Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sometimes I Really Wanted To Tell Oprah To Shove It

Around the time my cousin passed away and my life was falling apart and I was eating a lot of 7-11 danishes; I was scheduling my day around Oprah because if anyone was going to make everything okay, it was Oprah.

Only Oprah, didn't make everything okay. Oprah made it worse.

Oprah was telling me that the key to solving all my problems during the downward spiral of my life was... (wait for it, wait for it...) for me to keep a gratitude journal.

Where I would write down what I was grateful for.

And I was thinking, "Is she f*&%ing kidding me?"

Supposedly, keeping this journal was supposed to make me concentrate on all the wonderful things I did have and not focus on the things I didn't (ya know, like a happy, healthy family, boyfriend or job).

It really made me resentful someone so rich, who had access to anything she wanted in the world, was telling me that what I needed to do to get happy was to go buy a $1,000 Kate Spade lamb skin journal and list all the things I was grateful for.

(PS, she did not tell me to buy a $1,000 Kate Spade lamb skin journal, that in fact, probably doesn't even exit. But when Oprah held hers up, it resembled something luxurious and that probably cost more than my monthly rent. And I cannot confirm, though I am probably sure, there is one less pink lamb in the world.)

Then, my therapist, who obviously went to the Oprah Winfrey School of Psychology, told me to do the same thing: Keep a Gratitude Journal. I imagined her watching Oprah and taking notes, "Tell all patients to make a gratitude journal, bill them $100 dollars."

I was BEYOND furious about this. Really, this is the best you have for me? I mean, I am really falling apart here. (7-11 danishes!)

But I did it, I wrote in my damn journal, because I'm a good girl and good girls do what they are told.

Now those were dark days and I just could not find anything to be grateful for. Somedays I would just write, "My dog." My therapist kept telling me that a day would come that I would have more things to be thankful for.

(She heard that on Oprah and was just praying it come true, lest I fire her and move on to a therapist that was watching Dr. Phil and was at least going to tell me to, "Get real about my life.")

So there I sat with my journal and wrote that I was grateful for my dog and the day that would come where I would not having to go to therapy anymore.

Then, I don't know how, but things started to change. I started noticing that everyone around me was complaining so much. About the little things. Things that to me, felt trivial. I felt like I knew what real problems were. They are people dying, watching your loved ones suffer and losing the ability to provide for yourself.

I started getting involved in a social network where people are dealing with illness and sometimes, terminal illness. They worry they won't live to see their children graduate grade school, they are having their home foreclosed on because their disease is so expensive, a teenager is asking for prayers for her sister who needs 7 surgeries that week.

And then I woke up.

Any of these people would trade their lives for mine, like I wanted to trade my with Oprah. To them, I have everything.

And then I realized, I have A LOT to be grateful for.

Tomorrow is my birthday and I can't think of one thing I want. That is the definition of a person who wants for nothing. How could I not see to be grateful for that?

Now I shoot things off in my gratitude journal like Oprah's favorite student. It was by seeing the things other people take for granted that I could see what I was taking for granted in my own life.

I started to see with wider eyes, the people in my neighbor hood collecting cans just to eat. A listing in the paper about a foreclosed home made me think of the family that lost the roof over their head. A friend losing their insurance because they lost their job made me feel lucky I could go to the doctor.

So I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. Health. Shelter. Food. Friends, really great friends. Family and family beyond just my family, that I could turn to if things got financially bad. Health insurance. Clothes. The ability to take care of myself.

Oprah.

Mostly Oprah.

It's kind of changed my life.

Because when you are not bitter and you are not feeling sorry for yourself, you get a lot done. Positive things. And then more positive things come your way. And then your life is swirling into something better than you imagined... it becomes something you could never see that you could create in the days of thinking you had nothing.

I'm not saying all dark days are behind... but I don't want to tell Oprah to shove it any more. And I haven't for a really long time.


This blog is dedicated to letting go of bad things so some more good things can come in.


You know what makes the perfect holiday gift, besides bourbon? This post! Send it to some friends by using the little email envelope icon below!
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23 comments:

Rene said...

That makes me wistful for the days when I lived in the land of 7-11. When my mom was feeling generous, she'd let me and my brother get slurpees. His choice was always coke, mine blue raspberry.

Cheers to 7-11 sugary treats! Sometimes, they just make the day a little better.

Krista Lou Cook said...

I am glad you had a little devilishly fun.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JIMSIGHT said...

That looks great, do they serve them at Firefly? Oh I am back just so you know.

Robinson said...

Wow, go for it girl, don't take any BS. What I love about you is you are so freakin' honest. Keep it up, it's so inspiring.

Anonymous said...

It's never easy, and I have found that in the world of female relationships there is often a controller and a controllee! I was best friends with my controller, knowing always that if I ever didn't allow her to control me the party would be over.

Never regretted it, because it was not my choice, and the secret is to be prepared for the worst from this person ALWAYS.

They can sweet talk ya while sticking that knife deeper in your back. Part of me believes they don't realize how badly they treat people, yet how can they not see how badly they treat people.

Hang it there, it's an emotional roller coaster and your energy must so be zapped.

All of my observations may have nothing to do with your "Fuck You" but sure feels good to share. THANKS!

saveyoursoul said...

YOUR TAGGED!

Simplicity said...

I think I'm missing something. I'm just getting the comments portion of this and have no idea what you wrote!

I'll be back!

SSP said...

thanks for sharing that! I had always kept the fricking journal, and while it wasn't always filled with sunshine and light and gratitude, it was a good, "safe" outlet for the vomit of my brain and hands. Sometimes, more often than not, it was black scribbles from the bottom of my soul. Don't know why I couldn't make myself write more when I was happy....But it is interesting to look back on it now. They say you don't remember the bad stuff, but I got it all on paper, girl. And Oprah don't know caca...the best journal to write in is one you can spill coffee on, drip maple frosting on, and coat in chocolate cuz you do your best writing when fueled by sugar and caffeine.....(at least I do...) great post. thanks

Tw!nkleTw!nkle said...

this was inspiring. im grateful for a lot but i dont ever really think about it. i really think Oprah needs to see this blog!

Miss Musing said...

I keep a gratitude journal and actually blogger about it a week or two ago. I thought it was a stupid idea at first too, but I was pleasantly surpirsed to find that it made a positive difference in my life.

Michelle J said...

Hi im confused about all these comments that don't seem to go with your post!!!

But anyway great post!! Happy birthday to you!! You deserve great things dear friend!! You've made a lot of people smile, including me!!

Thanks for that!! I love you!!!

Simplicity said...

I cried reading this.

Mostly because I'm so happy to read that you're doing well!!

Also, because hidden in a box is my gratitude journal from my dark days. Our stories are very similar...right down to losing a close cousin.

I ate a lot of Ruffles chips!

I still write, but that one journal in particular stays locked away...I pull it out once in a while to remind myself that it could always be worse!!

Happy Birthday!!

adventure grrl said...

I love all your comments.

Michelle - I ditched a few mini posts here but I wanted to keep people's comments since they took the time to make them.

Simplicity - Your comment is so moving and means so much to me. I didn't know we had such similar stories - I can't wait to read more about you on your blog :)

Quix said...

I really needed to see this today, I was feeling a little down, but really, I just have to remember how awesome my life is and how lucky I am, even if things are on a slight bit of a downward swing right now. Great blog!

Profoundly Inarticulate said...

Happy Birthday, Adventure Grrl!

I have to confess, at the risk of sounding like a stalker: I found your blog in November, read the whole thing, and have been following you ever since. I even gave your blog a plug on my own blog nearly a week ago, but this is the first time I’ve left a comment here. (I’m a little shy, even on the interwebs.)

Although you are clearly a highly talented comedy writer of glamorous L.A., and I am, well, not, we do have a few odd bits in common: My birthday is two days after yours, I was raised Catholic, and I have mother I would never want to find my blog. I also spent some dark days of unemployment growing a fat ass, but my poison of choice was cheesy poofs.

Anyway, thanks for yet another beautiful and funny post. I think I need to start a gratitude journal myself, and when I do, it will definitely include you for making me laugh and feel less alone.

Charmaine said...

I wish I'd known about the gratitude journal after my father died. I was angry for years and years.

Such a waste of time.

Great posting little lady. You're lovely.

Lori Lamb said...

AWESOME post! I love how you write and how you hit the nail on the head (sometimes MY head) day after day. Here's to a life of not wanting ... and to telling Oprah you did it yourself! - Lola

Surfergrrl said...

I'm sort of in that place you were. Sometimes it's tough to be thankful when I'm so worried about getting a job, but I know that in the grand scheme of things, I don't have it so bad. That I have options. I'm really having to dig deep down to find that gratitude though. It's tough.

Emily said...

This was my first time here & I had to let you know what a great, inspirational post that was!!

Ruby Isabella said...

This is a great post!!!!!!!!!! It is amazing what a little gratitude can do. I'm glad to hear it was your dog that kicked off your gratitude. I'm sure you're top of your dog's gratitude list.

Janie said...

God.

I love this post.

And I needed to read it.

Came by via SSP.

Random Thoughts said...

I bet Oprah would have loved this post.