Life is a series of choices. We don’t often think of that but just getting out of bed in the morning is a choice. We are so used to routine that it doesn’t seem like we made a choice. It’s just what we do every day with little thought. How different life could be it we could be fully present for each of those choices. It is interesting to reflect on one’s path in life. It is so easy to see the places where I stepped off the path and usually paid for it. Sometimes the slip brings an instant outcome. Sometimes life continues and only with a long look back can we see the result of the choice.
I have always wanted to learn to live each day in the present moment but I haven’t mastered it yet. If only every second of every day I could remember I am alive now! How different my whole life would have been.
You see, I am a worrier. I cross bridges and explore every good and bad outcome for each crisis or major event that comes up. I can easily picture myself with a fatal illness or catastrophic problem. The real question is how I have managed to live for 76 years and not learned how to let this go. It is time to move on. This is my journey into change. My first step into a new way to really live each moment.
I know that I have a tough road ahead of me and will struggle with my resistance to changing habits and applying all the advice and wisdom I have been given. I worried as a child. My grandmother used to tell me to sit in a chair and worry as hard as I could and get up and see if anything had changed. Her wisdom (she died at 100 ) was there for me as long as she lived. I heard it over and over but never learned how to do it.
The practice of faith was not absent in my growing years. God was a part of my everyday life. I was baptized in the Presbyterian church that my parents attended and each Sunday was in church with my parents or my grandmother (she was Methodist) I saw my grandmother read her Bible each day and pray as she rested after lunch and again at night before bed. Her connection to God was strong. Was Her consistent time spent with God the thing that brought her such peace? Many of my adult years have been spent in God’s ministry. Interesting that all that energy and action didn’t have a deeper effect on my way of being. One would think that Bible study, leading church events, teaching yoga and meditation would have had more impact.
So many human quirks that have been around since Adam and Eve have been given titles and are seen as present in many of us. In today’s world, my worrying would be given the title mild anxiety. What I do is not unusual nor can it be considered a psychiatric diagnosis. It seems to me that the recognition of garden variety anxiety has given some relief for those of us who worry. I am not the only one and will certainly not be the last.
Added on to this propensity to worry are the major changes in our way of life. It seems to me that sometimes ignorance is bliss. (note: I say it seems that way). Today we are bombarded with information. The world seems to be more dangerous day by day. To quote Dr King “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” We can see the result of this on the streets of our cities. Have we been desensitized to violence so that nothing is too abhorrent to do?
All the electronic devices have added noise on a former unprecedented level. Is there silence anywhere? Do we understand the effect on body and mind of constant noise? Do we ever just sit back and think? I see this pattern as actually increasing worry or anxiety in the future. There is no time to just be.
All that having been said this writing will record my progress (or lack thereof) of a journey into change. I cannot change the world but I can change myself. I believe in the butterfly principle and maybe if one person finds a different way something will change.
Yesterday I wrote about the anxiety attached to again ?? the physician’s office about records. I felt so foolish going again and as usual it was not at all difficult and we managed to get everything we needed.
It’s that thing about crossing bridges before we get to them. It is one of my favorite things to do. I visualize the event, conjure up conversations and live the experience over and over. Really stupid when I only need to live through it once. This obsession with imagining the future is not a good choice.
I wish I knew why I do this or how I started. It would be so nice to just shut it off. I do try. Using reverting to positive thinking and focusing on other things helped and I was able to remain reasonably un-crazy and not run for bathrooms.
Those of us who have this problem are so good at imagining the worst. We seem to think that going over it and over it will prepare us to cope. I’m not sure that is true. The anxiety we experience before the event may far exceed reality. I am sure that there are times when this is not true but I do think they are infrequent.
Learning to recognize different events and evaluate their true potential for unacceptable outcomes would help to decrease the level of stress involved. Am I going to die from this interaction? Will I run screaming from the building? Just looking with an open mind and clear eye may help to bring things into focus.
We learn each day. We grow each day and hopefully learn and use new ideas for coping.
For weeks I have been gathering the information my husband needs for his doctor at the Mayo Clinic. I need to take this burden from him since I am so familiar with how the medical systems work (or don’t work). This has been so frustrating for me and I have realized how having to confront people over and over to get what I need brings on my anxiety. The funny thing is that I can do it for others but when it is my own family I fall apart. Now we need more records and tomorrow I have to ask to speak to an office manager that I have called on so many times (and she has been so nice) that I am embarrassed and anxious about having to do it again.
I know this is silly and part of my incipient anxiety but there it is. I will force myself to do this tomorrow and I know I will suffer through it and come home drained. I just pray that my IBD will not flare up and cause me to seek every bathroom I can find. Why is it that to do this as part of my former job was not a problem but it is for my husband.
Worrying about what someone will think of me is still an issue at my age. It doesn’t get me all the time but these kind of situations will cause it to rear its ugly head. I have just connected this specific incident and now understand why I keep wanting to put it off.
This is a trigger that I haven’t noticed before but now that I am aware of it I will ready myself, use my learned tools and get it done.
Over the years learning ways to cope with my anxiety and manage the situations that I need to get through has changed my life. So many things that were triggers no longer bother me. I think in some ways I have de-synthesized myself and this has been a blessing.
Have faith. You are able to grow and find new ways to move forward. My 77 years have proved it. A good life is possible. Everyone lives with limitations it is just that each person’s are different.
Keep growing, keep learning, keep trying. You can do it.
Eventually we all lose the people we love (or they lose us). We cannot live forever. Life for each us does have an end. Is this a bad thing? Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s not.
At one time in my life I was angry about a child losing her life in an automobile accident. I railed against her losing her life so young. Her life was cut short. I resented that and was angry at God.
I visited a minister friend to talk about this feeling and I frequently bring to mind what he said. “Each of us has a life span. It is ours and ours alone. It may be long or it may be short. But it is ours. Each life is not cut short. That is the length of their life.”
Whether you agree with this or not it gave me much to think about. I have decided that the idea contains much wisdom. It helps when I can’t understand why someone’s life has ended.
There are some things that are harder to deal with than death. It is so difficult to watch someone we love disappear one piece at a time. This is what Alzheimer’s patients do. Little bits of them fall away. Memories are gone, friends are unknown, family is not recognized. I see this slow fading as worse than death. It is called “the long goodbye.”
There are other times that death comes as a blessing. Agonizing chronic illness can make the person long for death. Having a loved one become weak, disabled with no recovery and slip away day by day is another.
For those who suffer with mental illness especially anxiety and depression there are times when death can feel like an escape from the pain of living. I hope that each of us can find some help, some relief that moves us away from that decision. Life is worth living and things can be better. Never give up life. We only have so much time and each moment, each day is a gift.
I did not intend to write such a sad post but these things do happen. Losing someone is painful no matter how it happens. Losing ourselves also brings grief. When that happens we have to find a new way to be. Find ourselves as a new and different person. One who can move forward each day.
Before I write for the day I always read what shows up for me to read. Quite often it inspires me to write about a particular topic. Today it reminded me of my writing yesterday when I talked about how wonderful other’s blogs are to read. I felt the same way today.
So many days I can start out feeling down and the blogs lift me up. Some are funny, some give me ideas to try and some I feel that I can say something that may help. This really is a community of comrades.
Today has been so calming. I found that more company were not coming and was able to relax. Little got done but that is ok. The vines in my yard are going apace and will continue to do so since I have no plan to tackle them at the moment.
Sometime we have to give ourselves permission to take some down time. The world will not end if my yard is not perfect or my house spotless. We frequently push ourselves too hard and forget that everyone needs rest and think time. We cannot be healthy or creative if we don’t take this time off. Be kind to yourself.
I have long felt that that pain and sorrow have an important place in the scheme of things. They come to us unwanted and hard to accept. We wonder “what is the point?Why is this happening to me?” We feel lost and abandoned. Suffering is lonely. It removes us from our everyday world and causes us to live within ourselves and our pain. Nothing else matters. We can’t see past it. We can’t make plans. We just live in limbo.
The up side of all of this is not readily seen or understood but it is there. For those of us who share on Word Press it should be noticed more easily. I offer this short poem as an explanation.
The pain of aloness
The pain of sorrow
Is an instrument
carving out the soul
to hold and heal
Our sharing on Word Press is an example of this. We share in the hope that our own struggles, journeys, ideas for healing…will help someone else. We share and find the belonging and acceptance that eludes us elsewhere and a life of meaning and importance.
Do you ever feel as if you are on a roller coaster? That’s what my life has felt like lately. I hate roller coasters. As a child I loved them and went with my father. I’m not sure when that changed but I will not ride them now. Especially all the crazy ones that have shown up lately.
Physically it seems as if I am up one day and down the next. At least I am not constantly down. For me, it is best when life feels settled. Right now settled is many moons away. Company will be here for the week-end. My grandson, his wife and another couple who are their friends. We live near the beach and I am sure we will not see much of them but I am glad they want to come.
The thing is…it’s hard having company here but also had to turn away the loved ones you want to see. It’s a conundrum. So they will be here and I am set to push all stress away and just enjoy.
We miss so many things in life if we are struggling with our own selves and can’t enjoy the wonderful things that we could be doing. When this happens it is time to “center down” ( I have used that before….a Quaker expression meaning lower your Chi) and plan time for yourself to step away for a moment and gather yourself together.
So until the week-end I have no stress related things planned. I will enjoy each day and be ready to enjoy the visit and not miss out on a wonderful moment.
These special moments in life are too important to miss. Family and friends are what matter and we can’t afford to shut ourselves away from that. It won’t come again.
The last few weeks have been chock full of appointments, visits, company, and everything else. Something has become very clear to me. The big crises can wipe us out but it is the little things that really do us in.
While on the way to the Mayo clinic my cell phone decided life was too simple and just froze. It froze just as we needed information about directions to get off the freeway to get to Mayo. Nothing would entice it to come alive again. It just sat there with half of the screen with directions and the bottom half with mail? or something?? The directions we needed were on the bottom half of the screen. The phone would not shut off or do anything. We managed to limp our way to our destination. I plugged the phone in at our hotel and it decided that it was fine.
On the way home it moved some icons around and continued to tempt us to throw it out the window. I now have a new phone.
This should be good news but I have just spent two days re-connecting to everything I need to function.
Life at home has been hectic with a series of company (all who were wonderful) and we are not done yet.
Today my IBD decided that it had had enough too and joined the fun. At which point I headed for the medicine bottle.
It is not one big crisis that makes life difficult to handle. It is a series of little irritating events. Events that rest on your last nerve and push you right on over into anxiety. None of these events in and of themselves was a big deal. It was the combination. Those of us who walk on the edge only need for the balance pole to lean over just a little too far and poof! we are done.
For the next few day I will concentrate on seeking consistency and regular routine and life will move on.
Just remember “it is the little things.”
(note to my company—you were wonderful and not the problem!)