Category Archives: Thankful

Grace (or The Golden Trumpet Tree)


I parked ‘neath

the golden trumpet tree

that grows in my parents’ yard.

 

Rains fell and winds gusted

flowers plummeted

from the tree

like tears.

 

On the wet, fertile grass

or hard, sterile concrete

they landed;

all but one.

 

It rested on my windshield

abiding the quick, fierce ballyhoo,

its brilliant petals dimmed and drenched.

 

It greeted me, as I prepared to drive away,

its yellowness

reviving

in the warmth

of the sun that had broken through

storm clouds

to shine a ray on the

single golden trumpet

that the tree gifted

to me.

 

(Photo source: Unsplash.com)

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Filed under Emotion, Life, Mental Health, Musings, Poetry, Thankful, Writing

It’s the Most Magical Time of the Year…and Depression


Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Ben White

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Ben White

The Holiday Season. Winter. Christmastime, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year’s. All of it. It’s here again (or will be within weeks).

People are stringing lights across the eaves of their houses, smothering their front yard bushes and trees under ropes of brilliant bulbs of color, tiny fairy lights and large luminosities of red and green, Nativity scenes and Menorahs. Stockings are hung from the mantle or the chimney (or from stocking holders placed on shelves if you live in South Florida, because we don’t have mantles and chimneys), toy trains and holiday villages brighten up hallways and front rooms while trees sparkle and bow beneath their weight of lights, tinsel and decorations. Ugly Christmas and Holiday sweaters make their limited engagement appearances. Millions flock to Walt Disney World for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Holidays Around the World, and festive dining experiences.

It’s the most magical time of the year.

It’s my favorite time of the year. From the day after Thanksgiving (when I begin playing Christmas music) until Christmas night, those glorious, wonderful 31 days are when I’m happiest, each year. Attempting once again (and probably once again, failing) to compose and send out cards to those who are special to me, letting them know I’m thinking of them – all year long, but especially now – by the 2nd week of December. Searching for the best bargains on items from family members’ Christmas lists so I won’t go broke…again…

Christmas parties and luncheons, the annual church Christmas concert and children’s drama that always surprises and delights. The joy of finding that special gift for a member of my family, or a friend; imagining the pleasure on their faces when they open those gifts I’ve painstakingly wrapped in beautiful paper and ribbon. Decorating the tree while watching Christmas movies. And the Christmas movies! There are new ones each year to enjoy and ones from years gone by that have become favorites.

All of this I look forward to each year. Something magical about peace on earth, good will toward men.

But there’s a dark side.

These 31 days are also some of the most depressing days of the year for me and so many other people living with depression. There’s a bitter-sweetness to the celebrating and expressions of love and joy. Perhaps it’s because we struggle to feel the same wonder and carefree happiness that so maafter-the-new-year-graphicny others seem to feel; perhaps it’s because we feel a lack within ourselves – a lack of family or friends or significant other(s), someone with whom to share the joy; or perhaps it’s because there lurks beneath it all the understanding that this won’t last; after the New Year, most of us will go back to our everyday lives that magic never touches, good will and peace will be left at the curb with our dead and dying trees, and churlishness will accompany the deconstruction of all those pretty lights, trains and holiday villages. Back in the boxes, sheds and attics go our decorations and ugly holiday sweaters – at least the ones that survived kittens and puppies and toddlers – to save for next season. And so, apparently, do our belief in magic, joy and goodwill toward our neighbors. (Now THAT’S a depression thought.)

That’s part of it, sure. But for me, another part of the depression is old-fashioned self-pity. I’m single (not alone, because I have family and good friends nearby, but single…there’s a difference, you know). For someone like me, a romantic who dives into Christmas/holiday stories and movies (almost all of which end in some form of Happily Ever After, aka HEA), and watches – teary-eyed – all of the Christmas commercials about family and love, being single at Christmastime is downright depressing at times. Especially this year. Why is this year different? Well, 3 young couples with whom I am friends got married this year. I’ve been privileged to watch ALL 3 romances begin and grow over the past few years, and to see them each begin their own HEA in holy matrimony, and watch them begin their lives together…well, it’s bittersweet. Also, perimenopause is rearing its uncomfortable, heightened estrogen, emotional trainwreck, night sweat-slicked head. And, no sex. Also, no snow. 😦

Changing things up.

So while this most magical time of year is my favorite…and I suffer depression more acutely at Christmastime than any other, I’ve changed things up a bit this year, to see if perhaps I can survive the rest of this year less depressed:

  • I’ve not picked up one Christmas romance novel; instead, I’m reading the final book in an epic fantasy series (The Faithful and the Fallen series by UK author John Gwynne). I might be depressed at the end of the book, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be because the series is finished and not because I’m still single.
  • I’m gathering all of my tax documents – medical bill payments, copays, charitable donations, etc. – updating my writing and editing income and expenses spreadsheet so I’ll be ready – early – for tax time.
  • Keeping an eagle eye on my finances so I’ll be able to afford a nice birthday shin-dig for my son when he turns 16 (!!!!!!!!!!) in January.
  • Making a plan (which includes pep-talks at myself) for exercise, healthy eating and a little weight loss after the holidays (I’m soooo not into depriving myself of all the holiday goodies), so I will have enough energy to enjoy myself on my planned birthday trip to Disney World mid-February, and look good while I’m there! 🙂
  • Taking a little time each day to thank God for His blessings, and reflect upon all of the successes in my life (such as letting my son live another year – that’s a big one!).

So while this most magical time of year often means a deeper struggle with depression for me, I’m determined to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, revel in my independence and strength as a woman, and not dwell on the tiny, rather insignificant fact that I am single.

How about you? Is this your favorite time of year, and/or do you find yourself more depressed during the holiday season than any other time of year? If so, why?

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Filed under Depression, Disney, Emotion, Event, Family, Friendship, Holidays, Humor, Life, Mental Health, Musings, Real Life, Relationships, Romance, Thankful

Guest Post: Birthing a Book by Beth Schulman


Birthing a Book Image

Writing and publishing my memoir was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. It was heart-wrenching, messy and full of stress. It was also cathartic and rewarding beyond measure. Life-changing.  A lot like becoming a mother. In fact the experience was so similar to getting pregnant and giving birth, I could create a Venn Diagram to illustrate my point (this will only make sense to fellow elementary school teachers). Instead, I’ve crafted a list.

  1. IT’S NOT AS EASY AS IT APPEARS:You spend a decade of your life trying desperately not to get pregnant. When you’re finally ready to become a mother, you think it’ll be a piece of cake. Just stop taking birth control and poof, you’ll become pregnant. Well, anyone who’s struggled with fertility issues knows this isn’t true. I kept a private journal for over 10 years, recording the scenes from my childhood.  When I finally felt ready to weave those scenes into a book, I assumed it wouldn’t take that long. It took three years of committed writing time to produce something of substance.
  2. FALSE LABOR:You go to the doctor when you’re 8 1/2  months pregnant, feeling sure the baby will be delivered within the hour.  After being examined you learn you are only one centimeter dilated and the doctor sends you home.  You feel depressed and defeated. When I submitted my manuscript to my editor for the first time, I felt like I’d nailed it. I anxiously awaited his response. When he came back to me, the news wasn’t good.  I had to do a complete rewrite. 
  3. REGRET: After being told the baby isn’t ready, you go home and cry. Your feet are swollen and your belly resembles a rock hard, oversized watermelon. You are tired and cranky. You begin to question your decision to become a mother. You suddenly feel completely ill-equipped for the job. But it’s too late. When I reread my memoir and started to make the many changes my editor suggested, I felt overwhelmed. The more I looked at the words on the page, the more I questioned why I’d taken this on. Who was I to think I could pull this off? I wasn’t a writer.  I was a kindergarten teacher. But I was too far in to back out.
  4. RELIEF: Your water breaks and now you’re sure this is really going to happen. You drive to the hospital feeling both elated and terrified.  When my editor reread my revised manuscript, he sent me a text saying I’d done the hard work and it was time to send it off to the proofreader. It wouldn’t be long now. My book would indeed be “delivered.” 
  5. LABOR AND DELIVERY: You experience pain at a level you never knew existed. Then you get the epidural and it’s not so bad. The next step was sending it off to the layout and design team. I agonized over letting it go, worried about whether it was “ready” for publication, but with the release, came great relief. 
  6. PURE JOY: You hold that tiny miracle in your arms and you are overcome with joy. You feel a sense of pride and accomplishment you’ve never felt before.  You want everyone to meet your beautiful baby!  This is exactly how I’ll felt when I held my book, The Gold Mailbox, in my hands for the first time. I couldn’t wait for readers to meet “my baby!”

***************************************

Beth Schulman author photoMs. Beth Schulman is a mother, teacher and avid reader and writer.  She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Individual and Family Studies and from Cabrini College with a Master of Education Degree, with a focus on Early Childhood Education. She has been teaching elementary school students for over 20 years.  Beth has devoted her life’s work to creating supportive, creative and literacy rich learning environments for young children. She has also worked with professional teachers at The University of Pennsylvania through The Penn Literacy Network (PLN) as an instructor and literacy coach since 1997.  Beth lives in the Philadelphia area with her two teenage sons, James and Ian. The Gold Mailbox is her first book.

 

The Gold Mailbox cover2

“This dazzling and moving memoir is a roller coaster of loss and transition, held together by the reminder that love and family run deeper than we ever imagine. Written in gorgeous prose, this ultimately uplifting tale will have you savoring every page.”

Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance

 

Visit Beth’s website: http://bethschulman.com

Facebook: Beth Schulman Author

Twitter: @bschulmanauthor and @authorbethschul.

 

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