Sometimes I wish there was an emotional heart valve. One that I could control and let in only the good things. It doesn’t work that way. My heart is always open and so I feel everything. And when there are many emotionally charged things going on at once, it can feel overwhelming.
That’s what it is. I can weep at the drop of a hat lately. Selling my house, packing and moving into a smaller house in a new area, my work routine changing again soon and the anniversary of my dad’s passing.
I feel so exposed emotionally that sometimes I feel as if my heart is beating outside of my chest. It’s been three years since my dad died suddenly. Although he lived a full life for 88 years, his death was a big shock and the grief that followed was incapacitating.
My dad was one of ten children and a World War II Veteran. He was fearless, outspoken and even a little rough around the edges. He was able to impact more people in his life on a daily basis than anyone I know, always working for Veterans’ rights. He was “larger than life” and never took no for an answer. He had a big heart and an even greater willingness to forgive. I always admired that about him.
Even though we butted heads at times because I challenged him often and wished he was a little more sensitive, I always knew that he loved me.
My dad was tough and strong and I think my soft and sensitive self made him a little uncomfortable. I don’t think I totally accepted who I was until I no longer judged myself through the lens of my father’s eyes.
I began to embrace who I was and the vulnerability that I was feeling and, rather than look away, I looked inward, perhaps for the first time. I began to dwell less on the past and worry less about the future. That’s where I’d been most comfortable and it was always a welcome distraction from what I was feeling in the present. I knew I had to open myself up and learn how to process what I was thinking and feeling in a healthy way, in a way that would make me stronger.
I asked for help when I needed it and began a journey of self discovery to find out what makes me feel happy, healthy and grounded.
Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. It requires strength and perseverance to be in that space.
Embracing vulnerability can be terrifying yet life-giving at the same time.
I’m grateful that I’ve had the courage to open myself up to change and the swirl of emotions that come with it.
Did you ever feel as if you’ve taken two steps forward and one step back?
I’ve been feeling
this way lately, but my daughter’s dog Ellie actually reminded me to look at the big picture and that growth shouldn’t be measured by any one act. She’s so smart.
Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
I may have taken a step or two in the wrong direction, like when I felt I was inconsiderate to a friend, or when I’ve eaten too much junk food or been a couch potato, or even when I’ve been mildly obsessed with the latest Twitter rant from the POTUS (or the live video feed of April, the pregnant giraffe), but it doesn’t mean I’m inconsiderate, unhealthy or not mindful.
I’ve learned so much about what makes me happy and healthy and have been steadily moving forward. THIS is what defines me. I’ll never be perfect (and I’m not sure I ever want to be), but I’m moving in the right direction!
How did I learn all this from Ellie?
I smiled when I looked down to put on my slippers the other day. I found Ellie’s bone tucked inside the left one, the one she had chewed on months ago. Ellie had left me a gift! Such a sweet, loving act. THIS defines her!
It’s been a great year! I continue to focus on being, “Happy and present-one day at a time,” but I have to admit that I’ve been struggling lately. I’ve been feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, short of patience and oh, so tired. I know these feelings are not uncommon this time of year, but I can’t remember feeling this way with such a constant intensity.
I feel as if life is on VOLUME TEN!
Perhaps it’s because my hard work has paid off and, by comparison to my normally calm, grounded daily routines, this time of year now seems off the charts in every way.
No matter the reason, I’ve been working to get back on track to Peace, Love and Presence!
Here are some things that I’ve found helpful and that I hope can lighten your load this holiday season:
- Realize that many people share similar feelings and that this time of year can bring a wide range of emotions for a variety of reasons, like grief, depression and anxiety, to name a few.
- Understand that your feelings are temporary and most likely will pass after the holidays are over. Around this time last year I wrote about how I was feeling some of the same feelings!
- Share your feelings with those closest to you and ask for help when you need it. Chances are pretty good that your loved ones have noticed that you’ve been a little short of patience. I’m sure mine have!
- Practice self compassion and self care-you know the drill! If not, read my post about self compassion here: https://beallthere.net/2016/02/14/self-love/ and read about my self care routine here: https://beallthere.net/2015/08/22/funkytown-just-passing-through/
- Be present. Certainly honor your past and dream about your future, but try not to dwell on them, especially this time of year. It feels good to let go of some of the sadness of what was and the worry of what will be. It will all work out, it always does. You can read what I wrote about Christmas Presence here: https://beallthere.net/2015/12/15/christmas-presence/
- Acknowledge your feelings, including any physical symptoms. I’ve been experiencing some aches and pains, and, when I went to the doctor last week and she asked if I was under any stress, I denied it because I actually was unaware that my stress was causing physical symptoms. Luckily all is well and I’m feeling much better.
- Be quiet. When feeling overwhelmed, it helps to turn down the volume. Turn off the television, unplug, and dim the lights. It can have a calming effect.
- Take time off if you can. Carve out some time away from your desk or your computer to unwind and recharge.
- Have a cup of tea. Since it’s meant to be sipped slowly, it will help slow down your pace.
- Be playful. My daughter’s dog, Ellie makes me laugh and smile every day!
Wishing you Peace, Love and Presence this Holiday Season, and always!
I woke up a little after 4 a.m. and immediately checked my phone for the election results. I thought I was still dreaming, at first, but quickly realized the candidate, who many believed was a joke, had won the presidential election.
I am heartbroken.
Although I know that not all that voted for him support his cruel rants against humanity, it feels as if hate and divisiveness won over love and inclusion. What a sobering reminder that there are many who do not support equal human rights for all.
Even though I’m hunched over because the wind has been knocked out of me, I must somehow move forward. The sun still rises and sets each day and each day I have a choice.
On this Veteran’s Day I will raise my American flag with gratitude to all who fought for my freedom to choose.
I choose love, hope and compassion, and, in the beautiful words of Maya Angelou, “I Rise.”
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
When I first started focusing on being all there, it helped me dwell less on the past and worry less about the future. As I’ve written about in previous posts, I have incorporated many new things into my daily life that have made me less anxious and depressed and more present (and happy).
Minimalism, meditation, yoga, veganism, hiking, and writing are more than just habits in my life, they have become part of who I am and have changed my life!
I’ve noticed that my weekends and time off don’t seem like such a blur and actually feel like quality time off.
Being present can change your life in many ways:
- Feel less anxious and depressed-By not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
- Slow down time by being fully present in each moment-And don’t we all want to slow things down a bit?
- Get to know (and love) yourself more-Being present forces us to take a closer look at who we are and put some time and effort into areas that may need love and attention. This is not always comfortable or easy, but remember, no mud, no lotus!
- Develop deeper relationships-By spending more quality time with loved ones.
- Let go of comparison-Being present helps us focus on what works for us.
- Worry less about what others might think and don’t take things personally-Follow Brene’ Brown’s advice and keep a short list of names in your wallet of whose opinions really matter. Ask people to clarify what they mean rather than add your own commentary. Most times people act in certain ways based on what’s going on with them rather than in response to us.
- Ask for what you need (in a kind, loving, “I” statement way)-Being fully present can really highlight what we need in any given moment and we want to acknowledge these authentic moments rather than ignore them. People have no idea what we are thinking or feeling unless we tell them! I have had to build up the courage to do this, but, I promise that with practice, asking for what you need gets easier.
This time of year mindfulness has helped me no longer grieve the passage of summer and fear the thought that winter is around the corner (perhaps I grieve and fear a little, but certainly not as much). I’m enjoying fall for what it truly has to offer, beautiful weather, warm fires, gorgeous colors and delicious fruits and veggies from our local farms!
Peace, Love and Presence,