Self-Care Sunday: April 22

Each Monday is the start of a new week, and that can sometimes seem intimidating. To try and eliminate this anxiety it’s a great idea to slow down, take a moment to ourselves, and prepare our mind for the week ahead.

This week for my self-care, I made my favourite cup of tea and I suggest you do too!

Here are the steps (if you need them…) that I took:

  1. Boil your water
  2. Pick out your favourite tea (Mine is Coco Chai Rooibos)
  3. Pick out your favourite mug
  4. Put the appropriate amount of tea into a tea strainer
  5. Pour boiling water into your mug
  6. Place the tea strainer into the boiling water
  7. Let your tea steep for a couple minutes
  8. Take your strainer out of your mug
  9. Find a cozy place to sit
  10. Sit back and enjoy your tea

Drinking tea is an excellent way to practice mindfulness, as it gives you a chance to focus on your senses. Hearing the kettle boil, seeing the water change colour as you add the tea leaves, smelling the calming aroma, feeling the warm mug in your hands, and tasting the perfect cup of tea.

Whether you have your own cup of tea tonight, or not, enjoy the last few moments of your Self-Care Sunday!

The Laws of Life

When you struggle with mental illness, (hell, even if you don’t) sometimes it can feel like Murphy’s Law is ruling our lives. That everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong, and if for the off chance things seem to be good, then we must have overlooked something, right?

Let me explain a little deeper. Imagine yourself in the following scenario.

Your alarm doesn’t go off, and you sleep in too late to shower before work. You rush out of the house, locking your keys inside. You miss the bus, and when you go to call a cab you realize your phones been cut off, you forgot to pay your cellphone bill, again. You can feel the anger creeping up inside you as you walk to work in the rain. When you finally get to work you’re about to explode, you bark at the doorman, and stomp up the stairs to your office, slamming your door closed without saying hello to your assistant. While collapsing into your seat you spill coffee down your brand new shirt. You’re distracted and unproductive all day, getting nothing done at all.

How do you feel? What is the first thing you think after reading that? A few carefully selected curse words I’m sure, but what else? How about…

“Of course this would happen to me.”

“I have the worst luck.”

“I should have just stayed home.”

“Thats just life, kicking me while I’m down.”

If that isn’t Murphy’s Law, I don’t know what is, and maybe days like the one I just made up happen to you all the time. Maybe you’re in a tough spot, and the universe is challenging you. Well I’m here to help (or try to at least). You see, I don’t believe in Murphy’s Law, I believe in Einstein’s Law of Attraction.

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get into that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy, this is physics.” – Albert Einstein

The way I see it, the world is full of different energies. We pass energies back and forth, exchanging good energy for bad, and vice versa. However we are most attracted to those people who exchange similar energies to us. Lets look at me, for example, I try my very best to stay positive and to only put positive energies back out into the world, which is why I’m more attracted to positive people, than I am negative people. Make sense? Focusing in on your energy, and the energy you spread, can easily take a bad day and turn it around.

Disclaimer: Now, I’m not saying you need to smile and be happy every time you miss the bus and I’m definitely not saying you’re never going to have a bad day again. For I’m somebody who struggles with depression, and sometimes it seems like I have more bad days than good. So I completely understand how difficult it can be to find the positive in a negative situation. However, I do believe that we have the power to change our own lives.

You’ll notice that Einstein didn’t say, “Match the frequency of the reality you have”, but rather, “Match the frequency of the reality you want”. So you’re not really stuck in that rut, you’re just tuned into a lower frequency.

I realize I’m making this sound real easy, and you’re probably rolling your eyes at me, but I assure you, you can do it. When I notice I’m feeling low, and I’m ready to make a change, I turn my focus inward and reflect on my own energies. I then take a few deep, centring breaths, and I find something good, something I’m grateful for, and hold on to it. I focus on that one thing until I feel my mind clear and my energy increase. Turning one situation around isn’t going to change your whole life, but it’s a start.

Let’s look back at our situation from earlier in this post, and try to find a few positives.

After spilling coffee down your shirt, you take a breath and remember you have a spare hanging behind your door. You thank yourself for being prepared, and leaving it here months ago for cases like today. Now that your mind is clear you have a very productive day.

Lets back up.

Instead of yelling at the doorman and ruining their day, you stop and say hello. You focus in on the smalltalk and allow the simplicity of it make you feel a little better. This conversation adds a pep to your step, just enough energy to not collapse into your office chair.

Lets back up a little further.

You missed your bus, and your phone is out of commission. Take a breath, refocus, and use this rare cellphone-less walk to work to look up and appreciate nature. You feel surrounded by beauty, so much more positive you don’t bark at the doorman.

Even further?

You wake up, without your alarm going off. No, you don’t have time to shower, but you still have time for your commute. Take a second, and take your internal clock for waking you up when it did, and giving your body a little extra rest. You focus inward and realize you needed that rest, and more. You take the morning off and stay in bed a few more hours, going to work that afternoon much more productive and feeling refreshed.

Moral of the story? Remember to breath. Taking a second to stop and just breath gives you time to check your emotions, your mood, and your energy…..and there is no shame in needing to take a day to yourself.

So next time you feel like life it kicking you while you’re down, I want you to remember this, and try to see the situation from a different perspective.

Find the good, hold on tight, match to the higher frequency.

 

 

2018

Welcome to the future, the present, and the past. This moment is all three wrapped up together. This moment is the now.

Often times we catch ourselves daydreaming about the future. Wondering what type of life we’ll be living, where we’ll be, or who we’ll be with. When we’re “living” in the future we tend to think long-term, 10, 20 years down the road, maybe more. We focus on where we want to end up and skip everything that is going to bring us there.

The past is much the same. We focus on something that has happened anywhere from yesterday, all the way back to childhood. We ruminate on past experiences that we have zero control over, memories that we will never be able to change. Scrutinizing the past has a very large impact our present emotions, and our present emotions float into our future.

I wish I could say I’m going to live completely “in the now”, that I’m not going to think about either the past or the future. However after years of failed attempts, I’ve finally realized that that might not be possible for me. What I plan on doing now is focusing on what makes the now, the now. The way I see it the present moment is actually a combination of all three; our past, present, and future.

We only exist in this present moment because we have survived our past. It’s our collection of experiences and memories that have made us who we are.

Today is yesterday’s future. We all dream of a happy-ever-after, so if we’re already living in the “future”, we need to focus on getting ourselves closer to that happy-ever-after today.

I think remembering this and trying to let it shift our mindset, allows us to better enjoy the present and appreciate it for what it is. Every second in our day is the present, past, and future. So stop looking back at yesterday, and stop waiting for tomorrow. Open your eyes to today, to the now, whatever your definition of it may be.

My Poetry Debut.

I’ve been working on loving my self, for some time now, and seeing I’m someone who struggles with depression and negative self-talk, it’s not easy. I guess re-wiring your mind isn’t supposed to be easy, is it.

From what I’ve learned, one of the major steps in learning how to love yourself, is taking care of yourself, physically and emotionally. Physically is the easy part. Exercise, eat well, drink lots of water, take your vitamins, and listen to your doctor. Taking care of your emotional self if the difficult part. You need to be able to recognize your emotions before you can understand them, and you need to understand them before you can heal them.

Years of therapy have helped me recognize my emotions, and now I’m learning on the understanding and healing, which tend to go hand-in-hand. Often times, so I’ve realized, is once you finally understand something you’ve been feeling for such a long time, healing comes naturally. Almost as if what was holding you back from healing was not understanding why you were feeling a certain way.

Most of my healing has come from the help of poetry. Poetry has always been something I’ve loved, but not something I ever truly connected with, until recently. Reading the work of Lovelace, Sin, and Kaur have helped me more than any “self-help” book ever could. For I learned that other people have felt what I’ve felt, due to reasons similar to my own, and have come out on the other side. That just because something happened to you, doesn’t mean it defines you, and doesn’t mean you can’t be you again.

I’ve been inspired by these fantastic writers and have started writing my own poems. Now, by no means am I a poet or an author, but the simple act of writing has always proven to be therapeutic for me, especially poetry. I think this is so, because of the beauty behind poetry. It’s hard to feel sad when you’re writing such beautiful words.

I’ve always said that I would never share my poetry, because 1) it’s a little dark, and 2) I don’t think I’m very good. That might sound a little superficial, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist sometimes, which makes it hard to try new things, and writing poetry is definitely something new to me. However everyone starts somewhere, and if you don’t share your work, no one can learn from it.

They say you’re supposed to do one thing each day that scares you, so this is my big scary debut into the world of poetry.

May 13th
I say i stopped cutting on May 13th, but i didn't 
that was the day i passed the knife to you.
Each kiss, touch, and look was a lie
the knife dancing across my skin.
Every time you whispered 'i love you'
you dug the knife a little deeper.
I say i stopped cutting on May 13th, but i didn't
I stopped the day i left you. 

Sometimes a dark poems leave you feeling light. That is what this poem does for me. When I wrote it I didn’t plan to say what I said, the words just flowed. This was one of my first poems, and is about something that has very much changed my perspective on life. I’ve talked about self harm before, and it has been something I’ve wanted to forget for such a long time, however not anymore. I understand those emotions better now, and now they are what keep me grounded in times of unease.

My tally marks are a reminder of what I’m capable of surviving, and my poetry is a reminder of how I’m going to overcome anything that tries to hold me back from living.

Grit

 

I don’t like to fail. I mean, nobody likes to fail, but as someone who struggles with depression and negative self-talk, failing at something really effects me. Some people find failure inspiring, encouraging, something that makes them want to work harder. When I fail at something I often feel the exact opposites, uninspired, discouraged and like I should just give up. This is related to grit.

In her book, Angela Duckworth defines grit as “Perseverance and passion for long-term goals”. I was challenged to read the book a few months back by my manager at work. I’m an avid reader who loves leadership and books of self-discovery, but honestly it took me a couple months to get through it. In one of the first chapters there is a Grit Scale for the reader to complete. Upon taking the scale, I had the anticipation that I was going to do really well and score a very high mark, when in reality I achieved a 3.9. Now don’t get me wrong, a 3.9 is still a really good mark, and is still “higher than 60% of Americans” however it was lower than I expected. This score caused me to believe I wasn’t gritty, and made it difficult for me to really connect with the contents of the book.

Once I finally finished the book, I put it down and didn’t open it for another few months. I completely stopped thinking about my gritty-ness, and moved on. It wasn’t until I was telling a co-worker about how horrible my first day of work was that I realized I might be grittier than I thought.

My first day of work I walked into my office and it was a total mess. I had to spend an hour cleaning before I could even sit down at my desk and start. By then I was already flustered and thrown off. It was my first administration job and I very quickly became confused. My manager didn’t know anything about how to complete my daily tasks and my Club Administration Specialist helped me the most she could over the phone from a different location. I locked my office door and started to cry. I was so overwhelmed, and felt like a total failure. I knew it was only my first day, but I felt like I was starting behind the starting line. No one checked on me for hours and I started to feel not only like a failure but also lonely, like my new co-workers didn’t care or even know I existed. I somehow stretched a 5 hour day into a 10 hour day, then missed the bus and walked home.

After telling my story, I felt an sense of resilience. I had overcome an awful first day on the job and did not quit. I stayed and made it better. I stayed and 1.5 years later I even found myself moving up through the company. It was my own personal grit that kept me there.

Now it’s months later since I originally read the book, “Grit”, and I finally feel the connection. I feel like I can finally relate to all the personal stories and experiences in the book, and this realization didn’t come from some scale, but the retelling of my own gritty story.

Since I’ve discovered my grittiness, I’ve realized it is what keeps me working harder and harder each day to do whatever I can to make my associates feel cared for, and to make our location the best it can be.

I can truly say, “Grit” by Angela Duckworth has inspired me. It wasn’t one line that hit me in the face with inspiration, but rather seeped into my brain waiting for a perfect moment to strike.

10/10 would recommend.

Guilt.

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. – Steve Jobs

I was recently asked if I knew the difference between ‘guilt’ and ‘shame’. I was immediately offended, and answered with “obviously”, then when I was asked to define both I was stumped. I had been using the words interchangeably, I didn’t realize there was a difference between them. I was encouraged to look into the definitions, to fully understand the difference. Here are my findings;

Dictionary.com defines guilt as a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, while defining shame as a painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonourable. The way I see it, is guilt is a reaction, whereas shame is an emotion. Which means that what I have been classifying as “Bad Guilt” this whole time was actually shame.

In the past, I’ve spoke about how I like guilt, how it saved my life. I used to call this guilt, “Good Guilt”, however now I realize it was just regular, normal guilt. I’ll explain.. When I was at my lowest of lows, I was fantasizing about death, and mapping out the perfect plan. I was counting down the days, but at the same time I was starting to feel extremely guilty about the pain I was about to put onto my family and friends. I knew that once I went through with it, they would be left with aftermath, and “what if’s”. This guilt kept me up at night, made me second guess my decision, and ultimately forced me to not do it.

What followed this guilt was a whole lot of shame. So much shame that I couldn’t speak about my decision of what not to do, for almost a year, and even then not openly. I had this secret that I kept thinking back to and was causing me “Bad Guilt”, or what I now know as shame. I was ashamed of what I had planned to do, and how it would have hurt the people around me.

Learning there is a difference between guilt and shame, and that I don’t exactly need to be calling them good guilt and bad guilt anymore doesn’t really change anything. I just thought it was interesting, and it brought up some old memories. However, what I did learn is guilt is not an emotion, but something caused by yourself. Which made me realize I can be mindful of it. So if I notice I’m feeling guilty, I can validate the thought then squash it. Knowing it’s a reaction to something, I can push the guilt aside and figure out what the main issue really is. I don’t need to ever feel guilty again.