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.

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.

Lyrics Post: “Guns and Ships“

“Guns And Ships”, another from the musical, Hamilton. Reading the words, I can hear the song in my head, some of the lyric so swiftly delivered, even with the words in front of me I can’t keep up the pace. So GOOD.

[Burr:]
How does a ragtag volunteer army in need of a shower
Somehow defeat a global superpower?
How do we emerge victorious from the quagmire?
Leave the battlefield waving Betsy Ross’ flag higher?

Yo. Turns out we have a secret weapon!
An immigrant you know and love who’s unafraid to step in!
He’s constantly confusin’, confoundin’ the British henchmen
Everyone give it up for America’s favourite fighting Frenchman!

[Company:]
Lafayette!

[Lafayette:]
I’m taking this horse by the reins makin’ redcoats redder with bloodstains

[Company:]
Lafayette!

[Lafayette:]
And I’m never gonna stop
Until I make ’em drop
And burn ’em up and scatter their remains,
I’m

[Company:]
Lafayette!

[Lafayette:]
Watch me engagin’ ’em,
Escapin’ ’em!
Enragin’ ’em.
I’m

[Company:]
Lafayette!

[Lafayette:]
I go to France for more funds

[Company:]
Lafayette!

[Lafayette:]
I come back with more

[Lafayette and Ensemble:]
Guns
And ships
And so the balance shifts

[Washington:]
We rendezvous
With Rochambeau,
Consolidate their gifts

[Lafayette:]
We can end this war in Yorktown, cut them off at sea,
But for this to succeed,
There is someone else we need:

[Washington:]
I know

[Washington and Company:]
Hamilton!

[Lafayette:]
Sir, he knows what to do in a trench
Ingenuitive and fluent in French, I mean

[Washington and Company:]
Hamilton!

[Lafayette:]
Sir, you’re gonna have to use him eventually
What’s he gonna do on the bench? I mean

[Washington and Company:]
Hamilton!

[Lafayette:]
No one has more resilience
Or matches my practical tactical brilliance

[Washington and Company:]
Hamilton!

[Lafayette:]
You wanna fight for your land back?

[Company:]
Hamilton!

[Washington:]
I need my right-hand man back!

[Women:]
Hamilton!

[Lafayette (men):]
Ah! Uh, get ya right-hand man back (Get your right-hand man back!)
You know you gotta get ya right hand man back (Your right-hand man back!)

[Lafayette (women/men):]
I mean you gotta put some thought into the letter (Hamilton!)
But the sooner the better (Hamilton! Hamilton!)
To get your right hand man back! (Ha ha)

[Washington:]
Alexander Hamilton
Troops are waiting in the field for you
If you join us right now, together we can turn the tide

Oh, Alexander Hamilton
I have soldiers that will yield for you
If we manage to get this right
They’ll surrender by early light
The world will never be the same, Alexander….”

By Lin-Manuel Miranda

Tribe

A few of the tribe come together, the warmth, the laughter, easy sharing, caring, catching up, so good, so good.

What does the tribe do? Some how through some magic, a sense of belonging, knowing, acceptance, concern. It fortifies, reassures, comforts.

My tribe? At least two. SCHS85, SCU89. When I’m with these people the thick thread rises up from the ground, pulls taught, a line from then until now. In this moment, I know this, I’m better with them, for them, the tribe, my people, stories, lives lived, it gives, power.

The tribe gives power, the tribe let’s love shine through, let’s love shine through.

Freestyle Love, G.M.D.

GMD, why do I think of him like that? My family, big on initials of names, for some reason.

GMD, my material grandfather, George M. Downing, not frowning, just thrownin’ words down,

For him on his birthday, 107, not here anymore, still deep within me, spirit living on, as it should be.

A doer, a leader, an educator, a learned man, number guy, Doctor of Ed. after his name, dedicated career, then shifted,

Rancher, cowboy, great grandpa, through and through, hunter, fixer, not much of music mixer, read a lot, deep in it, ready to win it, or so it seemed,

Did, a solid vocation, then on permanent vacation, not relaxing, always working, making, creating, tending, mending,

What would he say about me now? Some how, I think he’d give a nod, not the form or the norm, my path different, yet the same, in the game, not backing down, like him, not backing down,

Grinding, making, creating,

Bobbing, weaving, some grieving,

Still going, somehow ever knowing, on the right path,

Loving nature, outside, words, ideas, going forward, ever-knowing, trusting,

in Him.

Happy Birthday, GMD.

Jerry Rig

Jerry Rig or jury rig, is the practice of making due with what you have on hand to repair something or otherwise solve a problem. Making due, that’s a good life lesson.

Things don’t always go as we’d like; sometimes to get some result close to what we want, we have to make due, make the best of the situation as it is.

Opportunities arose for this practice all the time. It promotes compromise and resilience and fortitude.

Don’t be afraid to jerry rig something if need be to accomplish your goal. Be resourceful. Make it happen.

Oh yea, and if you want to learn more about the term and it’s history, see below.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_rigging

Compromise 2

The way forward.

Compromise.

“Not every disagreement on every issue requires a war; that’s not reasonable; that’s not responsible leadership.

We elect our leaders to govern; we expect our leaders to govern.

If you’re not protecting our people and moving our society forward, you’re not governing. You’re not doing your job.

The Gang of Six, 2018.

The Gang of Eight, 2013.

The Grand Bargain, 2007.

Consider the art, the duty, of compromise. I believe it’s a fundamental trait we humans possess, and must adhere to, to co-exist in the world. We are a social species, which means we are meant to live together.

To live together, in this world, in this country, in our community, in our family, we must hone the skill and willingness to compromise.

Compromise: the path forward.