Let's face it. Things have not been going well anywhere these days. Unpredictable weather systems and natural disasters are causing devastating damage to areas all over the world ( a LOT in the US) and people are being displaced. Emotions are running high, there are more and more protests, political opinions are raging and well, every day it seems like there's something else to worry about. Another tragedy, another disaster, another situation that lays heavy on the heart and mind.
Friends and family have experienced some really rough times lately. Sometimes I can try to help and sometimes, I just feel helpless.
I thought that last week, with the shooting in Las Vegas, things couldn't seem more scary and bleak and then we learned of the fires in California earlier this week. It seems things are changing in a blink of an eye and people everywhere are being set into a tailspin.
I've tried to talk with my kids about what is going on but it seems to create more stress for their little minds rather than add any type of comfort or understanding. One of my girls has a deep fear of death that seems to emerge at times of stress for her. I've even avoided taking her to funerals because it leads to so many questions and outright fear that she, herself, is going to immediately die. It's heartbreaking to see and confusing to try to explain. So, what do I say? Well, I'm honest and let her know that, eventually, we all die. We don't know when, or how but because life is unpredictable and is truly a gift, it's why we need to appreciate every day and enjoy our lives as much as possible.
But, these days, it's hard. I've stopped turning on the TV as much because I want our home to have a bit of solace and comfort. However, sometimes the news and negativity seem to be overpowering and it's unavoidable. I don't want to be naive or keep these real life situations from my kids, so I choose my words carefully when they ask questions and try to take to heart what to share with them. It seems to be a hard balance to navigate.
I'll be honest and share that I've been going through some pretty tough personal life challenges lately. It's an ongoing bridge that I'm crossing and one that is leading me to an even bigger crossroad in my life. It can be frustrating because I worry about making the right choices. I wonder and worry about the impact that it may have on my family, which is hard when situations occur that are out of our personal control, such as job loss, natural disasters, or any type of adversity not driven by our own decisions. It's easy to get angry and stay angry. However, I strive everyday to make sure that my family remains the most important factor in my daily life, so I put them in the forefront of my thoughts and decisions. I'm confident that the right outcome will prevail, but...
That's right, the "but" creeps in a lot, making life choices that much harder. So, what do we do when we feel this way? Believe me, it's hard not to dwell on the emotions of not feeling in control of your life. That something else holds the cards to what is next in your very own life.
There seems to be a grander negativity swirling around us all and then even more so when personal challenges are presented to us in our daily lives. The overwhelming stress seems to mount and it's really easy to throw up our hands and say "What the HELL is going on?!" or "Why is this happening to ME!".
I'll admit - I've freaked. More than a few times and not in front of my kids, but I've cried, I've yelled, I've felt lost and hopeless. Not good for a mom that has to put her chin up and tell her scared child that it's going to be ok. How can I honestly say those words, when I'm not so sure either.
So, what did I do? (I mean, what am I currently doing because this is ongoing)
Well, first, I went to the friend-zone. When I say that I am truly blessed to have amazing friends in my life, I mean it. Friends that pick you up, make you laugh, and well, just get you. I'm thankful every day for these friendships. You can have a simple conversation or you can have a deep, lengthy session of everything that's going on in each other's lives and walk away feeling understood, accepted, and loved. As a true believer in everything happens for a reason, I have had the opportunity to reconnect with a select few friends over the last couple of months and I consider this to be a true blessing.
Family - yep, same as above, but they are a true solace. You don't have to talk about the stresses in your head, unless you want to, and you can just enjoy each other. We make each other laugh every day, no joke (LOL).
Exercise and yoga. Amazing. I mean it. I'm not a pro-athlete or the next zen master, but I get it. The feeling of driving out those negative emotions and filtering them into something bigger than yourself and showing yourself how strong you really are? Even if you don't get all the moves or complete the entire run, somehow these movements boost your soul (and your metabolism!) into something powerful.
Wine. I mean, really? Any explanation needed here? A little wine, a bowl of popcorn, and old Friends episodes can improve anyone's mood. Am I right?
But what do you do when the worries of the world (or your life) overwhelm you, wake you up in the middle of the night, and just overtake your mind? Sometimes, it even creeps into your day and you feel like you have the weight of an elephant sitting on your chest and you want to scream at the top of your lungs over not being able to grasp anything because it all seems to be out of control.
So, when I realized that losing control wasn't helping me gain control, I broke it down. After I broke down (literally) one night. I had to get it out. The thoughts in my head were swirling because I felt like the walls of my life were falling down around me. So, I broke it down as simply as I could in my head and then I wrote it down. I wrote down what was weighing heavy on my mind and heart, what I loved, what I didn't and what I could possibly do about it.
Guess what? I felt better. I teared up as I was writing, but I didn't have a swirling, overwhelming feeling of out-of-control emotions. Because I broke it down and got it out of my head. I released the emotions of fear, anger, confusion, and hurt. I suddenly felt like I could breathe.
So, that's what I want to share with you. Below is an example of what I came up with to help me through my stress. Most days I don't have a lot of time to spend writing every little thing down, but if it helps get it out of my system and help me think a little clearer, I'll try it. So, I came up with this outline to just say it:
So, if you're feeling this way, try it. Just for a day or two. It doesn't have to be every day and it won't immediately help solve all the problems in our lives (or world) but it helps give a sense of clarity and control in our thoughts and thus help us move through our days a little easier. It can only help, even if it's just a little bit.
I say this next part to you, and to myself, as a mantra to ease our emotions and fears of the unknown:
Focus on the positive. Live in the moment. Appreciate the little details of each day - a sunrise, a smile from a stranger, a warm cup of coffee. Whatever it is. And then remember it. When you're stressed, ready to break, ready to give up on this crazy world, take a moment and remember there's always good to be found and there's always a lesson to be learned.
Let's cross this bridge to kindness and a better world together, shall we?