Monday, September 11, 2017

There are Always Reminders

It began like most other weekend mornings. I tried to sleep in. The kids "tried" to be quiet. Around 8:30 I took off the black sleep mask and shuffled to the kitchen to make my coffee. That's what I do, and everyone knows not to ask too much of me until that warm cup of joe is in my hands and I've had a few sips. I had kicked the coffee habit a while ago. No coffee at all for about 6 months. I'm back to one cup in the morning, usually no more. But still, that one cup is like the light switch right? Sometimes, before I go to bed, I get excited thinking about how I am going to wake up and drink a cup of coffee. More on that sad state of affairs another day.

Anyway, got my wake up juice, and perched myself on the outside step, sun in my face, welcoming the day. The plan was to head to the beach. We usually spend at least one of the weekend days at the beach, the other normally ends up being chock full of chores. Whether it's playing on the dunes, or getting in the water, it is one of our favorite ways to spend time as a family. On our beach mornings there is usually a little bit of back and forth between the hubs and I as to when we should leave. He has an incessant need to be early for things. He likes to get up and go. Be there early, before everyone else gets there. Easier parking, less traffic, lots of day left by time we get home. Blah blah blah. I, on the other hand, am usually in no hurry. I like to cruise around the house, drink my coffee, pick up a little bit. I don't really care how many people are there or if we need to park a little bit away. I'm usually not in any race against the clock to get home either (laundry, vacuuming, and the dreaded grocery shopping are waiting for me there). There is also the fact that I like to wait until it's a bit warmed up, and he prefers it on the chillier side.

While he and I hammer out the itinerary, the boys are usually playing a video game together. Still in their jammies (well one is probably in his chonies and the other is usually naked - because he sleeps nude and on the average is only half dressed if we are lucky). We begin yelling down the hall "get your swim trunks on and grab an extra set of clothes" knowing very well that we will do this at least 4 more times before it happens.

Hubs starts packing up the surf board, the boogie board, the wetsuits, if we are bringing the dogs, all of their crap. I gather towels and a blanket. I grab snacks and drinks. Eventually the boys are ready, and we load up into the truck. At this point someone is beginning to get grumpy because of something. Now, one of the boys remembers they forgot something and has to go back into the house. Dad starts getting impatient, and the other boy is mocking his brother for always forgetting things. Now, everyone is in, buckled, and ready to ride. Tension may now be felt via the vibes.

This last weekend all of this went down just as usual, except there was some additional arguing. At this point, I honestly could not tell ya what it was that happened, but littlest dude was full of some major 'tude and in tears by time we got around the corner to the gas station and had announced he did NOT want to go to the dumb beach. I grabbed the worry stone husband keeps in his center console, along side the squeezy stress ball. I slowly and methodically started rubbing the shit outta that thing. I felt the lava building up to a boiling point and really did not want to spew something mean, or "turn this truck around" and go home, but was very close.

As I was sitting there, caressing the flat obsidian stone, trying to bring forth calm (imagine big furrow/crease in between my brows cause that is exactly what happens), a friend drove by. She didn't see me, but I saw her, and was instantly put-in-check. Just seconds prior my self talk consisted of "what the fuck?! This family can't just go have a nice day at the beach without arguing and fighting. Why can't we just be nice to one another? When will this end? I need a freaking break!"  I thanked my angles right then, the moment I saw her face through that windshield, knowing that seeing her was my reminder that this shit show was a blessing. I was lucky to have my pouty and sassy faced boys in the back of the truck and my, probably grumpy by now, husband who was pumping gas. Just because it's hard as hell sometimes, doesn't mean it's not worth every second of it. AND, it could all change, immediately and without warning.

My friend, the one that angles sent at that moment, lost her son about 5 years ago. Very suddenly he was gone from this world, from her world, gone. I worked with her at the time. I saw it all go down...her getting the phone call. I remember seeing the doodles she had been making on her notepad that lay on her desk, only moments before the call came in. Feeling the weight of her world imploding, leaving her and her family breathless, in unfathomable shock, reeling, reeling, reeling. I will never forget it.

When I saw her it was an instant wake up slap to the face. Was there anything in this world she would not give to have her boy back? Even with attitude, rolled eyes and frowny face. She would give anything and everything. Angels can backhand ya pretty hard when they need to. And messages can come instantaneously...

Stop focusing on the stuff that makes you feel UNgrateful

Stop perpetuating this negativity

Energy flows where your attention goes

Look behind you at those boys, love on them now, no matter what

They are learning from you Trisha. Learning how to be in this world. How to handle their frustrations and disappointments. How to express their feelings. Your reaction to situations like these mean everything.

People, even the ones you love, will not always behave the way you wish them to. You can only control the way you behave.

Calm promotes calm. Be the light. Be the example. Teach them.

The hubs got back into the car and gave his own little "let us start over and have a good day" speech. It was just what everyone needed to hear to push the reset button.

We made it to the beach. Littlest just wasn't into to it that day. My oldest totally was. So he and dad played in the ocean for an hour or more. The dogs ran and swam and got filthy. And my youngest and I chilled on the sand. He complained and pouted now and then. I grumbled about his attitude a couple of times...just cause I got the wake up slap doesn't mean I'm gonna be the perfect-grateful-calm mom all of the sudden, come on (insert eye roll here). I reminded him how lucky we are to live where we do. To get to be at the beach every week if we want to be. We talked about what is happening in Texas and Florida and how that scares him and how sad it is. It's so eye opening to just listen to their little hearts and the thoughts invading their minds sometimes. I would be a grumpy little shit too every now and then if I had all of that goin' on inside of me. Which we all do, ergo our occasional grown up tantrums.

The day wasn't extraordinary. It was typical. A usual Saturday for our little tribe. Well intentioned plans, some attitude and grumbling, some fun in the sun, gratitude re-found, new promises to self to and to each other. And the reminder. Ya'll know I love reminders <3

Thankful for my boys (big and small). For our imperfect family, that struggles and fights and comes back together to keep trying and to love fiercely. For the angles who don't give up on me and continue to offer guidance and reminders. For the good, the bad and the ugly.








Monday, August 14, 2017

Back to School

Here we are, about to start another new school year. In just a few days, the boys will be waking up early, packing lunches and new backpacks, and heading to their new classrooms for the year. They are excited and a little nervous, just as I always was the days before the first day of school when I was young. I remember not being able to sleep. Laying in bed, looking at my first day of school outfit hanging on my closet door.

 I find it difficult to sleep these days leading up to the first day of school as well. I lay in bed once everyone gets to sleep and begin to think, wonder, visualize and pray. Not so much worry anymore, just pondering, and becoming clear on what I hope their time at school will be like. Things come to mind, that sometimes I jot down in one of the journals laying on my bedside table. Things that I want to make sure that they truly know.


So, to my boys, on this eve of our newest chapter....

You know once Mommy gets writing things just start pouring out. I'll try to keep this clear and not super long. I lay awake last night thinking of you both, seeing your faces in my mind's eye. Thinking about how much you have grown over the last year, about your individual gifts, about the areas that challenge you, and most of all, your sweet hearts.

First of all, the love that each of you holds in your hearts is tangible. You are both deep feelers. You both express those feelings in very different ways. But you both have soft, sweet hearts. As we get older, we begin to be challenged by numerous situations, some of which threaten to, little by little, harden our hearts.

We might be treated disrespectfully, or even cruelly,  by an unkind classmate. We might feel judged by others for what we wear, how we look or the things we enjoy. We might have a teacher who doesn't seem to understand us and may not offer the support that we need. We might really struggle in certain academic areas leaving us feeling like a failure. We might begin to feel pressure to act a certain way to fit in, even when it doesn't feel right inside. Oh my babies, growing up is not all ice cream sundaes. BUT, as we have agreed to in our family, we get to decide how to respond to every situation. We don't have to be swept away helplessly. We can choose to look at these situations that maybe hurt our hearts and make us sad or mad, and use them in our favor, and in the favor of others. These are opportunities to learn new things about ourselves and to become stronger, braver and more compassionate.

Let us not allow the difficult times to harden our hearts. Let us allow those times to open our minds and hearts to new ways of being an even brighter light in the world. Let us treat everyone kindly. Let us be good examples of God's love by being honest, caring and encouraging, with ourselves and with others.

You are worthy of respect, just as you give respect and real friendship. Do not accept "friendships" that feel disrespectful. Friends are there to build one another up. To enjoy time together and share interests. To encourage and support. If you have a "friend" who talks badly about you, or is unkind, they are not your friend. You are empowered to stick up for yourself, doing so calmly and with clarity.

Give everyone a chance. Smile at the new kids and ask them to join you on the playground. You know how hard it can be to feel like you are on the outside looking in. They may be afraid to talk to the other kids, maybe have no one to sit with at lunch. Let's help them feel included and welcomed. Even if there are other kids giving them the side eye, or passing judgment, cause that's just so not cool. You may never end up talking to the new kid again after a day or two, or they could end up being your new bff. You never know.

Enjoy being part of a team when the time is right. Working together with other people isn't always easy. Everyone has different ideas, personalities. and boundaries. That is exactly why it's important to do it. It gives us a chance to hear other peoples' ideas, and maybe think about things in a new way. It lets us be part of some give and take, some compromise. You guys are smart cookies, but you don't know everything. Allow yourself to see things from another point of view. There is no reason to fear other people's beliefs or ideas...your heart will always lead you back to truth, AND your truth might just expand to include some cool new stuff.

Give it your all. I know some school work can be boring. It can be hard, but hard is not bad. Hard stretches us, grows our perseverance and patience. You may want to do things differently than you are being made to do them. Share your ideas with the teacher if he/she asks. Ask questions, lots of them. There will be subjects that you really enjoy, that excite you and spark ideas....and there will be some that you just have to get through. But doing our best, no matter how much we really like the work, is an important lesson. Don't do things willy-nilly just to get by, AND don't expect perfection from yourself, because there is no such thing. Just do your best work. Again, your heart knows what that is. That little voice will speak to you if you listen. It'll tell ya whether or not you are giving it all you've got. Getting an education is a gift. This is only the tip of the iceberg. The world has so much to offer. There are so many adventures to be had. We are students throughout our lifetime, only a small portion of that learning actually happens in school. These school years will be a distant memory before you know it.

Talk to Mom and Dad about all of it. Don't be afraid to share with us. You will never be judged. You will always be accepted and forever and ever loved for exactly who you are. We will help guide you. We will correct you when it's needed. We will kick ya in the ass if you are wallowing or not living nearly to your potential. We will be honest with you. We will laugh and cry with you. We will hug you and love on you. We will advocate for you. We will do hard things with you. We will encourage you to take the risk, to climb the mountain, to push yourself enough.

Lastly, my little dudes, just be you! Be who you are, wear what you want to wear. Listen to the music you want to listen to. Like the stuff that you like, even if the other kids aren't into it. Remember that you are who you are for a very special reason. We need your unique gifts. You have tremendous things to offer this world just by being yourself.

Here's to a year filled with new experiences, growth, self discovery and fun <3






Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Time to Stop Hiding


The stigma surrounding mental health is a such an enormous barrier in terms of healing. So many people are afraid to speak about their struggles. We don't want to be seen as weak. We don't want to be considered ill or broken, unstable or dangerous. We worry it will effect friendships and professional lives. We worry and we hide.

But there are so many of us you guys! Honestly, I don't know of a human being that does not combat demons, whether or not they are diagnosed with a mental illness. I mean, think about all of the people running around who are tormented and stay silent, never receive a diagnosis, never get treatment or support of any kind. That is heartbreaking to me.

Why do those who are challenged in a mental/emotional way, get treated differently then those challenged by a physical illness? Because we can't "see it", and we only believe what we can see? We have all seen someone with a mental illness that is noticeable in an outward manner. Usually homeless, wandering, talking to imaginary people, possibly acting out aggressively. Those people we know and believe are ill because we can see it. It more than likely makes us uncomfortable, and we probably avoid them.

Now, I've never really been one to care too much about what other people think of me. It's a double edged sword of course, but it does allow me to be honest and not beat around the bush. And yet, as I look back at my child self, I can recognize now, how at a very early age I learned to hide part of myself from the public at large, and build walls to protect myself from being found out and consequently hurt.

I started noticeably struggling with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. Without getting into all the medical and scientific "stuff" there are several types of OCD, one being that which runs in families, is passed down genetically. This type usually starts rearing it's head in childhood versus adolescence. I come from a long line of superstitious triple checkers. Cousins that couldn't pass buy certain bushes without touching them and uncles who made funny twitches with their mouth before they took a drink, cause they just had to. My mom had obsessions and compulsions as a child, and knew immediately what was happening when she noticed my first compulsion, which was feeling for my heartbeat to make sure it was still beating. Poor Mom, she knew the terror I felt inside. She tried to help, but there wasn't a lot of information on OCD 35 years ago. We all just thought we had a quirky family.

As I got older the obsessions and compulsions changed. I was always able to keep it mostly hidden at school or away from home. No one ever knew about the broken record that was incessantly playing in the background of my mind or the petrifying fear that would overtake my body by the visual obsessions that would flash through my thoughts uninvited and unwelcome. There were times when OCD wasn't even evident and I had a break in the action. I don't remember having too much of it in high school, but then traded the obsessions and compulsions for anxiety and panic attacks.

I tried talk therapy. I prayed. And finally in my early twenties, when the violent obsessions and panic attacks became so challenging, I saw my first real psychiatrist. Mind you, I was working and going to school... in retail management, and some college courses. No one suspected a thing. I lived with my boyfriend (now husband) and he knew I struggled with anxiety, that I sometimes got nervous or spacey, but had no real idea about what I was going through. My mom knew of course, I could always talk to her in detail about the scary thoughts and feelings and she always understood. But as terrifying as it all was, as much as it literally took my breath away, I was somehow able to maintain the facade. I was working and going to school. I didn't ever miss days due to "illness". I was dedicated in whatever I was doing and would not allow myself to "be weak".

I still remember my first appointment with Dr. Plesons, and still hold a tender place for him in my heart. He listened and asked questions. I thought for sure I was crazy and dangerous and he was going to tell me so. He was so kind, and so knowledgeable. He comforted me and shared with me about his own family. And he gave me the first official diagnosis of OCD. "It's a mild case" he said. "NO way!" I said...."there are people that have it worse then me?!" I immediately held such compassion in my heart for them. We discussed the genetics, the ways to talk back to it, and even challenge it, began ERP and I started taking medication. I saw Dr. Plesons for some time. I remember one time asking him "but WHY, why do I have these terrible thoughts, what if I actually do something really horrible one day?!" And so clearly recall the sweet look on his face, and his calm and confident response "I would trust you with my son in a heartbeat. OCD is not you. It is not who you are. It is the opposite of who you are, that is why it terrifies you to your core"

He eventually took a hiatus. Going on a sailing trip with his family, and I ventured out on my own. Throughout the years, I continued to take medication, read countless books and found another fabulous therapist. I obtained so many cognitive behavioral tools that I continue to use to this day, and even teach my own kids. I discontinued medication 10 years later when I became pregnant and resumed it after I had the baby, because the post partum hormones and a very vulnerable new baby who's life was purely in my hands, brought OCD and anxiety back with a punch to the gut. But it didn't last long. I faced it. I applied exposure therapy and made myself continue to fight. I had even more reason now to be strong and to be badass. I was not backing down or hiding in a corner afraid of the dark. I couldn't and I wouldn't. I even volunteered to become part of a study through John Hopkins University. I gave a blood sample, as did my parents. I did surveys. I gave what I could to the research because I believe knowledge is power and I want to be of service.

I'll be 42 this year. This has been part of my life for 36 of those years, on and off. When I was about 38 I began practicing yoga, meditating, and learning about Reiki, plant medicine and other alternative therapies. I have always been an avid learner, not always the best academic student, but always thirsty for knowledge and propelled to share what I learn to offer help and support to others. It took time for me to soften myself after years of holding a defensive posture. It took time to quiet myself after years of endless mind chatter. It took time to open myself after years of ceaseless fear. And I have found a new level of healing. It's a whole healing, not just a healing of the mind. It's amazing and magical. And I know, I will still find challenges along this path. It's not all unicorns and rainbows. I don't ever count out the possibility of medication or therapy as a support again, and I, to this day still utilize self directed exposure therapy when things come up. But I live in today as much as possible, not in yesterday and not in tomorrow, so I will take it as it comes. I know I don't struggle alone, nor do I struggle as badly as many. I strongly believe OCD has been part of my life experience for a reason. I don't hate it, even though there have been so many times (years worth) that I have wished it away. I am not ashamed of it, and will not hide from it, or from you. I now use this part of who I am to support others in healing. It is the most beautiful gift.

You guys know by now, I am a believer in sharing, and letting it all hang out. I don't want to hide things about my human experience that could support or encourage you, even if it is scary for me to share. I want you to know you are not alone. You are not broken (even it you feel that way). It is never ever hopeless. It's okay to come out of the shadows. I know you think you are the only one, that no one could really understand, and probably that there is something "wrong" with you. There is nothing wrong with you. You are exactly who you are supposed to be. There are people who can help, and there are people who love you. It doesn't matter what the ones that don't think or perceive. They are seeing you through their eyes, and their dream. No matter what you do, that is the case. There will always be people who judge. People will give you opinions, even if you don't ask for them (take medication, don't take medication, talk to someone, therapists are just quacks, try acupuncture, don't waste your time...you get the picture). You have to discover what works for you. YOU are the only YOU there is. Completely unique from any other person. Their experience is not yours. My experience is not yours. There will likely be several ways to support yourself, some conventional, some alternative, or who knows, maybe you'll come up with one of your own. Find your mental wellness.

Be who you are, because I know in my heart, we are all who we are for a reason. We need each other's healing. We need each other's contribution. I need you to be the gift that you are meant to be. I know it's terrifying...AND I know you can do hard and scary things.

With abundant love
xoxo
Trisha



Monday, May 22, 2017

Warrior


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Making a Promise to Not Forget

We too often forget. We forget that this earthly life is fleeting. That our days here our not promised. We forget that when it's time to move on to the next life, we will go, whether or not we, or our loved ones, are ready. It can happen with no warning. At any moment this version of ourselves can end.

We too often forget. As we live life, day to day. Going to work, getting kids off to school, going grocery shopping, running errands. We rush in and out, from one place to the next. We assume, that tomorrow will come. That we have time, to make time, for the stuff the matters but never seems to make the tip top of this list. Like the talk you keep meaning to have with your spouse when the time is right. Like how you promised the kids you would play with them after you were finished with the very important project. There is the visit you keep putting off to your parents' house. The dreams that keep getting pushed to the back burner until you can carve out quality time for them, until things settle down. Like the book you've secretly been dreaming of writing or the volunteer work at the hospital you've been hoping to begin.

We too often forget that time is an illusion.

We too often forget to listen to out heart's desires instead of our ego's.

We too often forget to cherish the present moment and all of its blessings. So busy planning ahead or looking behind with regret.

We too often forget the impact our lives have on others and how much we mean to some.

We too often forget that the individual gifts that are bestowed upon us purposeful and meant to be shared.

Something always happens to remind us. Usually several times at different stages of life. Often completely unexpected and tragic. It knocks us back leaving us stunned, heartbroken, and very confused. It causes us to question things...our beliefs, our priorities, our way of living. It reminds us. It wakes us up. It pulls back the veil.

For a while we live there; raw and vulnerable. Knowing what matters. Reminded of how precious this life is. We commit to ourselves to heed the warning this time. We tell ourselves something like..." from this day forward I will live with purpose and gratitude. I will not take anything for granted. Not time, not people, not the air I breathe nor the water I drink."

It lasts a while. and then things settle.Life starts pulling you in again. Into all the worldly issues. Into the plans and responsibilities. Into the schedules and commitments. You find yourself less awake, beginning to forget again. The feeling, the fire, not as strong.

We have recently had one of these reminders. Our little community just lost two beautiful young mothers in a terrible car accident. Families have been left behind, in shock and heartache that I can not imagine. It takes my breath away to think of how they must be feeling. It's an unbelievable loss that has rocked our small town. One of them was a friend. She was spunky and kind and strong. She meant a lot to a lot of people, and her absence will definitely leave this realm much less sparkly. Although she is physically gone from our world, what she was about will remain. Her "go get 'em" attitude, her silliness, her love, her essence will stay with us all.

I always tell me kids not to make a promise that they can not keep. Promises are binding and heartfelt. Neither of them make promises lightly, nor do I.

Right now I am promising, to myself, and you, that I WILL NOT FORGET. I will do the work that needs to be done to stay awake and conscious. I will feed my soul, mind and body with the food that nourishes it at its highest level. I will be a light, a reminder, a source. I will live with purpose and with love, leading the way.

This is not an empty promise. I am not naive enough to believe that this promise will be easy to keep. I know life will pull at me. I know distractions will wrestle for center stage. I know there will be hurdles, pain, and stress.

But there will also be this promise. Pulling me back each time. Back to my center and purpose. Back to what matters in this short life.

If you are so inclined to make any sort of similar promise to yourself, and you are ready to really mean it, do it now. Do it, and live it, and be certain that you are powerful enough to make it happen. And know, that I am here to support and encourage you too keep those eyes and hearts open. This life is meant to be an unfolding. An opportunity for spiritual growth. It's not always easy or comfortable. But it IS always glorious!!

xoxoxo









Saturday, January 7, 2017

Love, Light and Panic Attacks

So here we are in 2017. Today is day 7 of the new year. General consensus seems to be 2016 sucked hard, and most are hoping and praying for a better 2017. I would agree that last year had it's challenges and disappointments (some of us here in the US ended November with a zinger, President Trump). That was a tough one to swallow. In my usual fashion, I also look back to parts of the year that were kind of amazing. Reflect over lessons learned, ideas brought to fruition, the growth and health of my self and my boys.

I can honestly say for me, I think the last few weeks of 2016 and this first week of 2017 have been the most difficult. Although the holidays brought lovely family time, especially some wonderful days with my Dad who I hadn't seen in a few years, it also brought chaos. The usual holiday hustle and bustle, but something more as well. Our winter here in California has been really cold and wet. I know, that sounds fricken' ridiculous to those of you living places where it is under 50 degrees and covered in snow. I don't know how you guys do it! You are like some kind of super humans. I am struggling hard with the lack of sunlight, being indoors all time, and being constantly bundled in sweater and blankets. How badly I long for the warmth and light of the sun.

I had someone very close to me struggling for a while, mentally. Something that had been working it's way to the surface for a while that chose the week before Christmas to show it's face. Not great timing on the surface huh? But gotta have faith that the timing is always right. Being there for her wasn't hard, it was second nature, but I guess, it did effect me, as now I seem to be struggling a bit as well.

The kids have been home from school for going on three weeks. I love my babies to teeny tiny pieces. Spending time with them is a gift. AND, it's flippin' not easy either. The said weather is keeping us cooped up and a bit stir crazy. Our usual beach trips and hikes have not been happening. It's been a lot more electronics, board games (that too often end in arguments), and 2 young boys needing to get their willies out, which turns into fighting and whining over in here. Not gonna lie and say it's been dreamy and cozy people. It has had it's moments, even days, and it's also been stressful and stifling.

So I've been trying to get my head above the clouds here. Trying to get in the flow. I've been wanting to meditate on 2017, and my hopes and dreams for the new year. I've been wanting to talk with the boys about what they are hoping to become in this next 365. I've got the books out, the journal out, crystals, oils, incense. I've jotted down things here and there. Not resolutions, not promises...wishes and intentions. Knowing things will start moving forward next week as we get back into the swing of "regular life" (school, work, schedules).

I haven't been stressed or unhappy, just a little heavy I guess. Not so much my light and love, glitter and rainbows version. Then a couple of nights ago, I woke in the night to a full blown panic attack. Now, it's been yeeearrs since I've had one of these babies. Like maybe a decade or so. And yet, as it flooded over me, it was like it had been no time at all.

The fire rose from my belly up through my chest, and then through my arms. My legs went fuzzy like they were asleep. I was sweating but clammy. My head was swimming, my breath rapid an shallow. I was petrified. The terrifying thoughts started banging around in my head like grenades going off. "Am I going crazy? Am I loosing control? Am I dangerous?" I sat up in bed and looked through the darkness. I knew what this was, but why?! Why, after so long had I allowed this to happen? All of these years of recovery, of healing, of therapy. Years of learning to breathe through it, to refocus, to live in the moment. What the fuck? I thought I was stronger than this. Healthier than this. More full of light than this. How could this happen? Of course, this wasn't my fault. It wasn't due to a lack of trying, and lack of light, a lack of health, nor a lack of strength.

I breathed slowly, deeply and well. Filling my belly, then up behind my ribs, then my chest. I got a drink of water. Started visualizing the healing light filling my body, oh.... and then I got up and took a pill. I still have a stash of anxiety medication. Something I usually dig out of the back of the medicine cabinet for when a friend is in need. This time, it was for me. I was disappointed and scared. "Shit, is this the beginning of daily panic attacks and anxiety?" I lived that for years, and don't want to go back. Found a part of myself feeling defeated for going to the medication. Like I was giving up and taking the easy way out.

I cuddled up next to the hubs. And I fell asleep. It didn't last long, maybe 15 minutes. The next morning I woke up, still concerned. Not knowing why it happened, where it came form, what it meant for today. The few days that followed, there were fleeting moments of a feeling. Like a physical buzz accompanied by fear, that told me it was still in  my system, but I breathed right through those and reminded myself about who I was, my strength and wellness. Then I started to look at the situation again, differently. Although I knew there was some worry inside of me, I decided to reflect on the stuff that I did that worked. The choices I made that were healthy and right when the panic attack came. Although it's called a panic attack, I didn't panic. My body did. I felt the anxiety and fear flow through me, turning my belly inside out. But I did not allow my mind to panic. I focused and yet somehow I relaxed my mind. I breathed and visualized. I used the medication that was there for a purpose, even after all of those years. I did  everything I could do. I didn't let it take me by the hair and run me through the fire. I stayed grounded as much as possible.

I'm not certain why I had that panic attack. I suppose, even after all of the healing I've done, I have to make room for the fact that it can and will still happen. My physiology has this knack for fight or flight, for no real reason, at inappropriate times. And, anxiety doesn't always need a source or a trigger. It can just happen. It's tricky that way. I am a sensitive being (like so many of you reading this are). I feel things and absorb things, and yet, don't always consciously even realize it. That energy, good or not so good, builds up inside when I am not flowing creatively, or getting out into nature enough, it effects me. Apparently, it was time for a panic attack and the reminders and lessons that it brought.

So why tell everyone that I started the year with a yucky panic attack? Why not pretend it's all good, 2017 is here, and I am taking it by the whatevers and making shit happen? Well, I will be doing that, but it started with a little something else. And I share this with you, for a couple of reasons. One, mental health stigma has GOT TO STOP. We are all living in this fractured world together, most of us doing our best to contribute good things. There is no doubt in my mind, that every single person walking this planet struggles. Mentally, physically, spiritually. Some of us struggle in silence. Afraid of what others will think of us. Afraid of being seen as weak, or weird, broken, or ill...mentally ill. It's like a bad word that needs to be whispered. Some people reach out for help, for therapy, for medication, biofeedback, acupuncture, Reiki, whatever, but they don't share that either. They don't want people to think they are weak, or weird, broken, or ill. It's okay to have some sort of physical ailment, because people around you can see that. They can see your pain, and understand your burden. When it's in your mind, or even in your body (like so many autoimmune diseases) and can't been seen with the human eyes, the problem is looked at as something made up or over exaggerated.

I am here to say, I have been challenged in this life by anxiety disorders. I am not weak, not broken, not ill....maybe I am technically mentally ill. But I don't feel ill. And maybe a little weird, but that isn't because of anxiety. That is because I find weird beautiful :) I have been to therapy, have taken medication, have taken advantage of alternative therapies. They have all worked, and supported me in their own ways, at their own times. I am a Reiki practitioner and holder of space. I am honored to encourage others on the journey to wellness if they are called to utilize me for that purpose. Even those of us that are helping fellow beings through their struggle, are challenged ourselves. We are ALL challenged.

And, as it should be. We grow through the mud. We become strong and beautiful while breaking through the chrysalis. We are meant to learn it the hard way. We are meant to HEAL, to journey through brokenness and pain, to find faith and wholeness, strength and oneness. We are meant to hold our arms open for one another. To make it through our own hard times and then say to the one next to us...."We all have tough times. I'm sorry it hurts. I am here for you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE."

So here we are in 2017. I'll be busy this year, spreading bunches of love and light, glitter and healing energy, and maybe having a panic attack or two. And I want you to know, you are not alone.You are necessary. You are perfect. You are loved.

xoxoxo

Happy New Year.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Ebb and Flow

It keeps coming up for me. I am continually reminded lately how much of this dance of life is going along with the ebb AND the flow. We know about "going with the flow" right?  We know if we mean to be chill, to not stress, to just take it as it comes, we are gonna go with the flow. Going with the flow is kind of easy, like coasting on a bike. You don't have to do much, just put your arms out, lay back, take a breath and let the flow take you.

For some people, going with the flow is torture. Giving up control is the hardest part. They want to direct the flow. Letting it take them for a ride is very very scary. Where will it lead? They can't just willy nilly go with that flow. How do they know that flow is the right one for them? They could end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. They have a plan, and said flow is not part of it.

A few years ago I would have found it difficult. I was beginning to realize control wasn't all it was cracked up to be, but letting go was still really tough. I definitely used to have a plan, or at least would get one together in a jiffy if need be, before I went flowin' anywhere. Thinking back to that version of me, I can actually feel my physical body tighten up. I can feel my breath become shallow. My neck and jaw stiffen. I was rigid and fearful, even though I never would have thought so at the time.

 Anyway back to the ebb and flow stuff. Ebb is defined as 1. The reflux of the tide toward the sea; the flowing back of the tide as the water returns to the sea. 2. A point or condition of decline; a flowing backward or away; a decline or decay.  So the ebb is probably seen as the not so fun and easy part of this whole deal right? Unless you have been practicing, you likely don't just "go with the ebb." The flow might be a little fast or windy, but the ebb is gonna pull you down. It's gonna yank you into the deep.

So why would we want to go with the ebb? Shouldn't we be avoiding the ebb at all costs? The control freaks are like..."okay okay, the flow isn't so bad...I can do the flow..just don't make me face the ebb!" And I use that term in jest, as I was one for a huge part of my life.

I've been in the ebb the last couple of months. Neither the ebb or the flow are necessarily swift. So how do I know I've been in the ebb? I haven't been flowing forward. My creative juices have been kind of still. I've been a little low (partially to blame on a cold gloomy winter when I am a totally solar powered sun worshiper). I've haven't been feeding myself the good stuff consistently. Meaning I haven't been practicing yoga or meditating daily. I haven't been spending enough time in nature. I haven't been creating. I have just kind of been living and sporadically caring for myself.

And as I begin to reach toward the shore now, coming closer to a point of flow, although not quite there yet, I can try to appreciate the ebb. I mean, I don't know that we are meant to be in the flow all the time. We are able to see the goodness in the flow, because we have experienced it's opposite. And, we have to be reminded now and then. Once we are more aware, and able to actually distinguish where we are, we can use that place for it's intended purpose, I can look at that definition of ebb and see some good stuff in it. Flowing backward isn't ideal, but maybe there are some things we need to look at before we continue to move forward. Decay and/or decline doesn't sound fun at all, but maybe there is something that needs to die in order for something new to grow in it's place. Maybe we need to have these times, these ebbs, so that when the tide comes in again, full of life and strength and beauty, we can be ready.

I look forward to the next flow. I feel it gearing up. I am excited to get in there and let it take me for a ride. I will celebrate my time in the flow. I won't take it for granted. I will move forward, and create, and heal, and grow. And when the ebb starts to reach for me again, I will go willingly knowing it too has it's purpose.