Chelle Summer

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Resting in Prayer

Michelle Rusk
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I will be the first to admit that I live a fairly hurried life, much to my own choice. However, what many people don’t realize is that I pray twice a day and it’s during that time– especially during my second prayer– that not only do I rest, but so do my requests for my life.

I have written before that my first prayer takes place on my run with Lilly around 5:00 am every day. That time is set aside mostly to say thank you for everything that happened the previous day and throw out any requests as well. It also helps the run go faster by keeping my thoughts centered.

Then after the dogs have been fed, but before my shower, I sit with a lit candle for five minutes and that prayer is devoted to throwing out my requests. In the colder months, I do this at my desk, however, in the summer, I let my feet rest after my workout on the top step of the swimming pool.

Not only are my feet resting in the cold water, but so are my thoughts, my requests, my hopes. And I am getting a rest before I venture into the rest of my day.

I’m not perfect at prayer– I will be the first to admit that I am easily distractible– but it’s a consistent effort on my part to rest and let go of what who and what I want to be. Plus those five minutes allow me to center myself for the day ahead. Resting in prayer helps me recharge and reminds me what’s important and not get caught up in drama or negative thoughts.

I am more productive– and happier– because I take the time for this rest.

Choosing What to Share

Michelle Rusk
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I spent a good part of yesterday working on two paintings (when I wasn't folding laundry and that I did because Greg was gratefully painting the trim on the outside of the house so I didn't think it was fair that he did that and fold the laundry). At some point I took a break from painting and I picked up my phone to check social media. But before I hit the button to take it out of sleep mode, I looked at the phone, wondered if I really needed to look at anything, and ended up putting it back on the counter where I had left it previously. Then I returned to my painting.

I am the first to admit that social media has played a huge part of taking my messages forward, particularly in my days working to help the suicide bereaved. I realize that if you lost someone to suicide today, you will have a drastically different experience than me because you can easily connect to people via the internet whereas it took me years to find other bereaved siblings. And now my messages have changed to sharing how I've moved forward through my losses by using my creativity, at least the visually creative aspects of my life (sewing, painting, cooking, etc).

However, I also know there is a line for me of what I choose to share, when I choose to share it, and how much time I spend looking at it.

While it might seem that what I create visually is how I spend the bulk of my time, the reality is that my writing is still what's most important to me. It obviously takes longer for me to share that so in the meantime (as I wrote about balancing goals last week), I share the visually creative items. I also found out in my early Facebook years that if I shared what I was writing, I never finished it.

I stopped talking about my writing because I realized it was something I have to keep to myself until it's completed. Most people in my daily circle of life don't know what I'm working on for the same reason. And yet there are many times I so badly want to share things but I know the time isn't right so I let it go (and probably post a photo of Lilly instead!).

When I went for my last spiritual direction visit with Fr. Gene, at the Norbertine Abbey here, one of things I told him was how I find that I'm not supposed to always share the journey that I'm on, that instead I'm supposed to wait until it's over when I can look back at the road and reflect more on it. It's only then that I can see what it is about my journey that would be most meaningful for others to read about.

And in that same vein, the Wall Street Journal recently published an article about letter writing. One line stood out for me where the woman said that even though we seemingly share more of our lives by constantly posting on social media, we aren't really sharing of ourselves like we did writing letters.

Writing letters was one way that I honed my writing skills early and now I'm finding that as I've pulled back in sharing some aspects of my journey, they are instead finding places in my manuscripts. Once again, it's about balance and deciding what I should share now and what I should save for later, to be shared in another way as part of a bigger project.

Big goals, little goals, keeping them all in check

Michelle Rusk
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I don't talk about it much on social media but I spend part of each of my work days writing. That might be actually writing, revising, reading, researching, or some other aspect that goes into creating a novel. It all ebbs and flows based on what I need to do.

I have given myself this year (2018) to focus on not just Chelle Summer but also the writing part of me. However, writing isn't really something that transforms well into social media photos so most of what you see if related to the visual creative side to me, Chelle Summer.

Last week was a challenging week and I had a really hard time getting much accomplished. Now Greg will tell you that I do more before 7:00 am than most people do in a day but, to me, there is always more I want to do. Part of that stems from the losses in my life and the sense that none of us are promised anything, that life can change in many ways in an instant and we better make the most of the day ahead of us.

While last week I was able to keep up with things, meaning keeping the desk clean, email caught up on, and the house vacuumed, there wasn't much happening on the creative side. By the end of the week I was feeling a little depressed. Until I tried a new recipe for Rice Krispie treats on Thursday.

And when I did that, I was reminded that when you are working on big goals, the kind that might not manifest for a least months if not years, it's important to balance that with smaller goals, giving you a sense of accomplishment in the meantime.

So as I continue to mold manuscripts (yes, there is more than one) like a piece of clay, I sometimes need to remind myself that I also need to do smaller creative endeavors that move quickly and let me stand back and have that sense of accomplishment while I'm working on something bigger.

On Sunday I purposely chose two items that I knew I could finish in a day (a painting I had started and two pillows I was making) so that I could walk into a new week feeling that I was already on my way to a much more productive time.

It worked.

What inspires you?

Michelle Rusk
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When I was in elementary school, I had a Raggedy Ann bulletin board and I used to tack on it that were meaningful to me. In high school, my cross country and track friends and I used to decorate our athletic lockers with inspirational sayings and photos we would cut out  of magazines. At home I took this to another level and used long sheets of used computer programming pages that my sister Karen brought home from college and made floor to ceiling collages, like extended versions of what was in my athletic locker at school.

I continued this theme into college and beyond, always having some sort of bulletin board to hang various items that inspired me. But when I started to create Chelle Summer, my lifestyle brand, I suddenly found I had torn pages from everywhere and nowhere to put them. 

I bought the biggest bulletin board I've ever owned and started to tack what inspires me there. While it might just be a small details in a photo, this why at least I won't forget that small detail.

I believe that surrounding myself with what inspires me is what keeps me going no matter the worries swirling around in my head and a reminder that no matter what happens to me, I need to stay the course and keep focused on moving forward. It distracts me from anything that might keep me from my goals from the day or creating/writing.

The items on the bulletin board are a reminder of what I've spent time collecting to keep myself inspired. I like to think of it as an investment of myself. And what I eventually share with the world.

Forgiveness and Sending Love

Michelle Rusk
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One disappointment we often face in life is the reality that some people we feel close to or cherish aren't supposed to remain in our lives. There are a variety of reasons why it happens but the reality is that it doesn't matter. What does matter is how you move forward without the people with whom you believed you were supposed to travel with through life. If it feels painful to think about them, then send them love.

Yes, that's exactly what I wrote– you saw right. Send them love.

That may feel counterintuitive when you feel so much pain (after all, it is a loss to your life) but you'll be surprised at how much better you feel because you sent them love. 

And if this is someone who hurt you– yet you can't seem to let go of them despite all that hurt they caused– sending love is better than hanging on by continuing to contact them when they don't want to talk to you. Or when they cause you pain each time time you talk to them. 

Finally, sending them love doesn't mean you forgive them for how they treated you or ended a relationship or whatever the story may be. Forgiveness is about freeing our own hearts to move forward. We don't control what others do, just what we do.

So next time thinking of someone brings you pain, no matter what the reasons are for that, send them love. And free yourself to move forward. 

Balancing Social Media

Michelle Rusk
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Some years ago, I remember reading an article by Martha Stewart on how to manage the time one spends looking at email. Her suggestion was that you took certain times of day to look at it and stuck to those so it didn't interfere with other aspects of your life.

Obviously this was before smart phones and social media seemingly took over the time we spend engaged with the technology in our lives (and today most of my email is comprised of "commercials" rather than much that needs responding). 

However, it does still hold true with social media and because of the possible negative effects that social media can have on our mental health, it's even more important that we find a schedule that works best for us and stick to it as much as possible. 

While I seemingly have a big social media presence because of the work that I do– selling books and products I make– I don't spend as much time on social media as one might think. At some point in the last year when my job was turning to part time and I didn't have to be glued to my laptop or phone checking emails, I realized that also meant I needed to back off on the time I spent looking at social media. In my world, 2018 is my "year of creating" and if I'm keeping one eye on social media, it severely cuts into my creative time.

Because I've had much loss in my life and sometimes I get frustrated that professionally I am not totally where I'd like to be, I also found that I couldn't spend so much time looking at what other people were doing. It is much like what I learned from running competitively– it's you against the clock, not you against everyone else. I have to remind myself of that often so I stay focused on what I'm doing and not worry myself over what others have/are doing and I don't. (I know that I have a great life but the reality is that we can't have everything and I've had to make choices along the way as well as some choices that have been made for me and sometimes there is a little sadness that there isn't a place in my life for everything.)

In the mornings I post– and I do the social media for my church so some days there is an added step– and I'm a little more lenient with myself as I settle in catching up on a variety of things because I start writing or head out for errands (yes, estate sales, too). But by late morning I really try to limit my social media check in as little as possible and take as much time as I can through late afternoon to write, sew, and other creative pursuits. 

I also know that there are days where my brain turns off and it needs a water cooler break so in the evenings I might check in more often but I'm trying to do a better job of putting the phone down and instead picking up a magazine or book. And I remind myself that if I look at social media too much one day– as I wrote a few weeks ago regarding anything we set out to do and don't seemingly accomplish– I can always start over fresh the following day.

It's easy to let it take over our lives, however, like anything else there is a balance to it. For each of us that will be different and the key is finding what works for each of us. There are benefits to social media– I get to be in contact with people with whom otherwise I wouldn't be and it has helped me reach many suicide bereaved people as well as share what I create and find. 

The key is that I have to walk away to create more to have more to share. That's what I remind myself when I habitually pick up my phone in a quiet moment and then reach for a magazine or book instead.

The Holistic Health Plan

Michelle Rusk
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From the outside, I know that my lifestyle looks like a lot of work. I am up at 4:30 each morning (although do sleep until about 4:45 on weekends– I know, it's very late compared to the rest of the week!) to run and run-walk my dogs. I do a five-minute morning prayer before I shower. I plan most of the meals in the house and make a concerted effort to make sure that we're eating enough vegetables and keeping it as balanced as possible. I go to mass nearly every weekend and spend an hour with a priest at a monastery here once a month for spiritual direction. And each day I try to spend some time doing something I enjoy even if it's just a short time reading. This morning I had my yearly physical and blood work done. I go to acupuncture with my Chinese doctor twice a month where she works to me balanced with a slew of needles, cupping, and burning moxa while I rest.

But there's a reason for it: three years ago I had a group of fibroids removed from my uterus, including one that was the size of a golf ball. It was at that time that I realized I needed to make changes in my life. Outwardly all looked well, especially because I was just a few months from getting married. But clearly something was wrong inside my body.

While I have been running since I was twelve, there were a series of life events that had taken a toll on me: my sister's suicide when I was 21, my parents' unexpected deaths (among other close losses in my life), and then my first marriage where my then-husband was hit by a drunk driver and suffered a head injury. While running– and also walking the dogs– helped me through that, I now see that it wasn't enough and that's when I believe the fibroids began to grow.

Instead, I thought the way to cope was to do more: remodel the house, add more dogs, add a pool, get a doctorate, write more books, educate the world on suicide and grief. None of that I regret, I just look back now and see it was all a way of coping. By moving forward, I could manage the drama that surrounded me and keep it from suffocating me. There was no way to completely emotional cope with the roller coaster of living with a brain-injured person and my body instead resorted to doing it physically.

Just taking care of one part of ourselves is a start but it's not enough. We are holistic beings– and if you were in Maz's health class at Naperville North High School I know you learned this well. Although I admit I neglected all but the physical for a long time– and if we want to be healthy we have to work at it.

Don't think I jump out of bed each morning because I don't (and Greg will attest to that). But I will be the first to admit I love to be out in the quiet darkness, looking up at the still-night sky which is often clear here in Albuquerque. It's there that I start my day in prayer, in gratefulness, as I ask for help to make the most of the daylight hours ahead of me. I learned a long time ago that a new day, as the sun comes up over the mountains, is the same as the chalkboard being wiped clean; I can start over again.

What looks like a lot isn't in the scheme of my life. It's nothing compared to what the alternative would be if I chose not to work so hard at staying healthy holistically. I wouldn't choose it any other way.

Sitting In Darkness...With Others

Michelle Rusk
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I will be the first to say that I hate darkness. I believe darkness is important because we need to rest, living things needs to rest, and it reminds us how much we appreciate daylight. But I thrive in the daylight, in the sunshine, in seeing the sun come up over the mountains.

However, a long time ago I learned that you can't impose your light on someone else when they need to be in darkness. It's not that they are planning to stay there long– we should know this from our own experience when something happens to us– it's about processing through what has happened.

When someone dies, when we learn disappointing news, when we feel defeated by life, or whatever it is, sometimes we need to stand in the darkness and mull it over before we can move forward with the journey.

When it happens to someone else, we should remember the same. They will move forward but in that moment they don't need to be reminded of all that they know. They know it, they just need a few moments to rest where they are. Let them be there, sit with them, and remember just because you're in their darkness doesn't mean you have to be stuck there. You're there for someone you care about, your light is still with you.

Soon they will pick back up again and head towards the light, tired of darkness and ready to move on. Then you can remind them of all that they have and how much you appreciate the light.

When the Journey Isn't Clear

Michelle Rusk
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I have to laugh. I couldn't think of a topic for this week because my life is very quiet right now. I realize that isn't a bad thing but I'm a person who is used to many irons in the fire and running from place to place. I know this time is a gift to write and create– which is what I'm doing– but it seems like many times I have written over the years about what it's like to not feel as if the journey is completely clear.

I have been at many points in my life where I felt complete clarity of the journey but doing things like working on a degree or writing a book with someone else gives you smaller goals along the way because you're not on that journey alone.

This time is different though. After I finish this blog, I will go and write a few pages on a manuscript I've started and then I have a slew of aprons to finish that I had cut out some time ago. While a few of them are custom orders, most of them don't have "homes" yet (translation– they haven't been sold) and I don't know if any will when I post them later in the week. 

So it's a strange place to be– I am working hard, I am making things happen...but yet I don't know what the end result will be. However, I do believe I am on the right road, even if that road doesn't always feel so defined or that I'm following someone else's directions (like in the photo attached). 

Life usually isn't spelled out for us, especially when we choose undefined roads. And even though we aren't always sure how we'll get there, we know the journey will be worth it when we arrive.

Remembering Nestle

Michelle Rusk
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Because of circumstances beyond my control and that I am not letting define how I remember my yellow lab Nestle, I didn't know about her death until several months after it happened. I hadn't seen her in a year because she was living with my former husband. She truly was his dog and I knew that he needed her more than I did. And in the several months between when she died– although I didn't know it– and when I found out, I had a funny feeling she wasn't here anymore. I found myself talking to her through prayer and wishing her well. She was nearly fifteen and had more lives than anyone I know, but I just wish I'd been given a chance to say goodbye.

In the same breath, I know that where Nestle is at– barking up a storm in heaven and driving Mom crazy– it's all about love and she is happy, no longer hindered by a body that was giving out on her. And that had survived what felt like twenty lives.

I always told the story that we had gone to Albuquerque's westside animal shelter in November 2003 to find Chaco a sister. Joe picked out Nestle– who looked like an innocent young dog just sitting in her kennel while everyone else around her barked. He was convinced she was the perfect dog because she didn't bark. Yes, we know how that went.

Later, as he stood in line to do all the adoption paperwork, I went back to the kennel to see her. There she was barking with all the other dogs and I knew then we were in for quite a road.

From the moment she arrived, Nestle quickly made her mark in more ways than one. That first weekend we had our holiday party and as I was cleaning the house and prepping for it, she decided to use the house as her bathroom and then stole coffee grounds out of the trash can. From there she ran out the front door, nearly getting hit by a car.

In the years to come, she would steal the Thanksgiving turkey off the counter and eat it, be attacked by Chaco so badly that she nearly died (and spent several months recovering at the vet although she tried to bite the vet every time she saw him after although he was the one who saved her life), and barked endlessly.

Our friend Joe the dog trainer worked with her on the barking but the shock collar didn't deter her. She kept right on barking. Nor could you hug another human around her– she instantly started to bark as if she wanted in on the action. And she loved to swim although I would never have hired her a as lifeguard after she tried to swim over our first German Shepherd Daisy several times. It was easy to figure out why Daisy never wanted to get back in the swimming pool again.

Still, she was the most loving dog one could have, willing to be brushed, was the one to come close if you were crying, and unless you were the vet, she was always happy to see you.

Nestle lived a full life, probably more full than most humans. Three of what I call my "original four" dogs are in heaven now, hanging out with my parents who knew them, and Gidget who came after Daisy died.

What's hardest of all to believe is that thirteen years with her flew by and she's no longer here. But that's what happens when we're busy living life, time passes and suddenly was time for Nestle to move on past a body that was being destroyed by the evil hemangioarcoma cancer.

Yet in my head I can still hear her barking. 

Process and Journey

Michelle Rusk
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Greg will be the first to tell you that I'm about the destination, not the journey. I don't particularly like to go for a Sunday drive nor do I enjoy the scenic route hiking up a mountain. It's all about the end destination for me. 

And when I have a list of things I want to accomplish, it's not about the process there either. I'm more about seeing what I can accomplish in a time period. What most people don't understand is that I've had so much loss in my life that there isn't always a sense of tomorrow. For me, it's do it today because you don't know what tomorrow may bring. I've had too many days in my life where tomorrow ended up turning my life upside down because I was faced with a major challenge (or, like last week, a flat tire and my phone ceasing to work).

However, I can always look back and appreciate the process and the journey of how I've gotten to wherever I'm standing or what I've made/written. I can see that my writing has improved– and continues to do so– even as I'm frustrated trying to find an agent for my latest work. I see how easy it is for me to sit down at the sewing machine and whip out a handbag or a bucket bag after what is now about a year of making them (it's been nearly two years on the bucket bags). 

And then there are the process and journeys I sit in the midst of now– my continuous writing, the paintings in the photo above, and the stack of sewing projects I can't seem to complete with everything going on around me.

Some years ago I realized that  if I wanted to accomplish something far greater than simply doing my job each day, I would need to write/sew/create around my daily responsibilities. When you are trying to make life more than you have, sometimes it's hard to enjoy the journey because you know the destination is where you want to be. And the reality is that I've been working on one major goal since I was six years old– to be a bestselling author. At this point, it's not about the journey. It's about continuing to climb what feels like a steep hill to my destination.

I might not be about looking back until I get where I want to go, but I will when I get there. When I can rest because I have arrived.

Life

Michelle Rusk

I know it's been a while since I've written.

I think about blogging; it's on my desk calendar where I write my daily tasks. But then I don't do it. And I don't do it because I haven't felt like I've had a lot to say. No, that's not true– I get ideas but then I think maybe I wrote them before. Or I think that maybe they aren't good enough to spend the time on. 

And there you have it– my life is a challenge to figure out how to best spend my time. I have so much I want to do and time often feels fleeting to me– I believe partially because of all my losses, I know that life can change in an instant. I hate that I get tired. I get up before 5:00 am and many days I can't believe when 3:00 pm hits and I wonder where the day went.

There is much I want to do and I finally decided today that my motto should be, "Think less, do more." It's July, it's summer. I want to make the most of these warm months. I need to worry less about experimenting making clothes and having them come out badly. I just need to make them. I need to keep writing and worry less that I'm writing crap and just keep writing.

Life is short but it's also a balance of being present where we are with where we want to be. And my goal this month is have a better idea of how to achieve that by the time August arrives.

An Oldie But Goodie: The Dessert Dog Blog

Michelle Rusk

Note from Michelle: My friend Jim wrote this blog for me in September 2013. As I was going through my Inspire site today, printing off blogs as I get ready to take the site offline, I thought I'd repost it here (sans the photo which I couldn't save)- it also was written just about two weeks after Greg and I met. Enjoy!

This is how a typical conversation with me goes, if a conversation with me can be considered typical. Usually conversations with me are everything but typical. A fairly recent conversation I had with Michelle touched on canned chicken, specifically which kind I should buy. I ended up getting chunked, light and dark in water, if you were wondering. The conversation also included my unfinished PhD, a soccer game, kids, a pedicure, high heels, a time machine, thunderstorms, dogs, pool toys that aspired to be in a future "Toy Story" movie, and an article Michelle was writing for the magazine High Desert Dog. The time machine was a critical piece of our conversation as she needed more time to finish some of her writing.  This is where I offered to help and suggested I write her article about dessert dogs. That was my attempt at humor– desert and dessert– get it?  And of course I followed that up with some more attempts at pet and dog humor until we concluded our conversation with a wrap up of her pedicure.

And, just in case you are starting to wonder about Michelle, this is how my mind works, not hers.  She is very kind and lets me wander where I want over the conversational map until I realize I need to pull it back in. But I also think she might get a small giggle out some of my ramblings. Oh, by the way, she turned down my offer to write the article about dessert dogs for High Desert Dog. That was back in July. Whew!

Imagine my surprise today when she said she needed an idea for her blog, would I write about dessert dogs? This started my mind spinning, spinning all the way back to my creative writing class in college. The only creative part about that class for me were the many creative comments the instructor wrote on my papers in red ink. Getting past that bad memory, I started to think how I could inspire people, like Michelle does, with a story about dessert dogs. How could I spin this?  Do I write about dogs that like dessert? Or desserts that are like dogs?  There are lots of pictures and recipes for hotdog type desserts. Just try a keyword search– dessert dogs. None of it sounded inspiring.  And I am a cat owner; how dare I write about dogs.

So, if you haven’t guessed by now, I am not going to write about dessert dogs. In fact, I really have nothing much else to say. And for those of you who read Michelle’s blogs for hope and inspiration, I know you are hoping for her return. But if there is something to take away from my musings, it is only that I was happy to help her out when she asked. She may not ask again, but that’s okay, too. I was able to step in when she needed help, just like she has done for so many of us. In fact, I think Michelle said it best in an earlier blog, “Sometimes it's easy to forget to ask. The answers are there but we get lost in trying to do it ourselves that we often forget the help that's there if we need it.“  Oh, and try the banana dog.

The Hill

Michelle Rusk

The hill in the photo might not look like much but if you're standing at the bottom of it, it's quite steep. And for the eight years that I've been visiting Sam and Lois Bloom, I was never able to run up the hill that leads to their house without stopping. 

It's silly because I'm a runner and I realize it's all mental. I attribute it to what I now call my running laziness because I'm older and I don't tend to push myself so hard.

However, six months ago when we were visiting Sam and Lois, I decided I needed to get up that hill in one swoop. And I did. And then I did it again.

But in August I had an accident with my German Shepherd, Lilly– as I was going up the stairs in the house, she was running down and her head ran right in my knee. It wasn't until a week later when I couldn't run at all did I realize what had happened. For two months I couldn't run, a severe bone bruise like nothing I'd ever had before

I'm back running but I'll admit it's not the same. I was getting into such a good place prior to the accident and now wham! I'm a slow poke again. When we went off to California last week to see the Blooms, I was a little nervous about the hill. I wanted to make it up there but I didn't feel physically or mentally I was in the same place as six months before.

As I ran up it, using my arms to help pull me, I wanted to stop. But I didn't because I knew if I did, it meant I'd have to try it again the next day. That meant for twenty-hours I'd been thinking about how I didn't make it up the hill. I'd have another chance but rather than becoming stronger by actually getting up the hill without stopping, it would be like being sent back to go again.

And so I didn't stop. Or the next day either. While I still don't feel as strong as I did back in the summer, I made it up the hill without stopping. Twice.

My life is filled with hills. No year is perfect or without challenges. But I'm working to tackles the hills one by one and I find that once I do, I move onto something else, stronger and better than before.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Retraining the Brain: Focusing on the Good

Michelle Rusk

I found this blog from two years ago on my old web site and it felt appropriate to repost for the holiday season:

It's easy to do: we start to think about something that's not so good in our lives, or something we're frustrated about, or something that just isn't great. One thought leads to another. And we can't stop.

While this can happen anytime, it always feels as if it's more pronounced during the holidays. Every television commercial we see portrays complete happiness and prosperity. Then we look around our own homes and lives, knowing full well there aren't the funds (or significant other) to receive that piece of jewelry or the new car for Christmas. And we forget that it's not about the material gifts, getting swept away by what media shows us, believing we should have that, too.

And so the thoughts begin: we think about the past year and all the pain. We realize we didn't accomplish much of anything that we had wanted to do in the past year...

Stop.

Why do we focus on all that's so challenging and difficult when there is so much good around us?

I can hear a few cynical snickers about how I am getting married and how can I not only see the good right now?

Not quite: life is always challenging no matter what good is happening. And I know what it's like to be struggling especially during the holidays when I've spent them single, without a secure relationship.

There is much to be thankful for no matter what our challenges are. Look around you and see the beauty in the day, even the rain here in New Mexico today (because we need the rain as always!). What each of us has in our lives to be grateful for will be different because we all have unique lives. 

Each morning make a list of as many things as you can think of that you are grateful for. And then do it every morning after. Try to write them down if you can because when you're in a difficult place you can reflect back on them and retrain your brain to keep the positive thoughts.

Thinking about the good makes us feel stronger, gives us more peace, and helps us feel hopeful. Think of it this way: no matter what you're going through, there is always a small fire burning inside you. It's your goal to remind yourself that the fire is still burning. How will you do it?