I’ve Made Friends With My Skeletons

“…I have in the last year emerged on the other side with a small army of loyal skeletons ready to bask in the light.”

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I’m starting this year with that whole “clean slate” deal for the first time here in 2017.  And I’m able to do so with a little (OK, maybe a lot) of help from my friends.

I have spent a lot of my youth and adult life living a duality.  Working to mirror on the outside what I thought was expected, that which would keep questions from being asked: I was happy, smiling, smart, shy, responsible.  I kept my temper in check.  I was a good example.

All the while, inside I roiled in pain, anger, fear, and darkness.  I was constantly worried the truth would come out, that when it did I would prove to be unlovable.  I lived my life in near panic.  I considered suicide as a teen, became a cutter to deal with the emotions I couldn’t deal with or express.

The idea, and then the reality, of becoming a mom was my saving grace.  Sounds cliche, I know, but it’s true.  It was the one thing I was sure I would do well.  It IS my skill set.  My Trinity makes all that I have been through a lesson for their benefit, something to spare them from.  My silver linings.

As I have slogged through some truly awful, dark, and dangerous times, I have in the last skeleton-familyyear emerged on the other side with a small army of loyal skeletons ready to bask in the light.   They are facts and facets of my life, but they no longer chain me down.  (They do, however, make some people really, really uncomfortable).  The more the light bleaches the rot from them, the more I realize that I would not be who I am without having survived them.  There can be a certain peace found in seeing beauty in that tragedy.

The first to emerge was the the admission that the “perfect couple” that the outside world saw did not, in fact, exist.  I suffered from financial, emotional, and mental subjugation.  I had lost myself in a quest to protect my littles, given up my sense of self and self respect to keep them safe behind closed doors.  Eggshells and fear were the constant companions. Let’s call him Uno.

the-truth-will-set-you-freeSkelly made his way out when I refused to deny being sexually assaulted as a teacher.   I suffer from PTSD from that experience, and it brought back to the forefront issues from past abuses.  I regained a sense of power through counseling and from introducing Skelly to the world.  I was (am) a sexual assault survivor, and I am damn proud of what I have managed to live through.

I think the most frightening one to come through the closet door, the one who had needed the most coaxing, has been Lily.  She has suffered the longest in silence, the one that was the most afraid to come out to the light.  From the moment she listened to “want to see what my mom did last night?” (made cookies? a new hairdo?  danced?) at 8 and then realized that she was mired into a 3 year reign of sexual molestation, followed by 6 more years of daily bullying and torture with “if you don’t do X, I will make sure (your mom, dad, neighbor you idolize, friends) knows what dirty scum you are.  Then who will love you?” It wasn’t until this summer that I was able, with the innocent comment of my youngest to coax me, to bring Lily out, to introduce her to my parents and tell the story.

I can’t express to you the freedom I have felt after flinging that closet door open fully.  And I don’t want to make it sound like it was some easy process, and that you should find it so.  It was agonizing, to be truthful. It has taken years.  And I had the help of counselors, family, and wonderful friends to see me through the  process.  To hold my hand and assure me at each step that I was, indeed, still worthy.  Still loved.  Each hidden truth that escaped, big and small ~ each thing that cracked the facade of who I had built up as that image I thought I had to be, has been terrifying; gut wrenching.  But as I have torn down that outer layer, bit by bit, the person I have discovered, that core of Me, is someone I am proud to be.

Through Lily, Uno, Skelly, and others that now dance in the sunlight, I became the person I am.  Though I would never wish these experiences on others, I learned strength, resiliency, faith, and compassion.  I recognize pain in others and aim to help soothe their suffering.   I have been able to give my pain purpose and can look back and see how it has served to help others already.  And that makes their sunlit romps and dancing all the more enjoyable!

To anyone on a similar journey, May God Be With You, and please know that you are not alone…

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Started With A Dance…

He said “dancing is like life, sometimes we overthink it. You just need to slow yourself down and catch on to the rhythm of things”

Picture this if you will: The radio is on, I was dancing around the kitchen, singing to Chassis (my pup), working on my third batch of cookies for the holidays. Chassis is sitting near the foot of the table, head cocked, looking at me like his human has lost her marbles, when it hits me.

I AM happy.

Come to think of it, I have been on a happy streak lately.

Now, I analyze things. A lot. Probably too much. And in this moment I am dumbfounded at the realization. The timing of this revelation is pretty crazy, in fact. Holidays are typically really difficult for me. And I’ve been dealing with some issues. And yet, here I am, giggling and twirling, singing into my spoon as Chris Stapleton and I perform an ah-mazing (just ask Chassis) duet together. So, how did I get here?

It started with a dance…

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Ever had one of those days when you just need to toss reality in the closet for few hours and go have fun? These are so few and far between for me, but I was visiting my sister and the Trinity was with their dad. A splurge seemed necessary. I heard of a concert that night, at a place I used to go to that had a great house band and a super dance floor.

I hadn’t planned on actually dancing, just listening and people watching. Its been a long time since I had been out dancing. No need to get run over on the dance floor, but I also couldn’t quite manage to sit still as I watched with my sister, either. Eventually, a very kind (and very patient) gentleman asked if I would like to do the Texas Two Step. Four steps, its easy, he said. Easy? Poor guy! My over analyzing took “slooow, slooow, quick, quick” and performed some sort of calculus before it made it to my feet. God bless him, he smiled and pulled me aside. He said “dancing is like life, sometimes we overthink it. You just need to slow yourself down and catch on to the rhythm of things”. After some (more) lessons and a bit more philosophy discussion we started to make progress. A second song and around the floor we went, smoother this time.

From the Two Step to West Coast Swing (my favorite), the ChaCha and even a line dance or two, every twirl around the floor, each measured step brought a smile. That little bit of cheerleading count OCD was fulfilling some happy part of my brain. And then I was pulled back out on the dance floor one more time to “just dance”. No counts, just go with the music. Umm, was that even possible partner dancing?? Time to shush the OCD overthinker and go with the flow.

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You know those scenes in movies where you see two people dance and they just mesh together? Well, not sure it looked like that from the outside, but when your partner is an actual instructor, it makes you feel pretty much like you are living that. Bucket list moment fulfilled ~ I lived a movie dance scene. We twirled and shimmied, I was dipped and spun. Oh my goodness, how I laughed! And the joy that I felt as I let go of the need for counts and perfection, just enjoying the moment, radiated from the core of my soul. I may have sparkled just as much as the disco ball above by the time the song ended! I had tapped into those moments that had brought me joy in the past and pulled them forward into my Now.

The best part? That dance is still in my Now! I find it in the car going to pick up the kids from school and when I am singing in the shower. I find it when I am walking Chassis and randomly add in a dance step. It shows up when my son goes in to hug me and we end up spinning around in the kitchen, or my youngest and I start dancing together and when my oldest and I are belting out hairbrush duets. And, lucky for Chassis, it shows up when I twirl around while baking cookies…

3 kids, 18 days, 3000 Miles, & A Brand New Outlook

“I felt I had to offer [my kids] something better to look back on than what we had just survived…perhaps a good old fashioned road trip would work.”

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Entering PA

When I was young, we used to take a week long family vacation every summer to visit my Aunt and Uncle in Ohio.  It was a 9 hour trek, that my brother and I, and sometimes my older sister, would make in the back of a pickup truck.  Crazy visual there, huh?  Wind whipping through our hair… Umm, no.  Pretty posh for us littles at the time ~  A cover for the bed of the truck, a twin mattress with the zoo themed sheet so we could determine territories.  A cooler filled with snacks and a cassette player with The Oak Ridge Boys playing Elvira on repeat

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WV Welcome Center

until my mother thought she would go insane.  And then a week of swimming, cornfields, ice cream, and cousins.  I hold very happy memories of those weeks away from home.

Life had dealt me some pretty big blows and I really wanted, to be honest I really NEEDED, to get away and create happy memories with my children.  I felt I had to offer them something better to look back on than what we had just survived. Without a lot of money, it couldn’t be a big Disney-esque treat. But

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Giant Cootie, VA

perhaps that good old fashioned road trip would work.

When it came time to plan a family vacation with my three, times had changed.  No more rolling around in the back of the truck playing with stuffed animals and matchbox cars, wrestling and snuggling up to fall asleep on your own bed to travel.  It was uncomfortable booster seats, seat belts and a pretty optimistic plan for a first trip.  From the Southern Adirondacks to Memphis to visit my best friend from elementary school, then home via Charlotte to see my sister and “brother”, Hershey park if the kids were good on the way home.  18 days…

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Ripley’s Aquarium, TN

OK, a little background here.  At this point I was separated, just beginning to gain back my footing and starting to recognize bits and pieces of myself in the mirror.  My self image, self worth, and self confidence had been pretty battered and bruised.  As I started to plan the logistics I started to panic.  Could I really do this?  What if something happened along the way?  To me, to the car, to the kids… I knew I needed to do this, but I also knew I needed support.  Who better to call in for help than Grandma???

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Mud Island, TN

Almost 3 weeks unfettered access to her grandbabies??  And I promised no Elvira??  She was in!  And so began our “Southern Adventure” in late June of 2010.  We planned to drive no more that 6 hours a day, stopping each day to find something to break up the monotony of the drive.  Every 2 hours to stretch little legs and fill little bellies to prevent meltdowns. Day 1 was the last day of school, we headed to Grandma’s to add her suitcase to the pile and get a good night’s rest before stealing her from

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Mud Island, TN

Grampa.  A big celebratory send off of ice cream that night set the tone.

Day 2 was probably the most stressful for me, and it was those first few hours.  As we came closer to the NY/PA border every self doubt and fear came to the forefront ~ what if I really couldn’t do this?  My ex had told me he didn’t have the time to come rescue me when it all went to hell in a handbasket.  Did having Mom

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Corinth, MS

along counter that?  Would it be enough?  Was I enough to keep my kids safe?  My heart raced, my chest constricted, my grip on the wheel tightened. Ethel, the GPS we bought specifically for the trip (and the kids felt needed a name), showed that state line creeping ominously closer… and suddenly we were in Pennsylvania.

Wait, what?  We just rolled right on through the line?  No tire blow

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Maggie Valley, NC

out?  No engine blowing up?  Miles ticked off and the kids still chattered and sang in the back.  We continued to roll.  I laughed out loud.  My little world had just literally opened its borders!  We had Ethel, Rand McNally, and AAA TripTiks to work from.  We knew we had construction coming up so we stopped for a potty break and a snack.  To this day, crazy as it seems, one of the most memorable things on that trip was the crazy timed relay

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Concord, NC

races we ran that second day at that rest area, and the fact that I ran with them.

My son picked up a coupon book for hotels, and suddenly our accommodation worries (the only worry my mother carried across the border) vanished.  Visitor centers at each state line provided us with inspiration for adventures.  Amazing caverns, a float museum, a giant Cootie, and an aquarium helped entertain us on our way to Memphis.  There we walked a scale replica of the Mighty Mississippi at Mud Island and visited the Memphis Zoo with one of my best friends.

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Concord, NC

Our goal was to put feet in as many states as possible, so our trip to North Carolina brought us through Corinth, MS (picked because we lived near Corinth, NY), Alabama, and Georgia before heading to Maggie Valley (for obvious reasons!) and then the Charlotte, NC area. We happened upon an amazing Civil War Interpretive Center, playgrounds, a gorgeous rest area with a little nature walk, and tried buttermilk pie on our way.  While visiting my sister, my son celebrated his birthday and we were schooled on NASCAR and

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Mooresville, NC

the rodeo, big hits with us all!

Keeping Hershey Park as an “If You Are Good” reward worked beautifully – as we rounded out our 3000 mile trip with stops at Luray Caverns and Natural Bridge to explore the history and beauty of the area, the kids had learned enough to ask wonderful questions of the guides.  And our trip to Hershey was a few days surrounded by chocolate nirvana as we rested up to trek home.

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Concord, NC

Another night at Grandma’s to return her to Grampa and fill his ears with all our adventures, and then three tired lil’ monkeys headed back to the Southern Adirondacks filled with memories that 6 year later still pop up randomly in conversation.

For me, this trip was cathartic.  Something inside me broke free the more miles I put between myself and that NY border.  With every turn of the wheel, I was proving that I was capable of

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Natural Bridge, VA

planning and implementing a safe trip.  That I was able to provide for my littles, keep them safe and sound, but most importantly I was giving them some wonderful memories that, no matter what came next, no one could steal.  WE would always have this adventure.

This trip did more than give the 5 of us great memories, it forged a bond between us through these shared experiences.  We have inside jokes that we have explained to others, but no one really “gets” exactly, like we do.  We problem solved together, the 5 of us working to formulate a plan for the day, to pick out a landing zone for the evening, deciding if the pool or free breakfast was

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Hershey, PA

more important that night as we searched.  We supported each other as a team, even if we were tired, hungry, and cranky.  We made it, all 18 days, all 3000 miles, together!

Since that trip I have happily added states and adventures to my list.  I am at 275,000+ miles now as the kids and I continue our adventures, keeping traditions that began on our “Southern Adventure”.  This one trip changed my whole outlook on who I was and what I was capable of.  It was truly a blessing!

Every day can bring us a new adventure, an opportunity to reframe how we look at ourselves, our circumstance, our world.  I wish for you many happy memories on your journeys!! 🙂

Hot Cocoa Therapy

When a cup of hot cocoa and a random act of kindness work together to warm your heart…

I have mentioned in previous posts that depression an I have a rocky relationship, its like a sneaky shadow ninja that lurks around the periphery of my little world.  Once it can find some small crack to bleed through, it latches on to dim not just the sun, but the moon and stars too.  I’ve gotten better at sensing the infiltration, repairing the cracks, and lighting candles to combat the darkness.  Just like all of us, I’m a work in progress.

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Holidays can be particularly difficult.  Last Christmas season I had to talk to my children about how it was going to be a pretty lean time, and that under the tree wouldn’t look all that impressive.  My kids are wonderful, it didn’t matter to them, they were just excited that we would be able to wake up together and have a special breakfast.  Their total acceptance and support of me was both one of my proudest parenting moments and heart shattering.  And I felt the crack.  And it was a big one.  Damn ninja didn’t even have to sneak in this time.

The kids left for their biweekly long weekend with their dad, leaving me with great big hugs and kisses and I shut down for 4 of the next 5 days.  I became a virtual recluse, except for taking out Chassis for his daily walks, I isolated myself.  Shades closed, curtains drawn. Only went off the property to get groceries.  I just couldn’t handle the “Christmas Spirit” with its bows, pretty papers, and songs feeling like I was failing at it all.

By Sunday I knew I had to readjust, had to  mine for that silver lining.  I wasn’t really sure

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of the plan, but I knew I needed to get out of my house and out of my head for a bit.  So I decided I would head down to Saratoga Springs and walk the shops, if nothing else Broadway is a beautiful walk and I could treat myself to a hot cocoa with the $20 I had in my pocket.

It felt good to be outside in the fresh air.  It actually felt good to be surrounded by people and the entire vibe was happy, and I drank it in.  As I walked I noticed a young man leaning against the kitchen exhaust fan of one of the popular restaurants.  I smiled at him, thinking as the wind blew, what a brilliant place to stand to warm up.  I continued my meandering and window shopping, every step chasing that nasty little ninja from the recesses of my mind.  I stopped to warm up with a hot cocoa after finding a perfect little ornament for my mom.  I had found that acceptance of the situation, I had a plan, I found my center again.  I thought that was my silver lining.  But the Universe presented me with a far greater gift…

As I made my way back to the car, I noticed the same young man standing in the same spot.  Now, my mama bear hackles were raised.  Why was this kid still there?  It was cold, windy.  And he had to be cold, which made me cold.  As I crossed the street, I made a beeline for him.  When I started to speak, he looked up in alarm, until he heard the question.  “Hey there, you look pretty cold out here.  How about we go find a spot to go get a hot cocoa and warm up?”  I think it took him a full 30 seconds to reply, he kind of looked at me like I had 3 heads.  When I offered up the place I had just been, he actually asked if it was OK to go somewhere closer.  His eyes sparkled like my kids do when they beg for a stop at Krispy Kreme on our travels as he described how this place had these flavor shots you could add that make the absolute best tasting drink.  “If its OK, could I please get that? Its OK if you say no, they are just so good”.

The sparkle and smile transformed his face, that scruffy, slightly dirty, sad man returned to the boy he really was, probably 19 or 20.  So excited about a simple treat!  This young man had no idea what a gift he’d just given me, that genuine joy not only beat that nasty little ninja but sealed the crack!  Now to enjoy this. I smiled, weaved my arm into his as we crossed the street and said “Order anything you want, I have it covered!”

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The looks we got as we entered the cafe arm in arm were priceless.  My new friend offered to pull away, but I held steady.  His head dropped as we went to place our order and everyone stared.  The first question was “Eat in or To Go?” and I answered eat in *collective gasp* His head pops up, he looks me in the eye and smiles.  The cashier gives me a smile.  Then the cashier asked for the order.  “My friend is cold and thirsty, but he just loves your cocoa here.  Go ahead and tell them EXACTLY how you want it sweets.  And make sure you grab him a pastry, too (my new friend starts to protest) If he won’t choose one himself, pick the most expensive.”

“This is too much” my new friend whispers.  “Wish I could do more” I whisper back.  He picks out a pastry, gets his cocoa just like he wanted.  Watching him take that first sip was beautiful, he was in bliss.  I get him to a table, give him a hug and whisper God Bless.

I have looked for him on return visits.  Have not seen him around, but have heard that he is doing ok still.  I spent less that $5 on his snack, but what he gave me back that day is more than he will ever know.  The opportunity to offer compassion, dignity, recognition made ME feel whole and fulfilled, and all I really did for him was fill his belly and give him a legitimate reason to be inside and get warm.  His bliss over that hot cocoa is one of the candles I keep lit to combat the darkness, and I am forever grateful he allowed me to buy him a cup!

I think sometimes we forget that in helping others, we help ourselves.  We are a species meant to be connected, and today as you take the time to finish reading this, know that I am sending you a healing thought, a big smile, and a hug!  Blessings to you all, friends! 🙂

 

The Scent of a Memory

Have you ever noticed that certain smells have that way of evoking a memory so powerfully that you feel as if you have transported right back into that moment?

I love the smell of coffee.

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It conjures up images of me standing on a chair “helping” my mom set up, fill, and percolate the coffee on the stove.  Not sure if you remember, but that was pretty technical (and it was glass!) for a little one to be helping with, so it was kind of a big deal  😉  Watching as the water bubbled up that tube inside and erupted over the grounds to turn from colorless and clear to that dark, rich brown was fascinating.  And as the color turned darker, the coffee smell grew stronger.  Probably where that love of science had its start.  It was exciting to be a help in the morning, a sign that I was growing up, and I held great pride in that.

Too bad I can’t stand the taste of it.

Not that my Gramma Rose didn’t try to remedy that situation.  We would visit Rosie every day “for coffee”.  Mom and Rosie would sit at the kitchen table and us kids would do our best to drive them nuts running in and out of the house between bike riding, playing on the swings, and trampling up the stairs to make a mess of the playroom.  When I got old enough to sit still, Rosie invited me to join them at the table and have my own cup of coffee: warm milk, tablespoons of sugar, and just enough coffee to make it turn color.  Because it was for Rose, and it meant that I got to spend more time with her, I would drink my “Rose Coffee” while snacking on saltines, talking about my day, and learning to play Rummy.

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Every time we walk into a coffee shop or a bakery, that first big intake of breath brings me back to those moments, just for an instant.  They help fuel my Happy.

Have you ever noticed that certain smells have that way of evoking an emotional response or a memory so powerfully that you feel as if you have transported right back into that moment?  Like getting that heady feel from putting on your boyfriend’s sweatshirt and being not just swallowed up in the warmth of it, but in the smell of him?  Well, its not just a phenomenon experienced by you.  Turns out that through some pretty interesting biology, we are actually wired for this emotional response. “Incoming smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain. The olfactory bulb has direct connections to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory:  the amygdala and hippocampus. Interestingly, visual, auditory (sound), and tactile (touch) information do not pass through these brain areas. This may be why olfaction, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories.” (Jordan Gaines Lewis, PhD)  There are smells that are pretty universal in revolting us or causing a flight response, such as the smell of rotting food or smoke.  One can see how they would be useful in keeping us out of danger.

Where we luck out in this quirk of biology is that it can help us link back to some of those

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Garlic Scape, Colgan Farm
powerful, happy moments.  The smell of garlic and motor oil reminds me of my Grampa because he ate it every day and was constantly tinkering on engines; my Gramma Mary had a powder she used that I swear I smell out of the blue and suddenly I am sitting with her at the piano singing “On Top of Spaghetti” as we giggle away; I bring a blanket when I visit my parents just so I can bring it back to snuggle in the smell of home.  The kids and I have gone out on candle sniffing missions to find the one that reminds us most of my sister’s home, because we miss being close to her.

Scent has even been incorporated into various treatments. Probably most well known for treating stress and anxiety, aromatherapy has also been shown to help supplement treatment of depression and insomnia, control pain and help with nausea among other things.    I have used a bit of aromatherapy in dealing with my anxiety issues. Lavender is a favorite, I also like rose and cedar too, just to name a few.

Because there is such a deep connection between our sense of smell and our emotions, smell becomes another way that we can help create that atmosphere that makes our Happy feel at home.

May your memories, old and new, smell amazing! 🙂

“Averaging” Your Happy

I started paying attention a whole lot more closely to those I interacted with, realizing that I had allowed a lot of people to come into my little world and really bring down my “Happy Average”

I read once that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  Can that really be true?   That was was a pretty sobering idea at the time; I was in a particularly stressful job situation (though many of my coworkers were lovely), I was mired knee deep, and still sinking, in a custody battle, and other than my beautiful babies, the truth was that those who would filled the other two slots in my average were not really happy, nor positive, folks.

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Maggie’s Trinity Selfie
My three kids are my world, they bring me so much peace and joy among their chaos and I know that they look to me to steer their own internal moods.  So that five people average really scared me.  I started paying attention a whole lot more closely to those I interacted with, realizing that I had allowed a lot of people to come into my little world and really bring down my “Happy Average”, but I really hadn’t quite figured out what to do with that knowledge yet.  But, the first step is admitting there is an issue, right?  So, I was on my way to figuring this out… and then my little world blew apart.  An incident at work left me without the ability to continue in that capacity, leaving me as a shell of my former self.   I gathered my children, my sister, and my one friend close and closed down.  For a quite a while.

I began counseling and was diagnosed with PTSD, not only for that current incident but it turns out that I had lived with it from the issues in my past.  One of the things that my counselor and I discussed was this whole idea of the average.  My fear at that point (I was really good at coming up with a list of them, but this was weighing heavy on my mind) was that was that I would allow my current fears and angers to sully my children’s chance for happiness.  He reminded me that I had a choice in who I allowed into my inner circle, that 5 was not a magic number, but a rule of thumb, and that being happy is a chosen response. This gave me back a piece of hope; I could make changes and rise again like a Phoenix as I regained myself.   I’d found my silver lining.

As I have progressed in my healing (an ongoing process, to be sure), I have realized that the “average” can be in flux daily, weekly, monthly.  I have learned to keep track of how I react to different personalities, those that I feel comfortable with and those that, for one reason or another, grate on me.   I may like someone, but if I need to limit time with them, I do.  Protect your happy.  When you do find those people, places, experiences that bring

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Beach combing for a silver lining

you joy, be sure to average them in, increase that happy for yourself.

I am learning to build those healthy boundaries now, and my experiences have provided lessons for my children.  Together we have reframed our outlook to search for the silver linings, seek the adventure in adversity, and ferret out the joy in each experience.  As I have extended out my circle to bring in new perspectives and new joys, so have my children.  In a quest to create the list of my best 5, I ended up creating a more whole, well rounded version of myself.

So, in honor of school staring here tomorrow, welcome back to math class … Happy Averaging!! 😉

Negative Addiction

While doing some research this morning, I came upon some stuff that kind of has my mind wandering a path of thought provocation.

Last week in the blog post ADDICTIONS, we discussed the power of getting addicted and perpetuating negative emotions and focusing on the destination.

I want to expand a little on that Addiction to Negativity. Let’s put a reason behind why it’s so simple and easy for us to fall into that cycle.

According to psychology research, we are genetically and historically predispositioned to focus on those pinpoints of negativity. Why? Those negative emotion moments are our armor of protection. We wouldn’t want to be in a daze of serendipitous bliss and contentment standing in the middle of a highway, ultimately getting plowed down by a semi truck.

While negative emotions have usefulness, their power is exploited daily. It’s is our news stories because if it “bleeds, it reads” and in politics. It’s what sells! Take a break for a second. Go pull up your social media outlet, click on one news page. In the last ten posts, how many are positive, upbeat and uplifting? 

Take a look at what your friends are posting. Are they negative, inflammatory and full of negativity? 

We are surrounded by addicts. How we view this is up to us. We can either survive in the moment or we can thrive and inspire.

Breaking the addiction to negativity is going to take a little work and some serious mental power. We can’t change the world all at once but we can change the world one person at a time… Starting with ourselves!

Negativity is a society accepted heroin. It’s a drug that perpetually draws us deeper into a closed world. Now, what if you realized that there was more positivity (aka sober moments) in your day that negativity?

There’s the old adage “the good outweighs the bad” and it’s still true. We have much to be looking out for. It just takes a little bit to wean ourselves from the negativity addiction. 

First we need a positive emotion to focus on. That’s part of the reason we decided to host a 30 days of happiness for the month of September on our Facebook page. 

In the meantime, let’s talk positive emotions. The top ten (one being the most frequent) are:

  1. Joy
  2. Gratitude
  3. Serenity
  4. Interest
  5. Hope
  6. Pride
  7. Amusement
  8. Inspiration 
  9. Awe
  10. Love

If I asked you to create a portfolio based off one of those emotions, what would you include? Who’s photos or letters would be in there? Where would those photos be taken? What moments would you share?

If I asked you each day to add one moment of your day into a memory jar, what would it be?

I’ll have more on these topics in detail soon in future posts based off my research notes. The key points to breaking the negativity addiction is that you need to be actively involved and seeking the positive moments.

Positive Psycology isn’t a spectator sport. You have to get in the game and experience it for yourself.

Christopher Peterson 

Addictions 

Today I want to talk about addictions. No, not to drugs or alcohol but, emotional and verbal addictions.


When you talk to your BFF or your spouse, do you talk about the happiness and joys or do you vent?

I’ve done it myself. You fall into the spiral where this is wrong or that’s upsetting. Next thing you know you are on a bitch fest that lasts a week and every topic that makes you emotional in a negative way takes over your head, mouth and attitude.

I’ve been talking lately about just how bad that’s gotten with a great deal of people I talk to. Whining about poor financial situations, complaining about unrequited love, and to top it all off political bickering.

Where has all the conversation gone about things like I’m so proud of my kid or a kid saying how awesome a night at the movies was? How about how great a persons job is or how cool a new gadget is? How about the blessing of lifelong friends? Anything! (Insert crickets chirping here)

Facebook kindly gives a “today in memories” now. I go through mine on a regular basis to see how far I’ve come professionally. You can always tell when I had a bad day or I was frustrated about something. The posts express it. Don’t we all try to just connect? Expressing the negativity is more of an outlet to me to have someone, anyone tell me that it’s going to be okay. That the sun will still rise tomorrow and that this too shall pass.

But is it bringing me joy and happiness? To know I have positive friends yes! But is it helping ME? Not really!!!! Why?

It’s not helping because I’m not really solving anything and I’m sharing my misery with others. Sure I get comments that are positive but they only pat me on the back, give me a hug and don’t offer a solution.

What if I reworded negative phrases from “Today was miserable. Nothing is going right.” to “Today was a real challenge. I’m going to recharge tonight and try again tomorrow.”? The pattern of speech goes from miserable to optimistic. 

Here’s the next addiction:

Happiness isn’t found at the end of the journey, it’s found in the journey. Happiness is the Thelma to your Louise! It’s sitting right there next to you, stop ignoring it and giving it the silent treatment because today didn’t meet your expectations.

Who cares about money and status, fame and glory? I know public figures and let’s just say I’ve witness the misery of microphones being shoved in your face and cameras constantly pointed at you. Money and fame come with its own set of massively negative, over scrutinized moments.

One thing these people have taught me is the pure joy in being IN the moment. It might be a quiet day with friends at home to pulling pranks on that same group. It’s about sharing what you do have with others in the moment. It might be laughing at yourself over some stupid picture from almost a year ago.

Make a pact with yourself, for yourself to break these addictions. Stop taking the misery train. Stop thinking about the destination. Enjoy the moment my friends!

Gratitude and Happiness

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Let’s talk for a few about Gratitude and Happiness.

Why is gratitude an important part of every day life?

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

I’m sure many of you will look at that work thankful and automatically think of thanksgiving. Why do most of us save that for one day a year?

We are running an experiment is showing gratitude, thankfulness and appreciation.


Photo from BoHo Berry on Bullet Jounaling

Here are some ideas on how to participate:

  1. During evening meals, write down something you are grateful or thankful for each day in a journal.
  2. Write a list of things you like about someone else and share it as a demonstration of appreciation.
  3. Share pictures daily of something each day you are thankful for.
  4. Pay it forward
  5. Listen to others
  6. Write down one sentence a day for what you are grateful for in yourself


Photo by Writing Bravely on Instagram 

Let’s use the hashtag #inspirationalgratitude for social media posts so we can all inspire others to join along.

Where does happiness tag into all this?

“People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune system.”  A favorite quote from Happify in an article titled, The Science Behind Gratitude.

The basic thing we are doing in our daily expressions in gratitude is generating a Happy Journal. Happiness jounaling is a great way to express our gratitude and our thanks.

There are many blogs that have prompts to get you going and to start you on your way!


Photo by Pepper and Twine on Tumblr 

There are no limits to the how you share your gratitude and happiness. It doesn’t even need to be daily, even once a month is a great place to start. Give yourself 5 minutes. That’s all it will take.

Photo provided by heartistic.jess on Intragram
What’s your #inspirationalgratitude today?