How are you? how you answer actually means something…..

(warning, this is a preachy blog post… I wrote it to get it all on paper, and I am sharing it because there maybe a nugget that might help someone else on the journey.. however, you’ve been warned.)

 

I’m overwhelmed

I’m so stressed

I’m tired

I’m crazed

I’m at wits end

I’m angry at, with, about, because….

I am going to be honest here. And this is not about any one person, interaction, or situation. I meet up with a lot of people who either need to really change the way they are living their life or really change the way they are perceiving their life.

I am extraordinarily happy and blessed. Yes, I have my off hours, even days, but over the past 3 years I have been on a mission to dramatically increase the amount of time I spend being happy. I realized about then that I was living my life in a state of discontent… AND I HAD VERY LITTLE TO BE DISCONTENT ABOUT. Sorry for shouting, but it was truly a life altering moment when I realized how much of my time I spent:

  • worrying about things that never happened
  • worrying about things that I had no control over or that I had already impacted as much as I could
  • worrying about things that I could impact but had not done so
  • worrying about people who had managed to live without me until that point and did not seem all that interested in my help
  • being hurt by, upset by, or angry at people who either A. did not care if I was hurt, upset, or angry or B. had not meant to hurt, upset, or anger me, or C. did not know that I was hurt, upset, or angered
  • living in the past
  • living in the future
  • etc. etc. etc.

I love being alive. I love interacting with humans, I freaking adore my child and husband, and I am blessed with skills and talents that I use every day to help others and myself. I have enough money for my needs and many of my wants, I am healthy and have the power to get healthier, I am surrounded by people who love me, who care about me, who would help me in times of need or sorrow without question or expectation of return of service (although I am also blessed to be able to serve them in return).

Blessed… I used that work recently and someone emailed me to say that they were not aware that I had become religious. I do not use it in a religious sense… I use it in the sense that of being

  1. divinely or supremely favored; fortunate: to be blessed with a strong, healthy body; blessed with an ability to find friends.
  2. blissfully happy or contented.

Now, I can get all tripped up by that Divinely or Supremely Favored thing… (I typed “flavored” there at first, LOL) However, I am completely aware that I have had privileges and advantages that others have not. And I am grateful. Very, Very, Very grateful.  Accidents of birth, of fate, of time and place have all combined to lead me to where and who I am. And I have already made pretty clear that I am happy with that.  I even used to spend time being so sad that others had not had the advantages I had… Or had not been able to use them as well for whatever reason.

A few years ago now,  I got very, very sad… for a long time… for day after day, I was just angry and unhappy, and stopped communicating with the people around me, and stopped moving forward in my career, in my marriage, in my life.  it was an internal struggle, but one that exhausted me daily. And, bear with me, this is where it gets odd, then I heard a voice… Not like a voice from the outside but one from the inside. And it asked, “Is this how you want to feel for the Rest of your Life?”

Rest of my Life? Every single day like this? No… God no…. Fuck no….

So, and I want to say right here that I was not clinically depressed, I had the capacity to make these changes in a way that someone who is dealing with clinical depression may not, likely will not, be able to make without expert help and support, I made plan to change.

The beginning of that plan was to acknowledge that the genetics that gave me a fabulous singing voice, the gift of witty repartee, and very little need for sleep also gave me a predisposition to anxiety and depression that is amenable to treatment with some miraculous medications.

So, I found a great doctor, and I explained to her that I did not feel like I needed therapy, that I had done a lot of that hard work in the past and was deeply aware of how important it was in allowing me to get to the point where I was. I needed to alter the chemical imbalance in my brain that was impacting my ability to deal with anxiety appropriately. And we tried a few things…

The first one was not a winner… I will never, ever, ever forget the moment when I thought, “Oh, this must be what they mean when they warn, ‘may cause suicidal thoughts’” and then thought, “OH. Crap. I should probably call the doctor.” The next one was a winner.

And I felt better.

Then, I started exercising.  And made bets, promised myself rewards, and got excited about progress to get myself to the gym on a regular basis…

And I felt better…

And I started consciously working at being grateful. As I fell asleep each night, I listed three things that I had been grateful for that day.

And I felt better.

I bought a bracelet that vibrated every 45 minutes at  meaningtopause.com (I’d love to design one that we could set the time frame according to our needs, but no luck yet) and it reminded me to check in with myself, to assess my mood and my activities, and  everytime I started stressing, ruminating, or worrying about something, I forced myself to ask three questions:

-Is this a real issue or concern? What are the chances you will actually have to face and deal with it?

-Is there anything you can do right now to positively impact this situation?

-Are you actively making plans for positively impacting this situation or just picking at it like a scab?

Almost every time, I was able to tell myself to let it go. (before that evil song came out)

And I felt better.

Then I decided to Look Back only for Courage, Knowledge, or Joy. Anytime I started thinking about the past, I stopped myself and made certain that I was gaining something from doing so. Courage: I did not have an easy childhood. My mother was mentally ill and addicted, and sad and angry. She was also the funniest and most loving person I have ever known. My mother adored my sister and I and we knew it. However, many people who grew up as I did do not become happy, healthy adults. SO, I look back for courage and to rejoice in how far I have come. For knowledge, to see if I can learn from the past, to make the future better, and for joy… There were many, many moments of joy in my youth. Those I had onstage and off with my dear friends from chorus, and those with my mother, whose crazy sometimes took on a frenetic and exciting edge that made life very… interesting.

And I felt better.

Then I gave myself permission to be enough…. I am enough. I am doing enough, I am giving enough, I am trying enough. I am enough. Oh My Goodness… That one was Life Altering. Capital L. and A.  Try it…. You are Enough. Whatever you got done today was enough. You are Enough.

And I felt better.

Then I reminded myself that, according to many rumors, we only go around this time, in this body, with these people, ONCE. And my goodness, you guys are AMAZEBALLS. (Thank you Jen Starr, who is herself amazeballs, for the term).

I so want to spend time with you, enjoy you, learn from and with you. I am not wasting any more time. Max Archer, Bill Lewitt, Faith Small, Jacob. And all of the other wonderous and awesome people in my life, I am so grateful for you.

And I felt better.

So, do I feel perfect all the time? Do I never feel sad, never feel anxious, never feel hurt, angry, betrayed? Of course not… I am still human… (Though Max’s fascination with DNA does not make that a given forever)

However, I am in control of how I feel, how I respond, how I interpret, perceive, and impact LIFE and the world around me….

I am incredibly Powerful. And that, my dear friends, is what I guess I am trying to share… You are so amazing and powerful. You decide how you go through this Life. Yes, there will be obstacles, and sorrows, and losses almost too large to bear. But, you will bear them.

And if you are reading this, if you are on facebook, or google, or a computer, if you are not in a hospital, not in a war, if you have reason to believe that tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow you will be given another chance to do good, for yourself and others, than you too are blessed…

Because until we die, we are alive… together…

So, if someone asks you how you are, by all means, if you are tired, stressed, whatever, take a moment to own that. But if you are always stressed, tired angry, overwhelmed, disappointed in yourself or others, maybe it is time to reframe. To rethink. To change the way you are living your life or the way you are perceiving it.

I am so incredibly grateful that I am on this journey, that I can honestly say that the majority of the time when someone asks me how I am I can honestly say, “happy.”

I am blessed…..

You are blessed…

We are blessed…..

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