Tag Archives: happy

Breathe and Stay in Gratitude

Sometimes my life knows what I need before I do.  Does anyone else experience this?

The idea of breathing (ha, that just sounds funny because everyone breathes all the time) came to me when I started yoga.  I decided to take a stab at getting healthy and being more active.  That led to me trying yoga.  I was going to be that hot chick… that trendy hot chick with a rocking body.  No idea what really prompted me to try it but it completely saved me.  So like I started this weekly yoga thing and the first class kicked my ass.  I sucked at yoga.  I was incredibly uncomfortable and a few times I had to excuse myself from the torture and take a break.  I’m surprised an ambulance wasn’t put on stand-by that night.  I was a complete liability to myself, those around me and the studio.  Okay, okay… I’m exaggerating. It was ugly though and harder than I ever could have imagined.

But I did it.  I totally got through the class.  Being on a health kick and trying to push myself, I kept at it.  I went back every Monday night.  I still go every Monday night and I’m looking to potentially add a second night of torture to my week now.  But yoga became more to me as I began to face some challenges.  I went through some relationship issues with an on-again-off-again guy that shook me to the core.  It forced me to sit with years of lies, self-doubt, negative self-talk, and all that good stuff.  There were lots of tears and I immediately shoved myself back into therapy with the best therapist on the planet (I truly believe this).

My Monday nights at yoga left me feeling accomplished.  I continued to improve and really dug deep to push myself.  At the end of yoga, there’s always this quiet time to lay and reflect-there is a technical term for this but I have no idea what it’s called.  During this time I would give myself the best pep talks.  Like, “Look at you, Britta.  You’re doing it.” It felt so good!  It felt so right!  This helped me gain confidence and a new perspective.  Instead of chasing after feelings and trying to make something work, I began building what I wanted.  I began constructing the Britta I knew was always there.  I dusted her off and proved that her spirit and drive are constants (and very much alive).

What does breathing and gratitude have to do with all of this?  Yoga forces you to really focus on the breath.  If you can control your breath, you can control anything.  Remarkable!  This isn’t exactly new to me but it hit me in a new way.  As I find myself being overwhelmed and anxious, I turn to my breath and really stay in the moment.  As I hold a particularly hard pose in yoga, I turn to my breath and push through.  Nothing is constant.  There’s nothing that I can’t move through with a clear and focused mind.  Just breathe.  Also, my yoga instructor always reminds the class that the poses don’t start until you’re uncomfortable.  Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.  Remarkable!  It’s what was going on with me and it was a road map to pull my butt out of where it was.  I began to live again.

I threw in gratitude because I’m still keeping my gratitude journal.  Despite what I’m going through or how busy I am, I still dedicate a portion of my day to express gratitude.  It helps keep things in perspective.  I’ve built a few amazing practices into my life because they make me better.  Stress and anxiety aren’t necessities.  They don’t prepare me or force me to get more done.  Taking focused steps will and that takes breathing and appreciating everything around me.

 

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I don’t believe in an interventionist god…

I did something today that I haven’t done since sometime in the late 90’s (ugh, am I really that old).  I went to church.  No, I wasn’t invited to a wedding and no, no one died.  I just went to church like so many do on Sundays.  My amazing mom-mom is very involved with the church and she has mentioned on several occasions that she brags about her family to her friends there but she never gets to show us off.  In realizing that I need to get more time in with her because: #1 she’s just an incredible soul and #2 neither of us are getting any younger–I decided to offer up one of my Sunday mornings to prove to her fellow church goers that she does, indeed, have a family.

My mom-mom’s face lit up when I met her in the parking lot.  I was up at 7:55am and made sure my makeup was done because I knew I’d be shaking a ton of hands.  I couldn’t have been prouder of my mom-mom.  She’s a total social butterfly.  It’s like I dare you to meet her and not think she’s adorable.  She has a certain charm about her that lights up a room.  She’s funny and she has this ability to slow down life and just be thankful.  It’s remarkable.  As we moved through the church to our pew I was met by so many “good mornings” and smiles.  More importantly, I was met by so many people who had glowing things to say about my mom-mom.  I know how awesome she is, but it was nice to hear she’s touching the lives of so many around her.  I felt both honored to be with her and challenged to start living more like she lives.

I don’t believe in an interventionist god (thanks for the song lyrics, Nick Cave) but I believe in love.  I don’t pray.  I don’t go to church.  But I do believe we’re all connected.  I believe that all humans should be dedicated to that connection.  If we occupy ourselves with cultivating love, understanding, and a deeper appreciation for beauty than we don’t need to believe that some old dude in the sky will answer our prayers.  We won’t need to believe that heaven and hell exist.  We won’t need to live a life to prove our worthiness for the best possible afterlife.  Right?  Just like my mom-mom is doing… connect with those around you and leave them better for it.  It seems simple.  I believe it is and I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Will I go back to church?  I’ll go back to hang out with her for sure.  She’s a cool chick and these memories will always be with me.  But aside from that, I think I’d like to go back.  (Yes, I just admitted that I’d like to go to church.)  I don’t know about the whole worship thing.  It’s foreign to me.  The saints and the holy trinity and such are a little far fetched.  But the congregation coming together to be one and to celebrate life is truly inspiring.  I’ve suffered an extreme lack of connection over the years and this might be a great way for me to climb back into the arena.

Sundays are typically rough for me.  I don’t feel that way today though.  I truly feel grateful for everything that has been and is in my life.  I feel fortunate to have friends and family.  I’m also fortunate to be able to feel connected and to know the benefits of striving to connect.

Personal Revolution

I’m not the first human being during these era to wake up and truly believe that there must be more to life… amirite?  For myself, I feel like I go through these cycles.  Things are going great.  Things are not going so great.  Things need to be torched to the ground so I can start over.  Things are getting better.  Things are going great.  Things are not going so great.  And repeat.

Maybe the torch thing is a bit dramatic for a 35 year old woman.

But the cycles keep going and it’s like I’m constantly on the prowl to figure out how to stop it and witness sustained long-term progress.  It’s been a favorite subject of mine in both my written (yes, still handwritten) journal and in my therapy sessions.  Typically I’m searching my life for a culprit or a knight in shining armor.  Every now and then, like a good little therapy attender, I look inward and start to take stock of what is really going on inside.  Both looking outward and inward for a cause or a catalyst come with traps, right?

The outward-looking trap is quite obvious… no one and nothing other than yourself will propel you to that life of sustained progress.  It’s not possible.  The perfect mate, the amazing job, financial security, supportive family, and whatever other external factors people dump into the “if only I had this, I’d be happy” category are all nice, but they do little to affect the internal barometer of success.

The inward-looking trap isn’t quite as obvious (for me, anyway).  I tend to cycle through my childhood, poor decisions, bad things that have happened to me, my failures, and all the ways I’m not measuring up to the person I believe I am.  So I get stuck there analyzing segments over and over again with no resolution.  I’m merely providing an avenue to give everything that’s wrong a stronger voice.  In many ways, I’m allowing the universe to kick more of the same my way because that’s what I’m drawing attention to, right?

So… the outward and inward approaches aren’t working.  What’s next?  Let a professional handle it.  I’m extremely fortunate to work with an incredible psychologist.  He has a phenomenal skill set and continues to push me in the best possible ways.  The issues I’m facing are deep and I’ve done everything I can to suppress my feelings and their real effects on my life.  Sure, I can meditate.  I can do yoga.  I can say positive affirmations during the day.  I can work to stop the negative chatter in my head.  I can smile more.  I can approach work with a confident attitude.  But these are the small changes.  This are mainly superficial.  It’s the underlying layer that needs the real work.

What does that mean?  How do I get there?  And more importantly, what do I do with it when I arrive?

I don’t know.  I’ve lived for many years by not showing up and certainly not taking any accountability for the path I’m on.  Substance abuse allows one to hit the reset button over and over.  It allowed me to reassign the blame.  I passed the guilt onto alcohol.  I checked out and decided that not feeling was more important that feeling anything negative.  And so here I am… I feel like an infant all over again.  I need to learn how to navigate the world around me but unlike an infant, I also need to learn how to navigate the past that haunts me–that underlying layer that has constructed this escape.

I’m terrified.  Being terrified is a feeling though, right?  I’ll start with that.

Our World is Completely Pliable

As a kid I remember trying to influence the world with my mind.  I was convinced that if I focused hard enough and if my will was strong enough I could make red lights turn green, or see an inanimate object move.  My powers were real and they were limitless.  I also had a crazy notion that you would know who your true love was because they would breathe at the same rate as you–which led to me being out of breath quite a few times as I tried to force myself to breathe at the same rate as a few boys.  It’s like the world is yours until you learn otherwise.  And that’s quite sad.  I miss feeling that connected, that in control of my surroundings.

Where does this come from?  As kids, we have less responsibilities and maybe more freedom to see the world in that light?  I think that has something to do with it.  I know I’ve definitely experienced more disappointment, more setbacks, more complications, and more examples of things not working out for the best and perhaps I’ve let that cloud my optimism.  That’s very possible.

There’s another piece of the puzzle here that I’m fortunate enough to have stumbled upon about 6 years ago.  Having someone in your life that sees the world as you do–this pliable, vibrant, reactive universe–is key in maintaining and growing that vision.  Growing up I was a little different, the black sheep if you will.  Often I would hear things like, “why can’t you just be happy with what you have,” and ” the world doesn’t revolve around you.”  That’s not the right messaging and it certainly doesn’t open me up to feel more and expect more.  But our parents all do the best that they can, right?  And I’m a firm believer that we choose our parents before birth for a reason so there must be a significant reason why I was paired with my mom and dad.  It’s easy for me to place blame.  I’m sad and miserable and disconnected because they want me that way.  Wah wah wah wah… but I need to be better than that.

Where is this all leading…

A little over 6 years ago I met my soulmate.  He’s my epipsyche.  How did I know?  Simple.  My flexible, pliable, connected world came back to me with more vividness, boldness, color, and possibilities than I had ever known before.  He shares my vision and encourages it with every word he speaks.  Not everyone finds this.  I am extremely grateful to have someone who gives me hope, is always patient, and truly loves me (both the good and the bad).  My world changes completely when he is near me.  I see things through a clearer focus.  Colors are more vibrant.  It’s like I’m tapped into the universe and limitations cease to exist.

I’m still a slave to the 9-5.  I still have bills to pay.  I still have the troubles of being a single parent.  I still have all of this.  But at least there are moments of pure magic in my life again.  He and I recently decided to get back together–timing is a bitch!  I couldn’t be happier.

I am not perfect.

It doesn’t happen often but I guess it happens often enough for me to keep doing it.  My journal reads just like my 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th (you get the point) grade journals.  The same themes and issues pop up and really it’s where my thoughts on boys and the daily grind of life go to die.  But I keep at it, trudge through, because every now and then I have wonderful insights… this happened just this past Saturday night.

I was enjoying a fabulous single-mom night in and I took to the page and scribbled a ton of ink down. I was borderline manic.  I penned the line, “I am not perfect,” and was like an epiphany.  Simple, right?  I don’t think anyone believes they are perfect.  I certainly don’t.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still judge and hold myself to the standards of perfection.  I think that’s part of the guilt I wrote about recently and the standards we hold ourselves to as humans.  I don’t spend a lot of time admitting to my downfalls though and it’s not the most comfortable thing to lay down on paper–I can assure you that.

But that one line hit me like a ton of bricks.  I am not perfect.  In that one line I found myself holding myself in a place of tenderness.  I don’t do that very often.  I saw myself as a work in progress.  From there I could forgive and move past a few things.  I didn’t have all the answers and it was okay because I’m not perfect.  I wanted to run to the mirror and tell the girl in it that she was more than okay, that she was good.  I chickened out of the mirror part but I need to do that.  Saying things to yourself in the mirror is frightening but so f’n worth it.

That one sentence saved me in ways.  I combed through the past year.  It was a really tough year.  I walked away from a relationship that hurt me.  Sure, I told myself not to blame myself but I held some blame.  I was lied to, betrayed to in major ways, and found myself living a life of pure worry and anxiety.  I’m not perfect though and either is my journey.  It’s been that way for a long time but I’m okay.  So the revised sentence because, I’m not perfect and that’s okay.  My journey will never be perfect.  I was able to then look back at my life and celebrate my successes.  And giving myself some breathing room will allow me the space to cultivate more successes.  I can taste it.

I can’t control everything.  Now that I don’t have the worry of my past relationship I need a new way of building.  That got me thinking.  I’ve spent  a few years reacting and making decisions because I needed to make them.  I lost focus while on the defense.  That’s not what life should feel like, right?  So, it’s time to climb back into my imperfect skin and get down to Britta Business!  Let’s look at life through the Britta lens and make decisions from there.  I won’t be perfect.  Life will send me obstacles.  I will be hurt again.  I might fail.  But if I’m always perfectly Britta, I’ll be a better person because of those trials.

With fall comes Homecoming, right?  Fitting.

That giddy butterfly type of energy…

My commute consisted of:

  1. Tons of smiles
  2. Car windows rolled all the way down
  3. Singing Gin Blossoms at the top of my lungs

I had one of those awesome mornings where I’m just excited to be alive.

I had an amazing conversation with a new friend about art late last night.  The type of conversation that makes my heart smile.  The type of subjects that force me to feel my heart beat again.  It’s like some things just remind you–in a crystal clear way–why you’re here, why WE are here.  It was beautiful and set the stage for a beautiful day today (even if the soundtrack was the Gin Blossoms.