MENTAL HEALTH AND CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

Mental Health and Christmas Memories
The Fourth House
By – Sheri de Grom

Could it have been my own doing that I gave Christmas away in 1987? Have I continued sprinkling trails of Christmases past until they have become faded but cherished memories?

Looking back in time by way of my journals, I read expressions about the Christmas holiday season as magical, exciting, delicious, musical, elegant, traditional and so on.

The years Tom and I dated and before bipolar disorder entered into every component of our lives, our holidays were indeed enchanting.

A favorite custom of mine was hanging handmade Christmas stockings on the mantel. I’d wrap small gifts and place them in the appropriate stocking. I’d inherited this tradition from my own family. As children, we’d hang the stockings on Thanksgiving day’s night and from that day forward until Christmas, we’d spend hours trying to guess what might be inside the treasured stockings. We were allowed to touch them, pat them if we must, but we were forbidden to look inside, in ecstatic anticipation of the holiday.

There was no containing my excitement and enthusiasm. I loved every event of the holidays: the gift wrap and decorations, the baking, the music, holiday cheer, and discovering the nostalgia in ornaments packed away from Christmases past.

Tom went along with me: trimming the tree, putting up lights, decorating the house and sharing seasonal activities. Church pageants, incorporating delicious aromas from the kitchen, and holiday music were all a must for a proper holiday (according to me).CHRISTMAS OUTSIDE LIGHTING CHRISTMAS

I’d asked Tom if there was a tradition from his own family he’d like to add to our celebrations and he’d replied, ‘nothing worth mentioning.’

But he added some new traditions of his own. I tagged along as he located captivating nighttime places to photograph multiple exposures for national competitions. I watched in awe as he climbed to perilous heights of jagged rock formations beyond the coastal edge of Monterey Bay during low tide. I shivered as high tide rushed at Tom and the tip of the rocks he stood on. He demanded just the right angle of Pacific waves crashing against the raw winter beach.

We also made many trips to San Francisco and beyond for Tom to capture a series of night shots of churches and another of street people.

I watched and held my breath while he developed the photos as they came to life with the stories he told without words.

Together we worked in soup kitchens for the homeless and packed boxes of clothing and food for families in need. We made new friends along the way and we were tireless. No matter how many hours we worked on a given day, there were always more hours for us to give each other.

Without a doubt, we had fallen in love and there was no separating us.

During the years we dated and then married, before bipolar disorder entered into our lives, on December 7, 1987, if anyone had asked me I would have declared I couldn’t ask for anything more. My reason: I was loved unconditionally and knew how to love unconditionally in return.

I’ve spent many holiday seasons clinging to those perfect memories like a life-preserver in a stormy sea.

With twenty years of therapy behind me, I now know that Tom is not responsible for making my Christmas holiday season filled with fantasy. I’m on first in seeking my own happiness at the holidays. Another valuable lesson learned in seeking the truth of who I am led me to understand perfection is not involved at all. It’s okay if I find new and unique ways of celebrating the holiday season.

Christmases past still haunt me from time to time. But, for this Christmas I’m thankful Tom is home with me unlike so many past holidays when he’s been in the hospital. Today and every day leading up to and through the New Year and beyond, I will hopefully be able to add fresh flowers to the vases in the bedroom, continue lighting the candles for that warm glow, and when Tom’s awake we’ll listen to music we both love. It doesn’t have to be holiday music. Every song we’ve shared in the past comes with its own celebration of our life together.

I’ll read with Tom; he enjoys many of your blogs and they provide hours of material to discuss that otherwise we might never have stumbled upon. Tom sleeps many hours each day and I pray that’s God’s plan in repairing his body.

I’ve been asked how we’ll celebrate this year. My best friend and her husband gave us an ‘Out of Africa’ picnic basket for our wedding gift. We’ve built wonderful memories traveling here and there with the basket but this Christmas Day will find the glorious basket in the center of our king-size bed. I’ve been planning the treats for Christmas day along with readings, music, and all that makes for a romantic day with the man I love. In closing, I’d like to quote a portion of one of the most inspiring Christmas letters I’ve had the privilege to receive. I met Debbie through WordPress and we’ve become lasting and faithful friends. Many of you may know Debbie from her blog, girlwiththepen1118.wordpress.com.

Debbie wrote, “I believe we’re all seeking and trying and achieving to reach the righteous desires of our hearts, and that we’ll continue to. This Season take the time to light a candle for every man to see the world of promise and hope where the Holy One awaits their welcome, the path of purpose and, the awakening to their true identity. Be that shepherd or shepherdess that celebrates Christ’s birth, life and resurrection every day whether it’s a December or July.”

Merry Christmas Everyone

INDEX TO PREVIOUS FOURTH HOUSE BLOGS

Our Lives Disappeared With Bipolar Disorder

Electroconvulsive Shock Therapy – Barbaric Torture for the Patient and Family

The Aftermath of 55 Years of Memory Loss

The Wrongs of Psychiatric Care – Part 1 of 2

The Wrongs of Psychiatric Care – Part 2 of 2

Medical Care Discrimination – Physical vs. Mental

Mental Health Care – Who Needs It? – Part 1 of 3

Mental Health Care – Who Needs It? – Part 2 of 3

Mental Health Care – Who Needs It? – Part 3 of 3

One Is a Lonely Number

Mental Health and Anniversary Trigger Dates

About these ads

About sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B&N. Health Care Reform proponent to include Tri Care and Medicare. Actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare @ their own discretion without affecting other benefits. Active legislative analyst. Now writing womens' fiction and professional book reviews. Concerned citizen of military drawdown.
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96 Responses to MENTAL HEALTH AND CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

  1. A remarkable post and a remarkable story, Sheri. You are a very strong woman to pursue life with such strength despite your hardships.

    • Robert – When I stop and think about the wonderful times in my life, years full of wonderment and excitement, years where I had opportunities to grow and develop into the woman I’ve become (so far from being complete and not yet happy with the final product), years when I had the opportunity to work at the very top of my career ladder in a male dominated profession (yes, that was tremendously satisfying to the ego of a Kansas farm girl), and then most of all, the blessing of having Tom in my life.
      Tom didn’t ask for bipolar disorder and he certainly didn’t do anything to deserve it. Yes, the disease is a real challenge but together, we will not become a statistic on someone’s chart. Thank you for dropping by to read with me. BTW, you mentioned spending quality time with your daughters. May I suggest a picnic basket, maybe one you all pick out together. They may be to young to shop for individual pieces to go into the basket so keep it simple and use the easy stuff you already have. Trust me, picnics are remembered and they are treasured memories for life.
      And don’t forget, picnics can happen anywhere. On a cold winter day – in front of the fireplace works just fine. Two young boys live across the street from us and I started the ‘picnic’ idea with them and we’ve been having great fun. Sometimes I get a new board game to include, another time a new book and last week Tom felt like participating and he included a home-made mining expedition for them and for the two ‘stones’ they mined, each boy learned the name of the semi-precious stone, the country where it’s mined and a little about the history of the stone. I was surprised how totally invested they were in the learning experience.

  2. cindy knoke says:

    You are quite simply a wonderful person Sheri. Happy New Year to you and Tom!

  3. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    feel the reminisce here, Sheri, your musing the pre & post bipolar taking hold. You love Tom beautifully, you support him so much. Christmas with drama in hospital is wretched.

    I hope you had a good Christmas, best possible, and there’s fresh flowers up :)

    & happy new year.

  4. JMC813 says:

    Thank you for visiting my site Sheri. This was a very touching piece. I wish you many blessed Holiday Memories to come, and Peace and Joy in great abundance.

    John (JMC)

    • John – Thanks for stopping by. Your blog is a visual delight and the prose is some of the best I’ve had the pleasure to read. You leave the reader with ‘food’ for thought and for me, that’s the best read of all.

      • JMC813 says:

        Thank you Sheri. I am glad you enjoy my site and writings. I enjoy trying to make the adventure a visually pleasing one as well. While not all my pieces are as substantial in message as others, I hope they are al at least fun. Thanks again for your kind comments.

        John

  5. Dilip says:

    Beautiful post Sheri. And I wish you a A Bright and Happy New Year 2014 :)

  6. treyzguy says:

    That was a beautiful post Mrs, Sheri and I feel honored even more that you take the time to visit mine, inane as it is. I hope that maybe you read Mr. Tom one of mine and he got a kick out of it. I hope you have a nice evening tonight and that this next year will be a blessing for us all.

    • Trey – I’m pleased you enjoyed my Christmas Memories blog. Tom has enjoyed some of your blogs and when I laugh out-loud, he also chuckles. He has the most wonderful laugh and I’m waiting for the day when I get to hear it again and I KNOW that day will come. I can hardly wait to read your New Year’s Awesome blog to him. I did drop you a few pointers about psychiatric self-diagnosis on your blog! Take care, Trey, and here’s wishing all of us a wonderful 2014.

  7. Sheri, as always I admire your courageous and loving spirit. Tom’s photography is absolutely magical.

    Blessings to you both in 2014 ~ Wendy

    • Wendy – Thank you so much for stopping by. How is it that hard as I try, some of my favorite blogs (like yours) seem to slip through my fingers for days on end. I so hope we have fewer doctor appointments in 2014. They eat up the entire day. Two or three months ago I started sharing some of the blogs I read with Tom and he always spends extra time enjoying those with fine photography (like yours, again).
      I do hope you and yours have a healthy and happy 2014. Sheri

  8. chris13jkt says:

    A very touching story, Sheri. Please give my best regards to Tom. Have a Merry Christmas to both of you and hope that the coming New Year brings you happiness

  9. You wrote: ” I’m on first in seeking my own happiness at the holidays”……Sheri, this is a truth we all need to develop and learn…not just on holidays…but every day….I realize I am in charge of who I am and what happens to me…I can only control that…I can’t control the problems of others, as I did not cause them, and only the others can change their lives…a family member of mine lives in a very abusive situation and there is nothing more I can do, except watch the black hole spiral out of control. I realize in your situation—your husband suffers from a mental health disorder—and you have chosen to stand by him! It is admirable and courageous–YOU truly are giving your life for another…as Jesus has said, that is the greatest love we can have for another. You are a very strong woman and you give me courage to stand…alone.

    • Jane – I’ve given considerable thought to your response to my blog. I always know you are going to be honest and I so appreciate that about your comments.
      It’s a tragedy when someone is in an abusive relationship and they don’t have the courage to leave. It doesn’t matter what type of abuse it is, it still damages the individual on the receiving end. You, as the family member can only make suggestions and if they aren’t taken or even considered, have to remove yourself or the abuse harms you.
      I never knew what unconditional love was until I met Tom. I’ve not given up my life, I’ve chosen to share my life with the man I love. My marriage vows included, ‘in sickness and health’ and ‘will forsake all others.’ Tom did not ask for his illness. He didn’t do anything wrong.
      What I hope readers will take away from my blog is an open and honest look at how a marriage can be one of love and giving by both individuals and still have bipolar disorder in the mix. You are an intelligent woman and I know that you are fully aware the media does not reflect mental illness properly. If what the media reflects, then Tom would surely have murdered me in my sleep years ago. It’s simply not that way and it’s my prayer that my openness and honesty will reach just one person that’s wondering if they have what it takes to stay married to an individual that also happens to be bipolar.
      My hope for you, my friend, is that you’ll receive and give unconditional love in your lifetime. Sheri

  10. Patty B says:

    This is a beautiful Christmas memory – you and Tom have so much that bipolar can never take away. May God continue to bless you both and bring healing to Tom and may the next year fill your lives with more love and memories.

    • Patty – Hello my friend. You are so right–Tom and I are blessed with wonderful memories but we decided we aren’t content to live with just memories of the past. Together, we’ve decided it’s time to make some new memories. We started with a movie and inviting a favorite couple to the house for dessert and coffee New Year’s Eve. We saw Saving Mr. Banks and I can’t possibly say enough good things about the movie. The entire evening was wonderful.
      I’ve thought of you and the children this entire holiday season. It’s hard, darn hard going thru even every day, let alone holidays. I wish there were some way to ease your pain. Know that you are in my heart and in my prayers.

  11. Gede Prama says:

    visit, read the article and thanks for posting your article is quite good and we hope that all our friends all success and thank you all, greetings, Merry Christ mas and a blessed New Year to you and yours. :)

  12. Mae Clair says:

    Merry Christmas, Sheri. It sounds like you have a wonderfully joyous and romantic day planned with Tom and that you’ll be carrying the spirit of Christmas in your heart. Hugs to you both!

    • Hi Mae: I wish you the best of Christmases and a heavenly year to come. I picked up all the goodies for the picnic basket today. I’m telling myself if everything goes as I see it in my mind, then the day will be spectacular beyond my wildest dreams. However, if Tom needs to sleep the entire day, that will be okay. There will be a celebration of life and love when Tom feels well and the date on the calendar doesn’t have anything to do with the actual process.

  13. HI Sheri. I love this post. I wanted to tell you I am thankful for you. Gratitude

  14. Ajaytao2010 says:

    I Nominate you for A Christmas Bouquet – Awards – Ajaytao – 48 Nominations
    please choose any 5 awards out of the 48
    accept it and oblige

    there are no linkbacks for this award

    http://ajaytao2010.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/christmas-bouquet-awards-ajaytao-48-nominations/

  15. We make our moments special not Valentines Day, or Christmas or any other holiday. You have the right idea. I love the sound of your ‘Out of Africa’ picnic basket in the middle of the bed. What can be more cozy or loving than that? Enjoy and the best of the season to both you and Tom: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. :-)

    • Thank you, Tess. The idea of the ‘Out of Africa’ Christmas picnic came to me as a result of two other bloggers talking about picnics and having pictures reflecting beautiful scenes. Those blogs brought back tons of special memories of Tom and I sharing our love and making memories picnic after picnic from coast to coast. I don’t have to worry about the weather and Tom is a romantic as much as I am. Living along the central coast of Monterey, in the early years of our marriage, we’d often take our basket and hike into secluded beach locations along coastal edges where the sands of Big Sur met the Pacific Ocean. Tom’s always had a special talent in finding locations where we were alone with the sea gulls, the sounds of the Pacific rolling in and back out again, and the endless display of sheer white clouds upon a brilliant blue background. Equally awesome and emotional were the many times we packed our basket and rode the metro into the Capitol lawn area of DC and took part in concerts on the lawn with thousands of others. We try never to miss a DC concert special on TV – those were some of the most memorable times when we weren’t at war and had so much to celebrate as a country.
      Thanks again for stopping by and leaving your valuable comments. I always love hearing from you. Sheri

      • I wish you both an amazing Christmas and New Year.

        • Tess – I’ve been reading your blogs on my iPad and I adore your style of writing for flash fiction. You have an incredible gift. I’m responding here due to my iPad didn’t want to let me chat on your comments and to add insult to injury, my PC died while I was working in the middle of the night. I’m working on Tom’s but his entire system from key board to monitor and operating system are different from mine. I’ll say thank you, Lord, for the gift of having an operational PC in the house. My Laptop is ignoring me and refuses to join our home Wi-Fi. I’m sure it’s pouting because I so rarely use it! Merry Christmas and I’m sure you must be busy with your grandchildren and all the love you have to share.

          • You are a most generous soul, Sheri. Your positive comments energize me for the new year ahead.

            My desktop lives in isolation now because the internet connection is iffy. I’ve given more love to my laptop and love it’s portability (and better connection).

            Isn’t it terrible how our toys run our lives? Sure I can laugh but they also annoy and frustrate me when they take the upper hand.

            Yes, I look forward to watching my granddaughters open their presents and make brunch for everyone on Christmas morning. :-P

  16. gpcox says:

    Both a sad and beautiful story. Give my best to Tom, as always, and be sure to take care of yourself too.

    • Hi GP, I feel better about Christmas this year than I have in more years than I can remember. It’s taken me a long time to reach the conclusion that Christmas doesn’t have to be a certain way. Traditions die hard but new memories are to be treasured. Tom is physically ill so much of the time, I count our blessings when he feels up to participating in life. Here’s to wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season. Sheri

  17. ❤️ Beautiful Endurance and Layer Peeling. Thank you.

  18. Gallivanta says:

    Loving and giving are the traditions of Christmas (For God so LOVED the world, that he GAVE his one and only Son,) and I think we are free to express those traditions in many different ways. Your picnic will be just right and it also makes me wonder what ,and how, Mary and Joseph ate on the first Christmas Day?

  19. Sheri! You’ve had such rich memories and, the sweetest of all, Tom’s companionship and acceptance of you for who you were and are~something not many find or use as wisely as we could … Don’t ever let those ornaments become dusty or tarnished because the NOW isn’t WHAT WAS… I think I’ll make a Christmas picnic basket for myself too! Out of Africa has the most exquisite soundtrack ! Thank you for quoting me because you’re really quoting the Spirit who inspires us all! I’m grateful something I wrote touched your heart, that was your gift to me.
    My ex is also bipolar and unfortunately we couldn’t stay together for many reasons ~but God only requires what we will gain the most from, this I KNOW my faithful friend. BEAUTIFUL pictures and 2 beautiful souls! With undying friendship & love ~Debbie

    • Debbie – I’m never awake this early, unless I’m fighting insomnia, but I believe God’s voice must have been calling out to me this a.m. I wish you were next door or even across town or how about even in the next state — I’d love to bring you a Christmas basket. I can imagine it, with my eyes open or closed and believe me — your basket would also be abundant with love and fresh flowers.
      One day I’ll write a blog about those with bipolar disorder that self-medicate or refuse to seek help. I consider myself blessed that Tom knows he cannot fight his disease without aid.
      Debbie, your words of encouragement and hope help so many of us out here in the universe. You bring us God’s word and his love; often at the times we need it the most. May God continue to bless you and fold you in his arms. Your forever friend, Sheri

      • sue marquis bishop says:

        Sheri, I did’nt answer your question last night. I am spending Christmas at home in NC with my husband. He just got out of hospital but is recovering well. And we are thankful for that. Our two children are coming home for short stay at Christmas and brother coming from Florida for New Years. We sold our big house since just 2 of us now. So we are spending last Christmas in our home of 20 years. We are very sad to leave it but it’s too big for the 2 of us. So many memories here. Our leaving is probably why my thoughts are of loved ones no longer here – remembering Christmases past. January will begin new adventures.
        Today us another baking day. So I’ll get out my red apron and put on some Christmas music. I love the holidays so. You mentioned you hope Tom was having a good day on Christmas. Any day you choose to celebrate will be Christmas. So pick a day he and you are ready to share your Christmas picnic. Merry Christmas. Sue
        Womenlivinglifeafter50.com

        • Sue – You are correct in that any day we have our health is a day to celebrate. I’ve given away many of my hard and fast rules and I don’t see a problem in tossing out one more.
          I so understand the downsizing and the jumble of memories and emotions that go along with makeing those decisions. When we bought our home in NC we thought it would be our retirement home and poured our hearts (and lots of money) into making it our dream home. Fate wasn’t with us when we made that decision and it was only a couple short years before we were on the move again. I’m used to moving as my career moved me as often as they could get away with (after I married Tom, I wasn’t as eager to move). But, we’ve agreed that we are finally home in our present location. I tried to talk Tom’s doc into moving on to the west coast with us but it’s simply not happening and if there was ever a miracle, it’s Tom’s doctor.
          I’m wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and is that Christmas music I hear in the background as you assemble your ingredients?

  20. sue marquis bishop says:

    Sheri. One more comment. I would like to see this post published for a wider audience as a stand alone article. Sue
    Womenlivinglifeafter50.com

  21. sue marquis bishop says:

    Sheri, you have so many rich and wonderful remembrances to take from the Christmas box of your memories to once again savor.

    Your post is beautiful, heartwarming and so honest that it touched my heart. May you and your Tom have a peaceful Christmas week. I will light a candle with thoughts of you both. Merry Christmas. Sue

    • Sue – Hello and here we are a short week away from Christmas. I’m working on keeping my mind and heart open so that I’ll be able to receive and accept whatever the circumstances of the day are. My thought is that we don’t have to enjoy everything I have planned for the picnic basket in one day. What are you doing this Christmas and how do you plan to celebrate?

  22. Elaine says:

    Sheri, I admire you very much. I know you and Tom will enjoy your special Christmas celebration to the fullest. What a lovely romantic idea.

  23. I admire your strength and your spirit. It’s obvious that without your heroic input and support, Tom would not have made progress and neither would you. I believe support and progress are tricky but approached properly (as you have done), miracles or near-miracles are possible. Two thumbs up to you, Sheri. :-),

    • Thanks, Tess. Yes, sometimes I wonder just how much support should I provide at times. I think Tom stated it perfectly one time when he asked a therapy group the question, ‘how do you know when codependency ends and loving begins?’ Of course every member of the group couldn’t wait to tell me what Tom said when nothing was to be talked about outside of the group. Tom and I have had some good laughs over the fact that every one of his group members broke his confidentiality. Over the years we’ve each asked the other if we’re being co-dependent and then we both break out laughing when indeed the incident was well over twenty years ago.

  24. ksbeth says:

    what a lovely attitude and season to look forward to. i agree, you have to change, as life changes and find new ways to celebrate life. )

  25. Sheri, there is something enduring about the love you and Tom have shared, something that will take you beyond his illness to a place of peace and love. I wish you both a joyous Christmas … a time to celebrate and create new memories, new traditions :)

  26. This is such a beautifully written and expressed post, Sheri. I love that you’ll be incorporating your basket into this Christmas. What your friend Debbie wrote is lovely.

  27. Sheri, thanks for the peek into your Christmas this year. How magical that picnic basket aura must be after all these years! My hat’s off to you, sweet friend, along with heaping piles of prayers and good thoughts and yes, a tear or two.

    Blessings galore under your tree, in your cards, in the air you breathe this day of celebration:
    Jesus Christ is born! Alleluia!

    Hugs,
    Jeanne

    • Jeanne – Yes, our perfect picnic basket holds many precious memories for us. Often we’ve carried it with us in the car, just in case we had the sudden urge for a picnic. It’s always been easy to pick up cheese, whole wheat bakers bread, fresh fruit and sparkling water somewhere close by. My best friend and I had gone to see the film ‘Out of Africa’ with her husband and Tom (when Tom and I were still dating). Tom and I had both commented at the same time that we’d love to have a picnic basket like the one they had in the movie some day. My friend and her husband spent weekends first finding the perfect basket and then searching for the perfect serving and container pieces. Everything is so elegant and all from the era of the movie. Tom and I are such romantics. We’ve never had a bad picnic and what could be better than the celebration of Christmas with the one you love.

  28. Sheri, you’re one of the most remarkable people I know. I hope to meet you one day.

    • David, I elect to believe God made each of us special in the way He knew we were the most needed on earth. Sometimes I think about what a wise minister said to me when we were talking about heavy responsibilities. He offered me his ‘bag’ of responsibilities and said he would take over my ‘bag.’ I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve thought of that particular conversation. The minister was one of my favorites in the church we belonged to at the time and the church attendance had grown by leaps and bounds but not the membership roles. The minister was responsible for ‘fixing’ this problem. Additionally, he had problems at home and of course you know how those issues often make front page news when living in a relatively small community. If I wasn’t willing to take on a favorite pastor’s ‘bag of responsibilities,’ it’s likely that I wouldn’t take on anyone else’s. Therefore, I’m your average homegrown woman that had the good fortune to fall in love with the most remarkable man in the world and he loves her back. Have a beautiful Christmas and perhaps one of these days we’ll meet over a cup of coffee or at a writer’s conference.

  29. spunknbrains says:

    I love coming to read your stories, as they touch and inspire. They also give me a whole new perspective in the way that I see unconditional love and also in how I deal with my own family member with a mental illness.

    Thank you for that blessing!

    Merry Christmas.

  30. Merry Christmas to you and Tom, Sheri. The photo of the huge wave crashing against the rock is beautiful and scary at the same time. You will create new memories with Tom for this Christmas and another set, though maybe different, for the Christmas after that. I can tell from your post that you are happy to still have him in your life which is a source of joy for you. It’s great that he’s out of the hospital this year and I hope your Out of Africa picnic is filled with sharing and caring.
    Patti

    • Hi Patti – Thanks so much for stopping by. The rock formation and the crashing waves were taken along Asilomar Beach, Pacific Grove. Tom took shot after shot atop those rocks and I had to close my eyes at times. I’m not looking back on Christmases of long ago this year. I’m doing my best to move forward and create new and loving memories for us as we move forward into the new year.

  31. heila2013 says:

    So very touching dear Sheri. I wish you a wonderful Christmas holiday!! Heila

  32. Happy Holidays to you and Tom… :)

  33. Dace says:

    Merry Christmas my friend! Hope your celebration with Tom will add a few more heart warming memories

  34. Life in perspective is what you have achieved through the years, you are both so strong and centered it is an achievement unto itself. I assume the photos are Toms, what a very talented eye…beautiful! God Bless

    • Len – Tom and I watched the Barbara Walter’s Special of the 10 Most Fascinating People in the world. I know many people don’t like Barbara Walters but I believe she’s one of the most gifted interviewers of our time. In her interview of Hillary Clinton, one of the comments Hillary made really hit home with me. Hillary attributed the quote to her mentor but that didn’t tarnish the quote at all. She said, “If you have been loved and able to love in return, your life is complete. Everything else is just background music.”
      I believe unconditional love is what keeps Tom and I going and yes, it’s lovely to have music in the background. Merry Christmas, my friend.

  35. Kim13 says:

    I am in the midst of a conversation with a friend of mine…both of us have been diagnosed with mood disorders…and I am choosing to be happy today, as I choose every day. I don’t let my illness or my thoughts determine my happiness…I choose. Smile when you don’t “feel” it!

    • Hello, Kim. I do hope you are having a good day. I believe it’s important for us to acknowledge our feelings if it’s only to ourselves. We don’t have to go around with a hang-dog look on our face even though that might be the way we ‘feel’ but I also believe it’s important to acknowledge how we actually feel at any given moment.
      I’m aware that if I don’t listen to my feelings, other ailments will assault my body and I will have to deal with them. It took years and years of therapy for me to even realize I had feelings. I thought feelings was just more psycho rambling. But, it’s not that way at all. It took me 40 years to learn to cry. I grew up with a bunch of older brothers and the message was clear that you don’t cry no matter what.
      When feelings are stuffed down for that many years they manifest themselves into all types of undesirable behaviors and illnesses. Please know I care even if it’s a day when you simply don’t feel like smiling. Sheri

      • Kim13 says:

        I truly know and understand where you are coming from..having been in treatment for many years and countless in patient. I recognize my feelings…I just learned how not to let them rule me, or decide my mood. It sounds simple after so much therapy and meds…but it’s working, and that is what counts right? I care for you too Sheri..and truly appreciate your friendship here. Kim

        • Very good, Kim. I wasn’t comfortable thinking you might be ‘out there on your own with no one to bounce things off of.’ I feel much better now. Thanks for sharing your background; now I have a reference point. Happy holidays and smile away.

          • Kim13 says:

            Thanks..it’s nice to know someone “out there” is concerned with me..it doesn’t happen much. I started back in therapy a few months ago to help with my anxiety attacks…my faith helps me a lot..and changing my thought patterns has been huge in helping me cope with all I have going on right now. Happy Holidays to you too.

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