White Rabbits, Magic, and What If’s?

I always felt that my life was meant to be more than it was. And at times I have felt that I’m wasting away, waiting around for some magical moment that would rock my world and change everything about me for the better. The dream job would fall at my feet, that promotion would just be handed over, and all of a sudden I would have a rediculous amount of free time to catch up on all my unfinished projects. And none of that free time would ever be wasted.

This magical moment is like my own personal version of Alice in Wonderland. I was always waiting for the white rabbit to lead me down a trail to my glorious and mysterious destination. The place where everything fit perfectly and I knew, without question, who I was and where I was supposed to be going.

But my white rabbit hasn’t come and I don’t see him bouncing across my path any time soon. I see plenty of a particularly beatup, ragged, fuzzy yellow bunny of course, which frequently dangles from my 5 year old’s hands when she’s tired, sad, or scared. But that white magical rabbit, who’s supposed to fully reveal my magical fairy tale, has yet to show up. Damn him. And damn all the fairy tales I read growing up that made me think that life was going to magically offer me some sort of grand prize, like a prince charming or a white horse. Or a brandnew Lexus… I digres…

So what do I do now. There are lots of things I think I might like to do, it’s getting there that’s the hard part. I frequently ask myself what I’m good at and sadly nothing sticks out. The only thing I know for certain is that I like to write. When i find myself in a moment of writing something good and the writing doesn’t stop, it just pours out of me like an endless jug, that’s when I feel excited-That’s when I feel magical. I’m so excited and yet so afraid to stop that i don’t even look at the errors and missing letters my fingers have forgotten to push down along the way. They can be fixed later, the thoughts and ideas can’t.

I wrote a lot of short stories in college and did fairly well in class. I also took a few journalism classes and really enjoyed feature pieces where I could fully dissect a topic. I would research the shit out of my stories, find the quotes I needed and place them in the article, just right, as if each word held a tiny cord to the reader’s heart. And with each quotation, the reader continued to dive into my story, awaiting it’s highly anticipated conclusion. Or so I hoped.

Writing has always felt magical and as a kid I frequently kept journals to collect poems, doodles, or sometimes a spy note or two on the few occasions when I thought i could become Hilary The Spy or Ghost Writer. I even put together a newspaper with a neighbor. We drew pictures and wrote our stories about mysterious in the area (completely made up of course).

In high school, I had a few of my stories featured in the school paper. I also blogged over the years off and on while I was a stay-at-home mom. I logged the joys of motherhood and the pains. I never caught a huge crowed but there were a few posts every once in a while that caught an audience and led to some good comments. Those few moment always left me with a little bit of a writers high. But blogging never panned out the way I had hoped, i looked googly-eyed onward at the many women paving the way in the blog-sphere and felt incredibly inadequate. With the beautiful pictures, tips, and all around cutesy quick-witted comments they were always ready and able to spit up, I struggled to believed that I belonged.

Then there were the friends and family I hoped would show some support but rarely showed up. It all made my innercritice ring continuously in my ears: “What the fuck am I doing this for? No body gives a shit…”

This is when I wish that white rabbit showed up and reminded me to keep going. I mean, I have kept going, but not consistently enough. I try for a month or two and then let myself get caught up in everything in life that makes you spin your wheels and feel overwhelmed.

So now I wonder, what if I had kept going over the years? perhaps I wouldn’t be the writer that I’ve always fantasized that I would be, but at least my writing would be stronger. And what if this time I didn’t let writing slip through the cracks for the upteenth time. What if I wrote more. What if I tried to write those stories I’ve always wanted to tell?

What if?

 

 

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Shame Trenches

Lately I’ve been feeling like an odd ball. I don’t know if it’s stress but for some reason I feel like there’s something missing in me. It is most likely my social-anxiety talking. Anxiety likes to keep you locked up inside your head, it clouds your every thought, it makes you believe things you normally wouldn’t. I like to call it a shame storm.

I know all the signs and red flags of a shame storm, but still… somedays it’s hard not to fully believe anxiety.

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There are days that I feel connected and happy and then there are the days, like today, when I feel I’m missing the gene that was meant for making and maintaining friendships.

This feeling is a dark and lonely room. It comes on slowly, when I’m stressed. When my brain is fizzled. It likes to gather up all the people in my life who left me or hurt me. And those ghost of my past like to haunt me day in and day out until I finally find a way to make it stop.

So today, I’m just not sure. Is it really me? Or just the negative voice in my head that wants to keep me down? And do you ever wonder if the awful things you think, on days like these, other people think them too?

I guess these types of questions should be left for a day when I’m not stuck in the shame trenches.

It’s time for some gratitude…

How Being A Mom Has Helped My Social Anxiety.

Please take my title with a grain of salt; I wouldn’t advise anyone to take on mothering just to work on their social anxiety. This is my own personal story of learning to overcome social anxiety and it just so happens that mothering has been my biggest catalyst for it.

Being a mom is a hard job and most days I wonder how I’ll make it; how I’ll continue to worry and stress over the two little beings who are essentially my own heart walking on this earth… These two little creatures are the only things that have truly forced me to look my own fear dead in the face. Because it’s not about me anymore, it’s about them. I can no longer let my fear control me if I want them to overcome their own.

Before kids I would have avoid social situations at all cost. Yet, I was an incredible contradiction; as much I wanted to hide away from the world – I wanted to be found. I wanted friends and a social life again. I wanted my evenings and weekends to be filled with the endless chatter and laughter that high school and college had afforded me.

I spent many nights at home alone, feeling incredibly isolated and sad. I would also replay all social interactions over-and-over again in my head, beating myself up over things that just weren’t worth worrying about. My husband (fiancé at the time) and I had also just moved from NY to California, which made my social isolation much more gloomy. All I had was the phone, internet, and crappy reality TV…

And let me tell you, using Facebook and The Real Housewives of Orange County to fill you social interaction void is not going to help!

Two years later I became a mom and my biggest battle began.

It wasn’t easy. Most days I let the fear get to me; I believed the awful things I would say to myself late at night…”Not good enough. Weird. Not put together. Stupid. Not pretty enough…” It went on and on for years and I wasn’t making a lot of progress. The friendships that I did manage to hold onto weren’t good for me and added to my anxiety. Sometimes, when you’re desperate, you’ll put up with things because you don’t think you can do better.

But then we moved, and I took it as a fresh start. It was time to keep showing up, even when I really didn’t want to. Even when I couldn’t stop myself from shaking or stop the tears from falling, I kept coming back.

And when I came back, I started to realize that the crazy fear storm I would create in my head, no one else noticed or cared about it. Everyone else was too worried about their own stuff to get stuck on my silliness. By the next day, even if I had done something odd, everyone had forgotten about it, or hadn’t noticed. I also slowly began to see that a lot of other people had the same fears as me; I wasn’t as alone as I had thought.

With that insight I was able to see that I was just as worthy as everyone else when it came to making friends and being part of a community. And the more I believed it, the more things got better. I didn’t even have to try anymore more, the more I just believed in me, the less I had to work at it.

And as I become more successful with my anxiety I continue to push myself to keep overcoming my fears, because I don’t want my children to take on the parts of me that I don’t want to be any longer. And the only way you can teach your children to not become that part of you, is to no longer be it yourself. I don’t want my children to be afraid to try new things and maintain friendships. I also don’t want my children to struggle with their own worth.

How can you tell your children that they are undeniably worthy of everything good in the world, when you can’t believe it for yourself.

As my journey continues to unfold, I hope that I’ve provided my kids with some sort of transcendence. They aren’t fully aware of what i’m going through now but maybe one day their souls will know it and understand it. They will know, on some level, that their mother chose bravery over fear and so they can chose the same for themselves. And there is nothing that gives me more comfort in the world than to think that I did it so they could do it to.

Nothing is more rewarding than looking back and realizing that every year gets better than the last. I used to be so afraid, now that fear is just a tight pang in my chest, a mere spider web in my way as I walk towards the front door of my next social gathering.

So if you are like me, if you are stuck, remind yourself that it takes time and baby-steps. No one has ever accomplished anything worth doing without a little bit of a fight. And when we’re moving our own personal mountains, when we’re so desperate for change, it’s going to be a hard battle. There’s going to be resistance, mistakes, messiness, agony and pain. And when that mountain finally moves, you realize that that mountain was actually you.

And the moral of the story is, as I always say to my girls, NEVER give up!

 

Slowing Down

It’s been a long time since I last wrote a post. Actually, it’s been a bit since I’ve tried posting, to be honest. My family and I took a long vacation at the beginning of the summer. I had intended to keep writing through vacation, but my internet connection was pretty weak and after attempting to write three different posts and watching them vanish, somewhere across the internet, between WordPress and my frozen screen, I gave up and vowed to continue as soon as we returned home…

But that didn’t happen either.

When we returned, I was set on getting the house back in order and tackling projects that had been put aside; and alas my break from writing continued… Until I started reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, who reminded me that creativity waits for no one, and if I don’t get my butt back into action, I am going to lose any glimpse of improving my writing skills as well as working through my social anxiety (which is the real reason I started this blog).

So here I am, almost two months later, writing again. And though I regret the long break, I am happy to report that my anxiety is currently at a manageable state. There are still things that throw me off and leave me in a spiral of fear (something to discuss at a later date), but all in all I am currently at a healthy place, mentally.

My anxiety has dropped thanks to the long vacation. I left our every day stresses behind and spent 21 days relaxing and having summer fun with my girls and the people closes to me. Having time with close family, like my parents and brother, has also helped my anxiety subside. Being able to spend time with people who have been with me all my life and love me no matter what, has helped me build my confidence back up. It has even helped me to let go of some on going hang ups I’ve had with people in my life who frequently leave me in a wake of anxiety.

 

So here’s what I’ve learned (and quite honestly knew all along, but need the obvious reminder):

  • Having quality downtime has reminded how important it is to take a break, especially for an introverted, anxiety ridden, quiet person like me.
  • -Call my family when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

 

But alas, as this slow summer state begins to come to an end, my dear friend Mr. Anxiety will most likely return. I can already hear him whispering to me as I think about the start of the school year. To avoid this, I will need to enforce breaks and make sure to take time to reach out. The hard part will be remembering to slow down. Sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, you feel like a hamster on an exercise wheel; it’s almost impossible to get off!

So here’s to equalizing work with play, creativity, and some just plain laziness. Their won’t be time again for a nice long vacation until next summer, nor will I see my family until the holidays, so I need to spread these wonderful little bits of vacation through out the year.

I hope I can stick with it!

5 Days of Gratitude (Day 5)

Today is the final day of this gratitude challenge. I believe this was the perfect first building block (my own personal base camp… Sherpas not included…) as I work towards overcoming social anxiety. I have noticed that as the week progressed, I became much more comfortable in social situations and just all around more at peace with myself. Which lead to a lot less keeping to myself and more reaching out; clearly a result of gratitude!

Today I am grateful for:

For Glennon Doyle, Cheryl Strayed, Rob Bell, and Brene Brown, who’s words always find a way to comfort me. As well as their wisdom and many lessons, which not only remind me to be brave, but always help to pick me back up when I have fallen.

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For not giving up even though sometimes it’s all I feel like doing; just throwing in the towel and running away, into the woods…. Never to be seen again.

For a slow morning. I am not sure how this happened, but today is going slow and I’m loving it.

For no longer fighting with my husband. We’ve been on edge lately, I’m so glad the tide has started to turn.

For my brother who listens and never brushes me off.

For bravery. Though my steps are small, my march towards a braver life is constant.

For looking back on who I used to be and being able to see how far I’ve come.

For love and forgiveness.

For the people who keep choosing me; for loving me just the way I am.

For writing, because it’s the only thing that lets the madness out.

For life! Beautiful, chaotic, maddening, wonderful life!

For this challenge.

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Finding gratitude is a natural way of changing your perspective. It’s tilting your personal world view into clearer vision. Last week all I could think about was everything that was going wrong. The more I thought about all the things that weren’t right, the more things went wrong. As soon as I chose gratitude I stopped seeing everything that was wrong. It was as if my brain only wanted to pick up and focus on the things that were making me happy.

 

My plan is to find a way to make this a daily practice. I’m excited to see how much my happiness and anxiety will improve by journaling my gratitude daily.

I will report back in a month!

Anyone else keeping a daily gratitude journal? I’d love to hear your experience. 

5 Days of Gratitude (Day 4)

It’s been kind of a rough day so far. I’m wishing I started my day with writing this blog because it’s been an up hill battler with negative thoughts since I climbed out of bed. I’m hoping by the time I’m done with this post I will be feeling better and refocused! Here it goes…

Today I am grateful for:

The bare necessities; clothes, food, a place to live…

Sunshine and pool water.

Costco.

For the few who can walk in their authenticity and pave the way for those of us who are struggling to do the same.

For Eat, Pray, Love and Elizabeth Gilbert (current book on my night stand).

Chocolate.

For the memory that popped up on my Facebook feed this morning of my youngest, sitting at the base of a large Sequoia tree, 3 years ago, with her bunny, “Dobby.”

For beach days.

For an almost done Thursday which means Friday is just around the bend.

For vacations, the state of Maine, lobster, the east-coast, kayaks, and lots of family fun.

For feeling better, because I finally am.

Thank you, gratitude!

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5 Days of Gratitude (Day 3)

I am three days into this challenge and I’m already seeing my negativity and stress decrease. I’m also beginning to sleep better again and my anxiety is almost nonexistent. I would say this is working!

Today I am grateful for:

Delicious black beans and rice, left over from last nights dinner

For my husband who made the black beans and rice.

For having a husband who doesn’t mind making dinner.

For friends who get me and make me laugh.

For running, even though I feel slower than a snail lately.

For free yoga and workout videos on youtube, because money and time are two things i’m very short on.

For podcasts which make it easy to explore and open my mind whenever and wherever I want to.

For words. Beautiful, wonderful words which inspire me everyday.

For our lovely pink sunsets that paint the sky in beautiful hues of pink, purple, and red.

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