Posted by: Elizabeth Anne Mitchell | April 18, 2012

The Sunshine Award

Shan Jeniah awarded me the Sunshine Award.  Thank you, Shan, for the honor!  As soon as I wrestle the image onto the blog, I will display it proudly. Beyond the fact that Shan is one of the sunniest people I’ve met, she referred to a thought-provoking post by PurposeFairy , called 15 things you should give up to be happy.

There are many good points in the post, and I will come back to them in later reflections, but there were several about giving up criticism and negative thinking.  I immediately thought of my mother, who among all her good qualities, taught me by negative example as well. My mother grew up with incredibly difficult circumstances, but managed to rise above them for at least a few years. There is a picture of her on her 21st birthday, which ended up being her engagement picture, as she married my father less than three months later. She is looking to the upper left of the frame, with a flowing fall of dark auburn hair, wavy, thick and lush, covering the bare shoulder above the black strapless drape so often seen in formal portraits of the time. Although she is not smiling, she has humor in her eyes, but it does not detract from the strength and optimism there as well. I look at her, a woman whom I never knew, and wonder where all that positive energy went. By the time I was born, she had only a shadow of that strength, having given it up to live in her obsessive negative thoughts, her regrets, and disappointments. When I was younger, my sister and I would play a game: we would try to predict my mother’s negative answers to something we would say. It quickly became sad that she could somehow say something even more negative than either of us could imagine.

It became clear to me that one’s perspective is under one’s control. I always try to look at the half-full glass rather than the half-empty one. I would prefer to laugh about something than to cry.  I have made my mistakes, and sometimes fall into regret, but I prefer to look at what I learned from those mistakes. I have my negative self-talk, and my brutal internal editor that so many of us writers carry around, but I am far more comfortable with myself than I have been in a long time. I hate to talk about myself, so the “About” pages on blogs are torture, but I no longer twist myself into what I hope are pleasing shapes for a particular audience. I’m not waiting to be a crazy wild woman in my old age, but am there now.

I am still mulling over the bloggers to whom I will pass on this award.  Stay tuned!

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Responses

  1. Oh, Elizabeth… Just reading you say “I’m not waiting to be a wild crazy woman in my old age…” made me giggle. You are definitely right though. It’s about living now, not later.

    I do somewhat understand how your mother could have become that way. My own mother never smiled… not those big happy smiles that make one know things are all right with the world. Now I understand why, but as a child… Mom was never a huggy person, and often would tell either my father or me “It’s too much; you’re too close.”, and Dad usually got the hugs because she wanted to keep their marriage as stable as possible. And even her compliments and the rare hugs were always met with a tight-lipped mockery of a smile.

    Our families were what they were. But we don’t have to glorify in the bad. My mother is really a generous and kind person. I suspect your mother was in her own way too.

    >HUGS<

    • Thanks for the insights and the history with your mom, Eden. I try to understand what went wrong in my family of birth so that I don’t let it rule my life now. I assuredly have made mistakes with my children, but I trust that they will move past them as well.

      As for being the wild woman, I suppose I’m too impatient to wait. One of my proudest moments was when I showed up for my first job as a librarian. My boss looked me head to toe, then said, “You don’t look like a librarian.” I quelled the first, bristly respinse, smiled and said, “Thank you.”

      • HA! Perfect! I can see you doing that (and umm, just curious… what century of the interviewer in? looking like a librarian *insert huge dramatic sigh here*)

        As for the mistakes our parents and we all make… we all make mistakes. I just would like to break some of the cycles that have existed. I want to make my own extra special screw ups. 😉

        How about you?

        • LOL! As hubs says, I’ve always been a smarta@@

          “I want to make my own extra special screw ups,” is exactly how I feel. I am not perfect (far from it) and my childrearing is therefore not perfect, but I definitely want to avoid the mistakes my parents (and my in-laws) made.

  2. I can’t believe I missed this for more than a month – yes, I guess I HAVE been that busy!

    I love what you did with this post, and, as I have thought before, our mothers seem to have been cut from a similar cloth. Only I didn’t play those games; I found the negativity too crushing.

    Sometimes it’s an act of faith or will to be sunny. Sometimes, I’m anything but….

    But life has placed some outright tragedy into my life, the kind that, if I don’r look for the gifts, I might lose myself in a sorrow too deep to get out of.

    And I have far too much living left to do.

    You are pretty sunshiny, yourself, you know!

    • It’s perfectly okay, Shan–you have definitely been busy. As far as sunshininess, it is often an act of will. I need to find the reference, but I read that our brains don’t know the difference between positive or negative self-talk, but take everything we think as gospel. I’d far rather believe that good things exist, await, and can be found and enjoyed.

      I’ve not experienced the tragedies you have, but even the darker moments I have had make me protect the flame of the good times, cupping my hand around it and blowing gently to make it grow.

      And thank you!

  3. Mothers do so greatly influence us. In my case, my mother was a quiet, dear soul. But one older sister became the negative factor in my life. I was the youngest girl in the family and also (according to her) the most privileged. Now I find myself as her part-time caregiver. Ironic. She is not negative to me now, thankfully.

    • Janice, I had the same negative older sister. I’m the youngest in the family, and according to my sister, had a far too easy life because of it. I’m glad to hear that you have managed to find peace with her, especially given the irony of caring for her.

      Thank you for coming by to read and comment. I appreciate your thoughts.


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