Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dearest 2017

I'm writing to you today, Dearest 2017, in the hope that you will listen.  I beg you to heed what I'm saying because if we have another year like 2016, I might have to seriously think differently how I get through to you.  (Note:  This was written at the end of 2016)

Yes, there were some good moments in 2016, like when I finally got to marry the love of my life.  I will honor and cherish that day for sure, even if many didn't agree.  It was a good day, and that's what I will remember.

However, there were some pretty terrifying moments like the Pulse Attack, an election season gone wild, and some other horrific acts of violence.  The entire year seemed to pit one person against the other, just because of what one person thought was right while others didn't.

There were individual moments for me where some turned on me and left me lying alone in agony and despair in the gutter.  Some moments left me wondering what direction I was walking and if I had the strength to find my way through the fog.

I'm hoping that in 2017, people may start to understand what it means to be human and to love one another and respect one another.  My land, we don't always need to be right about all this superficial stuff as much as everyone thinks they do.  May that change in 2017.

Hopefully, some of the problems that we face in the world will be solved, or at least I hope so -- from poverty and global climate issues to just not trying to control everyone with beliefs and opinions.

Hopefully, in 2017, we will begin to learn what it means to be conscious and aware, not just disconnected and numb.  I know that's asking a lot, dearest 2017, but it is my hope.  There are far too many that sleep and slumber, afraid to wake up and feel.

May 2017 bring about a year where we change our mind-numbed practices through online social media, and we truly begin to discover what others mean in our fight to advance our global civilization.  We're all on this journey together, and if we work together, we'll make it.  If we stay divided, we will most likely fail.  May 2017 bring this change about and lift us to greater heights.

Dearest 2017, I would love to see child molesters and abusers of all types find that they are no longer healthy members of our society.  Maybe we could stop turning a blind eye to those that abuse our children.  If the children are our future, we are severely failing them.

I hope that by the time we get to the end of 2017, that we're doing a lot less screaming at one another and listening to a lot more.  It feels like it is one constant screamfest every day, and I don't even think anyone listens to anyone anymore.

So, I'm writing this to be posted at the end of 2017, and we'll see if any of this matters or comes true.  Heck, by the time we get to the end of the year, we may have other things that require our attention and focus.  If not, please Dear 2017 - let's work on these things and see what we can accomplish.  We will all be better for it.

A Human

Blog Post And Images (c) 12/28/17 by Don Shetterly
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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Rolling In The Mud Pit

Written By Don Shetterly
I know, it feels like you have to engage with others slinging the mud.  In all reality, you don't have to join in the mud pit.  For those people who are sensitive and care deeply, it feels like you have to fight back and stand up for what happens online.

Now, before you get me wrong, let me explain.  I am not talking about turning a blind eye to anything, especially abuse and people who are a bully.  It is my opinion that if you engage them and as a result, they engage you, you are rolling around in the mud pit with them.  If two people roll in the mud together, you can't tell them apart.

It is like someone that calls names on the playground.  If you call them names back, are you any different?  In my view, one becomes the same as the name caller.  If one bullies another and you do the same back, are you any different.  I would suggest that we are not.

In fact, with everyone screaming at one another or the ones they deem as being horrible and disgusting and abusive, the screaming is only rolling around in the mudpit with them.  It serves little purpose.  They are not going to listen.  They don't care about anyone's viewpoint but their own.

I grew up in a house like this where whatever was said by my Dad or older brother mattered.  Even if they were flat out wrong, they would still argue with me.  Here are two instances that are minor but show what I am referring to in this post.

One time my sheep needed some medication and I knew it.  I always read up on the latest techniques for caring for my sheep.  My neighbor which also had sheep worked with me to help me learn how to properly care for them.  Because I said to my dad that we needed to give this medication, he fought me.  In his eyes, I didn't know anything.  It took me getting my neighbor to come over and convince him that we needed to do this.  No matter what I said or did, my dad would not listen.  He was flat out wrong, but it was his way or no way.

Another time when I was a kid, my older brother tried to convince me that we needed to somehow buy a riding lawnmower.  I was much younger than him, but understood far more.  He argued with me that if we bought the lawnmower on payments, we only had to pay for it during the summer.  As a small kid, I knew this was not how things worked.  He argued until I just walked away and got my parents to convince him that he was wrong.  He was not going to allow for the fact that maybe he didn't understand things.  He was convinced he was right.

While these examples are minor, it is the same basic thing we are doing online and in family and friend circles today.  We just scream at one another.  We don't listen and we don't even hear the other side.  Everyone is an enemy that doesn't know anything.  While others may be flat out wrong, they might have valid points and if we don't attempt to see those, we're rolling around in the mud pit.

The human ego loves to be right.  It wants to be heard above anyone else.  It wants to know that it is in control.  The heart is shoved aside as if it doesn't matter even though it begs for everyone to engage it over the ego.

In this day, we're spending more time in the mud pit screaming with one another and it is almost impossible to tell each other apart.  We think we're adding something to the day, but we're adding to the problems.  The egotistical people who think all others are the enemy are not going to listen to reason.  Their ego will not allow them.  To engage with them in this way, will only exasperate the situation.  In fact, if you ignore their rants, it would drive them crazy and insane.  The only thing is the human ego is not wired to do that.

If you're very sensitive like I am and have been abused in the past, this behavior drives you crazy.  I struggle with it.  I weep for it.  This world is being cranked up into a danger zone and if we don't reverse this quickly, our collective health is going to suffer in ways that we cannot even see.

We can all do our part to not engage with the abusive bullies of our day.  We can work to help further civilization and humanity, or we can just get down in the mudpit with everyone else.

I no longer watch the news.  I do read some headlines, but the news is toxic and this goes for just about any side of it.  We've lost sight of this so much that we can no longer tell the difference.  It feels like we cannot survive without this toxic news we gulp down every day.

Making the world a better place isn't about what everyone else does.  It is what we do as individuals.  Collectively our attitudes and responses make up civilization.  If we do that which we despise, we're no better than those we deem as adversaries.

Let us get our own life in order and let that shine for the world to see.  No, it may not drown out the screaming voices in the mud pit, but I believe there are enough of us that together will be much louder in the end by not engaging.

Blog Post And Images (c) 11/29/17 by Don Shetterly
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Monday, December 25, 2017

Why I Loved Christmas As A Kid

Written By Don Shetterly
The day that many people have been waiting for has arrived.  If you're like me, Christmas Day is one of those times as a kid that I looked to in anticipation.  For days and weeks before, I struggled to sleep.

For me, I loved the Christmas programs at school and church.  Often, I would get to play the piano for all the Christmas music.  Also, my mom baked all kinds of Christmas goodies and cookies and candy.  It was fun decorating the Christmas cookies with her.

It also meant that for one day out of the year, we could just be kids and not have to go outside and work meaningless tasks on my father's to-do-list.  There were other aspects of the day that were not as pleasant, but I'm avoiding them in this blog post.

One other thing I loved about Christmas as a kid was seeing the decorated Christmas tree and all the tinsel and decorations and lights on it.  Living in the rural Midwest with the white snow-covered landscape, I loved to see Christmas lights on homes in the area.  The snow reflected the lights beautifully.  I am still mesmerized by the Christmas lights on houses.

These days things have changed for me, and I don't see Christmas in the same way as when I was a kid.  I still love Christmas Music playing in the background.  I still love the lights, decorations, and cookies.

It bothers me when I see people talking about this war on Christmas as if everything needs to be a battle.  Afterall, I think many who feel this way have lost sight of the true meaning of what Christmas is.  It is too easy to get lost in the "purchasing frenzy" and then claim there is a war on Christmas.  I believe some need to do some serious soul-searching before they proclaim what they do.  Unfortunately, the attitude of divisiveness seems to be the way of our society.

Regardless of how you view Christmas, I hope you have an enjoyable day.  I hope the joy and peace that comes on this day stay longer than a few hours or a couple of weeks.  I hope you took time out to not just focus on what you got, but that you gave back to someone else.

My only Christmas wish is that we as a civilization will start to practice love throughout the entire year.  I wish for respect and humility and kindness.  May we all start seeing one another through eyes where we recognize each other as human, not enemies.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Seasons Greetings to each one who visits my blog!  Don't forget, if you want to hear some beautiful Christmas music, check out my Christmas Cd.

Blog Post And Images (c) 11/30/17 by Don Shetterly
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Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Gift Giving Anxiety

Written By Don Shetterly
One of the things that makes this time of year so difficult is Christmas gift-giving anxiety.  I had many horrible experiences while growing up, and it makes it a struggle.

Yes, I know everyone will tell you that you give gifts at Christmas out of love.  While there is so much truth to that, there's a part that is not spoken.  Try not giving a gift to your family and see how the reaction is.   That will show you the other unspoken part.

In all honesty, though, we spend a lot of money at Christmas because we have to buy the perfect gift for our loved ones.  I think we've truly lost our way in what really matters, but trying to get the world to see that is like plugging a leaking dam with your finger.

One Christmas while I was in college, I was struggling to make it financially.  I didn't have money from parents.  I had no financial aid.  Everything I needed to pay for college was either student loans or from a full-time job I was working.  I was making it each month, but with nothing extra left over.  If Starbucks had been around then, that would have been a luxury.

This particular year, I had been saving my pennies, nickels, and dimes up.  I was collecting soda cans and turning them in for the 5 cent deposit we had in Iowa.  By Christmas, I think I had saved around $50 which was not a lot, but it's all I had.  I had presents to buy for my Dad, Mom, older brother, younger brother, and my older brother's wife.  Splitting $50 up between that many people doesn't go far, but I did the best I could.

I looked for items that they could use, and that would allow me to spend within the budget I had.  Using the comics sections of the Sunday newspaper, I wrapped the gifts with care.  Wrapping paper was too expensive for me to buy at that point.  I was proud of what I had done because the $50 I spent on gifts could have purchased a month's worth of groceries for me in those days.  Instead I was giving some of my Christmas joy away to my family.

When my family opened the gifts I had gotten for them on Christmas Day, the response I got was not what I expected.  They looked at me and said, "this is all you got us?"  I was crushed.  I was hurt.  They should have just shot me with a gun because it would not have hurt anymore at that moment.  I so badly wanted to take all the gifts back and go give them to the homeless.

Another experience was after I had just gotten out of the hospital from going through Conversion Disorder and being paralyzed.  My parents and I were not on great speaking terms because they were afraid I was going to spill the family secrets.  So, I could have cared less that year if I bought presents or not.  I finally sent them a check for $25 and a lovely card and letter.  The response I got back was "if this is all you're going to do for Christmas, then please don't send us anything more!"  You talk about being crushed.  This was so hurtful, and I honored their request.  I never sent them another thing.

So while everyone wants to think this is an excellent time of year, Christmas gift-giving anxiety is a real thing.  We might not be conscious enough to admit it, and often we feel powerless in our families.  There can be some real hurt inflicted on this day.

If someone gives me something, I don't care if it is a rock, I will cherish it.  Never will you hear me disparage a gift as if it is not enough.  Christmas gift-giving anxiety causes people to spend mega fortunes and go deep into debt at Christmas.

We never got a lot of gifts at Christmas, but the ones we got were special.  My mom would find a way to make the season special even if she could not spend much.

These days, I'll surprise people at the last minute the day before Christmas with homemade cookies or little things.  I'm not looking for them to give me a gift.  I just enjoy giving something.  I still struggle with Christmas gift-giving anxiety, but I try to do things on my own terms.

Call me a Scrooge if you want because I don't celebrate like most people do, but then why would I want more hurt inflicted upon me.  If someone doesn't appreciate what you get them, then no sense to do it for them.

I'm guessing that I am not the only one with Christmas gift-giving anxiety.  If you deal with this, please leave your story in a comment below.  I'd love to hear your experiences.

Blog Post And Images (c) 11/30/17 by Don Shetterly
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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Suck It Up And Move On

Written By Don Shetterly
These words make my skin crawl with disgust for humanity.  When I see someone tell another person going through a difficult time to suck it up and move on, it saddens me.  Why on earth would you make this statement to anyone?

We all have our difficult moments and issues in our life.  Sometimes they are not easy to just move on to the next moment as if they didn't happen.  They are often complex and require little steps towards healing and moving on.

No one can tell another when they should move on.  If we have not walked in the shoes of another and we don't know what they are dealing with in their life.  In fact, even though it may appear to us that they are not moving on, they may, in fact, be making significant progress.  They may be taking big leaps when we cannot see it.

It is not up to us to be heartless and mean and uncaring to someone by telling them to suck it up and move on.  I believe this is about as low as you can get on being human.  Okay, there are other things much lower, but this ranks right down at the bottom of human consciousness.

Telling someone to suck it up means you're telling them to ignore what it is they are feeling or have experienced.  You're saying to those who are struggling that what they are going through does not matter.  Most likely how it makes you feel is more important than what they are going through at that moment.

When others are going through difficult moments, one of the worst things is to listen to people telling them to suck it up and move on.  In fact, that's a recipe for major health issues, mental health struggles like depression and anxiety and suicide.  It is a recipe for adding stress to your life and setting up moments in the future where you don't deal with things in a healthy way.

If you can't be there for the person with empathy and compassion, maybe the best thing to do is run along into the woods.  Perhaps it is a time for you to do some soul-searching about what it means to be human.  You're not helping anyone if you are making statements like this to others.  You're hurting them in ways you don't even understand.

The world needs those who are peaceful and loving.  We don't need more judgment and condemnation.  We need empathy and love, compassion and understanding.  The world needs us to show up for one another and help support each other as we walk through this journey of life.

Be human and stop telling others to suck it up and move on!  You'll be doing the world a big favor.  You will be impacting the world in a positive way.

Extend your arms of support to people.  Don't harm them more when they are facing difficult moments.

Blog Post And Images (c) 12/21/17 by Don Shetterly
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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Interview With Rebecca - It's Not Your Journey

Interview with Rebecca Lombardo
I had the wonderful opportunity to get a few moments of time with Rebcca Lombardo.  In case you don't know Rebecca, she's a wonderful person who works to help others.  She is an author, advocate and survivor and a Huffington Post Blogger.

Rebecca is the author of "It's Not Your Journey" where she talks about her battle with mental illness and suicide.  Using writing, she wanted to let go of some of the pain she had dealt with in her life.  It never dawned on her that by writing, she would be helping others.

This is what drew my attention to Rebecca because by sharing her pain, she did help others.  I have found the same thing to be true in my own life.   I personally have struggled with suicide in my own life and I try to be there for others when the moments get very dark in life.

Here are a few questions.

  1. How did you go about learning to make healthy decisions for your own healing

    After more than 20 years dealing with mental illness, I've become pretty self-aware. I know what works for me and what doesn't most of the time. Other times, my husband can see the tell-tale signs of me spiraling and carefully brings up the topic to me.
  2. What is the most important thing you have learned about healing in your own life?

    The most important thing is that I DO want to live. I want to be here and spend as much time as possible with my husband and pets, and that suicide is NOT an option. I'm never going back there again.

  3. How does writing help you to be able to help others?

    I feel like mental illness in all its forms is very lonely and isolating. When people see that there are others out there just like them that are living a decent life, it starts to occur to them that maybe it can happen for them as well.
  4. In what ways did your book help you in your healing?

    My book helped me purge all of the anger, resentment, and frustration from my life that I had just been carrying around like a weight on my shoulders. It also helped to validate what I was feeling.
  5. What is your most difficult challenge you face in your healing and life?

    It's always hard for me when I hit a bad patch with my depression. I always think to myself that I ought to know how to get out of this, but I don't. Every time you travel the journey, it's for a different reason and in a different direction.
  6.  What can we do to improve mental health in our world?

    I think we've definitely opened a dialogue, but we have to keep going. People fear what they do not understand.  We have to make it easier for them to understand. Make it a regular discussion.
  7. If someone is suicidal, what can they do?

    If they don't have someone they love to go to and talk it out, there are many resources out there, but going to the emergency room is an important option. They can also text Crisis Text Line at 741 741. I always advise, don't go on social media and talk about it because you may not get the reaction that you were hoping for and that may upset you even more. Find a friend or loved one and have a key word with them. Say, "apple." You just call or text that person and say "apple" and they will know you need help.
  8. How do you reach out and connect with someone that is suicidal?

    I am very cautious about offering any specific advice to someone that is suicidal. I'm not a doctor, and I don't want to make things worse, so I try to just be there and be a sounding board and hope to make them feel a bit better. I strongly urge them to seek out someone in there life to talk to.

I appreciate Rebecca sitting down with me for a few minutes and talking with me.  Please check out her book and website.  You can also find Rebecca on Twitter.

Rebecca also is open for speaking engagements in the Michigan area, and you can contact her for more details through her website.

If you are struggling with suicide, I know it isn't easy to reach out, but ask for help.  Find a trusted friend or text the crisis text line in question #7.  Reach out because there are others that know what it is like to go through these moments.  There is help!

For More On Rebecca

Blog Post And Images (c) 12/19/17 by Don Shetterly
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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Angry Rants

Written By Don Shetterly
I'm overwhelmed these days by most things online.  It feels like there is enough stress in a day and then seeing angry rants just pushes it over the edge.  I'm not sure why we as a world are at the place we are, but I'm worried for the future of our civilization.

No one seems to want to listen to another.  We only seem to want to scream and push our point of view on everyone.  I think many feel like no one hears them and if that's the case, the result is to scream louder to compensate.

Everyone seems to have their point of view and belief system.  While that is fine, when you force it upon everyone else, what do you profit?  How do you make their life better?  How do you make the world better?  After all, they are "our" beliefs.  Often times, "our" beliefs are not backed up by as much truth as we think they are.

I see the I'm right, you're wrong in the angry rants.  It doesn't matter the issue.  The ego is crafty and smart and powerful.  It says, my way or the highway and to heck with your views, thoughts, or ideas.  The only thing is, if we are all right, and everyone else is all wrong, then we've got a mess on our hands.  Surely life is more than you're wrong, and I'm right.

Angry rants go on about this individual or group of people.  It often centers around politics and the latest headline of the day.  I'm bewildered when I see the constant stream of it online, weeping in sadness for how we treat one another.

Surely our lives are more than angry rants of who is right and who is wrong.  Are we not more than all of the mind-numbed issue ranting of the day?  If you really look at it, it is not a conscious behavior.

I'm not saying that we should ignore injustice, abuse, and bullying.  In fact, I think we have to speak up, but there are different ways of doing that.  Many that are being used today are not effective and become nothing more than a noisy gong.  We are drowning each other out.

I get the frustration with what is happening throughout the world.  It feels frightening at times and stressful most other moments.  It feels like there is nothing stable or permanent.

In my mind, I see the pendulum of the planet swinging so far back and I wonder how much further it can go.  What will happen when it reaches its furthest most point?  My mind wonders about what will happen when it swings back and hits all the other balls hanging there without motion.

Some days I feel like the only one seeing this, but lately I've noticed I'm not alone.  There are others that see this and try not to add to the anger in this world.  I am inspired and hopeful by these connections.  The peaceful and loving ones are beginning to emerge.

Each and every human needs to stop and take stock of their lives.  We need to be mindful and aware of what we are putting out into the world.  There is more than one way to communicate and right now as a civilization, we're really messed up.

May we figure this out before the pendulum swings too far back.  I hope that everyone who reads this will stop and think about it for one moment.  We cannot expect everyone else to do what we want when we're doing the very same behavior.  We cannot expect others to listen if we do not hear.  If we are screaming, we can not expect them to be silent.

We may think we are right and quite possibly that is true.  However, being right comes with a responsibility to see others through the eyes of love and understanding.  In fact, love and understanding see beyond who is right or wrong.  Angry rants do very little to help.

How do angry rants impact your life?  Do you see anything that you can do differently to be part of the healing in this world?

Blog Post And Images (c) 12/14/17 by Don Shetterly
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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dismissed By A Child Molester

Written By Don Shetterly
Years ago when I was going through some of the roughest healings, I decided to call my dad late one night.  I planned on confronting him about what he did to me.  It took a great deal of courage for me to get to this point.  Having friends close by helped so much.

It isn't easy for me to talk about this to this very day.  I get scared that if I speak out, bad things are going to happen to me.  After all, I was threatened that if I didn't shut up, that they would come after me.  My older brother left that clear message for me at my job.  So this is not a made up fear.  It is real.

At the time anger fueled my reasoning for calling my father.  I was dealing with very rough moments in life as a result of what I had experienced.  It took the anger to confront him because I was so frightened then.

Actually, I'm frightened now with speaking out publicly more, but I know I must.  There are far too many that endure molestation and child abuse.  I am honestly at a point where if they want to come after me, I'll expose every last bit of what they did to me in a public way that will make them regret their threats and actions against me.  I'm tired of hiding it because of what they might do to me.

When I called him up that night, my mom picked up the phone.  Yes, it was late in the middle of the night, but I wanted him on the phone, not her.  So I hung up and called back.  I have my issues with what my mom knew or didn't know, but I wanted him to be the one hearing what I said.

When I got him on the phone, I laid into him.  I didn't let up, and I didn't let him talk.  There was no way I was holding back, and so my anger and pain came out in full force.  I only got about a minute, or so I think of saying what I wanted to say before he hung up on me.

Just before he hung up on me, he said, "GROW UP Donald!"  That was the name he used when he was angry at me.  My final words to him were "GO TO HELL!"

I have never spoken to him since, and I have no intention of doing so.  He made his bed, and now he gets to lie in it.  I have no desire to communicate with him because there is no apology from him.  He doesn't think he did anything wrong.  Molestation was normal to him it seems.  I know it is up to me to continue moving forward and letting go of what he did.

In the news are stories of someone being molested by a prominent figure and they are getting the same treatment.  They are being dismissed by a child molester (or should I say, alleged child molester).  It triggers me back to the memories of what I went through.

Will my Dad and brother ever admit to molesting me?  I doubt it.  They've already convinced family friends that I was brainwashed by Psychiatrists and that I'm crazy.  I was the one that was wrong in their eyes for daring to speak up and expose the secrets.

You see, child molesters stop at nothing to convince the world that they are great humans.  They have no problem with blaming the victim.  They don't care that the child was helpless when they abused and molested them.  It is all about convincing the world that they didn't do anything wrong.

In my case, I'm sure if anyone confronted them, they would also say that "God has forgiven them."  Unfortunately, to me, that does not mean that you act as if nothing ever happened.  That is being a coward in my view.  Either you own up to what you did or don't tell me you've been forgiven.

Just a note here that in my house, forgiveness talk is not as it seems.  It means, forget it and act as if we didn't do anything to you. I heard this line about forgiveness so many times.  It usually was right after they did what they did to me.  I even heard it after my dad would beat my mom.  Thus, forgiveness talk to me is cheap and shallow.

Being dismissed by a child molester is what these people do.  They cannot allow themselves to be exposed to their secrets and lies and abuse.  They blame the victim.

To people that defend what child molesters do, you are not human in my eyes.  You are part of the problem that allows child abuse to continue.  Either you stand up for the rights of all humans, or you need to go find the door to your cave and crawl back inside.

Dismissed by a child molester just seems normal to me.  I almost expect nothing but the blame they put on their victims.  When I see news reports about others, and I hear the perverts attack the victims, my anger boils.  Child molesters don't have any business being on this earth.  When you harm the life of an innocent child, you give up all rights to be human in my view.

Blog Post And Images (c) 11/30/17 by Don Shetterly
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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How I Handled Christmas In 10 Steps

I'm writing this a year in advance.  In fact, Christmas Day 2016, was just yesterday.  Things are beginning to get back to normal.  Email and social media feeds are starting to liven up again.  Trash pickup just went by trying to collect everyone's trash from yesterday.  So, yeah, Christmas is over once again.

However, I thought I would write this because someone asked me if I would do anything different the next year.  I had written earlier that I struggled to deal with the holidays.  I'm one of those where the hurt and pain shows up with the fun and presents.

Growing up, my mom did her best to really go all out celebrating Christmas on a shoestring budget.  Yes, we were envious of our friends who got a lot of presents, but my mom tried to make it special in other ways.  From decorating Christmas cookies, to the food and candy she would make and to just decorating the house, it became a special day.

Unfortunately, in the midst of all of it there was a lot of stuff that hit the fan.  There were many moments that are painful and in fact so painful, that I can't even talk about them yet.  I've done a tremendous amount of healing and forgiveness but the stuff is there in too great of quantities.

So, when Christmas comes - it isn't easy.  The turmoil that hits me emotionally and in my mind feels like 200 MACK trucks hitting me at about 100 mph every second of every day.  It isn't easy.  Lord knows I've tried to find ways to deal with it, but it just is not easy.  If you're like I am, than this isn't news to you.

Here's some of the things I did in 2016 and I'm writing this to my future self so I'll remember what worked and what helped.

  1. We were able to take a trip for a few days leading up to Christmas.  In that final week before Christmas, I truly struggle, and so this helped keep my mind off of dwelling on it.
  2. I tried to slow down for December.  Even half of my normal speed is almost too much.  A few things to do can quickly and easily overwhelm me.  So, it's best to slow it down a lot!
  3. I made sure that anything I wanted to get done to celebrate Christmas was done by the middle of the month.  I knew that the last week or two, I just needed to coast through it.  Any more than that and it was too much.
  4. I reached out to my partner and tried to explain things about what I needed.  He was very loving and compassionate and worked with me.
  5. I reached out to friends, and they were a support during this time.  In fact, I tried to help be there for them, and I think it helped me in the long run.
  6. I recognized that this was a tough time and tried hard not to beat myself up for it.  It is the way it is, and there is no sense in shaming myself into what my "surreal concept" should be for Christmas.
  7. I tried to get in extra exercise and activity by walking and worked to not let myself isolate from others or the outdoors.  Fortunately, I live in a warm climate, but just being outside in nature and the sun helped me greatly.
  8. I looked for ways to be creative, but not necessarily that I had to complete a project.  Creativity helps me deal with life and stress and the past.  If I embrace it, it helps me.
  9. I would look for moments of quietness and stillness to just take care of myself.  I didn't do this to hide or isolate, but to just give myself a chance to breathe.
  10. I worked to help connect with my mind and body through awareness and breathing so I could give myself a boost in energy to deal with all the pain I was facing.

For the most part, these things helped.  Yes, I did get depressed.  Yes, I struggled with anxiety.  I already try to stay out of the stores right around the holiday because people are usually rude and inconsiderate.  It takes very little to push me over the edge.

I do avoid any parties because I just don't do well at this time.  On Christmas, I stay away from family functions because it is just too much for me to sort out.  A good video and downtime from the computer are far more welcomed to me than having to negotiate family pain.

These things help.  I just know that it isn't an easy time and I've learned it is okay to be okay with that.  The "beautiful family gatherings" may exist out there, but I know many who struggle with the pain it brings.  If we honor and respect where we are, what we can do and that we have so much going for us, it can make the days go a little easier.

What do you do to help yourself handle Christmas?  Leave a reply and let me know.

Blog Post And Images (c) 11/30/17 by Don Shetterly
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Blog Post And Images (c) 1/01/07 by Don Shetterly
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