Slow Down and Breathe

slow-down-and-breathe

The holidays are fast approaching, and challenges are beginning to build. With so many things to do in the next few months, this would be a good time to remind ourselves that just because life is speeding up doesn’t mean that we have to.

How do we find balance? In truth, finding balance isn’t the right word. Creating balance is a better idea. How do we create balance in our world in the midst of so much pressure and busy-ness that the holidays bring?

Here are five ways to help create balance:

1. Plan Ahead: Keep your calendar updated so you can see what is coming. Know what needs to happen and is expected at each event to reduce the surprises. For example, if you must make a dish-to-pass for every party, you will need to find the recipes (or several, as is my case) then you can plan and pick up all the ingredients for the recipe ahead of time.

2. Reduce the “Events”: Not every holiday party or even is a “must” attend. Decide which ones are the most important and go only to these. Not everyone will understand, but you must take care of you. Attempting to attend every event is a recipe for exhaustion.

3. Reduce Gifting: Although there seems to be a competition for the biggest, better than last year, gift giving season, this can create pressure, stress, and, of course, debt. For the most part, we have what we need – for some, we have too much. Do we really need that next gadget? Do my kids really need that “must have” toy? In my family, we have adopted the 3-gift model. For my grandkids, this means a book, a toy, and new clothes. No, I’m not hardcore but when they have three different sets of grandparents, aunties, and uncles, and extended family – each with another party, holidays can be overwhelming. And, the toys are often broken quickly leading to more stuff.

4. Take Time for Yourself: Do things for yourself like long baths, nights out with your partner, or alone time. Have fun. It’s so difficult to give and give, without taking the time to recharge yourself. The exhaustion and burnout can make for an unpleasant holiday season.

5. Breathe: Just 5 minutes each morning of deep breathing can set the tone for the entire day. Breathing can detoxify your system, lower your stress and help you sleep better at night.

If we believe the advertisements or songs, then this is the most wonderful time of the year. But the pressure to have that perfect Halloween costume, Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas morning can become overwhelming. Nothing is fabulous if you are too tired to enjoy it.

Step back and make conscious decisions about this season can help you create balance. Maybe, just maybe, you will have the best holiday season ever.

The Full Belly Syndrome

IMG_0795In my line of work people often don’t come in until they full of whatever angst life has thrown at them. Since I work with sexual assault victims, this can mean that they have been dealing with this life changing event for a while, and they cannot contain it any longer.

They have had enough.

Enough of feeling bad.

Enough of feeling guilty.

Enough of it all.

I have discovered that I can empathize with this right now in my life.

Enough is the word I chose for my year. When I chose this, I thought I understood what this would mean for me. Apparently I was wrong.

For the past four months, my life has spiraled into chaos. This chaos that I cannot control, which is probably the definition of chaos, culminating in my brother’s passing has overtaken everything. I am full.

The feelings that have been overwhelming me are now at a breaking point. I have had enough.

I have a full belly of all these feelings and darkness. It’s time for a change.

I’m not sure what that means for me but to just recognize that I’ve had enough is a big step.

Having had enough, I realize it is time for healing. As someone who deals with healing others heal, this should be easy.

Right.

At this moment, I am just like anyone else who has had bad things happen to them. All of my education, training and experience get me exactly nowhere.

I have to remember what I tell the people I work with:

Be gentle with yourself.

Take baby steps.

Do the next thing. If that is making lunch or changing the baby, that is what you do.

Take care of yourself. Go to sleep or find a place to rest, eat something that isn’t too unhealthy for you and stop putting pressure on yourself to be normal.

Get outside. Sunshine is a natural antidepressant and can help you feel better along with the sunshine.

Breathe. In yoga, it is taught that 18 full body breaths are cleansing. We often don’t take deep breaths. Stopping every so often to breathe deeply is part of the healing process.

I have to remind myself that healing happens in its own time. Healing can and will happen, and I just need to be patient.

Unfortunately, I’m not very patient and am quite hard on myself.

I didn’t ask for this, but I am responsible for taking care of myself. I am responsible for my healing.

Asking for help is often a good idea, but this is my work, my life. I have to do the action steps.

Even if the action step is to take a nap.

The full belly syndrome is a catalyst for healing.

I’ve had enough. It’s time to breathe and heal.

Illusions of Control

Friday Five: Living with Ambiguity

 If you are like me, keeping life under control is one of your goals. At this moment in my life, things feel pretty out of control and I am struggling to regain the control I always thought I had. I believe that most of us struggle with this every day.

We decide what we eat and wear, what kind of phone to have or car to drive. We work to make sure things fit onto the neat little pegs we’ve decided on. Even in our relationships, we work to make sure we have control of something or someone, such as the cap on the toothpaste or who does the dishes on what night. Making life work is all about the control we have over it.

Until that day comes when there is no control.

Until the day, we realize that control is an illusion.

This is a lesson I tend to forget. I kid myself into believing that I am working on my “control issues.” Some days, I even believe this is true. But this is also an illusion.

It isn’t just having control of things that is an illusion, it is the belief that we can let go of this need to control.

I believe that the need to control our lives is very human. This is one way we’ve survived for millennia.

We couldn’t control the elements so we moved into caves. The weather got cold, and we built fires. Getting around with animal power was too slow so we created machines that move us along the ground and through the air. This need to control our lives continues to this day.

Since we’ve very firmly established through previous posts that I believe that life is about lessons and everything is repeated until we learn what we need to learn, I’ve come around to control again.

At this moment, I am waiting. Waiting for changes and decisions, of which I have no control over. Yet, I am still sitting here wanting to shake someone to say, “come on, do something already.” I still have not learned this lesson of the illusion of control.

If I had my way, there would be no waiting, I would have what I need to function normally, except that is an illusion also. There is no normal. And, I wouldn’t need to go through the pain of learning to live without the answers, without control, again.

There is pain in this learning of the lesson again. It seems that the more I am forced to repeat a lesson, the more pain there is.

You see, I also believe the outcome is inevitable, it has already been decided. No amount of fretting or worry will change what will happen. It is a matter of waiting. And I’m not very patient.

This post was supposed to be a Friday Five so here I go with some things I will be doing to help deal with learning this annoying lesson again:

1. Attending a 1-year-old’s birthday party. It is impossible to worry when you see a little one covered in cake.

2. Writing – I intend to write whenever I have spare moments. Not that this alleviates my anxiousness or my need for control, it does, however, make me feel as if I’ve made progress.

3. Organization – I began some organizing projects in my house a few weeks ago which will continue, again. Regardless of the whatever happens in my life, this still needs to be done.

4. Attacking the weeds – This year my husband and I didn’t grow a garden, however, what we did grow was a large, healthy batch of weeds. As I am getting ready for company, the weeds need to go, or at least be beaten back enough that the yard doesn’t look like a jungle.

5. Breathe – Yes, this is a bit redundant. We breathe every day, it is necessary for life and we do it unconsciously. What I had in mind was the conscious breathing that makes me step back and not get caught up in all the external happenings in my life.

A friend of mine likes to ask me: “can you live with ambiguity?” Usually, my answer is some kind of grumble because I know she is right. I just don’t want her to be. The fact that she has to repeat it should be my first clue that I haven’t learned the lesson.

I often repeat the mantra “it is what it is.” I even try to live every day like that. Being human, I tend to slip just a bit on occasion. Well, the truth be told, more than a bit.

This week, I will take up this mantra again. I will remember to breathe and that life will continue regardless of what will happen in the future. For me, this is the only way to get through each day.

“It is what it is.”