Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The price of being too emotional

By Monica Vest Wheeler

Recently, I was told I was too emotional, that I needed to chill.

Well, I'll proudly wear the "too emotional" label because it makes me who I am … who I am finally at peace being.

I'd rather err on the side of humanity and authenticity. I'd rather be transparent than cloudy … even when tears blur my vision.

And because I choose to feel and share those emotions, that makes me less than perfect. I accept the role of being only human.

I gave up perfectionism several years ago, and it was one of my best decisions ever. Taking that load off my body, mind and soul opened the door to so many more life experiences that would have left me far poorer in spirit if I had missed them.

Try it if you suffer from the perfection bug. Cheaper than medicine or therapy. Also extends your life. Guaranteed!

Being "too emotional" is not easy. It can be beyond exhausting. It can make you vulnerable. It can be embarrassing. It can make some people uncomfortable.

Apparently that is what happened to the person who labeled me "too emotional."

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry …

I've spent much of my life apologizing … for what, I'm not exactly sure. A lot of folks have asked, "What are you apologizing for?" And it's a hard habit to explain. I just wanted to make sure I hadn't bothered or inconvenienced or offended anyone … almost everyone I encountered.

Oh, how ridiculous! And it's an even harder habit to break!

The other day, while saying goodbye to a friend here in Peoria, I got teary-eyed again and tried to hide it. Putting her arm around me, she gave me the greatest gift by saying, "I know you're crying, hon. It's okay."

There are moments and connections and words and love that frequently tickle my tear ducts these days. I guess God wired me with extra tears, and I MUST produce! It's amazing I haven't short-circuited yet.

Maybe it just gives me more power and energy to live … and love.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Caregivers are worthy, too

By Monica Vest Wheeler

I do need more sleep.

But I've realized the past few days that what I really need much more of is more of ME.

Yep, I used the word "more" three times … just like Donna Summer did in the disco age …

The role of caregiver can suck the life out of you. I've seen it happen to the kindest and the most stoic individuals in the world. I've witnessed firsthand the stress of caregiving debilitate the strongest bodies.

Ironically, caregiving can also give birth to the strongest hearts and souls in the universe. For in those moments of monumental physical, emotional and spiritual challenge, a new life purpose can be born.

In more than a dozen years of engaging with caregivers, I've learned that no two individuals and care scenarios are alike. It's all because we have different DNA and experiences. I still find it so fascinating that God keeps coming up with unique fingerprints and souls every second …

After six months of traveling back and forth to Indiana and living 75 percent of my life in the Hoosier state during that time, I've decided that we have a choice to be caregivers or careworriers.

Yep, you heard it here: careworriers.

We can begin to define ourselves by what we think we can and should do. We can give ourselves the title of head cheerleader and then beat ourselves up mercilessly with the pompoms when our loved one isn't cheerful.

We can question our own reasoning abilities when we're arguing on the phone with insurance companies, where we're sure the representatives have been trained to subliminally make us believe we've become stupid after pressing 42 buttons in search of a real human being.

And it's such a tiny request, a live voice …

A live connection …

After you've written a dozen new definitions of the meaning of life … and seem to adopt a new one every few days …

And then start to compose a new theory of your own life … because no one can do it for you … and because you just need to sit down and do it.

It's too easy to be consumed by the challenges that stand in front of you when you care for someone else …

And push aside the ones that are just as important but are hiding … like yourself …

I still don't know what the immediate future holds for my loved one as we take it day by day …

But I know I have to rediscover the core of myself this minute and the next …

Because, as I tell all the caregivers I've encountered over the years …

You are worthy, too.

Yes, I am worthy, too.

And desperately seeking horses to talk to …

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The kids are smarter than the adults

By Monica Vest Wheeler

The kids are smarter than the adults … because their minds haven't been poisoned by politics.

The kids have more common sense than the adults … because their minds haven't been poisoned by greed.

The kids are more compassionate than the adults … because their hearts haven't been poisoned by lies.

The kids are quicker to learn than the adults … because their minds haven't been poisoned by tunnel vision.

The kids see more obvious solutions … because their souls haven't been poisoned by hopelessness.

The kids are willing to spring into action … because their bodies haven't been poisoned by laziness.

The kids want to give … because their lives haven't been poisoned by taking.

The kids want to work together … because their lives haven't been poisoned by lack of compromise and cooperation.

The kids want to live … because they haven't been poisoned by hate.

I choose to be a kid.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

If you're still searching for the perfect gift

By Monica Vest Wheeler

Valentine's Day is that time when retailers go a little crazy catering to the needs of crazy people in love … in search of the perfect gift … to candy or not … to flower or not … to ring or not …

Whether it's my life experience or the gazillion folks I've interacted with, I've decided that the most sincere form of love for someone else is loving yourself first …

And caring for yourself enough so you'll be there for those who love you.

I've witnessed so many people not take care of their own health or care enough to take basic steps to curb, handle or reverse conditions that can be managed. I've heard every reason and excuse in the world. I've offered a few colorful ones myself …

In 2001, I faced the ultimate self-truth: treat this depression or let it all go.

I like to think I gave my family and friends the best Valentine's Day gift ever that year when I decided to start taking medication and get some therapy to treat myself with the ultimate self-respect I was long overdue …

And give them the real gift of ME that had been haphazardly wrapped for a long time.

Is it laziness that keeps us from taking care of ourselves when we need to? Is it avoidance? Is it living a lie?

I've decided that we can easily feed ourselves a lot of tall tales about who we are and who we can be. Fiction is easier to manipulate than non-fiction, and that's why we keep telling stories featuring the three major culprit characters: Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda.

If you're still searching for the perfect Valentine's Day gift for a loved one, look in the mirror.

Open your eyes to what you may be hiding under the surface.

Open your heart to all the potential of life, YOUR life.

Open your soul to fulfilling the purpose of YOUR life.

And remember, you don't need a holiday on the calendar to give yourself.

Monday, January 29, 2018

When will we learn to think for ourselves?

By Monica Vest Wheeler
My question for the day: When will we learn to think for ourselves? God gave us free will.

I finally had the opportunity to see "The Post," the current movie about the 1971 Pentagon Papers, a critical turning point in our nation's history.

It should be required viewing for everyone in this country. And everyone should have to write an essay about it.

(I'm really nice because it's not like I'm making you sit down and read the whole Constitution, though it wouldn't hurt us at this junction of our human history.)

I am a child of the 1970s, lit by the fire of an incredible age of journalism. I took an unspoken pledge to research and uncover the truth and facts, and write about them to educate the public so people could make informed decisions. What a sacred vow I accepted when I learned the heart and soul of the journalism field from my high school teacher, Lee Pursley, pictured here inspiring me.

I'm more troubled today about the future of this nation than ever before in my 59 years. I wonder where its common sense has gone by the way people run with rumors and ignore facts. The internet has spawned some of the most ridiculous and vile theories and opinions that have crippled, not enlightened the world … creating blind obedience and dangerous paths to the cliff where people will jump just because they've been told to … because they've forgot how to think for themselves.

One of the greatest lessons of "The Post" is that the First Amendment is the FIRST amendment. And as the Supreme Court said, the free press serves the governed, NOT the government.

Fearmongers and power-hungry individuals who consider themselves above the law are grounding our nation's symbol, the eagle. Just remember this: if you consider yourself right-wing or left-wing, a bird cannot fly with only one wing.

Absolute devotion to one party is dangerous, not loyalty. It blinds you to THE truth, THE justice, THE American way.

That's the trio that earns my undying respect and devotion.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Take a moon pill

By Monica Vest Wheeler

What is the song that "Annie" sings … yes … "the sun will come out tomorrow …"

Yep, the sun is shining whether we can see it or not, depending on how playful the clouds are that day. It's simply there, doing its job, lighting the way whether we choose to see the path or not.

And if we want to continue to "see," we certainly never look directly at the sun.

What we don't observe as often is the moon. It's constantly on the move and changing shapes and playing hide 'n seek. And sometimes, we're simply too tired by the day's end to look for it.

Eh, it will be there tomorrow.

How easily we forget.

We often spend a ton of money on entertainment … flashing lights, fancy moves, fantastic noises. But one of the grandest performances in the universe is right above us, demanding our attention several nights every month.

I'm back in Indiana, caring for my loved one. The other night, she said the moon should be out, and she walked slowly to the window.

"Look," she urged me to join her as she pulled the curtain back. "Isn't it beautiful?"

"Wow, it's gorgeous!"

And we stood there for a couple of minutes in silence, mesmerized by the bright globe breaking through the darkness. It seemed close enough to grab, and we both left fingerprints on the glass to touch it with our imaginations.

It was the best drive-in movie I had seen in eons because I wasn't distracted by all those man-made elements. Both of us were in awe of the universe … and how much bigger than us it will always be.

Sometimes we need to be put in our place to see the bigger picture …

To see that we have a greater role than we usually allow ourselves to play …

To reach beyond our self-imposed limitations …

To indulge in the simple beauty of the earth and sky and heaven.

As she laid down in bed, her smile was bigger than the winter moon …

For what ails you … take a moon pill and call me in the morning.