Grateful for My Village

Few things are more devastating than plans gone awry but life happens.  The good news is if you are wise enough to learn from the challenges you face, you will come out a better person.  I try to use these experiences to positively add to my character and to be of assistance to others that are facing similar situations.  Doing this allows me to stray from feelings of anger and bitterness and instead express gratitude.  I know when you are pained or disappointed the last thing you’re thinking is to be grateful.  However, when the dust settles you will be able to identify the positives.  Here are some of my tips for overcoming.

Self reflection is key.  I try to take a step back and examine the role I played.  I also look for missteps like signs I may have ignored.  Taking responsibility for how my actions may have contributed to an outcome will assist me in not repeating the same mistake.  At the same time I want to avoid beating myself up.  This serves no real purpose.

Next I allow myself to be in my feelings.  Anger is okay.  Sadness is okay.  I just remind myself not to live in these feelings.  Acknowledge them, experience them, and then move on.  Never allow yourself to stay down for too long.

Now this is where my village comes in.  Talking to people you trust helps immensely.  I am grateful to have a small circle of people who I can depend on.  They always know what to say and what to offer.  For me it’s usually just a listening ear or another perspective.  The people who love you generally will not steer you wrong, at least not intentionally.

As my life changes in ways I could not have expected, I can not help but smile and feel joy when I think about the people that love me.  It is a beautiful thing to love and to feel love.  That love allows me to keep my smile throughout all things.

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How Journaling Saved My Life

Everyone needs an outlet. Sometimes life can get the best of you. The good news is you always have a choice in how you respond. Admitedly I haven’t always chosen the right response.  Fortunately I’m able to recognize my missteps and learn from them.  Self awareness is imperative in growth.  It is my hope that sharing my mistakes will prevent others from making those very same mistakes.

One of the most beneficial lessons I’ve learned is also the simplest.  Slow down.  That’s it.  For me, slowing down simply means not making major decisions when emotions are running high.  I have made the worst decisions when I was angry, sad, overly concerned, or depressed.  Taking a moment to live in the emotion helps.  I use the time to explore how I got to that emotion and if I should even be there.

Then there are my dark days.  They are not ominous as they sound.  My dark days are just an extension of me slowing down.  For me a dark day is a day of quiet.  It’s a day focused solely on meditation and prayer.  Dark days work miracles for my anxiety.  The thing is, with scheduling, dark days can sometimes be impossible.  That’s where journaling comes in.

Journaling is therapeutic.  It provides much needed release. It creates a record that can help in reaching self-awareness.  It can be done nearly anywhere.  It doesn’t have to take much time and best of all it doesn’t cost a thing.

The release I get from writing out my thoughts is priceless.  I started writing poetry at a young age.  Unfortunately I didn’t save my work.  I wrote to heal and would discard it afterwards.  I wish I hadn’t.  There’s so much value in written word.  I’m making a commitment to myself to stick to my writing and to save it.  I know in my case it will ultimately lead me to find peace during the darkest storms.  Perhaps journaling can do the same for you.

Patience is Golden

I have seen “never” evolve into “now” a time or two. It is an unexpected beauty to behold. What it has taught me is to stay in the game. Don’t give up.  What you need is almost always on the other side of giving up.  Just don’t give in to that feeling of defeat.  I am so grateful to have witnessed my patience pay off.

It is a process I have to apply to every aspect of my life on an ongoing basis.  Patience is needed for every goal set.  If you have the strength to get past those thoughts of “never” your reward will be worth all the effort.  We’ve all been there; stuck in a state of doubt.  Maybe you are thinking you will never reach your career goals or relationship goals.  If you believe you won’t, that belief will become your truth.

Instead of living in doubt, live in determination.  Exercise patience.  Couple it with perseverance and watch the blessings flow.  I make it a point to show gratitude even when things aren’t quite how I’d prefer them to be.  The result is overwhelmingly positive.  Today may not be my day but I remain grateful and patient.  Gratitude and patience bring me calm and peace.  When I shift my focus away from what’s not going well, the “never’s,” it allows me to change my perspective.  It allows me to see how things fall into place.

Just like that a “never” can turn into a “now” when it’s least expected.

Turbulence is not a Deterrent

On a recent flight, I had time to really think about my life experiences. I thought about how specific events have molded me. It was a short flight but long enough for me to dig deep in thought.

It was an evening flight on a commercial airline that was half full.  I felt as if I was alone on the flight.  It was just me, the night sky, clouds, and occasional flickers of light below.  It was quiet outside of the hum of the plane.  I was tired and happy to have the much needed moment of peace.

It wasn’t long before that peace was interrupted by startling turbulence.  It was the kind of turbulence that has you bracing yourself.  At any moment I expected to hear an announcement saying the worse or see the oxygen masks fall from above.  That didn’t happen.

Almost as quickly as it began, it ended.  For me it felt like a much needed reminder of how quickly things can change.  It can feel like the end of the world.  Then in an instance, you’re in paradise.  That’s where I am.  So many experiences felt meant to break me.  Yet here I am, not broken, not deterred, and very much looking forward to tomorrow.

That moment on the flight was a reminder of all the things I’ve been able to overcome by faith.  It was a reminder to smile through the turbulence.  Paradise is just ahead.

Let it Out, Let it Go

When it comes to regrets, I don’t have many. This is not because I am confident in all of my life choices. Rather it is because all of the choices, right or wrong, came with lessons. I value those lessons. Through them I learned about myself and others. So, yes my regrets are few. Though there is one that has stayed with me for many years.

As a teenager I had a friend who experienced a loss and learned about it while out in public.  Her reaction was heartbreaking.  She screamed, cried, fell to the floor.  In my inexperience I gave her the worst advice, “don’t.”  I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea for her to hold all that emotion in.  I don’t know if I was concerned by the eyes and reactions of strangers.  I do know that was the wrong advice.

Tragedy hits us all at one point in life.  I now know how harmful it is to hold feelings of pain.  You have to let it out.  In the experience I mentioned above I think I may have been concerned about appearances.  It was the wrong thought at the wrong time.  My focus should have been solely on comforting that friend.

These days I encourage people to let it all out.  It’s okay to express feelings other than joy.  It’s okay to do it publicly.  It’s okay to be down.  Just don’t stay down.  These days I encourage everyone, myself included, to let it out and let it go.  It does so much for the healing process.  It becomes more difficult to recover from tragedy when you aren’t able to properly mourn.

Let it out.

Let it go.

Live.

Spa Day at Home

This time of year, it becomes increasingly difficult to convince myself to leave the house. Even when the outcome is beneficial, like a stress relieving day at the spa or a much needed fitness class. I just can’t bring myself to do it. Sometimes getting out of the bed is challenging in itself; making leaving the house next to impossible.

I’m trying new things to combat the stress that comes with the changing seasons. One thing that seems to be working is giving myself activities to look forward to inside the house. Maybe it will raise my spirits enough to actually leave the house. Maybe not. At a minimum it gets me out the bed. That’s progress.

Spa days at home are life savers. I spend hours on scented baths, showers, exfoliation, clay masks, facial massage, moisturizing, manicures, and pedicures. When I’m done, I feel a little lighter, a little less stressed, a little more prepared for the outside world. It doesn’t have to be expensive.  It doesn’t have to take hours. Your only moment alone may be the shower. If so, use that time.   Also it doesn’t have to be expensive.  Whether you find products in a department store, drug store, or grocery store doesn’t matter.  What matters is taking out time for you.  Afterall, if you don’t take time out for you you’ll be less able to help others.

Self Care

Today’s trip to the doctor was like being dropped on my head.  There is nothing like having someone hold a mirror to your face and show you how much you have been lacking.  I knew but for whatever reason it wasn’t real until day.

I went for my back pain which has been an issue since I was rear ended in 2010. While I was waiting to be seen I noticed the scale in the hall.  I forgot about that part.  I don’t weigh myself at home.  I measure myself but I stay off the scale.  I knew the scale was going to reflect a number seemingly unhealthy for my height.  I was dreading it.  When it was my turn, I hadn’t quite decided if I would look.  Once I got on the scale, my breasts decided for me lol.  I couldn’t see past them to the number on the scale.  I contorted so I could see.  Then I tried to justify the number.  It can’t be right.  My movement could’ve threw it off.  Plus I was wearing shoes…and layers…

Then it was time for my vitals.  Anxiety hit again.  Would my blood pressure be elevated? Then I start thinking about strokes, heart attacks, medications.  By the time the doctor came in.  I had lost focus on my back and started thinking about everything else.

What was the outcome? Well the short version is, things that once came easy now have to be worked towards. Is that the answer I want? No. However, it is what it is.  If I want to be healthy I have to constantly work towards health. I have to work harder to combat family history.  I cannot neglect self care.

I already know some days will be harder than others.  I also know the payoff will be well worth it.