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Posts tagged ‘journal’

In Which I Get All Sanctimonious and Then Regret It

I’m a pharmacy scheduler for a drug store chain, and it’s my responsibility to make sure pharmacist’s vacations and requests off are covered in my district, including sick days and other call-outs. I knew the snow we got last Wednesday night was going to be an issue on Thursday, so when I got the first call at 7 am, I was nice but pretty much said, “the store has to open, so you need to try to get there.” Luckily, her pharmacy partner had a 4-wheel drive, and she went in instead with no problem.

But as the day wore on, more calls and complaints came in, including questions like, “I had a hard time getting in today, how do I call out next time?” 

You don’t! You had a week’s notice that this snow was coming! You could have gotten a room in town last night. You’re a pharmacist, and you make a lot of money, in part because of your expertise and in part because you are essential personnel. The pharmacy can’t legally open without you – there will be customers who need your help today. You should have planned better.

It’s stressful for me when I get call-outs I know I can’t cover, and I got a little more irritated with each situation. More than once I found myself saying to my boss or to a pharmacist whose partner didn’t show up, “If I knew I had to be at work today, I would have been there.”

And it’s true. I have driven to work in the snow, and left in the snow. Sleet, rain, ice? No problem. I’ve worked through tropical storms and even a hurricane once (in a Virginia gets side-swiped kind of way, but it was still scary). I’ve never missed a day at this job because of weather.

Until Friday.

I figured I’d be okay to get out of the driveway by 1 or so on Friday afternoon, which would have been fine. And failing that, I didn’t really need to get out until Saturday afternoon when I had to babysit, and I could stop at a store and do the payroll then.

But an 11 am conference call was sprung on me, and I’d need to be on my work computer to take it. I should have just said “I can’t make that,” but after all my big talk, I felt like I had to. I said I’d be at work if I had to be, no matter what the weather conditions. So I had to back that up with effort.

And shortness of breath. And sore arms. And back pain.

After two snowfalls, each followed by freezing rain, I had a driveway full of deep, crusty snow to get over. And my driveway is long. It was just too deep for my undercarriage, and the crust so thick and unyielding that I couldn’t push through.

So I shoveled. And shoveled.

Damn my big mouth. “If I had to be at work today, I’d make it in no matter what.”

Man I wished I could suck back a lotta words on Friday.

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If I had it to do differently, I’d have parked at the bottom of the driveway on Wednesday night. 

Oh yeah, and I wouldn’t have been so holier-than-thou. 🙂

Knowing that I didn’t have to work on Thursday (or even Friday if I couldn’t get out) made it really easy for me to be judgy about those pharmacists who didn’t plan ahead themselves. Even if they thought in the back of their minds that they’d just get a free snow day, that’s no excuse for me to act so superior.

Irony: When I came in the house to get on the call (humbly, with the expectation of a “weather isn’t an excuse” talking down for not making it in to the office) there wasn’t anyone on it. The call had been cancelled.

Have you ever regretted some big talk?


You Can Never Be Too Thankful


I haven’t talked about Practicing Thankful since February (six months!) when I wrote a great big long post about how far I’d come on my thankfulness journey. It was all true, and I’d like to say that in the months since then I have effortlessly maintained that lovely, positive, thankful attitude that I worked so hard to achieve.  But…that would not  be as true.  I haven’t quite reverted into the Little Miss Cranky Pants that I was before, but I’m most definitely still a work in progress.

When I started working on thankfulness, I decided to keep a daily list of things I was grateful for.  On my blog.  For everyone to see.  I found that to be extremely helpful, because it made me focus on the positive, even if the only thing I could think to write was, “I’m so thankful that this stress-filled day is over!”  But it was tough to really get myself started.  I struggled with being thankful, partly with the task of writing my Thankfuls down, but mostly with just remembering to be thankful.  I had some tough times and was pretty hard on myself, but I persevered and it slowly started to work.  My attitude began to shift and, for the first time since I was a pre-teen, I was able to see the world through truly positive eyes.  Purposely focusing on what I was thankful for enabled me to see just how much I had to be grateful for every day.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to stop writing daily Thankfuls.  I had always found it hard to keep the blog up to date, whether I wrote them in a notebook, on my day planner, or directly onto the blog.  That part of it had always felt like a burden; necessary to the process, but a burden.  The fact that anyone could see whether or not I was fulfilling that commitment only added to the pressure.   Honestly, I think that having a “burden” is part of what made it work; the fact that I had a task responsibility made it more real and kept it fresh in my mind.  Having a tangible task to complete forced me to maintain my focus.   I didn’t see it that way in February, though, and I felt I had come far enough to cut back on the daily written re-enforcement of my goal.  Here’s what I said:

I am comfortable with the progress that I’ve made so far.  I am paying attention.  I drive to work and look at the trees and the clouds and the sky and just everything around me…and I’m thankful.  I’m not necessarily thankful to be up early, but I’m sure thankful that it gave me an opportunity to see that sky.

And that’s what it was supposed to be about.  It was about approaching the day, approaching my life, in different way.  Instead of being grumpy and non-observant and self-involved, I wanted to be looking outside of myself.  I wanted to be thankful that I can see and smell and touch and taste all of these wonderful things that populate my life.  

Though I’m not where I ultimately want to be, I am in a much more positive frame of mind, a thankful frame of mind.  I will definitely continue on, but with a weekly Thankful.  It will be easier to keep up with, and I want to see where it takes me.  Honestly, I’m not sure what the next stage in the thankful journey will be; I don’t have a clear idea of what I want to gain from Practicing Thankful in 2012.  But in the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy the appreciation that I’ve gained so far.

As I re-read that February post, I remembered just how at peace I was back then and how totally awesome that felt.  I think it’s like when someone’s meds are starting to work: “I’m cured!”  

“Um, no, honey.  The medicine  is working; that is not  the same thing as being cured.  Take your pill.”  My thankfulness medicine was simply starting to work.  I was calmer and more peaceful.  I wasn’t seeing as much negativity in the world around me, because I was no longer looking for it.

I did enjoy my new-found appreciation for a while.  But over the last three or four months, I have felt myself slowly, slowly, slowly paying ever less attention to thankfulness.  It’s like I’ve been sliding down a rope, and I finally realized, “Oh, my gosh, I’m going in the wrong direction!”  I don’t want to let go of it, to slide all the way back to where I’m not thankful at all.  

To combat this, I first re-focused on noticing the moments when I feel thankful, and acknowledging them.  Taking the time to say “thank you” makes me feel good.  It’s helpful for me to recognize the good things that happen when things go right, but also to distinguish the good parts when things are not going well.  When I say thanks, it reduces my stress and reinforces the positives in a bad situation.

I want to – need to – start writing daily Thankfuls again, but I haven’t made that happen yet.  In the meantime, I read a post by KJ, who talked about making a gratitude necklace.  She used it like a rosary, naming something she was thankful for as she touched each bead.  I thought that was a wonderful idea, and another reader talked about making a bracelet.  So that’s what I did.  Having my thankfulness bracelet and putting it on every morning is a physical reminder of the many blessings in my life.  

That was one of the things I struggled with last year: what did I really mean by “going into the day” with a thankful attitude?  How can you be thankful for things that haven’t happened yet?  Last year I thought I had my answer, that it was all about approaching the day with the expectation of thankfulness, that there were things to be thankful for waiting around every corner.  That is still true and important, but I considered those questions again as I was making my bracelet.  I had to keep adding beads for all of the things I was grateful for, and this bracelet got bigger and chunkier by the minute.  It’s not the kind of jewelry that I would normally wear, in fact it’s the exact opposite.  But I love it, because each and every bead is a reminder of the things that hold my life up.  I have so, so many things to go into the day thankful for.

This Thankfulness Bead represents my blog!


As I look back on this last bit of my thankfulness journey, I’m seeing that the first stage wasn’t over six months ago; I still had a lot more growing to do.  Backsliding has taught me something important: I have to keep working to maintain my thankfulness.  In February, I thought that I was ready to move on, but instead of amping up my efforts and branching out, I scaled back.

For now, I’m working on getting that peace back, because I can feel the difference in myself since I wrote that last Practicing Thankful post.  I’m not Little Miss Cranky Pants maybe, but also not the calm and peaceful, positive and thankful minded woman I was becoming.  The stress of failed resolutions didn’t help, either.  But maybe if I’d been as fully focused on Thankful as I had been before, those failures wouldn’t have looked so bad to me.

Items of Interest:

The power of gratitude by KJ (in which the bracelet idea is born)

Thankfully Moving Forward (in which I thought I was)

Not so Thankful in September (in which I have a hard time with failure)

Thankfulness! by Harold


Lather. Rinse. Do Not Repeat.

I came across yesterday’s journal entry just the day before, and of course I had forgotten all about writing it.   And yet, don’t many of the words seem very familiar?  I wrote it nearly a year and a half ago (long before the idea of blogging ever crossed my mind), and lo and behold, it’s one of my resolutions this year.  Following through on my good intentions, on the internal prompts I get to reach out to people, falls under the Being Nice category, that resolution of ill-defined proportions.

As I look through my old journals and pick out pieces from this year or that, I see how consistent I am in my thought processes, my opinions, my desires, and in the things that I want to change about myself.  Perhaps the biggest consistency of all is that I don’t change.  I don’t believe that’s unique to me; I think it’s simply a characteristic of humanity.

To begin with, we don’t always recognize the possibility (probability?) that we need to change.  It’s so easy to criticize other people and so hard to see undesirable characteristics in ourselves.  And when we do recognize the uglier parts of ourselves – the thoughts or actions that repeatedly cause us heartache, discomfort or just minor irritation – they are quickly forgotten.  We behave in ways that we don’t like and we suffer the emotional backlash (hurt, anger, sadness, distress), but life keeps moving forward and we are soon emotionally and mentally past the upset.

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

I’ve long understood that I am who I am, and without putting diligent, targeted effort into changing things about myself, I will continually repeat the same patterns over and over.  This is clearly evident in my journals: write about it; forget about it; write about it again a year later, using much of the same vocabulary, phrasing, tone and emotion.

One of the things that blogging has afforded me is public accountability.  We are, as bloggers, publicizing our thoughts and opinions, our feelings and experiences.  And this year, since I started blogging, has become quite a bit about facilitating change within myself, moving forward in a positive direction.  Posting about it – knowing I will post about it, victory or loss – has helped keep me motivated to trudge on.  I feel as if I’ve stepped off the treadmill and my feet are on the ground for the first time.  And I may actually get somewhere.

I don’t expect that to be the last journal entry in which I chastise myself for not listening to that still small voice, for not reaching out to others, for not walking my faith.  But I hope it’s the beginning of the end.

walking my faith


I don’t always say everything I’m thinking in (Sunday School), because I already feel like I probably talk too much.  And I do have a fear of being offending to other people, or other people just thinking of me as being… mouthy, I guess.  What I didn’t bring up today was, “What are the things that we want to run away from, instead of living in that moment?  What are we not facing or not walking through?”

It’s not just the big issues in our lives that we don’t want to face, like cancer, losing your job, or family disharmony.  We also avoid so many small things, every day and every week.

It’s not reaching out to someone because of a fear of being rejected or fear of saying the wrong thing.

It’s knowing you should reach out to someone who is hurting or going through a hard time in their life, but only offering help in word and not in deed.  Maybe you don’t want to add another complication to your life, and you know if you just send an email or a note saying, “Let me know if you need help,” that they won’t ask for it, because we typically don’t.

It’s not listening to that voice inside you that tells you what to do, because it takes effort and it takes follow-through and it takes the planning part of it that we were talking about in class.

These are ways in which we do not live the moment, we do not walk through it.  Instead, we turn away from the opportunity that was presented to us: to minister, to uplift, to ease a burden, to help.

There are lots and lots of times when I see something and I’ll say, “Oh, I’ve got to ask so-and-so about this, if they’d like to do that with me.”  Or, “I should tell so-and–so about this great program that’s available for her and her situation.”  But I don’t do it.

It’s that little voice that speaks these ideas to us, but we ignore it and we let it go and we let it drop.  We don’t following through.  And maybe that was God telling you, “Hey, that person needs you!”  And that you need them, and you need more people in your life, and you need to be a person of action and a person who walks their faith instead of just thinking their faith.

I need to get my faith past my thought life and into my actual life, and into the action of my life.

It’s also keeping your mouth shut when God is compelling you to speak.  Because you’re afraid to say too much, say the wrong thing, or be annoying, or be perceived in anything but the best light.