Listen, Lean-In, Love

Listen to the voices you trust, to those that inspire you, each day. Learn the lessons being offered if they resonate with you. Learn them well.

Lean-in to hard things when it makes sense. We can do hard things . You can do hard things. We humans, we are built for struggle, to overcome difficulties, to persevere. That’s you, too!

Love yourself; at the same time, as you hold yourself accountable, remember to also love yourself.

And love those around you who love you; and love those who need love; let the love you are blessed with power you forward. Accept it when it is offered; give it as often as you can.

Let it be so: Listen, Lean-In, Love.

Plod, Pause, Progress

These three “P’s”…something to be said for them…

We plod through day-to-day, not always completely inspired, not always completely focused, but overall, if we’re going forward, I’d call that, I DO call that, GOOD;

Sometimes the best thing to do is pause, right where we are, and take stock; take an extra deep breath or ten; take a moment or ten for yourself to look around, reset, remind yourself that you’re enough, just as you are; you’re GOOD;

And maybe through those two actions, maybe that’s the foundation of progress. Of course there’s also the “big moves”, the revelations, the quantum leaps…but I think often progress is the simpler version; one foot in front of the other; doing the work; being present in the here and now, and doing the…next…right…thing.

I’d call that progress.

Other Side

On the other side of the headache, is the comfort and calm and peace to think clearly;

On the other side of releasing the angst and the pain and the toil is the certainty that you can take the next step on that ten thousand mile journey of life;

On the other side of the anxiety that spins you around and flips you upside down is the sense of serenity and peace that you are living exactly the life you’re meant to live in this moment,

And the clarity to change the things that need changing to align your head, your heart, your soul,

Starting now, on the other side.

Anxiety: Release Me

There’s a great Pearl Jam song…from their first album, I think…”Release Me”…

I think that phrase captures a place I come to with my anxiety, sometimes.

So spun up, extended, stretched, tired, spent. I stare at it, waiting, not blinking. Will it consume me? Will I disappear into its frazzled, jagged, frayed folds of angst and despair…? I get to the point where I don’t care, I’m tired of trying…

And sometimes, just then, it releases me…

Or do I release myself…? Maybe therein the magic lies, the trick to be played.

RELEASE YOURSELF.

Just let yourself be. Release the expectations and the mistakes and the fears and just…be you.

Come on. I’ll join you.

We can do it together.

Thought Box

The Thought Box.

Have I mentioned before? Not sure. If not, it’s high time. If I have brought it up before, well, worth exploring a little once again.

The central idea of the Thought Box…just what is it? It’s a concept, that can also be made into a visual reference, a model, a thing to hold and touch.

It’s for the kids; at least that was the original idea.

And how do I suggest they use it? I came up with the box for our kids as a way to clear the mind when trying to go to sleep.

It could be imagined two ways: either a box to put your bad thoughts in, or a box to be imagined as your mind, and this the space to push all the bad the bad thoughts out from. I’ve used the concept many times myself over the years to clear my mind and keep it that way as I go to sleep.

The physical box came to mind when I wanted to give the kids something to help them visualize.

But really, it’s a good way to focus the mind generally. What’s more, it’s not just a way to deal with nightmares, thoughts about bad guys, scary shadows, noises you think you hear down the hall…

Maybe the Thought Box can even be helpful to calm anxiety. Clear your mind of that…pick the color of your anxiety…maybe it’s like green slime…and you push that slime out of the box in your mind; just don’t let it in. Maybe easier said than done; but that’s coping in your mind generally, I think. It takes practice, but these sort of techniques can help.

Go ahead, give that ol’ Thought Box a try ~ you have nothing to lose but your anxiety!

Anxiety: Fight it with Music, with Song, “The Next Right Thing”

Sometimes simply listening to a song over and over can help stave off anxiety, turn your frown upside down, make all the difference.

Give it go, this is a good one for those moments. Just do…

“The Next Right Thing”

(from “Frozen 2” soundtrack)

I’ve seen dark before

But not like this

This is cold

This is empty

This is numb

The life I knew is over

The lights are out

Hello, darkness

I’m ready to succumb

I follow you around

I always have

But you’ve gone to a place I cannot find

This grief has a gravity

It pulls me down

But a tiny voice whispers in my mind

You are lost, hope is gone

But you must go on

And do the next right thing

Can there be a day beyond this night?

I don’t know anymore what is true

I can’t find my direction, I’m all alone

The only star that guided me was you

How to rise from the floor

When it’s not you I’m rising for?

Just do the next right thing

Take a step, step again

It is all that I can to do

The next right thing

I won’t look too far ahead

It’s too much for me to take

But break it down to this next breath

This next step

This next choice is one that I can make

So I’ll walk through this night

Stumbling blindly toward the light

And do the next right thing

And with the dawn, what comes then?

When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again

Then I’ll make the choice

To hear that voice

And do the next right thing

‘Frozen 2’ Songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez

Anxiety: A Continuum

I don’t know what the experts say for sure, but I believe anxiety, like a lot of feelings exist on a continuum.

Maybe all feelings are like this? Probably so.

In this way then, part of coping with anxiety is realizing this common trait exists, and then you can identify some lessons that might be useful.

Anger, Happiness, Frustration, Excitement, Fear, Calm, Anxiety. These are some of the feelings that come to mind; powerful indeed, feelings that can drive us forward, slow us down to “smell the roses”, or stop us cold, frozen in our tracks.

It comes to mind for me that the different feelings, the different emotions have varying affect on us; perhaps it’s more the negative feelings — or those generally thought of as negative — are the ones that stall us out, freeze us…and then the thought follows…

Why do we let the “negative” feelings affect us differently…? Why not just recognize it for what it is, process it, and then move on?

Why indeed…easier said than done. But it’s worth a try, right? It’s worth a try to NOT let the anxiety and the fear and the self-doubt get the better of you. I am filled with those negative feelings at times, seemingly to the very brim, and it’s up to ME to change how I deal with it.

These negative feelings, they are on the continuum with all the other emotions. And if you’re like me, for some reason, we give them more power over us…but we don’t have to.

So let’s try that simple strategy, and master lesson of how to cope with the anxiety and the fear and the doubt: Recognize, Acknowledge, and Go Forward.

GO. FORWARD.

Anxiety: Awash

It starts with the feeling. That’s just it, at its core.

It’s a feeling or series of feelings that can wash over you, immobilize you, cloud your mind to the point that there’s no room for anything else.

“Awash” is the idea, the concept that comes to mind. Something like, you become awash with powerful, sometimes debilitating, suffocating feelings of uncertainty, doubt, panic. If you’ve ever been knocked over or otherwise under an ocean wave in the surf, you can imagine it. You feel, and might very well be, helpless, at least in the moment.

As I shared in the intro post, I’ve felt these feelings since I was seven years old. I haven’t always had the same symptoms and haven’t always described it the same way, but it’s been there under the surface, nearly my whole life.

Big picture, it’s become something I simply have to cope with as part of who I am. The feelings are typically strongest in the early morning, just as I wake up. It feels like uncertainty, and inability to respond to the things that lie ahead.

That’s a big part of it: UNCERTAINTY AND FEELING UNABLE TO RESPOND TO THE TASKS AHEAD.

Looking back, I’d say it centers around that idea, that idea of not feeling like I’m good enough: for the job, the project, the relationship, the whatever it is. And at it’s worst, it’s crushing, like being completely The Object (not The Subject), not in control of my own destiny of the day, the week, the month, the year, the whatever time period you like.

And the flip side?

If and when I’m confident, there is practically no issue at all. I can barrel into the day with the exact opposite: uncertainty becomes certainty; inability to respond becomes certainty that I am able to do so.

It’s just weird. Or maybe it’s not so weird. Maybe it’s just life. My life, anyway.

I’ve gotten better over the last several decades in responding to these feelings; at least, sometimes it seems I’ve gotten better at it.

Prayer helps often times; expressing gratitude, taking responsibility for my faults, my mistakes, praying for others, so many others in far worse circumstance.

And then other times, even prayer and gratitude don’t immediately help much. Instead, I feel like I’m getting churned by wave after wave after way every day. I can’t find “up”; it’s all I can do to take the next step, the next breath, it feels like.

But it’s a continuum too, at least for me. I’ve not gone off the rails completely. Most people who know me might not guess what lies beneath the surface of my smile and humor and desire to help others, boost others…

they might not guess that I’m going through my second divorce (“Am I good enough to stay married?”),

that the learning curve I face at work seems considerable (“I’ve not done this job before, and I think I can do it, and then I’m getting better, getter better, and then, ‘Mistake Mistake Mistake’ — or so it seems”).

And when I write those two big challenges down, and take a few deep breaths,

I pretty well immediately feel more capable of seeing through these difficulties, to a better, brighter, future. It’s sort of like I remember that I CAN swim, in the midst of being rolled by wave after wave after wave…

And I get to the surface again, and I’m able to stabilize, and I take a few deep breaths…and I get to the calmer water, and I gradually make my way forward, again.

Still awash…but I’m able to cope, with a few deep breaths, and a few more, and a few more. Forward.

Anxiety: A Personal Intro

I’ve been dealing with it all my life; for a long time I called it “worry” – more recently I’ve come to define it as anxiety. It’s pretty well been my constant companion since I was seven years old.

So, why share some thoughts here now? Why not simply journal, or talk to a therapist? Those are both good paths for sure.

For me, sharing publicly accomplishes one, critical, added goal: it lets others dealing with anxiety know they are not alone. If this sharing of my path and perspective helps even one person only, as Hamilton says, “…it will have been worth it.”

So this week, a few thoughts and insights about anxiety. They’ll be brief, snippets; hopefully they’ll be helpful too.

Let’s GO.