This was written by a very dear friend of mine and sent to the group that she started. Thank you Denise for allowing me to add this to my homepage:)

There are a lot of "I've Learned" lists going around on the net...

here's one of my own to add to the puddle...
It's all about "attitude"....

I've learned a lot about this 3 syllable word in the last few years....

For so very long, I had the attitude that as long as I treated people right, everything would be okay. I always thought that keeping to myself
was a good way to go...

couldn't offend anyone that way,

wouldn't make enemies, being alone was okay.
I always believed that if I did my job, took care of my own business, and did a good deed here and there along the way, I was a good person for doing that, and all would be well.

I always believed that if anyone needed me for any reason at any time, I'd be the better person for helping, no matter what I had to give up to do so.

I always knew that if something went wrong, I could figure out a way to fix it.

I always believed that the things you were the best at were the things that came easily to you...

Was I right or wrong, or did this teach me anything?

In school, I was the one everyone wanted to talk to when they needed to confide in someone.

I was always "taking someone's slack"....

I would gladly mediate between kids and teachers,

kids and their parents,

and kids and other kids. I was good at it.

I was always considered mature for my age. Most of my friends have always either been older or younger...

either someone to look up to, or someone to look up to me.

I've never been good at gossip,

and have always believed that everyone is someone to love, trust, and believe in, until they prove you wrong.

Was that right or wrong, and did I learn from that?

No matter what job I've held, I've always strived to work above and beyond the "quotas" set.

I would avoid the coffee breaks, idle banter, gossip sessions, and to be corrected on mistakes was always heartbreaking for me.

I kept to myself, did my job, and went on my way...

unless someone needed me...

then I would be confided in, thanked for understanding and listening, often hugged...

and THEN I would go on my way.

I've never had many close friends.

I usually tend to be a loner,

not talk to people much,
and I always wondered if I just had a very strange sense of humor, or if everything I said sounded stupid.

I never thought I had much to offer friends, unless they were in some type of painful mental state.

Yes, I've thought of going into psychology. I had dreams for many years of being a teacher.

I've always wanted to make a difference in other people's lives.

I'll be 29 years young next month. Perhaps it's that I'm nearing that landmark age for women of 30,

or maybe I've just finally gotten the insight I need to be able to write this letter.
However it happened, things have changed.

I give a lot of the credit for these changes to my husband, Craig.

When we met, we were working at a program for at-risk teens. Being as how we were always in a "psych" state of mind with the kids, the conversations with the counselors were often similar when we were talking to each other, too. We would confide in each other. We usually saw a lot of the kids and their pain in ourselves.

I was 25 at the time... and can look back now and "watch" myself change, almost "bloom".

I began to realize what codependence is.

I began to realize what giving is, and what it isn't.

I began to see what friendships can mean, and that they don't have to be all-consuming to work, and be of benefit.

I began to realize that just because someone doesn't call or write for a while, it doesn't mean they don't care.

I began to realize that MY way wasn't the ONLY way (still working on that one...).

So, what's changed?

For one, Fibromyalgia... some of you may never have heard of it. It's a chronic illness, a Syndrome, actually, which leaves the afflicted in all-over body pain about 80 to 90% of the time. I won't go into it any further for now, if you have questions, just ask.

What causes it?

No one knows for sure, but there seems to be a connection to our love for caring for others better than we care for ourselves.

  Learning to say "no" probably never happened with us until we had to, and for that, FMS can be a blessing in disguise.

A lot of adjusting happens after that.
Other changes?

My attitude,
that's the biggest one...
I've never been a risk taker...
always rode the fence between risk and the safe, gray area.

Get involved, but not too involved, always with room to escape.

What is different now?

I'm not afraid to get involved.

If I can help, I'll do it, and if I can't, I'm not afraid to say that I can't.

I still do my best at work, but I take the time to get to know the people around me...

I'm not the quiet mouse who sits at her desk and works furiously until time to hit the back door running.

I see each day as a gift, and treasure every moment I have.

I do not look for things to make to me happy. THAT is no one's job but mine.

I am ultimately responsible for how I feel, how I treat people, and how I take care of myself.

I'm not afraid to take the risk of meeting people, and letting them in.

If I find myself in the presence of negative-outlook people, I move on. When I find someone who can inspire me, I listen.

When I see the opportunity to inspire someone else, I talk.

When I hurt, I find someone to listen to me.

When I see someone cry, I listen to them.

I take the time to think of the big picture.

I know that no matter what's going on in my backyard,

there are so many things to be thankful for,

to dream of, and to search out.

I notice how beautiful the trees are, the sunsets are, and the smiles of my children are.

I relish the moments spent talking with all of you, and appreciate your faith in me to be a good friend.

All in all, I believe now that every moment of every day gives me a choice. There are not always good choices, but they are mine.

I own them,

shape them,

and have to live with them.

I have to choose whether or not to take care of myself.

I choose whether or not to be in a good mood each day, with a positive outlook.

I choose whether or not to allow the pain in my body to destroy the happiness in my mind and heart.,br>
After some practice, some patience, and some wonderful lifestyle changes, I've also learned that the decision to live painfree is as much my own as it is the Syndrome which used to render me helpless, depressed, and in tears much of the time.

This is my life,

just as your life is yours...

take it by the horns,

shape it,

own it,

and make it yours.

Attitude can get you wherever you want to be if you'll use it.

I always tell my kids that they can do or be whatever THEY decide is right for them. They believe me, because I believe it when I say it. I believe it when I say it to you, too.

You may wonder why I've chosen to ramble on and take up so much of your time today...

I hope that in some small way, I may be able to contribute something to my circle of friends which can enlighten and help.

Feel free to pass this along, and if you recieved this from someone other than me,I'd love to hear from you...

I'm not afraid to reach out anymore. :o)

With Love and Laughter,
Denise Powell
The Love and Laughter Network of Friends
Always remember:

1) - Pain and suffering are mandatory in this life, misery isn't.

2) - Surround yourself with people who care.

3) - Be good to yourself every day.

4) - Spread random acts of kindness.

5) - Laughter is the best medicine, if you can laugh about it, you can deal with it.

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