Can I have a side of humor with that?

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“You have to laugh at yourself because you’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t.” —Emily Saliers, Indigo Girls

Yep, I just quoted an Indigo Girl — I was quite a big fan in college and still love their music.  Besides, the quote has helped me through some hard times in that it gave me permission to laugh when maybe it wasn’t so appropriate.  Yes, I laugh at inappropriate times, and I am going to tell you ALL about it!  I am doing this with the hope that I can use more humor about awful things in future blogsand not have you all cringe in horror at my insensitivity.

Joking is a difficult thing because what you find funny others might not.  My family has used humor a lot in dealing with my father’s Alzheimer’s Disease and sometimes I feel guilty joking about things related to his disease, but I seriously do not know what else to do.  I refuse to feel pain every time my dad talks in riddles, thinks I am my sister, or tells me the same story for the fifth time.  Some of the humor is used with my dad and he can laugh off his confusion — I actually thinks he appreciates this.  BUT,  some is “behind his back.” Joking behind his back may seem horrifically cruel but Alzheimers is a ridiculous disease and you find yourself in situations that there is no appropriate way to handle.  Humor helps me cope!

Lets give some examples, so you don’t all think I am a cruel monster. The first one was in front of my dad:

Brother enters room carrying presents and places them in front of tree.  Dad says, “Why are you so dressed up?”  (Brother is wearing jeans and a curdoroy button down with a t-shirt underneath-  kinda underdressed for Christmas if anything).  Brother answers, “I am in a pageant.”  Dad chuckles.  Me, “What’s your talent?”  My husband, “When is the swimsuit competition?”  We all laugh hysterically.  Not sure my dad gets the conversation, but the thought of my brother in a swimsuit competition is always good for a laugh.

Now for behind the back (deep breath – don’t judge):

I finish a conversation with a dad that makes no sense.  Go into kitchen with brother, sister, and brother-in-law.  I comment on how confused he seems right now.  I share that ‘sometimes I am in these conversations and my response might as well be “dog pizza tablecloth” (said in robotic way with similar robot dance) because I have no idea how to respond.’ Chuckles throughout the room.  So, that is not really THAT funny but you get the picture —  I can’t think of examples from weeks gone by so this will have to do.

And I don’t plan on discontinuing my use of humor.  Maybe it is rude, maybe it’s out of my own discomfort in knowing how to deal with it, and maybe I am avoiding dealing with pain.  I don’t know! What I do know is that humor is a valid way of dealing with pain and I like it and plan to continue to use it to my advantage. In fact, I will use it more in my blogs and if I offend anyone, feel free to let me know but I probably won’t apologize because an Indigo Girl told me I could laugh!

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Tradition as My Guide.

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Christmas candle

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I may have mentioned before that I am a therapist?  One of the beautiful things about being a therapist is that I actually learn a lot from my clients.  I am given the powerful and sacred opportunity to sit with another human during their lightest and darkest hours.  My job allows me to learn about human nature and apply it to my own life.  Kind of a nice bonus, isn’t it? 

Today, in a group I ran, I brought the topic of “Traditions and Rituals” to the literal and figurative table.  If I bring a topic to a group, I am always inspired by the season and what better time of year than the holiday season to talk about traditions?  Plus, I am a true believer in tradition and ritual as an important way to honor the past, celebrate your family and friends, and connect to future generations.

As the importance of traditions were discussed, I had the opportunity to think about my own family traditions and, more specifically, how they have changed as our family has changed and grown.  As new members enter your family and older members depart, traditions must change to fit your new family system. This can happen with many aches and pains as you fight for the traditions that connect you solidly to your youth. My parent’s divorce was the first time I remember this happening and was particularly difficult because it was not in my control.  I had to go to my dad’s house now for a celebration and he wasn’t there on Christmas morning for the tradition of ushering us blindfolded by the tree and into the kitchen in order to make us eat breakfast before presents were opened.

Marriage was probably the most difficult transition because it meant less time with my family and their traditions and more time with another family whose traditions made me feel like I had just landed on a new planet and the natives were feeding me chocolate-covered worms (it was more like kielbasa and pierogies, but still…). Now I have my own daughter and, while things are again changing, my husband and I get to meld our traditions into a beautiful experience to give her on holidays and special occasions.

In a way, I feel like I have come full-circle and I am back to being that child again and experiencing the holidays in a way that feels good on my skin.  The feelings of exhilaration and suspense and excitement and even the calm, couch-filled let down of when it is all over – they are back!  As I asked my clients today to look at how they can re-create their own traditions that most have let go of long ago, I realized how lucky I am to have family and friends that have weathered the pains of change with me and have somehow managed to still fit nicely into my traditions and me into theirs.

Happy Holidays Friends!  May you feel the warmth of connection and the joy of being this holiday season!

Focus Please!

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I didn’t realize it had been two months since I wrote anything here until I was kindly nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award and was forced to pay attention (thank  you http://mommysmomments.wordpress.com/ – I am flattered and shocked that my dormant blog would receive any recognition).  I guess I got distracted. Life seems to do to you that when you are pulled in ten directions.  Okay, self, get focused!

I have known for a long time I am average at a lot of things but great at none.  And I am not saying this to feel sorry for myself – it’s really just a fact of my life.  I would like to be amazing at something, and maybe I could be if I devoted the time to it.  But, like one can surmise from this neglected blog, I tend to have so many things to do that any hope of mastering a skill is lost.  As a mental health professional, I often turn to my DSM and can easily diagnose myself as having ADHD.  Of course, I think I have diagnosed myself with at least five other things at this point, so who knows.

I try to find positives in knowing a little about a lot and being only pretty good at many activities.  For example, I never got picked last for any team event whether it took athletics or intelligence – that’s a plus, right?  I can keep up  in pretty much any conversation about sports, pop culture, current events, politics, psychology, travel, etc.  This helps with small talk and sometimes with convincing people you are intelligent.  I believe it has also helped me move up at work.  I know enough about a lot of things that I can pass for”being the boss” — the boss has to be able to advise on many topics!  That I can do!

I will post more about being nominated for the Versatile Blogger soon, but I wanted to try to focus for a second and give visitors something to read.  Nomination means readers. And perhaps it will motivate me to make blogging that one thing I excel at.  Focus, self, focus.