Mind, Photographs, Poetry from The Well

Swing the Sun

IMG_0010

You can’t fool me,

icy eyes (heart of glass),

I see your dry hair beneath the mist

I swim inside the hot blood funneling to your

brain and if I must

I will drag through clumps of snow

cased in ice —

I will swing the sun around

so you can crawl over baby

blades

of

grass —

 

Standard
Mind

Choices

Yesterday I had a powerful realization. It was one of those moments when a thought flutters down and settles into place and everything makes sense. Sometimes it feels like we learn and relearn the same lessons over and over. Where have all those magic moments of peace gone – the moments when everything felt right in the world? They come and go.

My magic moment yesterday was about having choices. The idea that everything in my life I have chosen. My job, my commute, my friends, the place I’m living, the outfits I’m wearing, the length of my hair, and the giant piece of cake I ate a few hours ago. It sounds silly, but I’m not sure that I have ever felt with such raw certainty that I am in fact steering my own life.

The past several months have been tough. I’ve had a bad bout of anxiety and I’m on the cusp of making several big changes. Being in an anxious state can really dull any real sense of power or control over your life. Also, I believe the more rigid your daily routine is, the harder it is to remember that you have the ability to choose. I could take a different route to work. I could have scrambled eggs for breakfast for a change.

I could even CHOOSE to relax, instead of worry! It sure is hard to relax. But I am choosing to try. I just read Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life – a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. While I could write a whole book about my reactions to her book (heh), I think the part that stuck with me most is an exercise called “Letting Go.” When I read it, holding the book in my hands, dead tired after a long day, I realized how freaking tense my body and mind were, while believing that I had been relaxing before bed.

While it’s not as simple as deciding: I choose to banish my anxiety forever! Be gone, cursed feelings of doom and paranoia! maybe it can be as simple as focusing on smaller decisions, such as: I choose to relax my muscles and mind tonight, and sink into bed and let go.

Here’s an excerpt from the exercise. Maybe it will help you relax, too! I’ll let you choose whether or not to read Louise Hay’s book. 🙂

“As you read this, take a deep breath and, as you exhale, allow all the tension to leave your body. Let your scalp and your forehead and your face relax. Your head does not need to be tense in order for you to read. Let your tongue and your throat and your shoulders relax. You can hold a book with relaxed arms and hands. Do that now. Let your back and your abdomen and your pelvis relax. Let your breathing be at peace as you relax your legs and feet.

Is there a big change in your body since you began the previous paragraph? Notice how much you hold on. If you are doing it with your body, you are doing it with your mind.”

Image

Standard

If we want a joyous life, we must think joyous thoughts. If we want a prosperous life, we must think prosperous thoughts. If we want a loving life, we must think loving thoughts. Whatever we send out mentally or verbally will come back to us in like form. –Louise Hay

Some Tuesday inspiration!

Mind

If we want a joyous life . . .

Image
Mind

What I’ve learned (so far) from saying no and trying to be assertive

Whether or not it’s true, I like to think that I am becoming more assertive. I know it’s only been one week since I started taking anxiety medication, but I swear my badass factor has already ticked up several notches.

I’m learning to see patterns in my behavior that are the manifestation of my people-pleasing mentality. Things such as saying yes when my mind and body are howling nooooooo, letting people drain me of time and energy, and not spending enough time doing what’s important to me.

Image

Decisions that made me miserable (or rather, make me – because this journey is not nearly over!) were motivated by fear. Fear of being judged negatively is a big, sort of all-encompassing one; more specifically, fear of being seen as not nice, selfish, or stupid. Fear of losing friends is another. Fear of being the person who “caused” a problem or conflict, or worse – me being the problem itself!

I’ve spent a lot of life unwilling to accept that things could possibly be the fault of other people or factors that have nothing to do with me, and nothing to do with how “good” or “bad” of a person I am.

As a result, I have had, like many other passive sensitive people, an unfortunate tendency to attract narcissistic and downright irritating people into my life. More generally, I’ve tended to let things go rather than confront anyone after I’ve been offended or hurt. In fact, my conflict style is really easy to explain: I generally don’t get in conflicts at all! Because I keep quiet about how I feel!

Through noticing habits of mine that allow people to shape the way I spend my time or energy, I’ve started to make some progress in maintaining stronger boundaries and sticking up for myself. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. The worst part about saying no is the dread you feel before you say no. Then you’ve said it and the ball’s in their field, and you feel better for making a choice that was good for you.

2. No one hates you when you ask them to be more considerate, or turn down their offers, or ask to reschedule things now and then. People understand, and doing what’s best for you only makes you a more desirable person.*

*People who DO decide they hate you or “punish” you with the cold shoulder or other passive aggressive behavior should raise red flags. One explanation of these types of people is that they’re emotionally stunted. This is something for another blog post. . .

3. The more time you devote to doing what you actually WANT to do or enjoy doing, the happier you’ll be.

4. When you decide to dictate more of your own schedule and preserve your time for things and people that matter, it becomes a lot clearer who really does matter, and who helps you enjoy a better quality life.

5. Finally, it becomes easier to see that it isn’t worth much to quantify parts of your life. You will think less along the lines of: I managed to see three friends this week, and get to the gym four times, and eat a home cooked meal three nights, etc. You can be happy whether you see five friends in a week or none, or whether you go for a run every day or every other day.

What matters is doing what you want to do when you want to do it. If that’s spending two hours every day alone reading, and it makes you happy, then that’s what you should do.

Within reason, of course. I understand there are things in life we just have to put up with. Ahem, like jobs. And sometimes commutes. And distant relatives. These are long-term problems to work out.

But we have a lot of power over little things. Life’s made up of little things. I’ve learned that taking the reins over the day-to-day stuff, the little stuff, makes you feel bigger – a badass, if you will.

 

Standard
Mind

Morning Order

Morning coffee has been replaced with morning green tea. On this quest to quell my anxiety, cutting back on caffeine has been a big and solemn step.

For so many years: wake up, bathroom, straight to the kitchen, get the drip drip of the coffee pot going and breathe in the life-stirring aroma. Ponder every few days just how much of an addict I am. Decide it doesn’t matter. Pour first cup of coffee. Return to bedroom with steaming cup.

The past couple weeks: wake up, bathroom, set tea kettle on high, wait, drink a glass of warm water, open packet of tea, stare out the window, wonder how on Earth I slept so long, pour cup of tea, return to bedroom. Wait a minute before pulling out tea bag and sitting down to read/write/whatever.

The tea switch has been awkward, as many changes in routine can be.

This switch and the addition of Zoloft and Klonopin (plus a few supplements such as L-Tyrosine and B vitamins) have helped me sleep well again. For a while I couldn’t sleep in anymore; in fact, I was waking up before my alarm on weekdays too.

The past two days for the first time, I didn’t wake up with my heart racing. I didn’t go to sleep with my heart racing.

I had resisted doctors’ suggestions that I take medication for anxiety over the past couple of years. Resolving to do everything I could to lessen it seemed easy enough, and I already was (and still am) mindful of eating well and exercising, as well as trying to listen to my spiritual demands.

One day, things were no longer manageable. In fact, I seemed to be losing my mind. Every day was like walking through thick fog trying to navigate and understand what to do and say, plus managing dread of when the next panic attack would be – fighting against that sinking feeling in my stomach, the moment when the blood seemed to drain from my head and my eyes glazed over…

It was easy to take an anti-medication stance until I couldn’t function in driving to work safely, getting through the day, and getting home.

The next step is finding a therapist who isn’t too irritating or low in intelligence to help me work through whatever triggered the onset of panic and increase in anxiety. I’m hopeful.

This is merely a skeleton of my recent experience with anxiety-related problems and changes.

A second cup of green tea doesn’t quite match the ecstasy of gliding downstairs for a second cup of coffee. It’s just not as fun getting a refill of a drink you aren’t emotionally and physiologically addicted to.

But I can handle it.

Standard
Mind

Nightmares DO come true!

This morning one of my nightmares came true. I cried in the office of a superior at work, and was possibly witnessed sobbing and swaying by a few coworkers.

The situation aroused my:
-fear of negative judgment;
-fear of appearing weak or incompetent;
-fear of speaking to colleagues whom I don’t know very well;
-fear of asking for time off;
-fear of losing control … (you get the idea)

I arrived 30 minutes late to work after having a panic attack on the highway. After pulling off the road twice to calm down and evaluate whether I’d be okay to 1) drive the rest of the way to work and 2) work for 8 hours upon arriving there, I finally made it to the office.

After leaving work and stopping by my doctor’s office to discuss how to cope with my surging anxiety, I’m sitting here contemplating the day so far.

I can’t believe I cried at work. Well, okay. I’ve cried at work plenty of times – but discreetly and briefly! (I am fortunate to have a desk tucked in a corner facing a window.) This was a whole new level of getting emotional in the workplace.

I’ve always struggled with anxious feelings. I’ve also succumbed too frequently to diagnosing my anxiety via the Internet and self-help books, finding my symptoms across the board of anxiety disorders. Now I understand that it doesn’t matter all that much what I choose to call or not call my anxiety. Perhaps I will call my anxiety “Sandy.” 🙂

Ah, tomorrow morning. How will it be? Will I make it to work without feeling like I’m going to faint and/or die? Probably.

I don’t know whether I’m excessively self-conscious because I’m anxious or vice versa. But feeling so self-conscious is absolutely exhausting. I wonder how much energy my brain is wasting wondering what other people think of me, or wondering how well it looks like I’m doing my job, or dreading whatever embarrassing moment is bound to happen next.

Ultimately I know today was good for me. It’s like my body decided it has had enough of my fear and my resistance to speaking up – it’s decided to rebel. Whether I like it or not, I will have to learn how to express my feelings, be assertive, ask for what I need, and forgive myself for making mistakes.

Standard