Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 30


At the beginning of this month, I gave myself two goals:

  1. To write a daily reflection on gratitude. I think it’s an important method to happiness . To look around and feel grateful. It’s too easy to fall into a negative thought process because things don’t always go in the direction that I’d like. I came up a few days shy of making my goal. But, I accomplished what I wanted – to look around for reasons to feel thankful.
  2. To take the NaNoWriMo challenge. I wanted write a novel during the month of November. I needed to write a minimum of 50,000 words. I hit my goal on Monday,  the 27, but I guess I’m too wordy. I need more than 50,000 words to finish the story. I plan to continue until I finish my rough draft. This puts my New Year’s resolution in place – to edit it and get it ready for another set of eyes to read.

My December plans include sewing a few gifts, plus Santa gave me a list to complete for him as one of his elves. In other words, back to my day job.

I thought it appropriate on my last day in November when I concentrated on gratitude to find a note in my messenger inbox. A new review for my book posted yesterday on Amazon. My heart overflowed as I read her thoughts about my book. Each time someone takes the time to read, write, and post a review for my book, Broken Brain, Fortified Faith, I am filled with gratitude. Thank you, Colleen, and everyone who posted a reaction to our story. Here’s few of her thoughts:

     This is a powerful and compelling autobiographical account of one mother’s journey through the nightmare of mental illness. Virginia Pillars’ daughter, Amber, developed schizophrenia in her early twenties. As Virginia, her husband, Roy, and their sons became aware of the alternate world Amber was living in, they reached out to her. But where to begin to help her out?
…Virginia’s account is honest, compelling and revealing. It is painful as you journey with Virginia and her husband as they look for the treatment Amber needed. The disturbance that severe mental illness causes in the home life of family members is very challenging. The Pillars’ journey, like so many families, is not one of instant success…
. ..The story is very well-written. Once you start reading, it is hard to put down. There is a natural curiosity and hope that the Pillars can find the mental health professional with the right treatment for Amber.                                                                                                                        …There are many out there with family members who suffer from mild to severe mental illnesses. Virginia’s honest account opens the door to what one family experienced. It is not unique. Many families are suffering in this way. Her book does a great service in sharing the challenges and pain and the hopes and victories in navigating the road to recovery. I encourage everyone to read it and share it with others.

For the complete review and others, you’ll find them at Amazon, and Goodreads.

Thank you to all of you who followed along for my month of gratitude. May your December be a season of preparation and joy.

 

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Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 28


Laughter. Today, I’m grateful for laughter.

Last night, a member of our household returned from a trip. He’d gotten sick just before his flight home, which made for miserable plane ride. Now, the circumstance didn’t have a shred of humor in it. Not until my hubby got involved in the conversation.

He proceeded to tell of a time that he had similar symptoms when on a trip across the ocean. He described his reaction, complete with sound effects. The three of us laughed so hard we couldn’t sit up straight.

For a few minutes, we forgot his misery as we shared Roy’s hilarious memories.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t think illness is funny. Nor do we dismiss another’s problems. Instead, we look at ourselves, our own reactions, and look for the humor.

It helps us cope to laugh at our mistakes, and the silly things we do. Laughter can diffuse a tense situation. It helps us look past the walls that we sometimes build around us.

Laughter releases endorphins (a feel-good hormone) which can ease stress, boost our immune system, improve our mood, increase our pain tolerance, and improve our cardiovascular health. Wow, all that from a good joke. It also releases the neurotransmitter dopamine.  Think of this as a reward for our brain, which may motivate us to continue with our laughter. Maybe that’s why when I start to laugh, I can’t stop and everything sounds funny.

Maybe we should change the saying from “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” to “A laugh a day keeps the doctor away.”

Think of the last time you shared a belly laugh with someone. It felt pretty wonderful, didn’t it?

I love to laugh. I’m grateful for laughter, and the forty-two years with a husband who can make me to laugh so hard that I can’t breathe.

Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 24


Twas the morning of Black Friday, and all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, except for the mouse…

Okay, not really true, because I’m up, but the mouse part is close to the truth. The little critters must think we offer free rent in our house, so I’ve declared war, as I do every year. But anyway, back to my gratitude reflection…

I hope my readers had a relaxed day yesterday. I know, I did. I ate turkey, which for me, is an annual treat that I dream about in anticipation for weeks. Why? My body reacts to foods that others can eat without any issues. Turkey, chicken, eggs, chocolate, and wine trigger migraines for me.

I can eat tiny amounts (of poultry, not chocolate) once in a while without problems, so once a year, my taste buds rejoice as I savor a helping of dark, turkey meat. I enjoy the homemade dressing and gravy, along with the sweet potatoes, squash casserole, and of course, the green bean casserole. I finished the meal with a slice of pumpkin pie and a cup of coffee. My mouth remains in a state of contentment this morning.

Yesterday, my family surrounded me – our three sons, three daughters-in-law, our daughter, and three of our four grandchildren. Our fourth grandchild made it to his eternal home over eleven years ago. He’s with us in spirit for every event. I call us the “Even Dozen Club,” but in reality, we are probably a bit odd.

We have fun together. We compete like Olympians as we play games, work together, and of course, tease each other. I’m certain I will hear about the year I forgot the sugar in the pumpkin pie for the rest of my life. And if I know my family, they’ll share the story at my funeral.

Oh, we do love to laugh at our mistakes.

After all, life is too important to take it seriously. I laugh at the silly things I do wrong, and revel in the things that go right.

My devotional readings this morning remind me to stay grateful.

I’m thankful for my life, and that I don’t feel the need to fight the crowds today to shop. I plan to write a few chapters for my first-ever novel. And eat another piece of pumpkin pie with my coffee.

Happy Black Friday!

Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 23


Today, like many across our nation,  I plan to gather with loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving. After I help my 91-year-old Mom in an hour, I will spend the rest of the day with my family.

Some of the top things on my gratitude list.

  1. My mom. At 91, she lives in her own home. She doesn’t get around very well, but she stays cheerful and thankful for every little thing that anyone does for her. She’s taught me to live in gratitude.
  2. My husband. We’ve carved out a wonderful life together for the past 42 years.
  3. Health. We’ve dealt with major illnesses in our family. We won most of the battles, and are grateful for our family’s health.  We both feel younger than our years. We enjoy our work, and our time away from it.
  4. My four children. All of them are successful as they travel their path of life. Today, they will  cook most of the our Thanksgiving meal. I bring the pies. If I beg, I may get to help with dishes. Most years they shoo me out of the kitchen.
  5. Our grandchildren. Enough said.
  6. My home. It’s comfortable and more than adequate. Plus, it’s clean enough to be healthy, but dirty enough to be happy.
  7. Life adventures. During a recent game with my grandchildren and nephew, we each counted the countries that we’ve visited. I counted twenty-one! I’m grateful to enjoy so many different cultures in my sixty-two years of life.
  8. I can read, I can write, I can create projects from fabric, therefore I never wonder what I can do to keep busy. I think I need another life time to read all the books on my TBR list, and sew all the fabric in my closet.
  9. I have nutritious and delicious food every day.
  10. I have the freedom to live my faith. I live in confidence because I know I am loved more than I can ever comprehend. Everything else is frosting on the cake.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 18


I got to spend some time with my daughter, Amber, today. I enjoyed the few hours we spent in conversation face to face. Most of the time, we talk on our phones because she lives a couple of hours from me. This morning we went to breakfast and chatted in her livingroom with our feet up. It was so relaxing.

So today, I’m grateful for time spent with her, and the communication that was made easy by the invention of the telephone. It’s been around for a long time and most of the time I take it for granted. I’ve always had a phone. As a little girl on the farm, we had a party line that we shared with the neighbors. We each had a unique ring and you were supposed to answer your ring, and no other rings. Which we did, most of the time. I admit, when Mom and Dad were gone, I listened to the neighbor girl talk to her boyfriend. Shame on me.

When I first married Roy, we had a party line, too. That didn’t last long and we had a private line with just our ring coming into the house. One phone on the wall in the diningroom was sufficient.

Over the years, we added extensions in other rooms. This seemed like a luxury. We rarely made long distance phone calls because of the expense and used them with caution.

Enter the first hand held phones. We felt new freedom with our phone. We could walk from one room to another as we talked. Wow, we thought, can it get any better than this?

It could, and it did. Cell phones. Our first one looked like a purse, but boy, we sure enjoyed it. As they got smaller and more powerful, we upgraded until now we carry one almost all the time. It slips into our pockets. We take photos on them and share them instantly with whoever we please.

We communicate with ease with friends, family and business acquaintances without a second thought.

Today, I”m grateful for telephones.

Gratitude, Virginia Pillars

Gratitude – November 8


“God bless you.” I grew up hearing this every time I sneezed. My mom, grandmothers, aunts, uncles – it seems that everyone had this response. Now, I react in the same way – “God bless you.”

So, today, I’m grateful for tissues. Yes, tissues. I grab one to wipe my runny nose, dab my eyes when something touches my heart, or hand to someone who needs it for the same reason. We got through boxes of them each year in our home.

We take them for granted. Before the wide distribution of them, people used cloth made of cotton. The movies illustrated to me a couple uses: women dropped them for the gentlemen to pick up and hand to them, or people offered their personal handkerchief to someone who needed one as a gesture of kindness.

I thought about this the other day. I’m glad for those portable tissue packs most women carry in their purse. I, for one, take comfort in the fact that when I’m offered one, it has not been used already to wipe a brow, or worse yet, a nose.

When someone asks me if they can borrow a tissue, I refuse. “No, you can’t borrow it. I don’t want it back when you’re done. I’ll give you one and you can keep it,” I say as I respond with a smile. It’s falls into the same class as a band-aid. I really don’t want it back after it’s used.

Tissues came about because of a shortage cotton during World War I. Kimberly-Clark developed cellucotton, an absorbent cotton-like material for surgical bandages on the battlefield and in the hospitals.

After the war, they had a surplus and looked for a new use. They marketed the product as a cold-creme remover cloth to Hollywood and Broadway. Soon, women complained that their husbands blew their noses in them.The demand by consumers for something to use on their nose switched it to our current product.

In the early 1920’s, the invention of a cardboard pop-up tissues box, propelled them into what is now a common household necessity for most of us.

I’m grateful for disposable tissues.

The photograph for today? Last spring, as I visited libraries across our state to talk about mental illness and sign my book, I spent time in new communities. I explored the local shops and tried to leave a bit of my pocket-money with them. I found this wooden tissue box in a second-hand furniture/craft store. I bought it as a decorative reminder of my journey across the state, plus I thought it fit my decor and personality.

Happy Wednesday.

And, God bless you.