self-care

I’m tired of living in fear

We are all connected.  And the speed of information has advanced our society into a global community.  You want to learn about X?  What does Google say?  Information is literally at your fingertips if you happen to own a smartphone.  And knowledge is power.

Even though my family got rid of cable years ago, we still have access to the news from our phones and apps on our TV console. I love that we can choose what to watch when we want to.  But we do channel surf through YouTube and you can’t escape the collective fear that is ever present.  The recent tragic events and acts of violence have pulled at my heart.

I love working in Providence. It’s a city rich in history and I’m proud to be a native Rhode Islander.  It’s a beautiful city to walk around:  the Brown University campus, the financial and downtown districts, and historic Benefit Street.  But I’m tired of living in fear.  If a car comes racing by or a strange box truck is around, I tense up and anxiety takes control.  My leisurely walk is interrupted and I’m terrified for a moment, especially if I’m around city hall or a federal building.  It never used to be this way.  Fear never played such a prominent role.  I started working full-time a little over a year ago.  And I loved the city.  I drank in the architecture, the people on their way to work, students walking to class, and the waterfront.  It was a welcome sight.

But over these last few months, the anxiety has been building. Yesterday as I was walking to the parking garage, a box truck stopped right in the middle of the street and began to back up.  Normally this wouldn’t have been an issue.  There’s construction everywhere and the street was a one-way.  But the truck seemed to be backing up and keeping  in pace with me as I walked.  Cars behind the truck began to honk, and it seemed like the truck was going to back up regardless of traffic.  This odd behavior made my anxiety soar.  I started to run, and all I could hear was the incessant “beep, beep, beep” as it continued to reverse.  I had the worst panic attack.  I feared it was going to blow up right then and there next to the financial district.  I had visions of me getting into the garage on the fifth floor and being toppled over by the above floors during the explosion.  I couldn’t wait to get out of that garage.

Once I got behind the wheel and started to exit, I shouted, “I’m tired of being afraid! I’m tired of living in fear!  I’m tired of freaking out over a truck!  I just want to be able to walk in peace without feeling terrorized!”

I don’t have an answer during these crippling moments. I just try to deepen my breath.  I remind myself that meditation helps ground me and I should meditate more and journal more.  Events will happen that are beyond my control.  And one thing I can control is my breath.

How do you bring calm when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed?

self-care

Switch Off Sundays

Switch Off Sundays is a phrase I first heard from Leonie Dawson and it resonated with me.  A day free of social media, emails, and other technology.  A day to connect to what truly matters.  Our society used to and some religions still observe a sabbath.  A sabbatical to connect to myself.  Tune out to turn in with the intent to be present for my family and free from distraction as possible.

I know childhood is so temporary.  Children seem to be in a rush to do what big kids do.  I don’t want to miss out on my kids’ childhood for a second.  Social media and emails do not have priority over my real day-to-day life.  I am responsible for their childhood memories.  It’s a daunting task, and one I take seriously.  And the best and easiest thing I can do is ditch the technology for one day.  I know the emails will still be in my inbox come Monday morning.  And I delete more than half of them most days anyhow.

Instead of deleting emails or catching up with a latest post, I will talk to my family.  I marvel at what new words my 17-month old has discovered.  She loves books and has us read the same story over and over.  She can touch her knees and toes when I sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”  She’s learning about her face and can say “Eye” so clearly when she pokes her stuffed kitty cat’s eye.

I can take in my five-year old’s enthusiasm as she explains with energy and her whole being about an activity she’s done or looking forward to doing.  She has a zest for life.  She shares with joy in all of our family’s experiences.  Last week after a doctor’s appointment, I took her out and I said, “I love our together time, just you and me.”  And she said, “You know what I call it when it’s just me and daddy together time?  Love.”

My 13-year old stepdaughter has the most insightful conversations.  Her vocabulary and maturity leave me in awe.  And I can chat with my husband.  I love our long, uninterrupted talks about life, our home, and our future goals.  This is my real life.  I choose to focus on today.

My five-year old calls weekends “Home Days.”  And I couldn’t agree more.

self-care

We are all the same

I always seem to be carrying something in my right hand: a child, a totebag, my umbrella, my wheeled case for work.  You name it.  Yesterday I was walking back to the parking garage.  It was a very hot and humid day.  A scorcher.  Bright sun was beating down on my head with no breeze as a reprieve.  I was carrying my lunch bag in my left hand and pulling my wheeled case with my right.  I stopped and shifted.  I put my lunch bag onto my case, which freed up my left hand.

As I started to walk, my left arm naturally swayed forward and back as I took my steps. I noticed the young man in front of me.  His left hand was tucked in, close to his torso.  But his right arm was swinging, just like mine.  I looked ahead.  There was a woman walking towards me.  Her left arm also moved in a similar pattern.  Our paths crossed with our left arms silently swinging by.  The same.  Then I noticed a young child walking to keep up with his mother.  His little arm had a small sway too.

A deep feeling of connection swelled up inside of me. As human beings, we tend to walk upright.  Although we have our own unique gait, we have so much in common too.  We all have to eat food and drink water.  We all bleed when we get a cut.  Our bodies repair after an injury.  We all have the capacity for love, and we can all feel pain and suffering.

I felt powerful. The notion of what separates and categorizes us melted.  Imagine what we could accomplish if we worked together instead of focusing on what divides us?  I believe if we can take a moment to step out of our daily dramas and just notice our surroundings, real peace is possible.  If we can find peace within ourselves, we will find world peace.

self-care

P A U S E

Sometimes I’m too open and I tend to blurt out what I’m thinking and feeling without pausing or listening. I’d like to take more pauses:

Pause before interrupting

Pause to truly listen to another

Pause to let someone finish their story

And not focus on what I want to say or focus on what else I have to do. If I can pause and be present, then it gives the person I’m talking to permission to do the same.

Our society has made us busy, busier than ever. We always seem to be rushing off to the next thing on our to-do.  What if we could pause between all that productivity?

The present moment is all we have.

Yes, we can check off that item and feel a brief sense of satisfaction after completion. But my guess is, like me, our minds will quickly change to focus onto what’s our next activity.  We don’t pause long enough to realize, “Yes, I did finish my task.  I can appreciate my time, effort, and energy that brought it to completion.”

What if we chose to take a pause and decide to take ten deep breaths between tasks?  We might be able to notice how busy our lives are, how fleeting time can be, and notice that we have the power to choose how we want to spend our time and energy.  Yes, we can be busy, as we are sometimes required to be.  What if we could include a pause throughout our day, a moment to just notice?  Just observe our thoughts.  Just observe our surroundings.  Feel a connection to ourselves, to someone else, to our world, and not just focus on our obligations.

After a pause, then we can move ahead on our way. My hope is that at the end of the day, we won’t have to wonder, “Where did the time go?”  Maybe it could slow down the busy cycle that we’ve become and normalized as a society.  We’d be more open and approachable, and definitely feel grounded and connected.

Today I’m going to pause.

self-care

First blog post – What motivates you?

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As a mom of young children, who recently transitioned from the freelance world to full-time employment, finding the time and motivation to write has been a recurrent theme.  I want to set myself up for success by starting healthy healing habits now before I get too entrenched in the day-to-day, 9-5, monotony.  There’s family-life-work balance.

Connection, clarity and compassion.  My three C’s are my inspiration for writing a couple of paragraphs daily in my journal.  Starting is the key.  Keeping my pen on the page and avoiding distractions.  Some planning helps.  Staying focused on my intention, and consistently showing up at the page will make my goal a reality.  And importantly, being gentle with myself when priorities shift and my writing doesn’t go according to plan.

My life experiences have brought me to this moment:  The good, the bad, the muck, the ugly, and there’s the beauty, the breath to stay centered in the chaos.  As I’ve entered my 40s, I finally realize that I don’t have to prove myself anymore.  I can be true to myself and inspire others.

I’m going to honor the journey of this transition.

What motivates you?