Tag Archives: gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude

by Kassandra Lamb

Thanksgiving is always a reminder that one should be grateful for one’s blessings.

paper turkey and gourds

I found this harder to do this year.

The last six months have been a rough time in my household. We seem to have been slammed with one stressor after another—some of them neutral, some of them bad, none of them all that good.

With all that has been going on, I’ve been way too near the edge of stress overload, and when I’m in that spot, I get depressed. Which doesn’t help one bit.

Well-meaning folks sometimes say, “Well, look at what others are dealing with? They have it much worse.” Sure one can usually find those whose life challenges are far worse than one’s own. But comparing one’s own pain to others is not mentally healthy, believe it or not.

For one thing, if you care about those people (such as the dear friend who was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness), that’s just more depressing stuff to think about.

Also, that makes you ashamed of feeling stressed and depressed. Then you try to bury those feelings. As I’ve mentioned before, buried feelings don’t go away. They just fester under the surface and can erupt somewhere else in a less than pleasant way.

Of course, applying strategies to lessen one’s stress in other areas is always a good idea. But in my case recently, even when the stress let up, I was still depressed.

I have two strategies that I find helpful when I get stuck in a negative mental state like this. One is to stop and count my blessings. Yes, this is a cliché, and it can also lead to shame and stifling the bad feelings if not done carefully.

When I do this, I don’t just focus on the blessings (which are all too easily taken for granted). I do a kind of counterbalance in my mind.

  • Yes, I have friends who are struggling with their health, and that brings home that I will be facing such major challenges in another decade or two. This means I should appreciate my own reasonably good health more and make sure I am living to the fullest during the remaining healthy years I have left.
  • Yes, money is tight right now due to unexpected expenses, but we have a good income and we’ll recover in a few months. I need to appreciate that good income more.
  • Yes, I lost my dog suddenly to cancer. But I now have a new four-legged buddy. He doesn’t replace the dog I lost in my heart, but he’s creating his own spot there. And again, I am grateful that I have the resources to give a shelter animal a new home.

You get the idea.

This process doesn’t eradicate the negative feelings, but it helps to put them in perspective. I don’t suddenly feel great because I have so many things to be thankful for, but I feel less depressed. And focusing on the resources I’ve been blessed with makes me more hopeful that this too shall pass. I will deal with the stressors and move on to better times.

Which brings me to my second strategy. When I am dealing with a major stressor, I ask myself at what point in the future will I have most likely already dealt with it and put it behind me. A month, six months, a year?

Then I keep telling myself this reminder: In a month (six months, a year), this will all just be a bad memory.

If need be, I remind myself of times in the past when I used this strategy, and indeed those stressors are now nothing but memories. If I can remember them at all.

When I first started teaching, I was a basketcase. I’d done public speaking before and wasn’t all that nervous, but facing students was a different matter. They don’t always give much away. They sit there and stare at you (if you’re lucky; sometimes they fall asleep). You don’t know if they are finding your words of wisdom fascinating or boring as all get out.

I gave myself two years that time. “In two years, I’ll be comfortable in front of the classroom and this will all be a bad memory.”

It didn’t take that long. By my third semester I was comfortable, and now years later, I can’t even really remember the anxiety I felt at the time. I just remember thinking, that first semester, that surely I would have an embarrassing accident in front of the classroom (involving bodily fluids) before the semester ended.

And having written this blog post, I now feel better. Not great, but better.

How about you? What strategies do you use to get unstuck from a negative mindset?

One thing I am definitely grateful for is the gift of my talent.

My Christmas novella is now available for preorder … Just $0.99

A Mayfair Christmas Carol book cover

A Mayfair Christmas Carol, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery Novella

A Christmas extravaganza in Mayfair, Florida, complete with an ice skating rink. What could go wrong?

When excavation for the skating rink uncovers a decades-old skeleton, its secrets threaten more than the town’s Christmas plans. Worried about her friends in her adopted town and feeling responsible since the let’s-attract-more-tourists idea was hers initially, dog trainer Marcia Banks is determined to help her police detective boyfriend solve the mystery—whether he wants her help or not. Perhaps href=”http://misteriopress.com/books/to-kill-a-labrador-a-marcia-banks-and-buddy-she can wheedle more out of the townspeople than he can.

But will she and her Black Lab, Buddy, be able to keep the ghost of Christmas past from destroying what is left of Mayfair’s founding family, or will her meddling make matters worse?

AMAZON    NOOK    APPLE    KOBO

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist/college professor turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Stubbornness and Gratitude (especially for readers)

by Kassandra Lamb

I am not a patient person, but I am stubborn (as my mother frequently pointed out when I was a kid). We often hear the advice to stop daily and be grateful for one or more of the good things in our lives.

I find that I have no patience for that. Not that I’m not grateful, but taking time to stop and do something so intangible seems to get lost in the shuffle of busyness each day.

by Granny Enchanted CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons

by Granny Enchanted CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons

Still I am grateful for my blessings–my family, my friends, a comfortable income and being retired which means I can be so busy with the things I really want to be doing. And this year, I am particularly grateful for my stubbornness.

For the first three years of my writing career, I lost money. That’s not unusual for a new business enterprise, I kept telling myself. But it’s not like me to have the patience to stick with something that isn’t working. I’m not a quitter, but if I can’t figure out why something isn’t working in my life, and make it work, my impatience takes over and I tend to move on to other things.

But with the writing, although I was extremely frustrated at times, I kept plugging away. I tried so many different things to promote my books; none seemed to have enough impact on sales to be worth the effort and/or the cost. But I felt like I’d already invested so much into this whole writing dream, and my books were selling, just not enough to cover the expenses of producing more of them.

A few times I was tempted to just “rest on my laurels,” i.e. let the books that were out there continue to sell slowly but hopefully surely, and go back to being truly retired, as in play cards and go out to lunch with friends several times a week. But I knew in my heart of hearts that if I stopped doing all promotions, the sales would dry up.

And that’s what really kept me going, because we authors need our readers. Without readers, our characters stop living. We blow breath into them, but readers have to read our words in order to have those people we created–who are sometimes more real to us than the folks who populate our lives–continue to live.

And now this year, things have shifted. I reached what is sometimes called the tipping point and my books started selling well enough to cover expenses and then some. So thank you, Lord, for my stubbornness, which for once won out over my impatience.

And thank you, readers, for bringing Kate and the gang to life each time you read one of my stories!

photo by my favorite photographer, Nevit Dilmen, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

photo by my favorite photographer, Nevit Dilmen, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

 

And to fellow writers, I say:

Keep putting one foot in front of the other until you get there.

God bless you all!

And have a very Happy Thanksgiving!!!

 

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

The Things We Take For Granted…

by Kassandra Lamb, on behalf of the whole misterio press gang

All of us here at misterio have lived a few decades (we’re not sayin’ how many) and we’ve had our share of trials and tribulations, some of which have found their way into our stories.

But today we wanted to focus on the good stuff in life. And when we stopped to think about what we were most grateful for, we discovered that it was all too easy to take those things for granted.

So starting off on that theme is Kirsten Weiss.

getting a glass of water at the sink

(Photo by CSIRO, CC-BY 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

I’m grateful for my family and friends, of course. But everyone says that, so I’ll go deeper.

For my “day job” I travel to developing countries. Every time I do, I’m struck by two things. First, how easy and bountiful my life is – electricity, clean water (and good pressure), food, a nice home, phones that work, a health care system that keeps my family well…

Next, I’m struck by how quickly I forget how fortunate I am once I return home. This western luxury seems so normal, but for most of the world’s population, it’s remarkable.

And from Vinnie Hansen (also very much the world traveler):

Every night, before bed, my husband and I each say three things from the day for which we are thankful.  The difficult part of this blog was to limit my blessings to three:

1. My husband – Because Prague is more fun with a partner . . .

IMG_2736as is Caracas, Quito, Jacó, Barcelona, Havana, Vancouver, Paris, Zihuatanejo. . . .

2.  Good health – In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald creates a theme of the divide between rich and poor, and even the old rich vs. the nouveau riche. But his narrator Nick has the profound realization, “. . . there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.” I don’t take this blessing for granted. I walk every day, bike, and practice yoga–all exercises that travel well. This pic is from Sayulita, Mexico with the yoga palapa overlooking the Pacific. 🙂

3. Creative pursuits – These feed my soul. In addition to writing, I enjoy playing keyboard with two ukulele groups.

And on the subject of health, from Shannon Esposito:

1.  Being alive. I don’t say this flippantly, as I’ve had a scary year health-wise.

2.  The internet, because it’s allowed me to find my writing tribe.
CDC_pomegranate pub domain
3.  Pomegranates

(I have no idea how that one made it onto her top three list; you’ll have to ask her about that in the comments)

And mine:

1.  I’ll start with health as well. I’ve had a healthy year, but not all my friends have. Shannon’s health scare, along with watching an older friend’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease, have reminded me just how precious and fragile one’s health is.

hand of a statue holding a pen

Hand holding pen on the statue of Isaiah at Piazza Spagna, Rome (by gnuckx, CC-BY 2.0, Wikimedia)

2.  The gift of my talents, both in writing and psychology. We tend to take that which comes easily to us for granted, forgetting that not everyone shares those particular skills.

3.  All the wonderful people in my life. We hear about and read about the bad guys so much, both in real life and in fiction. But most of the world is populated by good folks–honest and caring. I’m blessed to know quite a few of them, including the ladies here at misterio press.

And finally our resident historian, Kathy Owen, couldn’t help herself. She just had to tell us about the origins of Thanksgiving Day as an official national holiday:

engraving of McKinleyPresident McKinley signed into law the national holiday of Thanksgiving in 1897. For me, this part of his accompanying speech aptly expresses the spirit of the holiday:

“On this day of rejoicing and domestic reunion, let our prayers ascend to the Giver of every good and perfect gift for the continuance of his love and favor to us, that our hearts may be filled with charity and goodwill, and that we may be ever worthy of his beneficent concern.”

The three specific things for which I am grateful this Thanksgiving aren’t particularly unusual. I’m sure we all value them: health, family, and humor.

For me, humor is especially important. Whenever the first two have their less-than-ideal times, it’s indispensable!

How about you? What do you tend to take for granted? What are you most grateful for this Thanksgiving?

cute Thanksgiving postcard, circa 1913

postcard circa 1913 (from painting by Frances Brundage, now in public domain)

Best wishes to everyone for a happy Thanksgiving!

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Veterans, Gratitude and My Post-Menopausal Fu Manchu (plus boxed sets)

November is a crowded month. We have Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping, plus another event I’ll get to in a moment.

First, a big salute and thank you to our veterans! They endure and sacrifice so much and I think everyone would agree that we should take care of their needs when they come home. Did you know that Gulf War era II (deployed since Sept, 2001) veterans’ unemployment rate, while on the decline, is still almost 3% higher than the national average? Come on, America, we can do better than that!

On a lighter note, here’s the hubs in his Army days!

young serviceman

Handsome devil, isn’t he? And dig that psychedelic, early 70’s wallpaper in the barracks. He says they only got away with that because they were deployed out in the middle of nowhere.

If you look close you’ll see the beginnings of the mustache he grew in the Army, and sported for several decades after. Which brings us to that other thing that’s happening in November.

One of my online writer friends, Susie Lindau, is a breast cancer survivor, But she hasn’t just survived and endured, she has thrived and inspired (see her Boob Reports). And now she’s participating in No Shave November or Movember, an initiative by the American Cancer Society to raise consciousness about cancer, and also money.

The idea is that you let your hair grow wherever it may–mustaches and/or beards for men, legs and/or underarms for women–and then donate what you normally spend in a month on self-grooming to the cause of fighting cancer.

I certainly plan to make a donation, but this whole thing got me thinking about menopause and hair.

After menopause, women’s hormones shift. Well, duh. You already knew that. But what you may or may not have known is that it isn’t just estrogen and progesterone that go down. Testosterone also goes down some in women post-menopause.

Wait! What? Testosterone in women? Yup, women have small amounts of testosterone produced by their ovaries and adrenal glands. This testosterone is responsible for sex drive (yay!) and body hair (nay!)

So here’s what happens hair-wise for older women like myself. Less testosterone equals less body hair. I now shave my legs every other week instead of every other day. But the little bit of testosterone we have left in our systems isn’t as cancelled out by estrogen (which discourages facial hair). So now we have hair on our chinny-chin-chins. And mustaches. Oh, goodie!

I may not have to shave as often but I spend a lot of time in front of the mirror plucking out my fu manchu, and bitching mentally about how unfair it all is.

So what hit me right between the eyes about Susie’s post was this – November is also the month of Thanksgiving, of gratitude. Instead of bemoaning the fact that I now have a mustache, I’m going to focus more on being grateful: for my health, for my wonderful family and great friends, and for not having to shave my legs all that often!

And in response to Susie’s “I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours” dare, here’s my fu manchu!

Kass's photo with fu manchu mustache drawn in
Another thing we at misterio press are grateful for are our wonderful readers, and to show our gratitude we’ve put together boxed sets of some of our books for Christmas-giving ease (or your own reading pleasure). Volume 1 has just released and Volume 2 will be out in December.

Women of Mystery boxed set cover

Just $4.99 ~ three books for the price of one. Yay!!!

WOMEN of MYSTERY, Volume 1 (click on titles below to see the descriptions):

Dangerous and Unseemly, A Concordia Wells Mystery

Collateral Casualties, A Kate Huntington Mystery

The Alchemical Detective, A Riga Hayworth Mystery

Available at AMAZONBARNES & NOBLE,  and KOBO

How about you? What are you grateful for? And just how hairy can you get for a good cause?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)