Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 3: #GivingTuesday

advent card red tree

Welcome, everyone who has made Ana’s Advent Calendar your home for this month.
First order of business: Nina, as the first commenter on the first day, you win a limited edition Advent Calendar card. Congratulations!
Second, don’t forget to keep track of your participation points. Links to handy-dandy attendance sheets are at the bottom of this post.
Finally, thank you for making time for the Advent Calendar! It’s a hectic time of year, so spending this month together becomes even more precious. We have a terrific line-up of posts that I hope you will enjoy and take to heart.

Giving Tuesday

It’s almost 3 AM on Giving Tuesday, and it’s the first time I’ve had this week to sit down and work on my post. I’ve written and re-written this post in my head and on my computer screen, trying for various tones of humor, nostalgia, pragmatism, and optimism. Instead, I’ll tell you the truth.

I’m tired. Over-committed. Under-slept. Stressed. Worried about everything from careers to finances to family and friends. I go to bed tired, and it seems I wake up even more tired.

Right now, I have nothing to give.

That’s not what we’re supposed to say during this holiday season, and it’s not the message I planned for today. Last year, Giving Tuesday was a grand celebration of raising thousands of dollars’ worth of Kindles and LGBT books for homeless young adults. Two years ago, I told the story of “Annie” to prompt a soul-searching discussion on ways we could make a difference in people’s lives. I wanted an uplifting post this year, something wise and thoughtful and inspiring.

Instead, I find myself searching desperately for words to voice a nameless exhaustion. Part of it is physical. I’ve worked or attended a (grueling but rewarding) conference for all but three days of November. Three days, period, including weekends and holidays. I’ve gotten caught up in the drama of a woman dying of ALS, and today she lashed out at me with the venom of someone unaware of how her words hurt others. I ache for estranged family members who may, for my own safety and sanity,  need to remain estranged until the end of time. I yearn for loved ones who have passed on, and I mentally light a candle for those I love but who live too far away for regular contact.

I’ve dipped my pen into my writer’s inkwell the past month, only for it to return dry. Writing takes a well-nourished soul (albeit, in my case, a sleep-deprived one), and too often I’ve come to the table running on empty. I did turn out a sweet (i.e. non-kinky, non-spanky, and absolutely G rated) Christmas story about a little girl who grows up to love the boy next door. (Yes, I said boy. Shocked me more than any of you, but the payoff was writing the glorious moments when a little girl transforms into a teenager, young adult, and finally a woman.)

I’ve allowed pettiness and meanness to hurt more more than it should, and random strangers’ baffling poisonous words have stayed in my heart longer than they should have.

My body throbs with the unfairness of so much going on in the world right now. Sarah Bessey said it best a year ago:

I’ll be honest, I’m not feeling the joy much these days. I’m learning to be okay with that. I’m learning to be okay with the sadness that rises, with the frustration of a broken world, with longings still unfulfilled, with the profound ache in my human heart for all things to be restored, to be redeemed, to be whole. I’m learning to turn towards a third way: the one that holds both the joy and the sorrow, the one that picks up a small stone to move the mountain in small acts of faithfulness. Advent is one small stone.

People I love are struggling financially or emotionally or spiritually: real honest pain. I’m frustrated with divisions in the Church, with conversations that miss the point. I often feel distracted and fragmented, caught in the thicket of other people’s priorities and pet-issues and dysfunctions. Ferguson. Aboriginal women in Canada who are targeted for abuse and attacks in such devastating numbers. Syria. Ebola in west Africa. Shooting in our capital city of Ottawa, right in the heart of our government. One of our oldest and best friends lost his beautiful wife to cancer this year, it’s his first Christmas alone with their two little girls.

I need my Saviour* who suffers with us, my God who weeps, who longs to gather us to himself as a mother hen gathers her chicks.

When I read these words this morning, my heart sighed in recognition. Sarah tells us that Advent, for her, is sitting with the uncomfortable tension of wanting something without receiving it. We are waiting, waiting, waiting for a promised moment that seems as if it will never come.

We do our good deeds. We wash the blasted dishes and laundry only for the dirty ones to re-spawn the second we turn our backs. We tend the garden of relationships with our loved ones, only to be blindsided by miscommunication and misunderstanding. We grow apart. We lose faith, even as we donate to our charities of choice and work for a better tomorrow.

That’s what Giving Tuesday is really about, isn’t it? We tell ourselves we want to make a difference in someone else’s life, but really we mean our own. When life seems filled with ugliness, we need affirmation of its beauty in order to keep on.

Giving Tuesday began as a pushback against the crass commercialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It was about saying no to MeMeMe Entitlement and yes to making lives better.

Sometimes, though, the giving needs to start with a quiet moment with ourselves.

Discomfort.

Grief.

Sadness.

Frustration.

Hopelessness.

Fear.

When we face the demons inside of us, we emerge stronger, more honest, and more able to face the challenges ahead.

Even more importantly, we sort out our issues so we don’t unintentionally inflict them on the people around us.

How many of us have a parent (since this has so far been a female group, likely our mothers) who had unresolved issues we got to experience secondhand? How many of us have been appalled at how our own issues hurt those closest to us?

I’ll give you an example. In my childhood, I was targeted by a few boys in my class. I’ve told the story before, but the short version is that I learned none of my “friends” would stand up for me against bullies. I learned that, instead, they would laugh and join in, thinking it was a joke.

For the rest of my life, I have been determined never to become that kind of “friend.” Or human being, really. But in the effort to always stand up for the underdog, often I’ve gotten too involved in situations when I should have walked away. I took a woman and toddler into my home because she told me she feared for her life, and in the process I may have unintentionally helped her launch false accusations against her husband. (I still don’t know the whole story, and I never will.) I’ve spoken up when the wiser course would have been to keep my counsel, and I’ve learned–at bitter cost–that trying to fight other people’s battles will only result in drama visiting my own home. Also, trying to fight other people’s battles leaves me drained and unable to focus on my own life. It’s a hard lesson, one that needs an unfortunate repetition every so often.

It’s important to give to others, and it’s important to think of others. But today, perhaps Giving Tuesday starts with us.

This scene from Inside Out may or may not make sense out of context, but the story is about finding strength in sadness and negative emotions. It’s a powerful message (go watch the film!) and one that fits well into the Advent Calendar theme this year.

Where are you at today? How are you holding up?

What about you, in a broader sense? How will you observe Giving Tuesday?

(As is traditional for Giving Tuesday, please do feel free to talk about your favorite charities and causes as well. If you do, post a link to information in case others want to find out more.)

 *Because I am a Christian, these words of a Christian have deep meaning for me. This is not an attempt to proselytize. While I respect that not everyone celebrates Christmas and not everyone believes in a Christian God, today I would hope that this quotation is accepted in the spirit it is given: words of hope written in one unique language that may or may not speak to every reader. Thank you for continuing the Governing Ana tradition of respect for our diverse beliefs and faith systems.

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83 thoughts on “Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 3: #GivingTuesday

  1. nerdgirl1115 says:

    Giving Tuesday, this year, is really just another day for me. I say that because I will be working for most of the month to get donations for a local organization who help LGBT + youth. I hope, though, that we will all take a moment and give to ourselves and of ourselves. Maybe it will be something as simple as smiling at a stranger, or maybe it will be something more complex as buying meals for the homeless. Whatever you do, enjoy the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Monica Wiant says:

    “How many of us have been appalled at how our own issues hurt those closest to us?”

    *raises hand*

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re running on fumes, but you have been giving more than you realize. Our conversation the other night helped me understand something about myself that’s been repeating in a painful pattern throughout my life.

    My best friend since age 4 abruptly broke off our friendship in 7th grade. When you reminded me of a story that I wrote about her in high school, I realized that I have been carrying that hurt with me and replaying parts of that story in my adult relationships. Certain friends trigger something in me; I attach myself hard to them, I make myself too vulnerable, and then I watch my heart break when they pull away. I’ve been trapped in one of these recently, obsessing over unreturned texts and aching with jealousy when I see Facebook posts of her out with other friends. It’s like I’ve been searching for that 12-year-old girl who turned away from me, and I need to tell myself that it was OK to love her and have my heart broken, but I can move on and be a complete person without her (or someone who echoes her). I need to learn to love my female friends like an adult – generously, with trust and confidence and grace, not like an insecure 12-year-old clinging to her long-lost BFF.

    I’ve been meaning to give to two organizations, and today is a good day to do so. 1) Doctors Without Borders, in honor of my parents – former refugees, former doctors. 2) Planned Parenthood, because they help so many girls and women, and they’ve had such a hard year.

    Thank you for being here, Ana, and thank you for being you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Oh, Monica. I don’t think our 12 year old self ever goes away. Do we really want her to? I don’t think so, as much as it hurts. Whenever you feel jealous or left out or hurt, I think it’s a good reminder that we can unintentionally make others feel that way.

      We all look for someone who can fill a need in us, whether that’s a parent, romantic partner, friend, child, mentor, etc.

      We’re all that insecure 12 year old at heart, even when we try to act as if we are not. It’s the people who try to pretend otherwise who grow up into 60 year old mean girls (and boys) who sneer and exclude.

      Sadness, grief, and heartbreak…they all bring us back to earth and remind us that we need each other. At the same time, we have to be strong enough to live with our own demons.

      And when we can use our pain to reach out to others, when we allow this pain to transform us into wiser and more compassionate people…we become something beautiful indeed.

      Hugs to you.

      Like

  3. Joelle Casteel says:

    Giving Tuesday. My church, Church of the Larger Fellowship, the online UU church, has been talking about Giving Tuesday for days. While we exist in the cyber world, we operate like any other church, depending on members’ donations. While I can’t afford to give any money today, I will on Friday when paychecks come in. This is a small relief in what’s been a rather rough year for me. Big hugs, Ana; I so empathize. I’ve had relationships that have become estranged this year and I don’t see that changing. While I haven’t had anyone close to me die, this Advent season is my first of “Christmas without____”. I’m also hoping to give money to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; well give money and/or buy things from their store, which supports a variety of social justice endeavors- they have a really cute stuffed elephant made by a co-op of women in Guatemala that I’m hoping to buy for the 5year old I babysit. Those links are http://www.questformeaning.org and http://www.uusc.org

    I admit, I’m barely holding up. Being bipolar on top of all my other stresses isn’t helping, but I find myself trying to diminish the level of stress I’m under when anyone states that I’ve had a ton to be stressed out about; it seems I always have a ton to be stressed about. I didn’t manage to complete NaNoWriMo this year; I’ve just been too depressed to write- like you, I’ve found my writing well dry all too often. I’ve been trying really hard to think on the chances to make this a better holiday season for my daughter; this will be the first without my parents’ rigid gender policing making her gender dysphoria that much harder to deal with.

    Of course that means I need to tell the story of the pen 😀 I bought my daughter (before she disclosed that she’s transgender) a “High School Musical” pen and my mother shamed me for it; I’m looking forward to buying my daughter fun pens this year.

    Like

  4. JoanneBest says:

    Oh Ana, do you know how badly I wish I could reach through this screen and hug you tight? You are the true Spirit of Christmas all year long, I have never (sort of) met anyone who has the generosity and spirit that you have, you encompass everything the Season is about, only you do it every single day. You give and you give and you give even more and I wonder to myself, how do I give back to someone who is a living breathing Angel on Earth? It’s like I want to come to your house (in a non-stalkery way of course 😀 ) and wash your dishes and do your laundry and make everything easier for you. I want to bake you cookies and buy you spoons and clear your path of anything and everything that is negative so you can live the life you deserve, for you are everything I could only hope to be.
    It’s so difficult to be thankful sometimes when our vision is hazy from all the bad in the world. When our paths collide with rude ignorant people who give no thought to the effect their words may have on someone, when we go out of our way to offer comfort and care to others less fortunate and they lash out at us, even though we know it really isn’t personal, it still hurts. And I would do anything to keep you safe from any and all pain, for you truly are a shining star in a cold dark world.
    Yes, it’s Giving Tuesday, but the only thing I want to give is a break for you.
    I try to be a good person, to help others and give what I can, but sometimes it blows up in our face, and as much as we try to help some people, they don’t always want the help, so what do we do then?
    My sister-in-law is married to a multi-millionaire who has kept her living in an unfinished basement even though she’s nearing 70 and has a lot of health problems. Friday night she was given a restraining order and told she had 15 minutes to leave the house or she’d have to go to jail. My husband rushed down and brought her here with us but as the truth slowly revealed itself, we discovered she had threatened to burn the house down, kill herself and take him with her…. why did she do this? Because she’s an alcoholic who is now mixing heavy duty oxycontin with her box of red wine and bottles of Crown Royal. She’s lying to us, manipulating us, and has planted herself on our couch without even asking us if she could stay here and without even saying thank you. Instead she has had our home in an uproar and the three of us who live here have been fighting constantly since she got here. She’s screaming at us all, calling us losers and telling us to ‘shut the f*** up’, she woke us all up at 4am this morning slamming all the doors in the house and threatening to sleep in her car. How do you deal with someone like this? How can we enjoy the spirit of giving when it’s thrown in our faces accompanied by laughter?
    It’s difficult enough going through the Holidays this year, but this is making everything harder, and I apologize for going on about this on Giving Tuesday, I guess I just had to get it out.

    Allow me to talk a bit about giving: every year a bunch of local musicians gather together for something called The Christmas Dogs Of War ( http://www.christmasdogsofwar.com/ ) where we all play a few songs (my band is Bullet Train and there will be a link to some of our songs in the next day or two) and every single penny raised is handed directly to a local family dealing with cancer, people donate their time and gifts to be auctioned off as well as 50/50’s and t-shirts sold etc, The family is handed all the cash that night with nothing taken out for overhead, all the tshirts made are donated by the person who has been doing this for 26 years or so, after losing both his parents to cancer, and while there are usually somewhere around 15 bands or so, every single band member pays the admission price because it’s a charity and no one gets in free except the family the benefit is being held for.
    It makes me feel so good to be able to contribute, even though all I can do is give some money and sing a few songs.
    If we all did one thing, just one small thing to make another person smile, I think the world would be a better place. Life is too short for misery, we need to make more time for love and joy and the peaceful calm feeling we get from giving.

    Oh, and I was bullied relentlessly as a child/teen. too tall, too skinny, flat-chested, I was a magnet for torture from everyone, including my “best friends” who would be nice to me when no one was around then torment me in groups; putting my brand new shoes in the shower at a sleepover and making me sleep alone on the kitchen floor, locking me in a dark basement where I wound up with two bloody hands as I broke the windows with my bare hands to get out. You know, the usual…. when I got to high school and learned to stand up for myself from my gay friends, I once took great pleasure in doing something I really don’t approve of and that’s physical violence, I may have mentioned this already but a big burly football player started pushing one of my gay friends around and I saw red and without a thought, I punched him hard in the stomach and he never bothered any of my friends again.
    Not my proudest moment, but my action protected my friend (who later died at the age of 21 from brain cancer).

    So I’ve rambled off topic as usual, but my main point is this: God Bless you Ana, for all you’ve done and all you continue to do. You bring joy and love to more people than you even realize, and if I to say only one thing I am most thankful for in my entire life, I would say I am most thankful for the opportunity to know you in any way shape or form, You inspire me on a daily basis, even when I disappear due to fibro or depression or trying to help others, I think of you every day, and I pray every night that you feel joy, peace and love, for no one deserves those things more than you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • afodom says:

      What a challenging (understatement, but Ana doesn’t like cursing) situation with your sister-in-law. It sounds like she needs the kind of help you can’t give. Perhaps, in celebration of giving Tuesday, you and your family can start looking at hospitalization options. If what she needs is significant mental health treatment, then all of you may find relief if you take that step. Maybe?

      Liked by 1 person

    • awesomesub says:

      Hi Joanne, I love what you wrote about Ana. 🙂 But the part about your sister-in-law and you being bullied is horrible to read. It is awful when kids bully other kids. Uhm, I am not into violence either, but I’d give you a thumbs up for this action of yours. You wanted to help your friend who stood alone and needed support.
      I’d agree with Anne. Is it maybe possible that some outside help could be a good way for all of you?

      hugs ❤

      Nina

      Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Oh goodness, Joanne, what a mess all around! We want to do the right thing for our loved ones, but so often, as you say, it does blow up in our face. I do think people tell the stories they need to tell for survival, not necessarily the ones that make the most sense. It’s hard to face our own shortcomings. Maybe sleeping in her car might be a way for all of you to get some peace!

      What a neat idea for the fundraiser concert. It’s hard to find causes to trust, and I’ve donated my time/talents to causes where I wasn’t sure if everything was used appropriately. It’s disheartening, so how great you have found a terrific cause. And 26 years, wow!

      Hugs to you and hope that this year you’ll find some peace and comfort. Thank you for all of your sweet wishes, too. ❤

      Like

    • catrouble says:

      Oh Joanne…I am so sorry you have to deal with the craziness of your SIL…especially this year. You might have to check into having her committed for her and your own safety. Shame on her husband for allowing the situation to escalate rather than helping her as he should have. Hang in there sweet lady and know that we are all here for you if there is anything we can do. Sending lots of prayers and healing energy for you and yours.

      I so agree with you regarding Ana…I could not have said it better. She embodies the spirit of Christmas year round…our own special elf…even if she does threaten us with Mrs. Claus and her wooden spoon. 😀

      Love your charity…that is so absolutely awesome! My parents struggled when my dad was fighting his battle. After he lost it, my mom actually had to file bankruptcy because of all the financial issues. My brother and SIL struggled so bad as he was fighting his battle with cancer…still struggle as he deals with the continuing health issues even though he is cancer free. I am sure your local cancer victim and his/her family will be so very grateful for the lovely gift that all of you are providing.

      Ana dear…I am so sorry you have had such a rough time this year…you give so much to so many. Please let us know what we can do for you? Sending lots of prayers and positive energy for you.

      Lots of Hugs and blessings for all! Cat

      Like

    • Lynn says:

      What a difficult situation to be in Joanne, hope you get it sorted soon ((hugs))
      And I agree with what you say about Ana, who doesn’t give herself enough credit

      Like

  5. Joelle Casteel says:

    So I think I managed to put the links in incorrectly and I’ll try again. Good to see the bit of “Inside Out.” It’s been a rough year- my dominant’s depression, my own constant and seemingly unrelenting. Any giving has to wait until Friday and then it while be my church- the UU Church of the Larger Fellowship and the Unitarian Universalist Service committee. I hope to buy some stuff from UUSC too; they work with various groups around the world in fair trade situations to encourage small industry.

    I’m tense for this year’s holidays- it’ll be my first since severing ties with my parents. I’m hoping that somehow I manage to make this holiday better for my newly disclosed transgender daughter, one without so much gender policing- my mother one year was horrible when I bought my *pre-disclosure* daughter a “High School Musical” pen and used as much shaming language at me as she could muster. I’m looking at fun pens for my daughter 😀

    Like

    • afodom says:

      I can’t begin to imagine how hard it is to sever a relationship with parents. It sounds like a (hard and sad) gift you’ve given to yourself and your daughter. My heart goes out to you as you create new traditions without your parents – if ever there was a situation that wraps joy and sadness all into one package, this is certainly one.

      Like

      • Joelle Casteel says:

        I’d taken so much from them, judgments against me, but to find out that she remained in the closet, questioning her gender without my guidance for 6 years because of fear of them? That was the last straw. But yeah, as we get closer to the holidays, we talk about “no drive of 2.5 hours,” the more creative ways I’ve come up with to talk about my parents without calling them that or “grandparents”- because I don’t think they are. I’m hoping to get things together and manage to see my mother-in-law, but my dominant’s going crazy at work from a long stretch with no days off. Then there was “will then send money since we don’t want to talk to them?” They tried texting on Thanksgiving and that sent my daughter into an evening’s emotional episode.

        Like

        • Monica Wiant says:

          Your daughter is going to run into a lot of ignorant, hurtful people in her life, and it’s terrible that her grandparents are among them… But I have a feeling that she’ll be OK with the fierce love and support of her mother. Well done, mama. You are sending a message that you see her, exactly as she is, and love her unconditionally, as her authentic self.

          I have no solutions to the tangle of holiday drama you’re in, but I just wanted to chime in and tell you what a great mom you are.

          Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      That sounds really hard, Joelle! Estrangements are never easy. Here’s hoping for a holiday season filled with contentment of our situations as they are. Much easier to say than do, but we can always work at it. Hugs.

      Like

      • Joelle Casteel says:

        Thanks, Ana. I’m trying to hold on. New developments with my ex are trying to cause stress, but I’m trying to keep self-care lessons up there first along with protecting my daughter; it’s not her fault my first marriage failed. And thanks for the hugs. Sighs, at least I have this calendar to give me something to smile about a few times a day 🙂

        Like

  6. awesomesub says:

    Hi Ana, hugs. I am sorry that you are feeling so tired, and I do not mean the body this time. Maybe I cannot make any of what you have to deal with better (wish I could, though), but I’d like you to know something. You are doing things that help others. You have a sympathetic ear when we need it. You are careful with the advice you give, because you know that you are not walking in anybody else’s shoes, instead you’d rather offer different options and point out that there might be completely different ways too. I like that you stand up for the underdogs. It is something that is so lovable, oh yes, and it is choosing the more difficult way. Oh, wait, let’s see, you have been giving a lot, and sometimes more than might have been healthy, but this is what you do, and what makes you most awesome. It makes you more beautiful than I am able to say.
    … Nevertheless, who spanks you for overdoing things sometimes, I wonder?! (But only a sort of good girl spanking!)

    This week is pretty busy for us, hubby will be too busy until Christmas for anything 😦 , and my besty is here to drive me around (not my idea!). My doc has suggested that I do not drive for a while, because of me having some ongoing dizziness troubles. Hehe that means I have a good excuse now when I write nonsense. 😀 I am grateful to have Amy here to support us, and late afternoon is the time when she, Tilda, bumpy and I have quality time together. Currently I feel like receiving more than I give, which feels nice on the superficial side, but somehow feels wrong on a deeper level. That’s why I hope so much that I can make Amy feel as loved as she makes me feel.

    We have been involved in collecting and donating for the Red Cross; this year almost all of what we did was for the refugees. When granny was brought to her hometown we collected donated items for refugees north of Hamburg, primarily toys, because the kids had nothing to play with, absolutely nothing. We did that twice, but I didn’t feel good enough for more of these trips in autumn. 😦 Otherwise there is a local charity that helps women who have been victims of sexual violence, and the second donation is for the SOS Children’s Villages.

    Ana, thank you for all you do for others.

    hugs

    Nina

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      LOL!

      Who spanks the mighty mistress Ana? Such cheek. 😀 I may have to whisper to Mrs. Claus about your naughtiness. Hehe.

      I’m so sorry to hear of your dizziness. I do hope you’re being careful and letting Amy and your husband take care of you. And bumpy? lol! So cute. 😀

      I am sure that those around you love to take care of you. After all, you give everyone so much love. I’ll never forget how sweet you were with your parents-in-law. Most of my friends have to grin and bear it with their in laws, so it’s incredibly sweet how you (and our Amy here) get to enjoy a wonderful relationship.

      I have not personally been involved with the children’s villages, but they have a wonderful reputation. Hugs to you. Please take good care of your sweet family, especially yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. afodom says:

    Ever since being diagnosed with a chronic illness a few years ago, one of the hardest lessons I’ e learned has been that I have to make self-care my priority. Like you, Ana, I give as much as I possibly can to others, and as you wrote so eloquently, if you aren’t “giving” to yourself, there’s nothing left for anything or anyone else.

    The last three months have been particularly hard, as my day job’s demands have left little time for anything other than self-care in my off hours. I’m blessed that I work at a place that recognized my workload was unsustainable and hired new support as quickly as they could – hiring just takes a long time. As of the end of October, I returned to a normal workload. I thought I’d just be jumping right back in to all the things I’d set aside (like writing and volunteer work), but my body told me otherwise. It said “maintainable self care got you through this, but now it’s time for extreme recovery.”

    Now, a month after returning to a normal workload, I can look around and see what I can do for others. Sometimes is takes more than a moment to yourself for effective self care. Sometimes it’s months of doing only two things — the one that lets you buy food and the one that takes care of you. Until I had this illness, I would have said it was impossible for me to cut everything but those two things out of my list of obligations. By harsh necessity, I have learned that it’s not. I wish I’d learned it long ago, as that lesson could have prevented the illness I now have. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • awesomesub says:

      I am sorry about the chronic illness and that you had such a huge load of work to handle in your job. But I am glad that you listened to this extreme recovery signal – and you understood it as such. Months of doing only two things afterwards is definitely true. I have seen that happen to some friends too, and their way to recovery will be long.

      Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      We’ve missed you! So this is why you’ve been so scarce. I’m glad things are changing and you can find a better balance for yourself. We do what we have to do, but then we need recovery afterward. And yes, goodness…the part about paying bills and taking care of basic needs. Sometimes that’s all we can do. I’ve seen the diagram that shows work/school, social life, and health/sleep. Pick any two. That’s really how it is!

      Hope the holiday season finds you more chipper, feeling better, and enjoying your random bottles of beer. 😀

      Like

  8. Michelle Willms says:

    Hi Ana. I’m so sorry that your giving heart and loving nature has so often brought emotional vampires into your life and home. I understand entirely. After a life lived giving to others and burning my candle at both ends, trying to do much with too little, my body has rebelled. I’m now unable to work and I have no income as our government has deemed that my brain still works, thus I do not qualify for disability. I’m tired and sick, and often not even able to give my children what I feel they need. I can’t do housework or sometimes even cook the way I once loved. Luckily, my husband is discovering an interest in cooking and does much. But he is giving and giving and is resentful often. This giving Tuesday, I hope I’m able to give my children and husband the love they deserve. That’s not really what I mean – I always give them that. What I really want to do is have the energy to properly SHOW them the love they deserve. I want to give them hope for a better tomorrow, and for better tomorrows to come. Hope. Isn’t that what matters? I have hope for you, Ana. I actually have belief. I believe that light will soon come back into your life. Your inkwell will runneth over, and life will be so very much brighter for you. I believe, Ana, I believe.

    Like

    • Lynn says:

      Emotional vampires! What a great term for them, Michelle! Shame they exist though.

      I’m sorry you are struggling and hope you manage to show some of the live you want to to your family

      Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Michelle, it’s great to see you back! I’m so sorry to hear about your health. 😦 It is hard to be on the receiving end, isn’t it? That was part of the anger from my friend with ALS. I’d imagine you’re going through a deep sense of grief and loss…not easy by any means. That makes everything else more difficult.

      And I believe and have hope for you, Michelle. We have to believe, for what else can we do? Hugs and much love.

      Like

  9. pioneercynthia says:

    “Sarah tells us that Advent, for her, is sitting with the uncomfortable tension of wanting something without receiving it. We are waiting, waiting, waiting for a promised moment that seems as if it will never come.”

    Story of my life. I feel like my moment will never come. Then again, I wasn’t promised anything. Not really. There are no guarantees in this life. None. I keep waiting, but what I need to do is wait more productively.

    Even the flower bulbs that are waiting for spring are storing up energy. This is my struggle. To find the will to store up “energy” for when my spring arrives.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. pioneercynthia says:

    I just don’t know how you do it. I don’t. I can barely get housework done, let alone write anything these days, and I have little desire to do anything else. I keep waiting for something to happen, but it never does. I know that’s not a great attitude, but it is what it is.

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Some days, I don’t do it. I didn’t realize until I stopped to add things up that I’d worked 27 of the past 30 days. Then my exhaustion made sense!

      It really is the small things that get us through. Hugs and hope you find a small thing to make you smile today. Or (as it often happens), that you can find a small thing to make someone else smile. Sometimes I think that works better.

      Like

  11. Anastasia Vitsky says:

    For Sassy Twatter, who’s having trouble posting:

    I just read your post and wanted to send a huge hug! I loved it I actually read it twice. It hit home something feels different this year and a lot of it is because of relationships.

    Like

  12. sassytwatter says:

    i am left speechless after reading you beautiful post. your words are more profound than you know and hit home this holiday season. I just want to send you a big hug and say thank you. you give more back than you truly know you are an amazing women and friend.

    ps i cant wait to read your vanilla story!

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      LOL. First you want kinky, then you want depraved, and now you want vanilla. 😀
      Eclectic tastes for sure!

      And I hope your drama has subsided and you get to cuddle your sweet baby. It’s time to focus on more important things, like…small bows ARE beautiful. Hehe.

      Like

  13. pieclown says:

    Hi Ana, Yes we gurls need to use are weakness to find our strength. Your post always bring up several memories. My mom used me as a sounding board. She be gone 8 years in Jan. I have had friends of girls and they also would confide in me. Bringing their drama to my live and keep me from steering a clear course for myself. One example I was sick as a dog and I called into work. But my ex-wife thought I was healthy enough to help her move.

    As for Inside Out. good movie. Thought provoking. Not for the 3-5 year old crowd, but good for tweens and so. I am in the ANGER mode today. Part at my X, part at me. I tried to be nice and loan her some gas money. She ask if I had a receipt. But if I don’t help, she keeps my son from me.

    December I do not do that may clown gigs..people want Santa. but I have 2 one at a day care for special need kid and one at a senior center. During the year I am part of a group the clowns at the hospital once a month and at the Ronald McDonald house. We go to RMH in un-flu season.

    Well I need to close now and get into make up for the kids at the pizza place.

    pie pie 4 now

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Aw, Pieclown, I am sure you are thinking of your mom again this year. I remember how hard you work to keep things civil with your ex, and I think it’s a good thing you do for your son and yourself. The clowning sounds great! I am sure the children and elderly love your special attention.

      Hugs…and thanks for using your cute signature again. I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Lynn says:

    Oh Ana, life can be incredibly hard at times especially at this time of year when society tells us we should be enjoying the festivities with our families. I am one of the lucky ones who has a loving family but a few of them are suffering from ill health at the moment.

    I know what you mean about exhaustion! I am soo tired of the constant hospital visits and the struggle to get answers and decent care and all with no end in sight. It would probably be easier to bear if I was the one suffering rather than helplessly watching my loved ones suffer.

    I know it’s trite but I try to live by the saying: Where there’s life, there’s hope 😊

    For GivingTuesday I have made a donation to the Albert Kennedy Trust who help homeless LGBT kids here in the UK http://www.akt.org.uk and I have had the pleasure of giving a few gifts to friends who needed cheering up

    Liked by 1 person

    • SH says:

      It’s so very hard to watch your loved ones hurt and not be able to fix it for them. I’m sorry you have had so much of this happening lately! Hugss!

      Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      If your family could leave the poor doctors alone for a full week, I’m sure everyone would be happier. ❤ It's not the one big crisis that's so hard…it's a lot of little crises over a long period of time that gets so exhausting. Here's hoping you'll all be back to good health soon. The worst part is the endless paperwork, isn't it?

      One of my favorite authors quoted a saying about hope. I can't remember the exact words, but something like: Money lost, little lost. Honor lost, much lost. Hope lost, all lost.

      The Albert Kennedy sounds great! Also, I am sure your friends really loved the gifts.

      Like

  15. Louisa Bacio says:

    Oh honey. ((hugs)) My heart hurts for you right now. I know what it’s like to be extended too much. My best advice is to give yourself a break, and know that this feeling, right now, is temporary. You can really only do so much.

    Don’t feel extra stressed about what you’re not doing, and focus on all those wonderful things you are doing, and the joy that you bring to others. Just look at the connections and comments here.

    Time will once again free up, and you’ll be less tired. For now, deep breath, and “let it go.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Aw. ❤ Thank you, sweet Louisa. And I certainly imagine you know what it's like to be over-extended. And hehe…yes. Love Elsa. In my next life, I want ice magic.

      Yesterday, I said heck with it to a really unpleasant obligation and had fun for a few hours. It was sad to hear a quilting granny has now become a widow, but it was also a moment of connection to talk about food for the memorial service.

      Thanks for being part of the Advent Calendar, and yay for your post tomorrow. 🙂

      Like

  16. Irishey says:

    Hugs and more hugs, Ana. Sending prayers you attain whatever other things you need besides a hug. My Giving Tuesday initiative is limited to family and our home, a little bit of myself, you and your community of adventers. (-:

    I read all the wonderful comments thus far, but as I am in between laundry, cooking supper and chauffeur duties, my comment must be short. Perhaps I can get back here later this evening. Hugs to everyone.

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      😀 And contributing the patented Irishey wit and sass, I suppose.

      Laundry is important! Clean clothes are such an easy pick-me-up. I just changed my bed sheets and pillowcases, and the scent of fresh laundry is better than any air freshener.

      So glad to see you here this year. ❤

      Like

  17. larachristine2112 says:

    Where am I at today? Struggling to stay up, to smile and continue to be nice. What you may ask, on Sunday my ex stops over to dis pence a high dose of hate upon me. I for my part, remain calm which just makes thing worse. And calls me up yesterday calls and tells me that I need to pray, really pray because what I am doing is wrong. That God’s plan is 1 man one woman and the world has turned me into what I am. So yeah today I am struggling.
    But I do love giving to charities. In a strange coincident 4 young ladies showed up on my door step. Yes they were Mormon, but they were asking for pennies to donate to the Children’s Primary hospital in SLC. So I have been good around grabbing light banks and collecting all the pennies. Well I ended up with 15 lbs 5.3 oz. I found that as I was doing this I felt more empowred and better about my self. I like to talk about donating to shelters or the salvation army. I see so many people packing into stores fighting to get want they want. I just stick to grocery and pharmacy just out of self persevation.
    Those my charties, good shelves, donation centers and shelters.

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Wow, 15 pounds of pennies? That’s amazing! What is a light bank? I am glad you found a way to do something positive. I’ve also ready that the Salvation Army is one of the most efficient users of donation money (meaning not spending a lot on overhead).

      Hope that tomorrow is a good day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. renee200 says:

    Ana, I’m so sorry you are having a tough year. Your post really got to the heart of the matter. If we are empty, there is nothing left to give. I was just asked yesterday what I am doing for self care. My answer was like getting a shower and eating fast food at every opportunity? She said it was the time for doing something just for ourselves without guilt and feeling rushed. I truly just looked at her blankly. Giving has to start with ourselves. Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.

    From a charities standpoint we support a number of local groups that help provide children with food over weekends and the holiday break. For many students here… the two meals breakfast and lunch they receive at school each day is the only meals they get on those days. There are a couple of groups that provide food backpacks for the weekends and now with the long Christmas break coming there is a push to provide boxes of food for the long holiday break.

    Blessings and hugs, Reneee

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Sometimes a shower IS self-care. A lot of us, especially women and Christians, have been taught to never think of ourselves. It sounds selfless until you realize the consequences.

      You’re so right about the school children and food thing. How sad that in one of the richest countries of the world any child has to go hungry. 😦

      Like

  19. Tracey.Gee.393 says:

    Hugs to you my lovely Ana. Elfie would hug too but he’s tied up. You are an inspiration to us all. And to me, when it comes to Elfie.

    My Giving Tuesday? I sent all my clients requests that they pick a charity to whom to donate instead of paying me this month. I was going to donate then thought if I got all my clients involved, maybe next year they may follow the trend. So far no one has turned me down and I feel a lot lighter today because of it.

    xxooxx

    Liked by 1 person

  20. SH says:

    Big hugs for you, Ana! You do quite a bit of wonderful things with your valuable time and it is appreciated and valued. Take time to breathe, my friend, and take care of you 😀

    I try to do little things throughout the year, not just at the holidays. I will buy food for someone waiting by the fast food place hoping for something to eat, I will pay for someone behind me in line just because, and sometimes I will pay for someone in front of me at the store who is short money and has to put things back. Opportunities present themselves and I try to listen.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Mary Mccoy says:

    Ana, I know what it feels like to give until it literally hurts, and have it thrown back in your face. Being soul-tired is one of the worst feelings in the world, and many people just give up and stop giving… but not you. I did a silly thing this morning in the McDonald’s drive thru and paid for the person behind me in line. I hope it went further than just that person, but all I can do is drop that pebble in the water. I also buy material on sale for the quilter grannies at our church to stitch together to spread warmth through Lutheran World Relief. Some of them go to the shelter that our community’s churches support, Hope Center.

    Pie-Clown, you go gurl!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Oh, what a fun thing! I am glad you gave someone a smile. Quilting material is expensive, and I’m sure the grannies appreciate pretty fabric.

      No one will make sure we are taken care of, so that job falls to us. Today, I did that. ❤ Thank you for being so affirming.

      Like

    • pieclown says:

      Thanks Mary.
      This made me laugh more than you could know.
      I like watching cartoons and one of my new favorites is She-Zow. and you used the catch phrase

      pie pie 4 now

      Like

  22. Amy says:

    Finally getting the chance to stop by and leave a comment. This week has been one random weird thing after another. Today it was a sick doggy and a visit from my brother. Sigh.

    I don’t think I have a lot to add except that I love Sarah Bessey and also the movie Inside Out. A lot of this post spoke to me deeply. I can absolutely relate to experiencing my mother’s issues secondhand and doing my best not to pass them on.

    We tend to give to a variety of charities, but we have ongoing donations to the conservation efforts of our local zoo and to the children’s hospital here in town. Those were the ones chosen by the kids as their favorites. We also like to donate to the kids’ schools and to my daughter’s Girl Scout troop.

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      And finally getting a chance to reply! Poor dog! Not sure how the brother thing went, but I hope it was okay.

      I’m new to Sarah Bessey! I’d love to hear more about her. And I love Inside Out so much.

      Hugs to you. ❤

      Like

  23. Sarah B says:

    i Ana

    My heart aches for you and all those who struggle. This tIme of year for me has mixed emotions involving happiness for love & happiness as well as pain from challenging finances & strained family relationships.

    One thing i do know is that Self care is paramount in importance. At times it just means deep breathing or therapeutic coloring. At Christmas I love looking at the tree lights and listening to Christmas music. It provides an escape that is invaluable.

    I hope you can find peace beyond understanding and I send prayers for you my friend. Blessings to you for having this event each year. You help me and many others find a joy that’s welcome during a challenging time.

    Hugs
    Sarah

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Therapeutic coloring! There will be something fun along those lines. Stay tuned. 😀

      Yesterday I took a look at my schedule and made time for cards even though I had a lot of deadlines and obligations. It was worth it, and the day ended up being a good one. Hugs to you and hopes for a relaxing holiday for all of us.

      Like

  24. Laura says:

    Ana – I’m so sorry you’re having such a yucky year. This year hasn’t been my finest either. I find myself short-tempered and wanted to have little or no contact with anyone. But the reality is that we either go on or give up and while I might want to put myself in a little bubble to protect and preserve what little sanity I have left, I know that’s impossible. Even though I was late starting the calendar this year I want you to know that I looked forward to it because of the fun and hijinx that we have. So thank you, thank you, thank you, for doing this even though life this year hasn’t been what any of us hope it would be. Love ya Ana baby!

    Like

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