Archives for category: Anxiety

I like a smooth, well-mapped, route when I travel from place to pace, it’s true. I don’t at all mind “a road less traveled” – I just prefer to use a map. lol The enormous emotional relief, for me, in beginning down the path of mindfulness, of improved self-awareness, of improved emotional self-sufficiency, has been largely due to the increased sensation that this journey can make some sense, can seem to follow some sort of map. Sort of. πŸ™‚ It’s a feeling of “safe travels” on life’s journey, for me.

…I’m less than ideally well-suited to unexpected drama, profound losses of perspective or resilience, or that emotional teeter-totter that gets slyly labeled “reactivity”. I falter. I panic. I want to run. Doesn’t matter if it’s my mess, or someone else’s. I really just don’t want to be part of it, and I begin to do a lot of emotional dog-paddling in life’s choppy waters, just trying to stay ahead of things, or smooth things over. I’d often rather just yield to whatever the chaos brings with it, accept and reject it, and fucking walk on. So often, it’s either my own mess to clean up and manage, or it belongs to someone dear to me, who has… for fuck’s sake… reached out to me (of all people) for help and support.

It was late last night before I’d self-soothed and medicated sufficiently to stop by brain spinning out of control on details that didn’t really belong directly to me, but touched my experience enough to be aggravating. I slept fitfully, once I was able to sleep at all, and my nightmares were not all that helpful toward sorting shit out. I was fairly grateful for the loud crashing noise on the roof over my bed, which woke me abruptly at 1:49 am. Heavy winds all day and into the night, really making a loud rushing and roaring noise, had been tossing the treetops back and forth for hours. Seconds after 1:48 am, I guess, a largish tree beyond the back fence couldn’t take it any longer and snapped just a couple feet up from the base. It hit the house and broke again, the top sliding down the roof into the neighbor’s yard, the mid-section crashing into the fence, and destroying a section of that, breaking again, and that piece falling sort of into my yard.

Well…shit. That’s not good…

Minutes later, we were all standing out there in the wind and rain, faces wearing looks of astonishment and relief. It could have been worse. In the darkness, the wind carried off any real sense of fear or anxiety, leaving behind only words of surprise, and cautious optimism. It would be hours before day light gave us a better look. Still, it was easy to tell it could have been much worse.

I went back to bed with that reminder in my mind; it could have been worse. So often in life this is true. lol

I woke to a lovely note from my Traveling Partner. I woke to no drama. I woke to peace and contentment. I woke to a large tree broken in pieces spread across the back yards, and a displaced squirrel looking up at me with a recognizable “wtf??” look. I smiled. I get it. I put out peanuts for the squirrels and made a cup of coffee for myself – and began again. πŸ™‚

It’s a Saturday morning. I am awake early. I make a delicious cup of coffee, and later a couple of eggs, prepared simply, with a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper. I feel content and satisfied. I scroll through my feeds; too many memes and shares, not enough original content. I move on. I do some self-study on topics currently most interesting to me. I take time to meditate.

I feel good.

I think about these things before I sit down to write. I consider how routinely I “begin again” and how often I suggest it as a great practice, recognizing what I’m really saying is something as elementary as “don’t beat yourself up over that, just start over”, which is less succinct, and less likely to become clear programming. I find myself wondering if that’s really enough to be at all helpful for friends or readers who haven’t yet tried a new beginning in that sense that I mean, and don’t quite know what to do with that moment of transition between the end/consequence of the one moment, and the fresh-start newness of the next.

I drink my coffee and mull that over. Is it a complicated question? “How to Begin Again” doesn’t seem the sort of thing that would, generally, require explicit instruction… but… I already know I’m wrong about that, a lot. So…

  1. Step one, well, I guess something’s gotta end, or be completed, or fail horribly leaving us feeling wretched and lost, or at loose ends, or puzzled, or discontent, or… Yeah. I guess step one has to be the end of something or other. Let’s start there. πŸ™‚
  2. Now begin again.

Okay, okay. I’m being a smart ass, and a bit flippant, and maybe that’s not appropriate for you, in your circumstances, right at the moment? Got it. I’ll… begin again.

  1. Let’s go ahead and still start with something that ends. πŸ™‚ A circumstance, a moment, an experience – and hey, maybe that’s your “now”, right now, and it hasn’t ended yet, and you’re really quite unhappy and miserable and feeling beat down by life, or overcome by ennui or sorrow, or frustration… damn. That sucks. Let’s step 2 the hell out of that, shall we?
  2. Breathe. No kidding. Take a moment and just get some wholesome cleansing deep breaths. Let that other shit go, just for a moment or two at least? Surely that’s fine? It’s a choice. Take a moment for you, and just breathe.
  3. Even while allowing yourself to consider what has passed, whether success or failure, however miserable, worried, or anxious, please also work on letting go of your attachment to the specific outcome, and let go of any expectations you were holding on to. Let yourself have a clean slate on this – it’ll be okay to do that, I assure you. πŸ™‚ The map is not the world, and clinging to an understanding of an experience or circumstance can definitely color your future experience and decision-making.
  4. Go ahead and feel your feelings. Yep. Feel ’em. Emotions are not the bad guys here, and we can develop a less reactive, more awareness-based approach to our emotional life. Finding balance between emotion and reason is a very nice bonus to all this practicing. πŸ™‚
  5. Still breathing? You’ll want to keep that going, generally. πŸ™‚
  6. If you are wanting to literally re-start whatever you just failed at, now’s the time, perhaps, to consider what success really looks like – and maybe also ask yourself some questions about why you view it that way? Is that your own legitimate authentic honest assessment, or have you borrowed someone else’s opinion’s or values there? Please consider usingΒ  your own. πŸ™‚ (Much easier to succeed in life when you are pursuing your own goals.)
  7. Make a plan. Oh, I know – an ever-loving fuck-ton of you, out there, are not planners at all. I’m not saying a word about whether or not you execute a specific plan. I am most definitely suggesting that you still sketch out some sort of loose notion of what you want to get done, even if it’s only in your head, and even if you follow through completely differently. When we feel prepared, our stress level in life is generally lower. Just saying. Think it through. Consider your next steps, and your goal. Consider alternate outcomes – a lot of them. Be okay with as many of those as you are able to allow yourself to be. Consider how those alternate outcomes may also be quite okay, maybe in totally different ways. (Some people might call this “daydreaming”, but it can be done very productively.)
  8. Allow yourself to acknowledge what is and has gone well. Contemplate for some moments all manner of similar experiences or circumstances or events or relationships that have turned out quite well, based on your choices in the past. Consider them. Savor these memories of success and sort of “fill up your consciousness” with the things in life that you appreciate, and have turned out quite nicely.
  9. Still breathing? Don’t forget to breathe.
  10. Now’s the time. Whatever it is, take another lovely deep relaxed breath, recognize and enjoy your humanity, and be aware that through our challenges is our path to growth; we don’t learn much from our successes, or the easy wins in life. We don’t become stronger by way of experiences that don’t test our strength. We can’t fathom the depths of our capacity for joy or love without also experiencing the weight of our pain and sorrow.
  11. Ready? Do the thing. ❀ (All sorts of different steps and verbs go with this one, obviously. You get to choose those; that’s on you.)

I still think it’s fine to just… start with step 1 and finish with a step 2… but… I’ve been practicing for a while, and at this point, it does feel pretty natural to sort of cram all the rest of that between them. LOL

I smile and think about this journey of mine, and how far I’ve come from that hurt creature uncertain life is worth living… that was only… 5 years ago. The world isn’t really a “better place” than it was then, in most regards, and actually, it seems a bit worse, in a number of ways. Still… I feel better, about the world, about myself, about my life, about my ability to love and to heal and to nurture, and to make wise choices. I treat myself, generally, reliably well. I treat others better than I was ever able to before – or knew how to do. Strange to consider how all this progress has been built on so many small beginnings.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life… and I’m feeling good

Oh yeah. Enjoy the pleasant moments with a big smile and eyes wide open. Maybe don’t take the tough ones so personally. They’re just moments. They pass. (Even the good ones, but that’s a tale for a different moment than this one.)

Lovely couple of days with my Traveling Partner. Work stress? Not relevant in this moment. πŸ™‚

…No lie, though, my anxiety level over work stuff is pretty high. I handle it with a combination of meditation and good self-care, and savoring pleasant moments utterly unrelated to any of that. So far, that’s enough. My results may vary, but I’m getting results. πŸ™‚

Sufficiency. Perspective. Mindfulness. πŸ™‚

Look at the time! It’s already time to begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee and feeling vaguely guilty about being sick, which is, to say the least, just fucking dumb. I mean to say, it only comes up when associated with the potential that being sick will cause me to fall short of someone else’s expectations, or potentially result in the failure to tick off boxes on someone else’s agenda than the important matter immediately at hand; getting over being sick.

…I’d ideally like to survive all my experiences…

If this were the weekend, I’d certainly be annoyed to spend it being sick, but there would be no guilt or anxiety involved at all. I’d just be down sick, and doing my best to take care of myself. I struggle with that idea when work is involved. It’s weird and counter-productive (from the perspective of taking care of myself).

I woke feeling worse than yesterday, although generally speaking yesterday actually mostly felt better than the day before. The cold or whatever that this is has begun settling into my chest. By midday yesterday, I’d begun to develop an annoying dry cough. I started losing my voice intermittently, before losing it altogether by evening. I woke several times during the night, and slept restlessly, waking myself from coughing. Ah, but I can work from home! πŸ™‚ Shit. How is this supposed to work, in practice? Am I really up for it, or am I expending limited life force on a slow march to eventually landing in the ER with something worse? I go back and forth with myself… work from home? (Don’t be such a drama queen – it’s just a fucking cold!) Don’t work at all and just call out? (You don’t get to tell me what my experience is like! You just don’t even know what I’m going through! Shrew. What if I’m literally dying?) Being sick does tend to make adulting much more challenging. (You’re not dying. Make another cup of tea and get on with things.) Choices. Decisions. Actions. Every step is a challenge, and I’m sick and I just don’t even want to bother.

…This morning’s illness-related ire would rise to the level of a childish tantrum, only I am simply too sick to expend that kind of energy on literally anything that isn’t coughing… So… there’s that.

…And, to be fair, there’s also this; being sick at home presents a small number of pleasant distractions in the form of autumn visitors to the deck.

A fit of coughing interrupts my writing, and I also manage to spill fresh hot coffee all over myself. I start crying over spilled coffee, and my emotional volatility erupts unpleasantly into that tantrum I didn’t think I had energy for. Huh. I guess I did after all. Tears turn briefly to hysteria – and laughter – and then, for some bonus fun, I start choking on sinus drainage and phlegm as the Mucinex I took when I got up finally starts doing its thing. Gross. I’m a mess. I walk away from the writing and head to the shower; if nothing else, a hot shower and clean clothes will feel better.

I come back to my writing refreshed, and still uncertain how much capability for work I’ve really, honestly, fairly, frankly, legitimately do have – would I be better off calling out and going back to bed? The titular question is rhetorical; our willingness to exploit ourselves for someone else’s gain (generally an employer) has a long and fairly vile history. We yield to it mostly willingly (even defending the notion, generation after generation) after years of brain-washing, repetition, and programming that the primary goal (and obligation) of adulthood is “gainful employment”.

My brain quickly fills my thoughts with reminders of all the shit on my calendar, and all the shit in my inbox, and all the shit I want to get done because it absolutely needs to get done… “you can’t afford not to work”, the rallying cry of exploitation. Fuck. I do actually have a lot of stuff to do – and no back up on a lot of it. I settle on “doing what I can” and balancing that with attempting to also take care of myself as well as I am able to. I don’t know what this choice looks like in practice. Time to start figuring that out.

I guess I’ll begin again. πŸ™‚

 

…I ended up calling out, and going back to bed. It was the wiser choice, if somewhat uncomfortable.

…I woke up during the night, a couple times. Feels like I may be coming down with the ick that has been going around. It had spared me, but late last week, a colleague definitely exposed me to it… I was hoping I’d gotten lucky, and that good self-care would be enough to stave off illness. Not this time. I find myself hoping I picked up a bug down south, instead, though I don’t recall anyone being ill while we visited; it’s just a scenario that does not put me probably taking some terrible contagious ick down there to a whole other community, which I just may have done this weekend. 😦 I hope not.

I don’t yet feel “don’t go to work” sick; may end up returning and working from home, or doing so later this week. It is hard to say. I teeter on the edge of being sick. Stuffy head – treated with the limited cold medicines I am comfortable using, seems well-managed. Tickle in my throat – well, that could just be dry air, right? Snoring all night, or? Maybe I’m not getting sick! (Why do we play this game?)

The weekend suddenly feels distant. The work day imminent, and fraught with anxiety, acid reflux, and unknowns. I take a deep breath and relax, reminding myself that pre-setting the day to any particular emotional quality likely puts me on the path of creating that specific experience. I can do better. I can choose differently.

I smile and notice that I never made coffee, which gets me thinking about the lovely mornings over coffee together my Traveling Partner and I shared over the weekend. This is a better starting point for my day, which is convenient, since it is already time to begin again. lol πŸ™‚