Saturday, November 17, 2018

You Are Enough

You are enough. There seldom isn't a time in my day when I'm not contemplating this very thought. Three little words that turn my inner monolog into an inner battle of sanity. What does it mean to be enough and are we ever really satisfied? My truth - well, my truth is no. There isn't a point for me when I feel satisfied. I think that's one of the most difficult puzzle pieces of my personality and it's probably true for a hell'uva lot of people out there too. I've always felt like I have to be active and when I finish one thing, I'm immediately working on something else. Sometimes, even working on multiple projects at a time and procrastinating on all of them. I know, it's craziness! Not enough hours in the day and all those other nonsense excuses that seem to make delaying acceptable.  It's this vicious cycle that eats away at your sanity each and every day. It's that feeling you have when you lay in bed at night thinking about how much you need to get done but then getting nowhere with it once it's finally time to actually put in the work. Is it really because the effort we put forward isn't good enough, or is it because we just make ourselves believe a falsity about ourselves?

I've been doing this daily challenge lately, it consists of cognitive positive thinking activities that bring about happier thought patterns and improve mood and well being. In the beginning, I didn't really see how it was helping but as I progressed, I realized the impact it was having on my daily life. I felt calmer and more peaceful inside, my mind was quieter yet more intuned with creativity and desire to accomplish my goals. Tasks became easier to tick off my list and my moments were becoming more memorable as I focused more on gratitude and being more intentional with how I spent my time and energy. As the weeks past, I started to notice that those little things that sent my blood racing and my anxiety skyrocketing became less of what I'd considered triggers and more of a blend of daily life. I'd finally started to feel like I was getting somewhere, that'd I'd made some progress. I was beginning to know what "normal" felt like to millions of others who didn't know what it was like to suffer from this invisible weight I was always carrying...

 Then something else incredible happened. I stopped worrying about what other people thought of me, I stopped letting them drag me into their drama - I even started telling them not to think to include me in their bullshit. That's the kind of emotional power that leaves you feeling full inside in all the right ways. I stopped asking for help from people who refused to show up for me when it didn't benefit them. I started looking into myself for the answers that had been pressing down on me, and I started to make the tough choices I'd been reluctant to for all those years I'd held them inside of myself. It's not an easy task to be honest with yourself, especially after years of programming your mind to protect you from the triggers to those surprises that you consider to be problems you'll have to deal with and work through. And retraining your brain? Let me tell you, its hard work and that's not because you're incapable of changing. It's simply because you've programmed your brain into thinking you're incapable of changing. And fixing it, clearing out that negative talk... it's not an easy road to travel. You have to work at every day and you have to practice grace for yourself when you step off the track. You're going to... believe me. It gets easier though, and the longer you work at it, the more habit it becomes.

Along the way of creating habits, I started looking for ways to naturally focus my mind and energy that didn't involve taking medication. It's not that medication doesn't help or that it doesn't work, especially when you find the right one for you, but it's wanting more for yourself - your mind and body. It's learning to grow past that routine and incorporating a new one that's better and more beneficial for your mind, body, and soul.  So in my searching, I found a lot of techniques, some worked and some didn't and for me, these have been the most rewarding.

1. Journaling-
      “Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.” – Robin S. Sharma

Yes to this! Journaling for me is very helpful. It's a safe place where I can talk to myself in such a way that I can go back to look and recall my thoughts or words in perfect clarity of how I was feeling, where I was going in my direction, or where I was struggling and able to overcome. The hardest part of doing so much "mental" work and retaining your brain, is that your brain works extra hard to fill you with self-doubt and insecurities. Naturally, we focus and submit to the ideas and feelings that make us feel safe - even those ones that are damaging to us. Safe doesn't always equal sane... safe is just how we feel when we begin to expect and accept our circumstances. The unknown is frightening for most of us and fear is what prevents us from growing. Journaling is something I try to do every day because it's scientifically proven to help, and here are some examples of how.

Writing can:
- Put you into a calming environment and help you to clear the clutter out of your mind.

- Release those pent-up feelings and everyday stress that drag you down and fill you with negative talk.

- You can begin letting go of negative thoughts. Once you recognize negative talk, it becomes easier to shut it down!

- Exploring your experiences with anxiety and see the patterns. There ARE patterns.

- Writing about your struggles and your successes. A great way to reflect and fill yourself will positive self-talk. There's always struggle, but how you begin to identify and react, will do wonders for you in time.

- Enhancing your self-awareness and teaching you about your triggers. Remember what I was saying about patterns?

- Track your progress as you undergo treatment.

These points and more are the beneficial qualities of writing and journaling. And you don't have to be "great" at it or even good. Just taking those thoughts spinning around in your head and getting them out will help.

2. Zen Board  / Buddha Board 
Mastering the art of letting go. The Buddha Board is perfect for this! If you never heard of this technique you're in for a treat. The basic idea behind Buddha Boards is practicing Zen. It's a board made of natural materials that allow you to write on it with water and a simple brush. The writing starts out dark but then gradually fades over time until the writing or the design you painted is completely gone. This process happens through evaporation.

What I love about this concept, is that I can take my negative thoughts, emotions, essentially anything that's weighing me down - write them down and then watch them fade away. You can sit and watch it dry and disappear, or you can come back later and find it completely gone. How this helps me is by writing down that negative self-talk and emotion, I'm actively practicing releasing it from my mind, body, and soul. As it disappears, I make peace with it and watch as it fades away.

Does this solve all my problems, hell no! I'll tell you though, it helps me stay focused, positive, and grateful.

Just google "Buddha Board" and you can find them pretty cheap out there.

Here's a good website if you want to just check it out-

Another thing I do on paper that helps is the following:

Write down 3 Things that bring me joy (In bright colored pens)

Write down 3 Things that have been bothering me (in pencil)

On the second list, I erase those things that I have no control over and have been pulling me down and bothering me. I take a moment to reflect and then as I blow away the eraser residue I imagine that I'm releasing my worries, regret, stress. Then I think "Come What May."

You might feel kinda silly doing this at first or even find it a tad cliche but in all honesty it's worked very well for me.

3. Ted Talks and other Motivational Content 

I watch, listen to, and read more positive content. Have you ever heard that phrase "you are what you eat?" Think of this in a similar light. What you feed your mind, body, and soul is what you'll feel, how you'll behave, and what you'll expect. What you fill your cup with is the cool-aid you'll be drinking.

Some TED Talks that I've loved and always gone back to -

John Gray -
An all-time bestselling author of 17 books sold in 45 languages, including Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, John Gray is arguably the world's foremost expert on relationships. Gray's focus is helping men and women understand, respect and appreciate their differences in both personal and professional relationships. He's appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The View and Larry King. He's also been profiled in Newsweek, Time, Forbes, USA Today, and People Magazine.

John Gray TED Talk

Tony Robbins 
Tony Robbins discusses the "invisible forces" that make us do what we do.
Tony Robbins TED Talk

Rachel Hollis
Don’t give other people permission to tell you to quit. Choose who you want to be! Not tomorrow, not next Monday, TODAY. Decide what you want right now. If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. You are in control of what happens next. - Rachel Hollis

Rachel Hollis YouTube
Hollis Co.
Chic Site aka Rachel Hollis

Books I LOVE:
Big Magic by Liz Gilbert
You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
How To Fight A Hydra by Josh Kaufman
Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
UnF*ck Yourself - Gary John Bishop
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyual Rinpoche

(I'm not being paid to mention any of these and the views are entirely my own.)

4. Gratitude and 10 Truths Daily Writing

You can journal it, that's what I do. Each morning I write down five ideas I'll focus on that day after I wake up and start my day. This helps me to be a little more conscious of where I want my day to head.

Some examples might be tasks like -
- Stay hello and make eye contact with 10 strangers
- Drink at least 60 ounces of water before I go to bed that night
- Be ready for bed by 8:30pm
- Spending one on one time with my kids
- Preparing a healthy dinner - not the same stuff we always eat.

Then, at the end of the day, I get in bed and do my journaling - this helps clear my mind for sleep, followed by writing down ten things I'm grateful for. This gives me an opportunity to reflect on the day and think about where I can grow and where I need to focus some work on.

I also write down my 10 truths - what that does is helps reprogram my brain. So examples.... I write down every night the same list of 10 truths - the things I want to believe are true and will achieve. As time passes, some of those goals are achieved or evolve. Some take a little longer for my brain to believe. :)

This is an example and my current list -

1. I'm beautiful inside and out.
2. I'm an amazing mom.
3. I'm a leader and someone other people can look up to.
4. I'm so strong. I can accomplish my goals.
5. I'm a Best Selling author.
6. I haven't quit and I won't.
7. I run my own business.
8. I have a happy full life, I'm successful and whole in all aspects.
9. I inspire others - I contribute to making the world a more beautiful and balanced place.
10. I don't slow down or give up. I KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

5. Music
I listen to uplifting music and expose myself to other genres or cultures. I focus on keeping my mind open and learning - through this I've discovered that music is a very diverse and uniting language we all share and understand.

This might seem like a lot, but I promise it's worth it. Don't get overwhelmed and take things one day at a time. Start out small with the exercises like I did and grow yourself to these practices and more each day. Over time, they make a big difference. Just keep remembering, you're enough, you're worth it, and you can do this. <3


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Let the Sunshine

For as long as I could remember, I've wanted to start a blog. At first, I didn't know what I'd write about, or how I would actually start one. I didn't know what content I would post, where I would get it from or how I would maintain it. I procrastinated so much, I actually convinced myself that by putting it off, I'd one day have this epiphany, this magic moment where I'd suddenly have the clarity about what I wanted to write about. Well, that moment was today - and it wasn't some great epiphany, it was simply a moment when I finally decided I'd procrastinated enough.

The thing is, life is funny in the sense that for most of mine, I'd been either waiting for the next thing to come along. Whether it was some big plans, or some season of life that was going to change everything for me and how I lived my life, or some special event that'd I'd occupy my time with, I just spent my time waiting time... and the problem with that, is that while I was waiting for that next thing to come along, I was missing the moments between them by standing still. I wasn't living in the moment and enjoying my life and what it really had to offer me on a daily basis. I wasn't excited about anything... I was overwhelmed, stressed, and dare I even say depressed. Oh yes, I was terribly depressed, almost irrationally so.

So what happened? Well, things were quickly spiraling out of control for me. I kept thinking that if I set goals, if I focused on that next best thing, that when I'd gotten there I'd have finally felt satisfied or at least had a sense of some kind of accomplishment. I needed a great relationship, and in order to get that, I needed to be everything for my partner in order to believe I was worthy of what I was craving to receive from him, even if that meant neglecting myself during that whole process. Sound weird? Don't worry, it gets better. I needed to have a family overflowing with happiness, a successful career ripe with success and growth, a beautiful home filled with things I didn't really need,  and I had to have a nice car to get me around and help me fit in with all the other perfect moms, who I didn't realize were struggling just as horribly as I was. You see, I was so busy worrying about everything else, all those little glass plates - the ones with each compartment of my life neatly organized on in perfect little portions -  that I was struggling to keep them all balanced. I'd like to say that slowly, one by one, I dropped each of them to the ground and kept some perfectly intact but the truth of it is, they all fell all at once and shattered into a thousand pieces, all my perfect little portions were a blended mess on the ground, scattered around me in chaos. I couldn't tell one thing from another and the more it all blended and blurred inside my mind, the more resentful and angry I became. The more upset I became about the life I'd worked so hard to build being shattered on the floor, the more I looked to understand why'd I'd become such a failure, to begin with. At first, I slipped into a miserable depression and it wasn't one that lasted a few weeks or months either. It was years of my life, years - wasted, gone. I'll never have them back. The time that I lost can't ever be recovered, the damaged that was done in the wake I may never fully heal from. To the outside world, the one outside of the four walls of my home, outside of my husband, and outside of my children, you'd have never known. I wore a smile and those who didn't know me didn't know how loud I was screaming inside. Screaming through the smile and charm I'd worn every day.

Then, one day, it all fell apart, even my carefully placed facade. The mask I wore every day to the outside world took a heavy blow. It was a day I can still remember with perfect clarity. It was the day my body finally crashed, unable to carry the heavy burdens inside my mind and heart any longer. I'd like to tell you that that moment was the wakeup call I'd just had... but that'd be a lie too. In a way, I did pick myself up, try to get better, and fix what was wrong. My tactics though were to put a band-aid on a bullet hole. Not nearly as effective as I hoped it was going to be. I tried different things, little at first, but the intensity of wanting to keep trying wore off, and I'd fill my time with other things to occupy my busy mind, I changed the bandaid from time to time, but an infection began to form and fester... to a point where it could no longer be ignored with a simple band-aid solution.

My husband and I had hit rock bottom in our marriage, the kind where you sit down and try to figure out how the hell you're both going to survive after going through a divorce. During these talks, we decided trying out marriage counseling... I'd always been hesitant. Skeptical to say the very least that talking to a therapist could help me. Hell, I'd tried it before five years ago and it was a damn near disaster that almost killed my marriage right then and there.  This time though, things are much different and that's where this story begins.

This blog is an account of my journey through this crazy, beautiful, yet sometimes completely miserable life. By starting it, I'm hoping that not only can I heal old wounds in my heart and mind, but that by maybe someday, somewhere, I'll also help someone else going through this same exact shitstorm that I've been going through, but that maybe my weathering through it and blazing trail will help the next person find their way through the jungle storm.

Fair warning, I swear, I'm going to be blunt, and I'm probably going to say things that make you scratch your head in wonder, WTF is up with this chick? You definitely don't have to like or agree with my opinion and I absolutely welcome you to challenge me in healthy constructive conversation. I'm an avid addict of learning and debating. My husband says I have a talent for fighting... I like to think I've just had a lot of practice over the years and perfected my art of persuasive reasoning.

So, welcome! Pull up a chair and get yourself comfortable, friend.   I'm delighted that you're here, reading my story. I honeslty hope it helps bring you your own clarity...yourown sunshine. In the end, all we can do is try to be better today then we were yesterday. That's all I want for myself and I'm not holding any other expectations beyond that.

- Jen