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.


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!