This time of the year is a struggle for me to continue to write, and while this post is not the norm for me it is real and honest. Unlike my past attempted blogs, I refuse to quit this one even in these moments. Don’t ever be ashamed of who you are, never give up on your dreams and never be silenced.
I stood outside tonight in the cold and looked up at the dark sky, closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I needed it, the crisp air was cleansing and a reminder that I was alive inside, even though there are some days it feels questionable. Like many of those who suffer from anxiety and depression, the winter months are toughest for me. Once the sun starts to rise late and set early the unrelenting grip of that dark place takes hold of me and at times feels like it will never let go.
When this happens the many things I love about life fade into the background as I don’t allow myself to experience them while I sit in my cloud not able to even get off the couch. The TV becomes my best friend and I pick fights with my loved ones because it just feels good to be angry. I hate this part of me, I loathe the idea that I can get to this place even as I practice positivity, gratitude, meditation, prayer, kindness, love, forgiveness and all the self-care tips in all the self-help books. It’s frustrating and sad and just makes me more depressed thinking about it. What I’ve come to understand over the years is that anxiety and depression are deceitful and tricky and oh so very real. Even at your highest and most balanced, even when you feel on top of the world, they are lying in wait for you to drop your guard and the moment you do, out of what feels like nowhere, the dark, cold current rushes over you.
My mind swirls attempting to make sense of it, and for a very long time I didn’t like to talk about it. If I did, I would be admitting that I can go down this road, and that the energetic, excitable, talk-too-much personality that I adore can be masked by the grim sadness I try to ignore. It felt hypocritical, scary and embarrassing. It was like my dirty little secret and the moment I admitted this happens to me would be the moment I am outed as a fraud or a liar, a fake happy person.
However, I have learned that when I acknowledge I’m in this state, while the energy to even care may not be there quite yet, the sooner I begin to see the light. In the past, I would lay stale in this mindset for weeks, I would wallow in the darkness hating it and loving it at the same time, but lately, I am learning through this beautiful writing/blogging community and through the self-care practices that I have established in my every day life, that the more I am truly honest with how I am feeling the easier it is to get back to being the best version of me.
The whole truth was a difficult road to journey down, as it meant I had to acknowledge that with light there comes dark, even inside of me. We are not perfect, we are not meant to be, and the sooner we stop shaming those who suffer, accept the imperfection in each other and start supporting and celebrating every part of us, the more peace we will have. In the meantime, I will continue both my internal and external conversations of the whole truth about what makes me me, and continue to talk myself out of the dark.
In contemplating my next post, I realized that through this journey so far of discussing honoring your story, love, forgiveness and finding your Truth, I never properly introduced myself. I find that to be a gigantic oversight, because how can you relate to someone who talks about having a story but never told it. While each of my posts give you a glimpse of who I am as a mom, a writer and that my path has not always been smooth sailing, I feel it’s time to give you a summary of me and how I got here.
While I could write a book about my life to this point (unpublished, but I actually have, which is how I found my love of writing), I feel a good summary of significant points in my journey would be enough to give you an idea of just who I am, and why my path has lead me to this blog and to the desire to write a book.
There is beauty and humility in imperfection. ~ Guillermo del Toro
As a Child –
As a younger version of me I grew up as the oldest of two. I’d like to think of myself as a good big sister, but I was far from it. The moment my brother came home, there was something really special about him, and I knew it, and was jealous enough to make his life miserable for a while. Eventually, we were able to heal our relationship, and presently, we are closer than we have been most of our lives.
However, this particular personality trait is what drove me a good portion of my life -jealous, angry and easily triggered. I felt I was constantly trying to prove something. I was the only girl on my mom’s side of five cousins and my brother, so needless to say, I was a tomboy always looking for my place. I was also an introvert who loved reading, quotes, poetry and art, and dabbled in a little of it all, but never felt I excelled at any, which led to much self-doubt.
Most of my life, I never understood what it meant to be empathic or highly sensitive. (This is a post I plan to cover later on). I never equated this trait to my anxiety. In a nutshell I could actually feel when someone was sad or disappointed, which made me very susceptible to worry, fear, anxiety and depression. I suffered from much of these growing up, never understanding where it came from and how to name it, let alone control it. I learned to hide it well, like I did many things. I felt if I was able to hide my true feelings, I could go through life just like everyone else. Not until later did I realize that facing these truths allowed me to understand them, and embrace them, which allowed me to truly live as me.
My stubborn ways stayed with me as I grew up, and if I set my mind to something or believed I was right, there was no convincing me otherwise. This is where my universal lessons came into play, specifically in my relationships. I chose partners that reflected who I wanted to be, not who I felt I was. I wanted to be confident, strong and know my place in this life, and chose people who I felt exhibited those traits. Unfortunately, these tended to be strong personalities that eventually did not mix well with my own, specifically when I was attempting to find my unique voice.
I was married and divorced twice with two kids before I was thirty years old. After these divorces, and still trying to find my place, feeling that maybe I had it all wrong, my next relationship was with my best friend, who was female and lasted eight years, but also ended due to my need to find out who I truly was in this world. While I now share my life with a wonderful man who is the reflection of my soul, and who walks with me down my true path (this is a story in itself I may write about one day), I have learned through this journey that I am forever grateful to those I’ve shared my life with, as they have shaped me and guided me to where I am today.
My kids are my heart, and I feel I learned a lot as a mom as we grew up together, but it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Due to my failed relationships, my daughter moved 10 times before she was 10, and my son suffered from night terrors, which I have carried guilt about for so very long. They are now 18 and 13 and we have wonderful relationships, but the stories in between could have lead us down much different paths. The biggest lessons I have learned about life have been through my kids, and I am blessed to be in the place I am with them today.
Growing up I never knew what I wanted to do with myself, and was guided in different directions, but ended up within the legal field where I spent most of my adult life. I earned my paralegal degree and worked within several different law firms over a 20 year period. I struggled with this for some time, especially because within that span I learned what writing truly meant to me. Needing a change, I am currently in school as a psychology major, and I found a place within real estate for a utility company. While my passion lies elsewhere, I love that I can support my family surrounded by wonderful people.
I grew up Catholic and for many years I resented the religion and much of what it stood for, never understanding that there is much more to faith than religion. I have found through the many lessons of life, including death, that there is much we can’t see, and much we don’t know, but something much greater exists. In my journey, I have found my faith again, and this has taken me to a new level of understanding and love.
In Life andDeath-
My turning point came when I experienced death in a way I never thought I would experience it. While I had lost family growing up, never did I experience the depth of loss until I had to say goodbye to those who were younger than me or close to my age and heart. In a short period, I lost an 18 year old family member to a fire, a young cousin to addiction, my grandmother who I was very close to, way too soon, my three year old step-nephew to illness, almost lost my dad, and my daughter was gravely struggling in her world. These events rocked me to the core and changed my course.
Once I was able to comprehend what had happened in my life, I was determined to walk the path I was here for and live how I was supposed to live, in happiness and truth, instead of sadness, regret and anger, which took me to my WHY.
There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us. ~ Simon Sinek
I have so much to say about this, but will summarize because I plan to post about each stepping stone to my true Why as I continue to blog. My passion for writing started as a kid when I learned just how much quotes inspired me, and still do. I began writing my own from the heart, and at one time even submitted some for copyright. I also loved to draw and read, however, I never thought of myself as creative because my definition of creative was skewed, and felt I didn’t qualify since I wasn’t good at just making up stories on the fly, or a designer or painter.
As I dabbled in the written word through poetry and quotes, I didn’t find my true voice in writing until my second marriage. I was home with my son and struggling with being a mom again, figuring out who I was in the world, and my relationship as a whole. I decided one day to sit down at my old computer and start to type. As soon as I opened that door, the words began to pour out like they had been waiting all that time to be heard, and from then on I knew deep down this was what I was meant to do, it was the matter of figuring out in what capacity.
As I found my voice in writing, life got in the way and I began to work again, and while I temporarily buried this part of me to just do the day by day thing, other passions showed themselves, reminding me that I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I volunteered at the dog shelter, feeling I needed to give back, and I ended up writing about the orphaned dogs. I found I loved to coach, started with volleyball and now coach beginner runners, which is where I found that inspiring those to live their best life is my calling, which I began to write about. I then started and stopped blogging over the years and finally I started this blog and just keep going. Feeling as if there was a hole in my heart, I was searching to fill it, and I ended up right back behind a keyboard.
While my WHY is to inspire through my own stories and lessons, my HOW is through this blog and eventually my many books 😉 I believe every one of us has a WHY and a HOW and it is up to us to find out what they are in order to live the very best versions of ourselves in this incredible life we have been given.
Our purpose is our reason, and living in that purpose is when you become who you are meant to be. I cannot thank each of you enough who take the time to read this blog and to follow my story, and my hope for you is that you find your purpose, and you share it with the world so you can live as the very best you.
Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. ― George Addair
Most of my life I have been plagued with anxiety, and while suffering from it has been difficult, hiding it has been much easier. On the outside I would come off as maybe a little intense or excitable, but not anxious. However, inside, I was a wreck. My mind would be racing while my heart would follow. I would feel as if there was a storm that I couldn’t control internally shifting me for reasons I couldn’t explain. On top of the emotional chaos, anxiety has a way of playing tricks on my mind, and for a very long time, I allowed it to dictate my thoughts and ultimately my actions in this adventure called life.
While there are many reasons behind my anxiety, fear is the most profound. Fear of spiders, natural heights, massive crowds, my laundry pile, gloomy weather, unfamiliar places, losing someone I love, or one that kept me from truly living for so many years, rejection.
Rejection, not meeting up to someone’s expectation, or being left out, is/was (I’m working on it) paralyzing for me. Was it a learned thought process rather than a born one, I would answer yes, aren’t most fears learned at one time or another? When did I learn it? I may tell you that it was the 2nd grade when I was completely embarrassed for blowing my nose from a cold in front of the class and they all laughed, or because I was almost six foot tall in middle school and towered over not just the girls, but the boys as well, but honestly, I’m not sure exactly when I learned it, and maybe it was a progressive compilation of many moments, but no matter how it happened, or when it happened, it scared the hell out of me.
As with my anxiety, I learned to hide this fear by pretending all was good, life was grand, and that every decision I made I made with upmost, pigheaded confidence. I would be so convincing to others that I began to convince myself. Although I never realized it then, lying to myself became the norm and along with lying as a defense mechanism for my fear, I recently learned that procrastination was a sneaky “characteristic” that not only kept me from facing that fear, but gave me the ultimate excuse. It was part of my personality, it was who I was.
I look back and I am beside myself to think of all the times procrastination either delayed a blow to the ego, avoided frightening confrontation or kept me from rejection all together. What I wasn’t seeing back then was that eventually it all caught up with me, and if I would have just dealt with the situation in the moment it wouldn’t have been so difficult later.
I’ve only recently admitted these facts about my personality to myself, because only recently have I realized how prominent I use this mechanism in my life, and only recently did it truly click why. My revelation came when I was asking for universal guidance and then questioning my own actions in the process. As I’ve said in many of my previous posts, my true path is to inspire, and my goal is to do so as an author. Funny thing is though, to be an author, you have to write a book.
I have the ideas, I have the words, I even have the outline, but for some reason I cannot get myself to start page one. In this moment, I thought about all the reasons I haven’t begun, like I’m too busy at work, I have too many obligations, I feel blocked, I need to meditate instead, I have to binge watch Netflix, it’s too nice outside, I have to prep dinners (which I absolutely never do, but it’s been an excuse), and the list goes on and on, and then suddenly the light bulb went off in my head, it finally dinged. I am terrified.
Being on a solid stretch of self-discovery and sharing my journey, and what helps me along the way has opened my eyes to who I really am, and to the lies that anxiety and fear have been telling me for so long. I am procrastinating. I am so afraid I either won’t finish, or I won’t succeed that I continue to make excuses to not takes steps toward my goal. This frustrates and angers me, but most of all, it saddens me.
In so many aspects of my life I have taken incredible leaps and bounds toward my truth, and encourage others to do the same, but for this, my ultimate dream, I’m so scared of it disappearing, I’m paralyzed at the notion of trying. Even right now, I should be writing Chapter One, but instead, I’m writing about how I’m not writing.
With these new-found revelations, I decided that it is time to take my own advice. While I’m nervous typing these words, I am consciously aware why I am standing still, and consciously aware that I need to get over it. I will write my book and I will start now.
As we walk our paths within our true selves understanding that we are here for a reason, we cannot let fear hold us back. I know this, and I now know more than ever that it is my choice to stay where I’m at or step toward my purpose. Today, I choose to take that step, I hope all who read this do too.
As a side note, when I began blogging, I was also terrified, but today, I am truly grateful for this platform as without it and without the opportunity to share my thoughts, I may still be paralyzed by fear. Thank you for allowing me to share my story and thank you for reading. ❤
The art of patience was always a mystery to me. I walked through this life expecting immediate answers and quick action. I never thought of it as impatience, to me, this was responsible, dependable and what was expected. If you got instant results you were successful, and you were on the best path for you. It took a whole lot of life to teach me my philosophy was dead wrong.
I was and I’m really working on not being the most impatient person that walks the earth. No joke, I watch for the water to boil, or check my email a hundred times, and refresh a hundred and one. I have always felt I had to have instant results, instant response, instant reaction. Then, if I didn’t get what I was waiting for in that timeframe, I would get anxious and angry and the conversation in my head would swirl with doubt and disappointment. Most of the time these moments would involve me putting myself out there for interviews, publication, critique or grades, but sometimes my anxiety would sprinkle a little fun on my already impatient mind and take my worry to a whole new level.
I can still hear it now “what if they didn’t get what I was trying to say”, “what if they don’t like me”, “what if I offended them, oh god, what if I offended them”, “what if something is wrong”, “maybe I was wrong”, “what if they’re hurt, or worse”, “maybe I’m not good enough”, and as time ticked by the anger would turn to sadness, and the conversation went more like “yeah, I definitely wasn’t good enough”, “I suck at everything, I’m never gonna make it”, “I’m just not pretty, or cute or fun or nice or sweet, or worth it…..”. My impatience turned into so much more than watching water boil and I sabotaged myself before I gave myself or anyone, for that matter, a chance and I’d give up, pretend I didn’t care and quit.
You see, my impatience was not just irritation at red lights, or slow check out lines, my impatience ran to a deeper level, the level of acceptance by others. It needed to be instant, or I was panicked with doubt, and it took a long time to realize that the more patient I was with others and with me, the quicker I got where or what I was looking for.
Ironically, I began this next paragraph several days ago completely different than I am today. The point I’m attempting to make with this post and the evidence to back it, finally came to me in such an unexpected way. This evening I went digging around in my old papers looking for quotes I jotted down years ago when I first acknowledged my love of writing. Within those papers were unfinished stories, a first and last chapter of a biography, tales of my kids and pages and pages of ideas and notes. If I told you I found my passion back in 2006 it may come as a surprise or it may not, but the fact is, these papers just prove that patience is key. I did not have these notes handy the day I began this blog or my project of Finding Happy, One Day at a Time. These notes pictured were boxed away in 2009 but its clear evidence to me that if we were meant to journey down a path, we will, you just need a little patience.
Patience allowed me to soften to the possibilities of life, love, happiness and most recently, purpose. By stepping away from my keyboard I had the opportunity to reflect and discover what I may not have to finish this post, and on a bigger scale, patience has allowed me to pursue my dream without haste, which has shown to be most rewarding, follow my heart without urgency, and find my purpose in this life. What we desire and the purpose for which we live may not be revealed to us in the timeframe we believe it should, but it does not mean it fails to exist. If we are just little more patient with the process and with ourselves, where we are meant to be and what we are meant to do will be disclosed to us quicker than we can imagine.
For one to live, we must fill our lungs with air and release the carbon dioxide from within. This is a simple and usually automatic action for every living creature. So why, when we are stressed, overwhelmed or panicked do we forget to breathe.
Personally, this lapse of thought happens all too often when I run. It’s my biggest hurdle. I start off at a steady pace and if I’m feeling good, as I gain distance, I lose my mind and move faster than my body is ready for. When this happens, I start to suck air, quickly, as if I was holding it in for hours and now I’m playing catch up. My chest gets heavy and there are moments I even feel light headed. I tend to believe it’s because I suck at running, and the more strained I become, the more frustrated I get, and the more strained I become, it’s the cycle of hell. At least that’s how it feels.
At the moment when I’m about to stop, give up, just sit down on the trail and call for a ride, I hear an all too familiar voice, “breathe through it.” Just when I need it most, it’s my running partner, friend and coach, “breathe through it Lisa”. It’s funny, that when we are physically strained or uncomfortable, we have a tendency to remind ourselves, or each other that the air filling our lungs will reduce the sensation of pain. However, when it’s an emotional period in our lives, we can’t seem to remember to breathe.
While I’m sure many parents out there will tell me I’m wrong, because they reminded themselves to breathe 142 times today before their head exploded due to summer vacation only being half over, I totally get it. But, what about the time when you forgot your kindergartener’s sack lunch for the field trip at the zoo, or the night you scrambled to write your final paper for school because you spent the day consoling a friend, or the time when your boss stood over your shoulder while you finished a deadline, or facing a room full at a big interview, or the day your husband came home defeated because he just got laid off, or the call that there was an accident. While each of these scenarios are on different parts of the spectrum of stress and panic, each of them, requires a “breathe” factor to break that cycle of hell we are caught in.
Sometimes that emotional moment, self-inflicted or from another source, takes us to a place where we forget that we need to fill our lungs with air so we can keep moving forward. We forget that in order to live we must breathe.
We are faced with obstacles every day, minor ones, major ones and some catastrophic, and while there are times we want to give up and sit down on the trail, a lot of times we just need to close our eyes, slowly suck in air to fill our chest, hold it just a second and remind ourselves that we are capable of much more than we realize, and at that very moment our first step is to breathe.
When we allow ourselves this breath, amazing things occur; physically our heart rate slows, and our head stops spinning, and mentally we may get just a little more clear in our reaction, solution, or perspective. It can take a few seconds or a few hours, but you’d be surprised the strength, courage and self-awareness you can find if you just Breathe Through It…