I Mattered at Christmas – Memory 2

So segue from magical Christmases in the 1960s to 1970s to now the time spans from about 2000 – 2010.  Life wasn’t very much fun for quite a while – about 10ish years.  I was a single mother of 7 (#awesome) children.  From about 2003 – 2007ish?? on any given month I worried about paying the mortgage.  My home had been in and out of foreclosure.  My ex-husband was not able to pay child support due to some medical issues he was dealing with.  I was initially working at a county government job that morphed into another job that paid more, but not much.  It was a door, though, for improvement to my then salary, and I prayed that the day would come that I could earn enough every month to pay the bills without robbing Peter to pay Paul.

My Mom and Dad tried to help.  About once a year, sometimes twice, a check would come in the mail that would seem like the biggest blessing of that year.  It would help with critical living expenses and extend the budget by a hundred or so dollars.  Thanks, Dad!

Christmases were a nightmare.  Seven children – all pretty much deprived of everything during the year except the necessities, and me, wanting, wishing, hoping that I can pull off that “Santa” gift that would make Christmas worth something for them.

During the year they heard:  no vacations, no movies at the theater, no cell phone, no music lessons (unless you take band in school and grab the free instrument), no sports (fees cost too much), no name brand clothes or toys and be grateful for “pretty intact” hand-me-downs from other siblings, no TV (couldn’t afford cable and no “air” TV where we lived), and no name brand food (thank you church welfare and Food Stamps for feeding my children). I didn’t even have money to buy my medication and remember getting yelled at by my primary care doctor because I couldn’t afford to purchase it (see below) and the list of what we went without goes on.  The dread of wondering if there would be any extra money or any extra leeway on the credit card (how much can I buy before I max it out….again).

I always thanked the Lord daily for the blessings we received, because I KNEW it could be worse and it wasn’t.  I had a monthly paycheck (although insufficient) that we could survive off of it, we weren’t homeless…yet, opportunities for growth at work (tick, tock, tick, tock – when will someone leave so I can apply for their job???), health and dental insurance (I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes during this time), a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes for the kids, a car (sort of – #clowncar #howmanydidwegothroughkids????), and our health (except of course dealing with diabetes).

And yet, when I think back to all of the Christmases the kids and I spent together, I believe the kids had great Christmases.  Someone or some organization would get a hold of our names (again – thank you Food Stamps for the Free and Reduced Lunch program which put our names out there at Christmas time) and a few of the wish list items would get ticked off the list.  An unbelievable sale would happen on a Santa gift so I could afford it and more items ticked off the list.  A family member would give a generous, unexpected gift of cash and more items ticked off the list.  A friend would hear of our need and their family would sponsor us for Christmas and more items ticked off the list.

Every Christmas these were the experiences that I went through.  Every Thanksgiving looking at the budget and realizing there was NO way the kids were getting what they wanted or needed and every Christmas Eve thanking the Lord that once again, His tender mercies pulled us through to have a great holiday.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m not giving credit where credit is due.  There are so many people, named and unnamed, who will never know how in need I was and will never know how they made Christmas special due to their sacrifices.

But – I don’t believe it was by coincidence that year after year when things looked the bleakest, everything would always turn out alright.  I truly believe it was Heavenly Father looking out for us.  I considered all the help we got as help HE sent our way.

Those feelings of being forgotten, or passed over, or not good enough, or to poor to mingle with others in their realms was forgotten.  In its place was an overwhelming sense of gratitude to know that I MATTERED to my Heavenly Father.  ME.  MY CHILDREN.  Out of all of mankind on the face of the earth….I mattered too!  I mattered enough to Him that He made sure we were always taken care of.

I knew He loved me.  I knew He was aware of me and our situation.  I knew that one day it’d all work out and we’d get through the rough years because I knew I mattered to God.  I knew that if I had nothing else, I had my children and my relationship with a loving Heavenly Father and That. Was. Enough.

 

 

 

 

I Mattered at Christmas – Memory 1

I was listening to a talk show on the radio today as I drove into work.  The subject was “Christmas Gifts” and two of the speakers were reminiscing about Christmas’ past where they received a memorable gift.  I immediately started to think about my past Christmas experiences.  Did I ever have that moment where I received a memorable gift and still remember it after “X” number of years?  Yep.  I sure do.  And those things that have been memorable were not “gifts” per se but “moments”.

The first thought that came to my mind were the memories of Christmas at my Grandma’s home.  It feels like I remember most every year we spent Christmas there.  She had so many traditions, that even though one year may not have stood out from another because of the “sameness”, it was those expected traditions that made Christmas with her and my Grandpa so special.  My Aunt lived with them and my Great Aunt and Uncle were next door neighbors.  Most of the extended family lived in the same area.  Everyone pitched in and had a huge part in these wonderful memories.

I remember that Grandma’s Christmas cards were hung in the small kitchen from colorful ribbon taped to the very top of the wall close to the ceiling.  She and my Grandpa had so many family and friends that the columns of Christmas cards filled her kitchen from ceiling to floor.  A huge variety of Christmas cookies were always available.  She let me help her wrap Christmas presents and taught me how to make pretty home-made bows from fabric ribbon (she used to be a gift wrapper at the Piggly Wiggly then L. S. Ayres – WOOT!).  Ornaments on the tree were very familiar and every year I would look to try to spy my favorite ones.  My favorites were always the ones made by her good friend, Fannie Fowler.

She’d put Christmas lights around the huge mirror in the living room  It was so beautiful when the house lights went out at night because the light from the strand was multiplied by being on the edge of a mirror.  My siblings and I had our own stockings at her home and they were hung on the front door, ready for us on Christmas with treats and small gifts inside.  There was a candy dish on a small dark table that was magical because it had a seemingly never-ending supply of candy.  #howdidsheDOthat?!?!?!

Grandma and the rest of the family, no matter how busy they might have been, gave the gift of their time.  We always had our dinner meal together whether 10 or 30 were at the tables.  Every night we could count on large groups of us playing cards.  The laughing and teasing and friendly competition strengthened family ties.  We even renamed one of the card games to “Get Bud”, who was my Great Uncle.  He won all the time and the object of the game was to beat him vs beating everyone.  Even when the extended family left to go to their homes, Grandma, (Great Aunt) Bertie and I would stay up past midnight playing cards or Yahtzee.

Lastly, I remember that without fail, never missed, we all attended her church’s Candlelight Christmas Eve service.  My Grandpa, Aunt and Great Aunt were in the choir.  My Dad was a consistent guest singer (“Is Bob singing this year?!?!?”  YEP.  SURE IS!) and would sing “O Holy Night” as a solo.  Grandma had a red coat with a fur collar.  It had a familiar smell and I tried to sneak to sit by her during the service.  I could count on Wrigley’s Spearmint gum being in her purse and was enamored by her bright red wallet.  No one I knew as a child in the 60’s and early 70’s had a bright red wallet like Grandma.

Do I remember a “special” present that she or any of the other beloved family members gave to me?  Maybe one or two??? (Crissy doll and tape recorder- oh yeah!)

Ok – so you ask what made this a special memory?  Because I knew that I MATTERED TO THEM.  I was surrounded by love and acceptance.  I was filled with joy that they wanted to be with me; that they would sacrifice their time for me; that they kept the special memories going for me; that I could count on the “sameness”.  I knew that every Christmas would be the same – would feel the same.  I knew that I would have the same interactions with them and feel the same love from them.

My Christmas memories are wonderful due to feeling like I mattered to people who I cherished and who mattered to me.  I matter to who matters.  Grandma, Grandpa, Artie, Bertie, Uncle Bud, Aunt Pat, Bill and Sylvia Gardner, Charlie and Dora Reynolds, Reese and Mary, to just name a few, thank you for helping me to know that without a doubt that I mattered to you.

I Matter To Who Matters!

I matter to who matters!  This phrase has changed my life.

I started to think through what this phrase really means.  To me – this phrase means that I don’t need to worry about what people think of me that don’t care about me or my well-being.  Revolutionary, huh?!

Let me provide an example of a situation (that I may or may not have gone through🙄) to help you understand how this phrase helps me.

“My boss doesn’t value me.  He doesn’t mention what I do well to the person he reports to.  I’m passed over time and time again for a raise.  He takes credit for my work and I could lose my job if I don’t watch what I do or say!  He should matter to me, right? NOT TODAY FOLKS!

Just because he is responsible in some way that I receive a paycheck, doesn’t mean he should matter to me to the point that he affects how I feel about myself

If a person like this gives off the impression that you are anything less than how you value yourself, we both know, YOU….YOU know differently!

There could be many reasons why they are behaving that way.  Maybe some professional jealousy is at play, maybe they are just clueless, maybe they are insensitive, maybe they are too busy to take the time to pay attention and know your value….  The reasons are scattered.

BUT, whatever he is saying or not saying – doing or not doing – does not mean you are worthless and deserve the treatment you are getting.  Nor does it mean that you should give this person that is negatively impacting you that much of your energy.

Granted, these moments are hard to shake off.  I get that. You may need to think of some way to (in this example) professionally work out the kinks in this relationship.  But, when you realize that this person truly doesn’t matter to you in a long-lasting, personal way, it’s easier to shake off mud that you feel has been slung at you.

I don’t do this anymore.  I don’t give this type of person that much power in my life.

You matter to who matters to you.  They are the people that deserve your time and energy.

So, how did I handle “the incident” mentioned in my previous blog post?  After the phrase , “I matter to who matters!” came to mind.  I processed through what that meant to me.  As I tried to shake off the after-effects of that day, I kept reminding myself that “I matter to who matters”.  I matter to my parents, my spouse, my children, my grandchildren, my Father in Heaven and my Savior.  Knowing that they care about me and love me for who I am, good and bad, helped to minimize the feeling I had that I was worthless.

I started to create a battle plan to address what was happening to me professionally, but that was separate and distinct from stopping the crappy way I was personally feeling.  I realized that in a personal way, this person didn’t matter to me one. bit.  If I had met them outside of a work setting and they treated me this way, I’d have figuratively turned my back on them and been like “Pffftttt – whatever!!!!”

 

 

 

The Reason Why

Why am I taking the time to create a blog and devote myself to this?  I believe I have hit on something that can offer a change in how you consider your value in life…your self-worth.

What I have is an opinion that offers a paradigm shift in how you can think about yourself, without relying on other’s opinions of you in order to feel valued as a human being.

Am I a licensed therapist?  Nope.  Have I received professional training?  Nope.  Does my current occupation operate in the self-help realm?  Nope.  Am I a trained or professional writer?  Nope (I’m sure you’ve figured that out by now).

But, what I AM doing is providing my own personal thoughts on how I have coped over the years. I’ve felt invisible and felt like if I didn’t conform to [fill in the blank], I had less value on this earth than “they” did.  These feelings have shaken me….deeply.

As a teen, I saw the cliques that placed you in groups by topic:  rich, poor, stupid, smart, jock, cheerleader, nerd or pothead to name a few (that one just dated me!).

When my children went to school, I saw how the cliques operated that wreaked havoc on them and it broke my heart.  If they didn’t conform to the clique or didn’t have the qualities “they” defined, they were an outcast.  I saw how these groups caused them to feel devalued…worthless.

I’ve watched family and friends spend silly amounts of money to buy “name brand” this and that in order to feel like they meld with the mainstream.  I have nothing against anyone that enjoys making those purchases, but, I’ve watched how people I know purchase what they can’t afford, just to fit in.

I have experienced OVER AND OVER feeling invisible at work…I’m sure you have too! And I’ve watched others take credit for what I have done.  I’ve even had a couple experiences in my work that could have been considered emotionally abusive because of how I was treated.  I can’t begin to describe how defeated, worthless, powerless, cornered and hopeless I’ve felt.

Alright…..I’m sure you get the picture!

I’m also sure you are asking yourself what could she have “hit on” that helps in these types of situations?  Well, it was a phrase that came to my mind one day when I just had enough.

What happened?  Once more, I was in a situation where I was being passed over, devalued, made to feel invisible.  Truthfully at my age, I’m beyond over it.  I am not a person that embraces conflict.  Oh no!  I run away from it…yes I do!  But, on this particular day (the one I will refer to as “the incident”), I was ready to make a drastic decision in my life that would have been very bad for me and my family.  I processed through my feelings with my best friend at work and she helped to calm me down (can I get a Hallelujah??!!).

But, that evening and the next day, it was still eating away at me! I needed for all of those negative emotions to stop!  Every time I thought about “the incident,” adrenaline would shoot through my body.  I’d become teary and upset all over again. I thought to myself “this is SO STUPIDWhy do I care about this person??”  They didn’t care about me in the least!  They never do or say anything unless it either 1) benefits them or 2) is related to their work “besties”.  I knew all of these negative feelings were hurting no one but myself.

So (and here comes the faith-based part of my blog), I started praying to Heavenly Father.  I needed Him. I needed Him to show me how to get rid of these feelings and to know how to protect myself from people like the ones I feel that I’m always dealing with.  I was alone in my car driving home, pondering what to do, and the phrase “I matter to who matters” popped into my mind.

 

Setting It All Up

Welcome! I’m so glad you’ve come across my blog! I’ve titled this blog a “A Dose of Perspective.” What does this mean? I’ve wondered for many years who I am, and I believe I have found the answer. I wanted to share what I’ve learned through my journey.

I feel like I’ve been through enough in my life to understand some valuable life lessons at the ripe ol’ age of 57 (as of today anyway!). So, first a little about me (that’s why I named this post “Setting It All Up”) and then, a whole lot about the name of my blog and what I believe it means.

Who am I? Hmmmm, the age old question. Well, as a child that grew up in a fairly idyllic Mid-western small university town, I was your typical non-descript kiddo:  brown hair, medium height and build, wore what I called “cat” glasses until 4th grade.  I was sibling number 3 of 4. My oldest brother was the smart one, my older sister was the beautiful one and my younger brother was the popular, clever and creative one.  Me?  I felt invisible and very unimportant.

I was raised to have a strong faith base and went to a parochial school. I did okay in school and had only 1 best friend. I was not part of the popular group. I was afraid to do anything that involved “risk,” and hated being exposed to things that made me feel yucky like horror movies, mean kids, or adults that made me feel creepy. I latched onto playing with my siblings and neighborhood kids and my whole world was pretty much finding fun outside when I wasn’t in school. My personality? I can tell you what I felt and also what I’ve heard over the years.

I felt like I was:
• caring to a fault (was made fun of it by a few people),
• smart,
• a scaredy-cat who got panic attacks over the thought of trying something new,
• family-focused,
• constantly aware of God and Jesus Christ,
• drawn to spaces that were organized and clean
• athletic
• a teaser

How did others describe me? A pill that drove my parents to distraction!

I (eventually,) grew up and make some good decisions and some very bad ones. But, ultimately, my collective life experiences have made me who I am today and much about who I was as a child is gone (I haven’t decided yet if that is good or bad!).

Who am I now? An older person that is done with feeling like my self worth or value is defined by ANYONE but me.