deal to take my shoes on and off (even though I was wearing sandals, it wouldn't have been a big deal if I wasn't). I remember how awful it was before, as I couldn't really reach well to put my shoes on, without the bed to pull my leg up towards me, when I put my shoes on. There was too much body between my arms and my feet to allow me to simply bend down to put the shoes on and tie them. I stressed a lot about taking the shoes on and off at the airport, trying to figure what pair of shoes I could slip in and out of easily.

I walked under my own steam and power all the way to the gate. No wheelchair, no stress, no difficulty. In fact, "piece of cake". I sat down in my seat on the airplane, and buckled my seat belt. It was about 7 or more inches too long. In fact, funnily enough, when we landed, I was having a hard time not sliding out of my seat! I had to pull the belt even tighter to keep me in my seat! :) My knees were not cutting into the seat in front of me in fact, I even was able to cross my legs. I kept thinking there's so much space in my seat. I put the tray down and had room to spare. I shared my seat with the water bottle with no stress. I didn't even dream of pulling the seat arm next to me up. Even with sharing the seat with my water bottle, the seat arm was not cutting into my leg or any part of my anatomy anymore. I couldn't believe this! What a contrast. What happened to the seats that are engineered too small? How did I end up with seats that are big? Wow!!!!!!

It was all pretty cool folks, to realize the change that my flying experience now is. When I got to Chicago, I chose not to stand on the moving walk ways and walk the whole distance. I'd rather get the exercise after all. In the past, I couldn't figure out why they didn't have moving walk ways for the entire lengths of airports, since it's so difficult to walk so far. I was struggling to make it to a walk way, so I could catch my breath. I thought people that walked were crazy! Even though I was all the way at the end of a concourse, I didn't feel like I got enough of a walk in. I should have walked another mile! Haha! Amazing.

After my long/short? walk to baggage claim, I got a rental car. I then was able to find the hotel (quite far from the airport, in a way), find a Subway for dinner and get all set up here in the hotel! I'm a happy camper. I even did a "dry run" to make sure I could find the airport going in another direction, and could find my way to drive around it a few times when I go to pick up Paula. I feel pretty confident I can do it in the dark, as I will be doing, since she won't be here until 10:00.

With all these stark contrasts from the last time I flew, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself and realizing I've done what I once thought was impossible. I once thought life was "hopeless". Now I know better. I've spent a long time working on the external renovation, and there is more yet to go. The internal renovation is also an ongoing project, that is moving right along. Life is GREAT!

Gratitude Entry: I'm greatful for the opportunity to travel and to expand my horizons. To think, this was a trip that I told myself I "couldn't" do, in the recent past. I'm so grateful that I've progressed in my life to where I can undergo a life renovation. I'm grateful for the journey which is allowing so much change, rejuvenation and excitement into my life!

Jun 23, 2008


On Sunday, I was keying mail, in my second job. I started thinking about my niece, for whom I was very worried. Since her placenta abruption (which is really very dangerous), two weeks ago, things have been very dicey, and she's had so much difficulty. She has to work her full time job for the family's insurance benefits. However, the doctor placed her on medical restrictions, so that we don't lose the baby, or her. She ended up working all alone for 4 hours on Saturday afternoon (a co-worker went to a funeral, and found no replacement because no one would cover for her). There were alarms going off in the refrigerators, and she was forced to do things that she isn't allowed to do medically save the blood that is stored there.

She told me about it before I left for work Sunday morning, as she lay in bed, in obvious pain. She wasn't planning going to go into work Sunday. However, as she was telling me about all this, she got a phone call from working, telling her she had to work, because they couldn't find anyone to cover for her. I was ticked off at her employer for putting her and her baby in danger, and worried that she had gone into work after I left (she had). However, as I sat there keying, I did what I shouldn't have done, I let my mind go there, worrying about what was the worst thing that could happen.

That of course is to lose her, and immediately I was upset thinking about her family, her kids being raised without her, just like she was raised without her dad, due to his dying at an early age. When that happened 25 years ago, it killed me to see three little kids lose their father. I cried night after night for months about what had happened to these little kids. It would kill me even more this time around. I was immediately feeling those feelings from 25 years ago and they were amplified. Allowing those thoughts, immediately had me very emotionally upset.

Thankfully, about this time, I realized that I was "worrying" and I needed to STOP that. I've long known that too much worrying is not a good thing. I come from a family full of worry warts, and I've often seen family members get very upset about things that might be happening, or could happen. I learned years ago that something like 95% of the things that you worry about never happens. By virtue of that, you've upset yourself for nothing. The things that do happen, you never would have thought to worry about. So it is a wasted exercise. When things do happen, you need your reserves to deal with whatever happens, not to have lost your reserves to your panicked worry. Despite that knowledge, I knew I had just fallen into the family worry trap, and had to get myself out of it, and do so quickly. I spent the rest of work, trying to calm myself down and knew that I had no one to blame but myself for the emotional upset I'd just been through. It's hard to get your peace back, after letting your mind go there.

I kept thinking, you know all these positive messages that I look for, including the "Rev Run" messages I get every morning; I've never seen anything that deals with worry. Yet, worry is important, because I clearly just got myself emotionally upset about something that hopefully will never happen. Would you believe, I had to laugh this morning, when I ready my daily message on my pager from "Rev Run". I'll give you one guess of today's topic! Yep, it was worry. I'm sharing his message here because I found it so insightful and most timely, considering how badly we can screw ourselves up when we don't control our worry. Here it is.

  • "Good morning. Just like any other habit, worrying is a habit..Think about what you're thinking! Be proactive and protect your thoughts. (Remember this) The mind has a bias towards negatives... Therefore we must create our world. (Remember!) Being at peace takes effort!"

Timely! It helped me to realize that worrying is a habit, and just like I've had to work extremely hard learning to find the positives and think of the positives, I need to do the same with worry. I need to make sure to keep that at bay at all times. Thankfully, I usually am not that bad about "worry", compared to some in my famly. This is because I've consciously worked hard not to let it control me over the years. I slipped yesterday, however. What I did to myself was essentially something that took away my peace.

Today, I'm renewing the effort to make sure that I don't let worry back into my life and to keep this worrying habit away. If anyone out there has a "worry habit", I challenge you to work on being proactive and protecting your thoughts, as the message above says. I hate to see anyone going through the panic and losing their peace, that happen when you let your mind go down that slippery worry slope.

Gratitude Entry: I'm so grateful that I have resources at my fingertip that help me on my path towards the internal part of my renovation work. The hardest work we can do, is the work to change the way we even allow ourselves to think. Habits die hard. I think one of the hardest habits is to challenge, and to change the way we are thinking. No one is there to hear our thoughts and challenge us on it. It's work we must do ourselves. When things go wrong, and challenges rise up in life, it's doubly hard to not let ourselves backtrack into the old way of thinking. I'm really grateful that I know what kind of power I have to change myself internally, and that I've embarked on this path. My gratitude goes out to everyone who has helped me on this path, whether you're here in my life now or have crossed over to the other side and help me from there.

Jun 22, 2008

Changes ahead

I was just checking blogs tonight and saw another blogging friend (yep, you Jackson family!) had changed their blogging background to a real cute and unique one. They had a link on their site that took me to the website they were able to get their background from. I was checking it out and found some really cute stuff. I think when I get back from vacation I'll be making some even bigger changes on my blog! Something to look forward to in July! Now I'll start planning for some more changes.

On another front. a couple of weeks ago, I talked to the manager of our Jenny Craig center and told her about my "dreams" for the future and ask if she could help me get my foot in the door. You may remember from many blogs ago, when I said I wanted to be a national Jenny Craig spokesperson, and intended to convince them they needed to create a position just for me. I asked my center manager if there was a way to help me be in contact with "national", so I can start my lobbying. She told me Friday that someone who is a couple of levels above her is coming through town in the middle of July. She's going to arrange an appointment for me to meet with this manager! So my campaign will begin! Come on every one, chant with me; "I do believe"! Let's find out if positive attitude really can create the future the exciting new world I'm looking forward to! :-)

Gratitude Entry: I am grateful for all the new technology that has entered into my life in the last 30 years. Things from captions on my TV programs, my pager that allows me constant wireless contact with the world, my cochlear implants that allow me to HEAR, the internet that allows me to be in contact in such a wonderful way, such as through this blog with friends and family near and far, DVR that allows me to find enjoyable things to watch on TV when I have some time to watch, digital cameras that allow friends and family to post their pictures on the internet and share them with me, a microwave that cooks my dinner in under 10 minutes to name a few. All these things I am mentioning, I grew up without. It's amazing how much the world has change and how much that change has added to my life. I'm grateful!

Jun 21, 2008

Gotta change it up a bit!

Everyone checking my blog is probably noticing that it looks totally different! I got tired pretty fast of the pink/rose color that dominated my blog since I started blogging in April. I've now gone green! I figure, since it's my favorite color, maybe I won't get so tired of this one! :)

Sorry for nothing new and interesting to post tonight. Hope you are all having a good weekend! It's Saturday night as I write. I was just realizing that Wednesday, my vacation departure date, is nearly HERE! Watch out world, here I come!

Jun 19, 2008

How did that happen?

I've seldom had much opportunity to travel or go on vacations in my lifetime, in my opinion. However, when I did go, there was never really anything I missed from back home, other than my TV and the programs I had recorded and which were waiting for me to watch.

Over the years, I've had various friends come visit me from different locations who were mothers of young children. At some point during the visit, it often would come out that they missed their kids. How could that be? I never understood that. I fully understood how much work kids are, how they take up every minute of your time, often leaving their parents with very tired (from a lack of sleep), and struggling to hold onto any iota of patience. I figured the vacation to visit me had to be heaven on earth for their tired stress out moms, since they could relax and have a good time. Yes, the moms always did enjoy their time with me, however....so many times, at some point they would really miss their kids. I couldn't understand that. How could they miss their kids when they are spoiling themselves and taking a break from all the responsibility and stress.

Now we come to the present time period. The last two weeks I've been more involved with my little 2 and 3 year old great niece and nephew. I do get fairly involved in their lives now, just living here. However, most times I head off to work in the morning and live my life. Since school got out, I'm around home more. Added to that, practically the first day I was really out of school, my niece suffered an abrupted placenta. Long story short, she isn't supposed to lift more than a gallon of milk. With me living here and out of school, all of a sudden I'm able to help a whole lot more. I started going places with the kids, whether it's to their daddy's shop, then out to lunch, or running errands or what not, while Jaimee stayed home and took care of herself like the doctor ordered. Even if I'm not doing stuff with the kids alone, I sometimes go with her and the kids just to help get the kids in and out of the car and etc. I may be tagging along, just to help, but I I enjoy the company. Sometimes, I'm just here at home, ready to help and hang out. I think you get the story. The kids have become an even bigger part of my life. Going all the places with them, running errands and etc, and I almost feel like I get to "play Mom" at times.

Last night I started thinking about the trip coming up in less than a week to Illinois and Wisconsin. I will be gone for slightly more than a week. OK, got the picture folks? Big trip coming up? Grand adventure! Doing something I've never done before! Whoo hoo! So what did I catch myself thinking. "Oh my gosh I'm going to be gone for over a week, how can I be away from the kids for that long?" or, "I'm going to miss them soooooo much." All of a sudden a mental whiplash occurred causing me to then say to myself, "How did that happen?" "How did I start to miss little kids so much I almost don't want to leave them?" "Whoa!"

Gratitude Entry: Ain't life grand! How lucky can I get? I'm a 50 year old single woman, never had an attachment in my life, since I left home at 17. Now, here I am, with loved ones so much a part of my life that I'm actually going to miss them! I'm going on a grand adventure and I'm going to miss them!! Wow! I'm so lucky to have the sweet little ones to love and the joy I have in so many special moments. Today, after napping downstairs in my "chair", Dalia ended up wanting me to go with her upstairs to lie down in her bed, under the covers to warm up and sleep (my basement is COLD). We lay there, we giggled and laughed together, her showing the joy of a child! Oh, nirvana! How much better can life get. I'm eternally grateful. Finally, I understand a mom who miss a child, despite getting rest and relaxation! I'm so grateful for all the precious moments I get with these little ones!

Jun 15, 2008

Elizabeth Smart's "People" interview

I read the article in this week's "People" magazine about Elizabeth Smart. I have to say that she absolutely amazes me. She's been through something that is more traumatizing than anything I can think of, and went through it at such a young age. However, she has managed to have such a positive attitude about life itself. I'm taking until 50 to learn some things she knew before she ever came close to the age of 20, that she is now. Here are some quotes that impressed me.

  • "I feel so lucky to be here. From the day I came home, I haven't wasted time looking back."

How often have I looked back in the past, being unhappy about all the things that did or didn't happen, or even the temptation to look back and regret all the opportunities missed? This is powerful. We need to always look forward to the future, and forgive ourselves and others for whatever it is in the past that holds us back.

  • "I want to tell other people, don't give up. Miracles do happen."

I think I've often given up in the face of a whole lot less. No more. I believe that through my life changes and through a positive attitude, "Miracles do happen".

  • "I don't feel the need to talk about what happened to me, but if I do, I know my family is there."There were times, she says when she felt despair, "but I always knew that no matter what, I'd still be part of my family. They could change my name, change the way I look, starve me to death. But they couldn't change that I am Ed and Lois Smart's daughter. That was a very powerful thing to me."

I can see how that is powerful. Never let what anyone says or thinks about us change our beliefs and knowledge inside of who we are. People can treat us like we are worthless, but we never are. No one can change who we are. I think of all the erroneous beliefs I once had about myself, based on how people reacted to me, rather than to just know who I am, and portray that internally and externally.

  • "It's important to remember that just because something bad happens to you, it doesn't mean you are bad. You are still entitled to every possible happiness in life."

Nothing in my life even compares to the bad that she has been through. I've been through failures and negative judgements about me. How many times have I let that hold me back. Never again. We are all entitled to every possible happiness in life. As mentioned in previous entry's we do control our happiness. It's her amazing perspective and positive attitude that is keeping her so grounded and happy after the worst has happened.Her first night home, she insisted in sleeping in the bed she was kidnapped from, telling her parents,

  • "I want to sleep in my room tonight - don't worry, I'll be here in the morning."

How many times have we let fear hold us back. We decide, "I'm never going to do "x, y and z" again because last time I tried, this negative thing happened." I've spent years hiding from social situations because of things that happened due to my hearing loss. I've needed to learn to not let anything stop me keep trying as many times as it takes to find success. Elizabeth sleeping in her own bed was a powerful way of "getting back on the the horse after it bucks you off". We have to not let fear stop us.

  • "Before, I was just your average Mormon girl. And since everything I've one through, there's been a lot of learning and growing. I've learned to listen and not jump to conclusions. I'm not sorry this happened to me anymore, because it made me grow up."

Even though it's tempting for me to have regret over opportunities missed, wasted years of my life. I've been endeavoring to have the exact same attitude Elizabeth has here. I can't waste time in regret, but rather I'm thankful for the ability to have learned and grown from all those experiences. Like her, I've got to appreciate the lessons learned and keep my eye to the future .She has let go of her anger towards her kidnappers and says,

  • "It's just not worth holding on to that kind of hate. It can ruin your life. Nine months of my life had been taken from me, and I wasn't going to give them anymore of my time."

I know people that still have to talk about the past and the wrongs and mistakes of the past, perpetrated on them by someone in their life. For example, someone I know never misses an opportunity to talk about how awful they think their mother was and trash the past. Many of the things that aren't so wonderful that happened in our lives were never from people out to abduct you and control your life. Many things happen because no one is perfect and never mean harm, or if they do, they are trying to survive and protect themselves. No matter what happened in our past that is bad and how it came about, we can learn from Elizabeth here and not waste our time holding onto anger and or hate. Don't give them our time. Move forward the way she does, to her future and her happiness. I will do good to always remember that. I don't know what life has ahead, nor what hard lesson await. If I can keep an attitude like hers, I will always be fine.

  • "I only have one life, and I'm not going to miss out on it. When I'm through, I want to be able to say, 'Wow, I have lived a great life''

My fervent hope for every one of you, whether you are my reader or not, is that you are able to reach the end of the road saying just exactly that, "Wow! I have lived a great life." I know that I am going to be able to do that. I have the power to live a life that is great. So do you.

Gratitude Entry: I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to learn and to grow from so many inspirational people. There are many people that have inspired me in one way or the other in my life. Now as I learn to appreciate and grow from all of them, it's awesome. Thanks to all of you who are in my life. There is not one of you, among my family and friends that I don't learn something from that in turns, helps me to learn to live my best life in joy and happiness. I hope that I can in some small way, be a positive person in your life, as you too learn to live your lives in joy and happiness.

Jun 11, 2008


I watched an Oprah show this week that I missed the first time it aired, in October 2007. It's about "Confronting Death". You can find information about it at: http://www.oprah.com/health/oz/oz_20071022_350_101.jhtml

This is one of the most powerful shows I've seen. The courage and joy of the people who are dying and determined to "live" and find joy is inspiring. Dick, if he could have been on Oprah for this show, would have been just as inspiring. One of the people that was on the show, was a professor suffering from pancreatic cancer. He gave his last lecture. It appears you can access this lecture at: http://www.viddler.com/explore/GabrielRobins/videos/1/ I found a captioned version here: http://www.taudiobook.com/closed_caption/randy_pausch_full/ Hope everyone gets a chance to watch the full lecture. It's inspiring.


I don't know how I dare start a blog post with this title. I've felt for a long time that I spent the majority of my life struggling to survive. At the same time, I would say I was never really happy. I envied people that had someone to share a life with. I spent most of my life living alone, which isn't the bad part, there's nice things about living alone. What was bad was the isolation, no one to share the good the bad or the ugly with. No one to share the ups and downs of your day or to encourage you to hold on, or simple to make you feel loved. I felt that I had nothing good to offer; and in fact the older I got, the worse my life got.

I came from a good home, good parents who did everything they knew how to do, to be good parents to me. There was never a questions that they loved me deeply. While never perfect, I never doubted they loved me and would try to support me in any way possible. I felt I started my life as an independent person in the strongest position in my life, though with lots of weaknesses and struggles.

My parents did't know about positive thinking, overcoming handicaps, and the power of our attitude in the way I now do. As a deaf daughter, they were very overprotective of me. All my problems were taken care of for me if they were able, when if came to my deafness. My mother would go work out problems with the teachers, for example. This is awesome involvement in one way. Unfortunately what she didn't know was that along about junior high to high school age, I needed to be taught how to self-advocate and work through my problems with my teachers. Id stay home one day, while she worked on problems, and the next day go back and everything was fixed. How? I never knew. When I ran into problems like that on my own as an adult, all I knew to do was quit college, which I did more than once.

When I cried about the social isolation, and being alone and not wanting to go to socials, my mother would cry about wishing she could give me her ears. I was then allowed to stay home and avoid the situations. I learned self-pity from this, although I have no doubt my mother would never have wanted to teach me this lesson. I also learned to run away from things. She didn't know how to do or teach me any differently.

When I began living n my own; I had no clue how to deal with problems caused by my hearing without my mother there to fix them. I had no idea how to overcome, I only knew how to run away and lick my wounds, oh, and how to be an emotional eater, eating (anesthetizing) my way through pain. The older I got, the more my life deteriorated. My coping skills weren't there. Inability to grow resulted in more and more dysfunction in my personality. I don't know how much of my life I'd say was unhappy. Many of the years, I felt life just "is". I wouldn't think in terms of happy or unhappy.

The last 7 or 8 or more years of my life before 2005, I would finally define myself as desperately unhappy. I wanted to be gone, I wanted life to be finished. What was there to look forward to? More years to continue to deteriorate physically and mentally and to be alone and isolated? The only thing I had in life was work, and by no means was I getting happiness from it. I had some good years in the beginning, but the good years did not leave me with something to look forward to in the future. They were just the "now".

As you've read from my earlier entries, my brother-in-law Dick had such a profound effect on that the life renovation began, starting in September/October 2005. Before now, I'd always excused people their happiness, after all they had the things I didn't have: husband (how would it be to have someone love you so deeply and want to grow old with you?) children (yes I knew they are hard to raise, but when you grow old they are there), grandchildren (apparently life's greatest joys), money (not many people in my circle had this, but some could take vacations, own homes, and do things I couldn't on my single income), and etc. The list could go on.

Now lets roll through to the present time. For the first time in my life, I really feel like I know what happiness is and how you get it or don't get it. Happiness I've found, has NOTHING to do with what you have (like the husbands, children, grandchildren, money and etc.)! NOTHING! Happiness has to do with WHO you have become. Happiness comes from within. No one has the power to make you truly unhappy or happy. Only YOU have that power.

I've seen people around me in my life, first define things happening negatively, not even giving their minds a chance to find the positive, no chance to find the happiness; no matter how good something is. It didn't matter what good things were happening, I think I probably did that too, without realizing it or knowing it. I don't want to knock my mother, because she didn't have the blessing to be able to learn the things I now know. My mother could beat me hands down in terms of unselfishly giving service. I remember all the meals she would cook and take to families when the mother was in the hospital, or a love one had died, and etc. She did a lot of good. However, I have to use her as an example of what I'm trying to say here (forgive me Mom). During the last years of her life, as we took care of her, I'd take her out to eat at restaurants that I disliked. They weren't my "cup of tea" so to speak. However, they were the ones that she liked where she could get what she wanted. It never failed though, no matter how much she liked the food or the restaurants, as we'd be eating and she'd start complaining about something. Instead of focusing on the food she was eating that she enjoyed, the whole focus was on what wasn't perfect. I can't remember the complaints, but every meal I'd sit and wait for the complaints to start. I felt like I could never find the perfect restaurant where she'd be happy with the food.

If you read last week's entry, when I was struggling with some things that could upset my "happiness". My whole focus as I struggled, was trying to find a positive way out, trying to find a way through it. I focused on how lucky I was to have my niece there to give me a hug and letting me know I was loved. I worked hard to fight my way through my problems and find a way to be positive. As you remember, I worked my way through things and was feeling at peace. I was feeling happiness and joy inside, despite some things threatening and tenuous in my life.

I kept telling myself that everything that was happening is part of some lesson I needed to learn and grow from. I needed to find the lesson and learn it. I needed to work my way out of it with my positive attitude intact. I was successful at working through things and came out feeling peace. Some of what I was dealing with could cause my life to go in some scary directions. Despite this, I knew that whatever happened, it was part of my life's journey. I was experiencing these things to help me learn something and to grow as a person.

The one truth that really hit home this week was that "NOTHING makes you happy. NO ONE has the power to make you happy. Only one person has control over my happiness, and that is ME. Happiness comes from inside,and from my own determination to be happy". Life is going to throw challenges and bumps in the road. Sometimes it's going to throw tragedy in our lives. How we survive these, how we get through it, and our attempts to come out a better person with our love and hope intact is what is going to make us come through it all still HAPPY. We have to "BE" our own happiness.

It's not always easy to work through calcified attitudes of yesteryear and break them down. It's not always easy to realize what we are doing to ourselves and how to stop it in it's tracks, when going down the negative pathways our thoughts are used to traveling. With hard work, it can be done. Our focus has to be in finding the positive. Finding what we can to hold onto, finding the erroneous thinking and changing it. If we work hard enough, and consistently enough we can find our happiness, find our joy, and live the richest of lives. What a revelation this all is for me.

Jun 6, 2008

Trip update

Things are moving along for my trip. However, the trip has changed from being a road trip to and from Milwaukee, to being a road trip in Wisconsin and Illinois (and neighboring states). Paula had less time than she had hoped, due to events at work for the traveling. At first we looked at flying one way to the convention, with a road trip from there to Seattle to drop her off, down through Oregon, for some sights and hopefully a stop in Salem to see my niece there, then to Salt Lake.

However, it turns out that if you rent a car one way and drive a great distance, you're charged a huge fee for them to get it back (they have a word for this fee but I can't remember it). This huge fee made the road trip impossible. So, we booked a round trip ticket to and from Chicago. We will visit Chicago, drive to Milwaukee for the conference, and then begin the road trip. Paula really wants to see Nauvoo Illinois, so we will drive there for that. The other events and places we will go haven't been decided. We will plan those after we get together.

It turns out that Paula feels like I do, that Dick (her husband), whom I mentioned in the last entry, taught her to live by the way he died. Like me, she feels this is a trip that we are meant to take and to grab ahold of what life has to offer. We figure that Dick will probably be there in spirit with us, enjoying the trip! We will be flying out on June 25th and returning to our respective cities (she to Seattle, me to Salt Lake) on July 3rd.

Who knows, maybe this will be the first of many trips we take in the future, as we learn to enjoy and love life!

Loved ones who have passed on

This may be really "out there" for some of my readers, and not for others. However, I believe that the people we love who pass on (euphemism for die), are still there for us on the other side, loving us and caring for us. Furthermore, I believe they have more power to help us than they ever could when they were alive.

This journey to renovate my life, that I've been on for the last nearly three years really began with the death of my brother-in-law. He taught me how to live by how he fought for life on his way out of it; and by his influence on me after he died. I was in such a bad place emotionally during his battle to live, I wasn't open to the lessons I was learning the last two years of his life.

Even though he had been married to my sister several decades I didn't see him enough or spend time with him enough to feel real close. It wasn't until a time he was off workfor a back injury, when he began flying in to spend a week at a time helping to take care of my mother; that I began to feel close to him. This time period began about 9 months before he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. Then after diagnosis, as his body deteriorated physically, one of his main struggles was just to breathe.

He loved joking, fun emails. Actually he loved anything that made him laugh. We communicated a lot, while he was still able to via emails. I would encourage him to "breathe", and he would encourage me to "laugh". Despite this I wanted to die, he wanted to live with every fiber of his being. I knew I was being a spoiled, selfish brat to not treasure what I had.

At his funeral, I felt the presence of his spirit so strongly (as did others). All of a sudden, my perspective started to change. Ideas and different viewpoints were presented to me before I even flew back home from the funeral, that I was finally had an open mind and heart to hear. My hard shell was cracking allowing drastic internal changes to start. I knew he was there on the other side guiding and helping me. He was not alone though, my parents (my mother passed away the year before he did) were working with him, I'm sure of that.

Before my mother passed away, my dad had come to me and communicated with me in a way that was very clear. He had helped me "stay the course", even though I still was very unhappy and struggling. My mother hadn't come to me at this point in my life, but has since. Despite the help of my dad, I wasn't ready to learn and grow in the ways I eventually was ready to by the time Dick (my brother-in-law) died.

Dick is a powerful soul, and the way he lived his entire life showed that. As I mentioned earlier, I believe that the ones we love can help us more when they've passed on, than they could when they were alive. Somehow, he was there after his passing; doing work that wrought the beginning of what has become profound change in me. Sad to say, since he died, I've been re-born. My life renovation that I've been on for the last nearly 3 years, can all be traced back to the very beginning, his death and his work on my behalf on the other side. I'm only sorry that it took something so catastrophic as his body dying on him bit by bit, while he still found joy and happiness every day; for me to be open to the lessons he had to teach.

Last night as I was struggling with some things that had happened in recent days, which were drowning me in tears and sorrow. I was struggling to find a way to be positive, as Dick would be. At least I was far enough in my life renovation project to finally know and understand to my core, that we are in control of whether we are positive and happy. I knew I had I had to find my way through and do this now, before any kind of depression could take hold (more of a struggle to hold this at bay without antidepressants). Before I came downstairs to my living area in the house, to try and find a way to work through my issues; my niece had given me a hug and let me know that she loved me and was there for me. I was holding onto the hug and love my neice gave me as a positive beacon to help me find a way to be positive, in short to find a way out of the darkness that was so close at hand.

As I struggled internally with all this, I decided to read. I hadn't taken time to read in a long time. All of the books I picked up from my large "unread" pile to read, felt like the wrong one. I picked up the book, "Walking In the Garden of the Souls" by George Anderson and Andrew Barone. I'm familiar with George Anderson's books, as I've read several. He's a psychic medium (like John Edwards for those familiar with him). As I know that those that pass on can communicate with us, through my own experience, it's not a stretch for me to believe that some people are very gifted in this communication. I can and have learned from some of the books written by psychic mediums.

I really believe that I was lead to pick up this book. It was what I needed at that moment. I've had this book for a couple of years, never finding time to read. When I was ready for its message, it was there waiting for me. As I read, I finally found my peace of mind returning. I found my perspective returning, and I found my happiness returning. I miss my loved ones that have passed on, but I am so grateful to the roles they continue to play in my life. Our loved ones still care for us, still are concerned about us and our well being. We miss what they have to offer, unless we are open to their love, help and messages from the other side. I can feel that they are there offering me love and support right now.

Gratitude Entry: I'm so grateful for the love I get to experience. I feel love from the family I live with, from the family that's passed on, from the family that's here and from the family of my heart. One of the lessons I learned last night is that all we really need to help us continue to learn and grow, instead of turning bitter and unhappy, is 1)love and 2) hope. I'm so grateful that I have these now in my life.

Jun 2, 2008

Got to get it back

My dilemma seems to be these days, how do you get your "positive attitude" back, when it seems to have gone temporarily AWOL. As a teacher, I work a certain number of days a year and am paid for those days. Ever since I realized my paid days ended on May 23rd, but I had to keep working to get my end of year reports done, my positive attitude has taken a hike.

To make matters worse, my department leader has been responsible for me losing at least 3 days or so, or productive time. I've become rather angry with her. The more days of productivity I lose, and the more time she cost me, the angrier I'm getting. Finishing my year seems to be further into the distant future. I need to get past the anger and work my way back up the positive thought wave. How do I get that positivity back?

To make it harder to be positive, my weight has also back tracked too. My committment hasn't been what it needed to be, and I gained weight last week. This week, I figured I'd get it off, but so far, no good. I had a retirement party for 3 close friends this evening, followed by a birthday party for my great niece. Between both events, I'm more worried about not gaining this week, than about losing the weight gained last week. It's a struggle right now.

I'm a neophyte at keeping my attitude positive and not letting things get me down. I need to get past the unpaid days that I'm working, get my work done, and realize that as far as food goes, I'm back on the wagon tomorrow. There's still a chance. I can't quit, I can't give up. I'll find a way to get there again. Maybe it's time for my gratitude entry; maybe that will help.

Gratitude Entry: Today I'm grateful for my growing family. I remember growing up, thinking my family was complete. Now I look at the people that have married into, or been born into the family since then, and I realize it was far from complete. From my in-laws to my nieces and nephews, in-laws, I've found more people to love and learn from in my life. Today, I am grateful for my growing family, I love them all.