Elly's Gratitude Group
for those experiencing
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, & Orthostatic Intolerance
Selections from Email Meeting Summaries 2005
October & Novemebr 2005 Conference Calls
was a bit of a scrambled EGG as we had to dial in to the conference
multiple times. The
new conference system is much better and works fine. This was was
toll-free money wise, but a bit of stress toll added. Thanks for
follow the leader! For those who did, there was good sharing and a
sense try it again. We did on Thanksgiving with 4 callers for 2 hours.
It was very good. Two that hadn't met before became friends.
EGG: Elly's Gratitude Group: Sept 29, 2005 - Tysons Corner Meeting, Summary
There were 4 of us and it was fabulous. We all got so hungry by 6:30, we took the meeting out to JR's Stockyard's restaurant near the mall and had a delicious meal while we continued to get to know each other and witness each other's support. We got a neat feeling from choosing a place that made two people say, "I've always wanted to go there."
There was some of talk of OI, orthostatic intolerance and poor circulation, because 3 of 4 attendees needed some floor time or some feet up. Symptoms and issues that affect our chronic illnesses come up naturally at the gratitude meetings because they are part of our lives, but that is more in thebackground and we focus more on coping with all of life. It is a place to be with people who get it already, so you can talk about other things.
At this meeting, some serious commitment to starting dedicated gratitude journals came through. We talked about obstacles people have had to starting one such as how sometimes if you buy too pretty, fancy, art-sy a book, you won't write in it for fear or disappointment
of messing it up! One person is going to use an accounting ledger, and another thought of the idea to make a journal. I suggested getting a fancy pen with a feather on it to add a
special sense of fun to the ritual. I sometimes use a pen with a silk flower on top.
Laning spent some time before the meeting thinking about why it is gratitude journals could be working for people. More people used to pray / be thankful before every meal. For many, that
practice has disappeared or been shortened. So maybe the gratitude journal is a way to put back some meal thanks into the day. Short meal prayers for tired people in pain:
Good Bread, Good Meat, Good God, Let's Eat!
Rub a dub, dub... Thanks for the grub!
We shared a lot of really wild stories about things that have happened to us because of cognitive and fatigue problems and we were able to laugh - maybe because time has passed or because we can see how instructive these incidents were in helping understand how dys- fuctional we are and how we need to make changes/accommodations. Laughter is amazing.
Remember to put a little fun in your dysFUNction everyday.
Tip: If you have Voice Mail on your phone, you can use the reminder feature to make yourself a message and tell it what time to call you. So if you are going to cook something that takes 1 hour, you can start the food and then set a reminder call in 55 minutes to call you and say, "do you realize you have something in the oven?" That works better that just a buzzer, because we might forget what the buzz was for.
Or you can hint, hint, have it call you every day and say, "Have you written down somewhere that you are grateful for phones, voice mail, and XYZ?" Maybe you can program it with a list of things that delight you on a good day, then set it to call you some 20 or so in the future and remind you that 20 days ago, you had a really good day. I am grateful for Voice Mail and people who try to reach me are glad I have Answer Call on my phone, so they never get a busy signal.
There was lots of discussion about how some days it is easier to think of things to be grateful for and it is even hard to stop at 5 things... And then there are days when you go blank. And then the days when you can think of stuff to be grateful for, but you are so filled with anger or
something else that you will not acknowledge them. You won't give God or your journal or yourself the satisfaction of writing them down. Noticing that is very constructive. Its okay. Give yourself a break. Maybe an idea for those days is to write 5 things you are angry about (or 50, get it out of your system). Then, write a one word thing you are grateful for, perhaps Anger itself. Next time do 5 angries and 2 gratefuls, and so on until one gets to equal numbers or changes to more gratefuls than angries.
If one gets good at looking back and seeing that every upsetting thing, eventually leads to a new friend, a life turn for the better, a chance to grow etc., then when an upsetting thing happens in the now, its easier to quickly move to the laugh and say, I wonder what this will lead to for me. An example of this was as we sat down at the restaurant, a waiter accidently
poured icy water and cubes on me and into my tote bag! It took more than a few minutes and napkins to collect all the cubes. I could have gotten upset, demanded a free appetizer, gone home because I would be afraid to catch a cold (thank God I already had one!), been bratty, but mostly after that first cold water shock, I was able to roll with it and laugh as I became known as "water girl" to the staff. I already have an inklingwhy I needed a splash of wake-up cold water yesterday, a little "surprise" baptism from above.
A person attended yesterday who had never been to any of our events... a list lurker... I love all you list lurkers out there, by the way... keep lurking. (References to our CFSupport email subscription.) She was really glad she came and so were we! We had information and stories for her and she had much to share about what has helped her. And then she said this wonderful thing that helped me explain what the EGG is about better. She said something like, "I have trouble getting through to my own mind." And so I said something like, "And so we
enlist the energy of the heart and its intelligence by using one of its two most powerful positive emotions, gratitude." [Love is the other, but too complicatied for many people to start with.]
Being unconditionally grateful, not necessarily to another or a power, is a feeling most of us can find. Even on a day when it seems everything is going badly, everything hurts, and you
cannot move, you can usually find a body part that is behaving and not hurting and say with sincerity, " I am grateful that my ______
(left butt cheek, hair, eyelid, 3rd toe, belly button) is feeling no pain today."
Almost everyday, I can say with deep conviction, no matter how mad I am, "Without toilet paper, my life would be more difficult, I'd be even madder. I am grateful
a) it exists in my lifetime
b) I can afford it
and c) I actually have some in the house." That's 3 for that day!
There was talk of using the journals to look back in over time. I don't usually do it, so I picked up the sample journal I brought from 2002 and I had and entry, "...how fun it is to say Scooby Doo." This cracked me up, because I still think it is fun to say and now there is Scooby Doo 2!
Using a grateful statement redirects the mind if its been counting what isn't working, and it brings in positive energy and intelligence of the heart. Perhaps that helps the mind not think itself so alone or powerful or responsible for everything and it relaxes enough so, you do get through to your own mind.
The only way to know is to try it, and heck, keeping a gratitude journal of 5 short things you are grateful for each day is a FREE and CONVENIENT TREATMENT, you can do it anywhere, by yourself, and you cannot overdose! If someone catches you being grateful, well.... its a lot less stressful than being caught eating 7 layer cake with ice cream on top and a coke chaser the day you start a low sugar free diet.
I often write I am grateful for pen and paper, because carving 5 things in stone would be a more demanding assignment!
July 2005 Meeting - Bailey's Crossroads VA - Summary Excerpt
We got into a great discussion of a helpful book called the Four
Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I think by the end, we had five
agreements and a big laugh. The four are
Be Impeccable with Your Word
Don't take anything Personally
Don't Make Assumptions
Always do your Best - (what your best is in the moment)
A great and moving example of Be Impeccable with Your Word so you don't
lose energy was a person volunteering to make something for an
organization. Her habit was to volunteer a number and time frame, "I'll
make 3 quilts by Christmas and send them." If your health or other
prevents one from meeting that commitment, then there is inner
conflict. You feel like let self and others down. Instead, choosing to
say, "As I make quilts, I will send them." There is no pressure, no
loss or fear of not measuring up to own expectations. One person said
she couldn't think of putting those words together herself. I said,
"that's what the group is for!" To help. It takes practice to speak in
new ways, but the energy reward is great.