The Peace in Being

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The Peace in Being

My eyes change color.  To date, I have never found out what color my eyes are, to my satisfaction.  They change even to me.  Growing up, I was told they were Hazel.  I didn’t understand.  What color is hazel?  I still haven’t found a satisfactory definition or picture of Hazel.  “Greenish/light color with flecks of gold or brown.”  Really?  How ambiguous is that?  Lately, people have told me “I always thought you had blue eyes.”  My husband says they’re grey most of the time.

Chameleon eyes is what I’ve started calling them. I did a scrapbook layout on that once.  When people ask me what color my eyes are, I now say, “I don’t know.  What color do they look like to you?”  Fascinating answers, I tell you.

If the eyes are the window to your soul, then I suppose my soul is ever changing too.  I started thinking of this recently.  Maybe my soul isn’t ever-changing, but instead, I’m trying to change it to be what (insert reason) “says so”.  I should be “this” because my friends say so.  No, I should be “that” because my family thinks it’s best or “normal”.  Nah… society says you have to do or be “these things”.  EVERYONE is prey to this way of thinking.  And some people are comfortable being there.

I’m not.

I remember graduating college… oooooh so long ago (sad panda).  I was sitting on the back deck of my father’s house and I said I wanted to be back in college, where I could “be free”.  He got a little gruff (I assume from parental frustration and the prevalent thought when you’re older of “kids today!” – I’m guilty of that now too) and said to me, “you’ll never be free like that again.”   He went on to line up his fingers and list off the responsibilities of being an adult that counteract the “freedom” of being a college student.  I remember saying that what he was saying was not what I meant… that I did manage my money, and I did hold down a job while in college, and I did live up to the responsibilities of being an (albeit young) adult, even when I was in college.  But I couldn’t formulate the thought in my head to better explain what I meant by wanting to “be free”.

I spent the next two decades being what I was “supposed to” be.  A good worker.  A good friend.  A productive and contributing member to society.  A good stepmom.  A good wife.  A good pet owner.  A good neighbor.  A good salesperson.  And so on.  And my anxiety built.  And my depression deepened.  And my chameleon nature started to feel “less than”.  I knew I COULD be all of those things… but that wasn’t all that I was.  Somewhere in all of those years, I forgot what it was to Be Me.  And (light bulb) THAT is what I was trying to convey to my dad all those years ago.

In college, away from my home town, away from my family and childhood friends who had come to know the person I “should be” (that student who excelled, the nice girl, the good girl, etc.) I was able to stretch out my wings – even just a little – into the world that I knew was out there.  Oh, there were a lot of “bad” things too, but my eyes were opened then to an amazing world of people who were who they were – societal and social expectations be damned.  Those people brought magic into my world… literally and figuratively.

Over the past year, my life has been changing rapidly.  On the surface, I suppose it doesn’t look like it has changed much.  But inside of me – wow!  I’m slowly allowing… even encouraging…myself to Be Me.  I know it sounds weird… I mean, who are you if you’re not you?  But there has been so much settling… burying…unrealistic compromises going on that somewhere along the lines I lost who I was just beginning to find and understand back in my college years.  I’m so glad she’s still in me.  And she’s ready to shine.  And to fly.  And to be the magical person she was meant to be.

There really is peace in that.

fairy butterfly

WHOOOSH!

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There goes two months! No… wait… THREE!

Time does fly when you’re having fun, right?  Or is that saying, time flies when you don’t know what you’re doing?  Weeeelllll…. I guess it’s a little bit of both, mixed in with a really long bout of illness.

QUICK catch up.  I adopted two beautiful boys.  Four-legged boys.  They arrived in our house on March 1st and life hasn’t been the same since.

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Meet Loki (left/’blonde’) and Thor (right/’brunette’)

Of course, I got sick on March 2nd which totally threw a wrench in the works with two pups… and I’m STILL recovering.  Whatever had me in its clutches was not a willing participant in letting me go.  It started with flu like symptoms, which morphed into massive coughing, which didn’t go away and  when I cough… I COUGH.  So, eventually, I hurt myself coughing (ripped or strained muscle fibers between my ribs).  Doc put me on a second round of antibiotics in case it was bronchitis still hovering over me.  Weeeellll…. five days of those antibiotics nearly toasted my knees!  Yep, I got a side-effect that caused tendinitis.  I’m still… two weeks later… still having a tiny bit of tension and pain in one of my knees but I’m FINALLY starting to feel normal again.

In the middle of all of that, The Hubs got the same sickness and, well, let’s just say that I don’t remember a whole lot of March.

Anyhoo… I wanted to take a minute and reacquaint myself and remind myself how much I love sharing here.  However, as I currently feel like a piece of pie split into too many portions, I still make no promises on posting frequently.

In the meantime, if you are a pup lover… join the Adventures of Thor and Loki over on Facebook.  Their page is public, so as long as you are a member of Facebook, you should be able to “like” their page and see ALL of their antics and adventures.  Truly fun, they are.  And… well… PAINS in the YOU KNOW WHAT!  When does puppy stage end?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Back again soon!  Mwah!

#whynot

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#whynot

So… I thought I had settled on my One Little Word (OLW) for 2015 back in December.  I even wrote it in my January Calendar.  FOCUS. People around me, without my mentioning my OLW, started telling me their OLW.  First, D said it, “I think I’m going to really FOCUS this year”. (She didn’t really know about OLW, so I told her and she settled immediately on that.)  Then, C said, “I’ve picked my OLW… it’s Focus.” Interesting… everyone is big on focusing.  I continued to ponder.  I hadn’t felt “grabbed” by the word, but it was definitely something I felt I needed more of.  Focus.  I needed to focus on plans, on work, on future, on health.  So, I settled comfortably, but not excitedly, in sharing this OLW with my friends.

Then I attended a fabulous event – an Epiphany party – where this fabulous group of women discussed the OLW movement (some of us had already heard and participated, and some had not so it was a new concept to explore).  As we talked about it and people shared possibilities for themselves, my brain kept whispering to me… are you sure Focus is your OLW?

That was enough to get me to stop and reconsider.  OLW shouldn’t be forced, in my opinion.  It should speak to you.  Grab your heart.  That’s not to say that it will be an easy task to keep that OLW at the forefront of your life for a year, but it should be something that feels just… right. The years where I have “forced” a OLW were not as successful as I’d hoped, if successful at all, in living up to the OLW directive.  Other years, where I have been grabbed by a OLW, have been fabulous years with regard to that OLW.

So I let it sit and simmer.  I traveled across the country and back.  Visited some very wise women on both sides of the country who are actively making their dreams come true.  I began to realize that I really had FOCUSED on myself in 2014 and so it felt like I was already doing this.  Other words began to bubble up to the surface.  Words that expressed things that I am embracing… magic, possibility, boundaries, achievements, stumbling, redirection.  But the one thing that kept popping up… over and over and over… were two words:  why not?

“I can’t…” is something that is often circling in my head.  Put there by Negative Nellie (or whomever that voice is at the time), I have limited myself over and over again.  Lately, another voice has popped up.  Only two words ever comes up… “why not?”

Yeah, why not?   Seriously, Why NOT?  “I cannot lose weight.”  Why not?  “I can’t be successful in a creative industry.”  Why not?  “I can’t climb a rock wall.”  Why not?  “I can’t participate in paint gun tag.”  Why not?

Last night, at an amazing class I’m taking with nine other fabulous women, called You Time, we once again talked about OLW.  I mentioned I had thought mine was going to be Focus but now I was moving toward something else… something like, “why not?”  I asked their help in finding one word that conveyed this message. And someone said, “why can’t it be #whynot?  A hashtag makes everything one word.”

A brief period of stunned silence and then I thought.  “Yeah.  So… #whynot?”

A Wizard in a Muggle World

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A Wizard in a Muggle World

Harry Potter fans know what that topic header means.  I have to be honest, I didn’t read the whole Harry Potter series.  I have a hard time continuing a series that hasn’t been completed yet.  I get done with the books that have been published and if I have to wait longer than a month for the next piece, I lost interest and move on.  I haven’t been back.

But the analogy is apt.

I’m working toward someday residing in the wizardly world, but for now, I must be content to visit it in brief, but glorious, moments in time.

I know many of you out there are like me – Creatives that are trapped in the responsibility of day-to-day obligations… you know, a job, paying bills, cleaning house, caring for a family.   Facebook is a dangerous place for me.  There are a lot of Creatives out there that do not, for whatever reason, need to hold down a traditional job, and thus, they share, Share, SHARE the hell out of what they are doing – creatively – throughout the day, week, month.  If I allowed myself, I’d have permanently changed to a deep shade of green out of envy.   For a while, it did trigger me… to see all of those talented people creating and sharing, and I just felt lost and left out and left behind.

I’m better now.  Someone said to me, once, when I expressed my envy, that she knew it must be “hard to be in a muggle world”.  And that has run around through my head ever since.  First, I thought I’d just give up that part of me, and I focused on other “jobs”.  But late last year I realized that I was even more miserable, despite the “opportunity” I had been chasing.  On a whim, I said “yes” to selling my handmade journals at a local vendor event – my first as a Creative, instead of a Muggle.  The response to my wares sent my heart to flight and I realized then and there, enough with the additional “Muggle Work”.

FF2CB2

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Making these, makes me happy.

Henceforth, while I still may NEED to work an 8-5 job (as an overly responsible, gotta pay the bills person), by making these, I could balance myself out with a little more dedicated Creative time.  (Next step:  create IN them.)

To be honest, I don’t look at other people’s art/creations much on Facebook anymore, simply because the Green-Eyed Monster still rears its ugly head.  It’s self-preservation, really.  But I met so many wonderful Creatives over the years, especially in 2014, that have or are currently transitioning from Muggle-land to the land of Wonder… that I feel hope that there are great things heading my way in the future.

No… I don’t Hope.

I Believe.

What happened to Enjoy the Ride Today?

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I used to blog over here.

Recently, I was reading through some old posts and realized how much of my life I had recorded. Truly missing that over the past two years, I decided to start up again. Enjoy the Ride Today is still (obviously) out there. But I’m not continuing my life’s journey there. I stopped enjoying THAT ride. Actually, I wasn’t enjoying any part of my life.

Around the time or soon after I stopped blogging there, I started seeing a therapist. I had a certain goal in mind. But as is ever the way of the Universe, in therapy we ended up traveling toward a different focus. Two different people in the position of medicine or therapy, on two very separate occasions, said the word “dysthymia” to me. It was a passing comment. They didn’t even latch on to it or elaborate. I had never heard this word before. Of course, my ever inquisitive mind had to go look it up. What is dysthymia?

The really long, involved definition of dysthymia is:

“…persistent mild depression.”

Huh. That’s a “huh” as in a “lightbulb” clicking on in my head.

Gru from Despicable Me and "Light Bulb"

People around me have told me to get treated for depression at random times over the years, but for the most part, I ignored them. I thought, “I’m not depressed, this is just WHO I AM.” I did my research (cuz I’m that kinda girl). I didn’t fit with “that” kind of depression. I wasn’t having difficulty crawling out of bed. I wasn’t sobbing day in and day out. I wasn’t eating more or less. I wasn’t sleeping more (or less). I had the same interest I ever had in the things I participated in through life. I didn’t contemplate suicide. I wasn’t aggressive or reckless. My sleep hadn’t changed.

I was functional. I was busy. I was productive. A person suffering from depression has serious symptoms that debilitate their everyday life.

I wasn’t “depressed”.

Then the “diagnosis” of dysthymia came along and rocked my world. While I had many of those symptoms of depression, what I didn’t have was severity of those symptoms. I did always feel sad or down (but I covered it by saying I was tired). I did feel tired or had a lack of energy (but I pushed through, because that’s what you’re supposed to do as busy and responsible person). Everyone who knows me would agree that I had low self-esteem, was constantly critical of myself and felt incapable of doing anything well (or as good as someone else). And I had constant feelings of guilt or worries over things that were in my past. The big difference was the length of time and the mild intensity in which I had felt this way. I realized, it had been most of my life. THIS is dysthymia.

“Dysthymia symptoms usually come and go over a period of years, and their intensity can change over time. But typically symptoms don’t disappear for more than two months at a time. In general, you may find it hard to be upbeat even on happy occasions — you may be described as having a gloomy personality… Because these feelings have gone on for such a long time, you may think they’ll always be part of your life.” (source)

Well, hello there! Let me introduce myself. I am Eeyore.

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I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t. For as long as I can remember, I simply thought that this was WHO I AM. I didn’t realize it was a “treatable thing”; a real form of depression. The reason I didn’t identify it as depression was because depression’s “symptoms” were always started with “change in…” or “change from…” My appetite had never changed for better or worse, because it had always “been”. I never stopped being “as interested” in my hobbies because I had never truly be interested in them in the first place. It was just something to pass the time. It was who I was. It was a fault inside myself, I thought. It was my personality. I was just “born this way”.

In my research (again, because I’m that kind-of girl), I found this site. I was floored when I read this:

Dysthymia also has some symptoms that may not occur with major depression. The hallmark of dysthymia is the length of time that it persists. In adults, dysthymia is diagnosed when the symptoms continue for two or more years; in children or teens, the symptoms last for a year or more. You probably won’t have the symptoms every day. You may feel good for a few days or even a month at a stretch, but the symptoms always come back. This particular characteristic of dysthymia contributes to the perception that this is “just the way I am.”

Isn’t that what I just said above? It’s just the way I am!

It was as if the heavens broke open and sunshine streamed down and angels played harps and choruses of beautiful voices were humming. Yeah, not really, but it was very validating!

Dysthymia itself, because it often goes untreated, creates perceptions and beliefs that are not in line with reality. We may think people dislike us or are judging us, we are often sensitive to rejection, and we think we are not good at what we do. Beyond the help that medications for depression can give us, talking to a mental health professional can help us overcome these often long-standing ideas we have about ourselves and the world.

I cannot express how HAPPY I have become through both medication and talk therapy. Like a defective typewriter, I have to reprogram myself to hit a certain “key” that is more positive and upbeat rather than depending on my habitual touch-typing the negativity every minute of the day. Repetition. Hit the A key instead of the X key. A not X. A not X. When you have touch-typed for so long, it is hard to change the habit. But not impossible.

I haven’t done a complete turn-around. But there HAS been progress. I feel it. I am finding myself more and more happy with who I am… what I’m doing… and life in general. Color is returning to my world. Most of all, I feel more inner peace. All of which will allow me to really ENJOY this ride through life.

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!'”

A New Beginning…

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A New Beginning…

A few years ago, I fell in love with blogging.  At the time, I learned “how” to blog via a class called “Blogging for Scrapbookers”.  I loved the motivation the class gave me along with 365 ideas for blog posts throughout the year.  Over time, however, I began to feel kind-of trapped.  I didn’t realize it then, but I understand now that I felt like I had to focus my content on my scrapbooking, or creations.  And for a long, long period of time, I just was not feeling creative.  I forced some of my blog posts out… just to have content out there.  Those posts didn’t make me happy.

I took a break.  I briefly started a private blog, thinking I would be more authentic in a place where I could control my audience.  That lasted about a minute.  How I felt was trapped again… in a dark, deep hole.  Of course, I was struggling with depression at the time, as well.  And the blog’s focus was on depression.  I was alone in a private blog with my own depressing thoughts speaking depressing ideas to the darkness surrounding me because I had no (or very few) people reading.   How freakin’ depressing is that?

So then, I took a real break.  I have spent the better part of the last year and a half on my journey toward my own authenticity.  I will always be traveling that road, but I feel so much more “me” today.  And I missed writing.  I missed sharing my thoughts.  At the posting of this entry, I have zero… maybe one… reader.  And that’s great!

So here I am, thinking I might make a blogging comeback.  But I’m a different person now. I am more.

So, let me introduce myself:

I am finding how magical authenticity can be.
I wonder if I can truly be authentic in today’s world.
I hear so much hatred and meanness it makes me afraid.
I see the beauty in nature all around me and wish for more.
I want to surround myself with love and light to help buffer the hate and darkness in the world.
I am feeling joy for the first time in decades.

I pretend to be someone I am not so that I do not offend people around me.
I feel alone a lot of the time, though not as much as I used to.
I touch everyone with my heart, whether they know it or not.
I worry that I am wrong and that being wrong will cause me pain in the end.
I cry over Hallmark commercials and dead animals on the road.
I am discovering myself.

I understand friends and family better than they think I do.
I say a lot less than I think and feel.
I dream vividly, in Technicolor and insane connections and plot twists.
I try to remember I’m a good person and to find peace in this chaotic world.
I hope for fulfillment in love, friendship and self.
I am finding how magical authenticity can be.

As I move forward on my journey and feeling comfortable showing my true colors, I hope to share here. Please, if you choose to read my stories, be kind. Be gentle. Be tolerant. And if you can’t be those, then say nothing.

“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.”  ~ Lao Tzu