A Different Gratitude

Well, there’s no way around it: gratitude will look different this year. I don’t think it’s too much of a surprise – I mean, everything has looked different this year – but gratitude will, too. It may look so much smaller than it once did. For example: before, where you may have been thankful for getting to experience traveling to a faraway country as part of that really cool conference, maybe now you’re thankful for not needing to travel so there’s less chance of being sick. Before, you were thankful your son or daughter was the best athlete on the team; maybe now you’re thankful they’re home with you, because practices every night meant no family dinners during the week and now you actually get to spend time with your kids and get to really know them. Or maybe even harder: before, where you may have been thankful for your job, it may be gone now; and so your gratitude may be for the people who are keeping you afloat.

It all looks very different now, and that’s normal. That’s okay. You know what is also okay? Recognizing that the times are still very, very hard. It’s okay to acknowledge that things are looking pretty bleak in a lot of ways. The point, though, is that there are still reasons to be thankful. Pain, anger, disappointment – they can all exist alongside thankfulness and gratitude. Indeed, they ought to: because gratitude is the means to find hope – and as long as you can find hope, all is not lost.

It’s been over a year since I’ve seen my extended family, and it’s not looking like I’ll be able to in the upcoming months. It’s hard for me. I miss them, but I still cling to the text chains we send back and forth, and for the video calls we have every now and then. This Thanksgiving, because we’re all in our various states of quarantine, we’re trying to arrange one of my favorite traditions: the playing of a board game after dinner. I’m sure it’ll be chaos: there might be Internet struggles because the whole country will be reaching out virtually at the same time; the kids may be out of control and coming down off of a pumpkin pie sugar high; everyone may be sad because this is just not the way we do things. But we’re going to try anyway, and I hope you try too, in whatever way makes you happy.

I’m thankful for you, for the chance to reach out and encourage you every now and then. I’m thankful for all of the great things you do for others, even if they’re little things, and even if no one thinks they’re a big deal. And I’m thankful, like so many, that this year is almost over! Can’t wait for the next one!

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Opening the Door

Opening the Door

In our home, the wood sometimes swells up when it gets humid outside, so it’s not unusual that our doors stick and won’t open if they’re shut pretty hard. One easy way to tell that it’s getting to autumn and winter in our home is to see if the doors close all the way; another is to note that our bread (which we make at home) doesn’t fall apart as easily like it does in the summertime.

Earlier this year, during the door-swelling season, it happened that my son was pretty angry. We had taken something away from him as a punishment for his behavior, and as retaliation, he ran into his room and slammed his door as hard as he could. After a few long minutes of the kind of full-throated screaming that most kids save for the angriest of days, he calmed down and decided to leave his room.

Except he couldn’t: he was stuck.

He pulled and pulled at his door, but the top of the doorjamb was swollen and wouldn’t budge. This, of course, led to more screaming, this time out of a mixture of anger and panic; and after we opened it (after a lot of banging at the top of the door), he needed a spoonful of honey to soothe his sore throat. He had calmed down from his initial anger, but he still found himself trapped.

I thought about that, and about how we can all be trapped by anger too. Do you ever feel that way? You’re angry about something, even furious; and even when you calm down, you find that you’re still not very far away from the fury at all. And over time, your perspective on life becomes informed by your anger, to the point when you feel angry all of the time.

There’s been times in my life when I’ve felt that way. I’ve felt that my anger was “right,” and that because I was “correct” and no one else seemed to be, that made it even worse. I became trapped in my anger until I realized that it was just another form of control. I was trying to control those around me, and when they didn’t act how I wanted them to – even if I was angry about the “right things” – I would get upset. It took me so long (and I still forget sometimes) that in general, people are going to be how they are until they change – if they ever do – and it was better for everyone involved if I lived my life the best I could and let others do that too.

Anger and control can be friends. They can be the door and that which swells it. But maybe there’s a way we can help keep it manageable. In our home, we learned that we didn’t need to wait for cooler temperatures to calm things down – we bought a dehumidifier and that helped so much. If you struggle with anger, how can you “dehumidify” it? What are some things we can do  – things we CAN control – to help soothe our spirits?

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Where is the Wonder

Now that the school year has started, our chaotic pandemic summer is now settling firmly into a routine again. It’s not exactly my favorite way of doing things, but with time, everyone in my family is adjusting and finding their way. Surprisingly, it’s not too different from the routine we had before the pandemic. Then, it was pretty standard: kids to school, things to do, kids home from school, playtime, homework, dinnertime, bedtime, rinse and repeat. The things I was able to get done when the kids were in school varied, but I was busy enough to miss them once my kids were sent home last March and the rest of the year stretched out in front of us like one long, dark tunnel.

Now, it’s similar: kids to school, things to do, kids home from school (or out of their rooms during the school days at home) playtime, homework, dinnertime, bedtime, rinse and repeat. I’m not so busy in between if the kids are home (they always need one form of help or another), but I am too busy for a lot more than I thought I’d be; and now it’s autumn.

The leaves are starting to fall from the trees, we’ve had to run our furnace a few times, and the sweaters I’ve been longing to wear are now shaken out and ready to go. The squirrels in our yard are getting fatter, and our family is planning out what our “Pandemic Halloween” festivities will be instead of the usual trick-or-treating. (We’re still planning on loads of candy being present.)

But even so, I’m not fully present for any of it. There’s so much that I’m missing. It was a feeling that was difficult to articulate, but I figured it out the other day: I was missing wonder. Don’t misunderstand: I’m thankful to have a routine again, but that routine has now taken the space in my mind where all of the marveling used to be. Instead of taking a few extra minutes to notice how slowly the oak leaves outside are changing (by gradients, little by little, instead of a mad rush), I’m worried about whether my daughter can find her Kindergarten paperwork before she logs on to the computer to join her class virtually. Instead of taking a deep breath of the downright chilly morning air, I’m gulping down coffee and checking to make sure multiplication facts are memorized.

There is a beauty to that, too, honestly. There is a comfort in coffee, in the times tables, in needing to be somewhere at a certain time (even if it’s on a screen). There may be comfort, but…that doesn’t mean there’s wonder.

In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a young girl named Clarisse, raised in a stressed and chaotic world that moves a million miles an hour lives a countercultural life: she allows herself time to slow down and look at the world around her:

“I sometimes think drivers don’t know what grass is, or flowers, because they never see them slowly,” she said. “If you showed a driver a green blur, Oh yes! He’d say, that’s grass! A pink blur? That’s a rose garden! White blurs are houses. Brown blurs are cows.”

Like the world Bradury paints for his readers, our lives also move incredibly quickly.  Information, whether it’s the news, a new schedule, an uprooted routine, is thrown at us, and before we have any time to process it, we’re forced to leave it aside and keep going until it’s all different color blurs. We don’t stop to wonder about anything anymore.

But Clarisse does, mentioning something beautiful to the novel’s protagonist:

“Bet I know something else you don’t.  There’s dew on the grass in the morning.”

What do you see in the morning? In all-of-the hullabaloo of your current pandemic routine, what are the things you notice – really notice – first? Is there room for an extra 30 seconds as you start your day to notice something you normally don’t, or room for taking in an awesome sight, even if it would seem ordinary to someone else? I am going to try to make a real effort over the next few weeks to try to give myself some time for wondering. I’m hoping it will bring some much-needed peace and calm to these very hectic days. Maybe you’ll give it a try, too!

Wishing you a peaceful autumn season filled with hope, joy, and a refreshed sense of wonder!

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

There Be Dragons

I have friends with honest-to-goodness magical powers: they are parents who can read books without falling asleep! I am still working hard on mastering that particular skill; and in an effort to get better with it, I made a goal for myself: to read 20 books in the year 2020. I have friends for whom this would seem a ridiculously easy goal – they would read 20 books in just a few months! But thankfully, because the world is a rich tapestry, we are not all alike and so I can set the goals that work for me.

And I’ve found some good reads this year, ranging from short story collections to non-fiction work, and have particularly been drawn to classical works for children. Books written a hundred years ago – and even earlier – were written so differently for them, and it’s no wonder – kids went through many difficult trials that little ones today are rarely exposed to. It’s not uncommon for children in classic books to deal with heartache, deep loss, and tough physical work before they become teenagers; and even then, from there it’s pretty much a straight shot to adulthood and all that entails.

I wish I had read so many more of these books when I was younger, because I know I would have liked them then. Anne of Green Gables, for example; if I had read it as a kid, I know I would have loved this spunky, bright, lovable little girl; but I read it as an adult, so the first thought I had when I was introduced to her character was: “Well, there’s no way she’s not going right back to the orphanage!”

But one series I picked up this year that I really fell in love with was The Chronicles of Narnia. Have you read them? I’m about halfway through the series, and I’m convinced it’s the perfect series for anyone – kids and adults – especially in a year that is so fraught with difficulty. It’s escapism at its finest: recognizing difficulty and trouble, but not succumbing to it.  There’s pain, and many battles; but there’s also hope and strength. The books were written by C.S. Lewis, but another author, G.K. Chesterton, once wrote:

“Fairytales don’t tell children that dragons exist.  Children already know dragons exist. Fairytales tell children that dragons can be killed.”

We know in our lives today that dragons exist, if you don’t see them right outside your door, you can easily find them on your phone or computer. But dragons can be beaten. It was an important lesson then, and it’s an important one to remember now. For a little extra encouragement, maybe pick up a classic children’s book to share that with your kids – or even yourself, if you need to remember it.

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Hello Autumn

Hello Autumn

Are you one of the millions of people who love Fall? I am (growing up in South Florida, I didn’t really get the same experience of Fall that others in the North did. I had one sweater we used to wear for that one day a year when the temperature fell to about 67 degrees), and I was commenting to my husband just the other day about what a cultural phenomenon that Fall seems to be these days.

Have you noticed it too? How once late August hits, all of the country was just awash in a wide palette of burnt sienna and orange colors, and the pumpkin-flavored everything started popping up, even though outside it was still in the mid-80s and you had to order your pumpkin latte over ice because the weather hadn’t gotten the memo yet?

There are a lot of things to love about Fall, for sure. I love feeling cozy, and I could live in sweaters all year round. I love that the sun goes down earlier and is slow to come up in the mornings. Bare trees, hearty vegetables, I love it all – but I was so curious about why we as an entire nation decided to embrace fall as our new favorite time of year. It used to be summertime, didn’t it? You thought America, and you thought of apple pie, flags flapping over hot dog picnics, and baseball games. You thought of the beach, and fishing, and running through the grass. Curiously, we’ve shifted over to the next season, and I think it’s for a real reason, something we’ve been craving for years now: comfort.

We need comfort, and we fall in love with Fall because it means more than just cooler temps. It means school days, so we’re back to a routine. It means we seek warmth, and the community of family and friends over a harvest table. It means togetherness in a way the warmer months just didn’t provide. It also could mean hope: falling leaves means more will eventually grow back. Decaying grasses make way for new growth after Winter’s end. In the Fall, change is here and more change is coming, just as it does every year and has since the beginning of time.

It’s tricky, thinking of change because I struggle the most with the things I cannot change. There are so many things I wish were different, and people who I wish would act differently, and there’s nothing that I can do or say that will make them change their directions; yet, I try anyway. And what happens? All of the energy and time that I spend doing those futile things are wasted – time I could have spent changing the things in my life that I can change.

When those things don’t get done, what ends up happening is that nothing seems like it works out: the things I can’t change haven’t changed; and the things I haven’t changed haven’t changed, and so I’m left at the beginning again, completely discouraged and even on the verge of despair, sometimes. So what should I do next? I know it seems so simple on paper, and you’re right: work on the things I can change.

We all have those things in our lives that we can change. I know sometimes it’s easy to mix up the things we can and the things we can’t. I think all the things in our lives can use some thought and some inspection. So a good exercise might be to list all of the things in your life that are holding you back. Look at your list – really look at it – and see what you can really change and what you can’t. If you can’t, you can’t. But if you can, even if you start slowly, even if you do the tiniest action – do it. And more change will come.

I know it may seem impossible, but hey it gets down to 67 degrees in South Florida at least one day a year. Here’s hoping your fall is as wonderful as you are, which is to say, really, really wonderful.

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Woman sewing cloth cotton face mask to protect against the corona virus at home. Homemade handicraft protective mask against covid 19 virus. Reusable face mask.

Making Masks

It’s looking like my kids will be starting school in person this year, and while I am 1) nervous about it and 2) even more nervous about it, I’m trying to be proactive and turn my anxiety into actual work. I’m tempted to just go out and buy a bunch of masks (and let’s be honest, I most likely will), but before the school year begins, I’ve set the goal for myself of making at least five masks per child.

As much as I hate the idea of having to keep track of where their masks are every day: Did they leave it on the bus? Did they leave it at school? In their locker? In the gym? Where???  I hate the idea of having to wash them and dry them each day even more.

But making masks from scratch actually necessitates making a mask from scratch. It means cutting and sewing and measuring and, for me, a lot of failure. But I have time! And the desire to not have to do laundry is pretty overpowering, everyone.

Here’s how the first try went:

  • Okay. Got the fabric. Cute! The kids will like this print. I’ll take a yard of each, please.
  • …A yard is way too much fabric. Oh well.
  • All right. Just gotta cut it. That’s not very even, is it? Well, I’ll just cut some more here, and maybe make this end even…oh wait, now it’s an inch shorter than what I need. Re-cut!
  • I have to cut TWO pieces??
  • Okay, got my pieces. That only took 45 minutes.
  • Sew the short ends together. Oh wait, I have to thread the machine? How do I do that?
  • Okay, short ends done. Now the long ends. Done.
  • Print sides facing each other? Where’s the seam ripper?
  • Short sides together…
  • Oh, it’s only been 90 minutes.
  • I need a break.

Two Days Later…

  • I think pleats scared me even before I ever thought about making a mask.

I have, since I began this lofty goal several days ago, completed one fully functional mask. Only nine more to go, and I have six weeks until school starts. I’ll totally get it done!

But seriously, folks: all of this is to say that no matter what you try to accomplish, especially in a time where things you need might not be readily available, or if you just want to stop halfway and scream into the void about how unfair all of this is, it can get done. You can do hard things! Like making masks! Because, really…if I can do it, you can definitely do it.

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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eTalkTherapy - talk with a counselor online

About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Bienvenidos Therapist Mary Mehlburger

Hello and Hola! Join us in welcoming the newest member of our eTalkTherapy family, Mary Mehlburger, who brings with her a wealth of clinical experience and is our first Spanish/English speaking therapist.

Welcome aboard Mary! It is good to have you and your expertise, warmth and therapeutic skills available to all our clients. Get to know more about Mary in today’s blog post.

 What does therapy mean to you?

Therapy gives someone the opportunity to form a connection that supports them, while still challenging them to grow and progress. This connection acts as a model for forming new relationships in a person’s life.

What challenges or rewards are there in learning and knowing Spanish for therapy?

Using the Spanish language increases an individual’s comfort level, allowing therapeutic interventions to be more meaningful.

How has COVID-19 shaped your role as a therapist?

Many people are experiencing elevated levels of stress due to COVID-19 that is affecting all areas of their life. This has presented a new challenge, as there is not yet a concrete answer to coping with these new anxieties. However, it does create a common ground to which most people can relate.

What is your life philosophy?

I live by the idea that you only live once. I try to use this philosophy during stressful times to ground myself and during fun times to be present in the moment.

Describe yourself in three words.

Independent, fun-loving, driven.

What was the last book you read?

I am currently reading “The Magic” by Rhonda Byrne. It describes the meaning behind our words and how to use those words to elevate our lives. I love books like this because they give new ideas for my personal life, but also to present to my clients during sessions!

 If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would meet my maternal grandmother. She passed shortly after I was born, but everyone says that I have her wit, ambition, and strength.

 What is something that others would be surprised to learn?

I love to box! I am a regular at my local boxing gym.

Complete this sentence: “The quality I value most in a friend is…”

The quality that I value most in a friend is their loyalty and trustworthiness.

Complete this sentence: “The quality I value most in myself is…”

The quality that I value most in myself is my work ethic.

If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please contact us today about how to register and schedule your live video counseling session Mary.

Vlogger streaming a live video

Circles of Influence

Summer is at last upon us, and I don’t know about you, but every week simultaneously feels like an instant and a million years. There is so much going on all around us, and if you’re one of the lucky ones not feeling overwhelmed by it all, go out and buy yourself a lottery ticket, because it would seem you’re one of the very lucky ones!

I heard a brief talk recently that explained one way that a person could find peace in this extremely chaotic time. The idea wasn’t new per se (in fact, I think it was first referenced in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”) but helpful nonetheless. The speaker talked about two circles: the circle of influence, and the circle of concern. The circle of influence, he explained, was the circle of your immediate life: your self, your family, friends, neighbors, and so on. The circle of concern encapsulated all of the “big issue” things that concern us: our health, financial status, relationships, society at large, etc. It’s called that because those things concern us, and we are concerned by them. The trouble is, though, that a lot of those things that concern us are things that we ourselves have very little control over, and when we sort of blur those circles together, we tend to fall apart. His solution? If you want more peace in the chaos, focus your attention on your Circle of Influence more than your Circle of Concern.

Now, that makes very logical sense to me, but I can see the challenges with this that would easily pop up in my own life, mainly through social media  Because my news feeds and all of that content is shared by people I (mostly) know in real life, it can become overwhelming to sort through the things I can change vs. the thing I can’t.

Does this mean that we can’t affect change on a broader scale? I don’t think it does! I think that it means that the actions I choose to do will, I believe, work outward. I can’t “fix” (or my personal favorite, “control”) really large things that affect millions of people. But I can do my share. And I know that it sounds little, and small, and silly, but hey, something is better than just worrying about how terrible things are and how no one will ever be able to fix them. My effort, and yours, and everyone else’s, can grow and can change things.

But it’s really difficult. It’s not easy to look at our lives and figure out what we can change.  It’s really hard to think outside ourselves. But we can do it, even if we fall short.

I heard a story once about an American woman who read about Mother Teresa’s work in Calcutta, how she used to help the utterly poor and those near death, the ones that no one in society wanted anyone to do with. And, in her zeal and inspiration, this woman traveled to Calcutta, met up with the Sisters of Charity, saw with her own eyes the desperation and the pain and the degrading poverty, and…she just couldn’t do it. She couldn’t help. She had read about it and thought she knew what it was going to be like, but she saw it with her own eyes and just couldn’t move – she was too overwhelmed by it. One of the sisters who worked with Mother Teresa saw this woman’s struggle and didn’t kick her out, didn’t send her back to America. She just asked her to come with her and to help her do the work that needed to get done. Even that little help was enough.

Mother Teresa had that famous line, “Find your own Calcutta.” She knew that there are people in our own lives that suffer immensely, even if it’s not from material poverty. If we stayed home and did that, that would be enough.

It all feels so loud out there. So overwhelming. So in the next few days, try to figure out what your circles are – write them down or draw them out, if you would like to! And see what you can do for your own circle of influence. I hope some peace comes from that both for you and for those who will feel it coming from you!

Until next time, be well!
Christy

***

eTalkTherapy - talk with a counselor online

About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Young girl on a swing in the park alone

Life Goes On

When my mother died in a January that’s been years ago now, I was surprised by how swiftly the rest of the world continued to operate. It moved forward unrelentingly, singly-focused, completely churning along as it always had. It didn’t skip a beat, not one: the sun still rose, the February weather was still frigid, waves of the oceans still approached and receded from the shorelines. I don’t know what I’d expected; of course the world would go on. My world, as I had known it, was so different, but the world at large had no idea. And I had resented it a little, at first – didn’t everyone understand what a big deal this was?

(My mother used to tell a similar story, in the opposite way, every year on my birthday: “When you were born, I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t on the front page of every newspaper. Didn’t everyone understand what a big deal this was?”)

Death, birth.  The world kept turning through both of those things.

I thought about this the other day when I saw a friend of mine. I was trying not to huff and puff too loudly as I walked up the hill of our street (a couple of months in isolation without strenuous exercise can make anyone winded pretty quickly these days), and I waved as I approached her driveway from the requisite six feet away.

“How’s it going?” I asked, the way I asked everybody who’s been under lockdown for weeks on end, in that tone that clearly implied that I knew exactly how it was going.

Only I didn’t know. My friend stood still in the driveway, her boys playing behind her, and told me the news as I stood across the street, six feet away.

“I found a lump.”

Aggressive breast cancer in a 36-year old mother of two little boys, a tremendous wave of uncertainty in a time that already feels like a tsunami. And still, the world rolls on.

__

One of my favorite traditions around Mother’s Day is to watch the BBC version of “Little Women” that came out just a couple of years ago. Every time I watch it, I’m struck by how death and birth exist so closely to one another. When someone dies, two little ones are born. Bad things happen, but so do the good. There is War, and separation; but there are also weddings and reunions.  

It is not lost on me that the world, although it looks and feels very different than it did just a few months ago, is still home to not only terrible things, but good things, too. All of the precautions we are taking to combat the coronavirus are also shedding light on things that we really enjoyed and miss, and can’t wait to take part in again. We are, like it or not, learning that for all the things in our lives we can control, there are so many that we cannot.

There are plenty of terrible things to see in the world, but there are also beautiful things.  They may be harder to find than they used to be (in fact, I’m sure of it); but maybe it’s a comfort to you to know that they are there. Maybe we can seek them out more than we used to, now that we are beginning to understand the importance of seeking the beauty around us. And I totally understand how frustrating that exercise is if you’re stuck inside… but is there a way the light hits a table in a way that is beautiful to you, that you’ve never noticed before? Is there a curtain you could pull back, or a blind you could roll up, or a photo you could move to a more prominent place in your home space to look at that reminds you of love?

Think of the smallest thing you can, then try to find more because just as the world rolls on through sadness, it’ll roll on through joy, as well.

Until next time, be well!
Christy

***

eTalkTherapy - talk with a counselor online

About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Mother with little daughter playing in a autumn field

Hold Things Loosely

There’s been a lot of talk about sacrifices these days, especially in comparison to the past. There’s the usual talk about how people today would never have been able to “hack it” back during times of real struggle, like during World Wars and Great Depressions; but there’s also some good discussion out there about how best to put the time we’re in right now to good use.  And what I’ve found most appealing so far hasn’t been pep talks like “Now’s the time to write that novel you’ve always wanted to!” (Which I think puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on an already unstable situation, but anyway) It’s been articles of historical value: “Here’s how people got through the really hard times.” It’s concrete history that’s shown us how resilient we’ve been as a species; and if you ask me, it’s helpful to remember that we’re just as resilient now, even if it looks a bit differently. 

In the face of all of this uncertainty (and who doesn’t see it everywhere they go these days?) I’ve found it’s best to “hold things loosely.” To think ahead and to hope, but to not put too much stock in what’s coming because it might be taken away more quickly than we think. Pennsylvania is operating on a tri-colored tier, and although it’s tempting to fix our eyes on the “green” phase of operations, it may be a good practice to realize that we could get kicked back to the “red” zone pretty quickly.

When the shutdowns first began, my kids’ school moved pretty quickly to shuffle everything online. They’ve done a wonderful job, and my kids do benefit from the one-on-one instruction that I cobble together to supplement their teachers’ videos. But I still find myself so thrilled by the PA Department of Education’s report that they expect students to be returning to their brick-and-mortar schools in the Fall. I dream of the day in just a few months when my kids can step on the school bus, fresh supplies in their bags, ready to start a new year, all crisply new amid the backdrop of all of that uncertainty.

But I’m learning not to hold on to even that so tightly because we just don’t know. We just don’t know what it will look like in even just those few months. And lest the disappointment be even worse than the hope, I’m finding it’s better for me to keep hoping, but also plan for things just in case.

We’re all in that boat, aren’t we? We’re all in this shared situation of having to wait, and I think it’s a sure bet that by now most of us have grown accustomed to disappointment. But before we go swimming into all of that despair, what are some ways we can find to balance out our disappointments? What are the small hopes we can believe in that can temper our temptations to believe that the world will be forever terrible? How can we hold things loosely in our lives and gain the freedom that comes with that flexibility?

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.