New Changes

For quite some time, I have been working on ways to relieve some stress in my life and quell the anxiety that has rattled me since being laid off. I don’t like not having a plan. I don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen with the bills. I’m the kind of person that needs to have a plan and a back up plan and it seems that all that has gone out the window.

Recently, I blogged about an accident that totaled my car. And without a job and bills piling up, the stress was beginning to suffocate me.

Then, a temporary job came along. And just like all the other times that we were almost in trouble, something came along to help. Maybe not solve the problem entirely, but enough to get us through to the next moment.

In all this chaos, I’m starting to feel a strange calm under the worry. The kind of calm that tells me that even though things aren’t how I planned, things will work out. It will get better. It’s been a long time since that feeling has surfaced. I’m wondering if I can keep it around.

When I was a teenager, I loved not knowing what would come next. I loved not having a plan and making last minute decisions. Worry never crossed my mind when I didn’t have enough money to fill up my gas tank. I don’t ever expect to get back to that feeling, but I would like to remind myself that the worrying is pointless. It only hinders the attempt to achieve a goal.

We do what we can do. We try our best. We may not always get the turnout we are looking for, but we keep moving and we keep working. Everything is temporary. Everything is always changing. If you let worrying slow you down, you’ll never get where you’re going.

 

I Want, I Want, I Want

Last week we went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I didn’t do anything. I relaxed. I laughed. I moved in slow motion.

It. Was. Sublime.

I went thinking, I’m going to read and I’m going to write and be productive in the most awesome of ways!

But, I didn’t read…or write. I watched this:

 

So, mostly, all I did was admire. And think. And I thought, What the hell do I want? What am I doing?

This is what I came up with, so far, in no particular order or necessity:

1.) I want a job. An honest to goodness, pay me regularly and not scraping for work or hoping this gig will last kind of job.

2.) I want to improve my posture. What? There’s nothing wrong with that. My shoulders are always so tense…I need to push them down. I’m working on it.

3.) I want to make some stuff. Ok, maybe this one isn’t completely specific, but with my impulsiveness in mind, this could include crafting, drawing, painting, redecorating and/or papier mache. Well…not papier mache. You get it.

4.) I want to be healthier. This one I revisit frequently. I’m exercising. I’m eating better. I’m a work in progress. I feel motivated with this one.

5.) I want to learn Spanish. I know Spanish fairly well. I read it better than I speak it. I’d like to be able to speak it without thinking twice. My best guess is this will include a lot of verb conjugation for me to master. Maybe after that…Italian. Too ambitious?

6.) I want to kick Anxiety’s ass. ‘Nuff said. Prognosis looks good.

7.) I want to soak up as much as I can. Knowledge. Movies. Music. Life. The point here is to absorb, not just admire in passing.

8.) I want to be a guest on the late show with Craig Ferguson. Okay. I know. This is completely outlandish and pointless. Maybe it’s why I put it on the list. Maybe I need something so unreachable to keep my head in the clouds and my feet on the ground. People are famous for nothing these days…anything is possible, right? I just REALLY fancy an awkward pause. (If you don’t know what that means, I suggest you watch the show.)

There are my thoughts. Don’t worry, I don’t charge for them. Not even pennies. Feel free to comment with your own wants. It feels good to put them in print. It also helps you feel more encouraged to go out and get them. 😉

 

 

Done Waiting

It was 2 weeks ago that I posted about how I need to step up my game. In writing and in life.

So, did I do anything? Am I all talk and no walk?

Yes, I did and no, I’m not.

Wait…you get that, right?

I started with a movie. I took myself to the movies. I went to a matinee to see Hangover 2. There were about ten other people in the theater, so I got to stretch out and get comfortable. (I’d like to add that matinee is prime time because if you heard a whole theater laughing, you may have missed half of the jokes as they were layered in one after another.) While I usually bring my own snacks in my oversized purse….ssshhhh!…this time I bought myself a snack and drink there. Hey, if no one else is gonna splurge on me, why don’t I do it? I spent two hours in worry-free bliss, relaxing and laughing.

A few days later, I treated myself to some new summer clothes. Nothing extravagant, but a few bright colored things from Old Navy perked me up a bit.

This week, I took my kids to the local zoo. Not a big city zoo, but a local one where we can still walk around and enjoy the day outside. The kids had a great time and I was at ease allowing them to run around and watching them ooh and aah at every little creature.

Tuesday. Tuesday was a big day. I took my son to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. My quest to spend more time in the city has begun. A bit nervous on the drive in, we made it there with no problem. I only freaked out mildly when I found out I couldn’t park in the usual parking lot in front of the building.

WHERE DO I GO?!!

Street parking…ugh. We found a spot, and the bonus? I didn’t have to pay for parking. Score one for me.

And even though the residual effects of the stress tainted my stomach for the next two hours, I managed to suck it up and make the most of the day with my son. We strolled. We admired. We wondered. He received several compliments on his hat; he has a fedora he loves to wear. There’s something elating about seeing your child beam at random compliments. We even marveled at our favorite room…The Armor Room.

All in all, I think I’m on the right track. The past two weeks gave me a boost and I feel like some life has been breathed back into…well…my life. I’m definitely going to take myself to the movies more often. And finding things to do outside with the kids will be a priority, as well. There are a bunch of playgrounds nearby. Maybe that will be next week’s fun.

What are YOU doing to live a little more? Let me know!

So What If I’m Neurotic? It’s Totally Normal!

All last week I was neglecting my laptop for a little thing called vertigo.  A ridiculous illness that seems to visit me two or three times a year since I had my daughter 3 years ago.  For an entire week, I was unable to do my normal daily activities around the house such as cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc.  Any walking at all was a huge effort, but utterly hilarious to onlookers as I walked like I had just downed a bottle of tequila.  Needless to say, the things that I do didn’t get done and chores piled up all over the place.  In addition, my anxiety about it piled up as the days passed.

Today, however, the clouds parted and the dizzy haze was gone.  So, what was the first thing I did?  I made a list.  I love lists.  My mind runs a million thoughts a minute and for me to remember every task at hand is virtually impossible.  I am too easily sidetracked.  Washing the dishes, I see a food container and remember I wanted to clean up the fridge.  Or I’m putting away clothes when I realize I wanted to fix something in one of the kids’ rooms.  I stop at the computer to check my email and end up reading that blog I forgot about.  By the end of the day, the dishes are half washed, the fridge still have leftovers that could walk to the trash on their own and someone is still waiting for my reply to that email from last week.   

When I make a list, I feel like order is restored to a stressful situation.  If I go shopping, I make a list.  Christmas is coming?  Everyone needs a list of what they want.  Different projects to tackle?  Make a list.  Chores to do?  You get the idea.  I feverishly scribbled every little thing that needed to get done.  Vacuum, laundry, wash the dishes, so on and so forth.  My irritation started to subside once I sat down and looked over each item.  I take specific care to write down each item no matter how small.  Even though the list is long, I am more encouraged with every chore I cross off.  Yes, I cross them off as they are done.  (Insert point and laugh here.)  Water the plants, empty the dishwasher, wrap a gift….check, check and check. 

Maybe I have a little OCD…or maybe I have a lot.  My lists are my little lifesavers.  Calming me from the onslaught of too much to do and never enough time to do it.  I have loads of little notebooks around so I can make a list anywhere, even in purses in case I think of something while I’m out.  

Stop worrying…I recycle!

I love my lists and I don’t care who knows it.  I am addicted to order and organization and my lists are the glue that holds my sanity together.  I don’t care if it’s neurotic!  It’s totally normal! 

You make lists, too!  Right? 

RIGHT?! 

The Makings of an Optimist

Life is stressful.  It just is.  We have jobs, kids, friends, family, money and whatever else we deal with weighing on our shoulders.  We multitask, reschedule, overbook and overwork to get everything done.  It’s hard to stop and breathe sometimes.  Our bodies take stress in and it can affect us in different ways.  Headaches, backaches, stomach pain and anxiety attacks are only a few of the culprits. 

I have been on a quiet journey for a few months.  While trying to read more and write more, I have also been trying to calm my mind and body in the meantime.  Maybe we could say I am on a path to enlightenment.  Too cliched?  Ok, I am learning about meditation.  When I first began reading about it, I thought what can it really do for me?  I can barely sit still for several minutes let alone get my mind to focus on a mantra.  Isn’t this only for hippies and people who live for yoga?  Besides, I have kids, a dog and a cat, so there is no chance of me ever having a substantial amount of undisturbed silence to obtain any benefit. 

Wrong.  I was so wrong.  I am so wrong it makes me wonder why have I not done this before?  Meditation does not mean sitting and chanting “Ohm” for hours on end.  There is so much more to know.  You can meditate by looking at a candle, listening to ocean waves or even doing daily activities.  Positions vary from lying flat on your back to performing yoga poses.  The middle of your living room is a great place.  So is your back yard.  Or your desk at work. (You may not want to lie across your desk, though.)  The point is, meditation is not about one position and one practice.  The importance is in the results of your meditation.

The ability to breath deep and allow yourself to let go of your thoughts is a true gift.  The breathing can calm your body as well as your mind.  When we let stress affect us, it can make our muscles tighten and our breathing to become short and shallow.  By forcing a deep breath, you can feel your muscles begin to relax.  And somehow, some way, the more you do it, the more the calm bleeds into the rest of your day.  You are more likely to handle tasks with patience and skill.  You are less likely to be upset by coworkers, spouses or your children. 

My favorite outcome is I feel more aware of my own self.  I am starting to discover so much more about who I am.  I feel much more in tune with my body and mind.  When I feel frustration or anger building up, I am much better equipped to pacify my emotions.  Just one or two deep breaths can help me refocus when I feel like I am losing control.  Most of all, I relish the fact that I can learn to appreciate so much more in my life.  A mere smile from one of my kids or a trip in the car without an accident is enough to make me remember what is important in my life.  Each day, each moment can hold something precious. 

So, has meditation made me an optimist?  Maybe.  Or maybe it just showed me what I’ve been missing.