Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Positive Realist Project - Take #1

I have a little project involving a Smash Book:

I'm about to get really chatty here, because I have this idea about what makes us stronger.  It's a long story about why I'm here and why I want to do this, so stick with me if you can. 

I had a friend who was going through some troubles at home and at work.  She was really going through a difficult time.  She told me that it had been suggested to her that before she put her head on the pillow each night she should think of one good thing that happened to her that day.  Just one!  She would keep a notebook by her bed, and she would write something down each night.  I thought it was an interesting idea.  I've never tried it.  I don't know how that worked for her, but I tucked it away in the back of my head. 

The last three years for our family have been extremely difficult ones, starting with the loss of my mother-in-law.  She was a realist for sure, and in many respects a positive realist.  She would say, "What will be, will be."  She would always forge forward.  She was one of the most sensible, practical women I've ever met.  Unfortunately, these traits of hers did not completely pass down to her son.  He is a bit of a negative realist.  While he is definitely one to forge forward, he always looks for the loopholes first.  He also spends a great deal of time warning about loop holes before they become reality.  Since her passing, I feel like I gained a few of her traits in dealing with him.  I take one cup of my mother-in-law's reality, I mix it with my own reality, and I add a teaspoon of my sarcasm (okay, maybe more like a quarter cup).  I offer this up as a nice contrast to help him deal with most of his problems.  We forge ahead.    

The day that my husband returned to work after my mother-in-law's funeral, he was laid off from his job.  Talk about kicking a guy when he's down.  Apparently he missed the big lay off day while mourning his loss.  Things looked a little odd when he got to work that day.  There appeared to be some "cleaner, neater" desk areas.  It looked like several people had the day off.  And a few minutes after arriving, he was called in for a little meeting.  He returned to his desk and found an empty box in which he could pack his things.  How convenient and thoughtful, because what if you didn't bring a box that day?  Forge ahead! 

And the third crowning glory in that month of November 2008 was a legal matter regarding the handling of my mother-in-law's estate.  Let's just say that everything that could go wrong, went wrong.  My husband had carefully consulted attorneys before making a move on selling her house while she was in the nursing home.  This one single event has likely tripled his negative realism.  I recall him saying, "It is sad, but we would have been better off just abandoning her.  That is the message that I'm getting here."  Financially, he was 100% accurate.  It is truly sad that there are people who cheat the system as their parents age.  But the guy who tries to do the right thing and didn't make a single penny (and in fact lost money in attorney's fees) doesn't win his case over one small misunderstanding with an attorney.  I remind him that spiritually, we would have never walked away from her, as that would have been way more painful.  So we forge on.  

My husband found work, taking a lesser job, and we continued forging ahead as we battled our little legal matter.  The economy being what it is, he again faced layoff a year ago.  He has found yet another job.  We continue to forge on! 

I have three siblings.  In an 18 month period between 2009 and 2011, I lost two of them and nearly lost a third.  When I think about would could have happened, I could be the last one standing.  It breaks my heart. 

My younger sister was 48-years old, severely disabled and lived a simple life in a wheel chair with very little communication.    She did have some medical issues the last two years leading to her death, but it was unexpected and came at the same time that my brother and his wife were losing her father, who passed just one week later.  It was a tough couple of weeks.  My sister's loss left a hole in my heart. I forged on in a trance. 

Several months later, my oldest brother was in a downward spiral.  He appears to be a forge ahead kind of guy.  He does not have a wife and kids and does not surround himself with his family.  He had lost his sister and his job.  He was without health insurance and was facing some medical issues.  He lost his will and basically nearly took his own life by ignoring his health.  We discovered there was a problem as he was on death's doorstep.  After spending nearly two months in the hospital, he is back on his feet again.  That is slightly funny, because he lost part of his foot during the incident.  I can joke about that because I am a positive realist! 

But the one that really challenges me . . . that really ticks me off . . . that I fear I will have the biggest battle over . . . the loss of my brother less than a year ago.  Diagnosed with cancer on his 50th birthday, he never made it to his 51st.  We were close in that we lived just 20 minutes from each other, we raised our kids together, and we spent most holidays together.  He was not a talker.  The repeated phrase I miss so much,

"Hey Deb, what's going on?  [to which I responded "not much"]  Here's Laurie?"

That was like a thousand words.  It said it all!  I miss that so much.  And yes, I do want to talk to Laurie!  And I don't have to share her with you anymore, so "neener, neener, neener."  I can joke about that because I'm a positive realist! 

I believe I was making these types of jokes early on after his death.  I believe it is what makes me stronger.   I believe there is something about trying to always find the positive in any crappy situation.  I believe that if you don't make light of the dark situations, you will stay in the dark much longer. 

All that said, the realist in me still wants to shake those who upon asking, "How are you?" respond with "I couldn't be better."  Really?  If you were called in and given a promotion right now, you wouldn't be better?  If you won $100,000 in the lottery, you wouldn't be better?  I do understand that they say those things because they are positive people and it gets them through the day.  But really? 

Where am I going with all of this?  I have this idea . . . for the not so crafty or the crafty.  There will be some not so crafty things, and some crafty things.  You can pick and choose . 

Get yourself a journal if you want to play along.  (This is where my Smash Book comes in.)

You can start at any time . . . does not have to be today.  Does not have to be tomorrow.  It can be next week.  It doesn't matter.   I am starting today. 

We are going to be realists.  Positive realists!  As each and every day closes, we are going to write two things in our journal.  It will be an on-going list.  Simple!  We will write 1) the most positive thing that happened and 2) the most negative thing that happened.

Once a week I will pick some negatives from my list, and I will turn them into positives with a healthy dose of sarcasm! I will encourage you to do the same. 

And every so often, I will throw a craft twist in for those who want a crafty twist.  My plan is to have my journal, but to also have an album by the end of the year with some stories and photos. 

Are you with me?  Get yourself a Smash Book (click on the link to see how cool they are).  My favorite scrapbook store, New England Scrapbook Co. has them. 

 Forge ahead . . . let's be positive realists together!

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