2014, I thought this Thanksgiving could be a nightmare, instead, it became one filled with laughter, joy and great times.
This year, plans were for Thanksgiving to be in Denver with my niece, her husband and their two-year-old. Additionally, my brother and sister-in-law would be there. It sounded like a welcome relief to a year where I lost my job, had major surgery and was just a bit unsure of the future. (It often seems I’m unsure of the future, yet, when I remain positive and put my faith in the Universe and its ability to provide what I focus on, all turns out in a very positive spin.)
After purchasing my airfare, and several weeks out from the trip, I heard via my brother plans could change because my great nephew would be getting some surgery to correct a problem with his feet. At some point, as time passed, this became a reality. What to do? Call the airlines, change my ticket to go to San Jose instead and pay the change and ticketing fees. Just a little annoyed at this juncture.
A few weeks later, I again hear from my brother. Plans have changed and we’re heading back to Denver. The prospect of yet another change fee and possible airfare increases did not make me happy. Now, this trip was costing me double the original price. My old friend fear, I’m now without a job and the independent work I do is sporadic, manifests in not unexpected ways…I’m getting angry. What amazes me, more than a lot of things, is how fear and anger can still have such a ferocious hold on my well-being. In my mind, I think I should be well beyond this. I know from experience, if I focus on the positive outcome as opposed to the negative, that outcome is the one which will prevail. Yet, those old tapes, the ones begun so many years ago, continue to want to be the dominant ones and often, are.
When I’m told my niece still hasn’t decided her family will be able to make it back to Denver in time for Thanksgiving to actually happen, my fear and anger reach their peak. I tell my brother I think it’s best if I just don’t come. In my heart-of-hearts I know this is completely untrue, yet the stubborn, fearful me considers it a victory. The other part of me, the loving, joyful, loyal one, knows unequivocally it’s an out and out lie. I allow the fearful me to ‘win’ in this moment.
About two weeks later, that other me says, “Let’s just check the airfare to see if going is even remotely possible.” So, I do. Remember what I said about the Universe? What you focus on grows. I check the airfare, the fearful me is SURE the cost will be outrageous and he can be content he stood his ground. The airfare, wait for it, is actually substantially less than the last check. Universe 100,001, me -10. I humbly text my brother to ask if I’m still invited. He has a marvelous reply, “You were never uninvited.”
The day of travel finally arrives. My flight is slightly delayed. No biggie, my brother and sister-in-law are getting in three hours later than I am and there’s time to kill at the airport. The flight is uneventful. Arriving in Denver, I find a nice little restaurant in the terminal and have a lovely steak sandwich. It’s all off to a good holiday. When the others arrive, we get the car my nephew has left at the airport, and head off to my niece’s home. It’s a little later than I’m usually up, but it goes pretty well.
The two-year-old is uncomfortable because of his surgery and having to sleep with corrective shoes on. Poor little guy, none of it makes sense to him, nor should it at this age. During the day, he’s quite cranky from lack of sleep, but not in ways I might expect. He’s also quite shy. Reminds me of his uncle (my niece’s brother) when he was little. Most of the time, I’m laughing or chuckling at the curves the Universe throws at me.
We have a pretty good meal purchased from a French restaurant. Everyone, including moi, seem to be having a pretty good time. The Universe is teaching me yet again, joy can be just as easy as fear and anger, and so much more pleasant. I continue to wonder why the latter, then, continues to show up first so often.
As the weekend continues, things get better, then get worse. A Colorado football game with my nephew and his wife turns out to be a great time, as expected. Then, the grumpy curmudgeon shows back up around dinner time. I knew, or should have known, coming into this weekend, things would possibly focus around my grand nephew. So, when dinner plans are made closer to my niece’s home in Arvada, rather than someplace halfway between there and Boulder, where my nephew lives and where I’m now staying, I allow myself to become agitated, yet again. It’s a very average meal at a Mexican restaurant. I ought to know better than to be a Texan having Mexican food in Colorado. I don’t think that was so much the issue as all the photos being made. As a former photojournalist, there’s just something about ‘snapshots’ I don’t like and become uncomfortable with. My inner take on this has to do with having not worked on my personality disorder all those years ago. The result, I was fired at every newspaper I worked at and after my last job in 1983, I was unable to continue in the profession I loved the most. I don’t think there’s a day I don’t wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self to shape up before he loses the thing most dear to him. So, I rarely shoot snapshots and for the most part don’t like being in them, either.
Sunday, the last day of the trip. The family has planned an outing to the Rocky Mountain Toy Train Show. I know from the onset I’m going to be miserable – it’s a choice and I don’t like having made it. I just hate these kind of shows. They bore the heck out of me. And, in this case, I have absolutely zero interest in model trains. I’m resentful, again, I’m doing something because the little guy will enjoy it. I am, and always have been clear, I’m simply not a children-person. The question I’m asking myself: why didn’t I just have them drop me off at a Starbucks or someplace where I could have just read a book and relaxed? A part of me says I didn’t want to inconvenience others; another part says I don’t speak up for myself and would rather just be surly, angry and a general pain-in-the-ass.
Often, I need to get away from what I’m writing to really get to the bottom of things. While all of the above has merit, it’s all just story. After working out at the gym, I realize what the real problem is after checking out my timeline. My grumpiness really started Sunday morning. I received a text message from my cat sitter that one of my 16-year-old cats has sprayed in the house, again. This has been an ongoing problem for the last four or five years. The vet can’t figure it out, and neither can I. I’ve gotten to the point where I really want to put him down rather than continue to clean up and check up on him two or three times a day. He’s been on prozac for the last year or so, and that seems to have helped. But, he continues to spray and anyone who’s ever been around cats knows how bad this can be.
So, my problem is/was I didn’t feel there was anyone in the family I could really talk to about this. Not the spraying, but whether or not to put him down. It’s a horrible place to be and it’s a terrible thing for me to think I can’t really talk about this to anyone in my family. My solution is/was an old one. Retreat into my own world and damn anyone around me. Making things worse for myself, I didn’t want to go the train show. Compound the whole mess and I turn into someone I don’t like and don’t want to be. (Update: I didn’t have to make the decision. A month after I wrote this, he died. Made me very sad, and at the same time I was glad I didn’t have to decide on my own and the problem is no longer a problem. Again, I need to be careful what I ask from the Universe, it just might be granted.)
And…this was Thanksgiving weekend. There’s so much to be thankful for. I lost track of that. I’m disappointed in myself, and that, too, is OK. As long as there’s a lesson and I’m willing to look for it, I can continue to work on being the best me I can be. I’m grateful for a lot, including the opportunity to take a look at another part of me I want to work on.
How Am I Changing? I’m willing to look deeply at both the blessings and the other things which occur in my life. How about you? Do you see both the good and the bad or just one or the other?