Posted in grace, grit, happiness, Life, self care, strength

Coloring

Today, I’d like to take you back to when you were in kindergarten. Did you love to color, like I did?

I loved my coloring books and crayons. I would color for hours; choosing the perfect crayon and concentrating so I stayed within the lines.  There are times now I wish I had colored outside the lines, but I digress. 

Some days I would be so “into” my coloring it felt as though I was lost in my own little fun-filled, peaceful world. My tongue would even hang out the side of my mouth I was so focused on my creativity. 

On the first visit to my therapist’s office, she had a clipboard with mandala coloring pages and a little box of colored pencils. There was a written invitation to “feel free to color while you wait.” So I did just that. 

During a later session…on a day I was very anxious…she had me color while we talked. As we chatted and I colored, I mentioned I had coloring books for adults and colored pencils at home, but I had never used them. 

She suggested I go home and begin using my books and pencils. She instructed me to concentrate only on the end of the pencil while I colored.  I thought, “that’s a little strange, but okay.”

Willing to do almost anything to relax and get rid of negative emotions and anxiety, I went home and pulled out my coloring paraphernalia stash. I chose an intricate pattern, the perfect color of pencils and away I went. I focused all my attention on the tip of the pencil as it moved along the outline. 

Believe it or not…you can believe it because it’s true…before long my tongue was hanging out and my mind was cleared of all thoughts except the pencil! Just like when I was a kid, I was in my own calm, peaceful happy zone. 

It’s funny how as adults we forget the little things that brought us such joy as children. We get so caught up and bogged down with life we forget to do things just for fun. We all could use a little more fun and calmness in our lives, right?

If coloring isn’t your thing, you can pick a game you loved as a child; Etch-A-Sketch, Barrel of Monkeys, Jacks (I’m aging myself here, but who cares) and focus on fun. Even ten to fifteen minutes can do a spirit good. 

That’s it for today. Now, you go get your game or coloring book of choice and have a great, stress-free time playing with the joy and wonderment of a child. 

Diane💙

Posted in Life

Agreements

The first day I walked into therapy I was a hot mess! I felt gloomy, unhappy and in great agony and despair.  Depression and anxiety will do that to a weary soul.  And I was one tired and weary soul.

On that first day, my therapist asked, “If you spill milk what do you do?”  My answer, “I clean it up.”  “Yes,” she continued, but what do you say to yourself when you’re cleaning it up?”  It only took a second to share my self-talk; “Look at this mess you’ve made.  You’re so clumsy.  You can’t do anything right!”  That was an eye-opener for me, as I didn’t consciously realize how negatively I felt about myself.

As our session continued, my therapist shared a book with me and recommended I read it at least three times stating “it changed her life.”  The book was small and titled The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. 

At that point in my life, I was open to doing anything and everything to feel better, so I went home and ordered the book from Amazon.

When it arrived, I began reading and couldn’t stop.  It felt as if the book were written just for me.  I finished it in no time and read it again and again.

The Four Agreements is a wisdom book based on the beliefs and teachings of the Toltec people of southern Mexico.  The Toltec were “scientists and artists who formed a society to explore and conserve spiritual knowledge and practices of the ancient ones,”  the book explains. 

Don Miguel Ruiz’s writing is exceptional and reader friendly.  In The Four Agreements, he writes about the Toltec traditions and beliefs and sets forth four teachings…a way of life for those who practice…meant to bring about happiness, peace and love in one’s life.  While the four teachings sound simple, they require a lot of work.

The four agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word: Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.  Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
  2. Don’t take anything personally: Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
  3. Don’t make assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.  With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
  4. Always do your best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

(Text from The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom ©1997 Miguel Angel Ruiz, MD.  Published by Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc.)

After reading this powerful little book, I began to practice the four agreements, even posting them on my refrigerator door as a reminder.  I am by no means a master of these teachings, but I do my best (#4) every day to remember them and put them into action.  I can tell you honestly and sincerely this book has changed my life for the better.

If you’re struggling with negative self-talk, worried about everyone liking you or get upset when you assume without asking questions or just want a good read,  I highly recommend you get a copy of The Four Agreements

 Diane

Posted in Life, self care

Panic

Last week, I felt off kilter for a few days. Panic attacks were daily visitors. Exhaustion my enemy; sleep my friend.

I wrote the following when I was in the midst of a panic attack to try and distract myself and to document what happens to me physically when one occurs:

  • My ears are ringing.
  • My hands are numb.
  • My vision is blurred.
  • My stomach is churning.
  • My head hurts.
  • I feel dizzy.
  • I can’t get enough air into my lungs.
  • I feel something horrible is about to happen.
  • I want to flee my home.
  • I’m in a full blown panic attack!
  • There’s nothing anyone can do to make me feel better. Time is what I need. It’s time I want to speed up, but I can’t make it do so.
  • I just took medication to help, but the 15 to 20 minutes it takes to start working is really going to suck.

Yes, it really sucks to live with panic. I am lucky in that I have a strong support system in place. Mainly my husband who knows while he can’t stop the panic he can be patient and loving while it’s happening. That’s a big blessing to me.

The difference between anxiety and panic is anxiety is situational while panic comes out of the blue for no apparent reason. One minute I’ll feel perfectly fine and the next panic strikes. I have both anxiety and panic.

I’m usually a happy, optimistic person except on the dark days. During that time I’m all over the map emotionally.

I know I’ll be alright. During this time I need to rest and get back into a positive mindset as I know this too shall pass.

Diane

Posted in Life

Down the Rabbit Hole

For most of my adult life I’ve lived with mild depression and anxiety.

Three and a half years ago, my family was thrust into a tragic situation involving one of our children and deep down the rabbit hole I went. My depression and anxiety consumed my life.

I sought the help of a psychiatrist and therapist to help me through those dark days. The psychiatrist prescribed medication, which I willingly accepted. The therapist listened to and gave me insight in order to help me survive the ordeal one day at a time.

Despite medication and therapy, my depression and anxiety continued to worsen. It became so bad, all I wanted to do was sleep.

I didn’t care about anything; not getting dressed, brushing my hair, housework, showering, nothing. Sleep was my escape from all that was happening in my life. You can’t think or worry if you’re sleeping, right?

I didn’t go anywhere unless it was absolutely necessary, didn’t see friends or family; I basically hid away from the world. It was really exhausting and not something easily explained to those who haven’t been there.

Returning to the doctor, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder with anxiety. I didn’t much care for the diagnosis because it made me feel weak and embarrassed.

A change in medications finally pulled me out of the dark hole and back into the light of the world. I still struggle, but I’m no longer sleeping all the time and I’ve returned to things like showering and getting out of the house. Two really big accomplishments.

I’ve come to realize my depression/anxiety is an illness not something of which to be ashamed. I no longer try to hide the fact that my brain has a chemical imbalance and is wired differently than others.

I no longer believe I’m weak. I’ve come to know I am a strong individual.

Diane

Posted in Life

My Return

After a long hiatus, I’m back at blogging! My blog has a new name and look. I hope it will have a new feel as I post my observations on life, grace, joy and strength.

My break was due to several things, but mostly because I lost my writing voice. You see when I first started blogging it was due to a voice in my head screaming “write something.” So I did not expecting anyone to read.

People began to read and comment and it was exhilarating. As my reading audience increased, I felt I had to write for them and that’s when things went awry.

Feeling the need to entertain, my writing began to feel forced and I felt the need to post often just to keep people with me. It was like having a job where I had to produce to stay employed. I began to dislike it a lot.

The voice that once told me to write faded away. My self-esteem plummeted to an all time low. Oh, ego, you’re a tricky, tricky thing!

The hiatus gave me an opportunity to put my ego aside and, when I did, the voice in my head returned. It’s a nice voice…a kind and sometimes funny voice.

I’ve also learned things like staying a nice person while standing tall in the face of adversity. Thus the new blog name Grace & Grit.

Grace not because I’m graceful (I’m not at all…I walk into door frames and trip over air), but grace because I’m kind and respectful, if I do say so myself. Grit is for finding the strength to persevere through a couple of truly tragic life events. I’ve come to realize I’m really strong.

I hope you’ll find something here you can relate to. If not, it’s okay. I’ll just keep writing for me.

Diane