Sunday Gratitude

Today I am grateful to clearly see the things that I need to work on.  I spent time with a life-long friend and choices were made (I will discuss more of that later)…suffice it to say that I ended feeling less than myself and I was faced with aspects of myself that I had long been trying to ignore.  I am grateful because, in spite of how much it hurt to hear these things, I am at the point where I am ready to accept these things about myself.

Today I am grateful for the unexpected.  We had a family pumpkin picking trip today and the weather was awful, I had a ton of cleaning to do, I was not feeling well from the day before, and my anxiety has been through the roof for the last few weeks.  We went to the pumpkin farm and just went with it.  We fed goats and chickens and ducks and saw rabbits and peacocks and peahens and pigs.  My kid got to play in muddy fields and we picked out pumpkins.  We came home and we watched football and napped.  It was worth it.  It was worth every second of not doing what I was “supposed” to be doing.  Breaking my routine today meant that I got to spend time with my family—almost my whole family—which we haven’t done in months.  Breaking my routine meant I got to see my kid cold, happy, laughing, and loving time with our family. 

Today I am grateful for signs.  I came home and I was looking at Instagram and I saw a post from Jennifer Pastiloff showing her home as real as it is.  In not so many words, she discussed how outward appearance is really not a good indicator of quality of life.  Things can look amazing and be as fake as it comes while they can appear to be a total disaster and still be filled with love, happiness, warmth, creativity, and adventure.  So I shared a post in homage to her—and she responded.  Reading her words today reminded me how ok it was to let go and just live.  There is more to be said for a life lived than a life that looks good. The picture with today’s post is as real as my life is today.

Today I am grateful for love.  Love that doesn’t look a damn thing like I ever thought it would.  My family and I, we are all so different, our relationships look different to each other, we experience our worlds differently—but we all love each other.  Wildly, completely, intensely.  We struggled and continue to struggle with communication at times but we are learning that it doesn’t mean we don’t love each other.  And just because it doesn’t look the same, I am grateful to know that I have this love in my life. 

Today I am grateful for rest.  It has been an intensely emotional few weeks, this last weekend especially, and my body is telling me to just give in and relax.  This is one of those times that pushing through will not work.  So I am listening and cashing in for the night.  I am going to read for a bit and I am going to sleep.     

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead!

Brain Fog

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I know we all go through periods where we simply aren’t connecting.  Not with people around us, communication feels stunted and difficult, getting through the day feels like running in a pool. I read a comment talking about the impact of trauma and the long term effects of pushing through and it mentioned that the brain “short circuits” and creates a sort of brain fog.  Our brain can not function under long term stress—even if it’s long term perceived stress.

I’ve noticed over the last few weeks I have STRUGGLED to get through the day.  Focus is out the window, emotions are heightened, sensitivity is on high, motivation is less than zero.  And then I read that article and it hit me: maybe I’m not lazy or overly sensitive—I’m just exhausted after enduring a long-term trauma.  And I’m exhausted from trying to cope with it.

My attention over the last few months has shifted from big ambitions and trying to please everyone to questioning why I am seeking approval and praise.  Seeking accolades and basing my worth on other people’s approval isn’t sustainable.  So I’ve been diving into doing the work, looking at how I got here, looking at where I want to go, and trying to close the distance by opening up to who I really am.

So through all of this, when you’re feeling foggy, when you’re feeling a little lost or you can’t think straight, pause. Connect.  Connect with yourself through your breath.  Connect with nature.  Anything to get you out of your head and into your body.  That connection will bring clarity and you can take the next right steps.  For now, I am honoring the exhaustion, I’m breathing deep, and I’m letting my mind slow down. It’s really challenging because I like to be productive—but I can’t live in a constant state of “doing” because I will always be looking for the next thing.  It’s better to pause and figure out what you really need than to keep pushing.  Being worn out and exhausted won’t get you any further than spinning circles—you may be moving but it’s not getting you anywhere.  So take the time to really listen and re-direct if needed.  Remember, you are not broken—your patterns are.  And those can be fixed with a little effort because the only reason the patterns are broken is because you are trying to cope in a broken system.  Keep going.       

Sunday Gratitude

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Today I am grateful to honor my limits.  I’ve been pushing in too many directions, expecting perfection, expecting that I can maintain the pace for as long as I needed to—and I can’t.  I am mourning to a degree because knowing that I can’t do all I had been trying to do means leaving it behind.  It means that those particular ideas I had will not come to pass.  It also means that I will be able to complete some things that I had been trying to do and that I will be able to do them well.  It means that I will be able to see what I am most aligned with and allow what needs to fall into place to come into my life.  So while I am sad, I am also relieved.  There are times when you need to give up something to make room for something else…it is the natural order. 

Speaking of the natural order of letting go…Today I am grateful for the gorgeous weather.  We were able to spend some time outside today and relish in the comfortable fall breeze, and see the trees changing color.  It was delicious and grounding and a nice reminder of the purpose and timing of change.

Today I am grateful to do some self-work.  I’ve been letting my mind spin a lot lately, leaping along with monkey mind rather than taking the time to guide my thoughts productively.  I’ve been straining, running, moving, being active rather than productive.  That energy hasn’t been serving myself or anyone else very well.  So I’m taking some time to settle, release, grieve what I need to, and take on what I need to in order to create the future I want.

Today I am grateful to share this journey.  I have always wanted to guide people and to help them strip away the nonsense we fill our lives with to get to the core of who they are.  It took me a long time to realize that it’s far easier to stand on the outside and tell people what to do than it is to turn that discernment on myself.  I never wanted to come across as pompous, arrogant, or preachy—but that happens.  I am grateful to peel back the layers and let people know that when I am sharing, it is not accusatory, it is from a place of experience.  Sharing my stories is an opportunity to share that connection with others, and we all need that.

Today I am grateful to spend time with my son and my husband—that will always be on the list whether shared or not 😊.  I do not take a single moment with my family for granted.  Having my son look at me and tell me he loves me, or having my husband look over and smile while singing a song he knows I love (or even if he just turns it up when it comes on) always makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world. 

Hoping you all had a wonderful weekend and that we start the week refreshed and with gratitude.     

Mental Health Day

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I kept my struggles with mental health quiet for many years.  There were literally a handful of people who knew what I dealt with and of that handful, no one knew the full extent of my issues.  I have struggled with anxiety and depression nearly my entire life and I always tried to push through it.  It was something that I thought I had to be strong enough to deal with on my own.

When I did seek help I was told by the first therapist I saw that my issues weren’t “that bad” because my scars were small.  This woman also told me that she needed a break and simply wanted to play games.  In my early twenties when I decided to try and get professional help again, I was immediately prescribed medication that was not right for me.  I stopped taking the medication and it would be nearly another decade before I sought help again.  The place I was referred to ended up being a clinic for people with addiction issues (which I did not have—they sent me there because that was the only location near me that offered any kind of assistance for mental health) and the physician sat with me for twenty minutes and immediately prescribed me medication for bipolar disorder–again, which I did not have.  He also took phone calls from other patients during my session.  I got off of that medication and I have not been back to a professional since.

Entering that environment, somewhere you are completely vulnerable and seeking guidance, with the idea that I needed to tough it on my own coupled with mental health professionals that were not right for me made it difficult to ever really admit that I had a problem to anyone.  I didn’t feel if someone professional could tell me what was wrong then I had no business talking about it.  Plus I carried the guilt of knowing other people struggled worse than I did. 

It took me until now, when I am nearly 40 years old, to understand that we have to be our own advocates because not everyone will be in our arena.  I also learned that it isn’t a competition about who “has it worse” when it comes to these struggles.  Different issues require different treatments but we are all in the same pool.  I read a quote that said something to the effect of you can drown in seven inches of water or twenty feet of water, you have still drowned so stop comparing. 

I have learned to celebrate how far I have come because it has been a long battle to keep myself upright on some days.  I commend and celebrate all the warriors trying to keep upright because the effort it takes to simply brush your teeth on some days can feel like the weight of the world.  Keep moving, as slowly and as gently as you need to.  Keep moving because there is always another day.  Keep moving because you are inherently worthy.  Keep moving because this world needs you.       

What Comes Next

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What steps do we take once we make the decision to take charge of our lives?  Push past discomfort.  Connect.  Listen.  Act.  Start questioning what I really need.  For example, I have a difficult time relating with some people because I know I am being performative and looking for approval.  I want to be liked.  But as I’m moving forward with my life, I know this isn’t a realistic expectation—not everyone will like me.  This is an unhealthy habit that no longer serves.

I am also questioning if I have to look a certain way to accomplish something.  Does it need to look a certain way to accomplish the goal?  I know that is relative to what you are doing—I mean, there are certain steps to putting out a fire or to solving equations.  But I don’t need to wear a certain outfit to be a CEO.  The result is still meaningful even if it doesn’t look how I thought it would.  I’ve said it before that something can look like a million bucks and not function for shit.  Appearance means so little in the grand scheme of things but we are trained to judge instantly because we have to recognize danger. 

I mentioned in a previous article that people have always thought I was too much.  The truth is some people confuse passion with crazy and I am an extremely passionate person.  I care that people wake up and live their purpose.  That we do better.  Live better.  Be better.  It’s scary to be raw and to see what we really need because we are trained to want it all and that, to be worthy, we need it all.  The truth is I am happy and it is ok to be happy—because happy is a decision.  What I fill my life with is also a decision. Knowing and understanding that people will not change is a decision.  You can accept them as they are and not as you want them to be.  But we can decide what our lives look like.

I wrote a small note about giving up the need for acceptance after realizing that the direction I’m shifting is starting to take shape:  I’m done with external accolades.  I don’t care if they write, “She was a hard worker” on my grave.  I’d rather see, “She loved hard, fought hard, thought hard, lived easily, laughed easily, and gave life to those around her.”  Who actually gives a fuck how many hours I worked?  That’s a dime in your bottom line, not mine.  That’s a machine I didn’t build.  You see it crumbling around you, disintegrating at your feet like sand carried out by the waves.  You cling, hoping it will come back, that it will be what it used to be.  Me.  I’m riding the wave, going out to sea.  I may get pulled under but I always come up for air.  You try to nail your life in the sand.  I build ships to carry me where I belong.         

Be Who You Are

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“Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be.  The measure of a person is how well they succeed at being who they are.” Endgame.  This stopped me in my tracks and nearly brought me to tears.  Watching a simple movie with my husband, one that I have seen before no less, reminded me of how simple this life is: accept who you are and be that.  Don’t let the outside noise influence our paths. 

I am guilty of complicating things nearly every day.  The habits are so well engrained that I fail to notice when the habits I’m working to eliminate rear themselves.  Slowly the habits we were so aware of begin to show themselves.  All we can do is remind ourselves to be present and bring our attention to what we want to be rather than what we have been trained to be.

So ask yourself if what you’re doing is getting you closer to your goal or if it is fulfilling what you’ve been told to do.  It’s as simple and as complex as that.  Being open enough to accept who you are is a lot of work but it always brings you where you need to be.  Acceptance always shows you your path.  Start small, but do it every day.  Every day remind yourself of your presence and take your space.  Learn to say yes when you want to and no when you want to. Treat this life as a gift and make of it what you will. 

Sunday Gratitude

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Today I am grateful for deep connection.  I had an experience today watching a movie with my family that shot straight to my core.  It a very short instant I realized the amount of distraction we have forced upon ourselves, the busyness we have instilled as the norm, and I started questioning the quality of the time we have on this earth.  There comes a point where quantity is meaningless if there is no quality.  Watching the movie today I realized that I am still in the throes of distraction—and I need more moments of connection.

Today I am grateful for the reminder that I can always redirect.  No matter how distracted, no matter  how involved I am in something, when the feeling hits that it isn’t serving, then I love knowing that I can change my focus.  After watching the movie, I realized how much work remains to be done on fear and how deeply rooted my fears are.  They are grounded firmly in loss and in other people’s perception of me.  But I realized that what matters is being here, being present and taking the time I have with my family.

Today I am grateful for some time to also connect with my creativity.  I’m narrowing my focus and beginning to shape and co-create the life I want.  I spent a lot of time reliving the past and projecting about the future—but none of that got me where I wanted to be and it made me tense, sick, and exhausted.  Stepping out of the monkey-mind and working on things that bring me joy simply for the sake of doing them helps level out the mind. 

Today I am grateful (and proud) to have taken more steps toward my goals.  I purchased some equipment for my business this weekend.  I’ve been working on this for over a year now and there are days I am so tired that I feel like I can’t take another step.  But I have learned that even if I am tired, even if I don’t take that step in the moment, I can still take the step when I am rested and ready and it is still progress.

Today I am grateful for new insight to old knowledge.  I have never hid the fact that I am a perfectionist or that I have control issues.  Today I was able to see how those traits truly were holding me back and I understood that the control issues wouldn’t exist (or they would be minimized) if I were better at prioritizing.  I know I take on too much, perhaps with a bit of over-confidence, but they are things that I know I am capable of doing.  I fall into the trap of distraction WAY too easily and then I get overwhelmed with how much I took on.  This is a fixable pattern.  I used to have the victim mentality that people didn’t believe in me.  I see that I put too much weight on my shoulders to do any of it well.

Today I am grateful for rest.  I feel content and ready to close my eyes tonight, knowing that I did enough.  Knowing that I did my best.  Knowing that whatever tomorrow brings, right now is all that matters.  I can watch my son sleep peacefully and know that I am so lucky to have him in my life.  I can see my husband resting and know that we are in this together.  I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I have survived everything behind me and that anything in front of me is just speculation until I get there.  For right now, all is well. 

It’s Personal

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I’ve avoided a political discussion/post for a while because, in truth, I am no expert and I know how easily messages are misconstrued.  Emotions are heavy on all sides and I usually believe in a middle ground.  I believe in that now, as well, however, I feel we are at a point that this issue, the issue of our humanity is at stake.  There is no middle ground when it comes to our humanity.  Over and over again we have been exposed to people degrading and demeaning what it means to be human if you don’t fit into some arbitrary, and quite frankly, irrelevant parameter. 

A couple of things happened today. I was involved in a discussion that quickly turned south because I positioned myself on the fact that everyone has a right to access basic necessities.  It was as simple as that.  This individual stated, “Veterans choose to be homeless.”  My jaw hit the floor and I quoted statistics based on healthcare (as that is our field) which state veterans on average need to wait six months to access healthcare.  Veterans have a typically higher statistic of mental health issues so if you have someone who is predisposed to a condition and then force them to wait an additional six months for assistance, it stands their mental state may deteriorate further and inhibit them making healthy decisions for themselves.  They may no longer have the capacity to obtain help.

I quoted the statistic that one in eight Americans go hungry and this person said, “Where are they?”  It was at this point I realized the level of entitlement I was dealing with.  Simply because you can’t see it, it means it doesn’t exist?  Does that mean you don’t breathe oxygen?  I told her the hospital we work at now incorporated questions about food security, meaning that in our area we have people who aren’t able to get enough to eat and/or they don’t have access to food.  We see it every day and she couldn’t acknowledge the issue existed.    

This individual acknowledged that their time is spent at work and at home to which I replied, “There’s your problem.”  People, the world is big and simply because someone has an issue you don’t, it doesn’t negate that it exists.  If you don’t take the time to become aware of what occurs outside your bubble you are shutting out 99.999999% of the population.  That is a choice and that is ignorance.  The fact that you can choose to ignore other people’s issues because you don’t share that experience is privilege. 

The last issue that occurred today was I saw the same post four times from four different people stating, “I don’t care who you vote for, it’s about how you treat those voting differently than you.”  Huge issue with this on so many levels.  First of all, language choice is huge in this statement.  This statement professes an ability to see past different views and to treat each other with respect regardless of any differing opinions.  YET….these are the same people who condemn others for demanding respect, equality, and basic human rights.  The second issue with the above statement is that, in this election in particular, it isn’t just a voting issue.  It’s a human rights issue.  It’s an existence issue.  You can’t pretend 98% of the population doesn’t exist because you don’t see that world.  If you think your opinion is worthy of being defended over the lives of others, I heartily say fuck you.  Who you support in this election speaks to the core of who we are and our humanity.  This is beyond policy—although that is absolutely at stake as well—this is about life.  We are worth more than ANY bottom line.  More than someone’s tantrum because their fear of how other people live.  More than anyone’s ego.  Wake up. Stand up.