What Vacation Did For Me

Throughout the days leading up to my departure many asked if I was excited.  Although a part of me was, the excitement was overshadowed by anxiety, by fear.

“Are you afraid of flying?” they’d ask.

“No.  I’m afraid of bed bugs and terrorism.”

We’d share a laugh and I knew how ridiculous I sounded as soon as those words escaped my mouth.

All of my fears have two commonalities.  They are all things over which I feel I have no control and no matter how utterly preposterous, my mind has a difficult time turning them away.  I end up completely consumed, picturing the worst possible outcome.  I fixate on these created scenarios in such a way that makes their eventual occurrence seem inevitable.

My best friend who happened to be my hotel roommate for the weekend was kind enough to check the bed for bugs.  Her confirmation that it was clear lifted a huge weight from my shoulders.

A few hours after getting settled we sat at an outdoor patio and enjoyed some cold drinks.  Shortly thereafter I noticed several bites on my leg and my mood immediately shifted.  Everyone assured me they appeared to be mosquito bites but I couldn’t accept that.  I kept itching and panicking and surely annoying the hell out of everyone.  I eventually noticed I was becoming the type of company that nobody wants on vacation and I told myself to mask my mood and put a smile on my face.

In the middle of the night I experienced a common occurrence for me where I wake up reacting to what’s happening in my dream thinking instead that it is reality.  My husband is now used to this, my best friend, not so much.

I woke up screaming and jumped out of bed finding my way to the light switch.  My friend awoke frightened.  I had been dreaming about little black bugs crawling on the bed next to my face.  The dream felt so real, but it was just that, a dream.  My friend was so alarmed, her heart was pounding, her impression of me surely altered.  I was embarrassed, I felt awful.  I cried myself to sleep that night.

In the morning I apologized for my outburst.  We had a long talk and she expressed how concerned she was for me.  She said she didn’t realize the anxiety had gotten to that point.  She feared it was consuming my life.  I told her I’ve gotten better, I really have.  She wasn’t convinced.

That conversation helped me more than I think she realizes.  The anxiety, the fear, the worries, they really were consuming my life and to have her say it out loud was exactly what I needed.  I was tired of allowing my fears to stop me from living.  I was angered, I was exhausted, I was done!  I told myself I had to enjoy this trip, with only two days left, I needed to let go of it all and to just be.  And so I did.

I felt like a different person on the two days that followed.  I felt light, I felt free, I felt powerful.  I was in control of my life for once.  My mind, body & soul all working together towards my ultimate goal of happiness.  I had no time to be worried.  From that point on, the sun felt warmer, the sky looked bluer, the sand felt softer, the food tasted better.

On my plane ride back home I told myself that I would no longer be that weak little girl whose fear of the world was limiting her growth, clouding her joy.

When I returned to work the following day I felt more carefree than I can ever remember feeling in my entire adult life.  Everything that worried me only days ago seemed so small now, so insignificant, so unworthy of my time.

I told my coworker about my amazing trip and shared all of the funny and memorable moments I was fortunate to experience.  When I was asked how I managed vacationing with anxiety, my response was immediate, and pronounced with such ease and conviction that my memory of that moment will always be vivid in my heart.  With great satisfaction I responded, “Fuck the anxiety!”.  That phrase has since become a staple in my vocabulary.

Advertisements

Have You Been Writing?

“Have you been writing?”

I’ve been asked this a few times in the last couple of days.  The answer, no.  I’m not entirely sure why.  Perhaps I am too busy.  Perhaps I don’t have anything to say.  Perhaps I am an expert procrastinator who can find 30 other things that must get done before I sit to write.  Yes, I think that’s the one!

A lot has happened since I last wrote.  I went on an amazing vacation that opened my eyes and that changed my perception of life, of me.  Close friends and relatives reached beautiful life milestones that warmed my heart.  I developed a new appreciation for everything around me, for each person I meet, for each day that I live, whether eventful or not on the surface, every day has meaning.

Every day is an opportunity to experience, to grow, to learn.  I’ve known this for a while but have now accepted it whole-heartedly.  Every day is a gift and I must treat it as such.

With that being said, I still have many less than perfect days where things don’t seem to go as planned and emotions fly high.

It is natural to have amazing days followed by grueling days where exhaustion takes over and doing nothing means everything.  That’s ok.  The key is developing the ability to emerge from those days bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to embrace the morning light.  I think I have developed that ability.  I’ve realized that sometimes those lazy days are necessary in helping to refuel me for the next; a little downtime is good every now and again.

We all need time to recharge, time to do nothing, time to reflect, time to rest, time to sleep, time to breathe.  Some people just need more of this time than others.

The Generational Gap: Crap, I’m Getting Old!

 

Somedays I feel so blah.  I’ve sat here for a good 10 minutes now with my Mac on my lap staring at the screen trying to find motivation, inspiration; something, ANYTHING!  Instead, I found nothing, I felt nothing.  I am bored.  I feel blah.

I can’t begin to imagine what I would have done with this amazing machine when I was younger.  If I had been given this world at my fingertips 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have taken it for granted as I seem to be doing now.  I would have been glued to it from morning to night.  I would have created so much with it.  This technology is amazing.  It can take me anywhere.  It can teach me anything, and yet at this moment I have nothing to show for it.  How sad.

I remember discussing this with a lovely young lady last year.  I began telling her how unbelievably lucky she is to have all this technology available to her; literally knowledge at her fingertips at any time of the day.

I told her it was much more difficult “back in my day” when researching for school assignments and projects when we had to read through countless books to acquire and compile information.  She proceeded to ask, “So did like everyone go to the library?”, to which I responded as my palm met my face, “Umm, yes!”

When I continued to say we had to read Encyclopedias, she asked, “Encyclo…what?”

“Like Wikipedia, only the real deal”.  I answered in shock.

How is it possible that this person who is only 15 years my junior has no clue what an Encyclopedia is?  And then boom, it hit me.  There are so many things in her day to day life to which I am completely oblivious.  Like the one time she said my house was “so Tumblr”.  Is that a compliment?

I realize that whether I believe it or not, I am old.  At least I am to her and to her generation.  I am a thing of the past, a relic just trying to figure out if my eyebrows are on fleek.  Do I even want them to be?

This generational gap is much more evident than I previously thought.

My eyes are slowly starting to close and I realize perhaps it’s time for bed.  After all, it is 10:09pm.  Isn’t that where most 30 somethings can be found at this time?

Gloomy Skies, Gloomy Soul

I awake in the morning and the absence of light peaking through the blinds confirms the forecast was right, gloomy skies await.  I haven’t even gotten out of bed yet and already I can feel the dark cloud hovering over me.  I grudgingly sit up and rest my feet on the hardwood floor. Sigh.

I know the sun can’t always shine brightly and that our crops were thirsting for this rain, but I am really missing that bright blue sky.

It is interesting just how much the weather can affect our moods and our outlook.  Why is that?  I suppose it is because we are a product of our environment.  Our attitudes can easily  be affected by what surrounds us.

We are figurative sponges soaking up everything in our paths, whether intentional or not, our ability to absorb is inevitable.

This is a wonderful thing, when the weather is beautiful and the people around us are happy and positive but what about on days like today?

When I got to work today I had to fight the wind while walking to the building as it blew my hair violently across my face.  My office was dark, opening the blinds didn’t help.  I then asked myself, am I really going to spend all day sulking over the weather?  No!  I refuse to waste another day being a downer.  So I made a mental commitment to turn my frown upside down and to just be happy.  I would have hated to have spread my gloom to those around me.

As I sipped on my piping hot coffee, I reminded myself of what I was grateful for today, that cup of deliciousness being one of them, and slowly the negativity started to fade away.

I buckled down and got to work and before I knew it I was too busy to allow the dark skies to cloud my mood.  As the day progressed, the clouds outside slowly disappeared too.

Retraining My Mind. Redirecting My Energy.

 

“Each of has to find his peace from within.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Scrolling through my phone, an imagine of a lighthouse in the sunset catches my eye.  Those words leap from the screen.

How unbelievably true, how perfectly timed.

For a few months now I have been experiencing anxiety at many different times, in varying degrees, caused by numerous triggers.

I originally tried avoiding the triggers, until I noticed almost everything could be a trigger if I allowed it to be.  The problem wasn’t with the outside world.  The problem was with my perception of events.  The problem was that I allowed myself to be worried.  I allowed my mind to wander and to fear the worst.  I allowed the fear to cloud my judgement, to cloud my ability to rationalize my thoughts.

I began understanding that if I was to come out of this victorious, I would have to re-train my mind to stop the worry the moment it began; to visualize it as a piece of paper, crumple it up and throw it away.

I am learning to redirect my energy into the good that I hope to accomplish, and into the peace I want to feel, instead of focusing it on what is stopping me.

This skill is not easy to acquire and I am still working on perfecting it with each passing day, but boy am I getting good at it!  I am noticing true progress from the beginning of the year to now.  I just have to keep on keepin’ on!  After all, practice makes perfect, right?

 

Breathe. Just Breathe.

12:45pm
Today I had caffeine.  Today panic took over.
A psychological change, an overwhelming feeling of worry.  The equivalent to “butterflies in my stomach”, but the fluttering is felt in my chest.
Debilitating.
Consuming.

I can’t concentrate on anything right now.  Nails tapping on desk, thoughts racing.

The trigger so minor, to anyone else, not even a worry.

Why won’t he respond? Breathe, just breathe.

1:07pm. He responds.
Relief. Release.

I decided to write this during a time that I was actually feeling anxious.  When it started I couldn’t think of anything else, it was impossible.  I grabbed a pen and my notebook and just began to write what I was feeling.  I wanted an outlet, I needed to vent.  What I found was that it did actually help me to feel more at ease.

There is much to be said about writing, about expressing what you’re feeling; transferring your emotions into organized thoughts and making them visually available for all to see.  It is therapeutic.  It is transcendent.  The ability to let go and to then look back as an outsider helps to put things into perspective.  Are my fears unfounded, am I overreacting?  If so, there is no point in asking why; the “why” is irrelevant.  I already know I overreact, I already know I am anxious by nature.  The real question is “how?”.  How do I surpass this fear?  What can I do to overcome the anxiety at this very moment?  More often than not, the answer is to breathe.  Focusing on the natural rhythm of breathing occupies the mind and when the mind is otherwise occupied, it doesn’t have time to indulge in our irrational thoughts.  Breathing.  Such a simple concept, such a natural solution.  I mean, we have to do it anyways right?  Breathing to survive, in this case, a whole new sense of meaning.

 

When you feel overwhelmed or stressed or anxious, what do you do?  How do you handle those moment?  Do you remember to breathe?  It’s easier said than done, right?
I know, I know.

 

Spring Has Sprung, Inside & Out

The sun shines brightly today.  Spring is finally showing its face.
I can feel it inside me too.  I am making a real effort to be happy and to find joy in the little things, in everything.  My determination to change my mindset is evident but the sunshine certainly helps.  Bright skies, chirping birds, light breeze, blooming flowers and green everywhere!

20160523_180446_edited-1

For me, spring is a time of growth, of hope.  It sparks in me the memories of beautiful moments in the past spent under the glistening sun, watching my kids run barefoot across the grass.  I can hear their laughter and can see their smiles.  My body fills with joy.

Spring has sprung, inside and out!

Just as January brings with it a sense of new beginnings, so does spring.  It is a time to be freer, to wear less clothes, to fill our glasses with ice, to dip our feet in the water.  It is a time of cleansing and organizing, of cleaning and decluttering.  A time to shake off all the gloom from the dying winter and to embrace the heat of the sun with open arms.  A time to start fresh.

When I think about it, it would be wise to create a mid-year resolution.  Is this not the perfect time?  I’ve already had almost a half a year to witness my failure to complete, let alone barely begin, any of the New Year’s resolutions I eagerly made in January.  I am in a perfect position to evaluate what isn’t working, why it isn’t working and can identify new goals or modify my previous ones to better suit my current state.  Mid-year resolutions!  Yes!  Is that a thing?  It should totally be a thing!

Now that you’ve had some time to live through this new year, take the time to do your own evaluation.  What is working, what isn’t working?  Are you where you envisioned you’d be at this time in the year?  Are you doing what you thought you’d be doing, achieving what you had hoped to achieve?  If the answer is “no”, it’s really not too late.  Do you have new hopes, new goals, or do you need to tweek your old ones?  Maybe you just need a little reminder, a revival of the desire that made you set that goal in the first place; a little kick in the ass, perhaps?  Do you have any new resolutions or have you done well with the ones you set back in January?