Each year I am faced with a dilemma. Do I tell Frank exactly what to get me for Christmas and surrender the fun element of surprise OR do I let him shop on his own and end up with the craziest crap you’ve ever seen, which I then have to pretend to love. This year I let him go rogue…not a good decision. I received a purple furry sweatshirt that I’m fairly certain was stolen from one of the cast of Yo Gabba Gabba; two scented-candles in pumpkin and mulled spice (I've smelled all the cinnamon and nutmeg I can stomach this season); earrings which cause me an allergic reaction; a pair of gloves two sizes too big…and so on. But because I am the queen of faking a giftgasm, I squealed and gasped and acted thrilled. Until…I didn’t. Then, I put it all in a neat pile and asked if he’d kept the receipts.
Here is where you can start to think that I’m an ungrateful bitch. But it gets worse. Later, at our family’s celebration, I opened a gorgeous monogrammed jacket…with the wrong initials. On the way home in the car, I lost it and went on the most un-Christmas like rant ever. It went something like…“Do you know how many hours I spend cooking and shopping and online researching and running my ass off to make sure everyone else’s holidays are frickin’ perfect? And, I get nothing from you people. At least, nothing good.”
Then, I remembered my commitment to the first principle of the Blisskrieg. Believe Bounty. I allowed myself another half hour of sulking…alright, it was more like a full hour…and then went about being the most grateful girl on the planet.
Of course, I could have just acknowledged how lucky I was to be alive, healthy, homed, and loved on Christmas, which I realize is more than enough to send me to my knees with "Hallelujah!" on my lips. But according to Robert Emmons in his book Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity, the real key to gratitude is specificity. He states that being specific “helps us avoid gratitude fatigue. The more discrete the elements, the less we will cease to recognize them or take any one of them for granted.” You should make what you are thankful for as specific as possible. So instead of just thinking, “I’m grateful that I have food,” you should get detailed and think, “I am thankful that these beets are not only tasty, but have restorative properties that will repair my liver.”
Using this lesson, here are a few things I am thankful for today (in no certain order):
1) Angus the Cat's 4am purring which lulls me back to sleep from a nightmare when nothing else will.
2) The musky odor that Frank gives off after a hard day’s work—If you bottled it, the scent would be called “Proud Provider”
3) The satisfaction that comes with writing the last sentence of a chapter.
4) How Doc Grizzly and Rufus greet me with unbridled excitement and pure love even when I've only been gone five minutes.
5) The Village Inn’s $2.65 cheeseburger with all the fixins.
6) The primordial squawk of the heron that heralds the beginning of each day on the lake.
7) That first sip of hot coffee in the morning and cold bourbon in the evening.
In University of Southern California study, they found that instead of naming five different things you were thankful for, it was more rewarding to name five separate details about one thing.
We’ll try this on the gloves that were two sizes too big.
1) I am lucky enough to have all ten fingers and therefore fill out a pair of gloves.
2) They were proof that Frank does listen to me sometimes--I did say I needed black gloves.
3) We live in a society with the technology to invent handwear touchscreen compatible.
4) This week, it's been too warm for gloves anyway.
5) The store where he purchased them has a very liberal holiday return policy.
There is a word in the German vocabulary that pretty much sums up my every-other-day state-of-mind for the last fifteen years. It is Weltschmerz, which translates as that melancholy feeling that overcomes you when you realize that your life and the world will never be what you'd like it or expected it to be. It was once described as the inherent sadness of mortality.
Recently, with all of the disturbing trends in police behavior, political confusion, renewed racial tensions, environmental destruction, holiday pressures, and overall disgruntlement by the majority with the state of the world, Weltschmerz is easy to adopt.
Personally, I I am constantly fighting it off. Don’t get me wrong. I know that I have a good life, in many ways a grand life. Parts of it have been so surprising and amazing they have exceeded expectation. Other areas, people, and experiences have not. I grapple with the overwhelming feeling that I have not lived up to my potential. In my early twenties, I was certain that I would move to New York and become a soap opera villainess. I did move to New York and nail an audition with the short lived serial “The City,” but fame and fortune did not find me. Then I wrote and produced a film that I was just sure would hit it big. And it might have…if we hadn’t lost our funding halfway through the final edit…but that’s a different story. Then, as I moved into my late thirties…early forties, I was certain I would become a best-selling author. I haven’t given up on that dream, but it seems more distant than it did ten years ago. I thought I’d stay svelte and fit with little to no effort, but apparently my ass didn’t get the memo. I was sure there were certain people who would never let me down.
I’ve had fleeting moments of overwhelming happiness and genuine success, but I’m seeking perpetual peace and impenetrable joy. I’m on a search for the kind of happy that comes from deep inside and cannot be swayed by outside circumstances.
So, have decided to launch a Blisskrieg…a full-on assault against unhappiness.
I have come up with an five-step game plan in the form of a handy acronym to help me achieve this BLISS.
Ignore the Imp
I’ll explain each principle as I attempt to master them. Today, I rest, in preparation. Tomorrow, I’ll begin my battle against the blues by learning to Believe Bounty.
Last night at the Nomadic Ink Holiday Party, I won the 53-Word story contest. The theme was loosely Christmas. It was voted on by my peers. I got a prize, and not a tacky leg lamp either. Still, to most this would be a minor victory…a very minor victory. But after a week that seemed to last seventeen days instead of seven and was filled by disappointment, loss, political unrest, serious stress, and a headache that would not go away, this little win felt like a Pulitzer Prize. Here is my 53-Word story, entitled "Leftovers."
Alice slathered a thick layer of gelatinous, red spread on the turkey sandwich she was meticulously making for her husband. He’d complained the meat was dry.
She firmly believed cranberry sauce was the most underrated of all holiday fare. Its tart and tangy flavor could completely mask the acrid taste of rat poison.
If you would like to read more 53-Word stories or submit your own, head over to their official site 53wordstory.com. December’s theme is “Flying.”
the bourbonistA, Promoting Debauchery and stamping out political-correctness one blog at a time.