Sunday, May 21, 2017

Anxiety

What happens when things don't go the way you want them to?



That's what Anxiety is.

I used to say my biggest fear was the unknown. I had to be prepared. For everything. I wasn't the kid at the pool with a life vest, inflatable ring, goggles, flippers, and snorkel, but I did study so I was ready for the test, pack extra socks and undies when I went camping, and never ran out of shampoo before market day.

I still have to be prepared.

Now that I'm grown up and wading through the streams of life, I know that sometimes I'm going to hit deeper water and the current may sweep me along beyond my planned destination.

My over-planning cannot save me when life throws me a curveball. But I still try to control what I can control. I overthink things. Sometimes this is great, as preparatory, so I can change gears on the fly. Sometimes this causes me depression.

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Case in point: when my best friend stops talking to me, stops responding to anything. Not one like on a post on Facebook, not one snapchat message, not one text - for several days.  What if the little snippet I sent them, some little outpouring of love, was misinterpreted? What if they think I'm smothering them? What if they don't want to tell me, so they stop talking?

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It's happened before. Misinterpretations happen.

You know what else has happened before? They were having a really rough time.

So do I keep sending little encouraging notes, or do I back off and say a bunch of neutral apologetic things? If they don't talk to me, I'll never know.

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Meanwhile, I cry. I cry big ugly sobs and huge tears. They are GONE. I mourn them like they left me. I FEEL abandoned.

And most likely, they are just swamped with work.

Then I crash. I feel like an idiot. They never really left me. I'm so stupid.

I'm already depressed from the extremes my anxiety has taken, so feeling like an idiot can add to this depression. It's not an extreme depression, but it is a low place.

Abandonment makes me angry. Facing the fact that I am making myself look like an idiot for listening to these feelings makes me angry. I want to retaliate. Do something extreme. I want to treat myself to show the world that I don't need them. I want to eat rich, live rich, and soothe myself in illogical ways.

I need to stop myself and redirect myself to something positive, something I won't regret later.

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Unless my friend talks to me. THEN I know things are all okay. Only they can cheer me up.

I know that once we talk again, it will be like we never parted. This time of emptiness is a bump in the road. This isn't the first bump. It won't be the last. Yet, every time this happens I experience the same pain anew.

This time I did not sink so far into mourning. I guess that's progress?

This time I tried really hard to remember that it's probably their job, it's probably okay if I send small notes once a day, and that the time will come when they will talk to me again. And the hope is that it will be like we never parted.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Marvelous May - Choosing to see the good for Mental Health Month

May is always a good month for me. It's my anniversary month (15 years this year!), my birthday month (older than 15), Mother's Day, and a break from work at the end for Memorial Day.

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It's also Mental Health Month.

I love this inclusive infographic about self-care. Self-care is SOOO important.
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I'm trying to count my blessings every day this month by seeking out things that make me happy. Day one, my husband gave me a bookmark.


Day 2, he sent me two GIFs. (ha ha punny) One was a crystal and one was a watch because those are the gifts you traditionally and modernly receive on your 15th anniversary.

I'm determined to make May the best month, to live up to its reputation, but it's entirely all about my ATTITUDE and choosing to SEEK AND FIND THE GOOD.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

My Baby Turns 10

My youngest turned 10 years old this weekend. Now, 10 year old boys are still crude in their behavior and language and they don't quite 'get' the world around them. They see the top layers and nothing underneath. They should have a decent grasp on manners, but they forget in their rush to enjoy life how to use them. They laugh at jokes you didn't think they understood, and soon you realize that they don't completely. They still need hugs and reassurance because they still have fears, but they want more independence and a later bed time.

When I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, he couldn't decide. The available options for parties in this town were all done before he was 9; bowling, bouncing, laser tag, roller skating (not cool since 1st grade), and Bogey's fun center which isn't fully open due to cooler temperatures.

My husband suggested a movie. 2 hours of 10-year-old boys seated and mostly quiet?? Yes! So we met at the movie theater and paid for the earliest (and cheapest) show tickets. It cost a lot less than a party at one of those overused establishments.
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But you can't have birthday cake at the theater. So we took the boys over to the Mall food court and enjoyed the cupcakes there.  (Generic food court picture.)
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The boys asserted their independence by wandering into 2 stores on their own a few yards from our table. I think the store clerks had little heart attacks, but when I and another Mom showed up, they calmed down. Plus, in true 10 year-old fashion, they bought candy. It was more about buying candy with your friends in the Mall than learning a lesson about spending your birthday money unwisely on a 4 dollar bag of gummy bears. (One smaller than the one pictured.) That's a lesson for another day!
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Monday, March 27, 2017

No More Muffin Top

I pulled on a pair of jeans yesterday and thought it was just the jeans.

It wasn't until today when I pulled on a second pair that I believed it.

No more muffin top!
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This makes me really excited. I've watched the scale's numbers descend since December, but I hadn't really seen the results on my body until the jeans hugged my hips and laid nicely against my belly.

Diet and Exercise, people.

I've been making sure I have a balanced and healthy lunch, a breakfast that is filling but not sugary, and a dinner that includes a protein and a vegetable. Then I watch the snacks and treats closely.

Usually, I can do about 5 miles on the elliptical, but recently I began stopping after the first mile to do 10 burpees, then after the second to do about 6 more, but after mile 3 I hit that 'runner's high' where my legs don't burn and I just go. Then I stretch out and do some ab exercises.

If I don't have time for an elliptical workout, I do some HIIT exercises or make sure I get a few extra walks into my day.

Some days are harder than others to get in any exercise, and we all need rest days. I used to be guilty of eating poorly on rest days. One change I had to make was to stick to my 'work diet' on weekends as closely as possible. Otherwise I am way too tempted by sweets!

The point is, watch what you eat and get what exercise you can.

Think about it, plan for it, and do it. It feels great.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Physical Health - Say No to Fad Diets

As I age I find myself more concerned about my health. To prove this point, a small group of 3 women, two of which with children my exact age and one who is closer to my age, were standing behind me in church before the service began talking about their fad diets and how much they lost or wanted to lose and what health reasons they had for doing so. I thought to myself, "Is this going to be me in 20 more years when my children are may age now?" and I also thought, "Will I be this concerned about my body in 20 years?"

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The answer is No and Yes.

No, in 20 years, as long as I take care to educate and train myself, I won't be obsessed with fad diets and X-number-of-day programs. I don't believe those are healthy for you.Image result for fad diets not healthy
Image result for fad diets not healthy


Yes, I will be just as concerned about my physical health as I should be. I want to be here for another 20 years. I want to be healthy and active for another 20 years. I want young adults to look up to me the way I look up to them and ask, what's your secret?

I won't say that I tried every fad diet known to man.

There is no secret. It's that I eat right all the time, not for some X-Number-Of-Days and I take my vitamins, a multivitamin every day, not some drops you add to water for so many days, and I exercise in ways I find fun.

In 20 years I probably won't have this blog, but I hopefully will have my body. Healthy choices start now.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mental Health - Art of Shawn Coss

While May is the official Mental Health Month, I saw this post (a few months late) and had to share it.

I find art to be a beautiful and dramatic form of expressing feelings there are no words for. When it comes to mental health, art is a great way to share what's going on up there.

A friend shared this art on their facebook timeline, and perhaps you have seen it because it has 3.1million views, but Shawn Coss illustrated a few mental illnesses for Inktober and it speaks to people.
       
Every year thousands of artists get involved with Inktober, where for 31 days of October, you ink a drawing for each day.
I decided to go off the usual prompt and focus on mental illnesses and disorders.
Major Depressive Disorder

I'm sharing the depression one because it shows the fight it takes to just get up when you feel like you are being dragged down.

Bipolar Disorder

And also the bipolar one, because I have several friends who are afflicted with this.

Go HERE to see the rest. Go to his facebook page and follow him if you want to see more of his work.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Forgiveness

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I've known a piece of the puzzle was missing for a while.

When these words were spoken, they hit me in the heart. They even left me with an action step.

"Just as we exercise and eat well for the health of our body, we practice forgiveness for the health of our soul."
Three things I have to say.

1. Forgiving yourself is the first step to loving yourself and having happiness.Image result for forgiveness

Oh man. This one is tough. Not forgiving yourself is a surefire way to fall back into your old ways, your old hurts, your old habits. I've been dealing with a cycle of depression and pain, and while it is not clinically bad, at the heart of it is this inability to forgive myself for the hurt I caused myself and for the guilt. I chose to stay in a state of wallowing in heartache. I did not accept the truth. I chose to blame others for my feelings. That doesn't make any sense! And it doesn't solve any problems. The answer is Forgiveness.


2. Just as there are no levels of love, there are no levels of forgiveness. It's a sliding scale.

I have done research on the types of love. The problem all researchers get into is how to define and classify love. They break things down into 3-6 categories, then when two of them interact, they call that another form of love. It's all true and well and good, but just as the eyes can see variations in colors into the millions, so love feels and is different in variations outside of those combinations. There are more intense colors and more intense feelings of connectedness than can be classified.

3. You have to PRACTICE.

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Love in a marriage is hard to maintain. You have to work at it. That's because it is beyond the emotional highs that got you there. The love changes. It becomes something more comfortable and less exciting. Forgiveness requires that you practice it to do it. It is beyond the emotional lows that got you there. Forgiveness is more than the quick "I'm sorry" that slips out when you break someone's prized vase. It requires that you choose to actively not remember, yet still learn from it. It requires that you not hold something over another. You let it go. Don't hold grudges.

That being said, I find it easier to forgive others than myself. It's easier when the hurt you feel is caused by some small infraction.
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The same holds true for yourself.

Never are my students more mad than when they are mad at themselves. That disappointment shatters your world. The fact that you are less than you thought you were, when your self-esteem crumbles, it breaks you. But you have to forgive yourself. Sometimes that means talking to others that you were angry at. You might see the folly of your feelings.

So what's my action step?

Well, I need to stop blaming my feelings on a sweet, innocent person who has no idea that I am projecting my feelings onto them. See, I assume they would feel and react as I would if our roles were reversed. I admit that I would act terribly and feel some negative things. But without asking or talking to them, I'm left with speculation and assumption. That's foolish. People are all different. I might find it easier to forgive myself if I am absolved from my thoughts that this other person would react negatively to me.

Your action step is to Extend Forgiveness, not when you feel like it, or when you feel like they deserve it, or even wait until they ask for it. Extend it now!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Night to Shine

I've had a couple weeks of being down in the dumps. Many things conspire and unite to bring me down. It's a bad time of year. I find myself needing to work on the Spiritual leg of my wellness triangle in order to improve the emotional/mental leg. In order to support myself emotionally, I need my friends to help my soul find its center.

So, I reached out to a couple people for chit chat and I went to church, where I reconnect with my Spiritual center. I also volunteered at Night to Shine which was awesome. What a great way to forget about your troubles, help others, have fun, make new friends, and be awesome!

What I did:
Set up, with help, the sensory room. A Sensory room is a quiet(er) space with less light, noise, and lots of HUGE pillows and a few chairs or bouncy workout balls for people to get a break from the dancing and eating and push of people.

In my room there was a special guest: Hawkeye the therapy dog!
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Immediately after this event Hawkeye was featured in the local paper.

My picture during Night to Shine is not in the photo album, so you can't see me. The album does not come close to depicting all the fun that was had. My tutoring student went and his mother asked if they were going to do it again next year. I said they want to. It was an amazing event!

Then it was my parent's 40th wedding anniversary. 40 years, people! The hubby and I decided that we needed to take them out to a fancy place for early dinner and it had to be some place new. We picked the Hibachi grill here in town, called Tokyo. It's kinda like this:

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We prepped them, because they do not eat food like this, that they could order steak and chicken and it comes with one little shrimp. My father asked if he needed to bring his own fork. No, Dad, you don't have to eat with chopsticks.

My mother tried shrimp for the first time. It was seasoned with the sauce that they put on everything, but she tried it! I mean, she wouldn't even eat the soup made of chicken broth...

They didn't quite get the whole show, because we were seated to the side, and they refused to allow the man to fling zucchini into their mouths, but they got out of the house and had a little dinner and a show and they didn't hate it. That's a win. You need some wins in your 40 years of marriage, don't ya think??


Well, I must go now to do other things to keep my wellness triangle balanced.
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Physical: I have been consistently hitting 5.25 miles on the elliptical. If I go for a walk with the dog we go about 2.25 and he makes me jog sometimes. I still can't jog or run for more than a sprint. It hurts my knees and shins. But I am working on it.

Emotional/Mental: I will work on maintaining connections to friends. I will try to lift them up when they need me so that perhaps they will lift me up when I need them.

I also have been writing more and felt the desire to write more. This is a good thing. I've been keeping up on learning about building my author platform. It's time to begin to flesh out the framework.

I'm taking care of my pets. Let's face it, petting the cat or dog is soothing. And with the weather (winter here) being so mild, I've been able to walk the dog and get some extra physical health in.

Spiritual: It is high time I started highlighting or underlining scriptures in my ne Bible, transferring them from my old Bible. It's a good way to refresh what I know. Plus, the new Bible has study helps so I can learn more.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Prioritizing Relationships - Friendship is Work

We lost my husband's Grandmother suddenly this week. This is a rose from the floral arrangement on her casket. It's been a trying a depressing week, but it has also been a week to think about family and prioritizing relationships.

Who comes first in your life?

I feel the hierarchy is thus: 1. Family and Spouse, because they are family now that they are married to you, 2. Significant others who are not married to you, 3. Friends, the closer the higher.

You will notice that I left out God or a higher power that you believe in. This is because I am not wanting to address this in this post. It should not be overlooked, however. God or whatever higher power has an omnipresence, or is everywhere, so automatically, whether you address your deity of choice or not, they are there in every aspect of your life.

Back to the hierarchy..

Never was it more obvious than in the seating arrangements at the funeral. Closest family sits up front. I know for some people the closest family might only be close in blood relation and not emotionally, however, they sit closest whether they cry for the deceased or not. Extended family are next, grandchildren, cousins, etc. Then friends and others are at the back. Sometimes a friend is as close as family and they earn a spot in the front rows.
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Which got me thinking about friendship and how powerful it can be. You choose your friends. You don't choose your family. Friendship takes more work to stay close than family does. Family gets the front rows no matter what.

If you want to be able to call your friends family, then you have to spend time with them and be vulnerable with them. If you stop texting, calling, or hanging out together,  then you lose status with your friend. You move them back a row or two in the seating arrangement. You might even put someone new ahead of them in the seating arrangement. How awkward is it for an old friend to see a new friend come and sit in front of them because they believe they are closer to you? How could this new friend know you better? Your old friend feels slighted and dejected. It happens all the time in life. This is why friendship is work.
I encourage you to hold your friends close this week. Text them. Call them. Spend time with them. Listen to them. Do what they want to do. Give them a gift. Be a good friend back to them. Let them know you care and you value them. If you want them in your front row, work at making them as close as family.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

How are my 2017 Goals coming along?

It's time for a goals update!


Physical - I have been able to hit the 5 mile mark on the elliptical. This is huge for me. I am enjoying the smaller digit on the scale, too, but I know it's time to stop looking at the numbers there and start looking at muscle tone and clothing size numbers instead.

Mental/Emotional - I have really enjoyed talking with my best friend. I sometimes worry that I am monopolizing their time, but so far they haven't told me I'm annoying. I still struggle with my inferiority complex and some attention seeking, but I keep most of that to myself. It is not helpful.

Spiritual - It's hardest to remember to commune with your spiritual advisor when you are happy and busy. While things are not always peachy, I mean, my car is broken and I'm not enjoying driving the back-up vehicle, but I thank goodness I HAVE a backup vehicle, things mostly are trucking along. I'm involved in this Special Needs Prom. I'm involved in my church. I have reminders from people I love and respect to stay in tune with this important third leg of the wellness triangle.


I'm okay. There were some bumps in the financial road, but things are still okay. January is like that. Let's hope that the year stays on track.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New Year Reflection and Words on Budgeting

It's a few days into the new year, so I'm late in wishing everyone a Happy New Year. I usually do a resolutions post, and I have certainly been reviewing my goals and deciding what steps to take next in my life.

Most of the goals I had written for this year two years ago in my 5 year plan are still right on track. There are a couple surprises, though. Life is like that.

For example just yesterday my car broke, I was late to work, I'm fighting off an illness, and this freak storm took out one of our lamps and the screen door and a few more shingles off the roof.

Where was I? Oh, yes, goals.
I usually focus on all the areas of well-being when I make these kinds of plans. I like to be balanced. When things get off-balance, I am no longer healthy and happy.

The three parts to well-being are physical, emotional, and spiritual.

1. Physically, I always set some sort of health goal. 2016 was about health. All the goals I had about my body and those of my family were met. 2017 is going to be about exercise and staying healthy. While on break from work for the holidays it was easy to get a workout in. Now that I am back to work, I am fighting some days to get a workout. Things have happened that also have prevented me from doing one, like vehicular trouble so I don't get home until bedtime. This is an area where I have the tools and knowledge, I just need to use them.

2. Emotional/mental health for me is tied to social goals. Happiness is found in friendship, fun, and maintaining my hobbies. I have ideas for vacations or day trips written down as well as goals for writing, blogging, and editing.

3. Spiritual health for me comes from my religion. While I know my readers are diverse and I have diverse friends as far as spiritual matters are concerned, I do believe that no matter what you believe, time needs to be taken to contemplate life; to slow down and think. I really feel that these times of self-reflection are at the heart of great ideas, focus, and calming a raging storm, especially if you feel that storm is inside you.


Where do finances come into play? They certainly are stressful and affect all aspects of your life.

You have to find balance here, too. Making a budget and sticking to it increases your peace of mind. Not being stressed increases your physical health. Spiritually, you may decide to make a tithe or a donation to the charity of your choice.

Fixing things like broken lamps and faucets

(See the crack in the middle?)
certainly takes money and can set you back. This is why a budget is important. Pull up a spreadsheet and start typing categories, amounts, and dates into its little organized squares. Print a template and fill it in. Somehow take a look at your spending and income and figure it out. If you have a goal in mind, like a cruise (I wish), then figure it up and start saving towards it. Sure, pennies in a jar can work if you have plenty of them, but deciding on an amount to set aside every paycheck works faster.
If it seems money is disappearing faster than you can make it, a budget sheet will prove to you whether it really is or not. It may also help you make tough decisions.