My Holiday Mantra

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Every year I ask my daughters to give me a small Christmas list. They’re both in their early twenties and even though they’re easy to shop for, I like to get a couple specific ideas.

I opened Talee’s email and clicked on the first link. It led me to the bracelet pictured above.

I smiled. It warmed my heart. She believed she could, so she did. What a strong message. It says a lot to me that Talee picked this out for herself.

I’m sure she thinks it’s cute because of the slim design, the rose gold, and the ‘girl power’ mantra. I do too. But it also reminds me how far Talee has come.

Maybe I’m reading more into it than I should, but here’s what goes through my mind:

  • My little Talee, painfully shy with terrible separation anxiety in preschool. She used to hold onto my legs and say, “Mommy, I’m scared.” When I asked what she was afraid of, she’d shrug and tell me she didn’t know. I desperately wanted her to be confident and speak up for herself. As she got older, an amazing thing happened. She became sure of herself, walking tall and proud, talking to people with direct eye contact. She’s grown into a happy, confident, and outgoing young woman, graduating from college in six months. She believed she could, so she did.
  • My little Talee, with sports induced asthma so severe, I thought she’d have to give up her passion — basketball. But I don’t think quitting her favorite sport ever entered her mind. She never, ever gave up.Through determination and hard work, she became one of the most valuable players on her high school basketball team. She still plays intramural tournaments in college. She believed she could, so she did.
  • My little Talee, dealing with anxiety and panic attacks when she was just ten years old. She was frightened, embarrassed, and frustrated that she couldn’t make it go away. After having a panic episode one day in fourth grade, she was terrified it would happen again. Her fear caused her to miss several weeks of school. With medical help, she learned how to control her panic. It wasn’t easy and took time. She persevered and is stronger because of it. Panic no longer rules her. Talee is the one in control. She believed she could, so she did.

It’s funny how one small Christmas gift has so much significance for me. I know Talee would laugh if she knew that, and tell me I overthink things way too much.

Maybe I’ll buy three bracelets.

Mackenzie would also love one. With tenacity and courage, she’s carved a successful path for her career, one she’s dreamed of since high school. She believed she could, so she did.

When I wear mine, it’ll remind me to continue reaching for my hopes and dreams. And I’ll think of my strong, beautiful daughters.

First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here

Passing the Torch

This past Sunday I gave each of my daughters a great big hug and watched them drive away. Mackenzie, back to her apartment and job in the city, and Talee, back to college. We’d had a wonderful Thanksgiving week, and I treasured every moment. Talking, laughing, cooking, eating, shopping, cuddling — my girls back in the nest for five glorious days.

It was a different Thanksgiving. Great, just different. Talee’s boyfriend spent a few days  with us, which was a lot of fun and nice to get to know him better. And for the first time in many years, we didn’t host the big turkey dinner.

I love to have family over to celebrate Thanksgiving. I set the tables with cranberry-colored tablecloths, the china we received as wedding gifts, and name tags personalized by Talee.

One of my nephews and his wife recently moved and were excited to host their first Thanksgiving in their new home. At first I was hesitant to give up our traditions. Even Mackenzie and Talee wanted to keep it at our house.

But I have to admit, I was intrigued by the thought of not planning, organizing, and cooking the main course. A year off could be nice.

It turned out amazing, and beautiful, and delicious. Forty of us, gathered to celebrate and count our many blessings.

I can’t remember a Thanksgiving when my dad didn’t carve the turkey. At our house, he sits at the kitchen counter and expertly slices, using an electric knife. I’ve watched his technique many times. Each year I think he’s going to say he doesn’t want to do it, but that has never happened. My family has dozens, maybe hundreds, of pictures and videos of Dad cutting the turkey.

I wondered what was going to happen at my nephew’s house. Would Dad step in? It wouldn’t feel right if he didn’t. But maybe it was time.

Not quite yet. My dad wanted to pass the lesson on to my nephew. It made me smile to see them with gloves on, hunched over the bird. Dad was intent on teaching his grandson the proper way to carve. My nephew was unsure of his first attempt. He did great.

I realized at that moment that the torch was being passed. The younger generation learning from the older one. This is how traditions are carried on.

Our family made special memories at the feast last week. I was able to relax, and it felt good just to be in charge of the green bean casserole and homemade macaroni and cheese.

I’m not saying I’ll never host Thanksgiving again. I’m sure I will. And I’m also certain my dad will still offer to carve the turkey, as long as he is able. But life is changing. It’s time.

First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here

Kindness at the Laundromat

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I smiled when I walked into the local laundromat this morning. It wasn’t just because I was happy to be washing our large comforters and bedding.

Many of the washers and dryers were adorned with sticky notes. Positive, loving, encouraging reminders. A random act of kindness that brightened my day and warmed my heart. Just what I needed.

Small gestures of kindness mean so much!

#sharegoodness #sharekindness

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Donuts and Division

I choose not to discuss politics on my blog. But I can’t let this go.

I was stunned by what happened after Mass yesterday.

My husband and I took our glazed donuts and coffee and sat near the fountain in the church courtyard. My mom saw us and came over.

A few minutes later one of my mom’s friends walked by and stopped to talk. The conversation took an immediate turn I didn’t expect.

Mom’s friend, looking right at Mom: “Before we start talking, I have to know. Did you vote for Trump?”

Mom: “No.”

Mom’s friend: “Good. Because I don’t want to associate with any hate mongers.”

WHAT? Did she really just say that?

My jaw dropped. I looked at my husband and took a deep breath. That woman had no idea who we voted for. And actually, it didn’t even matter. If I voted Democrat or Republican, it wouldn’t change my reaction to what she said.

I know how deeply our country is divided. But up until that moment, I hadn’t experienced the anger and bitterness firsthand.

I was so shocked by her spiteful words, I couldn’t concentrate. No matter what she said after that, I had no interest in getting to know her. She didn’t seem kind. She basically stated she didn’t want to speak with others, unless they’re of the same political affiliation as her.

And she just attended Mass.

Maybe she didn’t listen to the priest, as he called for peace and unity. She must not have heard him tell the congregation we need to practice tolerance and respect. And appreciate the diverse fabric of our nation, which is what makes life rich and beautiful. Did she miss his prayers for our nation to heal?

My husband and I didn’t say anything to Mom’s friend. We didn’t want to embarrass my mom or incite a confrontation. It wasn’t the time or place for that.

We all don’t have to agree. One of our most important rights as American citizens is freedom to voice our opinions. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect the views of others. What I’m certain of, is that hate is never appropriate.

I hope my mom’s friend will one day recognize that her thoughts and actions do not promote kindness, acceptance, or humility.

I pray that in time, the United States will not be as divided as it is today.

First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here

Just a Thought…

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This quote is timely because of the U.S. presidential election. But this post isn’t about politics.

It’s about never giving up.

If a situation is too difficult or complicated, I tend to get overwhelmed and want to stop. Give up.

When my husband points this out, I feel frustrated and disagree. “I’m not giving up. It just isn’t working!” It’s hard to admit, but I know he’s right.

I sincerely appreciate his encouragement. It’s made me a better person, more willing and able to keep forging ahead.

Here’s some of my husband’s advice, which I do my best to follow:

  •  Be persistent.
  • Take the initiative. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.
  • If there’s an obstacle in your way, change paths.
  • There are more ways than one to reach your destination.
  • Put more time in to solving the issue.
  • If one person can’t help you, talk to someone who can.
  • Either find a way or make one.
  • Do not give up.

It’s still challenging for me if things don’t fall into place according to my timing. But I’ve learned to be patient and take small steps toward the main goal. To stay diligent and not expect miracles overnight.

The most important thing? Never give up hope.

First image my own

Second image courtesy of here

Book Cover Reveal

Exciting news from Brigid at Watching the Daisies! Her new book will be released Nov. 14. Have a look!

Watching the Daisies

watching-the-daisies3Here it is – my book cover!  It will launch on Monday 14th November on Amazon Kindle.

I am holding a Book Launch Celebration Party on Saturday 12th November from 12 noon GMT to celebrate.

The first 10 people to re-blog Saturday’s ” Book Launch Celebration Party”post will receive a free e formatted copy of my book.

I have added a little synopsis of my book below:

Millions of people around the world suffer from fibromyalgia; the majority of them are women.  As yet there is no cure.

In this memoir, Brigid P. Gallagher shares her experiences on:

  • The BUSY life she followed before succumbing to this debilitating illness
  • Stopping and soul searching for answers to her vast array of symptoms
  • Entering a new life of SLOW

Drawing on her knowledge and experience as a Natural Medicines therapist, she seeks out therapies to aid her healing and integrates a variety…

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Stigma and Me

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Mental illness is a real medical illness. It must not be ignored. It needs to be treated–the sooner, the better.

I wish I would’ve known. It took me twenty years before I reached out for help for panic attacks.

I’m not the only one who has waited so long. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, states that people who have a mental health condition typically get help eight to ten years after the first warning signs appear. That’s a huge delay. The main reason?

Stigma.

I was embarrassed. Even if I thought about telling someone, I didn’t know how to describe my strange and frightening symptoms. I knew I was different and my problem wasn’t normal. I didn’t want anyone to know. I hid it very well.

My anxiety wasn’t always there. Most of the time, I was fine. I tried to kid myself into thinking it wasn’t a big deal.

My internal monologue wasn’t very kind.

This is stupid.  I worry too much. Who cares if once in a while my heart beats too fast, and I get lightheaded and dizzy? So what if I feel sick to my stomach, sweaty, shaky, and start to black out? I need to be tougher when I think I’m going to faint. I have to calm down when I feel like running out of the place I’m panicking. Who does that? Get over it.

It’s the dumbest thing ever that I’m afraid to drive because I’m scared of feeling panicky.  People get annoyed when they’re stuck in traffic, but they don’t feel like me. Their hearts don’t pound and they don’t need to pull over to calm down.

And why would I ever be worried about going to the grocery store or the mall? Everyone else looks perfectly relaxed. What’s wrong with me?

The worst is when I feel disoriented, like I’m living in a dream and things aren’t real, and I’m having an out of body experience. That’s creepy. I can’t let myself think that way. This is absolutely ridiculous. I should be able to stop it. Just STOP it.

No matter what I do, I can’t let anyone know. They’ll think I’m weird. Am I going crazy? I don’t think so. But maybe. I doubt a doctor would know how to help. I don’t want to be sent for a bunch of tests. I wonder if I have a brain tumor. I don’t want to scare my family. Whatever. I’m fine. Usually.

When I look back on how I used to talk to myself, it makes me sad. I needed help and should’ve told someone. But I didn’t dream that was an option.

Now I know why I felt like that. Stigma. Growing up, I never heard anyone talk about mental illness. I had no idea my symptoms had an actual name. Panic attacks, panic disorder, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder.

I thought I was alone.

I was shocked when my doctor said I could take medication to help me feel better. I was even more amazed when the antidepressant worked.

The discussion about mental health conditions must continue. The more that people talk about these disorders, the less taboo they will be.

It doesn’t matter if the symptoms are mild or severe, there’s help available. There is hope. You’re not alone.

Stigma… Go away.