Since we are on the eve of a new year, I put together a list of 400 things (because some days one isn’t enough), in no particular order, that I was grateful for during 2016. I hope there are things on this list that you are thankful for too. Here’s to embracing 2017 with a little more gratitude.
1. Having my own room and the freedom to decorate it how I choose
2. Every pilot who got me safely to my destination
5. New clothing
6. The ability to read and write
7. Loving friends that have supported me when I’ve needed them
10. My education
11. I didn’t go to bed hungry last night
12. My mentors
13. I woke up this morning
16. The color purple… literally the color
17. All colors
18. Coloring books
20. Celebrities reading mean tweets
22. My eyesight
23. Real Christmas trees
24. Natural light
26. Warm blankets
28. Comfy sweaters/sweatshirts
29. My favorite purple shirt
31. Warm clothing
32. Christmas lights
33. Successful DIY’s
36. The future
37. My car
38. Nail polish
40. Having no car problems at the moment
41. The seasons
42. Those who have served and are serving our country
43. Having people in my life that continually push me to become better
44. Thank you notes
46. I can go outside and feel the breeze through my hair and the sun’s warmth on my skin
47. Clean laundry
48. Fresh sheets
49. My accomplishments, great and small
50. The times I failed
51. Roommates that are nice
52. My mom, her unending love and support even when we have disagreed, for all that she has taught me and for being someone I look up to and am proud of
53. Clean rooms
54. Children’s laughter and smiles
55. I am able to see
56. Rainy days when I don’t have to go anywhere
57. Animal rescues
59. Birthday cake
61. Birthday & Holiday cards
62. Finding old friends on Facebook
66. My entire family
67. Campfires with good company
68. My treehouse
71. My heart, lungs, hands, immune system… my body as a whole and all that it does for me
72. Pain: without it, it would be difficult to appreciate life’s joys
74. FREE wifi
75. Comfortable places to sit
76. Chocolate croissants
77. Freedom to vote
78. My independence
81. That one song that I can’t resist singing along to… and there are many of them
82. Music that makes me happy
83. Every musician who has written a song I’ve listened to
84. Leaving home
85. Coming home
86. Creative/art days
87. Road Trips
89. Movie nights
90. Affordable housing
95. Tears: sometimes when there are not words to say, tears express how we feel for us
97. My talents
98. My dreams
99. Those that have believed and encouraged me when I have doubted myself
100. The ability to learn
101. Cell phones
105. Also cats
106. Pretty much any and all animals
107. A really good cry
110. Face wash
111. The people that let me cut in line when checking out
112. Puppy kisses and cuddles
113. Treat Yourself and Self-Care days
116. TSA Pre
117. Finding money in pants pockets, buried in my room, etc.
119. Good smelling lotion/perfume
120. Long phone conversations with the right people
121. My volunteer job
122. My ability to hear
124. My tablet
125. My printer
126. Water bottles
127. Coffee mugs
128. Strawberry jelly
129. Perfectly cooked chicken
130. Simple acts of kindness
131. Barnes & Noble
132. Getting all green lights when driving
135. Being understood
136. Access to healthy food
137. Lunch and dinner dates
139. Ripe avocados
140. Wisdom that comes with age
142. My ability to breathe
143. Full tanks of gas
145. Fresh salsa
146. Stuffed animals
147. Morning dew on plants
148. Grocery stores
150. Those who care enough to share their wisdom and advice, even if I don’t follow it
151. Laughing so hard that you your face and stomach hurt and you can’t breathe
152. The breakdown moments
153. Being able to laugh at myself
155. Good puns
156. Money in the bank
158. My laminator
162. Sharp Mesa Vista
163. Dr. Fideleo
164. Punctual people
165. Car washes
166. Old buildings
168. Friday morning breakfasts at Gentiva
169. Good food
170. Meditation and mindfulness
172. The smell of clean laundry
173. Ranch dressing
175. People willing to teach
177. That there are people in the world who care about the earth, animals, and human rights
178. Art nights with friends
179. People that aren’t as*holes
180. The good days
181. The bad days
182. Oven mitts
183. Pumpkin spice lattes… and that I know how to make them from scratch now
184. Limited/no commercials
186. Having people and places I can rely on when I’m struggling
187. Every experience that led to this moment
188. Days spent in bed
189. Homemade gifts
190. People watching
192. Car air fresheners
193. Toilet paper
194. Makeup wipes
195. My favorite pair of black pants
196. Michael’s Arts & Crafts store
197. That excited, extremely happy feeling
198. The memories I made this year
202. Writing for showing me what I think about life
203. Hair ties
204. The seniors in the jewelry class I teach
205. Sweater weather
206. AA batteries
207. That feeling of your toes in warm sand
209. Being there for my friends
212. My friends’ accomplishments
214. Receiving flowers
215. Strangers that smile at you
216. Good samaritans
217. Girl Scout cookies… especially Thin Mints
218. The beauty of nature
219. Beauty in any form
220. Memories of times with family members of loved ones, whether they’re still around or not
221. Intellectual conversation
222. The people that inspire me
223. Indoor plumbing
224. Hair products that work for me
226. The moments I feel hopeful
227. My cool and complex family heritage
228. My love for genealogy
229. That stretch when you first wake up
231. My imagination
232. Singing in the shower
233. Singing in the car
234. Kindness of strangers
239. Feeling accomplished
241. Baby animals
242. Funny animal videos
243. Scrolling through old pictures on Facebook
244. Facebook, for how it lets me stay connected with friends and family both near and far
245. Potato chips
246. Shirley’ Temple’s at Studio Diner with extra cherries
247. The Big BLT at Studio Diner
249. A good meal shared with friends and/or family
251. Anyone who’s ever gotten me out of a rut
252. Sales at my favorite stores
253. Every moment I will have, even if I’m not grateful when it comes
254. Gratitude for life this list is bring me
255. The perfect s’more
256. The variety of materials we get to use to make so much different stuff
259. The moon and stars
260. Trips with loved ones
261. That I was able to travel so much this year and visit with many people that mean so much to me
263. Ripe mangos
264. My great-grandmother Margaret’s chocolate nut waffle recipe and getting to share moments with my mom making and enjoying them
265. Sparkling cider
266. Dancing around my room when no one is home
267. Bad dance moves
268. The city I live in
269. A relieving sneeze
270. My ability to explore
271. Not having a curfew
272. Inside jokes
273. Sensitivity to the world for letting me feel deeply
275. The willingness to act in fear and the moments I push myself out of my comfort zone
276. Getting good advice
277. Giving good advice
281. The smell in the air after rain
282. Fresh fruit
283. That feeling after a really good workout
285. Freedom of speech
286. Hugs from my mom
289. Conversations with the right people at the right time
290. The ability to love
291. The feeling of being loved
293. 24-hour Walmart
294. A good night’s sleep
296. Days I feel good about myself
298. I have access to clean drinking water
299. Hot water
300. Art and every person who dared to create something new
301. Air conditioning
304. Delivery food and the driver’s that bring it
305. New friends
306. The snooze button
307. The tough conversations that helped me to grow
308. Old photographs
309. Mornings and the chance to start over
310. That moment when you have exact change
311. Actually having cash, period
314. Sticky notes
315. Every person who’s ever made me laugh
316. Bubble wrap
318. Surprise parties
319. Good surprises
320. The smell of old books/paper
321. Hot tea
322. Sweet tea
323. Alone time
325. Busy days
326. I woke up this morning with a roof over my head
327. Online shopping
328. Brené Brown
329. My mind and the ability to think for myself
330. I have a choice of what clothes to wear today
331. That moment when you trip but catch yourself before you fall
332. Social media
333. Cute couples that aren’t obnoxious
334. Curse words
335. Fortune Cookies
337. I haven’t feared for my life today
338. Slow-mo videos
340. Vacuum cleaners
341. The ability to make someone laugh
342. Amy Poehler & Tina Fey
344. Hot tubs
346. Commercials that make me cry
347. Commercials that make me laugh
348. Seat belts
350. Good pens
351. Nail clippers and files
352. Ellen DeGeneres
353. Matching socks
354. I have overcome some considerable obstacles, and I have learned and survived
355. Jimmy Fallon
357. The smell of a ripe lemon
358. Warm summer nights at the bay
359. I often worry about what I am going to do with my life-my career, family, the next step etc.-which means I have the ambition, passion, drive and the freedom to make my own decisions
360. I live in a country that protects my basic human rights and civil liberties
362. James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke
363. New razors
364. I am reasonably strong and healthy-if I got sick today I could recover
365. I have a friend or relative who misses me and looks forward to my next visit
366. I have someone with whom I can reminisce about good times
368. Free samples
369. I have access to good medical care
370. Friendly airport security
371. Comfort food
372. Perfect lighting for pictures
373. Home cooked meals
374. My family’s homemade tacos
375. Having a key to my front door
376. Biscuits from Red Lobster… and that my mom has the recipe/has made them
377. My hair
378. Fresh bread
380. I have a bed to sleep in
381. Having time to rest
382. My talent & love of baking
383. Anything fresh out of the oven
384. A healthy family
386. My therapist
387. My psychiatrist
388. My current meds are working
389. Miniature animals
390. Photo filters & editing
397. Modern medicine
398. Unexpected friendships
399. My life as a whole
400. To be blessed in so many big and small ways
What’s on your list?
Happy New Year, friends!
© Margaret Lennon 2016
I’m one step closer to having a peaceful place to retreat in the trees, something I have been thinking about for a long time.
Part of daring to be purple is about finding balance in life. I often find myself in “doing” mode vs. “being” mode and I’m hoping that creating a space outside of my room will give me more opportunities to relax and breathe. A little place to get away without having to leave home.
Take the first step. Once you start you can’t stop the moving walkway. Look toward the future. Beware of assumptions that will try to hold you back. Commit. Take a risk. You’re unstoppable. You will be ok.
I have dreamt of writing a book for about as long as I can remember but have done little to make it happen thus far.
On Wednesday, I took what I consider a giant leap toward that goal and joined a meetup group for writers. I figured it was time to put myself out there, and that if it totally bombed it only cost me $5 and I didn’t have to go back.
The format of the group involves the organizer reading a prompt followed by quiet, uninterrupted writing for about 30-45 minutes. I’m not exactly sure of the length, as we weren’t allowed to have our cell phones on. Lastly, each person has the opportunity to share what they wrote, without critique or judgment.
There are actual writing rules for the group. Or rather, the rule is that there are no rules. They were adapted from Natalie Goldberg’s work The Wild Mind and added to over the years by practitioners.
The rules are as follows:
1. Keep your hand moving. Remember the writing hand is the creator. The other hand is the editor. If you keep the creating hand moving, the editing hand can’t get a word in edgewise. This is important for writing practice. It gives the creator more space to create. The editor has no place in writing practice.
2. Lose control. Say what you want to say. Forget about structure, rules and being nice. The more you lose control the more authentic your writing becomes. Go for it, then go for some more.
3. Be specific. By naming things, you are more deeply in the present. You honor people, places and things by naming them. The more specific your description, the more life your writing has. Picture to detail, especially as you perceive it through your five senses and write it down.
4. Don’t think. First thoughts hold the truth. First thoughts are unencumbered by ego. Write them. Second thoughts are caution, editing, considering, rethinking. Go with the first flash of truth.
5. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar or syntax. In fact, don’t worry about anything, just write.
6. You are free to write the worst junk in America. Some days you will, and some days you will write something really wonderful, and some days you will just write.
7. Go for the jugular. If something scary comes up go for it, that’s where the energy is. Write through your tears, your anger, all those fears. Go for the real stuff, if you don’t you will be tiptoeing about whatever your real stuff is. You wont believe it and neither will your readers.
8. Date your page. This keeps you grounded in the present and helps you reference pieces you might want to use in something else.
9. The unwritten rule: don’t apologize.
10. Assume its fiction, don’t ask.
11. Remember to breathe.
Sounds pretty good to me. I thought I was going to get a pass as it was my first week, but even I was asked to share what I had written. Yikes! It was challenging to silence my inner critic that thought the writing was a piece of crap compared to the others in the group, but I read it anyway. I survived. Phew! I am going to give it another go next Wednesday and see what happens.
© Margaret Lennon 2016
January 30, 2016
I haven’t been here in a very long time. It would be too long and complicated to fill in the gaps entirely, so I am just going to start over and see where things go.
2015 was filled with some major changes for me. The biggest being that I moved into a house with 3 roommates in September. It was only the 2nd time I’ve ever moved.
Before that, I spent 4 years living in a transitional housing home for women who had either some type of mental illness, a history of substance use, had survived domestic violence, and whom would otherwise have had nowhere to go. Although it posed a lot of challenges, moving there was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself at the time. I needed the support and structure that the housing program provided.
Over time, I became somewhat of a “poster child of success” for the program. No pressure. I “graduated” from the program at the end of August and soon after was asked to join the Board of Directors. I am currently the only resident/former resident on the board, and I think the first. I was elected Secretary in December.
Things were going relatively well. I was adjusting to and enjoying my new living situation and at the end of October got a temp job that was keeping me busy.
I’m used to there often being some kind of drama in my life. Maybe the stability of my new life was starting to scare me. Maybe things were going too well. There were a lot of things that led up to the episode, not all of which were rational. Part of it was also misdirected anger. I was hurt by a family situation and let it get to me instead of dealing with it.
In any case, the day after Thanksgiving I took myself off all of my medication. I have done it more than once and I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT!
At first my mood was ok, I just felt nauseated for days. I actually thought my mood was improving after about 2 weeks. I didn’t think I needed the medication. After all, I had been on the same meds for years, who knew what they were doing for me?
Well, the honeymoon period didn’t last for long. That’s where my illness gets me every time. I ended up sending myself into a hypomanic episode. I started having a lot of ideas. I was going to get back into different projects. I was making plans to go on trips. My friends told me later that I would get into conversations and not let the other person get a word in, which isn’t like me. Then I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t tired even after only 2-3 hours of sleep. I became more easily agitated. I couldn’t stop thinking about hurting myself and got to the point that I was carrying a razor with me. This went on for about a week until I couldn’t handle it anymore. I ended up checking myself into the hospital where I was put back on a bunch of meds and was able to get some sleep. I was released after 15 days.
I can’t deny the clear evidence that I have a chemical imbalance, yet I spend a lot of my time fighting it. I think it’s easier to accept my physical limitations than it is to acknowledge that I have Bipolar Disorder, but I can’t deny that how I am doing today compared to 3 weeks ago are night and day.
I have been out of the hospital for just over two weeks and am picking up the pieces once again. I can’t go back and change anything, I can only try to learn from it again and go from here.
I’m not back to square 1, but am starting over from somewhere in the middle.
© Margaret Lennon 2016
January 16, 2012 – 6:20p.m.
Over the last few years I have spent many hours engrossed in all things genealogy, but mostly pertaining to anything I could find out about my dad’s family. While I was able to find quite a bit it seems that the last of the big things has been recently found (the DVD’s) and I now have to move forward and on to a different project.
Recently a few people in my life have brought up wanting to find their relatives either living or deceased and being a genealogist my ears perked up each time and I have been eager to jump in and help. I am waiting for one to give me a little more information and for the second I have found quite a bit for already. Helping them has reminded me how much I miss genealogy.
I like working on genealogy because I feel like it is something I am good at. I don’t consider myself politically savvy or up on the latest current events, I tend to not have opinions on things that others seem to be really passionate about, and I can’t recount, with much detail anyway, sports games that I have either watched on TV or played in, even just seconds after the play has ended.
I feel like I am not cognitively with it these days. Little things that I feel like I should be able to accomplish are becoming huge tasks, and huge tasks are becoming overwhelming to the point of causing meltdowns. I am not sure what to do about this. I otherwise feel relatively stable and don’t really want to mess with anything at this point. Maybe this is not stability and I need to be more proactive about it but I lack the energy to follow through.
I managed to get by this past week, making a deadline for a project I have had on my desk at work since we came back from winter break. By the end of last week I assumed I had failed; I thought I had fallen so far behind that there was no hope to get it done.
I felt like I couldn’t do it on my own but instead of asking for help I ended up falling apart in front of my mom (who also works where I do and who happens to be the supervisor for the project I was working on). She ended up coming over to my desk and breaking down the huge task into smaller pieces, in front of a couple of my clients which I found completely humiliating.
I thought I kind of knew what I was doing with the project but as soon as someone who was helping me would leave I would freak out and start to second guess if I was doing things right because there were a number of steps involved and I tend to get confused with projects like that. I need to be able to do work at work and not have meltdowns when I get confused or overwhelmed. I wish things weren’t so overwhelming.
© Margaret Lennon 2012