Thursday, December 22, 2016

Think Write Thursday

It seems as if I can count on Carole and Kat to come up with Think Write Thursday topics that I need to seriously think about and work on. Welcoming December, holiday spirit, and now another big one: talk about the ways you stay positive when it feels like everything is going wrong. We all have those times - something expensive breaks or you have to cancel special plans or you're dealing with something stressful at work - but we also know that staying positive really helps. What do you do to get through those times and stay focused on the good?

I'll be honest; many big things in my life have felt like they have been going wrong for a while now. My father has end stage bladder cancer, end stage kidney disease, end stage cardiovascular disease - multiple things that eight doctors have been calling end stage for a long time and yet his pain and suffering have continued for two years. The demands of care-taking are often overwhelming. My mother-in-law has many of the same health problems, and I've got some serious health issues of my own. There are plenty of days that I wish it was simply something expensive breaking, cancelling special plans, or dealing with something stressful at work. I give you details not to complain, but to better explain my answer. I know that every single one of you has issues small, medium, and gigantic that you are dealing with every day. 

Because I'm a reader, I've always looked for solutions to problems in books. Sometimes it's easy, like looking for a good cornbread recipe or how to do the Old Norwegian cast on. Other times, books may not provide the answer, but they do offer plenty of ways to deal with the realities of life. Books are how I get through those times and try to stay focused on the good. 

This Is How by Augusten Burroughs
I stumbled upon this book two years ago during a particularly distressing time in December. It was the perfect book at the perfect time, and I appreciated Burroughs' honesty and logic on how to deal with some awful situations that positive thinking just can't fix.

The Antidote: Happiness for People That Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman
Oliver Burkeman is not out to bash positive thinking, but rather to explore “the negative path”, the idea that the more we search for happiness and security, the less we achieve them. He encourages readers to embrace insecurity, and stop searching for happiness and quick fixes. . 

One Man's Meat by E.B. White
While this is not a "self-help" book in any way, it is a collection of White's essays written between 1938 and 1943. While reading it, I was continually struck by how White's personal recountings of his daily life and thoughts could be so applicable to me, a 59-year-old woman living her life 70 plus years later. White writes with thoughtfulness, insight, wit, and humor; he is one of the very few authors I have read that can combine both the internal personal and the world outside with his spare, straightforward writing and perfect word choices. This book has made me think about both my life and the world more than any other book I've read.

I'm not very patient with platitudes or trite prosaicism but these three books have provided me with forthright, logical, and considered reflections for some tough times.

In the end, it may be even simpler than reading a book. I used to work for an oncologist and one evening after a particularly tough day, I asked him how he could continue to practice. I'll always remember his answer, "It's simple, but not easy. I adjust my expectations and do the best I can." That is what I try to do (and keep on trying).

Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.


  1. This was a challenging topic - and your response is uplifting in its honesty and simplicity. I LOVE that you listed books...and books I haven't read. You've certainly "provided me with forthright, logical, and considered reflections for some tough times." Thank you. (and thank you for the nudge to read One Man's Meat - it's been on my list since you read it this year...)

  2. I think listing books to help with bad times is a perfect response. Thank you for the suggestions.

  3. I am writing down those books, thanks! I try hard to be positive because I am a well crafted negative knitter. I've found that I tend to worry about things that never have happened (but they could). My health challenges and frustrates me but I'm lucky in that it is just mechanical joints. (btw, I pray for you DAILY).

  4. When Carole and I talked about this topic, I immediately thought of you. And, it was you I thought of last week in the midst of my non-crisis. Because, it is times when I am most feeling sorry for myself that some inner self reminds me that this is nothing compared to what others are experiencing. And, it stops me in my tracks with a moment of gratitude that my problem is really not a problem at all. It somehow keeps me focused on the difference between first world problems and real world problems. Focus is sometimes the best thing ever - and I love that in the midst of everything you show me how, as in everything, books offer help, support, and guidance. Thank you Bonny!

  5. What a wonderful post Bonny. I appreciate your honesty. Books are so grand, aren't they? One Man's Meat is one of my all time favorite books.

  6. Sometimes trying is the best you can do. And even though so many people have so many problems, you have the right to think yours might be insurmountable. It's figuring that out that helps.

    Take care.

  7. Okay. I need to read all three of those books! STAT. :-) Seriously, reading gets me through dark times, too. Sometimes reading is just an escape, but more often, it reminds me that the world is so much . . . bigger . . . than any of my problems.

    Much love to you, Bonny. I continue to hold you in the light. XO

  8. I am trying out a new mantra - do the best you can today and leave tomorrow for tomorrow. Thanks for the book titles.

  9. Thank you for your honest and uncomplicated answer-do the best you can each day as it comes-good advice to all of us. I also like that you included books; EB White is one of my favorite authors!

  10. Your post is wonderful and I am going to find that E.B. White book a.s.a.p. Your oncologist was a very smart man. We're only human right? xoxo

  11. Oooh, that's one smart oncologist! Wishing all the best for you and yours. xoxo

  12. I have a lot of health challenges at my house as well, and it is easy to give in to negative thoughts. I appreciate the book suggestions. I am a reader and a seeker, so these sorts of recommendations are always very welcome. I do try to think like your oncologist boss. Expectations only lead to disappointment, so I try to have none. Stay in the moment, find joy wherever you can, and be glad that you are yours are here to do it. May the blessings of the season spread peace and acceptance over your heart. Hope that wasn't too trite!

    1. I very much appreciate your lovely wish; it's not one single bit trite. Thank you!

  13. I have read Oliver Burkeman's articles in The Guardian, as well as, the NYT and find he speaks to the way I think and cope. Also, I agree with your take on platitudes. They can be just a little too corny and not particularly helpful. You are a wise woman to find ways of coping with your inordinate amount of stress. You and yours are in my thoughts and my prayers. I often wish I could drop by to ease some of your burden.

  14. I appreciate your forthrightness: life is tough and it can take its toll and I admire your strength and resolve. Thank you for sharing and your caring and the book suggestions. I wish you peace.


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