Posted in anxiety, Blogging, Depression, family, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, mindfulness, Musings, People, women

Quiet

*** Warning: This is not as happy as most of my recent posts. Teensy bit of a bummer***

I went on to have a bad day yesterday…after the beautiful weekend, after the peace and happiness I held in my heart and in my body as I wrote my post yesterday.

Work was…the same as it always is. The same, same, same. I began to wonder if maybe, reading chart after chart of sick and injured patients- if maybe I took on some of that. Some of the emotion- the fear, the worry, the sadness- that I read day in and day out. I have said before, I am very impressionable. My body grew tighter and more tense as the day went on.

By 2:30, the anxiety had started to blossom in my chest. I tried to resist it, but that never works. I tried to sit with it, to reason with it, to ignore it. Nothing. Nothing worked. The terrible thoughts began to bombard my mind- car wrecks and kidnappings and all of the ideas that plague me when my children aren’t within arms reach. My mind becomes a bitter enemy.

And now I am starting to see what comes afterΒ the anxiety rushes out- after the child is home, safe and sound, leaving this giant space inside of me where all that worry had been. After the relief of her arrival-that brief, sweet, space- has also fled. I am left with this…this awfulness. This feeling that my mind has done it, once again, splintered away from reason, led me down this dark path. And then I am angry. I am angry with myself, but it comes out in other ways. Impatience with homework, intolerance, temper. The anxiety leaves me with another mess. I am finally seeing it.

This morning, I am once again left with the task of forgiving myself. Of loving myself despite my defects. Telling myself that healing is not a straight path- there are dips and bends, and times when the road doubles back on itself. The times when I am angry and lost are so brief now, but they seem to bother me so much more. And you know…no one went to bed with hurt feelings last night. Cam crept into my room and slept beside me while I was sleeping. It wasn’t that bad. But I want it to be better. I always wish it were better.

I crave quiet this morning. I turned the radio off in the car, let the sound of the rain fill my ears, the low hum of the car. Even now, I hear nothing but the rain outside, and it is all I want. I don’t want to scroll through Facebook, or hear anymore of the godforsaken news of this fucked up world. I have enough on my plate right here. Right inside these walls. I am on my guard, of course, praying the anxiety does not return today. It gets old. It gets old not feeling safe in your own life, knowing it’s all just a lie your brain is making up. It gets old not knowing what to do to fix it.

So today, I’m just going to be quiet. I’m just going to breathe. And try to figure out how to clear this hurdle.

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Posted in friendship, inner peace, Learning, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People, random, relationships

Happiness & Curiosity

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I’ve been in a bit of a rut, lately, and it’s been hard for me to want to write- not just here, but also on my novel, which is a total bummer. Mostly because I am part of an awesome critique group and I’m running out of chapters to submit thanks to this weird writers block…but anyway, I haven’t been feeling my level best, had some minor health issues that are slowly resolving, and the whole vibe has not been conducive to me writing, I guess. When you aren’t feeling well, it’s hard to think about anything else.

For the last few days, I’ve been feeling better though, and my thoughts have turned again, as they always do, to my happiness and what I might do to improve it. Some people say that happiness is not a destination you arrive at, it’s something that you choose to experience, and I agree with that to a certain extent. But I also know that when you live a hectic, modern life full of children and work and chores to be done…the first thing we throw out of the picture are the things that make us feel the best. Forget about long, lingering bubble baths and walks on the beach with the dog- sometimes I am lucky to take a three minute shower and can’t even manage a quick walk around the block with poor Lucy. The truth is, when it’s getting dark around the same time I clock out of work, I often allow myself to just move from my office chair to the couch and spend the rest of the night numbing out to Netflix.

There may be stretches of time when this is honestly the best I can do. Do I judge myself a little harshly when this is the case? You bet your ass I do. I go to bed, frustrated and disappointed with myself because I feel like I wasted these precious hours of my life, hours I can’t get back. I think a lot about stuff like that- probably a side effect of having lost so many loved ones over the past 15 months. Death has a way of making our own mortality very, very clear to us, doesn’t it?

The good news is that, without fail, my energy returns, and I can try again. Try to fill my hours up in a way that makes me feel better about my life, try to figure out how to experience more happiness. I always come up with the same things: Be outside more, move my body more, connect with my kids and friends more,write, meditate, pray, get the house in order, and go to meetings. Obviously, these are just the little, day-to-day things that work best for me, not the longer term, “big” goals. But doing just these little things make a huge difference in my life. My magic formula for deeper enjoyment of my every day life.

Most of those things are simple enough to slip back into, once I’m back in the right frame of mind. You know what I struggle with, though? The “connecting with people” piece. And I mean this is a struggle on every level- with my own children up to the stranger sitting beside me at a meeting. I know why. It has everything to do with me being judgmental, which is really just a symptom of my own insecurity and fear of being vulnerable, i.e., I don’t want to be judged, so I will judge you first. Well, with my kids, I mean, I’m just being a mom…and to be fair, some of the shit they say is just…lets just say it’s hard not to power roll my eyes, sometimes. But with other people, this can become really problematic. When you are super guarded, or you think you already know something about someone based on their body language, their appearance, or maybe their current shitty situation, you are doing both them and yourself a disservice. When I think back through my life, to all the people who graciously chose to get closer to me when I was just awful…I don’t know how I would’ve survived without that kindness. I don’t think I could have.

Luckily, I found an easy solution to this problem. Instead of being guarded and drawing away, I have been choosing to be open and curious. There is a physical sensation attached to both of these things- being guarded feels closed off, tight, impatient, and makes my eyes look anywhere but at the person. Being open and curious feels…well, open, obviously, and warmer, somehow, and helps me look at and hear someone so much better. When I am not quick to judge, I am much quicker to listen, and when I listen well, it is so much easier to connect. For me, connecting with someone, really hearing and understanding and empathizing with where and who they are, is the best high. When I listen with curiosity, when I am open, when I take five seconds to talk to someone after a meeting and let them know I heard them…maybe it doesn’t mean anything much to them, but that connection means a lot to me. When I have friends over here for a super casual dinner, when I spend thirty minutes walking outside with Cam, playing Pokemon Go- maybe it’s not big deal, but it feels like one to me. It feels like the key to everything, to be honest.

So, this week, and for the rest of this year, my goal is to continue to make time for the things that help me to experience happiness, and to be open and curious about people, rather than closed off and invulnerable. Not a lofty goal, but I don’t know…it feels important to me. I may be onto something.

Posted in advice, kids, Learning, Life, Musings, People, Uncategorized

The Best Advice You Will Never Hear

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Let me point out now, the title says “The best advice you will neverΒ hear“.Β It doesn’t say anything about whether or not you had been told once, twice, thirty seven thousand times, before those little grains of wisdom finally revealed themselves to be true. Most of the human beings that I know, and certainly the one that I am, do not put a whole lot of stock in the wisdom generously shared with us by others. Never mind that, nine times out of ten, the people who have that wisdom KNOW what they are talking about- we want to figure it out the same way that they usually had to- the hard way. What is the hard way, you ask? The hard way is the exact thing that I am talking about, here- it’s the path we choose when we ignore everything our mom’s, dad’s, teacher’s, and the surgeon general have told us, and we continue doggedly on our way, until finally, disaster, heartbreak and complicated consequences that last indefinitely force us to see our errors. This is when we usually remember those words of advice given to us, long before, and think- “Whoa. Boy, were they right.”

I am going to list a few of my favorites, really universal advice that is true for pretty much everyone, always.

1. My personal favorite, the golden rule: ” Do unto others as you would have done to you.” Β This is just the crux of life, in a tiny little phrase. You will never regret treating another human being with kindness and respect. Even if they end up being ruthless and spiteful, or just cranky and rude, once you’ve washed your hands of them and the situation, YOU get to look back and know you handled yourself in a respectable, gracious way. Your side of the street is clean (another good one, by the way, “keep your side of the street clean.”) and you have nothing to feel ashamed of. On the other hand, going around being rude, being dishonest, and treating people like crap- no matter what THEY did…that’s going to weigh on you somewhere down the line, I promise.

2. Beauty is only skin deep, or, as my grandma would say “pretty is as pretty does.” This is especially important to understand when you are young, and the way I grasped it, finally, was when a boy I liked chose another girl, in my opinion much less attractive…but she was nice. She was nice, and smart, and not a big hot mess, which could not be said about me at that time. We have all been enamored of someone, only to find out, sometimes right away and others, eventually, that they may be great looking but that just isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to sustain anything, and it isn’t a sustainable thing, either. Beauty fades. Find out what else you have to offer the world.

3. Be yourself. This one seems like a no brainer, right? But think about how many times you have tried to be or act a certain way to make people that mattered to you think you were good enough for them…lots, right? The truth is, anyone who really loves you in your life, knows you- the REAL you, and accepts you as is. The easiest way to figure out who ought to be in your life is to relax and be yourself. You can save yourself a lot of time and worry by letting things run their natural course.

4. Children learn by what you do, not what you say. Anyone who has a two year old knows this is not exactly correct- they also learn what you say, a fact that was blatantly thrown in my face yesterday when I heard my little one call her older sister an asshole. Oopsie. Clearly, I have some more implementing of this advice to do in my life. Also, you can never start too young with them. If you want your kids to be polite, to enjoy school, to clean up after themselves, well, guess what? That means you have to have manners, you have to be willing to involve yourself in their classrooms, homework, and projects, and you have to keep your house clean. I did none of those things with my teen, and I will do ALL of them with my toddler-because I learned the hard way it was true.

5.Life is what you make it. Truer words were never spoken. Your perspective, opinion, and attitude about things has everything to do with exactly how happy you are at this very moment, and at every other moment in time. No one else is responsible for your happiness but you. Maybe you had a shitty childhood- lots of us did- but it’s up to you to decide to leave that shit behind you, and move on. In life, your heart will get broken, you will be treated unfairly, you will get knocked on your ass more times than you will even be able to count…and you are the only one to decide to learn from it, to let go, change direction, become better. Or, carry around a chip on your shoulder, be angry, lash out at others, choose defeat. It’s totally up to you. And when you are ready to understand THAT advice, it may be the turning point in your life.

There are so many other really great, wise old sayings, quotes, and cliches, I could go on and on…but I won’t! I’d rather hear from others what their favorites are, and why. Can’t wait to hear back!