The Goal is Being Alive

I had been restless, tired of putting up with leftovers. I’d had a lot of second-hand crap. Friends invited me to concerts–if their original date didn’t show. Or sometimes, I stayed in the car while she and a friend met the band and received autographs. It sucked. How did I get into this situation? One day I woke up and realized I wasn’t the first choice in my friend’s life. I was putting more effort into relationships than I was getting. It pissed me off. I’m not the second. When had I started down this path? I didn’t intentionally date taken men or choose friends who didn’t want to hang with me. But it all cracked, and I had enough.

It tested me…

I grew up in a hard-knocks rural lifestyle. If you don’t earn it, you don’t deserve it. Work hard, and take pride in your accomplishments. Park them in the driveway so the neighbors can see. But I was also torn between two worlds. I had earned my old world, the one I left, the mom me. Since I left it, somehow, I no longer had access to the worthiness I had achieved under its umbrella. My ex-husband kept the money. Society withheld the honor.

I couldn’t square the old with the new world I entered. In this modern world, I was a penniless, lonely, divorced female. I didn’t like this person I had become. I was sad and unfulfilled. I lived only to make it another day.

On the advice of a therapist, I planned to make some solo journeys. It seemed reasonable. It would be time away from toxic relationships, and I could readjust my expectations. Recalibrate. Learning to feel good on your own isn’t easy, but that was the plan. Solo Journeys. At least, it was the door I kept trying to go enter. Heaven is my witness; I tried. 

The universe or God had a surprise. I met someone who liked doing the same things I enjoyed – hiking, drinking coffee, etc. I could do it alone. I was willing to prove I could. But maybe I’ve done enough. I don’t know. One thing I’m learning is that not everything is accomplished through hard work and pounding on doors. maybe I’ve done enough. I don’t know. I’m adoring my journeys currently. I’m making peace with my life. I’m alive.

Emotions And Flashbacks

We know emotions. They’re healthy, normal. A pet is sick or dies, and we are sad. If it is sunny outside, this could be a good day. We become excited. We plan for an adventure. There’s a hike, a few hours at the zoo with our family, or maybe the pool. A little sunburn isn’t bad. Even a tantrum from the three-year-old doesn’t spoil a day. Emotions are flavors added to the stewpot.

I’ve had weeks of crying jags for no apparent reason, and I’m bewildered as to what started them. I can’t recall an emotion. Am I sad? Angry? Sometimes I’ll stare at the wall or want to hide under the covers because life seems too much. It’s the tsunami crashing over my plans to move forward into a good life. I write lists and can’t seem to accomplish the tasks.

The difference in simple terms between an emotion and a flashback is the logic. I can be disappointed in an immediate event or happy about it. If I’m having a flashback, it’s illogical. I may be disappointed about the experience but also accuse others that they did this on purpose. I’ll feel like going into a dark hole for a longer time or rage about someone letting me down. And perhaps they did. The flashback has magnified the pain.

Emotional flashbacks are sudden and often prolonged regressions (‘amygdala hijackings’) to the frightening circumstances of childhood. They are typically experienced as intense and confusing episodes of fear and/or despair – or as sorrowful and/or enraged reactions to this fear and despair.  Flashback Management

Pete Walker

How can you tell if someone has a flashback?  

“Flashbacks sometimes feel as though they come out of nowhere, but there are often early physical or emotional warning signs. These signs could include a change in mood, feeling pressure in your chest, or suddenly sweating. Becoming aware of the early signs of flashbacks may help you manage or prevent them.”

RAINN.ORG

There is a time in our childhood before we could name an emotion when we create patterns of feeling. It’s possible our parents were busy and tired. My dad worked two and sometimes three jobs. Mom helped when we had a business—three kids and not a lot of money. As the third child, it was a challenge to be noticed. I needed more than they could give. I cried with ear infections, and mom was exhausted. She needed a break. And there wasn’t one in sight anywhere for her. Now, it’s still difficult for me to ask for help.

Peaceful Warrior

One tool Richard Grannon teaches in his YouTube videos is for emotions. Many of us are not aware of our feelings. I wrote about this in a previous post, The Jungle of My Emotions. We befriend our emotions, even the ugly ones, and they soon become familiar. Name them as to recognize them. Are you afraid? Or are you feeling betrayed? This method has been helpful for me.

A decent way to do this is to set a timer for three times a day. Mine is 9:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 8:00 PM. When the timer chimes, check-in with yourself. Are you bored, lost, sad, or feeling angry? Being aware of yourself is a start. There is plenty of help if you need it.

I don’t know your life or your family, only you know them. You swim in those emotions deep. It takes a near miracle, as the fish pulled from the water, to realize life can be different. I do have hope for me, and I have hope for you. If you can relate to any of this, follow some of the links. There is help. It can get better.

Resources:

Rick Hanson Ph.D.-The Foundations of Well Being 

Richard Grannon-The Spartan Life Coach

Pete Walker-Flashback Management

My thanks to Wade Harris for the featured photograph. Find him on Flickr or Instagram.

Hunters and Gatherers

I don’t remember how the habit started. It wasn’t a conscious choice like taking up jogging, but it developed as all do—progressively. One act of pleasure bumps into another until it’s a daily delight. A treat. And my oh my. How can something that brings a smile one day and on the next, seem to be wrong? Another one? Isn’t that excessive? No one else is involved. After all, I’ve got this handled.

At times, I stay up too late browsing the internet. I’m not reading a good book or researching my family tree, just browsing random crap. YouTube videos, current news, or shopping for things I’ll never buy. If I were reading, at least it would be beneficial for my brain cells, right? So down the trail and then turn right. Stop!

—Women who love wine

My one-year-old cat, Dot, is a hunter. He drags his “kills.” He attacks, wrestles, and drags small rugs and blankets around the house. They are gnawed to death. Usually, they are tugged to the food bowl, him growling the entire way. I see it as some instinct he has to bring in a carcass. His version of the gazelle is a brown Mexican blanket that he yanks by its corner. Sometimes he’ll donate his prey to the other cats while they sleep.

Dot has a Q-tip habit. He begs for them, even meowing and waking me at two in the morning when the rest of the world is sleeping. He needs a fix. It is nearly an obsession. Cat games. This cat hunts ear swabs. He hides his skinny, ear swab prey under a rug, then pounces, then discovering it again.

Creatures of nature are instinctive. Humans use instincts but also have developed habits. But we can update old practices. Thankfully we can learn. Whatever it is we want to alter, we can retrain ourselves. It feels odd at first. If it’s essential and we introduce it consistently, we can change. But Dot, the hunter, might forever be addicted to his human ear probes. I might forever be gathering them from odd places, like from my shoes.

Dot, the hunter

Adding Pleasure

Benefits

In my years of recovery from abuse, I’ve learned that a victim’s coping methods are smart. List making and stocking up on supplies are virtues we admire in others, but we can use them to hide also. It’s like procrastinating until it’s too late. I’m the same way, there are many healthy habits we can develop.

Creation

Creating small memories throughout your day is a great way to build a beautiful life. Totems can be made to honor your life. It’s an easy way to remind yourself of your values. You can have unique traditions or days of your own. My two girlfriends and I created our winter holiday in which we exchange socks. The holiday is our day. And it is sacred.

Socks

Only you are in charge of your life. Yes, others cause things to happen around you, but you are the ultimate chooser. Be well in your life today.

“Simply asking yourself the question, ‘How am I doing right now?’ is a gentle reminder to take care of yourself,” Hill Kooienga said. – HuffPost

Thanks for your patience while I am recovering from my surgery. Healing is slow but sure.

This Is Like Planting Seeds

At the beginning of all things, we tend to feel quite silly. Picture me, chubby girl, jogging through my neighborhood. I’ve got the shoes, the shorts, a water bottle and of course the required music blaring in my ears. At this moment, I can’t brag about my pace. My GPS phone app clocks me at 5 K in 57 minutes. And that’s estimating that my last 30 minutes will be the same as my first, which they won’t. By the time I get a mile and a half (about 2.4 K) of walking and running in, I’m sweating like crazy. My calves burn, and my knees are weak. I am no picture of athletic prowess.

Of course, it won’t always be like that. Eventually, I’ll build up enough muscle to finish in half that time. Hopefully, I won’t be as sore. My stride will look stronger, and my run will be more fluid. I picture myself as a leaner version than now, running like a gazelle through the neighborhood. Onlookers will be in awe of my agility. I wonder, should I take my hair out of the ponytail? The wind could blow it as I run. I would also be in color-coordinated clothing. Shoes, shorts, and a tank top all coordinated. Yeah, I look like I belong.

It’s humorous because when I started with my old tank top and 10-year-old shorts and shoes, I felt awkward. I was pretending to be a runner because it’s cool. And I hate being trendy.

Aside: Running vs. Jogging.

The two are technically the same. Jogging doesn’t become running at a certain pace. Jogging is just an uncool word for some people.

– Me

I’m not sure where this started except possibly in the marathon running group. You don’t jog a marathon. When I looked up the terms in all the online running blogs I could find, no one was sure of the difference between the two. Jogging implies that you are trotting through the neighborhood with no purpose. In the case of running, people mean they are training for a run or a marathon. But that’s speculative.

When I began, with my out of date shoes, I felt awkward. So to legitimize myself I purchased official running gear. Funnily enough, the models displaying running shorts and tanks are 5’10” and 100 pounds. Their BMI is probably 5%. I know, I know, it’s really 14% and I’m exaggerating, but they are skinny girls. Lanky. Anorexic. My BMI is a higher. All those chubs on my body are well-earned. It took a lot of cookies and pints of ice cream to build them.

Now that I have my running gear, at least I know the shoes are not going to injure my knees and shins. With time, I will develop the strange quirks that go with being a runner. I don’t know if I will ever feel authentic because my mental picture is unrealistic; no real person could meet it. I think we do that with a lot of things. Even being an adult, which is something that comes with age, and we don’t genuinely earn, the mere act of not dying brings us to it, we can feel like we are a fake. At the beginning of every attempt, we step one foot in front of the other until we’ve trained our senses to become familiar with our new task.

Adulthood, parenting, hobbies, and vocations are that way. It feels strained. Not quite right. Everyone sees your stumbling and fumbling. That makes me smile. Even though I may not reach gazelle-like grace in my running, eventually even I can become comfortable jogging and running about the neighborhood dressed in trendy shorts and bright-colored shoes.

This is an edited repost.  Taking Up Running from June 9, 2013 

The image above was provided by Wade Harris ”Door, New York City”

My posts might be sparse for a few weeks since I have a cervical spine surgery scheduled, which will make it challenging to write. Wish me luck!

Seriously Happy

There’s no guarantee for success or one formula for not ending your life with regrets, but there are a few pieces of wisdom which have been shared over many generations.

  • Hang around positive people.
  • Don’t fix negative people.
  • Help your tribe.
  • Seek tasks and lessons that are challenging to you.
  • Respect the human needs: camaraderie, love, family, tests, learning, struggle.

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