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Continuing Action

I sat down and I wrote an action plan for myself. Well, actually it was a plan of what I want to do. However, it reminded me how much the small and simple things matter. Why? Because it’s like asking me to stop drinking caffeine right now. Not only is it not good to shock your body like that, but it doesn’t help with your mental health.

The goal is to create a healthy lifestyle. That includes a healthy mind, physical attributes, emotional well-being, and spiritual strength. If we jump right in without building ourselves up we are setting ourselves up to fail more easily. I’m not saying there aren’t people who can’t do it that way, but I know it’s not a good thing for me.

Imagine if you tried to lift 200 pounds while working out. How many muscles might you pull, tear, hurt etc. if you don’t work up to lifting that amount of weight. In my mind it is the same. As you take the small and simple steps to become more healthy, you can work on your mental health to help you along the way. Small changes are a lot easier to complete than anything big.

Most people don’t like change, myself included. So, I have decided to start working on the small things I can do at home. I have all of these grand ideas of what I want to accomplish and I need to remember that small things create big things. Another example, is how an artist begins drawing. Simple lines are placed on a canvas or paper and then they build on it from there.

That is how I want to continue. I want to do the small things that my brain can process to help me succeed. Instead of trying to dive in the deep end head first, I’ll remember how to do my basic swimming skills and work my way in to the deep end.

Yes, this post has a lot of analogies and as I type it, I remind myself this is possible. I have completed all of the tasks above before now and it’s a great reminder I can do it again, even with the fear. If I break it down, then it all becomes easier.

So, what can you make more simple in your life to complete? What are you making harder in your life that doesn’t need to be? This last question is very applicable to me as well. I invite you to think about these question and make a list. I am as well. Keep on keepin’ on!

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Action

I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately: How do I motivate myself to get where I want to be? It’s an interesting question because I’m usually one who will just get in and get it done. I see what needs to happen and I do it. However, when it comes to me, that is a lot harder.

Depending on what it is, depends on my motivation level. Many years ago, I was more motivated to get healthy and to fight for my dreams. I’m not saying I’m not fighting for my dreams, but my health is questionable.

I knew I needed help after my breakdown. I knew if I didn’t get there, the next breakdown was going to be a lot worse. In a recent health conference I attended, one of the speakers mentioned fear.

He asked if those who were afraid of heights would cross a beam on the ground. Of course, everyone said yes. There was no risk – of falling, being hurt, failing, etc. Then he changed the scenario. “Would you cross a beam connecting two buildings 500’ in the air”? At this point most of us said no. His next question put things into perspective. “What if the building you were standing on was on fire and your children were on the building across from you? Would you cross the beam now”? To which, most people said yes.

Now, I don’t have any children, but this analogy stuck with me. What are we willing to do to get there? What are we more afraid of to get us to where we need/want to be? I’m not saying go out and cross a beam 500’ in the air but what in your life can you do to motivate action?

I’m not a person who likes to work from fear because I don’t feel it’s healthy. I don’t think he was trying to tell us to work from fear either. However, I do believe he was stimulating action thoughts from us. If we work from faith or belief, it is much healthier. Faith in ourselves. Faith in the fact we can do hard things. Faith we are not alone. Faith in our dreams. Faith that “we can”. I could keep going but I think you get the idea.

In the musical Cinderella by Rogers and Hammerstein the Fairy God Mother tells Cinderella:

“If you have a dream, then very soon thereafter you’re going to have to fight for it. Why, otherwise, how would you know the dream is yours”?

I appreciate things in life more when I have worked hard for it. Looking through the past, I am working to find what I am willing to fight for now. I know I “need” to become healthy. There is a huge part of me that wants to too. I was looking through some old pictures of when I was the healthiest, man I miss that person. You’d think I would then fight for it… Fear and failure is real, and as I have mentioned before, it is kind of ruling my life at the moment.

One more quote from Cinderella:

“Now is the time, the time to live. No other time is real. Yesterday has gone, tomorrow is a guess, today you can see and feel”.

Let’s work to move forward and through the fear. What is holding you back?

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Feeding Fear

As mentioned yesterday, I am still working on fear. At my last counseling appointment, I was reminded to not feed my fear. What does that mean? We were talking about going into grocery stores and working through other known triggers. I had made the comment about how speaking about going into certain grocery stores still makes me anxious and then thinking about being inside one. This is when she mentioned not feeding it.

Was I in a grocery store? No, I was sitting safely in an office. However, I was reacting to the fear because I was feeding it. I was allowing the anxiety to take over and then thinking about being inside the store, surrounded by people made it that much worse. Yes, typing it has made it more real.

This can apply to anything in life. What misnomers do we mentally feed that are not true? How many of us have taken a thought and let it run rampant? How many of us have messaged someone or emailed someone something important and because we haven’t received a message instantly, have let your mind wonder to what that means? Recently I received the following messages:

Was it fair that I didn’t respond because I did not know who it was? No, it was not. However, the person did not believe that I had no idea who they were.  The response, however, proves my point. As hard as it is, don’t let your fear run away with your thoughts. Yes, I am guilty of this and what I am currently working on.

This is only one example of feeding fear. I am currently working on what is called grounding techniques. It allows me to bring myself to the present and helps me to not wander where I need to stay away from, false realities. Is it hard? Absolutely, however, it’s helping me stay out of anxiety/stress mode. What works for you? What fear are you feeding? How do you beat it?

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Where Am I Now?

The last few weeks have been filled with fun, laughter, stress, and enlightenment. I spent 11 days on vacation, if you can call it that. Then I returned home to work 24 hours in two days, while ending it on my birthday with friends until 3am.

I have had a lot of realizations lately, some good and some bad. This post would end up being pages long if I expressed it all today, so I’ll break it up in the next few weeks. Today will be about where I am now mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I have worked hard to progress and make changes. Some of those changes have been small and others have been bigger. As you’ve seen, I progress and make mistakes all at the same time.

Where am I now? I feel a lot better mentally. I am not sure what will trigger me in the future, but I do feel better equipped to be able to handle it. I’m not completely ok and I’ve come to realize some experiences from my past has exacerbated where I am now. Part of that comes down to how I was raised, as I’ve previously spoken about but also, some experiences I have been through. I have not opened my heart since those experiences, and as a friend said – “I have not allowed myself to be seen”.

It comes down to fear and other emotions. Currently, I am working on the fear because it doesn’t just affect me through the armed robbery, it affects my life. Looking back through the fear and the emotions associated with it, acknowledging it is hard. Accepting fear is hard. Yes, I have a previous post about it, but this runs deep. So, fear I am still working on. My mental status would be listed as ok.

Part of my vacation also included a health conference. This was a good experience because it reminded me why I started blogging and why I started my health journey so long ago. I can’t wait to start my health journey again realizing it will be small steps that gets me there. I have started trying to not eat as much sugar and drink more water. I was much better at this before vacation but that’s ok, it’s time to start again.

As I ponder where I am currently, I have come to realize life is ok. I believe my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health are all connected. As an example of this, how many of you stress eat? My mental state is ok and so, emotionally I am ok. I am working through the hard parts of stress, feelings, and physical attributes. Overall, I would say there is room for improvement in all aspects of my life. I believe all are meant to have joy in their life so, that is what I am working towards. What simple aspects in your life brings you joy?

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Regret

Yesterday I spoke about courage. Today, I want to speak about my regrets. This is one aspect I feel is holding me back from moving forward. I had four regrets from the day of the armed robbery. Ones I have not come back to revisit since I typed them out the first time. I went back to read my post about that day. Sadly, it still affects me more than I’d hope. Change, courage and the willingness to be vulnerable – that is where I am at or working towards.

My first regret was not paying attention. I’m usually a paranoid person who pays attention to my surroundings. That day because I was on the phone, I did not. I allowed the conversation I was having to affect my judgement. Thinking back though, my spider senses didn’t go off. I didn’t feel any warning signs of danger, nor did I think twice about entering the store. I don’t know if it was because I was distracted but it is something I think about. Now, I’m not on the phone entering any type of store. If I am, I’m constantly looking around. Sometimes, I wonder if the workers think I am being shady for how often I look over my shoulder. Granted, that is from entering a store two weeks ago.

Second, I had an ear bud in. I don’t usually like things in my ears but it’s a lot easier to be on the phone with a Bluetooth device than carrying your phone. What I should have done is gotten off the phone while I entered the store. But there is that “should” word again. I obviously can’t change it. Now when going anywhere I don’t feel is safe, my ears are empty. That includes no music or audio books for me. As my brother put it, I was caught with my “pants down” and now I have regrets. He’s not wrong.

Third, and this is probably where the controversy will come from, I didn’t have my gun. I had a CCW or a conceal and carry weapon permit, but it expired. I was not carrying my gun that day because of that. I’m not sure if I would have pulled it since he was walking out and not shooting. However, it could have turned much worse and quickly. I still wonder if I didn’t have my gun for a reason, but it doesn’t help my mind frame to know that I could have done something. I felt so helpless being behind that counter. I think that is the biggest regret, feeling helpless. I’m not sure if people are actually wired to want to help but I am. Again, going back to weaknesses – I felt weak and helpless. Those are not good combinations for me.

Fourth, my lack of patience. If I had been more patient waiting for the older gentleman in front of me, I can’t help but think that I would have been paying attention better. I’ve found when I get frustrated, tunnel vision sometimes hits me square in the head and I miss important details. Whether or not I would have been paying attention, I still feel that guilt. What if something would have happened to the older gentleman and I wasn’t a loving person when/if he died? Yes, that is an awful what if question, one I know I shouldn’t be asking. There are those words again, what if and should.

What I do know is I’ve learned a lot about myself on this journey we call life. Previously, I was closed off and it wasn’t doing me any good. Even though I continue to point out my downfalls, I know I am making progress and moving forward. I do have my days I move backwards, but a win is a win. It’s the small and simple things that matter and they can create big things. Remember it’s ok to not be ok and keep on keepin’ on.

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Courage

Courage is an action, an action I need to take, I am working on it. Fear and weakness have still had a bit of a pull. In a movie I love dearly, Princess Diaries, her father writes in the journal the following words:

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious does not live at all. The key is to allow yourself to make the journey.”

I have loved this ever since I heard it. I was reminded of it today when I was writing in my journal about courage. I’ve spoken recently about faith in myself or the lack of it and how we take action. This quote reminds me also, of the movie Beats on Netflix. It took courage for him to get to where he wanted. That is what I want. I want to have the courage to live again.

Allowing myself to take this journey has been hard. I do believe it is worth it or I wouldn’t be doing what I am to become better. My question for you is: how are you doing on your journey? What are you doing that is hard that we don’t give ourselves enough credit for?

President Theodore Roosevelt stated:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

This quote has also spoken to me today. It’s not necessarily about my critics because I haven’t really had a lot, to my face anyway. It gives me hope. Hope because I am striving valiantly to do better and to overcome my fear. I may not physically have dust, sweat and blood on me but we can talk about tears, heartache, and guilt. In the end, I can’t wait to say I have obtained high achievement, even if it’s just overcoming me and the insecurities that I have let impact me. However, I can speak to failing, especially recently. We just need to get back up and keep working, yes it’s hard. What I have found is, I can do hard things and so can you.

So, to those who have dared to be better, those who are striving to be their best selves, keep on keepin’ on. We got this because in the end we will know defeat but we will also know what it is like to have personal victory.

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Forward

I have to take a win when I see one. I realized I have been working through the anxiety vs just letting it hit me and shutting down. Some co-workers began talking about guns and going shooting and I worked through it. It did cause me some anxiety, but I was able to work through it and be ok. That is a win for me, and I will take them when I get them.

The past few days I have been watching some friends of mine and how they have used their courage to overcome obstacles in their life. There are reasons people tell us not to compare what we have with others. I’m not talking about physical things. I’m talking about the trials in our lives that make us who we are. I have multiple friends currently battling cancer or other health issues and it makes me think my trials aren’t as important or big.

On Facebook there have been many quotes about judgement recently. The one that stands out to me is: “Don’t judge people. You never know what kind of battle they are fighting.” Although, I don’t know who wrote this, I completely agree. Unless you knew what to watch for, I doubt you would even know that I have been triggered. Some things may not, and one simple word may send my spiraling, I hate it.

As much as I say I am coming to terms with it or that I hate it, I do know that I need to accept it to move on. This is coming easier, although I have not yet succeeded. Sometimes, looking at other people’s lives helps put what we are going through into perspective. I’m not down playing what I have gone through. I’m definitely not putting down what my friends are going through because that may end their lives. It does help put into perspective how courageous they are.

They are choosing to fight, not just for their families and friends, but for life. I am not losing my life although, my experience has been life altering and yet, sometimes I do not feel as if I am fighting enough. Again, I know we shouldn’t compare but a healthy realization isn’t a bad thing. Just be kind to yourself and work on moving forward.

What are you doing to be courageous? What are you doing to fight? We all know there are battles in life and every single one of us has to endure them. So, what are you doing to make a difference in your life?

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Acceptance

Anxiety hits me the hardest when something is looking me square in the face and I, either have to deal with it or shut it down. I know I have come a long way from where I was, but do you ever think, you’ve moved maybe a foot? Do you ever get stuck in your ways and don’t see how much you’ve progressed? I can see how far I have come since I started counseling but the truths behind the rest of it, I can’t.

Acceptance depending on what it is, is hard. Failure, weakness, vulnerability, are all things I have a hard time accepting. I say this almost every time “it’s ok to not be ok”. There are some days I believe it more than others. I’ve started reading another book called: “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”. What I have gathered so far, is we need to learn to accept failure as a learning moment and not as failure. When we fail, we learn something. When we fail, we can try again. I’ve been so set on being perfect for so long, I’ve missed out on what else I could have learned, if I would have allowed myself to fail.

I know myself well enough, it may take me a while to get there. Some may even say, that I don’t usually let things get me down. It’s true, when I’ve known what I wanted, I usually just go for it. The worst you can be told is no, right? Well, as much as that is true, failure holds a little more weight. Actually, being perceived as weak is probably the hardest mindset to get out of for me, but I am working on it.

Being vulnerable with people has been even harder. Unless you have known me for a while, I haven’t really opened up. I’ve been pondering on ways to fill my “love tank” for myself and while self-care has been great, I need something more. As I’ve mentioned connection matters with other people and I may be avoiding it, that and trust.  I need to accept that not everyone will pull a gun on me and trust most humans are good.

My goals for the week vary and we’ll see which one I do first. I want to walk into a grocery store and process my anxiety. I’m not talking about walking through and out. I want to work through it. Even as I write it, it causes my stomach to harden. The goal is to start practicing it now. I can use the box of tools I have been taught to make it through, I know I can. I have not given myself the opportunity to do so. Most of the time I become numb and shut it out. I can prepare myself as I sit and think about it. Here’s to hoping I can do it.

Next, I want to connect more openly with people. Wednesday night I have the opportunity to meet new people and hopefully, make new connections. As my counselor mentioned, life altering events change us. Whether it’s traumatic or not, we change, we become new people. Although, my event was traumatic, my past still includes incidences that have changed me. Maybe, if I look at it through those eyes, I will acknowledge change is ok.

Lastly, I want to get to the gym. My fear has been consuming of late and I am working on not self-destructing as we speak. Today seemed a little easier than previously. I’ve always believed its the simple things in life that create the biggest changes. So, small steps along the way.

Here’s to a good week! Keep on Keepin’ on and remember it’s ok to not be ok.

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Misconceptions

As I look back over the past week to see what what I’ve written, I realized the misconceptions I have in my head. How much fear do we all really live by? If we aren’t perfect does it stop you? Or do we do things because others want us too? Watching a chick flick on Netflix actually hit me harder than I thought it would. I usually watch them so, I don’t have to think and that sounded wonderful tonight. This past week was supposed to be about rejuvenation for myself, especially, after the 4th of July. It was a week I needed to remember it’s ok to not be ok.

As I watched this movie, I realized how much I have hidden myself in the last oh, six years. To be completely honest, I self sabotaged where I was. I looked good and started getting attention. That scared me more than you’ll ever know. For most of my life because of health issues, I have never been my ideal weight. When I finally got there in Indiana, it scared me. I couldn’t have told you then my reasoning, it wasn’t just about how I looked but my lack of mental support. Grad school was hard for me, I would do it again but differently. Either way, mentally dealing with my new found health and grad school didn’t mesh.

Perfectionism is a real problem. I’ve had to learn to do my best and if that wasn’t ok, then I learned something. I strove so hard to be perfect and in ways I still do, that I can stop myself from doing things. I’ve written in past blogs about being able to take steps backwards, and while I do believe that, I don’t know that it was something I’d deeply fight for previously. Looking back on grad school I wish I would have taken more risks and opened my heart to the possibility of making mistakes. It makes me wonder what else I could have learned.

Knowing this now does give me a different perspective. Getting attention isn’t a bad thing but I sure didn’t know how to handle it. It definitely wasn’t all positive either. However, I need to be healthy for me. I miss being healthy and more fit. I miss being able to go on an elliptical for an hour or more when I had endurance. I’m not sure my foot would allow me to do that now, but I have to start somewhere.

I’ve realized why being healthy and starting over has been so difficult this time around. The first time, I had the high of actually hitting my weight and being able to do what I want to do without being tired all of the time. Now there is the fear. What if I fall back off the wagon? Is it even worth starting this journey because you failed the first time. If you’re going to end up back here, then why try?

As you can see I have realized how I have been treating myself subconsciously. I don’t believe in myself enough to do it. That is what it comes down too. I’ve tried so many things and to not be perfect at it, to show you my weaknesses, has me reeling backwards in time. I didn’t realize this before today, before that movie. There have been past experiences that has kept my heart guarded. I went to church today for the first time in a long time excited to meet new people. I told myself, I needed to connect this week and I did. It was wonderful to come out of my shell and be me again even for a bit.

Now I have realized where I am, I’m going to begin to work through this. I’ve always been a go getter and I work hard to get things done. I’m human and if anything, now I’ve proven it. I may fear letting myself down again, but what I really want is to be happy. That means I need to get up and try again. How do you treat yourself? What do you do for yourself? What courageous thing have you done?

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Motivation

Today as I was doing my scrolling on Facebook, I was reading a friend’s post about motivation for her. She mentioned how the last few years have been some of her greatest but also, her hardest. The one thing that kept her going was her child. This made me stop and think about what motivation means to me. I do not have any children other than my nieces and nephews who are mostly grown now. I have one niece who lives with me but other than that, I take care of myself.

In my situation I only have me to motivate myself. I’m the only one who can make a change for me. As I was working tonight I pondered what would motivate me to make those changes I’ve been writing about. Yes, action but what action do I need to take? The lack of sleep has kept me from being productive during the day. At night, I try and do calming things so I can get to sleep. That doesn’t always work. Sleep has gotten better over the past week but today/tonight I am feeling it.

For me I have to be excited about something. It takes more than just knowing I need to make a change. When people are passionate through their life they use it to help others. Think about most motivational speakers or Brene Brown whom I’ve been using. She used it as research and cared enough to make changes. I obviously, cannot speak for her but I (we) need to find what we are passionate about. I do want to say though, we should make changes for ourselves because we want too and not for other people. This is so critical. Don’t lose yourself in the journey to find yourself and only change for you.

Currently, I don’t know what I am passionate about. I love my job and I’m working on some other business adventures that I believe in. However, I guess this is where the issues begin. I used to be so passionate about more things and along the way, I have lost it. My current loves: reading, listening to music…. I enjoy being around other people and connecting with them. That is one thing I need to do more of.

I used to be passionate about the gym but as you know, life has gotten away from me. I have found I crave to make healthy connections with others. Notice, I said healthy. I’ve not been in a position to help others, let alone make a conversation with someone who will empty my “love tank” when it’s just beginning to refill. So, what are you passionate about? I need to ponder this question more. I know I love my family, I love my friends, the current job I have, and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. These are things I’m passionate about. However, I still need to find other passions to encourage me to change. Prayer for me is always a good place to start.

So, again, what are you passionate about? How are you making changes for yourself? Keep on Keepin’ on and remember it’s ok to not be ok.

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Minds…

As the days have gone by and I continue to work through things, I wonder if I’m ever going to be ok. I have been continually reading and listening to books, podcasts, Ted talks, etc. to help me overcome my mindset. I was watching the Ted talk by America Ferrera and she made this statement: “Change will come when each of us has the courage to question our own fundamental values and beliefs and then see to it that our actions lead to our best intentions”.

When I was writing about fear and weaknesses, I’ve found it definitely is about my beliefs or misconceptions about being weak. The hardest part? Our perceptions are our realities and I’m working desperately to change them. My current question then becomes about courage. I have the courage to question my beliefs but what is the motivation to change them? This brings me full circle to why I am blogging again. I wanted to be able to become healthy; I had a goal, a reason, even an incentive, but it wasn’t enough.

So, even if you have the courage to question it what is going to help us into action? I question my health habits daily, but it doesn’t mean I change them. I’ve been through a traumatic experience and that seems to work to change some things. However, I would prefer to hold off on any other traumatic experiences for a while. I know I went through it for a reason, even if I don’t know why.

I watched another Ted talk by Mel Robbins and she stated: “It’s simple, but not easy: force yourself out of your head, past your feelings, outside your comfort zone. You need growth to force yourself to become uncomfortable. What do you want? Fight!” This quote reminds me of August from the movie Beats. It wasn’t until someone helped him out of his comfort zone that he was able to go back. I can’t say that he was ever normal again because life experiences change us. Honestly, what does normal even mean? What about for me? Being able to do the things I once did would be normal. However, I’ve come to realize this is my new normal that I am working on accepting.

Mel Robbins spoke about our brains being separated into two components, auto-pilot and the emergency brake. As we have new thoughts come into our brain we trigger one of these components. If it’s something we are used to doing auto-pilot is triggered but if it’s something we aren’t then the emergency break gets pulled. A great example for myself is going to a grocery store. This used to be something that was an auto-pilot action. Now however, the emergency break gets pulled all while my body slams on any other breaks.

She also spoke about the 5 sec rule – “marry an initial thought with an action within 5 seconds or you’ve killed the idea. The problem is you don’t act on ideas.” So, this is another goal, one that is easier to obtain. I would like to clarify we should follow through on positive ideas. I’d like to apply this to my current thought process. If I have the thought I shouldn’t eat something, I’m going to work on putting it down. If I have the thought to drink more water, I’m going to work on drinking more water.

I want a positive life and not to live in fear. So, if my ideas are positive and can make a difference for myself or others, than I am going to work on putting it into action. Hopefully, as I get better practice at this, my thought process will be more positive and sticking to my goals will be easier. We have to start somewhere and believe me when I say, I don’t always want to do something. However, the only person who is going to make my life better is me. What actions can you take? Remember small actions are just as important as big ones. Keep on keepin’ on and remember it’s ok to not be ok; it’s what we do with it that matters (action).

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Weakness

I know I have written a lot about Brene Brown of late, but what she says really speaks to me. In her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead she states: “Vulnerability isn’t good or bad: It’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living” (pg 32).

My previous post spoke about fear and I can’t help but make the reference to weaknesses. Along with fear, this is one of my biggest issues with my mental health/status. In my quote above it references feeling is weakness. In my mind, that would be true. I have empathy and feelings for other people, but allowing myself to be vulnerable or weak is something different.

This is me being vulnerable. I know I have written a little about this before but I’m going to dive into it. One of the main reasons I missed myself taking a nose dive is because well, one I was oblivious but, two it’s because weakness doesn’t exist in my brain. I can’t say if it’s because of how I was raised or a perception I took on.

As I sit here thinking about weakness I can think of a number of situations from my past where showing emotion or weaknesses wasn’t allowed. One example of this is not wanting to cry in front of my older brother. Of course, this stems from a long time ago when we were young. He was a boy, he didn’t have to be around his younger sisters, why would he? I knew if I wanted to look cool or to hang out with him, my tolerance for pain had to grow and I began hardening myself then. Weakness wasn’t allowed.

A different aspect would be culturally, when we were learning dances and participating, we weren’t allowed to show weaknesses. We were told to do something until we got it right or we did it over and over. It didn’t matter if we were in pain or we didn’t want to do it. We knew what was expected of us and we did it as children. Weakness wasn’t allowed.

I’m not saying that I have regrets about my past, but this is where I am mentally when I have to admit that I am not ok. I’ve had to learn to say: “it’s ok to not be ok”. I have said this before, but there are times I haven’t convinced myself of this. I love my brother and now I cry in front of him. However, the notion of being weak still exists.

Admitting I’m weak is hard. Admitting that my ptsd impacts my life is hard. Even typing this, my stomach is starting to tighten. However, as Brene said: “To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living”. This is true. I have walked away from my purpose and meaning, more importantly, I’m not living.

As I have begun to understand what this means, some other past experiences have kept my heart sealed up nice and tight. It’s probably another reason the armed robbery hit me so hard. My heart has been surrounded by anything prickly you can think of. As I start to acknowledge my emotions to try and live again, it’s scary. However, I don’t want to miss out on life. There are too many things to do to hide.

It’s scary because feeling again means being open to being hurt. It means allowing myself to be weak. It means admitting things about myself that make me weak, vulnerable, or ashamed. Hence, my quote from Brene Brown today. There are many things that can hold us back in life, I should know I’m currently spinning in the circle of life not moving. However, until we act we cannot create change. Even though my steps have been baby steps and I’ve definitely taken a few backwards, I’m learning, I’m growing, I’m changing. That is really all I can ask for.

One more quote for the day. This one is from Mel Robbins ted talk: “It’s simple, but not easy: force yourself out of your head, past your feelings, outside your comfort zone”. I do have to say writing about being weak today has taken me outside of my comfort zone and made me vulnerable. What are you doing to get out of your comfort zone? How are you being vulnerable? What can you do for yourself? Remember to keep on keepin’ on and that it’s ok to not be ok.

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Fear

Currently, I have been letting fear run my life instead of faith. Faith in myself to progress, faith in me or those I surround myself with, or even faith that I can do hard things. Fear comes when I think about the past or the future. It appears as false evidence. It manifests itself and I let it overcome me.

A year ago, I had major reconstructive ankle and foot surgery. Prior to that, it had almost been a year with the original injury. I hurt my foot in August of 2017. I was hiking while it was raining, and I wasn’t wearing the appropriate shoes. I tore my tendon on the inside of my ankle.

If you’ve ever hurt yourself, you know the drill. I waited a month to see if rest, ice, compression, or elevation would help. It only hurt when I walked a lot, so I thought I was fine. Then I went to our state fair and it was eye opening. I couldn’t do it. I walked from the parking lot and inside the gate and I was done. I had just gotten back from my grad program, where I walked everywhere. Walking distances hadn’t previously been a problem. It was at this moment I knew I needed to see a doctor.

I was immediately put into a boot. I wore that for three months and then did physical therapy. By March, when I went to a conference, walking was awful. I tried walking on the beach, another passion of mine, and it hurt. It was at this moment I decided to have surgery because I wanted to be able to walk again. I waited for the best surgeon in the state to do my surgery. However, that meant I waited until May of 2018 from March.

Fast forward a year with 4 scars and 4 screws later, and here I am. I knew my mental health was in a poor place but now, I know I’m in deep. I realized that not only my fear of the robbery is holding me back but my fear of hurting my foot again is too. It still aches in the morning when I get up. I usually have to hobble out of bed for a while before my foot is ok to not limp. The top of my foot tingles and you can feel the screws. Taking my shoe off is sometimes excruciating and I hold my breath until the initial pain is gone.

Now that the robbery has happened, I feel fear has kept me away from things for far too long. Before it was, I don’t want to go hiking again because I’m not sure my foot would handle it. Well, there is probably truth to that, but I need to do baby steps. Now it’s, I don’t want to go out because it doesn’t feel safe.

My next goal is to get to the gym. This does cause me some anxiety because it’s a larger space and I have seen things get heated at a gym before. However, back to the fear, I need to work through it and not let it control me. Once I am no longer financially held back, I want to get another trainer. I’ve loved my time with personal trainers. They hold you accountable and it’s more fun. They can teach you new things and keep your body guessing. I do have to say as well, that having a trainer would take some stress out of it because of my foot.

I haven’t put a timeline on my goals yet, but I do know that I need to work through the fear. This will have to be when I’ve thawed a bit and know myself a little better to know how to react. It is getting better and it’s not going to happen overnight, even if I wish it would. Remember to keep on keepin’ on and that it’s ok to not be ok. Here’s to learning to be a healthy me again.

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Numbness

Brene Brown: “Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.

Today, I realized how numb I have been for the past week. The spiral I’ve been speaking about has left me numb, closed off, and shut down. Especially, after the 4th of July and even until this past Sunday, people were still firing off fireworks. I haven’t been in a place to accept or even acknowledge my feelings. Instead of dealing with them, I ignored them. My quality of sleep this past week has been awful. I’m maybe averaging 4 hours a night and we all know that isn’t healthy. Well, for me it isn’t.

As the quote states at the top we need to connect with people. I haven’t allowed myself to connect with people because that means I have to feel. Since I have been avoiding those feelings and how to deal with them, my quality of life has suffered. My normal outgoing self has been restricted to home. Some people would love this but for me it’s not healthy.

This incident has me stepping away from things that I enjoy doing. It’s been hard but I really want to work myself to happiness again. I am recognizing when I spiral which I haven’t done before. I am learning how to bring myself out of my spin before I crash and that’s a step in the right direction. These are all things I am happy to say I have overcome, and we all need the wins even if they are small.

So, my goal for this week is to be more open to people. As Brene Brown would say, I am working to become more vulnerable with people. I will also be working on self-care this week. I accept that last week was hard and that I have been idle. My goal is to interact and connect with one new person this week. I plan on reading a book and taking care of me. Being nice to myself is hard, but I am learning.

My question for you is this: What are you doing to be vulnerable?

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Hard Things

This past week has been one of the hardest I have been through in a long time. I went to the clothing store, I went to a Sam’s Club, and the fourth of July happened. I should say that I did nothing yesterday. It was my day to recoup. I had to work last night but other than that, I did not leave the house. I found my safety spot and I stayed put.

However, like August from Beats the movie, I want to be normal again and go out. So, although, this week was hard, I did it. I survived. I made it through my anxiety and pushed through it. I will say tomorrow will be a day of rest. It is one I definitely need and appreciate the fact Sunday’s are just that, a day of rest.

I worry sometimes the fear will stop me. I was talking to my niece one day about being a protector. I expressed my feelings of not being there to protect others when the time came. She told me I shouldn’t worry about it because no matter where I am currently, I will always protect the ones I love. I’m glad she has so much faith in me. I’ve also expressed my concern to my counselor, and she reminded me, that just because I’m not in a place to do something one day, doesn’t mean it will impact me on the next. I do have to say I agree. The reason? Because I want to change, and I want to overcome this. Is overcome even the right word? Or is it knowing the tools to help me when I feel an attack coming? I’m going to be positive and go with overcome.

If you have ever watched the musical Rent, they sing a song about living in fear. Although, not all of this applies currently in my life, we need to live for today. I’ve known a lot of loss in my life and I have definitely been hurt, but the armed robbery was a little too close to home. I’m not one of those that thought it could never happen to me, I know the kind of world we live in. What I didn’t expect, is when it happened. I guess the saying goes, it’s always when we least expect it. So, as the song suggests, give in to love or live in fear, forget regret or life is yours to miss – live in the present, learn from the past to prepare for the future.

There’s only us, there’s only this
Forget regret, or life is yours to miss
No other path, no other way
No day but today

There’s only us, only tonight
We must let go to know what’s right
No other road, No other way
No day but today

I can’t control my destiny
I trust my soul, my only goal
Is just to be

There’s only now, there’s only here
Give in to love or live in fear
No other path, No other way
No day but today

There’s only us, there’s only this
Forget regret, or life is yours to miss
No other road, no other way
No day but today

I realized another reason I like to write this blog. It holds me accountable. I don’t know how many people are actually taking the time to read it, but writing it down helps me work through things. I went to two stores this week. The first one? It wrecked me. The next day however, I went to Sam’s Club. I know that’s not exactly like a grocery store but it’s progress. I may have had to go because I needed to get food for the fourth, but I went. I also, didn’t do anything else after I had gone. These tasks seem to take everything out of me to shut my body down.

Things I need to work on? Getting rid of the negative so, I can work through the anxiety. I know this isn’t easy, but I would love to not self-destruct. I usually find something to distract myself which in the end, doesn’t help me work through anything. However, it does allow my body a break so when I re-visit it, I’m in a better place.

My proof to myself and others, I did hard things this week. I can do hard things. I may not feel as if I’ve done them well, but I did them, that is what matters. Sometimes we need to take the win without minimizing what we have accomplished. I am making progress and I am moving forward. I might have taken three steps back this week, but I came back at least one. Keep your loved ones close and always tell them how much you love them. Keep on keepin’ on and remember it’s ok to not be ok.

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4th of July

Well, the day came, and I was really hoping I wouldn’t react to the fireworks. I was really hoping that one of my favorite holiday’s didn’t become something that I dreaded. I can honestly say, that those who have experienced war would be better to go into the mountains, far away from any of this.

I was ok for the first bit of fireworks going off in my neighborhood but after the first 30 minutes, it could have sounded like a war going on. The number of fireworks being blown off was ridiculous. The sad part? I was always a contributing member.

After my first initial breakdown from the armed robbery, I went out with a friend who had been through a lot worse. It’s not my story to tell so I will just say this, she was held at gun point at the age of 6 and as a teenager. We went to dinner because she found out what happened to me. She told me her story and how she made it through. Then we had a conversation about how the 4th of July would trigger me.

Some would say she cursed me or whatever, but she didn’t, she was just speaking from experience and offering a warning. I did all of the preparation I could, but how do you prepare when you don’t know how you are going to respond? I did breathe exercises, I tried to bring myself back to the present, etc. They worked for a while but the fireworks in my neighborhood went out nonstop for 5 straight hours. I don’t think I could have prepared myself for that long. The worst part was between 9pm and midnight.

My family had come over to celebrate and I should have rethought that. I didn’t think it was going to be a big problem… I was wrong. It wasn’t their presence or anything like that, it was the fact that I was a terrible host. After a while, my body started shutting down. My family left about 10pm or so, and then one of my sisters asked if I wanted to shut it out. The answer was automatically yes.

So, I distracted myself which was great. We jumped on rockband with the music up loud enough I couldn’t hear the explosions going on outside. We played songs all over the spectrum of music to help distract me. It was glorious. However, even though I distracted myself, after they left, I felt I was in a battle.

My stomach was so tight when I finally became horizontal, I couldn’t lay flat at first. I didn’t fall right asleep and the explosions kept replaying in my head. Typing it now, still makes my anxiety spike. I wish I had an answer to why just having a gun pointed in my face impacts a firework, I don’t. What I do know is how I reacted, not well.

I’ve found I start to just become numb to get through things. The month after the robbery is a great example of that. The problem though, is thawing. That is when self-destruct mode is harder to control. I don’t want to self-destruct, but my body sometimes doesn’t know how to get rid of the negative and sometimes I don’t have the energy to stop myself. It’s a give and take.

One thing is for sure, even though I may not like fireworks at the moment, I plan (hopefully) to overcome this to be able to feel safe again to enjoy celebrating my freedom. If anything, I have a lot to be grateful for, my freedom is one of them. So, the day didn’t end well but at least I can say I made it through. I also know now, how I will react currently to a firework. I believe part of the problem was the fact it was so close and so loud. I do not know if fireworks from a stadium would bother me but who knows. I do know how I reacted with millions of dollars of fireworks going off in my neighborhood.

So, lesson learned for the day, go away fro my neighborhood and find somewhere I feel safe. It’s ok to celebrate my freedom elsewhere, without fireworks. I hope you all had a happy fourth.

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It Struck Me

This didn’t post earlier for some reason but here it is now. I realized I have not elaborated on why I care so much about mental health when I am trying so hard to become physically healthy. Well, in my world if you want to be healthy you should care about your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. For some, spiritual doesn’t matter but for me it does.

If we are not mentally healthy all of the others will suffer. It’s a lot easier to eat emotionally if my mental health is in a bad place. If I have let a comment someone has said, get to me, then I may not go to the gym that day. I may choose to eat more ice cream or cookies. If a hurtful comment impacts my emotional health, then it changes all of the others as well.

This is why being in a good mental space is so important. No, I don’t have statistics for you, and I don’t have numbers to support this, what I do have is personal experience. My mental health was in a great place when I lost all of that weight. I say “great” with a grain of salt. I was living 1500 miles away from my family and the holidays were hard. The biggest impact, homemade bread. Not eating that was probably one of the hardest things I had done. However, I had wonderful people around me who wanted me to be healthy with them.

Sometimes we balk at the idea of doing things with others. I say this: look very closely to whom you’re working with. If they can impact your choices, then maybe the thought of others help, isn’t too far off. I can’t say that I always need that extra support, until, my mental health starts to dwindle. It is sometimes easier to do things when others are there to help keep you on track. That was my case when I was the healthiest in my life; it’s too bad life got in the way after that.

Looking back, if I would have taken more time for myself and taken care of myself mentally, maybe I would be somewhere different. I can’t live in the past though and I can accept where I am. I’m in my baby steps of moving forward. I’m willing to acknowledge where I am even if at the moment, I’m not in a place to act. Action matters a lot for your health. I can say that I am working on my mental health the most along this path.

I found it was ok to sit and read a book when I needed too. Is my house completely clean? No, it is not. Are my dishes done? Nope. However, my mental status needed a break from the shoulda, coulda, woulda stages of life. So, although, most of you would say I should have cleaned… I began reading Harry Potter again anyway. I didn’t completely finish the book yet but I’m on chapter 16. It’s ok to take breaks. It’s ok do something you need to do for you. Remember don’t let your tank get so empty, that you have to hit rock bottom to notice. It’s not a fun fall and it hurts. I’m still accepting the fact, that I am writing this post when I have laundry to do. It’s not an easy path but when we can mentally take care of ourselves, it’s a lot easier to do everything else.

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Failure

I spiraled so quickly, any of the progress I’ve made feels lost to the abyss. Some may say I didn’t go back down so deep, but it sure feels like it.

Why did I spiral? Well, I had made a goal for myself to go into a store by today. It wasn’t a grocery store but just a clothing store. Turns out, I wasn’t ready for that. I walked in with a friend and she tried to distract me as we walked around. I thought for the most part, it had worked. Then half way through our one trip around the store, the tightness set in. I didn’t have a panic attack but what came after, I wasn’t prepared for.

I began self-protective mode. In reality, I call it self-destruction mode. I ate things I shouldn’t have; I did nothing today. Some would call that taking care of me but really, it was me not having what I needed to cope with the situation. Since I am trying to be healthy, emotional eating is the last thing I should have done. Yes, should have done. Either way, I couldn’t stop myself. I ate emotionally and I needed to feel safe. I did whatever I could to do that.

The store was busy today with lots of commotion and the noise reminded me of being in the gas station. I didn’t duck but it took a lot for me to go into the store and then I couldn’t wait to come out.

One of the biggest mistakes I made, was choosing to watch a movie. I love music and sound so, I decided I was going to watch a movie called Beats. Well, I should have done more research on the movie before I watched it. It was based in Chicago with gang violence and shootings. Not at ALL what I thought it would be. However, I decided to keep watching it.

I think I could have made a diamond for how tight my stomach was. I learned a few things from it though. One, August the main character, yells at one point he just wants to be normal. I’m feeling that statement. Not to give too much away but he witnesses a horrific crime and then because of the panic attacks doesn’t go out much. I still go out and depending on where I am, I still feel safe. However, I just want to be normal.

Another thought that struck me, is the fact people witness crimes all the time. I don’t even live in the most dangerous place. Is it the safest? No, but it is far from the worst too. I felt for those kids who had lost loved ones because of gang violence and having to deal with something like that all the time.

It is really hard for me to not down play my traumatic event. I can’t tell you why my brain feels I went through something traumatic. Everyone tells me it was. However, when I compare myself to those in Chicago areas that are dangerous, or those serving in the military, I ponder if what happened to me is truly all that bad.

I would love to say I am fine but obviously, I am not. I would love to say things are back to normal and I can go into a grocery store, but I can’t. I would love to say my mental state is fine, but it’s not.

As I have been told by many people, I can’t define what my body finds traumatic. In my brain, it was five long minutes of my life. Physically and emotionally? It felt like a lifetime. So, although I can only comprehend a small amount of what those in dangerous areas go through, I feel for you. To know what gun violence is, is not fun. I haven’t been in a mass shooting. I haven’t been in a shooting. What I have had, is a gun waved in my face. What I have had, is the anxiety and panic attacks that come with it. I have gone through sleepless nights, lack of eating, nightmares, etc.

What have I done to help with today? I can’t say anything great. I was so numb that nothing mattered. I ignored my family and really anything coming through on my phone. I watched a movie that was probably a poor choice. Then I went to work. I love my job, but I did not want to go. I usually feel safe there, but it wasn’t home. I couldn’t call off today because it was too important.

So, lesson learned. Today has been a very difficult today. I have put myself through a ton of stress that I have had to work through. I hope, that even though I have gone through that stress, my body will allow me to sleep. When I get like this, the nightmares begin. Part of me wants to stay awake so I do not have to deal with them. In the end, I hope to do better. Everyone keeps telling me time and I just keep thinking; nobody has time for that. Looks like I’m going to have to do more self-care, to help keep myself boosted.  

In honesty, as I end my post, I lost it today. Today is the first day since the beginning of May I have had a breakdown. I was not prepared for what came my way. However, I have learned it is ok to breakdown, although, I don’t do it well. Another thing I learned, is that I made it. I made it through the day and that counts. We need to take the good when we can. So, in the end, Keep on Keepin’ on, until next time.

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Reminded of Health

Mostly, I know I have been writing about my status after the armed robbery. Today, I wanted to go back to my physical health for a moment. It still reflects where I am mentally but as I’ve continued to update this blog, I was reminded of why it was so easy to be healthy so many years ago.

It basically comes down to, choice. However, I realize that, that answer is not a great answer. As I reflected back on my past when I had lost all of that weight, it came back to me. I was working with my aunt, who is a nutritionist, to help me to learn to eat healthy. I had already lost forty pounds before I started my health plan. I was in a good mental state for me to be healthy. I was making the time to go to the gym. They were all choices. I don’t remember my why. However, what matters is I was already in a much better place than where I am now, to be starting a health plan.

So, how does one overcome their past? How does one overcome their mental state? Well, remember I am not a professional who can give you detailed answers. I am a regular person; where I’m hoping you can connect with me. That being said, I haven’t figured any of that out yet. I do know I am in a much better place than I was in two months ago, thanks to professional help.

What I can tell you from what I have learned is this: Be good to yourself. Treat yourself well and don’t get stuck in your head. Our reality of ourselves can be far from the truth, especially, if we have let others influence the way we see us. I’ve lost myself so many times that when I find me again, I wonder why I ever let that happen. Sadly, life has a way of getting away from us.

My mental state has come a long way from where I’ve been. I’m not 100% but instead of being at 0% I’m climbing up the ladder. It may take me a week to move one step, but I’m doing it. That is what matters. If I could give you any advice it would be this: take the time to help yourself grow mentally. If you have a healthy mind you can then conquer your goals.

There are still a lot of wants and things I “want or need” to get too. However, I’m learning it’s ok to accept where I am. The thing we need to remember with a statement like that, is we can’t stay there, or we’ll never get anywhere. It’s taken me two months of counseling to be able to say that. It’s taken me 4 months since the robbery to get here. Some people move slower and some people move quicker. You do you and be ok with where you are. A baby step forward is still forward. Even if you take a step backwards, you can walk forward again. The key comes down to being nice to yourself and taking the time for you to rejuvenate or refill your “self-love tank”.

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Is Five Minutes Really Life Changing?

What happened to my brain afterwards? After it happened, I drove to work. I was teaching and met with my students. We watched the news as the robber made poor choices and ultimately, ended his life. After I was done teaching, I went to another job. Thankfully, I only had to work two that day. My sister knew that I wasn’t dealing with it so, we went to Top Golf to see if hitting something would be better. I do have to say it was fun. However, I don’t think I truly knew what I was in for.

One thing I do need to mention, is that my family and friends have been very supportive. Some acquaintances don’t know how to respond to me but that is ok. I do want to thank those who willingly serve in the armed forces and those in public services i.e. Police, Fireman, Paramedics, etc. I don’t know how they cope with everything they see. I am grateful nothing drastic happened in my five minutes.

Well, I say nothing drastic happened because here is my dilemma: It was only five minutes of my life, nothing happened, I should be fine. I’m not sure if most of you caught where the problems are in that last statement. Whether or not it was five minutes, it was traumatic. Whether or not anything happened, I am not fine. It’s taken me a long time to be able to say that. I still fight my reaction to what happen, but I am getting better.

Growing up, I have always been strong and there for other people. I would always put other people before myself. In my brain, I currently see my reaction to the armed robbery, as me being weak. I thought I had done a thorough evaluation of myself to admit I was ok. Truth is, when I had my breakdown, I knew I had not gone deep enough. It was a blessing that my breakdown did not happen sooner. I don’t know how I would have dealt with it, with all three of my jobs.

As I sit here trying to rewrite my brain schematics to accept that I am not ok, I keep thinking back to my counseling sessions: it’s ok to not be ok. My lack of acceptance is where my problem is. The shoulda, woulda, coulda steps do not help anything. What shoulda, coulda, woulda, do you have a problem overcoming? I shouldn’t have eaten that. I should get up and go running. If I could redo that over, I would. I would have done this, if I knew about that.

We can’t change the past and I am slowly learning how much the past changes our reactions to where we are now. The armed robbery is in the past, but the PTSD caused by it still impacts me today. I have to constantly bring myself back to the present and remember to accept it’s ok to not be ok. Really, it comes down to how we deal with it as it comes at us.

What is keeping you in your past? What helps you come back to the present? Have you let bad things go from your past?

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Continuing On

Have you ever done research on different ideas and aspects of something you are working on, to find you don’t agree? Well, that is why I cut the last post short. I’ve read on numerous accounts of how blogging is supposed to be done. Currently, I’m not following any of those suggestions. I’m not sure if those rules apply to me but part of me cutting off my post yesterday was because of those “suggestions”. Sorry, if you felt I left you hanging, that was not my intent.

However, if I’m boring you at all or I’m writing too much at once, just make a comment. I have a lot to say and it’s nice to be able to write about it. My goal for today is to speak about my week away from work and what that means for me.

My week away from work allowed me to get some much needed rest. People would ask me to do something for them and I couldn’t. It wasn’t that I didn’t want too, I wasn’t capable of doing it. I can hear people saying, you can do whatever you want to do. Well, I wish I agreed with this sentiment. I may have been one of those people before now, I can’t remember. However, now I know better. My mental, physical, spiritual, emotional health was so broken, I stayed in bed. My sister asked me to bring her food at work and I physically could not get out of bed, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I felt so broken that for the first time in forever, I allowed myself to begin my journey back to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still on this journey. I have not completely gotten over it, nor do I think it will ever go away. However, I will say this, PTSD is real. Anxiety is real and more people need to come to terms with the fact it is something our society needs to help with. I’m not saying we need to fix people. What I am saying is we need to be more supportive however, that works for the person.

Anyway, I didn’t answer any emails, text, phone calls or anything from work. I completely disconnected from my work life. The amount of stress that left was astronomical. My boss was amazing and he was very understanding, for that I am grateful. Within that week of being off, I self-evaluated. I knew I had to quit. The amount of stress I was going through made my PTSD worse. I wasn’t sleeping well and I couldn’t cope with things. I was having nightmares and not eating. My way of life was probably killing me slowly. I was empty, my “love tank” for myself, was completely empty. If you would have turned my tank over not even a drop would have come out.

I had a friend who came to visit me and she knew something was immediately wrong. I couldn’t see it for myself but others sure saw it in me. Everyone asked if I was ok, but most people just ask in passing without really caring, so I tell them I’m ok. I WAS NOT OK. If you know a friend has been through something traumatic, they are not ok. No matter, how much they tell you they are. It might take them time to process it, but they need support. This is not a suggestion to take them under your wing and make them a project. This is simply advice to BE THERE FOR THEM! Don’t sit there and give them advice, listen to what they are saying. Help them in whatever way they need you too.

One example of this, is I still have not been in a grocery store since this happened. Why a grocery store you ask? Well, the only thing I can think of is that I was surrounded by food. Even though it was gas station food, my brain must equate any food with it. Anytime, I think of a grocery store my stomach starts turning into knots. I haven’t actually been shopping for anything but maybe once since it happened. Yes, I am working on overcoming this, I’ll get there. Anyway, my friend asked what she could do and I asked her to go grocery shopping for me. She did and then asked me what I needed. She didn’t tell me to get over it. She didn’t force me into a store. She simply did as I asked. BE THAT PERSON!
Although, I am now completely broke, my way of life is changing for the better. The amount of stress I was under and the dreams I was having, wasn’t worth it. My love tank for myself is slowing filling. I have started counseling which, is probably why I am where I am now.

Looking back I can’t believe I didn’t see it, I was broken. Although, my state of mind is not completely back or where I want to be, I am in a much better place than I was. I was so far down that rabbit hole, I’m glad I’ve been able to start climbing out.

I plead with you for two things: one – take care of yourself (not in a selfish way but love tank refilling way) and two – if you have the capacity to help others, share some of what’s in your tank (just not too much to become empty yourself). I’ve never made myself important enough to me to take care of me. That is changing now and will be a topic for another day.

In my next post I will talk about my unhealthy mindset surrounding the armed robbery. It’s a conundrum that I keep telling myself I don’t need to figure out, but I do need to keep on keeping on.

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What happened after?

Welcome back!

As I look at that day many months ago, I ponder my choices I made. Have I stopped drinking caffeine? No. Has it helped me become strong mentally? No. Let me explain where I was.

Working three jobs meant I had no time for anything. I worked from 8am until 1030pm every day. Saturdays I would work from 11am until 1030pm and get home exhausted from the week. I am religious so; I would get up and go to church on Sunday. There were days, I didn’t want to do anything – especially, on Sundays. So, prior to the armed robbery even happening, I was already spread so thin I could barely keep the balls I was juggling from falling to the ground. I can’t say I did it well. In fact, I would say that I did not.

As I mentioned previously, my caffeine intake was through the roof. My stress levels were so high, I’m pretty sure nobody wanted to be around me. Then an armed robbery happens. I didn’t have time for what that meant. I was already over worked and barely hanging on.

My mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual (for me) health were missing. If you’ve ever read The 5 Love Languages : The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman, then you know what it takes to refill “your love tank.” He states: “I am convinced that keeping the emotional love tank full is as important to a marriage as maintaining the proper oil level is to an automobile. Running your marriage on an empty “love tank” may cost you even more than trying to drive your car without oil” (pg.19). Now I know he is speaking about marriage and I’m not. However, I like this quote because if I don’t keep my love tank full for me, then I could easily end up somewhere I don’t want to be. Another way to look at it, whether or not you’re religious, “… Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”. I was taking care of everything else more than myself. I wasn’t paying attention to me or taking care of me. That might sound selfish but if you can’t take care of yourself, it’s a lot harder to try and help others along the way.

Being stretched so thin, I didn’t recognize what that did to me. Usually, I’m very outgoing and I love to be around people. I enjoy connecting with others and having meaningful conversations whether, it’s small talk or a deep discussion with a friend. As you can see, I was not doing any of that. I was working so much that my “love tank” became empty, and quickly.

When the armed robbery happened, I was only going to be working the three jobs for another two months. I told myself I could do it and kept reaching for the day I would be back down to two. Well, I made it. I may have been a zombie, but I made it. I’m not sure if subconsciously I knew my third job was over but the Sunday after my grades were due, I couldn’t do it anymore. My body began to shut down whether I wanted it to or not. Believe me, I did not.

I’ve never had a nervous breakdown before. I can’t say that it was full-blown, but it was pretty close. I was sitting in church and realized how far down the rabbit hole I had gone. I had been ignoring everything in life.

To help give you perspective of truly where I was with all of my health, my grandmother passed away a month before the armed robbery. The Monday we got back, a very close relative was hospitalized for her depression and thoughts. The Sunday she got out we had a family dinner and my father collapsed. Having to prepare to do cpr on your father is hard but we were ready. Then after this because of his health, he signed a DNR (Do not Resuscitate). So, the next time he goes down will be his last. Imagine what that does to your psyche, I wasn’t prepared.

I thought I knew how to cope with things. I thought I had been doing an honest evaluation of myself; I was wrong. I made it through church without breaking down, barely. When I arrived home, I became a vegetable. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to work the next day. So, I didn’t. I took the week off because mentally, I couldn’t’ handle anything anymore. Hence, your mental status is so important. Are you taking care of you? Are you helping yourself out by loving yourself as you do other people?

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That day…

As hard as this is for me, I’m willing to work through this post to hopefully, help other people. What does this mean? I’m going to recount what happened on the day of the armed robbery and what happened. I’ve been told that speaking about the event is a great way to move past something. However, do you ever feel like other people don’t truly care how you are, even if they ask you? Especially, if you continue to speak to the same people? Well, that is me. Maybe that is another reason I have decided to write about my experiences, to gain perspectives from other people who have experienced what I have.

Before I jump into the event, I should explain where I was and what I was doing. If you’ve read some of my past posts, then this is nothing new for you. Prior to the armed robbery, I was working two full time jobs and one part time job. I didn’t have time for something like this in my life to happen, so, I ignored it after it happened. We’ll get into this in a different post, but I suggest you start listening to your body before you get to where I did.

That fateful day…

I had stopped at a gas station to get a drink. Imagine working as many jobs as I was, my life consisted of a lot of caffeine, and I mean over 100oz a day. Although, I do not drink coffee, anyone reading this, knows it’s a lot. Either way, I was on my way to my first job, but I needed my “fix”. So, before I hopped on the freeway, I stopped.

I pulled in and I was on the phone with my sister. I have a Bluetooth set so, I had something in my ear. Those of you who have ever had to deal with PTSD knows, right about now, my stomach is turning into knots, and my anxiety is through the roof. I walked in and I didn’t pay attention to anything. My first mistake. Now as you walk in, the cashiers/workers are on my right and there is a counter with popcorn, hot dogs, lids, misc things, etc. in front of me. The drinks are directly behind. I walk towards the drinks without thinking about anything other than speaking with my sister. I don’t even remember what we were talking about now.

Anyway, I walk behind the counter and fill my drink. There was an older gentleman getting a drink before me so, I patiently waited my turn. He turns around and starts getting a lid, which happens to be on the counter behind me. Once, I fill my cup, I too turn around to put a lid on my drink. The older gentleman who had gone before, was taking so long and wouldn’t move over, it annoyed me.

I have four regrets of that day: 1-not paying attention, 2-having something in my ear, 3-not having my gun, and 4-how frustrated I was at the older gentleman. We’ll talk about them in a different post because this one will already be long.

As I was pretending to be patiently waiting for him to finish doing what he was doing, the clerk all of a sudden started yelling. I should say, I was patient for a while before it turned into annoyance. What she said next will change my life forever. She said: “I’m not giving you any money, everyone down we’re being robbed.” Of course, my first reaction is to look at what is happening. I was in my own little world and I wasn’t paying attention. Again, a mistake. As she said that, the two customers over by the register started trying to wrestle the guy with the gun. As he got away, he walked out backwards, with a silver 9mm pointing right at us. He waved it at everyone numerous times to make sure we weren’t going to move. I’m not sure why I looked the guy in the eyes but I did. He looked lost. Thankfully the clerk had a good head on her shoulders. She had pushed the emergency button alerting the cops, her corporate, and whomever else it went too, that there was an armed robbery happening.

When the guy left the store, the two customers who tried to stop him were definitely more shaking than myself. Now coming full circle, I didn’t have time for any of that. I stayed around for the cops to come and they didn’t ask for a statement so, I left to get to work. As I was checking out, they were replaying the video with the guy entering with his gun. He had it at his side and I watched him raise it towards the clerk from the video. That probably was not a great idea.

I felt badly for the clerks who were visibly shaking and with every right. I asked if there was anything I could do. Upon hearing no, I left and went to work. As I got to work, the guy decided to do more than just one-armed robbery. Unfortunately, things took a dark turn for the offender.

Five minutes of my life has changed me forever. Since this post is so long already, my next one will explain more in detail of where I am, where I was, and hopefully, a path to healing. Keep your loved ones close and tell them you love them each and every day. I never thought I would be in that situation but it happened.

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Mental Health Counts

Whether anyone has decided to read my posts or not, I find it freeing, I can express myself through words. Whether or not my grammar is correct, or I miss a typo, I still enjoy it. So, as I say, let the naysayers be naysayers on someone else’s blog. Yes, they may still do it to mine, but what matters is, my voice.

This leads me to what I want to write today. As I have looked at my current journey and where I want to go, I’ve found that my health is more than just how much I weigh. Yes, I have mentioned my physical, spiritual, emotional, mental health before but now, I have taken a deeper look and I’ve decided to not just write about my physical health.

For me writing is a wonderful outlet. It allows me to express myself and get my thoughts on paper. Most of the time however, it is in my journal and not publicly. So, why you ask am I doing it now? Well, it’s because I feel if I can connect with even just a few, then me sharing has been worth it.

This will be long a post so, if you have made it with me this far, thank you. If I have not done a good enough job to keep your interest, that is ok too. The following helps me to be vulnerable in the safety of my home. Yes, I realize negative comments do not keep me safe but currently, I am speaking about being safe physically.

If you have ever had an experience being in an armed robbery or bad experiences with guns, then this might trigger you. Stop reading if it is not good for you. However, because writing is freeing for me, I am going to write about where I am currently in life.

The next posts will speak about my experience in depth, where I was, what I have done, and where I am now. If I speak out, then maybe someone who hasn’t been willing too, can reach out to me and we can help each other. Either way, for the next few posts (I’m not sure how many), I plan on writing about my mental stages of life and what it has taken me to get there. So, if you’ve read this far, keep on keepin’ on and come back tomorrow.

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Withdrawals

A couple of days ago, I decided I would eat French toast with strawberry syrup and have a couple of bites of an oreo shake. Thirty minutes later, I regretted that decision. The sugar rush and headache that hit me, made me want to turn back time.

Today, I am going through withdrawals again as I try and be good. Sometimes I wonder if this transformation is worth it. I’m grateful that currently, I don’t have to go through the withdrawals of caffeine because that would be worse.

I have yet to figure out why I want to continue on this path but each day I keep on keeping on. I guess that is what matters the most. Somedays I do better than others. Somedays, I just can’t resist eating a cookie and for me, that is ok. My last journey five years ago taught me that. I do know eating sugar and not staying on my healthy way of life takes me out of fat burn. However, for me, my mental health is more important than worrying about whether or not I ate a cookie.

Sadly, that does also mean that my journey is slower but that is something I have come to terms with. I don’t need to lose weight as fast as possible, if I’m not going to keep it off anyway. I know the path I’m on is a long-life journey of choices and I have to remind myself IT IS MY CHOICE. The choices I make today reflects me tomorrow. Yes, that may be a little cliché, but it still applies.

As I sit here with a headache, pondering my life choices, I keep thinking about my why. I still haven’t figured out my why, but I must want to be healthier subconsciously. So, back to my question – what is your why?