Midweek Motivation: Owning Your Present Life and Moving Forward

I accept who I am today. I know that the process of becoming me didn’t happen overnight. Therefore the transition into an improved version of myself will take time. Time that no calendar can accurately track. It must come from within.

I may not have the words to express my pain, to describe my hurt, to illustrate my grief but in time I will find the courage to move forward while holding fast to the memories that I have of my mother and daughter.

May my imperfections save me from a life of boredom. May my blunt delivery save me from bottled up emotions. May my impatience pave a road filled with so much joy and beauty that I can’t help but stop and enjoy myself for once.

I will never be the me I was before. She’s gone. Yet, I’m still here…waiting…now walking towards my next adventure.

Spiritual Awakening

 

 

3 Activities to Cope with Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Looking for a way to refocus negative energy? Here are some of the things I’ve been doing.

1. Crochet

People typically think of grandmothers in rocking chairs when they hear the word “crochet” but trust me its an activity for all ages. In fact, I learned the very basics (chain stitch and single crochet) at ten or eleven years old. Not long after I gave up, finding other things worthy of my time (The Sims anyone?). Recently, I decided to return to the craft except this time I was determined to actually learn how to create things .It’s only been a couple of months but I’ve made a scarf for both me and my spouse, a hat, slippers that weren’t exactly in pairs, (a post on that adventure soon, ha!)a case to hold my hooks (pictured above), a basket (pictured above). I have quite a bit of work ahead of me but so far I’m enjoying myself.  There’s something incredibly relaxing about finding a project, choosing a yarn, and going through the hand motions that are required of needlework. In fact, Kathryn Vercillo wrote Crochet Saved My Life: The Mental and Physical Health Benefits, an anthology of healing through hooking. So before you write it off as an activity for idyll people, go to your nearest yarn and/or craft store and give it a whirl.

2. Writing

Writing has always been my mode of release. As a preteen I wrote several short stories about quirky teenage girls with messy family dynamics. By the time I was a teenager, my life had become so complicated that I think it killed a great part of my imagination (I think graduate school almost offed the remaining bits, ha!).  As far as I was concerned the only story that mattered was my own so I wrote like crazy in my journals, recording every thought that I could. I still enjoy journaling, especially since I realized that I am so uninhibited and honest that its a clear picture of my emotional state. In November 2015, I hit rock bottom and knew that I needed to connect with other people before I became imprisoned by my thoughts. So I created this blog. Finally, I bought a writing prompt journal (pictured above) to retrain my brain to think and write creatively.

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3. Exercise

Of course I had to include the ‘ultimate’ way to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression–exercise! Since I am fairly new to working out more than three times a week, I can’t speak to having an exercise addiction. However, exercise reminds me I’m still here even when my spirit is weak.Even in the midst of emotional turmoil, my body’s survival mechanism kicks in and propels me forward. Last week while browsing on Youtube for mind-body-spirit kind of workouts, I stumbled across a beginner Pilates workout. Unlike some videos it really is suited for amateurs. Look out for my future post on Pilates.

Suicide Part 1: The Beginning of Hopelessness

 

The first time I considered suicide was when I was ten years old. I saw the butcher knife in the kitchen and thought: what would happen if I ended it all?

Would my mother feel bad for abusing me? Would my dad feel guilty for being an absentee father, leaving me to the mentally unstable parent? Would my grandfather be forced to reckon with his refusal to interfere in a meaningful way? Would my older sisters finally feel safe enough to come forward and tell the truth about our childhood?

But I didn’t do it. I can’t remember why. I just didn’t.

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Fast forward to about two years later and my mother was involved in yet another volatile situation but at least she had largely stop abusing me. In fact, the tables had turned and I was caring for her as she was suffering from Lupus (her liver was failing her). I just didn’t want to imagine losing my mother. Don’t get me wrong–I had been always been aware of death. My first memories are me as a three-year old climbing into bed with my mom and reminding her to take her medicine. I never knew a completely healthy mother. Since Lupus is a chronic disease there are good moments, sometimes even great moments. Yet, I always lived with the feeling that she would die when I was young.

No matter what she had done to me. No matter what troubled man she brought into our lives. I didn’t know what I would do without her. I didn’t get along with my older sister, T who is four years older than me. At the time, my oldest sister, K (whom I am very close to) is eight years older and had just escaped to college.. so I was lost. Who would take care of me if she passed?

Fast forward to my early teenage years and my mother had remarried. “Again?” you might say. Yes, again. My sisters and I believe that she was never single longer than a TOTAL of a week of her life since she was fourteen. This is no exaggeration. Anyways, this guy was similar to the others in that he was an alcoholic, unmotivated, moved in quickly, drove her car around like it was his own, disrespected people while constantly demanding respect, and had children that he wasn’t raising but constantly took issue with my mother’s parenting. Yet he was different in the sense that he was abusive to EVERYONE without remorse. What’s worse is he claimed to be a Christian–a Jehovah’s Witness to be exact. In fact he introduced my mother to this religion. All of these things would lead to situations that would shake my family to the core leaving me as the broken mess that I am today.

Look out for part 2 later this week…

Me, Myself, and I: The Most Tumultuous Relationship I’ve Ever Had

I want to love myself so badly but it is  impossible  difficult.

Remember in 2003 when Beyoncé told us that all she has is, “Me, Myself, and, I” in the end and that she’ll never disappoint herself? I was ten but I remember the lyrics were so simplistic that even I could understand the feeling of liberation when you resolve to love yourself a little bit more.

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Picture from Beyonce’s “Me, Myself, and I” (2003) video

 

Fast forward and I understand more than ever the importance of loving yourself. I may not be going through a breakup but I do know how dangerous it is to lose the deep connection that you have with yourself. Or maybe you never had it.

Once you realize that your relationship with yourself is a  bit rocky you can’t unsee that shit. It’s the same way that we fixate on anything that appears “off”. What is more frustrating for our brains to deal with is either a) not being able to change anything about something or worse b) not doing anything about something.

I have been caught in this cycle of anger, depression, and grief. I have to escape. Someone tell me how because I’m lost and this kind of life is all I know.

Midweek Motivation: Good Things Happen Everyday, You Just Forget To Acknowledge It

If you’re not careful, your whole life could be, “I’ll be happy when…”-author, Rachel Wolchin

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines the word ‘journey’ as “something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another.” Defined in this way, a journey can be both long and short. So what does this mean in the context of self-love and self-improvement?

Personally, I think that it can sometimes lead us to think about the end goal while speeding our brains up to that moment of ultimate victory. You know:

The moment that you can finally fit into the pair of jeans that you haven’t been able to get pass your thighs in a year. The moment your mind is no longer clouded with anxiety. The moment you are emotionally strong enough to reveal your feelings to the people that hurt you…

Don’t get me wrong–I find fantasizing about triumphant moments a useful tool–especially when I’m pushing through a particularly rough set of exercises. Sometimes it even motivates me to get out of my bed when my mind is spinning a thousand miles per hour and I can’t make it STOP.

However, I realized that I have become so fixated on the “after” that I’m not really allowing myself to enjoy all of those little “before” moments. So I’ll type this quote again in hopes that if you are like me, you learn to appreciate all  of the highs and lows of your current life.

If you’re not careful, your whole life could be, “I’ll be happy when…”-author, Rachel Wolchin

Don’t look back and regret wasted opportunities to connect with everything and everyone around you. Remember: good things happen everyday, it’s up to you to acknowledge it.

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I’m not strong, I’m just a good actress

Everyday I’m waging a silent war with myself. This morning I thought I lost that battle.

People tell me that I’m so strong. That under my circumstances they would have caved. Trust me, I want to say, you don’t know half of where this so-called strength comes from. I’m not strong, I want to say. In fact I’m really weak.

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But I’m losing and no matter how many times I try to tell myself that I need to just “think positive” my brain is flooded with so many negative thoughts. My brain won’t be quiet. I think the switch is broken because it’s like my body has gone into overdrive.

My partner thinks that he can’t do anything right by me. That I’m supercritical of everything that he does. That he isn’t enough. I want to scream, “You idiot! It’s not you, it’s me.” I wish I felt more deserving of his love and adoration. I’m pretty sure I give him the crumpled up, dead parts of me. Sometimes I wonder why he sticks around. I’m so messed up that I want him to hate me. Give me what I deserve…which is nothing.images (8).jpg

Why do I stay around and try to continue living? I don’t know. Sometimes I have this crazy moment where I envision that something good will happen if I just hold on. Then I think I’m such a coward that I can’t even push myself to go the distance and just end it.

But then I have a moment of happiness where I’m like, “Great, I’m still in this life. I’m still trying to make it.” How long this feeling lasts depends on my mood which is admittedly off-kilter these days.

I’ve always been told that I am extremely impatient and hard-on-myself. I know it’s true. So maybe for once I’ll really put in the work to do so. Problem is: how long is that gonna take? See what I mean? I’m a mess.

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Self-Care Saturday: Being Selective of What I Watch

Like many Americans, I have been following the presidential election closely. This has meant spending several hours watching debates and subsequent political analysis. I have also caught an episode (or five) of the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I’ve noticed that when people admit to watching reality television there are always eyerolls, sucked teeth, and pity for the R.T watcher. I’ll be honest. I can understand where people are coming from. Reality television is a caricature of reality. Yet, I have at some point or other enjoyed this form of entertainment. Why?

Well, I have this incredible thing called critical thinking. It’s amazing. Humans have the ability to not only absorb information but actually process it. For me, Real Housewives of Atlanta is a conversation starter on the intersections of race, gender, class, age, and social media. The show is ridiculous (in ways that are beyond the scope of the time I have allotted to write this piece) but in my opinion, it’s important to understand why such madness is renewed season after season. Especially in a world where the goings-on of social media can change the trajectory of a storyline on a ‘reality’ television series or our presidential election [insert distressed gasp!]

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Republican Presidential Candidates Marco Rubio (L) and Donald Trump spar during the Republican Presidential Debate in Detroit, Michigan, March 3, 2016. / AFP / Geoff Robins (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

Televised presidential debates are reality television too. Unsurprisingly this election has one of its favorite reality television stars—Donald Trump. If the primaries and debates have taught us anything it is that humans crave entertainment and jump at opportunities to be spectators. Unfortunately this craving has been exploited, marketed, and sold to the concerned and fed-up American citizens in the veil of politics. It’s quite troubling to think that the hiring process for a national leader could turn into a circus but it has and yet, there are many people still enjoying the ride. Cue the applause, feed off the energy of the angry mobs, replay the soundbytes, and there you have our election season in a nutshell.

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Being mindful of what you watch and how you watch—it’s a gift to others and yourself. Normally, I would watch a couple twenty-minute Bob’s Burgers episodes per week while cooking dinner. Last week I realized that I now watch television several times a week. It’s because I got caught the sticky web of this election cycle. I was so consumed by every little thing that happened because I just had to have an opinion on it. I had to be an informed, yet critical citizen to make up for so many people who were voting for obnoxious candidates out of sheer anger, right? By the time my partner said he just couldn’t watch the debate last week, I realized that I had gone a wee bit too far. I was beginning to make him suffer because of my crazy decision to be an overly politically aware twenty-three year old voter.

Now, I watch thirty to forty minutes of the debate, sneer at the blatant ignorance, bigotry, and hypocrisy, and go to bed. There will always be twenty-four hour news stations and thinkpieces dedicated to the never-ending saga that is our political process. There will not always be that extra hour of rest and relaxation before a long day or week. It’s nice to return to reality—that is my reality.

True Things My Mama Told Me: “They ain’t ya friends” on Social Media

images (6).jpgRemember in elementary school when your parents asked you who was your best friend and you rattled off a long list of names? Remember when you friends had so many birthday parties that you often had to select one or two because you couldn’t make it to them all? If you were like me, your mother probably told you that there was no way that you could have that many best friends which confused you because of course you can. Now return to the present and look around you. It’s probably not as easy to conjure up a ridiculously long list of your “best friends”.

At first this revelation depressed me. It didn’t help that I had Facebook and Instagram accounts that constantly reminded me of how exciting everyone else’s life was while I was suffering with depression. The majority of my ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ were not my close friends or even close acquaintances. Yet, I prided myself on not just allowing anyone to be my friend in a world of cyber stalkers and murderers. I mean at least I knew all of these people from school and/or work. Their self-absorbed photos and statuses about their boyfriend, trips to the grocery store, and spring break and Florida annoyed the hell out of me.

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But I sucked it up because we were ‘friends’ and friends don’t publically call one another out for their BS, right? That was until a former real-life best friend posted an incredibly insensitive cartoon about a victim of police brutality. In the past she made questionable remarks about people but I thought that it was mainly because we were young and she was merely echoing her mother and stepfather’s racism. After politely confronting her about my feelings, it turned into an argument instead of a healthy dialogue which I thought old friends were capable of. I realized that we were no longer at the point where a call (at the least a text) could smooth things over. To be honest, I don’t even think I had her number anymore because we had grown apart and to me our friendship wasn’t worth saving.

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To avoid further conflict, I deleted her from my friend list. I might have even blocked her. I don’t remember since I deactivated my account several days later. Removing her made me scroll through my list of ‘friends’ which were mainly from high school (I graduated in May 2011) and my first two years of undergrad. It was so odd to see how many people I had either forgotten or couldn’t remember. I didn’t know these people any more than they knew me and so I went on a deleting spree until I came to the realization that the people with whom I am closest to speak with me on a regular basis. Don’t get me wrong, when I travel overseas Facebook is a great way to keep in contact with my friends and family but when I am within phoning distance, I have no reason to have a Facebook.  I have no desire to get a play-by-play account of someone’s life when I could be living my own.

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The people that are supposed to be there will be there when you need them. Yesterday, one of my old friends contacted me to see how I was doing. In such a short amount of time, things had changed in both of our lives. Yet, that has always been the nature of our relationship. We talk every few months and catch up like no time has passed at all. The point is: your real friends call you and you call them. If they are only reachable through photo likes and comments then either you were never friends or your friendship is in danger. If you are fighting (no matter how insignificant) over social media, check into the status of your relationship. Life is complicated enough as it is. Why waste time cultivating ‘friendships’ based on cryptic texts and offensive photos when you can work on your friendship in the ‘real world’?

In the age of social media, I choose to dedicate my time and energy to the people outside of the cyberland who mean the most to me. It may not be a long Santa-style list of people but they’re my people and they deserve it because they are my friends.