Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day 31: Second-Guessing + a Safe Home

Today I learned...
...not to second-guess myself, even when it comes to very trivial things. At 6:00 this morning, I jolted awake because I thought I heard a bell. I listened intently and didn't hear anything else, so I thought I had imagined it or dreamed it. I went back to sleep and woke up an hour later to scared cats that were hiding and a horrible smell pervading the house. The thermostat on the wall downstairs seemed to be making a bizarre buzzing noise. Rick and I assumed it was our heating system and called the service who works on it. Rick went to a doctor appointment and work while I waited for the repair man to arrive and called in late to hospice. After a while of inhaling the awful fumes, a man came to help me. He went right to the wall with the thermostat and said, "You think the buzzing is coming from here? I don't." I looked puzzled and he pointed to a box a couple of feet above the thermostat, on the same wall. The doorbell transformer box.

And yes, the buzzing was indeed coming from the doorbell box. After he checked every aspect of our heating system to find everything working perfectly, I took the box cover off the transformer for the doorbell that is fastened to the wall. It was super hot and yes, the smell came from it. THAT was what I had heard at 6:00am. The doorbell shorted out and RANG. I just called myself crazy, but maybe if I had looked for the source FIRST, I would have avoided bothering the heating people. 

Long story short, the wires from the doorbell unit extend down into the wall, which was making me nervous about fire, but with the help of my iPhone to take a photo of the transformer box and send it to my dad, he talked me through removing the right wire to stop the electrical current and therefore the buzzing and the burning smell. It was like dismantling a bomb! Thanks, Dad! All is well at the Bair household again.

Today I am thankful for...
...healthy cats, a safe home, and my dad. Why? Because of all of the above!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Day 30: A New Term + a Safe Arrival

Today I learned...
...that the role I've been trying to live and embody and exude is that of a Servant-Leader. I never heard this term until tonight in my graduate Policy class. Yes, I want to be a leader... but not just a leader - a Servant-Leader. Don't know what one is? Check it out: Servant-Leadership

Today I am thankful for...
...getting home safely in the torrential rain, fog, and flooding. My drive home from class tonight was a bit treacherous, but I made it. If it wasn't the wall of rain making it difficult for me to see, it was the dense fog near Northampton. At one point, my brakes didn't really work, but I said "thank you" when I skidded safely to a stop.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Day 29: Little Things + Opportunities

Today I learned...
...that the simplest things can be the most meaningful to people. When Channel 69 News came to my home to interview me today, they took footage of me with my delightful cat, Tumbler. They also took footage of specific quotes on my bulletin board ("Each new day is another chance to change your life," "Inspire," etc.) and me making food to eat in my kitchen! ;-)

Today I am thankful for...
...the amazing opportunity of being interviewed by Nancy Werteen of Channel 69 News (WFMZ). Though she warned me that my portion of the segment will be cut to about a minute and a half, she was so respectful and kind. She asked such good questions and talked to me for quite a while. She even told me that editing the footage to the time frame will be difficult. It was a great meeting. And honestly, even if it never aired on TV, I feel like it was a success.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Day 28: Communication + Cancellations

Today I learned...
...that learning how to talk to someone about something difficult and receive the outcome you desire is a true accomplishment. Today I was told, "Good for you" regarding a conversation I had with someone I love. I got the outcome I wanted and I was happy, but I didn't consider that I had played a part in contributing to the outcome. I had placed all the power with the other person. Only when I was told, "Good for you," did I realize that had I approached the situation and the conversation differently, would a very different outcome have transpired.

Today I am thankful for...
...grad school classes being cancelled for the evening. I now have more time to relax and to prepare for tomorrow without getting home at 10 pm.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Day 27: Beliefs + Lunch

Today I learned...
...that the bulletin board in my writing room is a true reflection of myself and my beliefs. I was cleaning the room today in preparation for an interview that may take place in it, since it's where I do most of my work. With fresh eyes, I took in everything in the room, in the event that any of it might be on TV. I noticed so many sayings, like, "Let your past make you better, not bitter," and "Stop judging. Start loving," and "Each new day is another chance to change your life." These sayings are colorfully placed on my cork board along with many others...and I'm proud to say I can stand by them. 

Today I am thankful for...
...lunch with my dad. It was just us, something that never happens. Unfortunately, my mom is sick...but I am grateful that the chance to be alone with my dad was the opportunity that resulted.

Day 26: Celebrities + Licensure Prep

Today I learned...
...that mooning over an attractive TV star like a 14 year old makes me human. :-) And that mooning over one with a good friend makes it both fun and funny!

Today I am thankful for...
...the big licensure prep manual I received in the mail that will help me study for licensure for my MSW in the next few weeks!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Day 25: Respect + A Shortened Work Day

Today I learned...
...that treating someone like a human DOES get noticed. Most of the time, people (myself included) tend to think that the regular, simple things they do don't get noticed - that no one will care if they are nice, so they don't go out of their way to be. They just do their job without any "extras." Today, I was not overly kind (at least I don't think so - though I did make a little more conversation than necessary and I did smile instead of not smiling, even though nothing pleasant was happening)...I did not do anything special...but today a client said to her mother in front of me, about me: "See - her attitude is so nice. THAT is what you call good customer service." She turned to me. "THANK YOU," she said with real emphasis. It made me realize that they are used to be treated badly. All I had done was tell them I was sorry they had to come a long way in the freezing cold. All I had done was apologize for the wait. All I had done was smile and talk to the little girl that accompanied them. There were several things about the situation that could have led me to be annoyed, or even just unresponsive. I could have gone through the motions, since my day was busy and they weren't in good moods. But I treated them like humans, because they are humans. I gave respect, without the expectation that I would get it back. And to my surprise, I was THANKED just for being normal and nice.

Today I am thankful for...
...getting to leave work one hour early. My evening therefore started earlier, which means it can end earlier! That means more sleep for me tonight, which is very appreciated. It also means I didn't have to drive in the snow we got after 4:00 pm.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Day 24: Ethical Dilemmas + Rick's Health

Today I learned...
...that there are very serious situations that are not just black and white. In hospice today, an ethical dilemma was discussed...and I'm damned if I can even choose what I would do in the situation. There's just no good, right answer. So many sides.

Today I am thankful for... husband finally feeling better! He was pretty sick for a few days and went back to work today, feeling almost human. I'm so glad.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 23: Relationships + Warmth

 Today I learned...
...that age-gap relationships aren't as uncommon as one might think. At three different, random times today, I discovered ones.

Today I am thankful for... warm clothes, my warm coat, my warm car, and my warm house. It's bitterly cold out there...the coldest it's been in a long time. But I am lucky. I can get warm.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day 22: Eyesight + Health

Today I learned...
...that when my eyeglasses prescription changes, I need to update my lenses. Forget money, forget hassle, forget my justification that I wear contacts 75% of the time... An old prescription = headaches because my eyes aren't seeing the way they should. I picked up my new (nerd chic) glasses tonight and besides the fact that they are delightfully cute, I CAN SEE. It made me realize how insufficient the ones I had been wearing were. My poor eyes. Yikes. Hear that, Arielle of the future? New prescription = time for new lenses. Learn your lesson.

Today I am thankful for... health, and specifically my immune system. Rick has the stomach virus that everyone and their mother seems to have. He went home sick from work after throwing up. He looks atrocious and is doing nothing but moaning and sleeping. And here I am, perfectly healthy and typing away on a blog. You might say, "Don't speak to soon!" but by being grateful for my stellar immune system I am garnering more and more health. I can say, "I hope I don't get sick! What if I get sick and miss work/internship/class/etc etc etc?" or I can say, "THANK YOU, body, for keeping me healthy in this moment. I am so glad I am not sick like Rick is right now." I choose the latter. Obviously. This is Project Positive Thinking, people. ;-)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Day 21: Surprises + Followers

Today I learned...
...that unexpected phone calls don't have to be bad. While I was writing a paper for grad school today, my cell phone rang - a blocked number - and I checked my annoyance and welcomed the interruption by changing my thinking. Instead of a) not answering it as I usually do when I don't know the caller or b) anticipating bad news or something that would bother me, I held my phone for a few seconds as it continued to ring and said, "Thank you for the magnificent outcome of this phone call." This is something I learned from The Magic. (By applying gratitude to something before it happens, an unexpected occurrence can be magical.) Then I answered the phone. What transpired was, in a nutshell, an opportunity to be interviewed by Nancy Werteen for Channel 69 News about eating disorder recovery.

Today I am thankful for...
...the opportunity I listed above...but really so much more: for all the positive feedback from my video viewers and blog readers, for all the Thank You emails and messages from men and women, parents, and professionals, for all the support from people who love me, and for all my followers across the globe - it's AMAZING! I love everyone and it's my honor to help when and where I can.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day 20: Libraries + Cards

Today I learned...
...that I get far more accomplished at the library than I do in my own home. It's been a theory before, but I think by now it's been tested enough that I believe it to be fact.

Today I am thankful for...
...the money to buy special cards for all the unknowing strangers who will be recipients of my "Letters on Monday." Cards aren't cheap and I'm grateful.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Day 19: Teamwork + Niece Love

Today I learned...
...that the promise of teamwork makes a task seem significantly easier. Something difficult will still be difficult, but working on it with another person is enough to ease my worries and make me feel more confident.

Today I am thankful for...
...speaking to my little niece on the phone. It was her 2nd birthday and she had many things to tell me, some of which included: "I love you, Auntie A," "Uncle Rick is so cute," and "I'm TWO!!!" I also found out that apparently "Uncle Rick is cuter than chocolate milk," which I hear is a pretty big deal.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 18: Weddings + An Early Night

Today I learned...
...that if I ever did my wedding over again, I'd keep it simple and do things in a completely different way. That's not to say my wedding wasn't fantastic (and my wedding day was a beautiful time), but the more I hear about people's weddings, the more I realize that it's hard to know what you'd want sometimes until AFTER you do it. Which is unfortunate, considering you don't do weddings over typically. :-) I have no regrets, but I surprise myself these days by imagining that if I got married to Rick NOW, I'd wear a simpler dress, not get married in a church, and have less people involved in the craziness. In fact, if I got married NOW, there would be no craziness. It's not about the wedding, it's about the marriage. I thought I knew that then, but I know it even better now.

Today I am thankful for... early night with Rick. No to-do list, no attention to grad school work or eating disorder activist commitments, no housework. Just me, Rick, and the bed by 9 pm.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 17: Death + a Thank You

Today I learned...
...that death can mean so much more than pain and tears...that it can in fact be the best gift of all. At hospice, I met a dear, sweet, very elderly woman with one specific wish: to dance with her husband again. He has been dead for several years and she is more than ready to be with him. She has no regrets, no unfinished business, and no worries. She loved her life and she embraces its final chapter. Death has escaped her these last few days, though she is very weak and very ill. At her extreme age, it's amazing her body has held up through her terminal illness. She longs to die and this makes me happy, not sad. I mean it when I say that I hope she will be dancing with her husband very soon.

Today I am thankful for...
...the chance to tell a particular person that something she suggested changed my life for the better. By chance, this particular woman (whom I first met in October) popped into my life today and I was able to thank her sincerely as well as marvel at the full circle beauty that has since transpired.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Day 16: Perceptions + Being Chauffeured

{ © 2007-2012 Shira Sela} 

 Today I learned...
...that this new project/blog of mine seems like a lot of work to most people. But...happiness is an inside job. This new blog is just an outward display of what's already going on in my own heart.

Today I am thankful for...
...Rick driving us to work in the snow/ice, even though it wasn't all that bad. So glad I didn't have to do it! And that we were able to take one car, rather than driving separately.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day 15: Awareness + Glasses

Today I learned...
...that being more aware, alert, and conscious has amazing results in so many aspects of life. I've been working on my consciousness. I have been trying to see the meaning in things I may have overlooked before. I have been looking out for messages, good news, purpose. It's all coming together. My awareness of the world around me has become heightened over the last 4 weeks and I feel really good. And today I have really recognized the culmination of my energy, my awareness, my desire to see the world deeply. Everything feels more connected. It also feels stronger. The benefits are endless and they pop up everywhere: in my workplace, in my marriage, in my friendships...(dare I say it?) even with my cats. :-)

Today I am thankful for...
...getting out early from my hospice field placement so that I could go get some new glasses. I wear contacts mostly, but my glasses prescription was old enough that I was getting headaches from wearing my glasses too long, so I decided to rectify that. The new glasses should be in next week and they're pretty hip. I hope to wear them more often (especially since I got transition lenses!) and try to look both older and smarter. ;-) Ha. Point is though, that I was struggling to find the time to go get new glasses, because the place is only open weekdays and Saturdays. I work all of those days, so it was a bit of a dilemma. Not anymore! Free time was gifted to me today and I am grateful for that!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Day 14: Tears + Awards

Today I learned...
...that a mix CD from me can still make my husband cry.

Today I am thankful for...
...the really awesome news that I have been named one of the Top 25 Eating Disorder Blogs, by a renowned site called Eating Disorder Hope (EDH) whose mission is to offer hope, information and resources to individual eating disorder sufferers, their family members, and treatment providers. The organization began with the help and advice of colleagues, professors, and other organizations specializing in eating disorders. I received a lovely email today from the President, Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, who informed me of the award. Soon I will have a badge for my website and a recognition page on their website. All of this came as a complete surprise (and surprise good news is even better than regular good news!) and was not part of a contest. Thank you, EDH. :-)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day 13: Wishes + Friendships

Today I learned...
...that wishes really can come true. See below.

Today I am thankful for...
...the official opportunity to see some of my very dearest friends on February 23rd in New York City. For 4 years, in addition to making videos on my own YouTube channel, I have been making Wednesday Warrior videos for a channel called WeRFreEDomFighters. My day is clearly Wednesday, but some other fantastic ladies make videos on other days of the week. Together, we create programs, video rotations, and educational topics. Together, we promote eating disorder recovery and reach thousands of people.

These women are also some of my dearest friends. We are everywhere: various parts of the USA, Italy, the UK. But we are connected by sisterly bonds and communicate daily through text messages, phone calls, Facebook, Twitter, emails, and of course - YouTube.

These strong friendships have been years in the making, but due to the fact that we don't live near each other, we have never met. And this February, several of us will.

It is with a heavy heart that I regret I cannot meet ALL of my Freedom Fighter sisters. But this February, I will get to meet 3 of them. My dear friend from the UK will be coming to the USA and arriving in NYC. My other FF sister will be arriving in NYC from Georgia. And a third dear friend currently LIVES in NYC, so will be there waiting for all of us with open arms. It will be a friend-fest!

I couldn't be more grateful or more excited!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Day 12: Parents + Cats

Today I learned...
...that parents sometimes know just what to say to ease the mind. Something I didn't think would pan out, will! Thanks, mom & dad.

Today I am thankful for...
...the unwavering and sweet love of my cats. They make me smile, they calm me down, and they recharge my batteries. They both snuggled in my lap after a long day and even when Juice went on to do her own thing, Tumbler remained steadfast, never leaving my chair. He's been here for close to 4 hours now, and I may have to be the first to crack and get up.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Day 11: Honesty + Organization

Today I learned...
...that honesty and kindness can really go a long way to facilitate a positive outcome. I made a mistake at work today. Actually, I made a mistake a couple of weeks ago and just discovered it today. It wasn't a huge, life-altering mistake that couldn't be fixed, but it wasn't a tiny mistake either.

In the course of rectifying this mistake, I had to find a file. I looked everywhere. I told a co-worker. She helped me look...and eventually, after I had exhausted all possibilities, she found the file on my own desk, beneath a pile of work. As the image quote suggests, silent gratitude isn't much use, so I told her "Thank you" three times with feeling and gave her a hug (not inappropriately - we're friends). She laughed for a second, but felt appreciated.

Then, in order to fix the situation, I had the unpleasant task of calling someone my mistake involved and explaining that I had messed up.

It went something like this:

Me: "Hi, L. It's Arielle from C. How are you?"

L: "Hi, Arielle! I'm good. And you?"

Me: "Good, good. I'm calling about A."

L: (explains the situation that ensued from my mistake and asks if it is correct)

Me: "L, I have to apologize. It's completely my fault. Her case is totally fine. I'm so sorry. She came in on (date) when we had all that bad weather and then our office closed early and told us all to go home. So when I came back, I forgot that I had not cleared (the discrepancy) and...I didn't even realize until today." The last part was said even more shamefully than the first part.

L: "Oh, honey! It's okay! It's fine! I can't even imagine how you deal with the caseloads you have over there! Don't even worry about it!"

Me: "Thank you! And thank you for following up with me."

L: "That stuff happens from time to time. I understand. It happens here too!" (She laughs.)

Me: "Thank you. (I do quick case-related confirmations.) Have a great day!"

L: "You too!"

I was honest instead of covering things up or just offering no explanation. I was kind instead of irritated by the situation or myself. And L was honest and kind right back.

Today I am thankful for... that help me stay organized. With a huge amount of responsibilities, deadlines, and commitments on my plate, my last semester of grad school in full swing, and a lot to remember(!), I bought a new planner, some highlighters, and pens, and I hunkered down with all my syllabi and calendars for work, grad school, internship, and personal life...and I got completely and utterly organized. I feel so much better!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 10: Dying + Sleep

Today I learned...
...that when a person is dying, his or her background does not matter very much. All that matters is that when he is in pain, empathy takes hold. A patient came into hospice today - he had a past laced with negative information and poor choices. I saw a nurse judge him. He wasn't a criminal or an evil person, but he had had a hard life and some consequences ensued. Before he arrived, she mentioned not wanting to touch him, because she found him too gross. As a social worker, I was taken aback by this comment. Hours after he arrived, she came from his bedside and I asked her how he was. She had sadness in her eyes and said she felt sorry for him, because he was in so much pain. After meeting him - and watching his painful state - she had tirelessly ensured his comfort was the number one priority so he could die in peace, and no longer held the notion he was gross. The change in her mindset happened in a matter of hours and I witnessed it.

Today I am thankful for...
...the opportunity to go to sleep early. Many of my days are so long, filled with work and commitments. I have progressively gotten more and more tired as this week wore on, and last night I believe I had less than 5 hours of sleep. So tonight, after a long and tiring day during which I was already running on empty, I am happy that I do not have a 3 hour class. I am happy I do not have to lead a group. I am happy that I do not have to make a video. I am happy that I do not have to write a paper. I am happy that I can go to sleep earlier than usual!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 9: Assumptions + Warm Welcomes

Today I learned...
...that preconceived notions often do nothing but add stress that doesn't have to be present. I had heard so many bad things about an instructor for a grad course. 16 weeks from graduation I am so eager not to have anything mess up my mojo. I was worried, nervous, fearing the worst. I went to class - and yes, the course itself is quite overwhelming, but the instructor is fine. Likeable, even. I wasted a few hours of my day stressing needlessly.

Today I am thankful for...
...a short phone call with a friend in NYC. Her voice on the other end was so inviting. She sounded SO happy to hear from me - what a welcome! I could get used to that! "Hi, you!" she said excitedly. "It's you!" I smile just thinking about it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Day 8: Asking + ...Asking!

Today I learned...
...that when you really ask, and are truly thankful BEFORE you get what you want, you really do receive. 

Today I am thankful for...
...friends who ask the questions I am so eager and happy to answer! I love when I can pass something helpful along...and I love it even more when things come full circle. And I am finding that they so often do.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Day 7: Letters + Education

Today I learned...
...that writing a handwritten letter to a stranger, in the interest of being kind, loving, helpful, and empowering, and leaving it for him/her to find, feels totally AWESOME. Yes, I did it. I wrote a letter and I sealed it up and I addressed it to: "If you found this, this is for you. (Yes! You!)" I left it at an empty table at Panera Bread. I was inspired by

Today I am thankful for... first day of my LAST semester of graduate school...because it means a) I got to see my wonderful, caring classmates and b) there are only 16 weeks left between me and my LMSW!!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Day 6: Asking + Chatting

Today I learned...
...that asking for someone to try to understand you is a really good starting question. Especially if the person says that he will try. Everything else can come later.

Today I am thankful for...
...time for phone calls with two very important (and faraway) friends.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Day 5: Marriage + Les Mis

Today I learned...
...that "for better or for worse" is not just a line in a marriage ceremony vow. Living with a man who is in excruciating, unnatural, horrible pain is hard for me...but it is harder for him. And while it means some trying times and some real sadnesses, it's part of marriage. It may not be part of everyone's marriage, but it is part of OUR marriage. He struggles every day and yet does so much. He gets down, and I try to boost his spirits. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. Sometimes I am up to the challenge and sometimes I get tired. But I love him, "for better or for worse." I tend not to talk about the "worse," specifically because it is private, especially for Rick. But like I told him last night, "for better or for worse" means I am HERE, next to him, ready to be present through his pain and his sorrow. Better together than alone.

Today I am thankful for...
...the chance to see Les Miserables in theater with my mom and my sister-in-law. It was fantastic, as I suspected it would be, having seen the Broadway show and read the amazing book by Victor Hugo. It is full of lessons and emotion. And - going along with my above lesson - as Victor Hugo wrote, and Jean Valjean sang, "To love another person is to see the face of God!"

Friday, January 4, 2013

Day 4: Kindness + Movie Nights

Today I learned...
...that treating someone with kindness even when you're frustrated and annoyed with them is enough to make the situation go your way. Thanks, Client of Mine who was driving me crazy. I was thinking of her with ill feeling, maybe even a little disdain...because she was difficult and disrespectful...but when I met with her, I tried to find empathize with her, tried to understand where she was coming from... and in treating her with kindness that started off tentative and soon became real, I was met with civility and respect. I expected argumentative demeanor, a bad attitude, and maybe even some yelling. Instead, I got nodding, soft words, and a complete turnaround in the scenario.

Today I am thankful for... and a movie with Rick. Sometimes the little, routine things are the things for which I am most grateful. It is a little reminder that life is good and comfortable.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day 3: Touch + A Message

Today I learned...
...that when two people are having difficulty communicating, holding each other close is every bit as valid a form of expression as a barrage of words. Sometimes, no matter what you do, words don't come out right...or when they do, they hurt... or they don't do justice...or they are hard to understand... But touch never falls short in those categories. 

Today I am thankful for...
...a beautiful, wonderful, inspiring message meant specifically for me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Day 2: Dreams + Mail

Today I learned...
...that the interpretation of nighttime dreams lies within us, if we just listen. I had a special dream last night, and while I was searching online for some kind of meaning of one small part of it, I realized I had the answer. And not only did I know what it meant, the rest of the dream had deeper meaning too.

Today I am thankful for...
...the postal service, because it allows me to send mail to faraway friends. Without postal service, I would not have been able to send a package today.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Day 1: Mothers + Sleds

And here we are... the first day of a brand new project: Project Positive Thinking. 

I am thankful for the year behind me and ready to embrace the year ahead of me.

Today I learned...
...that you are never too old to need your mother. I spent the afternoon with mine and I really needed it.

Today I am thankful for...
...Rick buying me a sled at a toy store. At 28 years old, I have never been sledding. A travesty, I know....yet it's true. I have never been sledding and he is going to take me this winter.