Insomnia

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night? Do you ever toss and turn constantly and relive difficult situations over and over in your head? How many times did you watch the clock hit 2 am, 3 am and even 4 am? How many times did the alarm begin screaming shrilly after you FINALLY just fell asleep?

Insomnia is something I am determined to destroy this year. I had been doing very well working on my nighttime anxiety and had regulated my sleep patterns for the most part during the week. But this past week reminded me with a swift and hard hand how horrific insomnia can truly be. Not only are you suffering that night torturing yourself over how awful you’re going to feel in the morning, but you get the added treat of dragging your completely worn-out self through the entire following day. The worst part is, you did it to yourself.

You did it to yourself because you feared something in your power went horribly wrong. Or you imagined that some event in your near future would most definitely have a severely negative outcome. You catastrophize and replay worst case scenario under the guise that you are trying to brilliantly devise a picture perfect solution. The problem is, you can’t control everything. Worst of all, you have no faith in yourself under game time pressure.

And then you live the situation in real life. Guess what? It turns out fine. You know why? Because you are far more capable than you ever give yourself credit for. The advice you give everyone else, everyday, you forgot to give yourself. You neglected to pat yourself on the back and allow yourself the rest you so desperately needed.  You refused to cut yourself any slack and give yourself the freedom to maybe make a mistake. You were relentless and vicious in your constant critiques of yourself. Instead of being your own best friend, you became your own worst enemy.

In a world of constant stress and pressure, finding strength within is crucial. Letting go of the illusion of control is possible, I know it is. Someday I hope to get there.

 

 

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I spent a good deal of time reflecting upon this holiday of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. There are so many talents of his to highlight, not the least of which was his use of spectacular oration to lead people. No one ever needed to defend whether or not he made ignorant, offensive comments through his word choice; he would never give anyone the chance to do that as his speeches were well thought out and galvanized people towards love and hope. My first blog post, “Words Matter” delves into how important your words are when people look to you for leadership.

But beyond the obvious, I spent some time learning about Dr. King’s most passionate teachings. You can find them here at this link:

http://thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy

I gravitate towards Dr King because of his passion for non-violent methods of conflict resolution. Interestingly enough, you will always find me defending spending money on strong defense for our country as other countries simply are nowhere near discovering non-violent solutions. But keeping the drive for peace at the forefront of our conversations is urgent and necessary. Remember, there is a difference between defense and offense. Within idealistic discussion, an acknowledgement of realism is always appropriate.

Dr King discussed six practical steps toward non-violent social change:

  1. Information Gathering
  2. Education
  3. Personal Commitment
  4. Discussion/Negotiation
  5. Direct Action
  6. Reconciliation

I could write about all of these for pages on end, but I try to keep these blog posts brief. I will therefore focus on the first. Information gathering is nothing more than doing your research. It’s reading, listening to a wide variety of news outlets and talking to learned and experienced people as much as possible to expand your scope. Listening to differing opinions is crucial in this process. Everyone has their story. But challenging each other to be the most informed is also essential to that process. Everyone can have loud and flippant opinions, but educated words matter.

May today’s holiday remind us how important it is to do local service and take action as far as possible to make this entire world a better place.

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Warm Heart, Artist’s Soul

As the sun goes down on another 7 degree day, my heart is warmed by several conversations I had this week regarding my personal identity. I have always prided myself on being “complex.” One of my favorite quotes out there is from Alice in Wonderland. 

I have told a few of you out there that I can go so much darker in these blogs but have been leery to do so. Aren’t people looking for hope and inspiration? But to me, writing is truly about delving into the darkness. Edgar Allan Poe was one of my childhood heroes. Why is the darkness constantly calling me in a world where presenting a smiling, happy face is so important?

I have spent my life becoming a version of polite society’s ideal. I was fascinated by glossy New York Times Sunday Magazines from the age of 7, planning out every aspect of an accomplished life.

If I did what I was told, I would succeed.

If I tested well throughout school and got a good job, I would be happy.

The trick is that all that studying and working leads to not developing an identity separate from all that studying and working. Or at the very least, suppressing it. Or at the very worst, allowing your self worth to completely depend upon your academic and career success.

The good news is that once you start to weed through all of that, you realize that there could be a whole other self that peeks through at times but is never allowed to stay for very long. For me, it’s realizing one of my primary drivers of wanting to write; it is because there is an artist within. I have always known she was there, but never took her very seriously. It was only through a recent conversation with my husband that brought to light the obvious.

You are happiest when you are creating.

This revelation is crystal clear when you roam through my childhood memories. I will save those creation descriptions for a lighter post, because there is definite and complete hilarity there, to which my closest friends will attest.

Of course, I am not running out to quit my job or demean my own career successes. But in my journey of realizing what truly makes ME happy so that I have the energy to give back to everyone else that needs my support, it is clearly nurturing my artist’s soul. And much of that recognition begets that sometimes that soul is a dark one. That understanding is actually the most comforting realization of all. More to come…

 

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Returning to Real Life

Ok folks, tomorrow we test how we carry our well-simmered serenity back into our real lives. For many of us, whatever vacation we’ve had over the last few weeks is coming to an end tonight. We will return to whatever real life looks like for each of us. For some of us it is work, school or the hustle and bustle of keeping up with our kids’ activities. Some of us have even harder fights still, recovering from difficult surgeries or living with serious health conditions. We each walk our own path, but we all must react and respond to challenges day in and day out.

Many of us are striving to succeed with our New Year’s resolutions. A new beginning gives us the clean slate we seek, where we’ve forgiven ourselves our trespasses. We visualize our ideal selves and while we know perfection is not possible, we strive to finally achieve the goals we’ve been dreaming of for so long. As we aim to meet these objectives, we remember that often times, less is actually more and simple, repeated execution will bring us within striking distance of true success.

One key component to the formula of our new beginning is appreciating the small wonders that occur in our lives everyday. Carving out small moments for ourselves to take the proverbial breath will be crucial in accomplishing our objectives. Taking some time to figure out what truly matters to us, as opposed to all the things we do simply because it’s what our culture expects, will be a solid foundation upon which we build a fruitful 2018.

I thank all of you, my faithful readers, for sharing my own dream with me in 2017. At a workshop I attended last year with my work sisterhood, we spent 45 minutes writing down everything that was getting in the way of the achievement of our most important aspirations. It was there that I built the framework for this blog. The fulfillment I have experienced over the last four months has been nothing short of magnificent. Your dreams are real and achievable.  Best wishes for a spectacular 2018.

 

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