Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: life lessons

Pick a Fear! Any Fear!

sergi-viladesau-dttmeqFUDSU-unsplash

Photo by Sergi Viladesau on Unsplash

A magician playing the game of “guess my card” is what I think of when I think to work on my fears.

I know. Everyone faces fear at some point in their lives. Some of us live with it daily. What mine? Ridiculous, to be completely honest. Generally, my mind is filled with “What if?” questions that can never be answered. The ones that everyone tells everyone else to ignore. I try to put them out of my head and live in the moment I’m in, but they creep back in again, along with wondering what would happen if we all paid a little more attention to the potential consequences of our actions instead. Wouldn’t it make the world just a little nicer? I mean, if other people paid more attention to what they were doing and how it could affect the people around them, maybe I wouldn’t have so much to worry about, damn it!

Sometimes I worry about the bigger things. Things like, am I raising my kids to be civilized and responsible adults? Will they grow up and be independent, decent people? If I make the choice to buy a new car, will I be able to afford it a year from now? Can I juggle my relationships in a way that makes us all happier and healthier people, or am I ruining the lives of those around me?

Then there are the silly things that I get stuck on. If I go to the grocery store today, will I just have to go again tomorrow? What if I start buying more things online? Am I bothering the person driving behind me with my slow-ass VW? Should I call my friend and bother her or let her come to me if she needs help? Should I stay or should I go now? …starts singing in her head…

It becomes overwhelming at times, but it passes pretty quickly. I’ve learned to take a break when I begin to feel the creeping sensation of anxiety. I sit alone and meditate or go for a long walk to clear my head. Talking about it helps too. Walking and spilling out all the bullshit ideas to someone who won’t take any of it too seriously and won’t tell me that I overthink things helps me more than anything else.

I can’t just shove it all aside and ignore it or quietly allow all the negativity to release into thin air. It’s just not helpful to me. Those things eventually float back down and attach themselves to my psyche like I’m a magnet for my ugliest thoughts. Not until I voice them do they begin to dissipate and dissolve. In my head and unspoken, they swirl around and build on each other like a snowball rolling downhill. Voiced into the world, these crappy ideas just can’t hold their shape and are crushed by the positive reality around them, vanquished.

So what can I do to create a safe space to release this negative energy without destroying those around me and ruining any sense of peace in my relationships? Two things. The first is to write it out. I type it out in my journal or open up a notebook and get a pen. Pen and paper is my preferred method. I draw pictures, spell out elaborate curse words in bold letters, express all the things I want to say to everyone I want to say it to in the worst ways, without regard for anyone’s feelings or well-being. These paper journals may terrify someone some day. I have plans to put them in a box with an explanation on the lid, so that if I die suddenly, no one will come across that ugliness and wonder what went wrong. This therapeutic writing helps a lot, most of the time. But sometimes I need more.

My second, and most favored, form of release is to walk and talk with a safe person. That’s usually my sweet husband. When I’m walking and talking the words and ideas aren’t nearly as harsh as when I write them. Something about the physical exertion helps tame them. I talk out all the things that weigh on me and he listens and walks beside me. Rarely does he try to fix it for me or express concern for my sanity. He just listens. And I feel lighter at every step. It feels much like a miracle. By the time we get back, my mood has improved, nothing seems so terrible and impossible anymore. We get a drink of water, relax into the couch or porch chairs, rest up a bit, and then continue with our day in peace.

How do you deal with fear? Do you release it into the wild? Suppress it? Reason it away? Or do you give into it and decide fear is there to warn you of danger and avoid what it is your fear most?

Personal Narratives Can Change

liana-mikah-ziWMqRTdGXc-unsplash

Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

We all have stories about how things are supposed to work out. We get them from our parents, our extended family, friends, education, entertainment, everywhere. The trouble is, they aren’t always true, or at least they aren’t true for everyone. What happens when we run into a reality that conflicts with our established narratives? Motion sickness.

I’ve always been very susceptible to motion sickness. I was the kid in the back seat of the VW bug complaining that it was too hot and turning green on the way to the grocery store. I was the one that had to sit in the front seat with the AC on in my face. I’m the one using every trick in the book, from deep breathing to focusing intently on the road ahead, to keep from having to pull over and rest on the way to anything. And not just on mountain roads! I can get sick just driving down the freeway if someone asks me to look at the map!

Motion sickness is said to be caused by a conflict between your eyes and your ears. Your eyes tell your brain that you are still, but your inner ear says that you are moving. Conflicting information causes your body to rebel and become nauseous. I’m not sure what evolutionary help this is, but it does cause someone like me to reflect on the bigger picture.

As we grow we all create these personal narratives. They make it easier and more streamlined to deal with all of life. This works like this. He acts like this. This relationship works this way. We don’t need to think about those things as much. We put them in the back of our head and work on the new things.

But what if the story we’ve built in our heads about how things are supposed to go doesn’t match the reality of the situation we are currently in? Anxiety, anger, depression, that nauseous feeling that something is horribly wrong!

Just like when I start to get motion sickness, it’s time to focus on the reality and take some deep breaths because things are about to change. It’s what I have learned to call a “growth point,” the place in my life that I learn something new, my world is about it become bigger. It can be so scary though. What if reality isn’t nearly as good as my fantasy? Then again…how can one live in a fantasy permanently? Life, no matter how complicated, is much easier to deal with when we accept the reality, or at least as close as we can come to it.

Change is unavoidable. How we deal with those changes is what makes the difference in our lives.

Do we hold on to what we believed to be true and ignore reality? Do we get angry and blame the people around us for letting us down? Do we walk away from situations, people, environments when they fail to meet our expectations? It doesn’t seem very productive. If we keep searching for the world that matches our narratives as we know them, we may never find it. We may just keep walking away from the very people and places that are offering us the opportunity to grow into something better.

What else can I do? I could stop, take a deep breath, and make some space for my feelings first. Things are changing, something is different. What is it and how can I see it more clearly? I could ask some questions. Is this person or situation failing me, deliberately hurting me, or causing me some kind of trouble? Or are they only doing what they have always done, doing what’s best for them at the moment? Will it really hurt me? Is it really wrong? Looking at the situation or person with an open heart helps. I want to understand.

What seems to help is talking to a special someone, someone that is as open to change as I am, someone that has no stake in the game. That person is hard to find and changes according to the situation. I’m not really looking for advice what I talk. I’m only looking for feedback, someone that will ask questions from a different point of view and is willing to go down some crazy rabbit holes with me. Talking to the wrong person can make my situation infinitely worse. I’ve learned to be very selective.

When I lack another human to speak with, I write. And I write a lot. I write whatever comes to mind, even the meanest and nastiest thoughts. Writing out the hurt and the angry words, the words sparked by fear and mistrust, seems to release them into the void and make space for clearer thinking. Once my narrative is out on paper alongside of the potential for change, I feel like I can think more logically. I come back to that same writing the next day and walk away feeling stronger and ready to embrace change, only to come screaming back to scrawl on the walls of my paper cave over and over again.

I talk to myself on the pages. I fight and scold and lecture, I listen and give myself feedback. Lord, I hope no one reads that stuff some day and has me committed! Some of it strongly resembles the raving of a very sick person. But maybe that’s the reality of it. At moment, I am sick. What my eyes see and what my inner ear feels doesn’t match, and my mind is reacting violently. But I know from experience, the feeling is only temporary. Focus and adjust, take a rest from the effort, and try again. It’s the only way to grow.

Eyesight

20190629_200432.jpg

I didn’t know I was having vision problems until the DMV pointed it out to me. A pair of glasses fixed it.

Driving at night was becoming a problem for me. I wasn’t sure if it was the desert darkness on the highway late at night, worn out from long rehearsals, or just the fact that I was getting older, but it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to see at night. The glare of the headlights coming in my direction made it impossible for me to focus. My sons would keep an eye out on the road for people walking along the highway at night. Why people would choose to do that, I will never understand. For self-preservation alone, why do they not carry a flashlight or have something reflective on?

I continued to make the drive, carefully, only because I didn’t need to read the signs to know where to go between the theater and home, but I was starting to limit my excursions to daytime activities. Driving in unfamiliar places in the dark was becoming impossible. This must be part of getting older, I thought, although I would never have admitted it out loud.

As my 40th birthday approached, I found a driver’s license renewal from the DMV in my mailbox. Opening it, I figured I was going to have to pay the fee and be done with it. I’ve never gotten a ticket or been in an accident. To my dismay, I found I’d have to go in for a vision test. No problem, I thought, at least I don’t have to take the test again. Don’t make fun of me, but I barely passed the written and behind-the-wheel test when I was 16! I live in mortal fear of the day I have to study and take it again.

I made an appointment at the DMV and headed into the city the following month. I covered one eye and read the letters on the board ahead of me, as instructed. No problem. When I covered the other eye, the world went blurry. I could only read the first and second line! The DMV employee had me read it off the computer. “Sometimes the computer screen is easier.” She told me. I still couldn’t read it.

It was the strangest feeling. I’ve never had vision problems. My mother always wore glasses and I used to tease her when I was a teenager. Coming home in the middle of the night, knowing she couldn’t see the clock without her glasses, I’d tell her it was only 10:30 when she would groggily ask from her bed when we had woken her. My brother and I thought we were so clever.

I stood there at the DMV trying to focus on the letters to no avail. The DMV worker was so nice about it. She passed me but suggested that I get glasses right away. I made an appointment the next day. My vision was that bad. When I got my new glasses a few weeks later, I was absolutely amazed at how much better I could see. At night, the lights no longer fuzzed out and blinded me and during the day, I could see read the signs so much sooner.

Strange to think I hadn’t noticed my vision getting worse, that I believed I was seeing the world as I had always seen it. How could I have not noticed such a dramatic change?

That’s how we see life. The world around us is only our personal reality, shaped by time and experience that only we can have. No one else sees it just the way you do. It builds up slowly, day after day, experience after experience. And at any moment, something can come along to change that perception, someone can alter your perspective with a word. One experience can show you that you are missing something, and another can offer you new insight. Your whole world changes.

I could have stood there and argued with the DMV worker. There must be something wrong with your machine! Maybe there was something in my eye, I was tired, or it was allergies. I could have stood there holding tightly to my own perception of reality and never gotten any help. I could have continued to squint into the night and cause an accident or gone through life not knowing that there were trees on the top of that hill.

Hold lightly to your perceived reality, it makes it so much easier to change. There is so much we miss by holding on to the past and what we believe to be true, never changing.

Change or Stay Miserable, Your Choice

I keep finding this over and over again; in books, on TV, in articles and social media posts.

“If you want things to be different, you’re going to have to change things. You’ll have to do some work.”

Over the years, conversations with friends have spun around the same subject. Over coffee I hear a friend talk about how frustrating her situation is. Over lunch I hear another friend complain about his life. On the internet, friend after friend posting about how they feel stuck.

Translation: “How do I keep doing the same thing, not make any effort or take any chances, and get better results?” The answer, of course, is that you can’t. You will need to change. You’ll either have to change what you’re doing, change how you think about something, or change where you are. You cannot remain the same, put no effort into growth, and become more than you were yesterday.

The whole thing reminds me of that commercial for the yellow pages. “If I advertised in the yellow pages, people might come to my amusement park.” We might look at our situation and think we want to change it but do nothing instead. We don’t take responsibility, the right to change things. Instead we wallow in our life and complain how complicated it is and how unhappy we are. Maybe because it’s easier or less scary than changing.

I’m not saying I have everything under control, no one ever does, but I have learned to be a lot happier over the last twenty years. I’d also say the last five years have been my biggest and fastest growing years, and I don’t mean my waist size, although I really should work on that. I’ve had some major ah-ha moments that have really changed how I see things and how I react to things.

It all started with meditation. I’d been mocking it for years when people had suggested it. I laughed out loud when my doctor suggested it to help me while I transitioned off of anti-anxiety medication. I’m not sure how long I heard the suggestion but at one point, about five years ago, I saw an ad for CALM for seventh time in a row that morning and decided to give their free trial a chance. It changed me. Something about the way they described practice just clicked for me. I’ve been keeping a morning meditation practice ever since. I do hope to spend more consistent time in practice, but I do what I can for now.

You’re going to laugh but almost all “self-help” books are great for me. I try to read a few every year. Books like “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Boundaries” were great, as well as “Depression is a Choice” and “I Don’t Have to Make Everything Better.”

Right now, I’m reading “Warrior Goddess Training.” There’s so much there I already know but it helps me immensely to read these affirming words again and see how much I’ve already internalized and how much I still need to keep consciously working.

This morning there was a bit in the book that took hold of me and I can’t stop thinking about it. It was about the difference between “linear” and “cyclical” living. Linear living would be thinking that if you work through life just right, you’ll get great results, you’ll always be happy, and everything will go well. But we all know that isn’t true. You can make all the “right” decisions and still find yourself dealing with a crisis you don’t think you can handle.

Cyclical living is understanding and accepting that good times come and go through no fault of your own. Some days we’re happy and that’s great, but some days we’re depressed or angry and that’s ok too. It will all pass by and cycle around. Life and death, happiness and sadness, night and day, it’s all part of the cycle. We’ll be young. We’ll grow old. We’ll have kids and care for them. They’ll care for us. Love it all.

I want to create a reminder for myself that “This too shall pass.” Remembering that will help me to love the good times because they are short and the bad times for the same reason. I haven’t made my life better by making the “right” choices, feeding my kids the right food, or training my husband to do what I think is best. I’ve made my life happier by changing my outlook and seeing where I can effectively do something and where I can be lovingly accepting of the situation as it is.

A Spiritual Awakening May Make You Feel a Tad Crazy

It’s 10:15AM now. Here I am dutifully writing my morning piece, wondering what in the world I can write about that has any meaning at all. I think I need another cup of coffee and my notes. BRB.

Spiritual Awakening Meme from Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/SassyMantras/

I’m back and THIS is what I want to write about today! Funny side note, the “Alt Text” on this photo was “person holding a sign.” How funny is that?

I saw this in my Facebook feed this morning and thought, “Oh shit! Yes! That’s it exactly!”

What would you define as a “spiritual awakening”?

I liked the first meaning that came up when I googled it. “An Awakening is when the confused and frightened self transcends to a higher consciousness, an awareness full of love and peace.” Hmm…maybe years after the awakening has happened and I’ve recovered from its effects!

Here’s a great article on Spiritual Awakening by LonerWolf!

Every time I’ve felt led to a change in my lifestyle, I’m always hit by a wave of fear and stress. It’s like my current practice is a physical part of my body and must be forcibly torn loose before I can adopt a new, possibly better practice. No matter if it’s a spiritual, emotional, physical, or cultural awareness change, from my experience, it is going to cause some stress fractures somewhere, but it will heal stronger than it was once it’s over. That’s what I keep reminding myself.

Initially though, as the awareness of a change in thinking comes to me, I am laying there in the fetal position wondering if I have actually lost my mind. Passions. Career. Marriage. Children. Parenting. Education. Religion. Politics. Relationship. These are only a few of the choices we make every day of our lives. And each choice we make changes the trajectory of our lives. The best part is that we aren’t an unguided projectile.

When you throw a rock from a catapult, you have to decide where you want it to go and carefully calculate its trajectory. Once it leaves the bucket there is little that will change where that rock land. Its fate is sealed.

Human lives are more like a highly advanced space craft. We can leave the ground with one idea in mind, change course mid-flight, and end up where no one has gone before. But we do have to make the decision to change course. That’s where we start to question our sanity.

We can see the place we first decided to go. Others have been there before us. It’s settled and has a pre-determined place to land. Mid-flight we see something in the distance, beyond that original destination, and wonder what’s out there. We feel compelled to follow our desires and find out what that glimmer out there is. There are so many unknowns. We may not ever get there. And, even if we did, there’s no guarantee we’d want to be there or want to stay. “This is insanity!”, the safety-oriented part of you says.

You have the choice though. Go the way everyone else is and see if you can make it work for you. There’s no shame in that. There is a reason that traditional route is there. It’s safe. Most people are happy on it. You can also travel down the road less followed and find joy there. Or you can be the trailblazer that creates a new way.

Everyone has their place in this world. Find yours, even if you feel you may be a little crazy to start the journey. “All the best people are.” says Cheshire Cat.

My post, “Share the Love,” was another piece of my spiritual awakening journey. It was a moment that I realized my part in the social media chain of negativity and started trying to break it.

To Wisdom!

From Philosophy Now magazine, “Hegel on History” by Lawrence Evans

“As he famously writes, “the owl of Minerva flies only at dusk.” In other words, philosophy (or ‘wisdom’, hence his reference to the Roman goddess of wisdom) can only analyze history retrospectively, from the standpoint of the present.”

Hegel was speaking of philosophy, but I’m going to take it personally and apply it to personal wisdom.

“The owl of Minerva flies only at dusk.” Wisdom can only come at the end of events, not before or during. As the sun rises and makes its way across the sky, we’ll have to rely on our wits and keep working. But once the sun sets, the owl comes out to hunt.

What is “wisdom”? The dictionary says, the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. You can’t have wisdom without experience. You can borrow someone else’s wisdom though and, adding it to your own experience, have greater wisdom in the long run, but you’ll have to have some negative and positive experience to have real wisdom.

So, while I’m having one too many drinks with a friend over lunch and going a bit too far, and afterwards texting a bit too many of the conflicting thoughts that are running through my head in words that are not that clear, I’m making some serious mistakes that may cost me a friendship. Maybe some better laid out principles would have made this situation go more smoothly? Listening to the wisdom of another friend may have spared me. But here I am muddling through voluntarily on my own. The least I can do is watch for the owl.

What wisdom have I gained? I’d elucidate, but I’m afraid it’s far to personal. That’s a rarity for me. Why write about it here if I’m not going to tell you what I learned? Because everyone gains their own wisdom from their own experiences. The key is to know that you can learn instead of just getting up and falling down again.

Experiences are just that, experience. What I wish I could do better is have patience with myself and wait to react after I’ve taken some time from the experience. Instead of reacting right away while I and those that had the experience along side of me are still…recovering…maybe I could have some key phrases and responses that will give me time to process and then say something helpful.

Writing that down for next time, although, at this age you’d think I’d have already learned that and would remember. Some days I wish there was a smart phone app that listened to everything I said and knew where I was and with whom and would pop up with great reminders as a text from a friend. It would say things like, “Do not order another drink.” and “Remember what how she reacted last time?” or “Your mother doesn’t appreciate that kind of language.”

Well, here’s to experience and (hopefully) wisdom!

Down The Rabbit Hole

advice-alice-in-wonderland-quote-2-picture-quote-1

“The hardest advice to listen to is your own.

No one to blame when it all turns to shit, right?!

But then it’s worked before. And usually gets the best results because I know my own heart, strength, and situation, best.

But…being responsible for my own actions just sucks sometimes.

How do you guys like listening to me talk to myself?”

My morning Facebook post, one line at a time. The first line was the post. Each following line was a comment as I thought of them over the course of an hour. I typically don’t post things like this. They are cryptic. People don’t know the situation I’m talking about and usually think I’m talking about them…which reminds me of song…

I try to limit my personal posts to what’s happening at our house and what I find interesting. You know, posts about what the kids are going (which are fewer and fewer since they are becoming grown and on their own), awesome things I find in the yard or around town, and cool articles and podcasts. Things people would be interested in. Things that might bring my friends to know me better, as if we are interacting in person instead of online. But then I thought, why wouldn’t my friends be interested in what I’m thinking? And I’ve been thinking a lot lately! So here it is. Use it if you like.

I won’t go into the details of who and what. I’ll just say that he hurt me with his words, but I know he lashed out because he’s hurting too. I had a part in why he’s lashing out. Much like when one of my kids has been pushed to the limit and lashes out in anger, I want to help. He’s a friend, a fellow traveler. But I also know that people need their space when they are hurting. They also need to know someone loves them and is waiting to love them more, but they need to be alone in their feelings until they reach out for help.

He said his piece, probably in frustration and anger. I tried to express my feelings of interest and friendship better. And now I have to leave it at that.

If you love someone, set them free. Right? But, to tell you the truth, I’m not very good at that. I loath so much to be misunderstood or to be on someone’s shit list that I push to have my heart known and sometimes that comes off as desparate or fake.

I do love every one of my online friends. It’s why I have them there. And I’ll always be there for any friend that reaches out, regardless of how many years it’s been or what has happened between us.

A Piece of the Puzzle

Something I’ve learned recently is that we can’t and should not try to change people. We should accept them exactly as they are.

“Don’t be so negative/positive.”

“Smile more!”

“Don’t eat that!”

“You should spend more time meditating, exercising, getting into nature.”

“Socialize! It’s good for you.”

Accept that person as they are if you want to be around them. If you can’t, or just don’t want to, that’s fine too. Find someone else to hang out with.

Other side? If someone doesn’t want to be around you, accept it and move on. They aren’t bad people, you just don’t fit together. They are another piece of the puzzle that fit somewhere else in the same picture. We are all connected somehow and equally important just the way we are.

Page 2 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén