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Yes...this is ALL about me, and mine. Marvellously self indulgent, feel free to tell me how splendid I am, leave comments, nice ones please, I have little kids and teenagers who can do the rude stuff. I am a grandma, to the glorious Joshua, I'm allowed to look frazzled and weary, I earned it. The older I get, the more I see that hanging on and being patient is worth it! They ( whoever 'they' are) are so right when they say you never know what is around the corner, it isn't always an articulated truck! It is vital to make the time for making memories, friends are the greatest treasure, I love mine. I am rich!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

and here begins...

Another year.
I like new things, I like new ideas, new people, new chances, new ideas and I really really like new Years. I am thrilled with the feeling of a new page, a chance to start again and decide if and how I would like to do things differently. I embrace resolutions and couldn't care less if they only last a week or so. I think people who pooh pooh it all and say 'why make a resolution when it's sure to be broken?' I think trying something to better oneself is always a good thing, I love that feeling of positivity and determination, no matter how brief it may be.
I have all the usual resolutions in mind, to eat well, get fitter, try harder etc and I have some new ones.
I want to be more aware of people, remember their birthdays before their birthdays and remember to send a card. I want to put more care into the things I do and give to people, more thought, more time and more love. I Don't want to be so aware of how I am feeling all the time that I forget to notice how other people are feeling. It is a bizarre kind of selfishness to be so depressed, it isn't at all voluntary to be depressed and I'm not saying that anyone with depression chooses to feel this way but it is incredibly easy to be swallowed up by it, to be so consumed by misery that everything else becomes distant.
The run up to Christmas was a very difficult time for me, I was overwhelmed by sadness, anxiety and almost crippled by the desire to shut myself away and stare at a wall.
My mum always taught us, by the way she lived her life ( and still lives her life)that the surest way to feel better about yourself is to serve someone else. I decided that this was the only way I would be able to crawl out of this particularly miserable pit. I decided that I would stop thinking about what I didn't have, couldn't do, was unable to change and I would find things to change, find ways to lift other people, help others.
I started simply ( and I am only writing these things because this blog is now private and because there is a reason for saying what I did that is not, I hope, self congratulatory or ego boosting) by deciding not to buy or send Christmas cards but to give the money to someone I knew, who could use the money towards their Christmas, I did it and that person was so grateful and happy, I was glad I did it but I didn't feel any different.
I watched my extended family and I noticed where they were struggling and I did things to ease their struggles, which was lovely and well appreciated and still I didn't feel any different. I decided that while it is honourable to help our friends and family when they need it, it is, to me our responsibility, it isn't noble or something that takes us outside our comfortable lives, if we can help those people we love then we should and it should be absolutely natural and expected.
I knew then that I had to reach out and do something for a stranger, someone I didn't love or even know and this, for me is incredibly difficult. I don't find it easy to approach people I don't know, I didn't want to do something facelessly ( did I make that word up? Well done me, I like that word) I didn't want to hand over money to a charity, I wanted to see a real person and help them and I decided, with a pounding heart, that when I went to do my final, before Christmas shop, I was going to get into a queue behind someone that looked as though they needed help ( oh listen to me, lady bountiful!) and I was going to pay for their shopping. The very thought of how I was going to do that and actually open my mouth and say it was enough to make my palms sweat and my bowels turn to water but I was so determined, I even prayed that when I was in the shop I would know who to queue behind and help.
I went to leave the house and darn it if H didn't decide to come with me, he never comes shopping with me and I wondered if I would still be able to do it with him there. 15 minutes into the shopping with H experience I knew I wouldn't be able to do it, he is terrible to shop with and he tutted about the price of cabbage and said how he wasn't prepared to pay *that* for the bearded dragons and he wondered if we 'really' needed this and good heavens look at the price of that, we can do with *that* if it costs that much and I wondered how on earth I was going to explain paying for a total strangers Christmas shopping when he wouldn't put a 76p bag of cabbage into the trolley. So I didn't look for a family that might need my help and I unloaded our shopping while H packed it into free cardboard boxes ( 5p for a carrier bag? I think not!) and I paid for my shopping and I felt miserable. We walked towards the doors and as we reached them I grabbed H's arm and said " Can I meet you in the car, I need to do something" he looked at me and although puzzled ( I suspect he thought I was going to buy a lottery ticket as we were next to the stand) he walked out to the car. I opened my purse, pulled all the notes I had in there and I walked back to a young couple, they looked the same age as Mel and Jordan and they had a toddler and a very little baby, beautiful girls. I could tell that they had done their shopping and added up how much it was as they went along, they had one box of sweets and one bottle of wine, a few treats and then bread and milk etc. I also recognised the look on the girls face, it was that look that screams " please let me have enough, please let me have enough" Her husband was packing their shopping and so I sort of pushed past him ( assuming he was a miserable git who had been grumbling about how much the bloody cabbage was!) and I got very close to the girl and whispered at her ( deep breath)" Oh, this is embarrassing but ...look, um well, somebody did something very kind for me and asked nothing in return but that I do something kind for someone else and so I want to do something to repay that kindness, can I give you some money towards your Christmas shopping?" ( breathe in) which was sort of true because people do kind things for me often but no-one has ever told me to pay it forward. Anyway, that's what I said because it seemed a good thing to say and her eyes filled with tears, I grabbed her hand and I pushed the notes into her hand and said " all you have to do is have a lovely Christmas and find someone you can be kind to" and her eyes brimmed and my eyes brimmed and the cashier looked puzzled because I was whispering, her husband ( the girl's not the cashier's, I have no idea where the cashier's husband was to be honest ) was saying " What? What's happening, what? Whatshesay?" the young girl was saying "Oh..... OH!" and I left and walked as quickly as I could out of Tescos with tears blinding my way, hoping I could remember where I had parked the car.
I had my Christmas right there.
I felt happy.
I stopped caring whether people bought me anything for Christmas ( they did by the way ) and I didn't for that whole day or even the day after, feel at all as though I was being smothered by misery.
I want to do more of that, I don't mean handing money to complete strangers every day, I mean noticing what people need and doing something about it and not only for people I know. It might only be helping someone carry shopping, holding open a door, actually telling a young mother their baby is beautiful instead of thinking it and telling myself she wouldn't be interested in my opinion, I never minded once when someone told me my children are beautiful or funny or well behaved ( and that did happen once I recall)
I can't change many of the things about my own life but I can try to change some of them. One step at a time.
I couldn't quite enjoy the absolute great feeling of having made someone happy because I felt I had been sneaky in not doing it while H was there and eventually I told him what I did, I mumbled about how important it had felt to me to do it and that I didn't do it when he was there in case he said tried to stop me and then I told him and I cried again and said it was absolutely the right thing to do....and he grinned at me, patted my arm and said " Oh, that'll come right back to us anyway, well done"
I do misjudge him you know, I assume he will be a grumpy old meany and that I am here to show him how to be kind and generous and then he goes and says the right thing and THEN people come and tell me how he has given them stuff and paid for them to go somewhere and I know that he is a sneaky git because he never tells ME he's done that and I love him so.

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Blogger Julie Julie Bo Boolie said...

This brought tears to my eyes. You make me so VERY proud to be your friend. Love you Helen.

8:42 pm  
Blogger Gretchen said...

Julie said it beautifully. You have a heart of gold my Helen :). And it is a definite reminder that I need to do this in my own life.

4:24 pm  
Blogger Sara P. said...

Add me to the tearly list, Helen.
What Christmas is all about, for sure. We have talked a lot about giving this year, and done a fair bit of it as well, and it has made a difference, in us, and hopefully for others, as it clearly has for you. Love you so. xoxo

3:36 am  
Blogger Tired Mom of Six said...

Ah, and the tears are here too. You are such an amazing person, mom, friend...When I grow up, I hope to be just like you. xxxx

9:04 pm  

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