Day 81: Letting Go… Again

Letting go.

I would like to think it will get easier the more it is practiced. Right now I am not so sure.

We let go of things, jobs, people, places we lived, lovers, friends.

Letting go means taking your hands off the steering wheel, taking a deep breath and just accepting what is. Without fear, without judgement. It means to stop grasping for control.

I talked about this a while back within the context of a relationship and me letting go of Mr. X (still a work in progress). And now I had the same conversation with myself today about this virus situation.

I woke up this morning feeling like utter shit. Not physically, but emotionally spent. It is really taxing sometimes to have to go out in the world, put your feelings and safety aside, council clients and tend to patients all the while having an air of authority and decorum. Sometimes I want a day where there isn’t life and death and where responsibility is nil. I don’t have that luxury in my job and now people are acting even crazier than before. I get it. I hold space for them. I listen to their fears, their stories of people they know who are susceptible, people they know who have died, I hear stories about their animals, their grandchildren, all of the happenings in their life… all within a 3-4 foot radius, and under five minutes? No… that’s not a thing. I have had to consciously put my own safety aside to allow these conversations to happen. Maybe that isn’t right. Maybe I should be looking out for myself more.

It is an interesting phenomenon being a vet. People tell you EVERYTHING about their life. Way more than what we need to know. We act as therapist, social worker, confidante, priest and anything else a client needs. We are in the unique position of not just caring for family members but actively participating in life and death scenarios. We have authority. And as such, clients assume we also have some sort of concrete evidence on the virus.

It is exhausting. Sometimes after work I come home and I just cry because it I have to release all that I heard and witnessed from the day. I have to let go of all of my walls and protections so I can find some calm and peace within me.

In this time of need in our society, letting go is critically important. As I sit here thinking about what tomorrow will bring and already feeling the pull of tired on my mind and heart I realize that I am resisting all of it. I am resisting talking with clients, seeing patients, putting my own safety needs first, the anxiety that I feel about the unknown, the fact that we are experiencing a pandemic.

It is the resistance that creates suffering and panic and hysteria.

The more I am focused on how much I don’t want to deal with any of this, the bigger it all seems.

Here’s the part about letting go. Have you ever been told that if you are in a car crash in those moments before it happens, that flash of time when everything slows down, if you can relax yourself the impact and bodily damage will be much less? Same principle applies.

Every moment of today was about letting go. It was about accepting there is a new normal. It was knowing that there is a virus and it is here and if I am going to get sick I am going to get sick. It was letting go of the resistance to the fact that I may not have a job in a few months, that people I know, or myself, may not be alive.

I took a few minutes today and sat with a friend of mine. He is a really powerful intuitive. We took a moment and he helped me connect back to myself. Not the self that feels overwhelmed and scared and tired but the essence of who I am. The part of me that is love and tenderness and kindness and compassion. He helped me breathe it back into my awareness and when we were done I found that I was able to relax into this new normal a little bit more. I was able to come out of my own flavor of haze and look around and see what was really happening for me in that moment.

I saw sunshine and mountains and flowers and people smiling and laughing, and as my heart filled more I realized I would be okay. We will all be okay.

As we battle the river that rages in each of us, grasping for rocks and trees to cling to we become battered, bruised, exhausted in our effort. It is only with the letting go, the becoming one with the river that we are able to flow with the water, and in that moment find the space to breathe. ❤ ❤

Day 62: The Art of Floating

Sometimes it feels good to just stop for a minute.

Stop trying, stop pushing for growth, stop pining over each word and sentence, correcting it to something more useful.

Sometimes one just has to stop and breathe and stand still for a second.

I did this literally and figuratively today. I tried a float tank.

Walking into the room where I was going to float was a little unnerving. Here I was, headed for what looked exactly like a meat locker, only a little smaller. The place reeked of chlorine which actually made me feel good, cause…. cooties. The doors to the tank room didn’t actually lock. I found out this is because if you fall asleep in the tank they sometimes have to come in and wake you. This is the stuff of nightmares for the people who work there, imagine having to open the meat locker, reach your hand into the complete dark to grab some part of a nude body that may or may not be asleep and/or in a deeply meditative state. It’s amazing no one gets kicked in the face.

If you haven’t floated before it is basically a high salt content water that renders you weightless. It is a sensory deprivation room so you wear earplugs and there is no light.

For those of us with anxiety (raises hand high!!) I had so many concerns.

How would I know when my time was up? They play music.

What would happen if I didn’t hear the music? They play it louder.

What happens if I still don’t hear it? They bang on the door and/or grab your damn foot… or head depending on what way you are floating.

Will I be able to hear if someone comes in and tries to steal my wallet? No.

Will the magnesium from the epsom salts cause me to have stomach cramps (taking Mg orally does this)? No, but having anxiety about stupid shit will….

Will I be able to last the entire 60 minutes? Yes, you freak, calm the fuck down.

So I go to this room. There is a shower and a meat locker. You shower off all the grime before entering said meat locker. There is a light and vacuum sealed door. Once you are “comfortable” you turn off the light and enter complete darkness. Then you start to frantically search your mind for the last movie you watched in which a person was buried alive and then you empathize with them and only start to mildly panic at the thought of what if someone came in and bolted your door shut.

Then you relax… okay that’s a lie… there’s about another 45 min of anxiety over various things ranging from “I wonder how I will be able to get my car out of the impossibly small parking garage I barely managed to get in to (you will because the person next to you will have left)” to ‘If I am tired enough from my morning workout and am a side sleeper and roll over will I actually just drown (no, no you won’t).

They tell you to lay on your back (obvi…. salt water on the eyes sounds like a terrible idea… oh yeah, and… breathing) with your arms above your head palms up. This, supposedly, reduces contraction of the back. I couldn’t get comfortable. To be fair, I boxed for… three hours this morning… yes… you read that right. I don’t know what my problem was but I was really getting off on hitting shit and sweating a bunch. As you can imagine, my arms were pretty tired, my back was seized up and my neck (which I slept funny on) was starting to cause a massive headache.

It was going really well.

I kept telling myself to relax, which never really works. I stretched, I cracked my neck, I shifted around… I had to pee. What if I had to pee before the 60 minutes, I would have to get out and shower and run to the bathroom (which was outside the room in reception). Would I do this with a towel as the man running the joint was clearly gay and wouldn’t care (probably), or would I get fully dressed and once I left would I forfeit the rest of my time?

Yup, this is how my brain always works.

So I am laying there, uncomfortable, body aching, muscles actually spasming a little in my shoulders, thinking “how in the fuck am I going to last an hour?”

I brought my arms up to an X across my chest and held on to my shoulders. Something about that calmed me. This is something I have noticed and is likely a protective gesture, I just can’t be freely exposed in my front. Maybe I need some chakra clearing or trauma work. Who the hell knows. Once I was firmly hugging myself my mind began to chill and I could feel myself falling deeper into a meditative state. It wasn’t a normal one where I am firmly on another brainwave, as there was still a bunch of mental chatter, but below that was a calming and a quiet. I actually didn’t realize how relaxed I was until I got out and had to rejoin the real world.

For a few blissful moments I was able to stop. I disconnected from physical sensation. I listened to my heart beating (it didn’t sound 100% solid and clean) and I quieted my subconscious. My mind still ran around like a little cretin, but below that there was stillness and I just allowed myself to stop and regroup.

Did I fall in love with floating? No. Will I do it again? Absolutely. It is almost a forced relaxation that I am sure we glean far more benefits from than what we can ever comprehend. I will say all that magnesium really worked wonders on my muscle aches and my headache. I definitely felt better coming out than I did going in.

Next time I will focus on my heart and getting it to be calm and regular. I know what to expect and will have less anxiety than before. I will still worry about the parking situation and whether or not I am going to pee myself in a salt pool. Baby steps…

The moral of today? It’s okay to stop for a bit. It’s okay to stop striving for growth, to stop working on you, to stop worrying, to stop engaging with other people. It’s okay to do whatever the hell you need to do for you. And sometimes that means sitting down for a metaphorical rest. All of the work, the self growth, the healing, it will all still be there, waiting.

Do some weird shit. It might just take you to the exact place you needed to be. ❤ ❤

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Day 43: Emotional Addiction

There is a lot of information out there on addiction, 12 step programs, the science and psychology behind all sorts of things like addiction to gambling, drinking, drugs, pornography. These “modalities” provide an external focus that lights up the reward centers of the brain and releases this flood of neurotransmitters. We go on a dopamine high and when we come down we need another hit. External addictions can be identified, placed out in the open and worked on. But what about addictions that aren’t external?

What about the addictions of the mind (okay, okay that’s a little bit of a misnomer because all addictions are addictions of the mind, but go with it, okay)?

I describe an emotional addiction as repetitively reacting to situations based purely on feeling or seeing the world through anger or fear colored glasses, for example. There is a little more to it than that, though and many other potential examples. Take love for instance. Falling in love is one of the most compelling and strong emotional pulls out there (at least in my book). I LOVE falling in love. The first shy glances, the piercing of that person’s heart and soul, the rush of feel goods that come with every adorable thing that person does, it’s glorious. The addictive behavior can come in when, for instance, a person routinely dumps every partner as soon as the honeymoon phase wears off, they go from new partner to new partner getting hit after hit, all the while wondering why they can’t find “the one.”

Other emotions are, maybe, a little less obvious. Take anxiety (read: fear) for example. Maybe as a young child you were screamed at and physically threatened so you learned to be hyper vigilant of your surroundings and you learned all of the nuances of the people in your space so that you could help prevent an explosive event. As you went out into the world maybe that showed itself by being labeled as a people pleaser. Maybe you were the friend everyone counted on because they knew you were the one to remember all of the big dates and events because you were hard wired to do it, not realizing that it was a coping mechanism and the body was still residing in fight or flight mode. Perhaps the body is addicted to the anxiety because through that hyperviligance you were able to create safety as a young child.

Any addiction plays part on the reward centers of the brain. We do something well we get a flood of feel good chemicals. We fall in love, we save ourselves from an angry outburst…. all of these activities, though drastically different all release the same chemical response in our body. Our system then starts to create these neural pathways creating habit. These habits turn into addiction.

Is every habit an addiction? Of course not. Identifying intrinsic triggers can be very difficult to do and is a process which many people balk at because, if I am feeling it, it must be true. What happens though when anxiety, depression, anger, or fear start to take over your life? Suddenly one small hit doesn’t last very long and we go into more prolonged states of whatever the drug of choice is, in order to light up those pleasure centers. Soon we find ourselves in a constant fight or flight state looking for the next fix and the fucked up part is that if we don’t identify our emotional triggers, we will create a life that supports our addiction. We will literally surround ourselves with scenarios that support finding those feelings and we will see each situation through that skewed lens.

My family is very fear based. Their entire conversation revolves around all of the scary stuff on the news, all of the hypothetical issues that could arise, all of the perceived dangers. I can guarantee if there is any new story that could even remotely “effect” me per my mother, she will text me about it. It makes her feel good because she is being “protective and loving” and speaks to the lack of security she had as a child. I have spent a lot of time trying to unlearn this and will no doubt, spend a lot more. Each new event or person that comes into my life is met with fear initially. I have to consciously calm my nervous system and realize that most of the threats I am seeing simply aren’t real or worthy of such extreme focus.

Emotional addiction is tough because it’s pretty vulnerable to say to someone, hey I am working on rewiring my addiction to fear, what’s on your agenda for today? There are groups of support for these external addictions that are shown to work in decreasing and eliminating addictive behavior so to me, that says support is crucial which means taking the risk to be vulnerable, to find the group of people that you can say those things to and to work diligently on correcting these behaviors. One must have an awareness and focus that far exceeds the “normal” operating capacity of most individuals, because the trip down to those addictions can be really sneaky and quiet. Even on my best days I often still find myself stuck in a pattern of behavior I know isn’t good for me. The difference now is that instead of having to look back through my day to spot these moments, I am much more apt to catch them in the middle or even *gasp* at the beginning. Those are proud moments for me. I also have some amazing friends that will lovingly, but firmly call me on my bullshit. These are the friends that when I say I am having a bad day don’t say “Aw, I’m sorry,” but instead say, “Oh really, the world is imploding on you? Is that a useful view, what about this other perspective.” Sometimes I get super mad at these friends, because I realize they are right, and to be honest sometimes my diligence is lazy and I am addicted to the feeling of being a victim, of seeking that attention, because then I feel loved. But these friends ask me to stand up to a higher version of me and for that I will always love them.

How does one overcome an emotional addiction?

Become aware. Bring awareness to your thoughts, actions, feeling, choices, language. Find the areas where there are patterns and recognize then, thank them for doing their part in keeping you safe and move through them. And repeat that…. again and again and again, until new neural paths are formed and the addiction becomes displaced with a healthier outlook. Displacement is key. One cannot just say I’m scared so…. go away now. The emotion has to be displaced or it will never stick. I can feel scared to take a new job or I can see it as an adventure and recognize all of the strengths that will come with the journey through that process. Own your emotions, create space between your true self (the being observing the emotions) and the emotions themselves, acknowledge them and don’t beat yourself up when the show up time and time again. Realize that as you move through these patterns, they will not just quietly disappear from your life, they will show up stronger and stronger until there is no longer resistance and they can dissipate. Know that this will make you feel crazy for a while and that you will feel like you are not making progress. This is the time for support and guidance. And know you will come out the other side, a little stronger, a little wiser and a whole lot healthier and happier. ❤ ❤

Day 41: Anxiety: Terrorist of the Heart

I have always been a little on the anxious spectrum (read: A LOT of anxiety). I have been accused of wanting things to be perfect more than once. I have stressed over really insignificant things. I had a panic attack or two in undergrad over certain courses. It’s fascinating though that I never had that issue in vet school. Maybe I matured, or maybe I was just so busy running down a metaphorical, muddy, wet, hill, trying to keep my feet under me, that I didn’t have the space for the anxiety.

I have been able to let go of so much over the last year and my life has been a lot better for it. I have days now where I am happy and full of a feeling of love and that never used to happen. It is truly a new and wonderful experience for me. One of those happy days hasn’t shown up in a while though. The last few weeks, shit, since the first part of December really, has been filled with hit after hit. I am used to dealing with pain in my life and I am used to moving on past it. I do this, most of the time, by starting over in a new location, a new job, a new life. Nothing has ever really changed though. Each time I have moved I have eventually been confronted with the same realities. I started to evaluate this a few months ago and I have realized that I need to change the way that I confront life or these patterns will keep repeating themselves. So I decided to stop running from things and start having the hard conversations and seeing if I could cultivate the relationships that I wanted to – including the one I have with myself.

I have been really REALLY struggling with my job situation the last few weeks. I have been thrown under the bus, threatened, lied about and had my concerns completely ignored. I have had to sit in HR meetings and hear that my feelings weren’t valid and that it would take 3-4 more indiscretions at the hand of this other person before they would actually interject. I have presented management with written proof of lies and still nothing was done, threats were not taken seriously and there were no suggestions made for solutions. The manager in question was offered a promotion and took it. Thankfully, my new manager sees a lot more than the old and is taking a firm line on nasty behavior and while I am grateful for that, I still go to work everyday completely dreading it.

My bouts with anxiety have usually been very small and short lived, but with a lot of little insults and it has taken a toll on my physical body, one which I have been really focused on adjusting and healing from. This current work situation though is causing all of these things to come up that I thought were handled, so clearly I need more work in that area. My health is suffering too at this point and I am at a place where all I want to do is hibernate from the world.

I have a REALLY hard time when there are outstanding issues with other people. I usually feel so much better once I have said my piece and so has the other person and we are able to move forward in a constructive manner. This guy though, he completely lies. Blatant, bold, lies. And I cannot move forward with a person like that. I cannot close this loop. There is almost this forced stagnation taking place that is causing a whole boat load of anxiety. Quite frankly I don’t know what to do about it. And in the interest of not running I am trying to stay and work through it. I am placing boundaries, being an adult when we have to communicate and trying to keep my head down and do my work. My new manager has asked me not to leave yet as she is trying to change things as I am honoring that. I find myself, however, once again working with this guy this weekend, just the two of us and each text or ring of my phone is causing this volatile reaction through my body.

I wish I could put into words what anxiety feels like for me. It is this deep sense of desolation, a gripping of my heart and an actual pain in my chest. It is a heavy weight like a blanket that covers me and I just cannot seem to get my heart engaged in anything. It is a buzzing stiffness in my nervous system that is almost palpable. It is almost like all of my other systems have gone quiet, until it is safe to come out again, including my heart. In these moments I literally battle myself because the point in staying and fighting for life is to come at and be able to keep your heart open in the face of adversity and I feel like I am wearing myself out trying to do just that. It is bleeding over into other areas of my life as well. I am also finding myself confused about when is appropriate to throw in the towel and move on versus what is me just wanting to run, and I feel next to nothing in my heart right now to even help make that decision.

I heard this quote yesterday from Brene Brown, she said something along the lines of “pain that is not transformed is transferred.” I am seeing this happen so clearly with my situation. From a health standpoint the anxiety is showing up as back and shoulder pain, stomach issues and debilitating fatigue. From a relationship standpoint I am catching myself mentally taking my shit out on others. I did have a pretty big win for me though earlier this week, when I actually told someone what I was feeling and that it wasn’t a good time to chat and they honored that and I ended up having a productive conversation with this person at a later time about it.

I know I need to move this. I need to broaden my perspective to see solutions that I cannot right now. I know I need to calm my nervous system and remember to breathe when I am confronted with this person. I need to put this energy into creating something, and I am doing that right now. I also know I need to have some patience and compassion for myself and some appreciation for the fact that I am doing the work and making progress, even if it’s hard to see.

I got out of my funk for a while today and made some space between me and this anxiety. I had to go on a call earlier and when the text came through I just started bawling. No part of me wanted to go. I wanted to sit in my own shit and sulk and cry and snuggle with my dogs and find all of the things that are wrong with my job and with this situation at work. I wanted to lament the fact that I was alone and getting through the pain of an already bruised heart and I wanted to be stuck, because it is where I have lived for so long there is some comfort there. I still battle with myself to change things. Not because I have a hard time doing it, but because sometimes I don’t know if I really want to. Then I wonder, what kind of person wants to stay in a pile of shit. I will tell you… one who believes they aren’t worth more. Even though I know that isn’t true, I cannot come up with another explanation as to why I choose to live my life in that way sometimes. I think in some ways it is an emotional addiction. It plays to the victim stories and fear that pervaded my childhood.

Every shift, every action, every word, every thought…. one has to be diligent in the area of transformation. I think for some people it is easier. They seem to get these concepts and actually FEEL them and make shifts and have epiphanies and pops and their world changes very rapidly. I am not like that. I get all of the concepts and in many ways have a wisdom about them that surpasses a lot of other folks in this space, but the shift from thinking to feeling has been and continues to be the slowest part for me. I asked myself this today, don’t you WANT to feel happy? And the answer in that moment truly was, I don’t know. And there is the ugly truth. I don’t know sometimes.

What’s that old fable about each of us having two wolves inside us and which one are we going to feed…. I feed both… and I still haven’t breached that 51% that feeds the lighter one. Some days I find humor and joy and love. Some days the anxiety wins. Some days I reach neutrality like I did today. I found some space between me and my emotions and I let them be but didn’t interact with them, didn’t let them devour me. Did I have a happy day? Hell, no. But I did claw my way out from misery and despair and that, that is progress. In doing so a little bit of energy came back, a little bit of motivation came back and my life got a little bit lighter. From that space I can start to use the other tools. I can start to focus on feeling lighter. I can shift my energy to what I am gaining from this situation knowing that every conflict or problem provides positives if you are just able to look for them and I can evaluate how this is helping me with my future goals. In doing so I feed that white wolf just a little bit more. ❤ ❤

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Day 21: The Physiology Of Fear

I am sitting here in my tiny house and suddenly, a gunshot. Then another, then another. I live in the country, so firearms are not an unusual occurrence. There is something about these shots though that is different. A different cadence, a closer proximity. Likely, someone is hunting coyote. It is the most probable explanation, but not the first one that went through my mind. Nope, my first thought was a murder/suicide, then I quickly realized that was unlikely and a silly thought, or is it… in this day and age I am not so sure anymore. My unease is not helped by the fact that I am watching The Ring, alone… at night. Why do I do this to myself? Why does it sometimes feel good to be scared? Probably because it reminds us that we are alive.

I can feel it even now, there is tension in my body. My shoulders are pulled up, my breath shallow. Blood is pounding in my ears. I am in fight or flight mode. I breathe, deeply and my body relaxes a little, one more breath, more tension melts away. But what happens to our bodies when we are in prolonged fear states? Long term effects can include weakening of the immune system, gastrointestinal issues, cardiovascular issues, and premature aging to name a few things. Simply put, our bodies are not made to withstand prolonged threats. Fear is a very powerful biological process. It alerts us to anything that threatens our survival. It screams at us to move, it pumps adrenaline into our blood, it heightens all of our sense.

Whether that threat is real or not.

If you are anything like me you are used to fear. It is a constant companion. For me fear shows up as low level anxiety and debilitating exhaustion. It shows up as a lack of ability to make decisions. It shows up in the tightness in my back and the painful stomach aches. We are not meant to make fear a companion. I think this all started at a pretty young age with me. I never really felt safe in my home. No, I was never under threat of being killed and I wasn’t really physically abused, but there was a constant barrage of emotional, mental and psychological drama that resulted in some very well honed fear responses. As a result I have spent much of my life in a state of anxiety. Anxiety can be useful and can help us change direction, or can be the motivation we need to make a big move, but constant anxiety leads to mental distress, physical ailments and lack of well-being. For me, when fear takes over, there is a heightening of that response and after years and years of feeling under attack, it takes less and less to put me in that state. Aaannddd I often jump to the worst case scenario (hello, murder/suicide).

Now, I am not one that was ever very successful with therapy. I found it a useless exercise, mostly because I have processed the past events in my life. I don’t need to hash them out again and again, and many of them I no longer feel any attachment towards and can instead see them as beneficial on my path to where I am now. Therapists would ask me to talk about an issue and I would come full circle on whatever little tidbit they were trying to extract or whatever lesson they were hoping I would see in about ten seconds flat. The real issue for me is retraining the nervous system to chill out a little bit and rewire those pathways that lead to this continuous cycle of anxiety. I have done this/am doing this without therapy, but this is the part where I say please, please, please for the love of God if you feel like you are struggling and need some help, see a shrink. Therapy has done some amazing things for a lot of people that I know.

Some of the things that I do to get through fear are:

  1. I acknowledge that fear is there. When I feel my body tightening I take that awareness and shift it to why I am feeling that way. What is the threat? Is it perceived or real? Is it a story that my mind is making up?
  2. Then I breathe. Deeply. Sometimes if I am able to I will drop into a meditation and quiet everything around me.
  3. Once I decide what category that fear goes into, real or perceived, I decide what action to take. Real threats, I will get out of there and worry about the rest later. Most of the fears in my life aren’t real. They aren’t life or death and are, most of time, just mental chatter. When I realize that is what is going on I play the scripts out in my mind. I ask myself what is the worst case scenario? How does that feel? What is the best case scenario? How does that feel?

By the time I get to step 3, which only really takes a few moments, I am usually much more relaxed. I am aware of what’s happening in my body and I am able to alter my response. This is all just a matter of shifting perspectives. Most of the time the best case scenario option is enough of a feel good potential for me to take that “risk.”

Example, my boss called me into her office for a “chat,” but she looks really angry. This fear may or may not be real. I may lose my job, which is fear inducing if I go down a rabbit hole of all of the potential consequences of that. Most of the time though I would choose to say to myself, first of all, I don’t know if she is angry or not and even if she is it may or may not have anything to do with me. Likely, it doesn’t. Then I will play out the worst case scenario, in this case, losing my job. What would that feel like? Initially, not very good and I would probably feel like I was incapable or not good enough. And then I would realize that wasn’t the case and I have been unhappy in my job for months and likely my boss realizes that. If I lost my job it would also give me a tremendous amount of freedom to look around at other organizations and would relieve the pressure of wondering if I should quit or not etc. Best case scenario? She is bringing me in to recognize me for a job well done or a raise, and that would feel really good. Once this process becomes second nature the turn around is very quick, usually a matter of seconds.

Fear has kept me from so much in my life. One of the things that helps me push through fear is the company of a dog. I usually have one with me wherever I go. Dogs are so humbling. Animals in generally really. They run on instinct. These guys are my totem… which I will write about another day, maybe tomorrow. When I decided to go to into the medical field, I had this wonderful dog. She was my heart, that one. She was with me all through school. The day before I was supposed to leave to move across the country and start my first job in this profession, she died, very suddenly. I was absolutely devastated. My adventure buddy was gone. I stayed in bed (a sleeping bag on my apartment floor as I had already shipped my things) for a couple days, delaying my trip. I had planned this awesome camping, cross country adventure just me and her. The only “vacation” I had had in years. I still went on that trip. It was a march of total, utter devastation. In a way I was fearless because I had lost the most important being in my life. I slept in my car in some shady spots, I went to national parks and hiked trails with grizzly bears. I went state after state with my head down, not engaging with people, sobbing along the way. It was pretty awful, but I saw some really beautiful and moving things. Once I reached my current destination I threw myself into my work. I had zero confidence, I was genuinely scared every day as decisions that I made could now actually be life or death. I was terrified to be a doctor. In the first year of practice I became more and more isolated, more and more anxious and I was not enjoying anything about my life anymore. I got another dog, far too soon. He is a lovable disaster who has his own rocky past and it took us a solid 9 months before we really bonded. It was a very unstable time in my life and resulted in me spending a lot of hours in front of the TV, in my bed during my time off, completely and utterly exhausted. My back hurt, my shoulders hurt, I couldn’t think straight. I wanted nothing to do with making decisions which resulted in me eating a ton of frozen pizza and basically single-handedly supporting Netflix. I was essentially letting fear run my life.

Then I heard this guy talk (yes, broken record, it’s Mike Kemski) and one of his teachings is you are the power. That really struck a cord with me, because it forced me to look at my life and realize I had created my current state. I wasn’t surrounded by threatening situations, but I was allowing them to be considered as such. I was creating them that way in my mind. But the cool part was if I could create them, I could also change them. And so it began. Very VERY slowly I started to peek out of my self made prison and take a look at the world. It would take another 8 months before this concept would sink in but I now realize that everything I do is a choice and a perspective. If I decide to have a lazy day at home, it is because I have chosen, not because I am afraid to go out in the world. And I do venture out… way more than I used to. I walk slower, I take in the scenery. I enjoy the views and the people watching and I have a curiosity about the world that I thought was dead in my heart.

When fear does strike I am able to thank it for being there, for trying to protect me – my body and mind are badass guardians! Then I move through it, I try the new thing, I go the new place. I walk the new hike. Every once in a while my gut gets involved with a really clear message and those I listen to. I adjust course, I take a different trail, but most of the time, there is no threat. The world isn’t out to get me. I am powering my existence and I choose to see all of the ways I am supported and loved and all of the ways I am safe. Fear has been a tremendous asset in my life and continues to be a really enlightening teacher. But it’s no longer welcome in the driver’s seat. ❤ ❤

** There is still time to join Mike Kemski’s challenge, it officially starts at 3 PM CST tomorrow. I write about him here and in a few of my other posts. He is a fantastic human being, a close friend, and an amazing catalyst for change. He exists to be sure that people know how to get the most out of life so they don’t die with regret. His challenge is two weeks long and he goes over a simple process that is the building block for having the life you have always wanted. Check him out on Facebook or jump into the challenge here: https://powerlife.kartra.com/page/enroll

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