Posted in adventure, happiness, Learning, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People

Wherever you go, there you are.

It is 5:30 in the morning, and pitch black outside. Giant gusts of wind roll in off the Atlantic, just across the street, and howl fitfully against the windows and walls of this hundred year old building, shaking the floors. Inside, with the heater blasting, my cat asleep in front of it, and my desk light casting a warm pool of light around the corner I’m tucked into, I must admit, I kind of like it.

All this weather, the drama of it all.

Last night as we drove the million miles to the store (It’s really about a ten minute drive, I just got spoiled at my last house) it started snowing. At first, it was just tiny, spotty things that melted as soon as they hit the ground. But by the time I pulled into the parking lot, they were massive, feathery flakes, falling in a flurry. I was so nervous about driving home in the snow that I rushed through my shopping like a woman possessed…only to find that the snow had completely disappeared, without a trace, by the time I left the store.

On the way home, I saw a fox trotting down the side of the wooded road that leads to my house.

Bit by bit, I am adjusting. There are things I like very much about it here, and things I miss about California, of course. There are things I love about this weird little place I am staying in, and things I am utterly frustrated by; But…I hardly ever feel as if I am supposed to be going back to my house in Seaside anymore. The terrible longing to go home is fading away. Thankfully.

Of course, I have my work, which is the biggest, best anchor of all- I think if I’d had to start all over in that regard, I’d really be in trouble. The familiarity of that has been a saving grace, for sure. And Cam is in school again, so…it’s like normal life has resumed, only thousands of miles away.

And that is kind of the crux of it, really…the part I didn’t allow myself to acknowledge, probably because I didn’t want to believe it- my life will be MY life no matter where I go. What is that stupid saying? Wherever you go, there you are? Well, isn’t that the truth. You see, the Courtney that visited here all those times before was vacation Courtney. But every day, average Courtney is the one living here, and they are two very different people. I would hate to think that I moved three thousand miles from home to get away from myself, only to find that I had the nerve to come with me. And yet…well, here I am.

All my shortcomings risen to the surface, emphasized marvelously by my disorientation. My anxiety, my low threshold for frustration, my disdain for change. My God, what was I thinking?! It’s been probably a decade since Border’s closed its doors forever and I’m still not even over that, for Pete’s sake! Why I ever thought I could just skip across the world and slide effortlessly into a totally different routine is beyond me. It really is.

Yet here I am. A month and a half in, and it’s finally sinking in that I’m here. I’m in Maine. I only have to use my GPS some of the time now- I’d say it’s about 80/20 these days. I can leave my house after dark and feel relatively confident that I won’t end up in a swamp or lost in New Hampshire when I only wanted to grab some milk. I even went to the dentist last week- I mean, I had no choice, my crown fell off, but still, I did it!

In reality, although the view has changed, my life itself hasn’t changed much at all. I don’t know how I feel about that. Again, I am still me, just somewhere new. And maybe I had hoped that I would be nicer or better or different, somehow. What I’ve learned there is that if you want to be different, you have to work on yourself, not your surroundings. And if I’d realized that was at the bottom of it all, perhaps I would have realized that, but I was keeping that secret from myself.

I still don’t know what I’m doing. How long I’ll be here or what happens next. I do know this, though- I’ve landed in a beautiful place. Sunrises and sunsets like no others I’ve ever seen. Howling storms and waves that wash right over the sea wall and onto the road. Streets lined with hundred year old mansions, decked out with Christmas lights as the snow gently falls. Little bridges everywhere over rivers that flow backwards when the tide rushes in. Every time I drive somewhere, I tell Camryn “This sure is a magical place!”, and she agrees that it is.

If I was going to follow myself anywhere, I’m glad that it was here. The rest…well, I’m working on it.

Posted in anxiety, Depression, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People

Changing Your Mind

change your mind

Yesterday, I had a little breakthrough. It all started because I made up my mind on Sunday (statistically, the day I am most likely to make up my mind about things because, as you may know by now, I am the one person on earth who loves Monday’s, since they are the start of a fresh, shiny new week) night that I was going to have a good week this week. Anyway, I woke up yesterday feeling groggy but hopeful, and within an hour or so of waking, I had worked up a little enthusiasm for the week.

Would I allow my anxiety to get started? NO. Would I be enthusiastic and engaged in my life? YES. There is a little cheerleader who secretly lives in my brain (don’t tell anyone, please) and she comes out when I let her, to get me all excited about the possibilities. Yesterday was a good day for her. Which usually means it will be a good day for me, too. Obviously, we are one and the same, it’s just that I have a hard time identifying with a cheerleader, so I like to compartmentalize. Anyway…

Some things that have been troubling me were examined and re-framed. One of them was this whole worry about my kid thing- I talked to the principal last week and found out that there are at least two teachers present during pick-up, one of whom is usually him, and the fact that he knows Cam, and is aware that she is being picked up after school, and who is picking her up- that went a long way towards soothing my worries. Plus, this is the second week now, so it has become more routine. You know how I love my routines. So, that is under control for now.

Another thing has been work. Since we have gone to a new computer system, work has been chaotic and so very different. What I thought would be an easy transition has actually been like starting a brand new job, and after ten years of doing the same thing every day, it has been a major disruption to my routine (there’s that word again). But you know what I realized yesterday? There has never been a task set before me that I could not master- not ever, not once, at least not at work. I can’t think of anything outside of work, either, to be honest. I’m not saying I am great at everything, but I am teachable. I am smart enough to figure things out. This will be no different. So my goal now is to learn this system and become proficient at it, and I think that will come with time. Knowing that, I can relax a little bit.

Finally, yesterday was the one year anniversary of my friend Joe’s death- I’ve written plenty about him, but in case you missed it, his death shook me pretty hard. I’ve made peace with it- what else is there to do? But it occurred to me how blessed I am to be alive, to have all of these opportunities to evolve and change and get better. Rather than sit in my shit and expend all of my limited energy being upset, worried, and critical of myself, I should probably find a way to celebrate my very life, reflect on all those blessings, and be attentive to the things that I get right. Doesn’t that sound so much better? Yes, I thought so, too.

Which brings me, finally, to the point of this post. I am not naive enough to believe that simply making up your mind to be happy will solve all of your problems, believe me. Mental illness, to whatever degree you may suffer it (and seriously, we all have our shit) is REAL. But the mind IS a powerful thing, and on a good day, we can get ahead of the game a little bit if we set ourselves up in the right way. I do believe that is possible. I have gotten really good, over the years, at noticing the ways in which my thoughts go wrong and lead me to trouble. I used to think the most awful things about myself until I really started paying attention, and now I am much less likely to go off the rails thanks to my inner mean-girl insulting me- but it took time, lots of time, and lots of noticing it.

Well, yesterday, I noticed that my mind tends to focus on all of the things that I couldn’t get to in a day, or forgot to do, or could have done better. The thing is, I have unnaturally high expectations of myself, and of other people, if I’m being totally honest. Which makes it hard for me to like and accept myself, and doesn’t make it easy to be my friend, either. Passing acquaintance, yes. Good friend? Not so much. But that is a blog for another day. Right now, I want to tell you how, once I started noticing my tendency to fixate on what hadn’t gone right in my day,  it was super easy to change my mind to focus on what I HAD done, and what HAD gone right. I simply changed my focus. Again, and again, and again. I congratulated myself on everything that I had accomplished. I said out loud how proud I was of myself. I called myself a good mom. I’m really glad no one could hear me, because I probably sounded crazy.

The thing is, by the time I threw my happy ass into bed, I was all aglow with my own praise. I know, I know- this sounds weird as hell. But you know what? Who cares? It worked for me. It felt good. And honestly, there is no one else around to give me the positive reinforcement that I crave as a human being, so why not provide it for myself? It’s certainly not hurting anyone.

Replacing a negative thought with a positive one. Noticing an achievement rather than a “failure”. Giving yourself props instead of tearing yourself down. Exercising your power to change your mind, to choose your thoughts and perspective. What a concept, huh? Maybe all this mindfulness bullshit isn’t bullshit at all.

Have a wonderful day!