Self-Discovery on the Pilgrimage to a Happy LIfe

11/13/2015,  What is a pilgrimage to a happy life?  It is the journey of one’s life in pursuit of a goal of having a genuine, happy life.  For me, I am pilgrimaging to a happy life after years of abuse, self doubt, low-self esteem by discovering who I am, accepting myself and learning to like myself, and a lot of hard work.  Do you have a goal you are working toward?  Is your life as happy as it could be or that you want it to be?  If not, then you are like me – on a pilgrimage to a happy life.

Most people, if asked who they are, would state their occupation.  However, occupations is what the person does – not who they really are.  For instance, someone named Kathy may say, “My name is Kathy and I am a dentist.” But, why not – “My name is Kathy and I love to cross-country ski and cooking”.  The reason why most people identify themselves by their occupations is because it is easier than to really think about what motivates, drives them, what they truly enjoy.  Occupations are simpler and occupy most of our time. Yet, a job is not truly who we are and could be gone at any minute.  So, the big question is who are we, really?

I have decided that I am a complex, simple, multi-dimensional person.  A part of me is a child who loves to discover new things, an adolescent  who is rebellious and defiant, a middle aged adult who loves animals and children, and also part of me is an older and wiser person – especially when giving other’s advice.  By embracing all of these parts that make me who I am, I can really start to examine who I am, what gives me joy in my life, and what will inevitably lead me to believe I have a happy life.  Also, I believe that there always will be people who will never understand me because they have not been in my shoes, had my experiences, as we are each an expert in our own life.

Now that I know who I am and what makes me, well – me; I can move toward the next goal in reaching a happy life by looking at the past and healing the hurt while at the same time discovering what gives me joy in my life now.  Working through trauma is very difficult and requires a balance.  There will be pain, so there must be joy as well.

Have you sat down, took paper and pen, and drew or listed the parts of yourself?  Do you know who you really are?  Trust me, you are NOT your occupation.  You are unique and complex.   I encourage you to do just that – take an inventory of yourself.  Discover you.  By knowing who you are – what makes you tick, you can accept yourself and others will never be able to put you down or make you feel small because you will know the truth.

Self-discovery is so important in the pilgrimage.  It is the first step.

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Sasha & Auggie: Love lessons

11/09/15,  I have 2 dogs that absolutely have a bond that will last their lifetimes.  Sasha, almost 4 yrs old, is a Shitzhu-Pekinese is a 13lb white dog.  Auggie, is 1 1/2 yrs old and is a Chihuahua-Poodle, black 6lb. dog.  The alpha dog in my house is my 3rd dog, Cheyenne who is 14 yrs old.  However, it is the bond between Sasha and Auggie that has taught me so much about love and relationships.

Sasha is definitely bigger than little Auggie.  They start each day wrestling in bed.  They lay down and just mouth each other’s face…then Sasha may sit up and pounce on Auggie.  Then, Sasha will let Auggie pounce on her.  Not fighting, playing.   Then, comes breakfast.  Auggie, I rescued from bad people and I have to hand-feed Auggie twice a day or he will not eat.  However, lately – as long as he can share a plate with Sasha; he will eat on his own with Sasha.  Sasha, gently shares her food with Auggie.  It is almost like Sasha knows Auggie needs help eating and feeling safe.  When we go walking, Auggie will put Sasha’s leash in his mouth and “walk her”.  Auggie walking Sasha is the cutest thing I have seen between them.  Then, at night: Sasha and Auggie will fall asleep next to eachother and often with one’s head resting on the other.  Even though Auggie has only been in my household for 10 mos; his bond with Sasha is strong.  He loves her and looks to her for friendship, safety, and a feeling of belonging. Sasha “mothers” Auggie and is gentle with him.   He is the playmate around her age that was missing in her life.  Every day, they are together.  Every day they appear to be happy.

What I have learned from these 2 dogs is that relationships have to be a give and take.  They cannot be one-sided.  A relationship should be gentle and supportive.  Being with a friend should be happy.  Do we, humans, have the sensitivity to let someone else share our plate of food or lead us on a walk not because we are weak but to make the other person happy or confident?  Sasha has taught me humbleness.  Auggie has taught me to TRY, to grab onto a friend when I need help or a hand.  There is no selfishness in these dogs.  Yes, I have learned quite a bit about the relationships I would like in my life and how to truly love others.

Surveying the Landscape

11/09/2015  Have you ever been going down a road, driving, and driving, never looking around & then ended up lost or somewhere you did not want to be?  You ask yourself, “How did I get here?  What happened?”  Life can very much happen this way.  You keep working, day in and day out, your routine is set.  You have meal times, maybe even scheduled date nights, a scheduled laundry day.  Then, one day –  You lift your head and look up.  You see a life or lifestyle that you never intended to have.  You have 2 options:  put your head down and continue in the comfortable routine OR keep your head up and create, try, dare to do something new.  Neither choice is wrong because it is your choice.

Today, I lifted my head up and looked at the scenery of my life.  I never thought my life would be like it is.  After all, all I have every wanted was a husband who loved me, children, grandchildren, a few pets, and a job working in healthcare that I liked.  Today, my reality is that I have been officially divorced for one year, no children, and my job (position) was eliminated in September.  I live alone, am unemployed, have pets (cats & dogs), inherited the house I grew up in, and have a handful of good friends.  I spend every holiday and birthday alone (with my pets).  I volunteer for a couple of animal rescue groups.  How did I end up here?  How did I end up without people or even a person to share my life with?

My life is absolutely that way I have built it…after all, I drove the car of my life for the past year.  In truth, I love my pets, I love taking the dogs to the park and pet events.  I love my house, though it is a lot of work that never ends.  I love volunteering – it is my social outlet and gives me purpose.  So, the big question – Where do I want the direction of my life to go? Then, how do I get there?

Being unemployed and alone is very difficult.  I have my pets counting on me to provide for them…shelter, food, veterinarian care, toys, and love.  Also, I have property taxes coming due very quickly.  Obtaining a job is destination number one.

In truth, I love my life but it does get lonely.  So, finding and making friends and having people to catch a movie, have dinner with, etc is destination number two.  I have social phobia and PTSD, which makes any social interaction very stressful.  I have driven to a movie theater, only to turn around and go home, as I could not bring myself to walk in alone.

With my head lifted up, viewing the landscape of my life’s road, I now have a road map.  Finding employment by applying, going to workshops on how to find employment, interviewing, etc. is where my life is right now.  However, in the process of obtaining employment – I can work on destination number two – finding and making friendships.  What better way to get used to talking and being amongst people than to go to workshops on resume writing, etc?  A career counselor told me today that in our area, it is taking the average person 20 to 22 weeks to find employment.  I am praying that it does not take me that long.  So, my destination is employment and a new friendship.

After looking at the my life, I realized where I am at.  I now choose to change it.  We make time and fill out lives with what it important to us.  Those who say they are too busy and never have time – you too can change the direction of your life.  Start with one small change.  Do something you always wanted to but never did, visit someone you have been meaning to but put off, do something that gives you joy.  From time to time, survey the landscape of your life.  It is never too late to look up.

Love, Perfectly Flawed

07/31/2015,  Love — there are many kinds of love.  The love between a man and woman, a mother and son, the love between friends, and the love between pet and human.  On my pilgrimage to building a Happy Life, I have had to throw away my idea of what love is and accept a new concept of love.  Quite the learning experience and self realization.

For 14 years, I was married to someone whose idea of love was far different than mine, and this difference helped fuel a very abusive relationship.  I thought being in love meant self – sacrifice, putting his needs above my own, and giving up my self-identity.  His idea of love…was….rather selfish and self serving.  He was always quick to tell me how stupid I was, that I was a mental moron, that I was a waste of life when I made mistakes….simple mistakes like overcooking steak, putting the silverware in the wrong spots, etc.   Year after year, my idea of love warped into thinking that I had to be perfect, that making mistakes was not acceptable, and that I would never fit the ideals that my husband had for me.  He wanted a perfect love, and I was anything but perfect.

Leaving him, getting divorced, and learning how to live…really live and build a happy life required me to change my ideal of what love is and is not.   Over the past 18 months of rebuilding my live, I have determined that real love is not perfect.  Real love is perfectly flawed and that’s ok.  When I think about my family, friends, and even my pets — those who are part of my life and who I care about, I realize that each and every one has made mistakes, are not perfect, and yet — are there for me.  The love I have in my life comes from many sources, not just one person.  I have friends who I rarely see but talk often on the phone, then I have friends I never talk to on the phone but do things with such as movies, coffee, and shopping.  My pets each are unique with different struggles as they are rescue pets, but are loyal and give me unconditional love.  It is possible for a single person to be surrounded by love.  Realizing that love is flexible and comes in a variety of forms with each form allowing for mistakes & flaws.  Real love, perfectly flawed is about acceptance and genuine caring.  It is not selfish, egotistical, or about feeling guilty or less than.  My idea of what real love is has definitely changed.

Certainly, my life is different in that I live alone, have very few friends, and rarely do anything social like movies, dinner, etc.  However, I do a tremendous amount of volunteer work helping pet rescues.  I spend lots of time with my pets, and am a Godmother to a 10 year old girl who likes to do arts & crafts with me.  My siblings I don’t get to see a lot, but we talk.  Facebook friends offer an abundance of support and encouragement.  I may not have the “romantic” love in my life, but the love I do have is very good.

If I can leave an abusive relationship and find love and support, I encourage anyone facing a life change to look for support from those that accept you as you.  You can rebuild/reshape your life, and find love and good things along the way.

Ruts along the Pilgrimage to a Happy Life

07/07/2015, Rebuilding a life after surviving abuse or a traumatic event can be a long process.  Building a Life is definitely a pilgrimage.  We are all on a pilgrimage from the time we are born to the time we die. Our life experiences, hopes, dreams, realities, and even happiness is a lifelong journey.  At times, we may think – – Life is Perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing.  When we can say this, we are in our happy life….until…. something happens that derails us.  Then, the pilgrimage to reclaim our happy life starts over.  Perseverance is a word that contains HOPE.  If we persevere, we have hope.

Lately, I have been  in a rut.  I work, clean my house, look after my pets, volunteer for a local pet rescue, and each day is pretty much the same.  My pets are on a routine for feeding, pottying, and even walking.  I admit that for a long time, I was happy in my rut.  I knew what each day held, what to do,  what to expect, and I liked the routine.  My rut was pretty comfortable for a long time.  Sure, there were things that would happen…for instance, vacuuming the living room only to have one of my dogs rip apart a toy and there would be fluff all over the rug that I just vacuumed.  But, that didn’t really bother me.  After all, I am the one that gave the toy to the dog knowing that eventually the toy would be destroyed and in pieces.   My rut became my happy life.

The problems with ruts, is that there is no hope of getting out of the rut.  No hope of anything better.  The edges,walls of the rut become huge and seem so big that you can’t climb out of the rut.  One day, I realized that my happy life in the rut wasn’t so happy any more…it became stagnant and the same old routine day in and day out.  Because of my history of abuse, to not be abused any more, to be safe and secure in my rut became my happiness.  Being abused robs you of self esteem and self worth and victims start to believe they have to settle.   Settling for anything that does not hurt them robs them of hopes and dearms, of realizing they have choices in how they live.  After realizing how much I let someone else control my life and tell me what I deserve, I decided to take back that control and declared that I want and deserve more than a rut.

To break out of my rut, I have started doing things spontaneously.  I have decided on a whim to take the dogs to a new park to walk, cooked a meal for myself that I haven’t had in a long time, got a new haircut, and changed my routine.  I have signed up for some free library events which range from lectures to crafts to writing groups.  I have set goals for myself  both realistic and “dream” goals.   I started allowing myself to dream, to be creative, to be flexible.   One thing I have started is to do one thing every day that improves my self – esteem such as doing self-esteemable acts:  eating healthy, ironing my clothes, or even drawing a star and then writing words of qualities that I think I have or want to have.   I am breaking free of my comfortable rut and starting a new pilgrimage to building my happy life.  Perseverance and hope are what I cling to as I continue my journey.

If you find yourself stuck in complacency, comfortable in your day to day routine.  I encourage you to try something new, even one thing.  Ruts are ruts with no room for hope for new joy, new happiness.  Let perseverance and hope lead you to a new road along life’s pilgrimage to a happy life.

Midnights on Life’s Pilgrimage

05/15/2015, They say nothing good happens after midnight.  Often bad things happen at night, in the darkness.  Driving safely at night requires the use of headlights to see in the darkness.  But, what happens when we encounter midnights/darkness in our lives, in our very souls?  There are some really dark experiences/traumas that without some “light” leave us trapped in very dark places inside ourselves.  However, often a glimmer of the light of hope enters in and we start to see a way to survive, to get through the darkness to the light of day.

Recently, I have been in a midnight of my soul; mentally in darkness.  The divorce from my husband of 14 years, who hurt me in every way possible, has been plaguing me like a weight on my heart.  On the day my father died, he told me of 3, yes 3, girlfriends he met on craigslist, and one was 21 yrs old and he was 49.  I went through anger, rage, hurt, self doubt, and shame.  I felt humiliated — wondering why I was not enough for him; especially, when I let him hurt me over and over forgiving him each time. Now he is living with a woman and her 9 year old daughter.  I really wanted to hate this woman who is living in his house, the house my father had helped me and my husband buy.  But, I don’t hate her.  She is actually nice.  Now, he is cheating on her and I am hearing her say the same things that I have been dwelling on — why am I not enough?  Why does he like to hurt me?  Hearing this woman’s torture has somehow brought all the pain that I have been numbing to the point that I feel it….I feel all the hurt.  This is my midnight, my darkness.

I go to work, work long hours, and come home to my loving pets, my cats and dogs who are happy to see me.  I feed and play with them awhile.  Then, I sit in a chair….just sitting.  Not watching tv, not eating, just sitting wondering why my life got so off course and think about how I ended up divorced and living alone, and then do the same the next day.  It is not the being alone that torments me, it is the betrayal of someone I trusted.  I wonder how it is that someone could hurt me so much, and then how could I forgive him.  I have told him I forgive him, but I really don’t ……not yet.   I think I have to feel this hurt to really grieve the loss of my marriage/husband so that I can eventually move forward.

The light in my midnight/darkness is the love of my pets.  The love they give is a beam of light that is shining my way back to self esteem, wholeness, and even happiness.

We all experience darkness in our life.  Being able to see and recognize the light of hope in the darkness is necessary to getting back on track to continuing the pilgrimage to a happy life.  Life is not all sunshine and flowers, there has to be midnights to appreciate the morning’s light.

Dangers, Toils, and Snares

04/05/2015,  On any journey, there can be many dangers.   Some are obvious and some come from out of nowhere and blindside you.  Yet, other dangers slowly creep up and are not so obvious.  The slow, creeping dangers are the ones that hurt the most and can do the most damage.  By keeping watch, guarding your heart and mind, and learning from pain — the creepy dangers can be overcome or avoided.  Dangers, toils, and snares, Oh My….

The past year has proven quite the learning experience.  After the death of my father, getting divorced, and living alone for the first time ever in 44 years, I have learned about the creepy dangers on my pilgrimage to my happy life.  All of a sudden, I had people asking me if I wanted their help with my house, yard, going through my dad’s things —- all of whom said that they would do it for a “reasonable” price.  These were family, friends, acquaintances…..all of whom wanted money to help me.   Now, I would never expect anyone to help me for free….but, they wanted $90 to pick up sticks, or $80 to help change a lawn mower belt, or $60 to walk around my garage and help me decide what to keep. These people who I had known for at least 13+years or my whole life were creepy dangers.

Some times I needed the help & paid for it.  Others, I learned to do for myself or did without.  Every time I paid someone I felt utterly sad & could never figure out why.  Then, it hit me.  The person I paid would never have helped me without getting paid.  I would never see this person if money were not involved.  That made me completely sad.  I started thinking what was wrong with me that I had no one in my life, no one that just cared enough to help.  Now I realize that there is nothing wrong with me.  That these people – even though family, etc.  – were really users….creepy dangers that made me feel more lonely and depressed.  I was expecting them to treat me the way I would treat them…which would never happen because of how they are not because of a defect in me.

I quickly realized that paying Rotor Rooter to fix my plumbing felt different than paying a relative to help me do something.  Paying Rotor Rooter, I felt relieved that the plumbing was fixed.  Paying a relative to help with the yard felt horrible because this person was family & yet – would only help me if I paid the price he wanted.  This was the difference in paying strangers versus relatives.

The pilgrimage to a happy life can be dangerous with many types of dangers, toils, and snares.  Be watchful for the creepy dangers that can affect your soul, self esteem, and self worth.  When identified, learn from them, and avoid at all costs.  The journey is what  you  make it., so guard your heart and keep traveling.

A Pure Happy Moment Amongst a Tide of Bad Memories, Building Blocks to a Happy Life

04/03/2015,  For over a year I have been on a journey, a pilgrimage to a happy life.  I have had really bad times, but also glimpses of hope & even joy.  What the past 14 months have taught me is that it will take hundreds of happy moments, positive experiences, and even an attitude change within myself for me to have achieved, a Happy LIfe.   In my life, I have had so many negative experiences, suffered profound loss, and have had so many traumatic experiences – that building a happy life, the life I want to live continues to be a journey.  I believe that life is a journey for all of us.  Recognizing the pure happy moment & remembering it creates a building block to a happy life.

The month of April is especially hard for me as three very important people died in the month of April; especially, my best friend on April 4, 2014.  My mother died 32 years ago on April 14, 1983 and I still long for the mom I lost.  My father in law was a gentle, kind soul who treated me with respect.  I have been dreading this month.  However, today I experienced a pure happy moment and now have a happy memory.

It is good Friday, and I got out of work a little early.  Today was the first “spring” weather day we have had.  I came home & immediately took my dogs outside to play in the backyard…the first day this year we could be outside and truly enjoy the yard.  On January 10th,  I rescued a little black Chihauha/Poodle mix pup who was shaggy, extremely malnourished, and afraid of his own shadow.  This tiny puppy had suffered horribly and I took him home from his abusers.  Today, I saw this puppy, Auggie, now happy, healthy, and full of energy play outside with my 3 yr old Shitzhu/Pekinese mix.  They were running, digging, rolling, simply being dogs.  Both dogs were happy and enjoying themselves.  I took video of them playing, pictures, and felt such joy and happiness especially for the little black dog who had come to recover from abuse and who was now happy.  The minute Auggie jumped into my arms outside as if to tell me “thank you”, I felt PURE happiness.  This memory is one of my building blocks to a happy life.

My hope is that whatever you have suffered or lost, whatever struggles you are facing – that you recognize your own moments of happiness and build happy memories.  The past will never be forgotten, but the journey to your happy life is worth the effort.  May you find moments of pure happiness along the way.

Getting Lost on Life’s Highway

March 28, 2015 –  Getting lost can happen to anyone and can be a positive or negative experience or both.  You can discover new places, meet new people, try new things, and grow as a person.  You can waste time and energy, end up nowhere, become so lost that you become discouraged of ever finding your way back, and relationships can be strained or lost.  There are many ways a person can get lost on life’s highway.

For many months, I have been lost.  I lost my way to a happy life.  My pilgrimage took a wrong turn.  After leaving a job I had for 16 years, losing my father (my only parent since I was 13), and fleeing a 14 year abusive marriage with nothing more than my pets – their toys – and a handful of clothes, and having my best friend die, and losing my uncle & other relatives, I REALLY GOT LOST.  I did not know what direction to put my job search effort.  I got buried in a tomb of grief & despair.  Simply, I got lost inside myself, inside my mind, and in the world itself.

My pets kept me alive.  They gave me a reason to live, to keep waking up even when I felt so lost that I could not see any sunlight.  Looking into their eyes, petting my dogs & cats and caring for their welfare kept me surviving.

I guess all of the losses of the year finally came together for me in my mind & heart.  For months, I tried to make new friends, try new things, but never actually made new friends and found no enjoyment in what used to give me joy.  It became easier to just give up trying to be social, trying to make a life for myself.   It became easier to just stay home, not go out of the house, and isolate.  My pilgrimage to a happy life had come to a dead stop, or did it?

I met a friend in September 2014 who helped me realize that I am not worthless and I am capable of having the life I want if I found the strength and perseverance to go after it.  I found a job that has meaning to me —- I get to work for a health program that allows people to stay in their own home instead of a nursing home.  My dad could have been helped by this program had I known about it.  I joined Kellers Kats, a cat only rescue group.  I reconnected with an old friend, Sami & her mom.  I started enjoying life again.  Spending time with my pets, playing my dulcimer, and volunteering.   Part of being on a pilgrimage to a happy life is finding and maintaining the self esteem and self worth to know you deserve a happy life.

I am back on the road, on Life’s Highway to the destination of a happy life.  I was lost but found my way back.  I am looking forward to chicken barbecues (even though I am a vegetarian – as they are fundraising events), festivals, dog walks, redecorating my house, volunteering, and enjoying life with my pets, my fur babies.   I still  have some recovering to do, but I am working on it.

Everyone gets lost. It is in being able to see the positives and negatives of getting lost and the journey back that helps us grow and press on to a Happy Life.

Matters of Faith & Holiday Surival on the Pilgrimage to a Happy Life

11/24/2014, Faith, religion, spirituality is very person.  Some try to push their beliefs on others.  While, others try to show their faith through how they live their own life.  And yet, others avoid the subject entirely or shrink away from it when they know they are talking to someone who is not “religious”.   Each one of us, will, at some point in our lives have to determine what it is we believe or don’t believe.  That’s the simple truth whether we are young, middle aged, or on our death bed….we will make a decision about “faith.”

Two thoughts on Religion & Holidays:

Thought #1.  The holiday season is upon us with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.   It is a time to be thankful, feel rebirth, and be happy.  However, for many of us the holiday season is full of sadness, loneliness, and struggles.  How does someone who lives alone, has a few friends, and no family to spend the holidays be happy being alone?  We all want to be loved and cared for by another human being, but sometimes we are totally alone.  After researching on how to survive the holidays being alone, the following suggestions can be made:  1.  Volunteer….volunteer at a homeless shelter, at church, or volunteer at a nursing home or veteran’s outreach center  2. Make a list of people that you can at least call and wish them a happy holiday — even 5 minutes on the phone with another person makes for human contact 3.  Invite someone or people to your house for dinner – you never know until you ask  4. Go to fee concerts…there are many free concerts, choirs this time of year 5.  Attend church events or library events to be social when you can 6.  If alone on the holiday, do something – at least one thing for yourself that is special….whether a meal, a gift for yourself,  watching a movie you’ve been wanting to see….do something out of the ordinary.   7.  Plan ahead as much as possible to prepare how you are going to get through, survive, or even enjoy the holiday.

Thought #2 Religious beliefs.  The holiday season is a time for reflection, remembering holidays spent from childhood through to the present.   Living alone whether by choice or through loss of loved ones can be difficult as we often wonder why God let a relationship end, or why someone died, etc. etc.   In our grief, we get caught up in the anger, the raw emotion to the point that we are so bitter or angry at God….that we cannot feel his love, light, and truth in our lives.  We are so busy pounding on his chest, that we cannot feel his arms wrapped around us – holding us because we are his precious child.  Letting go of the Why God, whys….can occur.  Some events we will never know why & that is where trust comes in.  Believing in a loving, forgiving, and merciful God & surrendering all of the “bad” feelings can be a rebirth to a new relationship with God.  Some find it helpful to write a letter to God, others pray, & others seek pastoral help.  Deciding what you believe or don’t believe this holiday season may refresh you & be worth the effort.

Personally, the approaching holiday season holds many challenges for me.  I am alone.  I have my pets, but no humans.  So, I am volunteering at a homeless shelter & cooking for me and my pets.  I will also visit a couple of friends that were nice enough to ask me for Thanksgiving.  Remembering the pain of the last year with my dad being so sick, my marriage falling apart, and recovering from a surgery ….brings back pain & grief that I thought I was over.  I guess I am not over it.  Last Thanksgiving, I had to tell my dying father that he would not see or talk to my sister on Thanksgiving…that was by far one of the hardest things I ever had to do ….to tell a dying man he would not see his eldest daughter.   Then, on Christmas morning – my dad went to the hospital for the last time….also, my father in law was admitted on Christmas too….both for congestive heart failure. Last Christmas was one of the worst days in my life.

At first, I was not going to celebrate the holidays at all this year.  However, for me the holidays of my childhood are dear to me & I have examined my faith.   I am a Christian & believe that Jesus’ birthday is to be celebrated.  I believe that God can forgive me for being angry or bitter.  Also, I believe that whatever comes my way in the future, God will help me get through it all.  I have been doing a lot of praying & reading and I believe that my spirituality can be “re-awakened or renewed” by making a decision to turn my will & live over to the care of God -surrendering & accepting Jesus as my savior.  I cannot think of a better gift this holiday season than to have a renewed relationship with Jesus.  God has blessed me by giving me this gift this year…a gift that is not just for me but for everyone who believes.  I am not the type to push my religion on others.  I am merely stating what my experience has been & what I have decided to believe.   So, during these holidays – I will remember sledding & playing as a child, I will remember my Dad cooking, and I will remember what my parents taught me about the holidays.  Then, I will decide how I want my present & future holidays to be recognized (celebrated).   I have decided that my faith in God is important to me, and I am comfortable knowing what I believe.  My faith will help me survive & enjoy the holidays to some degree.

If you are facing the holidays alone & are undecided about what you believe about spiritual or religious matters, I hope you take the time to think about it.  There are really 2 issues….How will you spend the holidays  & then what do the holidays mean to you?  I normally do not write religious articles; however, it is hard to think about Thanksgiving & Christmas without thinking abut belief in God.  Living & being alone does not mean that celebrating holidays has to end…it just means that you are free to celebrate them in any way you want to.  Also, you are not alone…there are many widows, orphans, survivors of abuse, etc. facing the same things.   Life is a gift, each day is a gift.  I hope you treasure your gift.