This is not a normal year. I think we are all craving light and happiness and joy a little more this year. So, even though I absolutely love Thanksgiving and feel that it is extremely important to express gratitude at this time, I am all for Christmas lights this year. Today we went to a friend’s house to drop off some puzzles for them. They unexpectedly invited us to eat dinner with their family. Afterwards, we drove around looking at Christmas lights and then watched Polar Express to end the night.
Friday after work I planned to go to a friend’s house. I stopped at a gas station to order pizza so it would be ready by the time I got there. Unfortunately, I ordered from the wrong location. I was so frustrated with myself and hungry that I sat in my car and cried. I messaged a friend to help calm me down while I waited for another pizza to be made at the right location. I was grateful she was available, and I felt much better after eating and spending time with my friends.
Yesterday was a warmer day. The snow had melted off the lawn, which allowed us to rake leaves we had left on the ground before the snow. We also cleaned up the garage and finished some laundry. I was grateful to accomplish so much during the day, and then get to reward ourselves with some shopping afterwards.
I have had an amazing week of spending time with family and friends! I spent a few days with my sister and her family and extended family. Then, I came home and spent some time with my nieces and nephew. Today, we had a Thanksgiving meal with one of my best friends, who is practically family to me. I am very grateful for the wonderful people in my life. They help me so much. I really do not know where I would be without my friends and family.
I realized a few years ago that it is not a good idea for me to live alone, detached from the people that love me most. I need to be able to see people that love me on a regular basis. I am grateful for how readily everyone accepts me into their lives. I feel at home whenever I go to my sister’s or my parents’ or my best friends’ houses. They all make me feel so welcome and like I belong. I like that feeling of belonging. I like the feeling of being wanted and needed and appreciated. I am grateful for that feeling especially during the holiday season.
As a single person, I could feel very lonely. I do feel lonely at times, but I have so many people around me that help me to not feel so alone. I know that I am loved. I know that I will always have a place to call home. I know that I will always be welcome when I visit my family and friends. I am grateful for that knowledge. I am grateful for the feeling of belonging and love that I feel every time I am with my family and friends. And I am grateful that so many people accept me into their lives and let me be a part of their families.
Clothes have a major influence on how I feel and act. I almost always choose my clothes based on how I feel. I wear certain colors when I am calm, others when I am sad, and others when I am happy or want to be happy. I wear shirts that tend to initiate conversations when I feel like talking to people. I wear clothes that are comfortable when I am feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
I did not want to go to church today. I did not want to go out or see people at all today. I did not feel depressed necessarily, but I did feel a lack of motivation to do anything. I got ready for church anyway and put on a green sweater that always reminds me of Mister Rogers. Then I looked in the mirror and sang, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” It made me laugh enough that my mood lightened, and I went to church feeling a little happier.
I am grateful for the little ways that clothes help me every day. I am grateful that I can wear my yellow skirt on a rainy day to brighten up my world a bit. I am grateful that the soft warmth of a sweater can help me feel a little less anxious on a difficult day. I am grateful for the confidence my work clothes give me in helping me feel professional and qualified to do my job. I am grateful for the conversations that many of my t-shirts have started because of the fun pictures or sayings on them. And today, I was grateful for a sweater that reminded me of a song that could lighten my mood when I was feeling down. 🙂
I didn’t do a gratitude post yesterday. I started writing it last night, but I became depressed and couldn’t continue. I wanted to write about how grateful I am for all the times people have really seen me over the years- the moments where people took the time to listen or get to know me better. I am deeply grateful for those times, but they also remind me that most people don’t stay in your life. No matter how hard you try or how much you want to be a friend to someone, nothing you do can actually make someone stay in your life. They have to decide to stay in your life. And I became depressed thinking about all the people that have decided not to stay in my life.
In that depressed state, I sent a three word text to my friend, “I miss you.” It’s what I always say when I’m hurting. I don’t really have the words to say that I am struggling or depressed or that I need a friend, but saying I miss someone doesn’t seem as selfish as saying that I am not okay. I was surprised to find out that my friend knows I’m struggling when I tell her I miss her. I guess it makes sense that she understands me because she’s my best friend, but it was very comforting to me that she understood.
When I explained how I felt to her, she just said, “I know.” Those two words are so amazing sometimes. Having someone know, understand, or sympathize is incredibly freeing. It means that your pain doesn’t have to all stay inside you. You are not alone anymore because someone else sees.
I still wish that friends stayed more often. I wish that I felt like I am someone people want around. But, I am grateful to be understood by someone. I am grateful for the incredible friends that have stayed in my life. I am grateful for all the people that have taken the time to understand me, to see me, and to keep seeing me and understanding me. I know it is not always easy to be friends with someone, but I am grateful for the people who continually try. Those few friends mean the world to me.
I have never felt like I was very good at talking to people. I couldn’t say the letter “R” growing up, which made things even more awkward. I also didn’t have many friends so I didn’t get to practice talking as much as most children. I have a hard time translating my thoughts into words, or more accurately, translating my feelings into thoughts that can become words.
I have been grateful over the years for alternative forms of communication. I have used letters and notes often to tell people what I think and how I feel and to communicate information. I love alternative communication methods because it gives me a voice when I can’t express things any other way. However, I also really love talking.
I am so grateful for people that have allowed me to talk with them in the past few years. I don’t get the privilege of talking to people very often because most people end the conversation before I get a chance to process my thoughts. I have a few friends, though, that let me practice talking with them. They call me and let me figure out how to take turns on the phone without getting frustrated with me or ending the conversation prematurely. These conversations mean a great deal to me and I treasure them for weeks after.
It is still not easy for me to speak out loud. I struggle with conversations at times and can have long periods of awkward silence. But I am grateful for the ability to talk. I am grateful for the opportunities I get to talk to people. I am grateful that some people take the time to listen to me and be patient with me. It has helped me so much.
I have never put much value in material things. I always have a hard time coming up with a Christmas list because I don’t really want anything other than the basics- food, clothes, a place to live, warmth, transportation, etc. However, if you look at my movies or games or books or room decorations, it is pretty obvious that I have a lot of stuff. But for me, the stuff isn’t important. It’s what the stuff means that is important.
I have a collection of snow globes and music boxes. Whenever my nieces or nephew come into my room, they enjoy listening to the music and looking at the fun characters inside the globes or boxes. These decorations are an attachment to the children in my life that mean so much to me. Movies are a major form of entertainment in our household. We all watch some form of movie or show almost every day. My movies are a way to gather the family in excitement and anticipation. The same is true of my games. My games are a way to spend time with friends or family in a fun way.
My biggest collection by far is the stuff I have for gifts. I have boxes and bags and closets full of gifts for people. I buy things for all the people in my life all year long, whenever I see something I know they would like. Then, when a birthday or Christmas comes around, I take things out and decide what to give that person for that particular occasion. The gifts I buy and store are an expression of my love for others.
So today, I am grateful for stuff because it allows me to express what is important to me. It allows me to have an outlet for my love for others. Stuff gives me a way to give, to love, to spend time with someone, to be myself. I would be okay if all of my stuff simply disappeared, but I am grateful for the joy it provides to me and others while I have this stuff to give.
Sometimes believing in something bigger than yourself isn’t easy. Sometimes it takes everything in you to believe that there is something better than how things are right now. In the desperate times though, faith has been the one thing that I have been able to cling to. Faith is what I am left with when everything else fails or falls away. Faith is my constant. Faith is my core.
I am so grateful for the faith that has guided me through difficult circumstances. I am grateful for the faith that has stayed with me when hope seemed to slip away. Life gets complicated and difficult and even unbearable at times, but that faith that there is something else helps me through the rough times. I may not have anything else left in me, but I am grateful that I can still keep a glimmer of faith no matter what happens.
I had my last midterm of the quarter today. There is only about 3 more weeks of school before finals, which is both relieving and stressful. I feel like I have been doing homework constantly since the semester started. Sometimes it all seems like too much, and I get frustrated that I’m not understanding everything, and it seems easier to just quit. That’s when I have to remind myself about the purpose for all this.
This is my second bachelor’s degree. If I wanted, I could have a career right now doing something that I do well. But… I am going to school because I want to learn how to do something that I enjoy. As stressful as things get in the moment, it’s just a drop in the water of something much bigger in my life. I want to do well in school. I want to understand the concepts. I want to be able to complete all my assignments without stressing out too much. When I step back and look at the big picture, one assignment is not a big deal. One test or project or class is not nearly as important as what I am doing here.
I am grateful that looking at the big picture puts things in perspective for me. I am grateful that I can step back from the stress and realize that it will all work out. And on nights when I am frustrated that I am not understanding something, I am grateful that I can separate myself from the situation for a moment, let things go, and just sleep.
I have felt incredibly well over the last few weeks, which has allowed me to do more than ever before. I have been to all my church activities and taken advantage of every opportunity to spend time with friends or talk to people. It has been absolutely wonderful.
There are days when depression makes me not want to see or interact with anyone. I am an incredibly social person. I love spending time with people and talking to them. But autism and depression can make interacting exhausting. And there are times when I don’t want to try.
I do a scripture study group with a few friends on Sunday nights. We have been meeting at my house for a few months now, and it has been such a blessing for me. There have been Sundays where I thought about cancelling the group because I felt depressed and didn’t want to see anyone, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to deprive anyone of our weekly study time. On those days, the group meant even more to me. I didn’t want to have to try, but I needed the company. I needed to be around people. And that weekly group has been a constant that has helped me through difficult times.
Now that I am feeling better, I am grateful that I can take advantage of so many opportunities to spend time with others. But I am even more grateful for the opportunities I had when I wasn’t feeling well. I couldn’t always take advantage of them, but they meant so much to me and helped me so much when I was struggling with things no one there may have realized. Those moments have helped me in my darkest times. And I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given and for the people who made those opportunities possible.