Do you talk to yourself?

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Do you talk to yourself and do your thoughts control you? Think before you answer!

We have an average of about 6000(!) thoughts a day, most of which we habitually repeat to ourselves. Some of these thoughts we have learned from our parents and teachers. As a side note, is writing in your journal another version of talking to yourself? ( I think that thought is the basis for another post!)

Anyway, have you ever stepped back and examined your “inner thoughts”? We have the ability to choose how we think about ourselves and how we respond to events around us. Our thoughts automatically trigger emotions.

Emotions have been defined as chemical molecules that act as a command center for our body, more specifically our brain. They organize and shape our beliefs, thoughts and behaviors.  “Feel Good” emotions of joy, happiness, confidence tell you that your inner drives are being met and conversely, the “Feel Bad” emotions of anger, shame, guilt cause stress and in some cases criminal activities.

So, how do we develop awareness of our emotions? Several years ago, on that annual retreat I have told you about, I learned about a technique called mindfulness. Before you scoff, just try some of this advice. I don’t pretend to be a scholar in this arena just someone who is trying to figure out the world and my place in it.

  1. Select a trigger situation to work on. Now in the beginning, you may be tempted to tackle them all and be done with it. I urge caution with this approach. In order to become more aware of what drives us to do the things we do and how we feel about them, takes time and energy. Once you have sorted though the situations (work, family, relationship) imagine yourself in a safe place. Remind yourself that you are not your emotions. During this step, you become an observer of your emotions.

  2. Identify and feel your emotions. Ask yourself how do I feel? Become aware of your body – are you tense or getting a headache??

  3. Accept your feelings. Sometimes saying a phrase, like a mantra, such as “I am ok.” helps.

  4. Identify what you are telling yourself and what is triggering your sensations. Remember, your thoughts don’t control you. You control your thoughts. Now, sometimes these thoughts are painful and we want to turn them off and forget them. They have a way of coming back when we least expect them. One of the Retreat Directors, suggested that you imagine that you are in  a car and the toxic emotions are in your rear view mirror. You are safe in your car and driving forward into a new life.

  5. Once you feel safe and secure and sort though your thoughts, you may find that your assumptions (and trigger situations) were muddled. You misinterpreted the sign posts or got caught in a pot hole but the good news is that the road ahead is full of new possibilities.

  6. As writers, we have a distinct advantage over some people. We write in journals and sort through things. I will admit to re-reading old journals, to see if I ever felt the same way before and how I dealt with the emotion and fall out. What I have found is that as I get older, some of those thoughts and consequent actions are not as earth-shattering as they once were. (They have been replaced!) I sense the tune from an old tv show “Twightlight Show.” Anyway, if you want to pursue this adventure, put mindfulness in your browser and get ready for a ride!


Each other


” We are all worthy of each other.”

Edward P. Jones (The Known World)

Fall- it’s finally here!

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Another perspective from G. Enjoy‏


As any regular reader of this forum can attest, Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love the brilliant colors and patterns it brings. In fact, to the consternation of some, I never rake my leaves for collection. I simply let them lay on my lawn to form a colorful blanket until they decay and go away. I agree with the late Dr. Leo Buscaglia that God put them there so I won’t remove them, and instead, just enjoy their beauty.

The other morning I awoke to a “nippy” and cloudy Friday morning. I made a cup of coffee and went outside to sit on my stoop and enjoy the colorful beauty of Fall.

Sitting there, my mind drifted back so many years to my childhood. I remembered how we, all of us kids, would rake leaves into a giant pile, and then leap into them. What a wonderful, if not wondrous time we had! Then, in an age that allowed it, we’d re-rake them in a pile and burn them. What a wonderful smell! Burning leaves nothing quite like it. What a shame kids today will never legally know it.

Then it hit me. My Grandkids should know this delight of Fall. I went back inside, hoping my call would catch C.before she left for school, and it did. I asked her if she had any plans for after school, and she said no. Then get ready for a super fun time after school. I’ll pick you up when you get home. See you then!

Then I called L.  After swearing her Mom to secrecy, I told her the plan. Mom said the L. would be ready at the designated time.

I spent the rest of the day preparing. I got packages and packages of hot chocolate mix, and cans and cans of whipped cream. I got two dozen donuts, careful to get something everybody liked. I even bought a gallon of freshly made apple cider. Then I came back to house and raked the leaves in the back yard into a giant pile.

At the appointed hour, I picked up L. and we headed over to C’s home.

“Oh Granppy you brought L.” how cool! Where we going?” “Back to Granppy’s I replied. I have a special surprise for you both!”

Constant C.’s questions got no answer other than “You’ll see.” Even L. in her rear seat car seat sensed excitement.

Pulling up to the house I un-strapped L. from her seat, and told both my girls to follow me to the backyard. Arriving, they were both disappointed. They saw nothing. I think they expected a pony, or a bouncing gym, or something.

“Granppy, there’s nothing here”

“Are you sure C.? Don’t you see that big pile of leaves.” Then, and without warning, I picked her up and threw her into the pile. At first, she looked surprised, but then after a moment, she started smiling and rolling around in the pile, and then got up and jumped in again, all the while giggling and laughing.

It only took a minute before L. realized that she was missing something, and half jumped, half fell into the pile of leaves. Before long, they were playfully throwing leaves at one another. Then they decided it would be more fun to throw them at me! I fell into the middle of the pile, while they decided to playfully  “bury” me with leaves. As if in a trance, I was swept in the memoryland of my mind back to my youth. All at once, I was re-experiencing the fun and joy that was mine as a boy. And the girls? Suffice it to say that they were experiencing the fun and joy for the first time and they loved it as much as I had.

Well over an hour later, the girls began to run out of steam. Also, it was starting to get colder. But I had one more surprise. I took an old coffee can, stuffed it with leaves, put it safely on concrete, and lit it on fire. For the first, and perhaps last time, the girls experienced the wonderful smell of burning leaves. It burned out quickly, but the aroma lingered. Finally, I dosed it with water to be safe. “Come on girls, more surprises inside!”

I had laid it all out on the dining room table. The truly and uniquely Fall repast.  Both girls went nuts! C. picked her donut, and together we picked one for  L. I made the Hot Chocolate and C. insisted that she put the whipped cream on, and did so as you might expect a seven-year old to do—EVERYWHERE! I didn’t care, seeing my girls this happy and giggly was worth more than anything. L. likes fruit juice of every kind, and her first taste of apple cider made her a fan for life. C. – not so much.

Completely full, and near sugar shock, we adjourned into the depths of the family room  to watch Sesame Street, and L.’s favorite, Elmo.

Then, Carla went and did it. “Granppy, can we have a sleep over?” It being Friday night, I knew what the result the call to the two Mommies would be.  Any chance to have a Friday night alone with their husbands would surely bring only one answer. (Hey, I may be old, but I’m not THAT old!)

Then, C. struck again. “Granppy, can we go to McDonald’s?” So, after the donuts digested, off we went. (After all, Granppies everywhere have the duty to spoil their grandkids rotten!) Happy meal for C., Chicken nuggets for L., and nothing for me (My sugar numbers were probably on Pluto! )

Returning to the house, we all snuggled into my oversize recliner for the evening. It was still kind of tight fit, but both girls wanted to be there. I also got a supersized comforter, so all was cozy warm.

Then, the irrepressible C. struck again! “Granppy, can we do an all nighter?”  I had no fear. I knew C.’s version of an all nighter. So I said “of course! L. was the first to go. Somewhere around 9:30 she found the warmth of the comforter and Granppys’ big chest too irresistible, and off to sleep she went. C. was still goin’ strong until the 11 o’clock news finally bored her to sleep. I decided to watch a sports show, and then take them both up to their beds, and me to mine.

But somehow, I got bored to sleep, and the plush recliner and warm comforter got me in its’ clutches. Somewhere around 3:30, I woke up. Figuring that I’d take us all upstairs, my plans got forsaken because I simply couldn’t move my legs. The weight of both the girls had knocked them out of commission. Oh well, it wouldn’t be the first time I had spent the night in this recliner, albeit without the pleasant company I was enjoying tonight.

Somewhere around 6:45 I felt the unmistakable feel of five little fingers grabbing my nose as if trying to “beep” it. It was like L. was saying “I’m awake Granppy, why aren’t you?” Of course that wonderful aroma drifting up from her diaper also had something to say. No matter how cramped the legs, Granppy had to get up and take care of things. Carefully sliding myself to stand up, and C. off to side and into the center of the chair, I picked up L.and off to change her we went.

Just as I was finishing up, I heard C. on the stairs, and she joined us. “Morning Honey, L.’s all cleaned up, now you go in the bathroom and you clean up. All your stuff is in your drawer.” “OK  Granppy.”

C. came out of the bathroom with that “C. causing Trouble” look on her face.

“Granppy, can we have Hot Chocolate and donuts for breakfast?” Well, I reasoned, why not? After all, I got their parents a Friday night alone. Besides, it’s a favorite trick of Granppys everywhere to sugar the grandkids up, and then send them home.

But C. was in rare form today. “Granppy, can we watch cartoons, then go play in the leaves one more time?” What’s a man to do? But we Granppys have a few tricks up our sleeves too.

After cartoons, we headed outside. It was now I informed C. that if she wanted to play in the leaves, she’d have to help rake them up. The look on her face!! She started in at the task dutifully. “What about L, can’t she help too?” Honey, you know L. is too small, besides, she having too much fun messing with the leaves we’re trying to collect!”

Task completed, my girls had more fun today than they did yesterday. Suddenly, C.’s parents appeared. I guess they figured I needed rescuing by now. (They were right!) But when they saw what was going on, they too joined in. I stopped to observe, and frankly got this incredibly warm feeling inside me, and my eyes couldn’t help but well up. How I love it when young children discover that the wonders of nature are more fun then anything you plug-in and click, and at the same time, their young parents get reminded also. They left happy and laughing, and I heard C. remark she had the BEST TIME!”

Time came for me to pack up L, and take her home. She giggled and cooed all the way home. How I wish I spoke baby gibberish! My son said she looked soooo happy!

I drove home with a deep contentment. Arriving, I sought the comfort of my recliner again. I forgot about Notre Dame football. After all, caring for two magnificent granddaughters can really wear the old Granppy out!


I settled in for a three-hour nap.





” Our aspirations are our possibilities.”

Robert Browning


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