Life Cleanse

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If you knew something was going to make you sick, or potentially kill you, aka its toxic, would you drink it anyway?

I’m hoping all of you answered no!

So, with that out-of-the-way here’s another question: if you’re willing to avoid ingesting toxic things, then why are you not willing to cut out or avoid other toxic things in your life as well?

There are so many aspects of our lives these days that have become toxic, yet we continue to subject ourselves to them everyday. But why?!

Think about it this way, with my little analogy:

You have an amazing car that you treat like it’s your first-born child. And in this car you spend a little extra to only fill it with the expensive premium gas.

Why then, are you not willing to fill yourself with ‘premium’ too? Premium relationships that uplift you and support you, premium food that nourishes your body and makes you healthy, or premium use of your time instead of wasting it on things or people who don’t matter?

We must detox ourselves from the things that are slowly poisoning our lives, and opt to live a more premium lifestyle.

So here’s my own personal guide on how to detox your life! Keep reading for more 🙂

Identify the Toxins

In order to cleanse your life, you have to know what exactly is toxifying it!

So here are 8 of the most common toxic things in our lives to help you figure out yours:

  1. Harmful friendships
  2. Unhealthy eating habits
  3. Unfulfilling career
  4. Clutter : in your house, your closet, your car etc.
  5. All work and no play
  6. Social media addiction
  7. Wanting what you can’t have
  8. Negative self-talk

Now that you have an idea of what the toxins in your life are, here is a run through of how you can go about cleansing them from your system!

Harmful Friendships

It’s true that we as humans are genetically social creatures, and we have filled our lives with friendships and relationships to fulfill our constant need for communication and interaction; among of course, other needs.

Sometimes, however, these relationships can become negative and even harmful. It happens, not every egg is a good one. Think about the golden eggs from Willy Wonka, the bad eggs happened every so often and needed to be disposed of down the garbage shoots. So, it’s time to dispose of the bad eggs in your own life!

A friend should be someone who loves you and supports you no matter what. The people you can call day or night with your problems, your concerns, your funny stories, and your tears. After all, your friends are the family that you get to choose!

So, why would you choose to be friends with someone who isn’t good for you?

Maybe they’re fun sometimes, and invite you to cool parties or every once in awhile do something nice for you. But, if they are not making you feel good, supported, loved, or happy why bother letting them in?

A bad friend is someone who talks about you behind your back, or even talks badly to your face and cuts you down. They use you for your friendship, and only take from you what they want and need; and they never reciprocate. They are fair-weather friends, who only come around when they need something from you and that’s all.

Listen people, this isn’t elementary school where we have to send Valentines cards to everyone in our class, or invite everyone to our birthday parties because it’s the right thing to do; we are adults now and ain’t nobody got time for people who aren’t good for us!

So do yourself a favor and cut those people from your life who are not good for you! Yes, it is important to be kind, always! But this also means you need to be kind to yourself; so they have got to go.

Unhealthy Eating Habits

This one is a tough one – trust me, I know!

But back to my car analogy : why not put premium fuel into your body like you do with your vehicle?

The old saying “you are what you eat” is so much more valid than any of us want to admit on those days that we binge on chocolate, donuts, and all the breads. But, despite our denial, what we eat greatly affects everything inside of us!

Unhealthy eating habits can zap your energy, and also cause you to have trouble sleeping! Quite the bad combination!

Bad food choices can also obviously make you gain weight, hurt your heart, cause depression and anxiety, and overall just make you feel sluggish.

Reading all of that, you can’t honestly be OK with any of those consequences, am I right?

But like I said, I get it! Eating healthy alllll the time is hard! But trying to eat healthy as much as possible, and allowing certain times where you can indulge in treats or having a “cheat meal” is the better route to go.

Start by writing out a meal plan, and trying to stick to it! And schedule the day you’re going to have your cheat meal, to give you something to look forward to!

Eating healthy does not have to be boring or bland either; it can still be incredibly delicious and satisfying! Some of my favorite recipes come from the Whole30 cookbooks, which you can find all of those here. Or, get creative and find a new healthy recipe you want to try on Pinterest or from a friend!

Start fueling your body with the premium healthy food that it needs, and cleanse yourself from all the toxins that unhealthy eating habits can add! The higher quality the fuel, the more miles the vehicle will go 😉

Unfulfilling Career

Now this is one that I personally can testify to. Working in a job or field where you find no fulfillment or passion for is soooo exhausting and demotivating.

It’s hard enough to go to work everyday, but having an unfulfilling job makes that 1000 times worse.

If you find yourself in this situation, take a real serious look into what it is you really want to do with your life and your career.

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your long term goals for your career?
  • What makes you feel fulfilled?
  • What do you love doing?
  • What are you strengths in a career choice?

After you figure some of those answers out, start looking into what it is you really want to do. Look up jobs, research career options, or even school!

Me? My current dream is to work in the humanitarian field full time. I’ve been researching some schools I could go to to receive a Master’s in global humanities. It will be a lot of work, and most definitely will involve me moving to a different state (or even a different country!) but if I dream big enough I can make it become my reality.

Just like you can! Figure out what you really want to do, and make it happen.

Clutter

We all have it. Its everywhere: in our kitchens, our basements, our bedrooms, our cars, and especially in our closets. CLUTTER!

Have you seen those shows where they go into someone’s home who is a hard-core hoarder?? Now I know most of us are not that extremely infected by clutter, but even just a small amount of clutter and mess can affect our everyday lives.

Compare it to your mind: if you mind is bombarded and crowded with lots of different, and mostly meaningless thoughts, it has trouble focusing on the things that it needs to! Well, the same goes for everywhere we live, work, and exist in.

If there is clutter, it can subconsciously cause stress and anxiety, make you feel lazy and less motivated, and honestly it makes you less desirable sometimes.

Have you heard that saying that says something like “dress for the job you want?” Well, create your space for the life you want to live!

Anytime my room is a mess, I feel like my life is also a mess. When I’m clean, organized, and have no clutter; my life reflects that as well.

Do yourself a solid and de-clutter! Start small, and little by little your entire life will be made-over!

All Work and No Play

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Or, Aly a dull girl.

This proverb, whose origination is unclear, basically is saying if all you do is work and you never take time to relax or do other things you love; your life will be dull and you will be bored and/or boring.

Think about Rhianna’s song Work. The lyrics are so monotonous, basically saying over and over again “work work work work work.” And Rhianna herself couldn’t sound any more bored as she slurs those words in the song! Right?? All work makes even Rhianna a dull girl.

My point is, it’s great to be a hard-working and motivated person; but you also need to take the time for you! Otherwise your work can become toxic to your happiness.

Go do your favorite hobbies, relax and read, go hiking, go to the gym; whatever makes you happy!

Bottom line: take the time for “you” time! Because who wants to live a dull life? I’m pretty sure no-one!

Social Media Addiction

I know I just wrote a whole post about my social media fast here. But I could definitely go on and on about how important it is to break our very real addictions to social media.

Obviously, there are some very great and useful reasons for social media!

On the other hand, there are also some bad things that stem from it as well.

Comparison is the thief of joy, and unfortunately it’s hard to not compare your life to everyone’s seemingly perfect and fun life as you scroll through your feeds. I mean, who are these young attractive people with perfect bodies, who only ever seem to go on vacations and travel??

Well, the truth is no one wants to post the nitty-gritty and bad parts of our lives for the world to see; we want to post beautiful, fun, well edited, and cleverly captioned photos.

So we don’t see the truth.

As soon as we can realize reality versus what is posted on social media, then it can still be something we can keep in our lives. But that’s definitely a distinction you need to make clear within yourself!

Also, it’s addicting as hell! Literally it has become a habit for me to pick up my phone and open Instagram or Facebook without even thinking!

And what an incredible time-waster too! There have been moments, I will admit, where I will open a funny video of a cute dog or some sort of animal, and end up scrolling for almost an hour in a feed of animal videos before I even realize it! Like HELLO! Addicted. But don’t judge me… I know y’all are obsessed with the cute animal videos just like I am 😉

We have to make efforts to cut ourselves off from social media. After my fast of 7 days, I made it a goal to only get on social media during certain hours of the day, and the rest of the day I’m forbidden to look at them.

It’s tough, I won’t lie, but it makes SUCH a difference!

Go ahead and try it, or do a full fast/cleanse of your own! You’ll realize how toxic social media can become, and how much better you’ll feel when you break your addiction.

Wanting What You Can’t Have

Story of my life.

Story of anyone’s life who is dating, has dated, or will someday date.

Story of … well, long story short, of everyone in the world relating to just about anything!

Why do we always want what we can’t have? I honestly think its just a defense mechanism embedded within our DNA to keep us driven; to keep us wanting more and chasing bigger and better dreams.

But, the downfall is sometimes we can end up lusting for things that we can never have; and in some cases, shouldn’t ever have.

It’s ok to dream and to have a goal to achieve something you want, or to try to date someone you really like. BUT, it is not healthy to obsess and lust after something so intensely and so badly when it is something that you may never reach.

Knowing the difference, and having a healthy balance of wanting what you can’t have opposed to what you can have. Just don’t let the appeal of wanting what you can’t have poison your happiness! It’s like baking with vanilla extract; a little bit can perfectly flavor your life, but too much and it’s toxic!

Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk is a tough habit to break. That ugly, self-doubting, and ruthless bully in my head started in my early teenage years and still reappears every so often to cut me down. We can be our own worst critics, and it can poison our self-confidence!

Something I have learned to do to help silence the negative voice, is positive affirmations. Sounds cheesy, but they honestly work!

I like to read positive affirmations every morning when I wake up, to help start off my day with positive and motivating thoughts. I really believe that however you spend the first 20 minutes when you wake up can set the tone for the rest of the day!

Here’s a good one I focused on this morning:

I have survived every negative experience in my lifetime so far. I have not only survived, I have thrived.

To heal from any hurt, I must feel every emotion that I need to go through.

I never push my feelings down or try to cover them up. I face them, sit with them, learn and grow from them.

I find my strength through love. I am strong and so very powerful.

Try it out tomorrow morning! Find a positive affirmation, or something uplifting and inspiring, and read it and ponder on it when you first wake up. Let me know what you read in the comments!

The Life Cleanse

Try to figure out even just one or two things in your life that are becoming toxic waste to you, and are affecting you more deeply than you may even realize.

Cleansing your life from things that do you nothing but harm is so important. Take the time to remove things that are poisoning your happiness, and move forward in a new chapter in your life!

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Balancing Act

Do you ever find yourself sitting at a table at a restaurant that is super wobbly?

Like so wobbly, that you’re worried  if you move anything, it will tilt and all the items will fall into your lap?

The problem, usually, is that one (or more) of the legs of that table are too short, and not even with the others. Without all legs being even and sturdy, the table will never be fully balanced.

Table Talk

So why am I talking about tables? It will make sense, I promise.

A few weeks ago, I started to feel the unbalances in my life completely taking over. Everything seemed unorganized, chaotic, and all over the place. It was stressing me out!

I knew something needed to change, but without knowing exactly what the problem was, I couldn’t fix it.

That’s when I started writing out to-do lists. For me, seeing it written down on paper makes it easier for me to focus on what needs to be done; and then check it off as I do! (Plus I’m old school and I love writing things in my planner instead of in a note on my phone.)

As I was working on compiling things into lists, I noticed there were 4 groups kind of forming on their own; 4 categories if you will. So then, the huge nerd that I can be, I decided to instead make my lists into a big chart, showcasing each category.

Modern Backyard Cookout

And isn’t that so weird? It looks like a table… with 4 legs. 🙂

In order for the table (you) to be fully balanced, you need to care for and make each important category (table legs) even.

The Legs

As you can see from my image, my “table” has 4 legs, or categories. Each of us is unique, and so there’s not right or wrong amount of categories you need or want to attach to your table, as well as no expected category types.

I’ll run through my own categories to explain how I work on making them balanced, to give you an idea of how to balance your own!

Physically

My entire life, I have been a very physically active and relatively healthy person. I was a tom boy growing up, playing in the woods and the dirt, and doing every sport on the planet that I could possibly do!

Now, I make physical fitness and health a major priority. Here are a few things I focus on:

  • Currently I am on a meal plan and fitness plan catered to me, through L8r Lifestyle. Check them out, they’re amazing!
    • I work out 5 times a week, with heavy lifting and HIIT cardio. 2 Rest days.
    • My meal plan is catered to my height, weight, age, and what I want to accomplish. It’s real food, and meal prepping is a must!
    • I make sure I eat enough of the food my body needs, and also every once in awhile throw in a cheat meal. Because #treatyoself
  • I am a total grandma when it comes to sleep. I aim to be in bed by 10-10:30 pm during the week.
  • I’ve thrown my back out 3 times in the last 6 months. Yes, I absolutely feel like I’m old and falling apart!
    • I’ve been very smart about listening to my body, and when something is injured or hurting I rest and try to stretch, and do what I can to let things heal.
  • I stay active as much as I can outside the gym:
    • Hiking
    • Sand volleyball
    • Cycling
    • Basically anything outside!

Spiritually

This category in all honesty has felt a little depleted lately for me.

With everything I have dealt with the past few years, I hope it is understandable for me to feel this way.

And no, I wouldn’t say I am having a crisis of faith by any means; I’m just working on more ways I can feel closer to God in my personal life. It isn’t a crisis, just a phase of my life where I am transitioning and growing in this area – kind of like spiritual Feng shui, where I’m just moving things around inside myself to rebalance and feel harmonized again.

And it is just that; personal. Each of us will feel that spiritual closeness and balance in different ways.

  • I feel spiritual closeness in nature. Hiking alone is one of my favorite things to do, where I can go reflect in God’s beautiful creations about everything I’m feeling and wanting to feel.
  • I also feel spiritually close to God when I engage in very honest personal prayer. We have some real talk. He knows me and He loves me despite all of my flaws and shortcomings; and in my earnest and humble nightly prayers with Him I feel so much love and peace.
  • When I am doing service for others, I feel so spiritually balanced and my heart is so full. I feel the tiniest, most minuscule, fraction of a fraction of how much our Creator loves each of us. It is an incredibly overwhelming feeling.

If spirituality is one of your categories, do what makes you feel centered. There is no specific right or wrong way to go about it.

 Psychologically

This category has been a rough one. Anyone who has been through any sort of traumatic event, will understand.

As I’ve explained before about PTSD, it’s not something you can just flip a switch and be done with. It takes time, patience, and lots of work. Feeling psychologically unbalanced has many different repercussions, such as anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and fear of something triggering a past traumatic experience.

Self-care and self-love are two of the biggest things I have been focusing on to recover and rebuild my life after everything completely shattered.

  • Positive affirmations are amazing, and really do help! Read about them here.
  • I started going to therapy. I honestly believe anyone and everyone can benefit from therapy, but especially someone who has been through anything traumatic.
  • I take time everyday to meditate alone, even if it’s just for 10 mins. Finding that time to really zone in on my inner balance makes a huge difference.
  • I love to read, and have been reading any book I can get my hands on in regards to recovering, finding my true joys and passions in life, chasing my dreams, and overcoming the trials that I’ve been given.

Socially

If you know me, you know I also struggle with this category. Ever since being thrown head first with weights attached to me in the deep end of dating and being in the singles scene again, I have had to make a real effort to be social. It’s so hard guys!

But I’ve made some progress.

  • I only do what makes me happy. If I don’t want to go to something, I don’t. If I do, I go!
    • Why let anyone force me to do something I know will not make me happy? Life is too damn short to let other people decide it for you!
  • Hang around positive people who lift you up, instead of bring you down
    • A few years ago I hung out with a crowd that was negative, and they were so mean to me! Once I broke away from them, I was a lot happier.
    • Remember that it’s ok to not hang out with someone if they are toxic to your happiness in any sort of way.
  • I’ve grown to appreciate quality friends over quantity. The ‘popular’ ‘cool’ crowd is not always going to make you happy!

Balancing Act

So there you have it, my 4 table legs. When each of these categories feel balanced, then my life in general does as well.

If you keep focusing on balancing your life, than it will become so through your effort. It’s the whole “if you build it, it will come” mentality reminiscent from Field of Dreams; If you believe you can balance your life than it can happen!

Stay positive, prioritize what’s important, and focus on balance.

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PC: Vino Photography 

My 5 Truths and No Lies About PTSD

I knew I needed to go to therapy; in fact, I’ve needed it for years. But, especially after all of the things I have experienced in the last few, I definitely needed to finally go.

For some reason, I found it so hard to make the appointment and go. Maybe it was a mixture of the whole social stigma surrounding ‘needing therapy’; but I know for a fact it was also because I just wasn’t ready to go.

These demons and monsters, buried deep inside my emotional subconscious, are scary and blood-thirsty. I knew once I started drudging them up to my surface that it would be difficult to fight through them, to say the least.

But, a few weeks ago I was finally feeling prepared to go face them.

I won’t go too much into my therapy as of yet – but I will say that I am glad I finally got up the courage to go. I think anyone can benefit from going to see a therapist! It’s nice to have someone unbiased listen to you and give you good feedback to help you work through whatever it is you are struggling with.

After my initial appointment, my therapist warned me that working through such dormant emotional traumas came with the potential risk of triggering PTSD.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You may have heard about it pertaining to anyone who has served in the military or armed forces, has witnessed violence or death, or has been a victim of sexual or physical assault. According to Wikipedia:

In the United States about 3.5% of adults have PTSD in a given year, and 9% of people develop it at some point in their life

Unfortunately for me, I fall into a few of those categories myself, and as I start to unwind the complex strands of the trauma nooses that are bound around me internally, I am also beginning to experience certain side-effects from my own PTSD.

So today as I struggle to make it through work on about 2 hours of sleep (due to a fairly traumatic PTSD triggered episode) I wanted to write about something to help bring more awareness to this topic. It shouldn’t be something NOT talked about, and there needs to be more support for those who are suffering through it. Just like all forms of mental illness, this is one that is best treated with support and understanding. So here are 5 things you need to know about PTSD.

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Photography: Michelle Madsen 

1. Stop the Stigma

Just as I said, there is a stigma surrounding all forms of mental illnesses and disorders. I’m not really sure why the world has always had such a hardened heart towards these things.

Back in the “olden days” of Ancient Greece and Rome and Egypt, things were actually fairly humane when it came to treating these conditions. Mental disorders were thought to be connected directly with the person and the Gods; a true reflection of a fight between good and evil. There were special meditation rooms in their temples, herbal treatments, and ceremonies all specifically to help bring back the “balance.’

As time went on, things became less humane and more barbaric. Up until as recently as the 1950’s, lobotomies were still being performed as ‘treatments’ for mental disorders. People were locked away in asylums, children abandoned, electric shock therapy was done; so many horrific and terrible ways people considered as treatments to help.

Nowadays, treatments have progressively become more effective and especially more humane. However, there still remains this stigma about mental health. People suffering are afraid to talk about it or seek treatment, are made fun of for being “crazy”, and according to society should just be able to “suck it up” and “get over” whatever it is that is  affecting them.

This stigma around mental health needs to stop. Even I struggled with just deciding to go to therapy (which I DESPERATELY have needed!) because in my mind I felt like I could work through all of the trauma on my own. Its not true, and I waited longer than I should have because of social stigmas.

So a word of advice to you, someone who does not struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, being bi-polar, schizophrenia, or anything else under the mental illness spectrum: be as open minded and understanding as you can towards those who are. Don’t tell them to “just get over it” or that it’s “all in their head” and that they can easily feel better if they work out or eat better. NONE OF THAT is helpful, or even true. (Yes, working out and eating healthy can possibly help with some symptoms, but if someone is truly suffering they need actual help and actual support.)

2. Not All PTSD is the Same

While over 8 million Americans suffer from PTSD, not every case fits into a cookie cutter mold.

Because every case and cause of PTSD varies, so do the symptoms, and the treatments that help. As you venture through these turbulent waters of recovery, just like I am right now, listen to your body and mind and see what helps you the most. There are many different medications, meditations, therapies, and techniques out there. Do what works for you!

3. Not all Triggers are the Same

Going along with #2, everyone is triggered differently and from different things.

For instance, I get triggered often from nightmares. Last night I had a terrible nightmare that someone was physically attacking and choking me, and I woke up inside my closet shaking and coughing as if someone was strangling me.

I also suffer from a newly formed social anxiety when I am around people I don’t know, or large groups (which, for the record, I never used to have issues with until after my marriage.) Panic attacks also plague my nights as well, keeping me awake or causing nightmares like the one I described.

While we all have different triggers, once we realize what they are we can begin the work to overcome them or help lessen their severity. If I have anxiety in large groups, I should definitely avoid large groups when I’m feeling triggered or feel anxiety coming on.

Set boundaries for yourself so that you can avoid feeling triggered. If you don’t want to go to a social activity, then don’t go! You shouldn’t let anyone make you feel like you need to do something if you know you won’t emotionally be able to handle it. Listen to yourself and what makes you feel safe, secure, and in control.

So for those of you in my life who have given me a hard time about me being ‘anti-social’ lately… this is why. I’m doing my best to get back to being my old self, and I’ll come to things when I can! You have to be patient with me, just like I am with myself.

4. Know How to ‘Ground’ Yourself When You Feel Triggered

I came to know the term of ‘grounding myself’ back when I was married and dealing with emotional and physical stress and abuse on a daily basis. And no, it doesn’t mean I sent myself to my room to think about what I did… it’s a mental technique I learned from my sister to help ease the oncoming triggered anxiety or panic that would crash over me like a tsunami.

She deals with panic attacks and anxiety every day, and she explained that in order to feel more grounded she would go through her 5 Senses to help reign in the spinning thoughts or racing heart, and panic that was beginning to take over. I have started calling it “5 Senses in 54321“, but I’m sure there are other names for it too:

5. Name 5 things that you can see around you (a chair, trees, a succulent…)

4. Name 4 things you can feel/touch around you (the grass, wind blowing on your skin…)

3. Name 3 things you can hear around you (traffic driving, birds singing, music…)

2. Name 2 things you can smell around you (perfume, food, flowers…)

Now when it comes to the last sense (taste) if I am not able to name 1 thing I can taste currently, then I would supplement it by reciting a positive affirmation or mantra to myself. Here is my current mantra of choice:

I am strong, I am resilient, I am a survivor

Doing this technique helps to bring me back to solid ground, to feel balance and in control. Seriously, try it out next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or panicked.

Another grounding technique was one I learned from my energy healer from a few months ago. She showed me how to ‘clear away’ or ‘break off’ any energy surrounding me that I didn’t want to be a part of. Like if there was negative tension in the air from a fight between 2 co-workers, I would simply hold my hands out in front of me, palm forward, and swipe them in unison in circles towards my center and back up into place. Essentially, the right hands moves in a counter-clockwise circle and the left is clock-wise.

Now, this energy grounding technique can feel a little funny, especially if done in public (because honestly when I do it I feel like I am trying to mimic Dr. Strange from Infinity War with all his fancy hand gestures and ‘wizardry’ according to Tony Stark). But, when I focus in on my inner energy and want to feel fully grounded, sometimes it honestly does help to physically break away the negative energies that are poisoning my own.

5. You Have the Right to Detox Your Life; of People, Places, and Things

Life can be filled with all different kinds of toxicity; whether its a frenemy who likes to spread mean rumors about you or others, a place that might trigger bad memories, or an activity that gives you social anxiety.

Whatever it is, you have the right to cut it out from your life.

For me, right now all I want is to feel in control of my life and to feel emotionally secure. There was someone I used to hang out with that just was not a good influence on my energy and on my emotions; they were bringing me down when I just want people who raise me up right now (… and I know y’all started singing Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up in your head when you read that.. don’t lie!!)

So, I cut them out of my social life. I wasn’t malicious about it, and I still see them and consider them a friend. But, I don’t need to let their toxic energy affect me and bring me down.

Same goes for any place that might trigger bad feelings or memories, and send me spiraling into a PTSD/anxiety episode. I avoid all the places my ex and I used to go together, because for now it still stirs up emotions I can’t handle. It’s not that I necessarily miss him, it just makes me sad and hurts me to remember it all.

I also avoid anything that feels negative or toxic to me right now. Generally I love dark, twisted movies and tv shows but right now I can’t seem to handle them. Like the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale just dropped on Hulu, but I just can’t bring myself to watch them just yet.

And you know what? It’s ok to cut these things out and avoid them. Because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what other people think or say you should do or be doing to be happy; all that matters is how you feel and if you really are happy. Because you wouldn’t keep eating something if it was filled with cyanide and slowly poisoning you, right? So same goes for toxic people, places or things; cut them out!

Listen to yourself and what you need to feel in control, secure, and of course happy.

Live Your Life

The good news in all of this, is that PTSD is a totally manageable thing. You just have to put the work and effort into managing it.

On the days that I am more consciously making the effort to feel good energy and be positive, I notice a huge difference. It’s not easy by any means, but it’s definitely doable.

Beyond medication there are plenty of ways I can help myself overcome and fight through the stormy waters of PTSD, beyond what I’ve already listed:

  • I have my person. The one who I can call day or night, 24/7, show up at their house in absolute tears, and the one who I can depend on to always be there for me. My person is my twin sister, Heather. I have talked about her a lot, and for good reason. She is my rock, my yin to my yang, and my forever voice of reason.
    • Designate your person, so that you always have that comfort and support whenever you need it!
  • Find creative ways to release your angst, your pain, and your voice. For me, it’s my writing. I have found writing to be so incredibly therapeutic, that’s why I started this blog last year! I journal privately, and I also write on my blog.
    • You could write, paint, play music, garden, dance… anything that helps you release everything building up inside!
  • Find a therapist you feel comfortable with who can help you work through everything internally. I promise you won’t regret it!
  • Go outside. Break away from being in your office all day, or from isolating yourself away from it all. Feeling distant from the world may help for awhile, but eventually it can end up being harmful to your emotional well being. So, go outside! Get some fresh air, go for a walk or a hike, or even a bike ride! The sun and fresh air will do you some good!
  • Every day, take some time for “you” time. It’s easier said than done, I know. But I feel a huge difference when I carve out even just 20 minutes a day to do something just for me, that I know will make me happy. I come home from work and like to unwind by reading, meditating, or honestly even just taking a 30 minute nap. Whatever it is, take the time for you! It’s not selfish, it’s taking care of yourself.
  • Remember that any road to recovery takes time, and to not be too hard on yourself. There will be plenty of bad days ahead, but there will also be good days too. Just be patient and don’t give up.
    • Just like breaking a bone and never getting it fixed; you have to go back to the Dr’s office and have them re-break it to set it into the right place. That is how you should see yourself as you are on this road to healing. You are re-breaking through all the old injuries, and re-setting them into the correct place.
    • Its gonna hurt like hell before it feels better. But it will eventually feel better.

Love yourself, take the time to heal, and you will eventually be to the place where you want to be.

Just as the Philadelphia 76’ers are saying these days in the NBA playoffs, #trusttheprocess !

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Photography: Michelle Madsen 

 

Into the Wild – My Dating Resolution

IMG-2054I think I have always had the disposition of making my own path in life as I’ve never seemed to be a fan of following the same path as everyone else with certain things. I’ve become a sort of trailblazer in my own way, and I’ve always liked to control my own feet. In fact, I did just that the moment I came into this world; I apparently was born feet first and have let those feet guide me ever since.

This past year, I especially needed to rely these two feet to guide me through some unchartered territory as I found myself thrown back into the wild on my own. Dating has changed substantially in just the past 5 years, it is completely unrecognizable.

Seriously, I was blown away with all the dating apps out there now, and how digitalized and cold it had all become. You swipe through pictures and judge someone literally just on the way they look. I get that dating in general is based on looks, I’m not oblivious to that, but at least when you meet someone in person you’re still seeing their personality and their characteristics and not just basing it solely on the way someone looks.

All I knew was, dating had become this foreign place and I was going to need some refined perspectives to manage my way through it all.

Into the Wild

Returning back to the wild after being in captivity can be traumatic for any animal. In fact, animals bred in captivity and surrounded by humans their whole lives can never be released into their natural habitat, because they lack certain survival skills and will more than likely die.

The only animals that can be returned to the wild are the ones who are rehabilitated in a controlled environment close to their own natural one, and have little to no actual contact with humans.

I joked around when I first got divorced, that I was going to use the next year as my own rehabilitation to be re-released back into the wilds of the world – more so, the dating world. I knew I needed time to heal and move on from everything I had been through with my marriage, and if I jumped right back into it I would feel overwhelmed.

Also, I knew I needed time to figure out what I really wanted from my next relationship. The thing about someone who has been through something traumatic like abuse, is that they need to do a certain amount of work and healing to rehabilitate themselves internally and emotionally from what has been damaged and broken. So, I literally told myself I needed a year, at least, to be alone.

I’ve been on quite a number of dates admittedly, but they never went anywhere serious because I was in no shape or form of ready; but the act of just dating was a good step for me and helped me refine those dating skills that had faded.  But more importantly I’ve made some wonderful new lifelong friends in the past year, as well as reconnected with some old friends I had lost touch with. I’ve gone on many adventures, and discovered some things about myself that I wouldn’t have been able to if I had literally just jumped into another relationship and just disappeared into their life.

For me, I knew I needed to be alone for awhile, and it was the best decision I could have made. I think in a lot of instances, people leave one abusive/dysfunctional relationship and go right into another one without truly realizing and changing what internally is drawing them towards those types of relationships. I knew if I didn’t take the time to be alone and break the pattern I was stuck in of being co-dependent on these abusive types of men, that I would find myself doing this all over again.

My original dating resolution as of last year was to take a year for myself, which I considered my ‘man-cott’ year (not a boycott since I only want men now and no more boys! ha) But I have surpassed my year mark and now have some new dating resolutions for this coming year.

A Brave New World

Just like I mentioned, the dating world has changed drastically even just in the past 5 years that Ive been out of the game. Just a few weeks back into it last January, and I found myself seriously doubting that anyone even wanted to end up in a real relationship.

This is the problem that I’ve started referring to as “Expiration Dating“. A lot of food products have expiration dates on them, so we are counseled to buy them and consume them before the time expires. Well, when it comes to dating I think a lot of people nowadays are dating with an expiring time line in mind.

Maybe having an expiration date in mind takes the pressure off of the whole thing. Like, this will be fun for a few weeks or months but then it will fizzle out; so no need to get super attached, I think many of us have been burned pretty badly at this point in our lives, and having the possibility of getting hurt again off the table makes it easier to hang out and date someone.

While I do admit having the possibility of getting hurt no longer being an option tends to be easier, it definitely does not make things meaningful. Eventually, things become stale well before the ‘expiration date’ comes along because you realize things are going no where.

So, one of my dating resolutions is to no longer expiration date. I want meaningful experiences, and even if nothing comes out of it all I can at lest feel good about the fact that it was real; for however long it lasts.

I’ll Tell You What I Want.. What I Really, Really Want

One of my main reasons for taking a year from seriously dating, was to reevaluate what it is I really want from any future relationships.

Something I consistently thought about was how society has strangely put too much emphasis and pressure on our happiness depending entirely on another person. Think about it, what are the girls always searching for in nearly every romantic comedy? Their better half, their soul mate, their reason to live.

And what have we as women been told nearly our whole lives? That we can’t feel complete without a significant other. The common line ‘you complete me’ can be found in nearly any love story.

Why has this become the normal idea about love? Why can’t I be considered whole and happy unless I am with someone? Honestly, I think it’s sad that society can’t adjust to the modern times and not put so much pressure and emphasis on needing someone else to make you happy.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think being with the right person can absolutely add to your happiness! Together you can build a life and thrive happily with your lives overlapping, but your entire existence and joy should not rely solely on them. I want to be complete without anyone else, then find someone who can complement my complete and happy life and make it that much more joyful.

I’ll explain it like this, like I did just a few weeks ago to a friend. Your happiness in a relationship should be more like a Venn diagram; your whole, complete selves and lives should overlap to create a happy existence together, while still maintaining the self-sufficient joy ability on your own.

Here are some diagrams to help illustrate my point:

YOU Venn-2

I made this just to give an idea of what your own little bubble should look like. I filled this “You” one with things that make me happy. Notice on there I don’t have a significant other? It’s because I don’t need to rely on another person to give me joy or make me feel complete.

Now here is what I believe a relationship should look:

shared life Venn

Look at all that open space still available on each side of the diagram, in “You” and “Them’. That is significant because even when you are in a committed and loving relationship, it shouldn’t be one single bubble, but still 2 separate ones that are only overlapped to a certain degree.

Together you can enjoy certain hobbies, do things together, and even have some things in common that make you both happy. But, you can still be individually joyful and feel complete without them. Your overlapping lives just accentuate and even further add joy into both of your bubbles.

I absolutely know without a doubt that one of the main mistakes I made in my marriage was that I tried to adapt and morph my life completely into his. I wanted us to do everything together, and in the end I became co-dependent on him to make me happy. It was so unhealthy, and beyond unrealistic.

So, another dating resolution: find someone to complement my life, not complete it.

Black Heart

A few weeks ago I went to an energy healing to balance my chakras with an amazing woman referred to me by my sister, and when she did her initial aura/energy reading with me she told me my dominant chakra color was green.

She told me the green chakra represents the heart chakra, which is the balancing point for all your other chakras to be in sync with one another. I was surprised and I even made the comment, the one I always make, “But my heart is black and I’m dead inside so that doesn’t seem to make sense.” She smiled and told me, “It’s definitely not black or dead it’s just out of balance. Once you have rebalanced it, it will be your strongest guiding chakra.”

I guess I shouldn’t have been all that surprised, because my heart has always been my biggest strength and weakness; I love people in my life with my whole heart and sometimes that meant I would give everything and in the end lose it all too.

Afterwards, I was curious and wanted to learn more about my chakras and re-balancing my heart. I went to the trusty old Google and found this article about the green heart chakra. Right there in bold letters I saw this:

Some signs that the Heart Chakra is out of balance are:

Lack of self discipline

Difficulty in relationships

An attempt to live vicariously through another

Dependence on someone else for your happiness

Wow. Dependence on someone else for your own happiness. I could not have been more guilty of that! I mean.. right?! That could not have been more accurate from my marriage.

It seems I do indeed need to re-balance this dead, black heart back to green.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with someone very close and dear to me, and I mentioned my heart was dead. She told me it wasn’t dead but was more likely just “hiding in the basement with a chainsaw.”

I laugh thinking about that mental picture, but it does seem fairly accurate. I know my heart isn’t actually dead or black… but sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to feel again like I was able to before. Right now, I feel nothing but numbness.

I realize this is a defense mechanism, and maybe my heart really is just protecting itself with a metaphorical chainsaw to avoid any further pain.

But the question is, how do I coax this defensive heart up out if it’s bunker and take away the chainsaw so that it can allow itself to feel again?

Again, this comes down to me allowing time for my heart to heal itself, and not relying on someone else to just fill in the broken and missing pieces. I can’t be complete if I let someone else put a bandaid on my bullet wounds; I have to heal it all internally on my own.

What I do hope for, though, is to find someone who will make me feel something; anything. I consistently refer to myself as ‘dead inside’ and when I get to the point where I feel ready to feel something, I look forward to finding that person who will make me feel anything, basically like a little electric jumpstart to my heart.

Now don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t need to fall in love anytime soon, but just feeling something towards someone would be another resolution for me and a step towards where I want to be. I’ve been completely emotionally unattached, which makes things easier and less complicated for me. But, of course this rules out anything being meaningful.

Conquering the Wild

Like I explained in my last post here , I surpassed my year mark on December 19th. Now here I am, reintroduced back into the wild after months of emotional and mental rehabilitation.

I’m ready to move forward into 2018 with a stabilized relationship with myself, and I’ll continue to follow my own two feet out through the wilds that life will throw at me.

Carrie Bradshaw, from Sex and the City, explained this perfectly at the very end of the series with this quote:

“I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic. Those that are old and familiar. Those that bring up lots of questions. Those that bring you somewhere unexpected. Those that bring you far from where you started. And those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you, you love, well that’s just fabulous.”

I hope 2018 is the year of love; self love. I hope all of you out there who even read this love yourselves and feel complete and happy, and follow your own hearts on your paths through those wild places out there.

I learned so much this past year and while I can always look back, I am continuing forward on these two trusty feet.

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