June Check In

So much has happened since my last post in April. I have so much to share!  There have been some progress on my goals, and some fun trips. Yet I wanted to take a moment and back track on my journey the last few months. I have made some major life changes. These changes are centered around putting my overall well being first.

In my last post, I talked about my old job. Looking at that post hurts. My words were careful to skim only the surface. I am passionate about working with people with Intellectual or Developmental disabilities. Yet the place I was working was terrible. We had little support to help the kids. It was chaotic and the hardest workers were taken advantage of. If you got physically assaulted by an escalated kid, you got a five minute break. Each day I was getting beat up. It is hard to do such taxing  work with little support.

On top of the physical and mental aspect, I was constantly sick. In a four month period, I experienced four colds, the flu, stomach flu, and strep throat.  My body was tired, and I was emotionally taxed, I could barely keep my eyes open and was always on the edge of tears. When I wasn’t working I was sleeping, or trying to relax. There was no time or energy for goals or dreams. It got to a point where all my energy was being put into survival the next day. That isn’t a way to live.  Towards the end of May, I needed a change.

I got my break at the end of April. I was diligent and worked to earn myself a new position. It is working in the same field, but with a less volatile population with better support.  I was getting burnt out, and loosing passion for the field. I am so passionate about this field, and look forward to pursuing it.

I was also blessed to be given the opportunity for a trip. I spent ten days traveling in the south. I took this time to step away from everything and relax. I mean everything. A big part of my life is reading and writing. I put both of these aside for self reflection. Most of the trip was spent sitting in the sun, exploring, and engaging in much needed self care.

I needed it more than I realized.

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These are two pictures of me. The left one was taken in April.  My face is sunken and tired. What haunts me the most are my eyes. looking back, I knew how I felt, but didn’t know how evident it was on my face.  The second picture is after seven days on vacation. The life is back in my eye. I look healthy, and alive. Looking at these pictures, I am happy  I made these changes. No job is worth your mental health.

It took a lot of hard work, but I’m happy that I took the initiative and moved on.

Finding Happiness

I have been away, taking some time to regroup. Late in 2018 we faced some challenges that forced us to move in with family. We traded in a wide open country lifestyle for a hectic urban one. It was hard, but we needed to get out of a toxic situation. Yet it has been an adjustment.

Overall, I thought that it would be much more of a challenge to my mental health. In the past, adversary has tended to drag me down into a dark place. Yet this time It has not been too bad. I have been trying to figure out why, and I think it is all about my attitude.

This year I am making a big effort to focus on the positive. I have also taken time for self care, and reflection. I have found that by doing this, my attitude is better. I have found a way to be happy, despite the challenges.

Life is about how we meet challenges. We can either choose to yearn for something ahead, or choose to be happy where we are. This afternoon, instead of yearning for another far off trip, I enjoyed the moment. We forget to do that, and I believe that it steals so much happiness from our lives. It is great to wish for bigger things but we cannot let those dreams consume us and steal the joy out of everyday moments.

There is magic in everyday moments, we just need to open up our minds to see it.

Me First.

 In my last post I wrote about my past, and its challenges. I wanted to follow up by writing about my plan of action. One part of my plan is a deeper focus on self care. We live in a face paced world, and often put our needs last.  Taking care of ourselves is important to our mental health. I can’t engage in the reflection needed to move forward without a self care routine. These are the things that I take care of myself.

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Photography I have always enjoyed photography.  The camera of choice is my D7100. I enjoy taking pictures of nature and cities. These pictures are taken and posted online on sites like Instagram. it is rewarding to share my point of view through pictures.

Writing Writing has always made me feel free. My days are not complete until I sit down and commit words to a page. My mental health is tied into this activity. When life gets busy and writing get pushed off, I get irritable.  It is important for me to try to write at least one full page a day. Writing is therapeutic, and helps relieve stress.

Reading Books are always a welcome distraction. Opening a good book helps me relax. Each day I try to end my day by reading. I have learned so much from books. They also serve as a quiet source of entertainment.  Reading is one of my most important types of self care. Books help me let go and relax.

Walking A good long walk helps put many things into perspective. The fresh air makes me feel better, as does the exercise. Sometimes I get too intense and need to step away from things. Walking gets me out into nature, and often I come back with story ideas. They also help with my worry.  Getting miles under my feet brings me back to my center.

These are the activities that make me feel better.  This routine of self care makes me feel centered and calm. It gives me a piece of mind, I have never had. I am just learning to take that back for myself, and it feels good. Hopefully these things will help me move forward.

Do you have a self care routine? Or something that helps you feel centered?  If so, drop it in the comments. I love new ideas, and fun, fresh takes on self care.

Till next time

-Colleen

 

My Past

What are you up to this weekend? In New Hampshire we finally have some snow on the ground. It has been a dry boring winter, so the snow is a welcome change. We also are FINALLY done moving. This weekend has been our first calm weekend since December. The down time has given me time to reflect.

Honestly I have been struggling the last few years. I feel unsettled and am struggling to get ahead. My growth has felt stifled. Life has been chaotic, but that is part of being an adult. I look around and see people overcoming what I can’t. only recently, have I begun to realize that the issue is bigger. My struggles have to do with my past.

My Mother was a alcoholic. She drank heavily, and was verbally abusive. I witnessed many nasty fights as a child. I hid that fact from the world for years. During my early twenties, I was bulletproof. I had escaped unscathed. I was willing to accept that my childhood had made me stronger, but ingored the damage that had been done.

Trauma… It was trauma. The type that digs deep into your soul, and changes you. It can break you, if you let it. The first twenty eight years of my life were spent running from that. I put a strong face onto it, and ignored until it caught up with me.

I am only beginning to realize the depth of the challenges. My defenses are always up, which has made building relationships hard. I struggle with debilitating worry that harms my health. Easily overwhelmed, I have outbursts of intense, uncontrollable emotion. My brain simply can’t handle even small issues. Everything is a perceived threat. I am terrified of conflict, and so hard on myself. The scars are deep, and I am still coming to terms what that means for my life. The damage has held me back. It is time to face it.

2019 will be a building year. It will be focused on my personal development. To be successful, I need to face my past. It is also important for my happiness. I decided to write about it today, on a whim. I need to own the past, to give it life. That is the only way I will be able to get past it. I hope that this can help someone out there who is struggling with the same thing. We can all get through this, the first step is facing it.

Till next time

-Colleen