Lotus. 


-Author unknown

May your Sunday night be peaceful, your Monday morning calm, and your work week fulfilling.

Take the time to sit tonight. Sit in meditation and focus on the week ahead. Maybe your practice is traditional, sitting in lotus with an erect spine. Maybe your practice is lax, laying in bed with a voice guiding you through a meditation session. Maybe your practice is new, pausing to take a breath while you brush your teeth. Regardless of your practice, may you take the time to “sit” tonight and be mindful of your spirit. Be the lotus and let nothing steal your light this week. Trevor Hall, a favorite singer of mine, quotes “don’t you carry stones in your bowl of light.” Radiate positive light as your embrace on another work week. Prepare your body, mind, and spirit with a calming meditative practice. Sleep peacefully. Eat well. Heal.
Love and light


This is the area that surrounded me during my formal practice tonight. I did a guided meditation on letting go of stress. It was truly blissful and invigorating.

Advertisements

Travel.

Anxious people and travel often do not mix in the wanderlust-themed soup of life. For the anxious soul, travel is too unknown to be comprehensible. New roads, cars, rooms, restaurants, people, and spaces…the unfamiliar territory is daunting. I want to let you in on a little secret: the joy of adventure always outweighs the fear.

“I would rather have a panic attack on a beach in Brazil, than in my living room.”

Let’s say you are at a crossroads, (the travel-themed metaphors are just TOO easy) and your options are to stay home or go on an adventure. I guarantee most anxious people will be consumed by option A.

“Well, if I just stay home and rest this one time, I’ll be better prepared for next time”

“I’m tired and I think I’ll just watch a movie at home”

“I don’t have the right clothes/gear for that, so I’m going to pass”

“I’m swamped with work, I just can’t get away for the afternoon”

Guess what? I call bullshit on all those answers. Anxiety likes to dictate the initial response to questions and call the shots. After years of dealing with panic, I still catch myself slipping into the default mode of “oh, no thanks…not this time.” CHALLENGE THAT THINKING.

Travel is this beautiful gift that allows up to pause reality and submerge into a hidden world where the potential is limitless. If you want to be a carefree hippie-wood nymph and traverse throughout the woods, you can. If you want to get a tattoo in Myrtle Beach (not recommended based on personal experience) then go for it! Traveling allows you to shed that timid shell and explore your true persona in a new environment.

The next time someone asks you to travel (an afternoon/day/week), pause before you answer. Reflect on this idea: Anxiety does not have to travel with you. What if you could leave her at home to veg on the couch while you explore the world. She doesn’t deserve to come on an awesome trip.

At the height on my anxiety, long car rides would be difficult. I would ruminate on all of the things that could go wrong once we got to the destination. Now, I focus on enjoying uninterrupted time with my fiance. I focus on being mindful and present on the experience instead of catasterbating (patent pending on that word…kinda).

Here are a few tips that I use to make traveling an awesome experience:

  • Prepare
    • If we are hiking, we map out the trail and share the latitude/longitude with friends so if we get eaten by a bear, they can find our gear and fight over the good stuff
    • Use google maps to see a “street view” of where you are going. Visualizing the new location can alleviate some bad vibes
    • Check the weather…duh.
  • Stack the deck
    • There is nothing wrong with bringing parts of your toolbox (see previous post!)
    • essential oils, a favorite mantra, a book are all great supporting objects during travel
    • Be rested, stay hydrated, eat well…when your body is healthy, your mind will follow along
  • Embrace
    • Be mindful to focus on the experience, not the anxiety
    • You are having a beautiful moment in a new place, simply enjoy it

 

I finish with a caveat. We love to travel and 80% of the time, I’m a badass travel buddy. There are still times I get overwhelmed. I HATE flying and I drink myself into stupor to board the flying germ tube. I also still deal with occasional anxiety while driving on the highway. I ignore the feeling and zone out to some nerdy podcast instead of trying to figure out what I’m feeling. Is that therapeutic? Nope. Is that the healthy, hippie way to cope? Hell no. Is that the yogi-granola way to heal? Naw. But, it’s a process and a journey. I’m striving for integrity and raw writing…not perfection.

Love and light.

 

Enjoy some pictures from my travels over the last month

IMG_0221

Our ‘hotel’ for the night during a camping trip

IMG_0486

Watching the waves in Sunset Beach

IMG_0320

Braves game! 

IMG_0521

Exploring downtown Wilmington, NC

 

Mantra.

By definition, a mantra is:

mantra

noun man·tra \ˈmän-trə also ˈman- or ˈmən-\
  •  a sound, word, or phrase that is repeated by someone who is praying or meditating

  • a word or phrase that is repeated often or that expresses someone’s basic beliefs

I use mantras in my daily life and I picture them as a grounding force in a chaotic storm. When your mind is spiraling down an anxious path, a mantra is the kind person who stops to give you directions. It helps by refocusing your thought process and shifting your mind into a calmer demeanor. My brain really loves to work hard, so I meet that need for constant activity with positive thoughts and phrases.
Here are a few beautiful mantras to take you into the weekend. I challenge you to embrace the concept of a mantra and allow the words to fill and calm your soul. The next time you are ruminating on anxious thoughts, replace that fiery energy with some of these options. You will be pleasantly surprised how quickly you can rewire your thoughts and calm your spirit.

I am confident about solving life’s problems successfully.

I transcend stress of any kind. I live in peace.

All is well in my world and I am safe.

With every breath, I release the anxiety within me and I become more and more calm.

Life is wonderful. I trust in God/Universe to live a well fulfilled life.

I overcome my fear of anything and everything and live life courageously.

I acknowledge that the only constant in life is change and am prepared for it.

I am free of anxiety and continue to do so.

Let it be.

Credit to:http://www.self-help-and-self-development.com/affirmations-for-anxiety.html

 

 

Love and Light

IMG_9888

Breathe in the love around you. Be tall like the trees and bright like the sun. Namaste.

Nature meditation.

This weekend we embarked on a hike in Dawsonville, Ga. We hiked to a bed and breakfast that can only be reached by foot through the hills of north Georgia. It is a true gem and perfectly named “Hike Inn.” Ahh, the puns. This was our second trip to this secret spot and it was wild to see how much has changed in our lives since our last visit. When we first started hiking two years ago, we stumbled upon the Inn on a google search. The only hike I had ever done was towards the back of the Target parking lot on Sundays. This whole “put on a backpack, voluntarily walk through the woods, and eat beef jerky” thing was not my normal routine. I played outside a lot as a child, but quickly lost that wanderlust side of myself in early adulthood.

12523838_10154009539214841_8784181409418232656_n

Our journey back to Hike Inn this weekend was healing. We had genuine conversation with new friends, listened to guitar as the sun set, and silently gazed out at the mountains. My love affair with nature has grown with each hike. We have hiked hundreds of miles in the past 2 years and I feel as if I find a piece of my soul during each walk. There is something so vulnerable about traipsing around in the woods and facing your own mind. It is a raw experience where all stimuli of distraction is gone and you must delve into your own spirit. You begin to get to know yourself out in the wilderness.

Meditation and nature compliment one another. Throughout history, many people used nature as a practice inspiration and conducted many sessions outside. Most of us do not have the luxury of living on acres of land, so hiking is a good compromise. I enjoy a walking meditation during my hikes. It normally goes something like this:

10398905_10154009542954841_3963219758368863979_n

Deep breath in 1-2-3, hold 1-2-3, exhale 1-2-3, look around at the magnificent earth. Feel the ground under each boot as you step. Smell the fresh air. Listen for the birds.

Another favorite of mine is something I think I invented…granted, people have been alive for many years so I’m sure some other boho hippie has done this before me. Sigh. Anyway, this is how it goes:

ABC’s of gratitude. During your hike, think of one person, place, or thing that you are grateful for that begins with the letter “A.” Move all the way through the alphabet. You will be humbled by the blessings in your life and by the peace of your surroundings.

We disconnected from technology and the outside world this weekend. It heightened the intensity of my practice and allowed me to truly experience my surroundings. When is the last time you were in nature and sat down to take it all in? I bet you were tempted to take out your phone and immediately capture the beauty. What if you captured the beauty with a mental picture and used it to harness inspiration for your meditation practice? I am guilty of using my phone too much and forgetting the importance of a mindful presence. Working on it…

After we got home, I felt really overwhelmed from all of the stimulation of regular life. Everything seems so loud, bright, and busy after spending a few days in the woods. I verbalized this to Kemp and he added tapestries to my meditation corner to create a secret place. Now, I can meditation and read in my own hidden corner.

My wish for you is to get outside, connect with nature, and do hippie shit.

Love and Light.

 

 

 

Toolbox.

The most daunting part of anxiety is the sneak attack. Anxiety might decide to come play while you are buying bruised organic avocados at the grocery. It might miss you so much that it decides to rear its head during a coffee date with friends. She (I’ve given my anxiety a sassy female alter-ego) might decide to stop by and say hey while you’re 12 episodes deep into Orange Is The New Black. Anxiety is overwhelming simply because it pops up unannounced. These annoying sneak attacks have given me the opportunity to learn how to combat that unwanted wave of panic.

The biggest thing I have learned is to always be prepared. Build a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual toolbox that you always carry. This can be a gray area because some people use items to distract from anxiety or associate certain items with stopping panic. I don’t want you to try to stop it. I want you to ride the wave and have tools that will make you more comfortable during the journey.

Here is my 4-part toolbox:

Physical

  • Lavender essential oil
    • I carry it in my purse/in my car/etc for instant zen
  • My engagement ring
    • My fiance told me to always look at it when I feel anxious and remember I’m never alone in this journey
  • A stone that says “let it be”
    • I bought this from a Crystal shop in Laguna beach. It helps ground me and put things into perspective

Mental

  • Positive self-talk
    • Tell yourself how awesome you are!
  • Mantra
    • Choose 2-3 mantras that you can repeat to yourself if the anxious thoughts are pervasive
    • “Feel the fear and do it anyway”
    • “All is well”
    • “Just keep swimming”

Emotional

  • Feelings are feelings and thought are thoughts
    • Really, though…it is simple! Focus on what your body feels like, not the chaotic shit storm inside your head
  • Reach out to someone around you and verbalize your anxious feelings
    • Telling someone how you feel and creating that connection will make you feel less vulnerable

Spiritual

  • Lift up these feelings to a higher power, whoever you believe in
    • You have God, many gods, the Universe…the possibility to have so many people on your side
  • So much pressure can be relieved when you send up anxious thoughts to the sky

 

Plan ahead, use your toolbox, and dominate life. Over the years, I’ve learned that I can lessen the extent of my anxiety by preparing. If I’m nervous about an interview, I might type the address of the office into Google Earth to see a street view of the building. I might lay out my clothes the night before and have my tea mug laid out. I might drive to the location an hour early to prepare for traffic. I might bring an extra pair of clothes if I spill something on my interview attire. This literally happened in the past (insert long sigh). I might prepare answers to common interview questions. Another example of the benefit of preparation is going out for a weekend hike. I will meticulously plan what supplies, clothes, food I need. I will look at the weather and prepare extra gear. I will carry supplies that could last me a few days if something happens.

You have to stack the deck, make the odds in your favor. Anxiety does sneak up and you can’t always be ready. But…you can be better prepared to journey through the fear.

 

 

Fleeting.

“Unbeing dead isn’t being alive.”
― e.e cummings

I have heard that you can not escape death. It might be a rumor, but it seems to be a popular one. Lately, death has been sprinkled throughout my professional life. As a nurse, we do our best to stall the inevitable. We pause death, we push it back, we scare it away for a few more days. Eventually, the greater plan outweighs our own and the patient transitions to the after life. Some people spend 99 years on this earth and some spend a fraction of that time. Certain lives are long lived and others are fleeting. What determines your journey? Why does one person live to be 100 and another dies as a child? Existentialism aside, that is probably a discussion for another time. For now, I want to share what I learned from people dying. I am shooting for “morbidly uplifting.”

When a patient dies, it makes me question my journey. I question my priorities, my stress, my choices, and my soul. It changes my perspective. When I reflect back on years of journeying with anxiety, it seems so small in comparison. I feel lucky my heart rapidly beats and my anxious mind processes at a rapid pace…because that means I am still alive. Anxiety sucks. We know this by now. However, when I see a deceased patient, I pinch myself because I feel so grateful that my journey continues. A minor panic attack feels like a blip on the radar screen when you see a grieving family member choke back tears. It is all about perspective. Something that feels overwhelming in your life may not seem like anything to another person.

Health can be fleeting. You don’t know what next years physical might find. You don’t know what disease might manifest in ten years. So…why not embrace today for its perfection. Life is unpredictable, so focus on the beauty of today. Be mindful of your energy, breath, and body. Do not let feelings of anxiety or panic dictate your happiness. In the big picture, it is not that serious. Try to minimize your experience and see if that helps with perspective. Yes, you panicked today but that means you are still energized and breathing.

Take your right hand and place it on your chest. Feel that? It is a constant reminder that your work is not done. You have potential to make today the best day of your life. You have a heart that works hard to fulfill your body, mind, and spirit. Embrace each day with an unprecedented desire to find joy in the simple things. You can not predict the future, but you can savor every minute on this divine earth.

Love and light.

 

 

11204969_10153512838864841_220168670356421356_n

My favorite spot to reflect and create.

Anticipatory anxiety.

Why does the unknown scare us? Why does the future cause us unrest? Why do we use anxiety as a mental placeholder while we wait for something to happen?

Well, the answer is simple: anticipatory anxiety.

Humans like control. We like to know what is happening, who is doing it, what it will feel like, and when it is supposed to happen. I am speaking for the vast majority of people. I will exclude the true wanderlust hippies who live blissfully in the NOW. Hopefully, the rest of us lay people can join you one day.

Scene: You have a presentation for work at 4:00pm. You wake up that morning, feeling a blend of nausea and excitement. You can’t focus at work and you feel like your brain has taken residence in a cloud high above the office. You might feel foggy, unfocused, on edge. Your brain recognizes the importance of the presentation and (rather unfortunately) decides it is a really BIG SCARY TERRIFYING THING. That is the deal with an anxious brain. It is overstimulated and angry with adrenaline. You might feel your heart rate increase, another sign that the sympathetic nervous system is pre-gaming this event. Why do the hours leading up to something stressful also have to be stressful? Hey Universe, that is not fair.

So, how do you challenge the anticipatory anxiety. I will let you in on a secret. The event is never as scary as you pictured it. You didn’t barf, pass out, or cry. Or maybe you did…but most people are genuine humans and would be empathetic to your struggle. It is never that bad, that scary, that daunting. Your mind and your adrenal glands have been primed to give exaggerated reactions to stress. Let’s talk about how to calm that response system down in the hours leading up to a stressful event.

  • Be mindful of the present
    • focus on what you are doing right now
    • what do you smell, hear, taste, feel, see?
  • Challenge the catastrophic thoughts
    • what is the worst thing that could happen? (thanks to my mom for instilling that great trick, love you!)
  • Make a positive thought for every negative thought?
    • “Ugh, why am I so anxious right now?!”
    • Counter with “I can harness this feeling to give a creative, energetic presentation”
  • Breathe
    • utilize Pranayama breathing techniques to engage that lovely parasympathetic nervous system and slow the mind/body down

Anxiety blows. Why wait precious hours getting anxious about possibly being anxious?  It is a cyclic thought nightmare. Just say stop. Literally, yell the word stop. Embrace the present moment, focus on your breathe, and save your beautiful brain power for something more productive.

I challenge you to try some of these techniques the next time you find yourself ruminating before a stressful event. Your life is beautiful and worthy. You don’t deserve to waste time with worry.

Love and Light.

IMG_9538.jpg

Slowing down before a presentation with a 5 minute meditation and some Doterra aromatherapy.

Do hard things.

If you let fear guide you, your world will become very small. Anxiety makes us seek constant control. Anxiety intensifies fear. Anxiety changes your perception of your abilities. However, you are not limited to these feelings. If you push yourself and do hard things, you will overcome anxiety.

When I feel anxious, my sympathetic nervous system says, “get the eff out of here! RED ALERT! BING BING BING RUN AWAY.” You get the point. So how do you challenge those thoughts? You do the hard thing. You take on the challenge. You stay in that fear. You do not retreat. You ride the wave of panic.

My day started off well. I had a nice breakfast, worked out, and went to a local trail to hike. Hiking by myself has always been a trigger. When I know I am alone and far from my car, the anxious thoughts drift into my head.

What if I panic and I’m all alone in the woods? What if I get hurt and no one can come help me?

I challenge those thoughts and stop the pervasive thought cycle. I logically analyze the statement. If I panic, then I panic. It won’t kill me. It just sucks for a few minutes. If I get hurt, I still have cell service to call for help. I’m a seasoned nurse, I can take care of most things that could happen to me.

I try to participate in something anxiety-provoking every week. It helps me work on coping and getting back into the adventurous side of life. Today, I did just that.

There is a long, skinny wall that juts out into the river next to the trail. It is about 6 inches wide and leads to a waterfall. I don’t particularly have a fear of heights, but this wall is thin and goes across a freezing river. The thoughts started…”what if I fall? what if I walk out then can’t walk back? what if…what if…what if…” So, I took a few shaky steps out on the ledge. I could taste the metallic adrenaline in my mouth. I stopped, mouthed a few “mother f*ckers” and promptly walked back to the ground. My fear won. I started walking back towards the parking lot.

A wave of disappointment washed over me. Am I really going to let my actions be dictated by fear? Nope. I turned around, hopped on the ledge, and walked all the way across. I sat down on the wall and meditated. I won. I channelled the fear and converted it into energy to finish the task. My fiance (Iraqi War Vet) always tells me “just finish the drill.” I finished it and it felt pretty damn good.

Challenge yourself to do hard things. It will help you grow emotionally, physically, and spiritually. How can you incorporate challenges into your life? How can you grow from fear?

 

Love and light

Accidental hippie.

I live in a city surrounded by crunchy granola hipsters. I love most of them. It is a lifestyle that compliments the alternative nature of Atlanta life. A-town is synonymous with trendy, hip, artistic, and raw. It is a town that supports uniqueness and straying from the norm. This cultural vibe has worn off on me throughout the years and I have evolved into a crunchy hippie. My days consist of essential oils, yoga, meditation, skinny jeans, and a vat of coconut oil. I ain’t mad about it.

There is a fine line between suburban PTA mom and a crunchy hipster. Or is there? I guess what I am trying to say is there can be a fluidity between your persona. I know a lot about GMOs, chemicals, etc…but I still like the occasional greasy hamburger and caked on toxic makeup. I think there is this mentality that once you choose to live a clean/hippie lifestyle, every aspect of your life must change. Welp. That is overwhelming. It should be treated like a spectrum. Substitute some unhealthy choices for healthy ones and work towards a cleaner life. It does not have to be an overnight transformation to perfection. That is where the danger lives. We put so much pressure on ourselves once we decide to adopt a flower child journey. Everything is a progression. Make one positive change each day and set yourself up for success.

Why did I choose a more bohemian life? Well, internet, I am so glad you asked. Or maybe you didn’t, but I feel like this post should be longer so we are going for it. My struggle with anxiety is embedded in an overly-goal oriented personality and crappy choices. I was the girl who wrote down goals for high school on the first day of class. Thus far, I have achieved every academic goal I have ever made. Cool, right? Eh. Debatable. It came hand in hand with anxiety, panic attacks, and gastrointestinal issues.

I also used to drink a lot of alcohol, coffee, and tea. My caffeine intake was impressive to say the least. My food choices were also sub par. Picture late night fast food outings and a plethora of desserts from the campus dinning hall. About two years ago, I decided to experiment with lifestyle changes related to my anxiety. I cut out binge drinking and all fast food. I have not been drunk or had McDonalds in over two years. That second part was harder than the first.

I learned about yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. I started working with crystals and essential oils. I bought a Himalayan salt lamp. I started wearing turquoise to bring positive energy to my day. I started using mala beads as a form of prayer. I switched out my cleaning supplies and makeup with all natural alternatives. I cut out caffeine (recently…yikes). I started working out 5 days a week. I started talking to a fellow granola-esque therapist. My anxiety became a lot more manageable. Everything just kind of got better. I accidentally became a hippie.

Have you adopted a more alternative, natural lifestyle? Did you make the choice when you felt like you were struggling and needed a change? Let me know!

Love and light.

Balance.

Life is like riding a bicycle.

To keep your balance,

you must keep moving.

-Albert Einstein

Maintaining balance between life, love, jobs, friends, family, etc can be a delicate act. The feminist side of me embraces the fact that women wear so many hats. We have the ability to serve many roles, while maintaining a fierce sense of individualism. However, life is not a perfect balance. Certain roles will pull at your heart strings with a ferocious energy. A lot of my roles have shifted over the past few weeks. We officially announced our engagement, my future mother-in-law was hospitalized, and I started as a nurse practitioner student at a new clinic. During the past few weeks, the delicate balance of my roles shifted. My anxiety loves these scenarios. Anxiety feeds off of external chaos.

Here are my pearls of wisdom from the past month (not sure I’m qualified for that, but we are going for it!) :

Life will never be perfectly balanced. You can not control everything. When you are spinning all of your plates eloquently above your head, you will get an arm cramp and they will crash down. AND THAT’S OK. Or, you might maintain the balance but you will become physically and mentally exhausted. It is ok. It is always ok.

Scene: Kemp’s dad called us panicked on a Sunday morning. Kemp’s mom couldn’t breathe and was rushed to the ER. Kemp hangs up. He looks at me and I know it is time to shift my balance from 50/50 partnership to 100/0 partnership. It is time to carry him in this moment. Guess what happens when you shift your mindset from panic brain to compassion brain. Anxiety dissipates. Everything is better with his mom and I did not let anxiety dictate the situation. In that moment, I led with love, not fear. As a healthcare provider and anxiety goddess, I found the balance.

As someone who journeys with anxiety in my passenger seat, I feel compelled to tell you (and myself/ego/id/superego/all those other undergraduate psych vocab words) that it all will be ok. Balance is possible. You might have anxiety and it might debilitate your spirit. But, you might find moments of relief throughout the day. Maybe that is your balance right now. Life is not black and white. It is a journey of greys that seep into some mixture that we call life. You will never simply be an anxious person. You are a balance of a beautiful soul who has an occasional dark cloud. Keep moving forward through the stress and the change. Do hard things. Find a healing balance. Stressful situations are just opportunities for you to show yourself strength.

I intended for this piece to be fluid and encapsulate the concept of balance. I’m not sure I ended up there. I guess that’s what I get for writing a piece after eating nothing but sugar and sitting at a carwash in 30 degree weather. Eh, I’ll take it.

Love and light

IMG_8613

Life is not black and white. Except, I guess it kind of is if you look at my meditation corner. AWKWARD.