Day 265 – LSS Attitude of Gratitude – Monday Memories – There is always something to be grateful for.

Today is the day of grateful and sad memories.  I was thinking of  a few life altering moments that changed me.  

The moment I found out I was pregnant with my first child: The joy was not dimmed by the opinions of others. My youth may have provided me with rose colored glasses but also optimal hope. 

The moments I gave birth to my babies: The joy that I was capable of bringing life in to the word was without bounds.  Just as is true for so many different things, no one can explain the joy until you experience it for yourself. 

The moment I received a phone call telling me my best friend was killed in an auto accident: Last year in therapy I connected the fear of my dying panic attacks to that experience at age 21.  I was constantly afraid I would not be there to raise my babies.

The moment I visited my dying grandmother: She was such an important loving presence in my life. The reality of losing her was almost too much to bare. I was so glad she got to know my babies. My obligation to stay in contact with her son died with her.   

The moment I had a serious conversation with my grandfather about the pros and cons of marriage in his 80 s: The fact that he trusted me with his feelings and concerns reinforced all the love I felt for him.     

The moment I went to the double wedding of bio-dad to wife number three and the second marriage (after more than 50 years) of my beloved grandfather: The oddest part of the day was I immediately despised Gpa’s wife and adored bio-dad’s. Grandpa’s wife was a black widow in every sense of the word. I am still friends with wife number 3 for bio-dad. She wisely has moved on to a loving relationship. 

The moment I signed a contract for my “real” teaching job: My spouse was out of work again and I knew we would be OK as I could now support us financially.   

The moment I got my master’s degree: I was thrilled to move over to the last pay column. It meant I was better able to provide for my family. I felt the irony that a kid raised in poverty would earn a 4.0 in a master’s program. It was life altering. 

The moment I signed the paperwork to begin the divorce: It was so difficult to do, not because it was the wrong thing, but because it went against what I promised myself. After my mom’s 8 marriages I had vowed to stay married until my own children had graduated from high school. I was proud to be finally doing what I should have done 15 years earlier. I made it 18 years and only two years shy of my youngest graduating. Best decision I ever made.  

The moment I received my passport: I never had aspirations to travel outside this country but different situations arose and I went for it. I remember talking to my mom about my travels and I wondered if she thought I was crazy. Her response was quite the contrary. She told me to do all the travel why I could,  because the future is uncertain. As I think back to all the places I have been, I am grateful I could share my experiences with her. She loved looking at my scrapbooks.   

The moments I watched my grand babies being born: I am so grateful I was able to assist in the birthing process. Being a grandparent is even better that being a parent.

The moment I held my mother’s hand as she left this lifetime:  I had never been present for anyone’s last breath on earth. I am so glad I was there with my mom for her last week. While it was excruciating being responsible for so many decisions I am glad I could do it for her. I am grateful for her day of lucidity when she told me all her final wants. Not much was going to stop me from fulfilling what she wanted.     

The moment I signed the final paperwork to retire: After contemplating retirement for some time, I finally stepped off the edge and made the decision. To stop doing something you have loved for all those years was not easy.   

I have had so many truly life altering moments. My thoughts today were of the moments that changed my life. I yearn for hundreds more happy moments. I don’t know how many of them will be life altering. I will gratefully enjoy all the good ones. 

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Day 257 – LSS Attitude of Gratitude – Blog/Anxiety – There is always something to be grateful for.

My meditation today was a strange continuum of thoughts about anxiety in my life. I don’t doubt that if someone knew what went on in my mind in younger days that I would have been clinically diagnosed with GAD. So glad that I don’t have that label attached to me. My thoughts traveled through all the things that caused me anxiety. 

For as long as I can remember, worry was my middle name. I would worry to excess and saw danger and fear everywhere. My constant battle was to want to be in control at all times. As I reviewed life experiences I could see why I felt the way I did.

My childhood was sure not a safe place. While I felt much safer at school, I still had great anxiety there also. I feared if I did something that made my teachers angry then they would disappear. My anxiety was boundless. I could take a simple thing like an invitation to visit a friend and get so anxious that I would have a mouth full of sores. I didn’t sleep and my nerves were a wreck.

I remember one rare time I once went to a doctor in my youth for this.  The doctor told my mother that instead of ulcers in my stomach my stress and worry were causing mouth ulcers. I was given some ointment and sent on my way. There was no looking for a solution to the root problem.

As a young married woman and mom, my anxiety escalated. I worried over everything as a parent. I worried about doctor appointments for my babies from the minute I made the phone call until after the visit. A vivid memory came up about an outing my spouse and I were supposed to go on with another couple and all our kids. I called every day for two weeks with questions and concerns. Finally the day before we were to go they cancelled. I knew it was because of my excessive fears. 

As my children got older and I returned to college my fears and anxieties escalated to new heights.  I remember once going to the medical clinic on campus with over 20 canker sores. I couldn’t eat or speak without pain. I had many courses of steroids to help with the outbreaks previously. The doctor asked how many units I was taking (21) and what grades I was getting (All A). When I told her my answers she said she would not treat me because if I just got lower grades my canker sores would go away. Not a great response from the medical profession.

While I always connected my worries and anxiety to my physical mouth symptoms I did not understand all the other ways I was being affected. I had all the typical symptoms of anxiety.

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
  • Being irritable
  • Having muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep

As I have aged I have become more and more aware of unnecessary anxiety. My last few years teaching I finally realized I did not need to panic or stress about situations when I knew I was in the right.  I learned to laugh at all the years and years I would panic about situations that never happened. As a master of catastrophic expectations I would worry  things that never could happen. 

My brain ruminated on many different personal examples of excessive anxiety. My revelation was that my anxiety was caused by fear, anger, lack of control, lack of confidence, and stress. So next I pondered why did I take it to the nth degree as opposed to other “normal” people.

My final thoughts were that it doesn’t matter. That was my past. Now I try to decide how to look at my anxiety in a different manner. First I try to assess if there is really something to be anxious about. Then I work on a plan to reduce my anxiety. Some anxieties are unique to me. Some are irrational. Some can be dissipated with intent. I am truly grateful for my ability to reduce anxiety in my life. 

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Forest Bathing – Remedy for Stress

 

Day 252 – LSS Attitude of Gratitude – Blog/ I am not my things – There is always something to be grateful for.

I took time this morning after meditation to experience the joy I felt in my two clean, clutter free rooms.  I am enjoying the process because it reminds me that I am not my clutter. I am not the overwhelming energy present when things are out of sinc. I am enjoying the process of ridding myself of anything that does not bring me joy. I am realizing that I should keep things that might be clutter to other people but bring joy to me. Clutter is just items with bad ju-ju. I took over twenty bags to the thrift store to donate. I did keep one box of soup cups. They weren’t ready to go. As I drove up, the attendant asked if he could help. I of course said yes. And I laughed in my head. if only I could help getting rid of bad memories as easily as I rid myself of household clutter. Come to think of it that was not easy at first. 

Of course my busy mind goes to negative memories in my life. I am not those things either. As I worked on cleaning kitchen cabinets,  I reviewed sad memories from my childhood. I kept repeating that I am not those things.  Much to my surprise I actually am starting to believe that. Even with all the drama I have seen and experienced my reality is who I am now.  Yes my experiences are a part of me. Yes they brought me to where I am today. But I am not that wounded child. I am acknowledging her and comforting her from where I am now. 

It is true what has been said in the clutter clearing group. As you remove negative energy from your surroundings you allow feelings to surface. The comments from the many members reinforce what I am dealing with. I believe I am on a great path. I start my day with meditation. It  replenishes my spirit. I then clean and purge my clutter. I am allowing my brain to clean and purge also. I am working on deciding how my memories are going to impact me from now on. I am grateful for where I am. I am grateful for the new story I am living. 

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Day 237 – LSS Attitude of Gratitude – Blog/Meditation continues – There is always something to be grateful for.

I awoke at 3:50 this morning. I was wide awake so I decided to meditate. I tried a different binaural beat audio program. My brain tried to sing a song without success.  I then went to a rested state but I started feeling pain. In a few minutes I was actually feeling a strong pain in my right ear. The volume was very soft so I was confused. Then the pain progressed to my right sinus and right jaw. I turned off the sound completely and the pain ceased. That was beyond odd but I wanted to continue the meditation. I worked on my breathing and returned to a meditative state.   

My thoughts led me to a fear of a lack of abundance. My heart started to race and I knew I needed to calm down before a panic attack arose. So I questioned myself as to why I was in this agitated state. My internal assumptions were that my next check will not be enough to survive. I went to catastrophic expectations like my old self used to do. I knew I just had to reflect on my truths. I know in reality that is absurd. I know I am OK. I know there are many ways I foolishly spend money. I know I have enough. I know I will be OK.

It took awhile but eventually I calmed myself down. I contemplated the need for a budget. I calmed down and came to the realization that internally I must be worried  about money in a way that was my old script. My old story was that I believed I will never have enough. I thought that I was past that. I kept trying to think what will make me happy. I am grateful that I am able to look at my thoughts and come to some rational conclusions.   

The rest of my day amounted to cleaning and organizing things in my house. It makes me happy when things are in order. I won’t worry about the mess in the garage for now. I know it’s not going anywhere.

I spent some time in my garden this afternoon. I played with the dog and then did laundry. So I am in a good place right now. I have some small errands to do this afternoon. I am grateful for the gift of time. I have all the time I want or need to get things done.   

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Day 228 – LSS Attitude of Gratitude – Blog/Birthday Part 2 – There is always something to be grateful for.

Today is my birthday. Today I am grateful for growth. I am grateful for this day not being one of pain and heartache. It’s a day of joy. The joy one feels when your heart is not being crushed. The joy one feels when you realize you have a great deal of control over your emotions.

I have joy today because there are so many wonderful people in my life. I have cousins who rejoice in my happiness. They know exactly who I am, what I have been through, and where I am going. I have long time friends who extend their kind hearts to me. They have known me and stood by me in times of great sorrow and wonderful joy. I have new friends I did not even know a year ago. I cannot fathom what my life would be without them. All these women are a huge part of who I am now, on this the 65th day of my journey. I have so much gratitude for my life as it is today. A year ago I did not know this happiness would be possible.     

After making breakfast, I needed to go to my classroom to pick up my computer and get the cake I forgot in the fridge. I knew there were activities going on, on campus, so I could get into my class without sounding the alarm. As I looked over all that still needed to be done, for a split second thought I should stay and work. The fleeting thought passed quickly.

I decided I would like to hit a thrift store next. It is always a fun way for me to begin my day. I found some DVD seasons that I had been looking for. It was a successful outing.

Next on the agenda was to go and test drive a FLEX. I have been contemplating my next vehicle for about two years. My old car still makes me happy but the idea of entering my next phase with a new or new to me car sounded  appealing.  After the test drive of the new car I wanted to see the used cars they had in stock. The first used car was only two years old but it had obviously been used and abused. I decided if indeed I was willing to purchase a used car I had some research to do. My spouse had already been looking for me and had a good idea of prices. He then showed me a one year old car with lots of bells and whistles that was in very good shape. I can honestly say I did not have new car fever. I explained to the salesman that I needed to see what other used cars were available. We sat outside while the salesman looked up the price of adding a luggage rack. My spouse did some research online as to what used cars were going for and what was available. Of course the manager came over and asked what the car did not have that I wanted. I explained that I liked the luggage rack on the other two models. So of course he asked if he threw in a luggage rack would we make the deal. After research had been done I gave it some thought and said yes.car

This was not my plan for the day. But I have no buyers remorse at all. I am very happy that I have made another leap into my next phase. It feels like they are occurring more frequently and with more ease.