#Reverb11 Day 20: Friendship

Prompt: Friendship – What kind of a friend were you in 2011? What kind of a friend do you want to be in 2012?

My first thought: “How the hell should I know?”

A good man told me that the best answer to this kind of question is “Could’ve been better.” Now do I have the sense to leave it at that?

I know the kind of friend I hope I am. I hope I was there for my friends this year when they needed me. I hope I said the right things when I got there. I hope they felt it every single time I sent them positive vibes, good thoughts or general ass-kicking support.

I hope they know how much they mean to me.

2011 was knocked a bit sideways.  I can’t look at this year without feeling that my eyes are clouded, that I’m seeing it through smoked glass, a picture fading to black and white. I know I did things. I know I had fun. I know there were some great months, and this month isn’t even over yet. But there were those other months too, weeks upon weeks overshadowed by the Crohn’s that laid Mr. HouseofBeck flat. That takes a toll. I think I became somewhat of a worried hermit, not going out much because he couldn’t and the thought of leaving him at home feeling dreadful and alone just fractured me.

I escaped where I could online and through books, and I know my friends helped me. But did I help them as much as I could?

I honestly don’t know if my thoughts translated to deeds in every case. I’m a little too exhausted to fathom 2012 right now. But I’m glad I’m here to see it, and at the very least I hope I continue to be a strong support for my friends when they need it–even before. Part of who I am is giving the love and support they need.

So come on, 2012. I’m ready!

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#Reverb11 Day 15: Teaching Moment

#Reverb11 Day 15: Teaching Moment – Sometimes we find teachers in the most unexpected places. Who surprised you as a teacher this year, and what did you learn?

Teaching Moment, or the Moment of Truth

The biggest thing I learned this year was that caring isn’t enough.

I know, it doesn’t sound good. It doesn’t even look good. It’s not something I particularly want to believe. But it’s one of those things where it doesn’t matter if you like it or not, it happens anyway.

I believe in the power of positive thought. I’m a terrible skeptic, so accepting this means that I’ve experienced it myself, felt its strength, beauty and charm coloring me, allowed myself to acknowledge its benevolent balancing act. For all that, I seem to be far better at sending it out to others rather than using it for myself, so this year I feel as if I’ve rediscovered it for myself. It’s like an old friend that I’ve known under other names all my life.

And yet it isn’t always enough.

I’ve seen it both at work and at home. At work, the dementia care side of my company is committed to doing the very best they can for someone living with Alzheimer’s. Note the phrase–it’s “living with,” not “suffering from.” This is because they believe in looking at what the person CAN still do, not at what they can no longer do. I’ve seen and heard miracles since I’ve been working here.

What this also means, though, is that while of course your love and compassion and caring mean the world, you–or someone who can help–need the skills to see those abilities that still exist, to draw them out, to achieve the highest quality of life possible for that person.

Which of course is fantastic. But you can also see how it’s shifting yourself away from the center of the equation, just a little bit, so that you’re truly focused on the other person and not just on how you’re feeling about it. And that can be incredibly tough.

At home, it’s kind of the same. I’ve found myself wishing for that magic wand to wave so that my husband’s Crohn’s will go away. For that magical cocktail of pills or supplements or Reiki or whatever, everything, anything, that will send it dormant and bring him back to balance. I don’t have the skill to reach in and cure it, and that’s what makes me feel so helpless sometimes. This is, of course, why we have doctors, and the experiences of others to draw from.

None of this is saying that caring isn’t absolutely essential. It is. You just sometimes need the other pieces too.

And I guess knowing that makes me feel less helpless, oddly enough–because there ARE resources and people and information to tap into, online and off. Maybe just knowing that we’ve used our caring to find help, or at least find understanding, is as important as the rest.

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#Reverb11 Day 12: What are 12 things your life doesn’t need in 2012?

Prompt: What are 12 things your life doesn’t need in 2012? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these things change your life?

I’m cheating with this. #1 is nearly all I can think of, and I’ve been staring at this prompt for two days now and unable to get past that first item looming in my head. So for me, #1 is good for at least five or eight things. And I’m satisfied with that.

Not Quite 12 Things I Don’t Need in 2012

1. Ill health. I’m really not good at this. If it’s me, I tend to want to be left alone until I get better. Usually I’m pissed off about it. So I can handle me. When it’s someone else, though, no.

I’ve been watching my husband suffer from Crohn’s for this entire past year. It really sucks, because there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I don’t deal with being helpless very well. I can’t SEE it. I can’t be on the inside with it. I can only hover on the outside and watch him go through hell.

He  says I am a tremendous support. He tells me “just being there” is enough. He tells me he’s so glad I’m with him. I hear it, I comprehend it, but I think most of me doesn’t believe it, because I think I should be able to do more. I don’t know what, but something. Reach in and grab the disease and crush every last speck of it out. That kind of something.

I don’t know how to eliminate this one other than trying to keep on with the positive thoughts, help and support that I can do. Keeping spirits up, for him and for me, is powerful. I know this.  I’ve seen it proved so many times.

It can just be soul-wearying sometimes.

The rest of these are in no particular order (and won’t make up the full 12 because of my get-out-of-jail-free reason above):

2. Unemployment. I’m big on job security. Losing my job in 2009 really affected me. Up until then, I was looking forward to a slow but steady progression in that single company. The fact that I wasn’t, perhaps, particularly happy in that company suddenly disappeared from my mind when my job also disappeared.

The positives outweighed the negatives, once I realized I was still me and a viable me despite getting the axe. There is one lingering negative I’ve only recently started realizing in turn: I don’t feel secure. I no longer believe a permanent job is permanent.

I know, this is probably just one of the most common of commonsensical things. I just don’t like it. Yet, I don’t have to like it. I just have to deal with it. All I can do is do my best, so whatever does happen, I’ll know I not only kept my integrity but was a credit to myself.

3. Bad spending habits. Don’t tell anyone, but I have coin jars under my dresser. I have “mad money” tucked in old wallets and under deceptively innocuous objects. I keep a large checking balance just in case I get stupid all of a sudden. For all that, I seem to be rather cavalier about money. Having it is wrapped up with my sense of security, but I definitely have my periods of spending. This year has seen a lot of retail therapy, and I can’t say I use 100% of what I get.

But. My latest purchase is a pair of real winter boots, not just girl-boots, so I can keep walking outside even when it snows. These I’ll use.

I hope to make every next purchase a purchase I’ll use, or not make it at all.

4. Losing my focus. If I’m going to write, I should write. Period. This is what I want to do, after all. And the fact that I can do it in my off hours and don’t is something I need to change.

5. Focusing on the wrong stuff. Daydreaming sidetracks me. I get wonderful ideas out of it, but I should turn them into words on paper, not just replay them in my head.

Having a brain-to-computer linkup would help, but until then, I’ll work on getting better at dragging myself out of my head even if I have to write on the walls for lack of paper.

6. Losing loved ones. I know we’re supposed to think of death as just another doorway, but on this side of it, the earthy side I cling to so desperately, I don’t think I’m any better at loss than I am at not being able to stand by and watch someone suffer. Parents, husband, guinea pig–I worry even when I know worrying doesn’t help.

What to do? Be there while I can. Don’t waste time when I am there. Be fully present. Remember all of the above.

7. Hanging on to friends who aren’t. We all know one or more of those. Sometimes you can let them drift by with little to no contact, safe behind the barrier of Facebook; sometimes you have to make the decision to cut them loose for good. Everyone has something special about them and everyone matters; that doesn’t mean you have to make everyone a part of your life. I don’t plan on excising anyone, but I’ll no longer hide from it, either.

8. Wasted time. This post should never have taken me this long. Onward!

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