No more whining

It has come to my attention that someone who reads my blog said that I should quit whining. This made me mad. Really, really mad! Right away, I fired back a note to the friend who relayed this comment that I DESERVE TO WHINE! I GET TO WHINE! My life sucks. Whining is all I have!
Let that anonymous person walk in my shoes for a week. He or she would be whining on the first day. I wanted to shout: How would you feel if you got letters every day from the IRS? I spent about a month stewing about this comment before realizing that my anger was not helping and it was keeping me awake at night.

Today on my hike up north, I thought a lot about this. I know that I don’t want to go through the next 30 years being a whiner. As I walked up the Devil’s Kettle Trail near Hovland, falling five times on the ice, I thought: Okay, I may never get out of debt, Barry will never get better and I may never have a retirement fund. So as long as I can hold a pencil, I will be working. It also means my dreams of doing volunteer work in retirement will most likely not happen. I could go on whining, but where does that get me? It just turns me into a crabby old lady.

No free passes in life

Yes, life threw me a tough one, but do many get a free pass in this life? Around the world, people suffer the loss of children in war or through starvation. It’s just not fair. I shouldn’t whine, instead I should pray for peace.

I have whined a lot about what I don’t have rather than looking at what I do have. It is very hard for us with loved ones suffering from frontotemperal dementia (FTD) when we see couples on trips together or celebrating anniversaries. It is hard to realize we may be alone for the rest of our lives. We talk a lot about this at our support group.It is hard to accept, but I have learned to do things on my own. I hiked (and fell) all afternoon. Tonight I will sit by the fire and read a book. And it is actually quite fun. It’s a different fun than I had with Barry, but fun, nevertheless. I’m learning that it’s not so bad being alone. Today I did just what I wanted to do — so no whining today!

I have whined about money and the debt that most likely will haunt me for the rest of my life. I feel bad that I can’t take special trips with my kids. And our cabin was sold a long time ago. But as a family, we have gone up north twice in the fall, and it was perfect. Instead of fancy trips, we can have picnics and day trips around Minnesota. It’s not how I thought it would be, but we have fun and we’re all together. Isn’t that the most important part?

I also whine about how I wish could add to a college fund for my grandkids. I can’t, and even if I did, the IRS would be quickly on the scene. Instead, I can give them my time and knowledge. We love to swim, hike and, of course, draw together. Why would I whine when Charlotte says I want to go swimming with Grandma!
I have whined about the debt my kids have because of student loans Barry took out. This debt has changed a lot of their plans and dreams in adulthood. Certainly there are millions of other people with student loans, but it still makes me sad. My kids have grown stronger through all of this. They have learned to forgive and love their dad no matter what. They have been awesome and beautiful through this turn in our lives. I am so proud of them, so why would I whine?

As I move forward, I can’t promise I won’t whine once in a while or feel envious or sad. I know it feels a lot better to look at all the wonderful things I do have in life — and whining is really tiresome. As I gingerly made my way back down to the car after my hike, I thought at least I didn’t break any bones, so that’s a good thing, too!

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63 comments on “MY JOURNEY
  1. Kate says:

    It’s your blog. You can whine if you need to; you are entitled to your feelings (for Heaven’s sake, no one has to read it).

    The journey you are on is hard and will probably be cyclical. That’s OK.

    I hope things turn around and you find an unexpected windfall to take the pressure off. Whining may not be helpful if it lasts a long time, but neither is judgment. May you find peace.

  2. Wendy Christiansen says:

    This is so me…except for a few minor changes…it is my life as well.

  3. bev mlenar says:

    nancy everyone needs a sounding board this is yours dont let some jerk take that away from you.

  4. Karolyn Lee says:

    I just love your thoughts. It made me think about my own whinning I do to my sister. She is so good to me. I think of you often and am amazed at your strength and work ethic! You are truly a person I look up too and definitely follow your blogs! You go girl!!!

  5. Nancy–I have admired your work for years, and I’ve come to admire you as a person through your beautiful blog posts. I never thought you were whining; I just felt you were being honest about a painful situation and giving voice to others dealing with similar things. However, I do love this post about focusing on the good! I look forward to seeing you at Bethune School in two weeks.

  6. Barbara harrison says:

    It is OK to whine. It’s part of stress, grief and severe loss. Hugs to you.

  7. Carole K. Bengtson says:

    How cruel and how unfortunate that there is always an ‘A NONEE MUS’ that has to display ignorance. Can I say I enjoy your postings and love your daily pictures as it takes me to a better place in my life. I’m the ‘caregiver’ in the family, illness and death have been a constant but so have friends. None one signs up for a wonderful life and if I did not have my family and a few close friends my life would ‘suck’!!! So please don’t take on ‘A Nonee Mus’ because as I would tell my children and others ‘In 5 years will it matter?’ Also may Karma shut down this person’s computer.

  8. Bonnie Jean Flom says:

    Nancy dear, I have never once thought of you as a whiner. Rather, I have seen you as an inspiration to others as to how to maintain a sense of humor and a healthy perspective on reality through the sharing of your story. I truly believe the individual you have mentioned does not represent the community of friends and supporters who read your Journey. Thank you for your generosity of spirit.

    • Joe Nathan says:

      Nancy, you are an inspiration and a creative genius! Please know that there are thousands of lives you have touched in wonderful ways.
      Unfortunately there will always be critics and complainers. You are creator! Please know you have many many admirers – please remember and perhaps it will help pu the one anonymous critic in perspective.

  9. Susan Jones says:

    you should be able to voice anything you want it’s your blog. If they don’t like it they don’t have to read it. People think they can leave all kinds of nasty hurtful comments just cause they can. They are not a friend or family so their comment should not be as hurtful as it is. Don’t ever think that bad thing can’t happen to me or I would do it differently because you never know what will happen in life. All the problems you have you have to live with, everyone has problems , some days worse than others

  10. Barb says:

    Whining has never entered my mind when reading your blogs. You are being truthful and honest. Bravo.

  11. Melissa Walton says:

    Never have I seen your posts as whining. What I have seen them as is RAW REALITY!!! I am thankful that you don’t sugar coat it!! You are blessing someone out there going through the same experiences you are. Chances are you will never know what a blessing you are to others!! So whine, Nancy whine!!

  12. Whining is allowed for strong people who make the best of the cards they have been dealt. Envy and sadness are “de rigeur” for those of us who have walked the rocky road of FTD and arrived at the final destination. The sadness and envy do not dissipate when we reach the end of the road. Instead, they morph into the new norm. Over time, they become a little duller around the edges, but whining is one way to get them out. You not only have the right to do it but, in my humble opinion, it should be mandatory!

  13. Mary O'Brien says:

    You are one of the most amazing women I know. You are brave to share your story. You inspire me.

  14. Karen Olson says:

    I agree with Bonnie Jean – never thought of you as a whiner. That being said, however, I am a firm believer that a well placed cuss word or a big, messy cry can bring a lot of relief and the same goes for whining. It’s YOUR blog – whine if you want (or need) to! You’re allowed, entitled and encouraged to vent!

  15. terri shoberg says:

    Whine away sister, then express gratitude for what you have. I believe God gives us room for both. It’s part of that “He won’t give you anything He won’t help you handle.” You do such a good job, keep sharing.

  16. Tanya Kirschenman says:

    Sounds like whining would be a great topic for a children’s book?!

  17. Luanne Lescarbeau says:

    I follow everything you write about this journey you are on, and I would never classify you as a whiner. The only thing really wrong with social media is that it’s very easy to criticize when you have no idea what is going on in another person’s life. It’s an old saying, but it fits here‚Ķ..”just consider the source.” You just keep on doing what you’re doing. The rest of the world holds you in high esteem.
    God bless.

  18. SandyBB says:

    You are amazing …I’d share cheese, crackers and whine with YOU any day Nancy ! ‚ù§Ô∏è

  19. Michele Olson says:

    Of course, it’s vital to count our blessings, and it’s my opinion that you provide a healthy balance of gratitude and “whining.” False cheer is no more honest than pessimism, and when you write about those days when you struggle just to get to the end, I have to believe that your readers think, “Okay, today was rough. But she got through it and so can I.” As for your critic, it’s been my experience that those who give that kind of opinion rarely embrace it themselves. Keep up the good writing!

    • Mary Korzeniowski says:

      When I read the comment, “Keep up the good writing”, I mistook it to say, “Keep up the good whining”! I think that’s good advice, too!

  20. Maryanne says:

    You, a whiner? No way! I think it’s sad that someone projected their own insecurities, it says a lot about their coping skills. When I read your blog I see determinism. Keep on!

  21. Maureen Pearson says:

    I don’t see your blog as a whining platform. I see it as a real life story, that may help someone else in the same situation. I see it as a story that encourages the pray-ers to raise very specific prayers on your behalf. I see it as a connection, a living life together connection, a putting one foot in front of the other connection…connection. Know that you are loved by a mighty God who has a plan for your life and the lives of your family. He will and is using this to build and further His plan for you. His plan is not for harm. But to give you a hope and a peace. Be blessed dear one and, you are victorious each day with Him. One foot in front of the other, side by side with your Savior. Be encouraged!

  22. Judy Trucano says:

    I have never considered your blog posts as whining. Rather,I think of them as candid words written by a courageous woman who is pulling back the dark curtain of secrecy surrounding the lives of families affected by FTD. You are helping many people.

  23. claudine coughlin says:

    Dear Nancy, I hope that you can unfriend this person. Who does she think she is to criticize how you are handling things. By the way, you are an inspiration to anyone that has seen your doodles and read your web site. Keep your chin up and continue sharing all of your talents with the world. Love you – Claudine

  24. gwen hauser says:

    Oh good god, whine? Is it wrong to feel sad, scared or angry? No, it teaches compassion, courage and resolution.

    It is healthy to tell our story, of loss and grief, of having one damn thing after another, unfold in front of us. If the stories and experiences we tell honestly, of complicated loss are not heard, then there is no guide into the darkness…no journey…no wisdom.

    I am guessing the no whining person hasn’t been called into the depths…yet.

  25. JeannieLaura Granaas says:

    I, too, have been left with less than nothing…I whined and whined until I couldn’t stand hearing my own story! I see now that it was a healthy part of my grieving process…I was being abused (and abusing myself as well) all the while I was screaming/whining for help…

    In the end…I still have less than nothing, but now know, without doubt, that I will always be okay…I tell myself that I am living a radically simplistic and most often peaceful life…my main goal is to keep myself healthy and to give back by helping those who have even less than less than nothing…

    There’s a saying I always remember, “don’t hog your journey”…your journey needs to be revealed to help others…and you do dear Nancy…a lot! Keep on keepin’ on…you are sooo loved by sooo many!

  26. Nancy, I never think of your comments as “whining.” I see them as matter-of-fact statements about your life and I’m amazed at how open you are about such terrible events. I am grateful for the insights you give us into Barry’s FTD and so sad it has had such a drastic effect on your financial stability.

  27. Sheila burns says:

    The IRS is relentless. As a retired employee, I would rather owe money to a mafia loan shark. There is a statute of limitations: ten years from the date of tax assessment. Living long would be the best revenge.

  28. Louise Woehrle says:

    God Bless that person who thought they needed to scold you for whining. Their comment was really about them and not you. Keep on being an inspiration to us Nancy. Your heartfelt personal experiences and ongoing journey teaches without you trying to teach. Your words are so personal, revealing, human and truly inspiring. You are someone very special who is touching many lives. Amen ~

  29. Paul S. says:

    There is such a thing as whining, and it can be quite annoying, sure.
    Maybe you may whine, outside of your writing, to friends and family. You are entitled, and that’s part of what friends and family are there for each other for.
    But I disagree with anybody (even you, Nancy!) calling what you are writing one your site whining.
    You are telling your story, and it has some very tough passages in which you express frustration and pain. Also humor and grace.
    In short, life.
    Some people are not comfortable with that, I guess.
    They are poorer for it, in my opinion.
    You are experiencing and expressing life. Thanks for that!

  30. Mary Steinson says:

    Nancy Carlson is NOT a whiner! That was my first thought when I started reading. Preceding comments cover what I would have said…. and why is it that it’s the one stinker comment that would stick with me too….rats!! Hang in there!

  31. rachel milsten says:

    You ARE amazing!!! I had no idea what you have gone through, and I already admired you. Now I admire you even more. You are a person it would be wonderful to meet, sit down with and “chat”. I have a sleep-disorder and fibro, neither of which is that bad, but boy do I complain on my bad days. I admonish myself for doing so, as well. And then I feel guilty for the entire process. Oh, well, that is part of being human:) I hope this helps a little bit:) You are special, and Mr. Rogers likes you just the way you are!!!!!!! Yeaaaaa for you being you:) Peace and Tranquility, RacheL =^&^=

  32. jerri roberts says:

    I admire you, Nancy! You are strong enough to share your vulnerability and, by doing that, you help us understand living with someone with FTD. You are in my prayers.

  33. Elizabeth says:

    I read and look forward to your posts for their honesty. If you didn’t whine I.e. relay the reality of your life, it would be just so much Pollyanna I couldn’t bear to read it.

  34. Pam Schultz says:

    Your story needs to continue to be told. I have worked with individuals with memory loss and their caregivers. You are brave and vulnerable; you did not choose your path, but follow it with great courage. For many years our youngest son had one of your signed posters in his room. You are loved by many. Anyone who can write a barf book is special! I would enjoy a conversation over tea or coffee. Use my email if you would like to meet a fan who is a good listener.

  35. Jonni Schwartz says:

    Mean people are hard to read and hard to hear. I enjoy your blog and pictures very much, and I think you are such an inspirational and talented artist, writer and woman. You are gracefully managing your plate of difficulties admirably. Love to you and all you love, Jonni

  36. Patty N says:

    Dear Nancy,
    As a recently retired first grade teacher I have met you a few times. I am so sorry someone’s misplaced negativity has landed in your lap. You aren’t whining. Please continue to speak the truth and march on. I am basically the same age as you. When I read your blog I so admire your courage and lack of self pity. You amaze me. AGAIN, you are not whining. Please keep up the blog. You are a source of strength for many. You and Barry and your family will remain in my prayers.

  37. Laurie Spencer says:

    my dearest Nancy….your whine glass is always half full, never half empty…meaning your positivity keeps us all half full every day with your inspiration my friend. We all have our journeys…and you are faithfully walking yours with grace, dignity, and finding the light in every way you can…thank you for always sharing the love .

  38. Lori Otto says:

    Nancy, thank you for sharing. Your awesome attitude gives others strength.
    We all have something we need to move forward on and find gratitude in. Blessings to you.

  39. Teresa Krueger says:

    Nancy, I’m sorry that someone’s words have hurt you. I am also a caregiver for my husband, so I can sort of understand some of your worries and sadness. Writing or talking about your situation is not whining. The people who love you (and there are lots of people who do), want to be there to listen to you, because sometimes that is all that they can do to help you. You are a strong woman. Blessings to you and Barry.

  40. I wish I could stand between you and that person (and maybe punch him/her in the nose) to deflect that ungracious comment. Perhaps there’s something that feels worse in that person’s life, but I’d still offer a knuckle sandwich!

  41. Marianne Wexler says:

    I never once had the feeling while reading your posts that you were whining. And really, even if you did whine, with all you have gone through, you deserve to be able to whine and get a little off your chest! Thank you for sharing your challenges, losses, achievements and steps forward on this journey we call life. I so enjoy your doodles and blog. They are both inspirational and thought provoking. Thank you showing us how to “put one foot in front of the other”.

  42. Margaret Mazzaferro says:

    Nancy, I’m not a person of religious faith, so I have nothing to offer you except my compassion and empathy. The path you’re on at the moment is an extremely painful one. I admire that you’re able to find some solace and joy along the way.

    Take your inspiration, courage and strength from whatever is offered you, even comments that at first blush hurt your feelings. You seem to intuitively do this, and I salute you.

  43. Brian Malloy says:

    I think you’re brave – and your honesty and candor help those of us who have faced devastating health issues in our own families to feel less alone. That’s a gift. Keep writing, keep inspiring.

  44. Polly says:

    Hi Nancy,
    Thanks for writing about your journey and the changes in your life. You are an inspiration to me and many others. About the “whining” comment…ignore and let go. There will always be people that don’t agree with us, that is their problem, not ours. You don’t have to justify your feelings. What you didn’t mention in this post, is your wonderful gifts as an author and artist. That is something you will always have. Your gifts have brought a lot of joy to thousands of people. I cherish the original drawings I bought from you and after many years, your books are still my favorite.

  45. Kathy Heller says:

    Nancy, your posts are like watching an educational detailed documentary on this particular disease that is similar to many other issues pertaining to the brain. It helps educate others on making difficult choices if this happens to them. It is as if you are writing a book about this disease to help others. That is what every children’s book you have written has done. There is a lesson to learn. This document is dealing with adult lessons instead. Don’t quit! I appreciate your posts. Similar to Caring Bridge posts but in a different format. Kathy

  46. There are people in our lives who have no compassion. This concept is almost impossible for me to accept. How could that be? Their cold judgements cut deeply. No one welcomes harsh judgements.

    I admire your vulnerability, your honestly, and your spunk. You have shared your struggles with me. You are living your reality authentically. People are called brave-not because they WANTED to face the challenge, but because they HAD to.

    You are brave, very brave.

  47. Patrice Horstman says:

    Nancy you tell your life story with honesty and integrity. Your blog is inspirational. Keep on trekking….

  48. Mary Sue Boelter Lienke says:

    I am sorry for what has happened to such a sweet person. We do all have bumps in the road of life – some more than others – but I appreciate your ability to look at the good – keep that mindset going – and who cares about the nay-sayers…they have not walked in YOUR shoes.
    You are leaving such a legacy for you children and grandchildren – not in money, perhaps, but in art, books that reflect pride, accomplishment, positive mind-set, grace, humility, and humbleness.
    Be proud, Nancy, thru our hardships we may stumble but we get up again – we learn what is important & give up on the rest!!
    You are an inspiration to me!!

  49. MOM says:

    We are so proud of the way you handled the way your life has turned. You have always been positive and never felt sorry for yourself.
    We love you and admire your courage.

  50. Laurie says:

    Nancy, I have only experienced you as being honest and filled with grace and wisdom. You are deserving of all the love and compassion that is out there. That someone would dare give you a negative comment is incredibly ridiculous- how dare they. It makes ME mad. God help them if their life turns difficult. See how good you are? The rest of us want to cream that person. Deep breaths..

  51. Jane Weis says:

    Nancy, you don’t know me, but I’ve loved your work for a long time.I used to see you at the Red Balloon when my girls were small. I have to say, I’ve read all your blogs about Barry and I’ve never felt that you were whining. Often your stories make me sad, but I always feel as though you try to find the best in each situation. I have two life mottoes 1)You can’t always get what you want,but if you try sometimes you’ll get what you need (thanks, Stones) and 2)If you don’t like it, you don’t have to look. So, to the critics out there, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to read.

  52. Judy Peterson says:

    What an awesome collection of responses to your blog…I hope the person who accused you of whining is also reading this. So easy to judge others. Yes, you are an inspiration to so many and it is because you are sharing your feelings honestly. To those of us who are not walking in your hiking boots…go girl!

  53. mary squires says:

    Dear Nancy, we don’t know each other but we graduated from the same high school and had Mr. McCarthy for art. I have always admired your talent. I was fortunate to have won a silent auction item when you decorated a birdhouse and donated two of your books. I still cherish them. Don’t ever feel you have to explain yourself when you are opening up about the difficulties in your life. It’s helping you move through it but it’s also helping others who may be expierencing something similar in their lives. It’s also cowardly of the person to not leave their name when they made such a hurtful comment. But being the gracious person you are, you’ve chosen to learn from it. Nobody is perfect , we’re only human and we have our good days and bad days. Hang in there and keep creating. Take care , Mary Squires

  54. whine away…. we all have challenges. I have my very special people who “get” what it is like to be me sometimes. we can whine and face up to the challenges. I got to say… I don’t hear a whine in your posts. I hear reality and perseverance. I hear bravery, stubborn stick-to-itness and I get to see your lovely, strong, emotionally true doodles. Thank you for this gift.

  55. Sherry Grimsby says:

    Nancy-this post shows your honesty, resilience and transparency. Just look at the responses to your post!! Whining? No way! People have no idea what you are going through … I say: “Let this fly through your head…not nest in it.” You are loved.

  56. Marlys Nitchals says:

    Thank you for all that you have written. My husband has FTD and I get great support and survival strength from your words. Your emotions ring very true with me

  57. MJ says:

    Nancy, I have found reading your blog to be touching and inspirational. I haven’t met you personally, but your books were some of the favorites for my daughters, now in their 20s. I find your posts truthful and heartfelt – not whining! And even if they were, it’s your blog, written to allow you to tell your story – anyone who doesn’t want to read it can simply stay away. While I haven’t known anyone with Barry’s illness, I have learned so much about this terrible condition from what you’ve shared. What insight you’ve given to many who may face the same situation in the future.

  58. Patty O'Rourke says:

    Nancy ~ I have read your blog since the beginning, and have passed it on to friends of mine who are experiencing the same disease with their loved ones ~ I have NEVER ever thought of you as a “whiner” ~ only letting us know how life is in your world. I grew up on Dupont Avenue ~ went to school with Scott at Annunciation and Cathy lived with us for awhile ~ but Barry was always the mysterious older brother! You have made the very best of a horrible situation ~ you are brave, courageous, funny, creative and blessed. I admire your strength and your sense of humor. Thank you for being so open and honest.

  59. Lexi Hafften says:

    This post was an interesting read for me. I whine(d) a LOT because of my mom’s MS and losing my dad so early to cancer. Everything you wrote here is exactly what I felt. “I’ve been through so much more than everyone else, blah blah blah, I get to whine, to skip this thing, to _______ “(fill in the blank with an excuse for almost anything) all because of my hardship. UNTIL … I started reading your blog. I read about how Barry’s FTD affected your family, specifically it made me think about how Mike was affected, since we were in the same class for so long. And what shook me out of my fog of self-pity was how much more adult he was seeming to be about everything than me. I thought about your situation, and how I would feel if I lost my husband’s companionship the way you have lost Barry’s. It snapped me back to reality really quickly. So while I feel like we all have the right to whine every once in a while, it’s good to read that you’re able to look past the bad things happening and enjoy the little things. Life sure gets depressing if we let the big stuff get us down. 🙂

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