Stuck In The Weeds (Again)

Been a while since I posted. I was “in the weeds” for a while, again. In a funk. Really stuck.

What the heck! Do I like it there in the weeds for crying out loud?!?

Could’ve been all the rain last month, and the stupid cold temperatures, (Not. Normal.) Could be I left my job last July and don’t know what the heck to do with myself 10 months later. Maybe it’s Donald Trump’s popularity. And, was mercury in retrograde?

<Sigh>

Eventually, when I got quiet enough to listen, I realized that I was having symptoms of–drum roll please–stress.

I was a little embarrassed to have been roiling about in my misery all that time, only to come up with “stress” as the reason. It’s just not that interesting. So cliché.

But there it was, the truth of it. Stress. Light started to pierce the fog. I began to understand what to do. I started a list.

  • Medical bills
  • No job or direction
  • Taxi-cabbing everyone everywhere
  • A kid with some special needs
  • Getting Mom into new house
  • Concern for my dear husband’s job stress
  • Worrying about my DH coping with physical changes caused by cancer
  • Worsening physical problems of my own
  • Me, not talking about it
  • Me, not taking care of myself

The weather’s nicer now. Sunshine helps, especially if I actually go out in it. Exercize helps, too. (Dammit!) And naps.  Eating real food. Meditation and prayer. I did more of all the above, but the very best help came from a friend, when we met for mini-golf and lunch.

I hadn’t been up for much socializing. My body was expressing my stress level, and I just had to do something. I really wanted to keep avoiding, stay right where I was in my my own little patch of yuck. And, weirdly, I also wanted to be not there. I didn’t know what to do with myself. But my friend did. She can reach that place where I curl up and hide, and she does it in the kindest, gentlest way. And, she hears from God.

It took me all the way through mini-golfing and most of the way through lunch before I blurted out, “I have been struggling.” Then this friend, a gifted, compassionate listener, did for me what I could not do for myself: led me out of the weeds.

Not for the first time, I quietly marveled at my impressive ability to hold onto dark, stinking thoughts, beliefs, and feelings so tightly, despite the misery they cause me. It’s a skill I developed a long time ago. And it no longer serves me.

During this time of transition–coming out of scary family medical issues, quitting my job,  questioning my understanding of God’s place in the universe–I’ve prayed for help getting to the “next  place,” wherever it is, whatever it needs to be. I naively thought that this wouldn’t take God very long. Ha! If you want to know who isn’t is in charge, just ask God to take you where you need to go. For me, I always get what I ask for, and it’s never in a way I expected. It’s actually better than I expect, every time.

My friend told me, in a nutshell, that:

  1. God’s crazy about me.  In fact, God’s doing cartwheels because of me.
  2. God wants me to now enjoy the garden I sowed (the literal garden in my yard, and the one in my head–because they are now BLOOMING) when I was working through my struggles.
  3. God isn’t condemning me for struggling.
  4. God wants me to “get in the boat” with Him/Her and give Him/Her the oars. (Not the first time I’ve received that message…)

So, now that I’ve been reminded, I’m letting God’s universe of Love set me free every day. The worries do still nip at my heels. I fight fear and doubt daily. But, now, I’m sharing my struggles with people I trust. And you. Hope it helps.

RE-Vision: A New Year To Play With

Here’s what I wrote on FaceBook early in this new year:

I usually come up with a personal theme each new year, a guiding thought. This year, it’s “Do what you love.” As I regroup after a hectic holiday season, I think about the 5 a.m. wakeup tomorrow to get my dear daughter up for her first day back to school. Blechhh! I don’t want to leave my cozy holiday cocoon–morning coffee in the glow of Christmas tree lights, pondering the lyrics of seasonal music, the warmth of connecting with so many dear people these past weeks. Going back to the old and usual doesn’t feel much like doing what I love, but isn’t it, really? And, if not, what will I do to change it? So, tomorrow, I’ll make it my good pleasure to wake up with my daughter. It’ll be my joy to sit down at my computer, work on my blog, pay bills, and put in some hours at my job. Do the dishes, plan dinner, solve some personal problems, take down the Christmas tree. All in peace and comfort, and with joy. Until God sends me to do something else. That’ll be something I love, too; I know it.

Ah, so sweet and peaceful was I…

Here’s what my FB post, had I written one then, would read a mere three days later:

Peace and comfort and joy? Yeah, right! Getting my teenager out the door for school after a long holiday vacation is like waiting for molasses to pour out of a measuring cup and into the bowl. The last time I signed her into school late, I wrote in the Reason For Lateness column: “Ask her!”  The Christmas tree’s needles are crunchy and brown and falling off in waves, and why did I feel compelled to put so many dang ornaments on it?!? Our kitchen counters aren’t cleaned off all the way yet, and the laundry is piled high in the bedroom. We need groceries, and my dear mother needs a ride to the dentist. I have work (the kind that pays) to do.  I’m tired!  Next year, I’ll handle Christmas differently…

Uh-huh. Maybe. But, instead of getting on my own case about what’s done and what needs doing, I’m deciding to let it all the heck GO!  And be easy on myself, for heaven’s sake.

In October, I revised my list of goals/visions from last year, labeling it “REVISION.” Here’s a piece of it:

REvisionList

I jotted this on a tiny piece of note paper in about 6 minutes.  A very inspired and inspiring woman encouraged me years ago to write a list of what I wanted down on paper, to create a  vision for my life, in detail. She’d done it and wound up achieving what she’d envisioned.  I didn’t attempt mine until years later. Recently, to my surprise, when I looked over the things on my first one, almost everything had been achieved, acquired, or improved. (Cool, right?)  So I had to write a new one!

Why don’t you try writing a vision list? Here’s what I did:

  • Sat in a coffee shop, alone, having hot coffee and an egg sandwich.
  • Realized how right and good it is for me to eat a decent breakfast.
  • Looked at my FaceBook notifications on my phone.
  • Realized it might be better for me to put the dang phone down and enjoy my food and the atmosphere and the freedom I have to just be there in that cute little coffee shop.
  • Felt cranky because it was too warm for October in my neck of the woods.
  • Felt cranky because I thought I would know by then what I was going to do next with my life.
  • Realized it’s good to be in touch with my feelings, and even better to do something about them.
  • Eventually started to notice what I was thinking about.
  • Put what I was thinking about on paper, using one of my favorite pens. Plus, the paper was from a note pad that one of my favorite peeps gave me.
  • Realized for the zillionth time that, noticing is important, starting with noticing how I’m doing, if I’m hungry, what I’m longing for.
  • Realized I felt extremely grateful.
  • Whispered “Thank You” to God.

FYI: I wrote this second list in October. Now it’s time to write the next one.  Because all but one thing on this list has happened.  Exciting! Top of the next list?  “Do what I love”–my aforementioned theme for this new year. I’m pretty sure I’ll be posting some day about how that’s going.

If you write a vision list for yourself, I’d sure like to know what it was like for you, how you did it, and/or how things are happening in your life as a result. You can comment on this post, or send a message. And, always, I appreciate getting “Likes” on my posts, if you’re so inclined.  Thanks for reading!

BTW:  The talented and kind woman who inspired me to write my first list is Kathy Dempsey. I read her first book, Shed or You’re Dead 31 Unconventional Strategies for Growth & Change, which tells her hard-to-believe personal story and how it inspired her to achieve mucho success inspiring others.  You can get to her web site here.

 

Tools For Slogging Through Mud

I was SO attached to the summer.  And now, it’s over.

I use the change of seasons to learn again to adjust to things I can’t control. My latest railings are against, among other things, aging, cancer, fall allergies, and government gone amok.

And rude people.

So many people seem to have big control issues. (Never me–ha!) Why do some folks have to drive like maniacs so they can cut in front of me ONE SPACE?  What’s going on with those who are constantly IN MY BUSINESS, telling me what I ought to do as if I’m four years old?  Those people.  And, what about the ones who decide who and who cannot come worship the God of love in the same space as they do?

Rude.

But, then I remember.  I am like them sometimes, and so are you.  Perfectly imperfect humans. Unless you’re the Dalai Lama.  Or Jesus.

Dang!

With lots of help from many sources, and because I was in so much emotional pain way back when, I learned mostly the hard way about the fragile balance of controlling: what’s mine -vs- what’s yours to take care of.  As a codependent type, I still sometimes struggle (despite all the growth I’ve experienced) with trying not to steer someone else’s ship, or, conversely, letting them steer mine.  Then there’s the way I can avoid people (instead of having a conversation) when they’ve overstepped my boundaries.  It’s complicated.  But I have come really far and generally am free of the huge, hairy, codependent thingy tugging at my heart.

As always, the keys are to keep at it and find (and frequently use) tools–books, meditation, videos, humans who listen, stickies on the mirror, connecting with my inner Artist–anything that helps, because working on your issues should, IMHO, never be done without the perspective of connecting with someone or something outside your messed-up self.  I have a growing list of proven (i.e., in my experience) tools here.

There have been healing tools I’ve tried which haven’t worked for me, so my sterling advice is:

Use what works for you

Again, I say: use what works for you. It sounds trite, but I spent too much stress-producing time trying something that I sensed was not for me–another codependent behavior.  So, yeah, use what works for you.

Be good to yourself!  I’d love to hear about your own journey. Just comment below.

Here are links to a couple of books on my shelf and/or iPad® that have helped save me from myself and from Mother Nature:

          

COLORING BLUE

A FRIEND BROUGHT ME TWO COLORING BOOKS  when I was hugely pregnant at age 39 and suffering with tree-trunk ankles.  My particular (read “peculiar”) emotional state could have been described, I guess, as “touchy, stressed, and a little crazy.”

My relationship with my husband was, at the time, very strained.  I was filled with fear about how to have a baby and what to do with it when it arrived.  Oh, yeah, and my father had died just months before the baby was due.

So, I guess I had a lot to be stressed about.  Ya think?

The coloring books my friend brought were nothing like I’d seen before.  They were printed on translucent, plasticky stuff, and the drawings were beautiful, one book of angel pictures, and one of butterflies.  Along with the books, my friend gave me a brand new set of colored pencils.  She gently told me I could color and relax while I put my swollen feet up.  It was a small act of great love, and I did as she suggested.

And it helped me through.

Self care is a litany I recite often and practice slightly less-often.  I always come back to it, though, as I do in my posts.  Coloring is in my Self-Care Toolbox, along with doodling with pencils, good pens, or Sharpie® markers.  It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it.  I pride myself on coloring outside the lines, actually.

Go ahead and find something to do with your hands that frees your mind from worry and fear for a little while.  While you’re at it, you may find yourself praying or meditating or even hearing from God. (It happens to me!)  Washing dishes does it for me.  So does showering or driving or cutting up vegetables for dinner.  But coloring doesn’t ever feel like a chore.  And it’s COLORFUL.  I need more of that in my life, don’t you?

Oh, FYI:  colored pencils didn’t work well on the translucent pages, so I switched to my trusty Sharpie®s.  Crayons worked, too.  I suggest you check out what kind of material the book is made of and use what works.

Here’s one of the books my friend gave me. You can click on it to buy from Amazon, if you’d like.  They have loads of other ones, too.

And here are a couple I’m putting on my wish list for Christmas:

Click On Images To Purchase