Pushing Past Limiting Beliefs

We don’t generally question that little narrator inside our heads as we go about our day. Often times we don’t even take notice of the things it is saying. We’ve become accustomed to the phrases it repeats over and over again. For most of my life I was completely unaware of just how important this voice was when it came to how I saw myself and how I moved through my daily life. We become so used to the things this voice has always said, that we can forget that we have the ability and the responsibility to continue challenging them as we grow and change.

I realized the other day that one of the things I often tell myself is, “I can’t.” I can’t handle this. I can’t do that. Etc. etc. I don’t like to test that assumption though even when I should. The reason I don’t is because I’m so afraid to fail. However, I’m just putting the emphasis on the wrong thing. Sure, maybe I really can’t do whatever it is. But won’t it be interesting to find out? Maybe at the very least I could change that inner dialogue to: I can’t do this yet.

One of the many lessons I have learned through my yoga practice is that trying and “failing” at new things is how we grow. It’s how we actually become able to do those hard things one day. If after the first attempt I made at a headstand, I determined once and for all if I could do the pose, I wouldn’t have ever learned how to do it. Lots of things in life are just like learning how to do a headstand. You’ve got to take the time to kick and flail your legs up over your head so many times before you get the hang of it. You’ve got to give yourself the extra support you need in the beginning, like a wall, so that you feel safe enough to try. Rather than focusing on the end result, which usually isn’t the perfect headstand you hope to attain some day, it’s more important to focus on the process.

Curiosity has always been a close companion of mine. However, as I’ve gotten older it has gotten harder to remember to tap into that curiosity. No matter what is going on around me, I can make the choice to stay curious. This energy really helps me to stay present as well. There is a bit of levity in curiosity. One of the new mantras I’ve been working with is, “let’s see.”

When you hear that inner voice telling you “this is too much” or “I can’t do this,” try responding to that voice with “let’s see.” Staying curious, being present for the process, focusing on learning. These are the ways that we can find more ease and excitement in our lives. There is always something new to discover. There is so much depth, so many overlapping layers to this life. Make sure you find the time to invite some curiosity and joy into your day today. If you notice that automatic voice in your head, try responding to it with, “let’s see.” Explore new ways that you can learn and test your limits today. Accepting whatever the outcome may be with compassion and grace, being open to the many different forms “success” can take. Knowing that either way, you’ve learned something new, and perhaps even added one more building block towards your goal.

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Self Care Summer

The other day, my best friend told me that she has declared summer 2021 as self care summer. This really made me happy to hear and inspired me to make my own summer about taking better care of myself too. After finally reaching the tentative ending of an extremely tough year fraught with isolation, neuroticism, sickness, and stress in 2020, I think we are all feeling a bit frazzled and out of touch with our higher selves. In order to balance that out, it will be nice to spend this year, especially the summer months, coming back home to ourselves.

It felt like the first half of 2016 was the last time I really had my shit together. I was really getting deeper into my yoga practice. I was eating super healthy plant based meals. I had my own apartment for the first time and was working my first full-time job. I started doing HIIT workouts. I was hanging out with my friends regularly. For the first time in my life I was really feeling good about myself. Then my ex came back into my life briefly and blew that all to hell in a matter of months. Since then I’ve been struggling just to get myself grounded again.

2020 was probably one of the worse years of my life. As I’m sure it was for a lot of people. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a more unhealthy place mentally. I still haven’t fully recovered from all the bad habits I cultivated during that year. My new relationship has really lit a fire inside me for self improvement though. Yet it’s somewhat different than the self improvement I’ve been passionate about in the past. I guess I shouldn’t really even call it self “improvement.” It’s more like self love and self acceptance.

In the past, my goals were always focused around improving myself so I would be more desirable to others. I wanted to live a healthy balanced life, not for myself, but so that I could attain some ideal, unrealistic body and self image. I still have a lot of the same goals all these years later, but this time there are different intentions behind them. This time around I want to focus on how my body feels rather than how it looks. I’m ready to start doing the work to get myself back to a better place mentally.

I’ve set up so many artificial barriers for myself. When I’m allowed to eat, what I have to do every day, and in what order. I’ve created a prison within my own mind. It sounds silly to say, but when I remember that I can actually do whatever I want it feels so liberating. I’d almost forgotten that my life doesn’t have to be this way. I’m working on keeping that truth close to my heart. I want to reconnect with this beautiful body of mine and treat it with compassion and respect. I don’t need to have each and every moment of my day planned out. Sometimes it’s okay to just sit in stillness and enjoy being alive.

I want to work on being more present in my day to day life and actually get excited about being alive again. There was a time when I thought the things I’m doing now would make me happy, and maybe they did for awhile. But nothing in life remains the same for long. These habits are no longer serving me, and even though I don’t know what will happen if I let them go, I know I can handle it. And so can you. So here is your official invitation to a summer of self care. Let’s raise our frequencies together.

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Staying Positive

Well today’s the day. This afternoon I am going to be driving nearly six hours to go stay with my boyfriend for a few days. I can’t believe it’s finally happening. I’ve never driven anywhere close to that far before. I think the longest I’ve driven was two hours. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around. It feels like I’ve been somewhat disassociating from the whole thing. I’ve been trying my hardest not to think about it too much.

As I was trying to fall asleep last night, I nearly had a panic attack. I even considered calling the whole thing off. I always tend to overreact about things at night. I hoped that by the morning I’d feel better, and I do. I feel much better. Part of me is even excited. It has been a very long time since I’ve done something even remotely similar to this. I don’t really go on vacations or anything. This is going to be the biggest adventure I’ve been on in my adult life.

I forgot how exhilarating it can be to be in uncharted territory. It’s also interesting to see the way other people’s perceptions of the situation have effected me. True to form, my mother is losing her mind. She has been sick with anxiety over this since I told her. Her panic has made me much more fearful than I was originally. It’s no wonder I developed an anxiety disorder growing up with that woman. However, my more sane coworkers don’t seem to think it’s that big of a deal. Remembering their relaxed responses makes me feel more brave.

In the end, I get to decide how I feel about this trip. And I have decided that it is going to be fun. I am going to use this time driving to finally relax and unwind. Some people love long car rides after all. I’m going to call my mom and my best friend and maybe even my sister and my grandma. We can have long meaningful discussions about anything and everything while I watch the beautiful scenery pass by my window. I can also use this time to practice. I’ve bookmarked some mindfulness and meditation podcasts. I am always wishing I had more time to meditate. Here’s my perfect chance. What a magnificent transformation six hours of mindful breathing would unveil.

Any time I am faced with something daunting and stressful, I like to turn it into something I can be excited about. I tack on little incentives and rewards for myself to enjoy. It’s been literally years since I’ve given myself a true break. I am always doing something or planning something, trying my best to be as productive as possible. But today I have six whole hours to just sit and breathe. I get to make myself look and feel pretty and take a journey to see my darling boyfriend whom I miss so very much. Not only that, we are going to say “I love you” for the first time. I can’t wait to hold his precious face in my hands. We are going to spend a blissful little honeymoon together and hopefully by the end of it I’ll have convinced him to come back home sooner rather than later.

In addition to all of that, I am going to buy myself any kind of silly treat I see on the way. I can try new candies or drinks I find. I might even buy myself one of those delta-8 vape pens if I see any. I’m also going to make a point to stop every few hours just so I can stand up and stretch my body a bit. I can’t wait to try new vegan foods at the cafe up there. I also can’t wait to have three days off from working out! It’s been years. It will be so wonderful to forget all my worries and just enjoy myself for a few days. I’m hoping that getting away from my house and my normal routine will give me the space I need to drop a lot of the unhealthy habits I’ve adopted over quarantine.

Worrying about how this drive is going to be won’t do me any good. Getting anxious about something like this does not make you more prepared. All it does is deplete your mental and physical energy for no reason. I am not anxious about today. I am excited. I am strong and independent and capable. I am smart and filled with a deep inner peace that I can tap into whenever I want. I am overflowing with love and joyous energies. I can do anything. Today is going to be an amazing day.

12 Tips for Road-Tripping on a Budget | Mental Floss

Positive Things About Long Distance

Even though it hasn’t been that long since my boyfriend moved out of the area, it’s already starting to weigh on me. It has been a few weeks since I last saw him in person. We talk every once and awhile over the phone or on FaceTime. I still feel my heart beginning to grow colder towards him though. I know that once I go visit him at the end of this month, all of those familiar, nervous, lovey-dovey feelings will come flooding back. My issue is how to get those feelings to remain when we’re apart for long periods of time. That’s why today I decided to make a list of positive things about our long distance relationship to focus on.

One: Romantic

Maybe it’s just me, but I find the whole concept of long distance relationships to be rather romantic. It makes me think about women pining over lovers in the war and soldiers writing love letters home or keeping a picture of their wives in their uniform pocket. Nate and I are already planning on writing letters back and forth to one another which I am very much looking forward to. This air of romance is exciting. Although I don’t know how long it will last.

Two: Space

Even though I miss him so much, it’s still nice to have some space from my boyfriend. I have been alone for a long time and I don’t know if I’d be ready to go full force into a new relationship after that. I have a feeling things would be moving along faster than I’m comfortable with if not for the distance separating us. I don’t want to be single anymore, but I still have a lot of personal baggage to workout before inviting someone else into my life fully. For now I’m still enjoying living on my own and having my own space.

Three: Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

One of the most interesting things I remember learning about while getting my degree in psychology was a strange psychological phenomenon that happens all the time without us even realizing it in our conscious minds. I’m sure that it must have a name, but I can’t remember it at the moment, so I’ll just explain it. Apparently when we agree to do something for someone our subconscious makes a justification for it. So while doing a favor for someone might make that person like you more, it also makes you like them more. Isn’t that strange? I always assumed I’d like someone less if I was constantly having to do things for them, but apparently not. Our brains make the rationalization that if we are helping this person, it must be because we really like them. I feel like this phenomenon has a role to play in the time worn phrase: distance makes the heart grow fonder. I think that the mere act of working on a long distance relationship convinces us that we care for someone even more than we already do. The subconscious thinks, “wow, if I’m going through all of this effort, I must really be in love.” I’m hoping my theory is correct and this distance between us serves to bring our hearts closer together.

Four: Momentous Meetings

Oftentimes we begin to take our partners for granted. When we see one another every week or even every day, it begins to lose the magic it once had. We become accustomed to each other and start to lose that mystery and nervousness that make first dates so exciting. Since Nate hasn’t been able to come over for awhile, it has really made the moments we do get to talk to one another or see each other (even through a screen) that much more special. At the end of this month, I will finally be going up to see his new place and spend a few days with him. Normally seeing your boyfriend wouldn’t be a huge deal, but for me it’s going to be not only a mini road trip, but a vacation as well. I am really looking forward to having a few blissful days just soaking in each other’s company and affection.

Five: Time to Talk

It seems to me that a lot of relationships end up being built on unstable foundation. It’s always important to really take the time to get to know someone mentally and emotionally before committing to them. Physical intimacy can accidentally take the place of emotional intimacy. Then once that initial physical attraction begins to fade, partners start to realize that they were never a good match for each other in the first place. Being a very non-sexual person, this works out for me especially well. I may miss being physically close to Nate and I certainly miss spending quality time with him and going out on dates together, but I don’t have to worry about becoming sexually frustrated. I’m perfectly satisfied just having him emotionally for now. I’m hoping that we can develop an even stronger bond this way. It also helps with my self-esteem issues. I know he isn’t just using me for sex if we can’t even have sex.

Well I feel much better after brainstorming some good aspects of my long term relationship. It’s still quite difficult at times, but I am trying to stay positive overall. It’s easy to focus on the negatives in life, but we cause ourselves so much suffering when we allow ourselves to ignore the silver lining of situations. There is always a different perspective to consider.

8 Best Tips to Make a Long-Distance Relationship Work | Time

Memories

Today I thought I’d give myself a little break from coming up with a topic to write about. Instead I’d like to write about a few memories that make me happy. I’m hoping that by doing this it will put me in a good mood and help me enjoy the rest of my nice, rainy day off. So here are five memories of mine that bring me joy.

One: The drunken sleep overs I used to have with my two best friends in high school.

Despite all of the problematic things I went through, high school was still one of the best times in my life. I was very lucky to have a very close knit group of wonderful people around me. It was especially nice to spend the night with my two best friends, let’s call them Bailey and Ally. Young and full of teenage angst, nothing was more gratifying than sneaking around after our parents went to sleep and getting into their liquor cabinets. Drinking was never more fun than when it was forbidden. I still remember one night in particular that Ally, Bailey, and I even snuck a couple boys into my house. We had so much fun and they brought us some weed to smoke too. I distinctly remember having my first cigarette that night. We were standing out in the warm night air, there was a hardly perceptible drizzle of rain coming down. In that moment with my best friends in the world, I felt completely and utterly content.

Two: Making forts at my mom’s office.

When I was a preteen, I used to spend a few days every week in summer at my mom’s office. She worked for a local college and they had a summer program for kids around my age so that employees and students didn’t have to pay someone to watch their kids after school let out for the year. Even though I was still a very awkward little weirdo, I managed to find myself a group of friends there. The other girls in my group were a few years older than me, but that made me feel cool to be included. One of our favorite things to do (especially if it was stormy out) was to move together a bunch of tables and cover them with blankets. Then we would go inside and hangout in our nice little fortress. I can still recall that feeling of togetherness and comfort that it always gave me. Although I don’t think about that place often, it still holds a lot of precious memories for me.

Three: Walking to the park in my hometown.

Many times throughout my childhood and adolescence I walked from my house to a little park in town. We lived on a back road on the outskirts of a small town, so it was quite a substantial walk there and back. I used to walk there with my sister and grandma. We’d often get some Reese’s pieces or a can of pop from the little corner store. As I got older I would walk there with my friends when they would come over. In middle school I would often walk there alone to meet a boy in town that I dated. I still remember getting butterflies when he would call me and ask if I wanted to go to the park. That’s even were I got my first kiss all those years ago. I honestly haven’t thought about that in years, but it brings me just as much joy as it did back then.

Four: Talking with my friends on the phone and AIM for hours on end.

When I was a kid, talking to your friends was a much bigger deal than it seems to be now. We didn’t have phones glued to our hands to text people sporadically throughout the day. We set aside time specifically for talking either on our landline phones, or on Aol Instant Messenger (AIM). I actually still really miss AIM. It was better than texting because, for one, you could type on an actual keyboard so you could have more in depth conversations. You also knew that if someone was active on there that they wanted to talk to people. I hate the way texting doesn’t seem to have a beginning or an end and you never know if someone is busy or just ignoring you. Even though the advances we’ve made in technology are supposed to bring us closer together, I felt much closer to my friends before smartphones existed. I used to call one or more of my friends on the phone every day. We would talk for hours about everything and nothing. A few times my friend Ally and I would even be on the line in complete silence, just watching a movie together on TV, then discussing it during the commercials. I long to go back to those simpler days.

Five: That Christmas in College were we all bought each other toys.

I used to have a really awesome group of friends that I hung out with my second or third year of college. Sadly since then we have all drifted apart. A lot of the memories from that time have been blurred or obliterated by copious amounts of alcohol. There is one that stands out in my mind though. One year for Christmas we decided to buy each other kid’s toys instead of normal gifts. We had all been missing our childhoods and thought it’d be fun to have a kid Christmas one last time. We all went to Ally’s parents house to spend the night. We drank a lot, opened our gifts, and played together with our new toys as if we were kids again. It was so silly and stupid and special. I am really grateful for that experience. It warms my heart.

So there you have it, five random memories from my life that make me smile. It definitely did feel good to write about all of those things. I have truly had a wonderful life. There are so many of these kinds of memories that we forget we have until we go searching for them. I’ll definitely make more posts of this type in the future to see what other gems I am able to unearth. What are some memories that make you happy?

white ceramic mug on white wooden shelf photo – Free Image on Unsplash

I Am Going to Have a Good Day Today

Each morning when I sit down at my desk, laptop in front on me, WordPress open and waiting, I struggle to think of something to write about. I have a list I keep of a few ideas I could expound upon, but a lot of them seem too depressing to dwell on first thing in the morning. I keep losing sight of the reason I started writing again everyday in the first place. This is for me, this is to amp myself up, to get excited, to have fun. I don’t have to find a new fascinating topic to delve into every day. It really doesn’t matter what I write at all. Rather it’s the simple act of creation, of pouring myself into words on a page, with no other goal than to enjoy doing so.

I mentioned before how visualization before bed has helped me to wake up feeling better, more animated in the morning. Today I wanted to try that same visualization but in order to prepare me for the rest of my day. I have taken the next few days off from work because I had some PTO hours I needed to use up before July. Even though I am always excited for a day off, I never seem to let myself enjoy it. I get all in my head about every little moment, feeding my anxiety all throughout the day. I’m hoping that by sitting down, taking some mindful time first thing in the morning to mentally walk through my day, I’ll be able to feel more present and happy as I move through it.

Today is going to be a great day! I got to sleep in so I am feeling nice and rested. What a beautiful gift to be able to dream all through the night and wake up gently of my own volition. It’s a rather chilly day outside so I am going to spend my time warm and cozy indoors. I am going to have a very productive day. It will be a delight to clean up my house and organize things later. It will be an act of self-love. Tending to my nest so that I can feel more at home, more at peace. It will also be a great joy to show off all my hard work to my vegan boy tomorrow when he comes over again. Once my work is all done and the day is winding down, I’ll reward myself with a relaxing evening playing my new favorite video game.

Before I start my cleaning for the day, I have a lot of wonderful self-care to complete. I do most of these things every single day, yet the intention behind them has faded over time. Theses small acts aren’t supposed to be more chores for me to begrudgingly trudge through. These are small gifts to myself, chances to be present, chances to appreciate myself, my life. Today I am going to be mindful of this sweet, loving intention as I move through my to-do list.

I’ve noticed that a lot of the time while I am going about my business, I’m holding my breath! Or I’m breathing very shallow and quick. Today I am going to keep coming back to my breath. How might it feel to breathe mindfully, lovingly for an entire day? Won’t it be fun to try it out and see? Yes, fun. Above all I want to have fun today. I’m going to keep a light heart, a soft eye, a kind energy. I’m going to be curious and playful, grateful for this new day to spend with myself. My yoga practice today is going to be a celebration of this life I’ve been given, a beautiful flowing dance in tribute to my lovely body, my mother Earth. My meditation will be a much deserved rest, a surrender to that sweet mother. As I kindle that inner fire, that prana, with my workout today I will rejoice at all my body is capable of doing for me. The theme for today is passion, fire, playfulness, admiration, devotion. Each a simple word, yet able to bring such powerful emotions bubbling up to the surface.

One last intention to set before I finish up and move into the rest of my day. Today is just one day. I will focus on the time I have, not the foggy future to come. Perhaps I will have time for everything I’ve got swirling around in my busy mind eventually. Perhaps not. Either way, all I am able to do is focus on the day in front of me. There is not enough time for me to do everything. Instead I will concentrate on doing what I can. Doing it well, with deep breaths, and with many sips from the well of my own self-love.

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I Choose

The longer I live, the more I realize just how much about our lives and the way we experience reality is a personal choice. Our upbringing, our genetics, and our environment definitely contribute to how easily we are able to choose one thing over another, but we all have a choice. Some people may be naturally inclined to view things more negatively than others. For these people, it will always take more effort and practice to see the good in other people and situations. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the effort.

I think I was born a with a friendly, happy, and positive disposition. Even so, as I grew older I began to lose touch with that lighthearted, open nature. Encounters with heartache, pain, and rejection caused me to close my heart little by little in an attempt to protect myself, to shield myself from the world. I started to view myself as a pessimist. I was the stereotypical “emo” kid throughout high school. The longer I stayed in that “woe-is-me” mindset, the more I started to identify with it. Suffering became an essential part of me. For years now I have been working to redirect myself back down a more positive path, a path that feels more true to who I was meant to be, and who I want to be. (I plan to keep that emo aesthetic though. I love me some black clothing.)

Currently, I am at a stage where I am able to clearly see both sides of that coin. I can see the negatives, the pessimistic viewpoint I would have once had, but I can also see the positives, the option I have to view things in a different way. I used to think one way was more true or honest than the other, but now I see that reality is all about perception. There is no right or wrong way to experience the world. It is always a choice. At times this can lead me to feel frustrated as I struggle against that doom and gloom voice I spent so many years feeding and building up inside my own head. It can be easy to get stuck feeling hopeless, feeling unable to change, a lost cause.

When these doubts begin to bubble up I try to remind myself just how far I have come. I never could have imagined that I would be able to become the person I am today. All I can do is keep moving forward and trust in myself. It may be a slow and arduous process, but it’s worthwhile. Truly, it is the only kind of self-improvement that matters. You can tell yourself you will be happy once you get a promotion, make more money, lose more weight, build more muscle, move somewhere else, but even after reaching all of your goals, you are still the one you have to face at the end of the day. It is easy to think that changing external circumstances will change the way we think and feel inside. That inner voice loves to complain and blame this or that for all of our problems. However, those upsetting and limiting thoughts are the real problem. This is always where we must start our journey, inside ourselves.

Even after seeing so many people achieve the things I want to achieve in life and continuing to be miserable, I find myself thinking those same accomplishments will bring me happiness even if it didn’t for them. We always think we are the exception. But those things we desire are ultimately just distractions. They are excuses for why we aren’t able to be happy right now. It can be difficult to admit that we are the only reason we aren’t happy. Happiness comes from within. It has been ours since the day we gained consciousness and it will be available to us in each and every moment until the day we die. Even when it feels impossible for you to allow yourself to be happy, just know that it’s because you haven’t spent enough time practicing. Sometimes I even think of this practice like a game. When I find myself facing something exceptionally upsetting or challenging, I ask myself: are there any positives I can find in this situation? Just like the hag stones I scan the riverbank for, the more time you spend searching for certain things, the easier it becomes to spot them. When I first tried to find those special stones, I felt like I would never find one. I wasn’t even sure if there were any to find. Yet now I am easily able to pick up two or three as I walk along the shore without even trying. At first it might feel like there is really nothing good about different parts of your life, but the more you practice looking for the good in things, the easier it will become and the more abundant those good things will seem.

It can be hard work, training ourselves to be happy, but it is possible. Don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. Keep trying. I say these words for myself as much as for anyone who happens to be reading this. We are capable. We are powerful. We have everything we need inside of us. Don’t be afraid. You are safe. You are loved. You are enough. Even if at first you don’t believe it, keep repeating these uplifting, empowering words to yourself. Eventually they will become as true and real to you as that negative inner dialogue that many of us have become accustomed to. It may not be easy, it may take a very long time, but I promise you, it will work. And it will be worth it.

Channeling Your Inner Child

I saw a post on Tumblr the other day that said: I think the key to a happy life as an adult woman is to channel your inner weird little girl and make her happy. There is so much truth behind those words. Without realizing it, I have been doing exactly that. By setting goals for myself to write and draw everyday, I am actually giving myself permission to enjoy the hobbies I use to enjoy as a young girl. For as long as I can remember I loved to create through these two mediums of artist expression.

Even though I have already been unwittingly following the advice of that post, doing it with a conscious intention of taking care of that strange little girl inside me, makes it feel all the more special and rewarding. At some point as I began to grow up, I started to need a reason behind everything that I did. Which seems strange to me, given that ultimately nothing really matters except what you decide matters. Did I have a reason to play Pokémon and Hamtaro for hours? Was there a good reason for printing out stacks upon stacks of Sailor Moon pictures I found online to color? Was there a purpose to all of the magical time I spent playing outside in nature with my sister and friends? Were these experiences any less important, any less meaningful, because I didn’t have a direct, practical goal in mind?

Perhaps this resistance to doing anything without a clear purpose is merely an excuse, a lingering symptom of mild depression. After all, what better reason is there than to make yourself happy? Sometimes it feels as though I’ve forgotten how to make myself happy, how to enjoy my life from one moment to the next. Only once I’ve begun a project, given myself the time to lose myself in it, do I feel true joy and freedom. It’s taking that first step that is always so very difficult. For example, most days I simply dread the idea of beginning my yoga and meditation practice. I contemplate cutting it short every time. But when I actually sit down and begin, it always becomes the very best part of my day. Despite this, that initial dread never seems to go away.

For a lot of my life, I relied on inspiration to spur me onward. Without it, I felt like there was no way I could continue with anything I was doing. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that most of the time that inspiration follows rather than precedes my actions. Most days I have no idea what I want to write about when I sit down to begin. I never know what to draw in the evenings. Yet I’ve learned that if I just force myself to start, I can surprise myself with what I’m able to create. I think that is what art is all about, surprising ourselves. Most of my best creations were not the result of careful planning and intention. They were spontaneous accidents that allowed me to unconsciously share a piece of myself with the world that I didn’t even know was mine to share.

So when I’m struggling with that stubborn resistance before beginning something, I’ve found it very helpful to remind myself that this is a gift for my inner child. It’s almost like the joy you get from playing with a child, in fact. As an adult, you may not be very interested in the game itself at first, but to see the happiness and pleasure in that innocent little face makes it worthwhile. It makes me so happy inside to imagine my younger self in my place, happily typing away, working hard on stories that will never be published or even read by others. To imagine that little girl I once was drawing anime without a care in the world, her excitement at how good we’ve gotten at it.

Channeling my inner child is one of the best ways for me to remember how to be in the present moment. It reminds me how to enjoy for enjoyment’s sake. I am so grateful for the children I get to meet everyday at work. Their lighthearted energy has been a great help to me as I work to reconnect with the child within myself. I am able to see myself in them and remember what it was like to be the age they are now. They inspire me to keep the child in me alive, to keep her happy, to keep her close. It’s definitely something worth practicing.

Photo by Allan Mas on Pexels.com

2nd Date

What a strange sensation. To feel so happy and eager to see what the future holds. I can’t even remember the last time I felt like this. I’m really trying not to get my hopes up. I know that just because I am feeling good now doesn’t mean that things will work out in the end, but even so I can’t help myself. I’ve never been very good at stopping myself from getting carried away by the possibility of happy times to come. Today has been the best day I’ve had in such a long time.

Today I went on a second date with my new vegan friend. Once again, considering the pandemic, we opted for another hike, this time at a local state park. We even planned to have a little picnic with some wine. I am still in disbelief about how cute it was. The weather was absolutely perfect. I got to wear shorts for the first time since last summer. We spent an hour or so exploring the woods together, stopping to examine different wildflowers as we went. We have so many things in common and so much to talk about. It never feels like we have enough time to say all that we want to say.

Once we were finished with our hike, we found a picnic bench under the shade of some tall pine trees to have our lunch. He had prepared everything for us so nicely. He had a cooler and a picnic blanket for us to spread out over the pine needle covered wooden table. I brought some apples and snap pea crisps for us. He brought some fresh berries, hummus, veggies to dip in it, and of course a lovely bottle of red wine. In addition to all of this (as if it wasn’t perfect and adorable enough already) he handed me a bouquet of tulips! In the past, I haven’t really been a fan of being given flowers for holidays and whatnot, but as a spontaneous surprise, it was just too precious to resist. I don’t know if anything like that has ever happened to me on a date before today.

It was so nice to see him relax more and more as we sipped on our glasses of wine. This was the first time I really got to look at him while we talked, given that until now we had only really talked in person while walking. I really enjoyed looking into his pretty blue eyes and examining the details of his handsome face. He even has one of my favorite male haircuts. I really wanted to kiss him when we parted ways this time, but unfortunately did not. It’s awfully strange to date during a pandemic. I’m never sure if he doesn’t want to kiss me or he’s just being respectful and considerate. On my somewhat long drive back home, I kept kicking myself, fearful that it was the former.

I have been on so many dates in the past that ended up being the last I heard from the person. Now that I had decided I really liked him, I was so afraid this would be another one of those instances. But just like after our first date, he messaged me as soon as I got back home telling me what a lovely time he had. Past disappointments have made me so wary of romantic optimism, but I just can’t restrain my excitement. I really like him a lot. I feel so lucky to have met such a wonderful, vegan man. Especially given that he is from the city. It’s a mystery to me why he would even have any interest in seeing me, given that I live an hour away in the middle of nowhere. I’m sure there are plenty of lovely vegan women closer to him that would be more convenient to date. Nothing against him, but I doubt I would make the same effort if my area wasn’t such a veritable vegan desert.

Maybe it’s just the wine, but my heart feels so soft and gooey right now. I can’t help contemplating all of the fun activities we could do together this summer. I already have so many more interesting date ideas that I can’t wait to try. There are so many things I want to tell him and share with him about my life. There are so many questions I want to ask him about his own. I’m so interested to learn all there is to learn about him. He was reading a freaking book while he waited for me to meet him at the park for crying out loud!!! It’s all just too much for me. I’m swooning.

I had nearly forgotten what it feels like to have a crush on someone. For years now, I was only able to associate romantic feelings with regret, sadness, frustration, confusion, and pain. Even writing this post right now gives me a nostalgic feeling of being a love-struck teenager again. It’s so similar to when I used to gush about boys in my diary. I genuinely never thought I would feel that way again. After all, it has been nearly a decade since I have.

I know it’s still an extremely new relationship and that there is still plenty of potential to get hurt, but for the first time in a long time it feels like it’s worth the risk. And even if things don’t end up turning out well for us, I want to have this post to look back on and remember to be grateful for these feelings and this moment that I have right now. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on how things are moving along. Hopefully after our next date, I’ll finally get that coveted first kiss.

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Overriding the Algorithm

Everything that we consume becomes integrated, it all becomes a part of us. Whether its the food we eat, the things we drink, the substances we use, the physical atmosphere of the space around us, or even just the things we watch and listen to, all of these things effect us. Often in ways we don’t intend for them to. I’ve been contemplating this idea a lot lately. I’ve always been hyper aware of the things I put into my body. Although that doesn’t necessarily mean I make the right choices in that area often enough. My primary concern was always with the effects these things have on my weight and physical appearance. The subtler aspects of how what I consume effects my mental and emotional wellbeing always seem to remain largely overlooked.

Without looking at the scientific data showing correlation, it can be very difficult to even connect the way we feel with what we are consuming day to day. It is probably effecting us more than we realize, especially when it comes to anxiety disorders. In addition to cutting back on processed foods, artificial sweeteners, sugar, caffeine, and nicotine, I also want to start changing the content that I consume online. It would be interesting to make these changes just to see if I notice a difference. To log my mood and anxiety level throughout this process to try to gauge just how different I might feel without all of these harmful influences being so enmeshed in my life.

Knowing what I do now about the way our internet experience is basically tailor made for us by algorithms, I would like to try my hand at making that algorithm serve me instead of steer me. I’ve always been someone who enjoys the grittier side of movies and series. So the videos that are offered to me for easy access are primarily about murder mysteries, drug addiction, mental illness, homelessness, social injustice, civil unrest, etc. And while these topics are very interesting, they can also be very upsetting and depressing. When this is the only content that is readily available to you, it can start to feel like all that there is. I wonder how much of what I think and feel every day is directly impacted by this endless background noise of destruction, violence, and despair. Would I be a different person, would I think differently if I actively sought out different content?

One of the reasons the idea of the algorithm guiding our hand has been on my mind so much lately, is because of what’s currently happening on my Netflix account. Somehow I fell down a rabbit whole of watching English dubbed, foreign TV series. Don’t get me wrong, quite well-produced and intriguing stuff, but after awhile I get tired of the voiceover and the dialogue not lining up with the actors’ lip movements. Much to my dismay I seem unable to extricate myself from this issue. Netflix continues to suggest only these shows, and due to my general laziness I put up with watching another one rather than put any effort into finding a good American made show instead. Thus furthering Netflix’s propensity toward offering me foreign series and films. The algorithms that were created to assist us, eventually start to direct and limit our ability to make our own decisions. Only with great, intentional effort can we overcome this endless loop.

Another reason I am interested in the idea of changing the content I consume is to discover just how difficult it would actually be to do. How quickly would the algorithm adjust to a drastic change in interest? The only reason I haven’t done this sooner is because I enjoy the content I consume as I’m sure we all do. I don’t feel confident that I will be able to find more positive content that will interest me as much. I worry that I won’t be satisfied if I limit myself to only watching lighthearted, fluffy shows. I suppose if that ends up being the case, I can always transition away from it again. Perhaps I’d even be able to establish a nice balance between these opposing genres.

I’m going to do some investigating and see if there are any useful resources already out there online for ways to go about shifting your internet experience so that you are exposed to more uplifting content. It seems that someone must have already had the idea to consciously manipulate the algorithm for the benefit of their mental health already. It will be interesting to expose myself to a whole new side of the internet that has remained hidden from me until now. Who knows what I may uncover? I’ll be sure to make an update to this post once I implement this new plan and discover how this seemingly innocuous change effects me.

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