The Gift of Anxiety

Change is about becoming uncomfortable, but change also leads us to a life we have only dreamt about – a life of abundance, peace, joy and love.

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Anxiety is tough, isn’t it? I get it. I’ve been there – many times. I don’t have it always, but when it comes on, I want to get rid of it, and fast. Like everything else, that affects our mental health, there are different levels of anxiety. There is acute panic symptoms which can be accompanied by sweating, increased heart rate, rapid breathing. Then there’s the long-term generalized anxiety – that uneasy feeling that seems to hang around more often than not, like termites gnawing at your insides. Anxiety can manifest as specific fears, which can be about anything. The two strangest I have heard of is:

  • Nomophobia: Fear of Being without Cellphones. 
  • Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia: Fear of Long Words.

We are programmed from an early age to be fearful. “Don’t step on a crack, or you will break your mother’s back.” As we grow, we continue to hear messages of fear. We cannot turn on the news without some fearful message plastered across our computer or television.

But let’s go deeper. Let’s get personal. It has been my experience that all anxiety is a cover up, a warning, a message that something is lurking beneath the surface. Something is trying to get our attention. The more we resist, the more anxious we become.

Well before the feelings of anxiety erupt, the seeds of denial, avoidance or repression are planted. Seeds grow, and over time, and it is natural for the seed to want to break through the surface and find the sun. Whatever you are repressing from your awareness, trying not to think about or feel, is attempting to break through the surface.

When the seedling wants to find the light, it is like a pot of water, boiling, with a lid rattling against the top. If you remove the lid, the steam and bubbles are free to just be. But if you keep the lid on – it will rattle you to the core.

Whether you feel anxiety or fear, here is what has helped me. It is a process that involves 5 steps – changing your state, becoming curious, allowing what arises to be felt or known, surrendering, honoring your truth.

  1. Changing your state with gratitude – if you are busy focusing on what you are thankful for, you are giving your mind something to focus on other than fearful thoughts. I like to play the Gratitude Alphabet Game. I start with A, and think about all the things I am thankful for that begin with A. Then, I move to B, and so on. Somewhere along the way, I begin to feel calmer.
  2. I surrender control – anxiety and fears worsen, when we try to control, manage or stuff it down. It is like holding down the pot lid, when it wants to come off.
  3. Curiosity – anxiety and fear cannot coexist with curiosity. I ask my self what is it really about? Where in my body am I feeling the most anxious? What is behind this anxiety?
  4. Allowing – whether is it an awareness, memory of feeling, I let it come to me without judgment.

Here is the final step. I separate it because it has become the most important step for me to grasp.

5. I honor and love all of me – every quirk, feeling, thought, behavior; every weird bit of me.

Let me explain.

It was a few years ago, when my intuitive gifts began to emerge. I was talking with a woman who was telling me her dog was limping – that she thought she must have hurt her leg while chasing horses on their farm. I heard the words “She has Lyme Disease.” I said nothing because I thought it was strange and I had not idea why I thought that. I left without telling her what I heard. Over the course of the day, the anxiety began to build. It got so bad, it was not until I went back and told her what came into my mind that the anxiety dissipated and I felt calm and peaceful again. Turned out, her dog had Lyme.

This happened again and again. Images, thoughts, gut feelings, song lyrics, messages – kept coming into my awareness without my asking. Because I am stubborn, I kept resisting. I didn’t like them. I thought it was weird, and I didn’t want to be weird.

Eventually, I gave in. What I realized is, whether I like it or not, I am an empath. I can hear messages from beyond my body. I see images in my mind’s eye. I can feel someone who has already passed away and what they need me to hear. I have no idea where they are, but they sure have a lot to say. I can also feel what someone is feeling who is sitting beside me on the bus, or across the world. Like anxiety, I used to think my empathic abilities were a curse, now I know they are a blessing. It came down to a choice. Honor who I am, or feel anxious.

My advice is to let your feelings, thoughts, memories out! Say it, write it down, honor the truth. If you were not ready to hear it, feel it, know it, you would not be feeling anxious. Anxiety is always a gift. It encourages us to go inward, express ourself, feel and acknowledge our feelings and our true self.

Perhaps you can look at anxiety, as a gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) nudge. Change is about becoming uncomfortable, but change also leads us to a life we have only dreamt about – a life of abundance, peace, joy and love. Coming out with who we are, speaking the truth about our past and our self, feeling everything, promotes peace and well-being.

I used to pray to figure out my life’s purpose, why I was here. I didn’t expect to be an empath, a messenger. I was thinking it would be more like – opening up a coffee/book store, a business professional or serving drinks under a cabana on the beach.

Finding my purpose is where I have found peace. And anxiety got me there. Now, I am grateful to find, not the road less travelled, but the road I am meant to travel. And if we cross paths, do not forget to give me a high-five. I will be the one that keeps on walking, feeling, figuring out who I am, and why I am here. And just maybe I will also be the one serving drinks on the beach.

 

 

 

 

The Supermom is Dying, and I am Helping Dig her Grave.

 

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This is my teenage daughter’s closet. I am not posting this picture to embarrass her, or pretend my closet growing up was any different. I am posting it because it helps all us moms breathe easier. We are not alone, and although the supermom image is still hanging around like an old Yearbook photo, it is fading.

I always hated the saying, “Fake it Till You Make it.” It’ screams out, lie about where you are at – speaking the truth and being vulnerable is wrong. It is just as detrimental a saying as “Never let them see you sweat.” Guess what? We all sweat, we all have bad days, and we all struggle until we make it.

We have been dooped, led by Gillette’s marketing geniuses that tell us as women, we are not supposed to show our sweat. Even though it was to sell a product, it seeped into our culture, clogging our minds, along with our pores.

Thank God for our children. As toddlers, their strained carrots seeped into our carpets, as their round cheeks planted roots within our hearts. It was also common place for me to pull a pair of dirty jeans off the floor, but pretend they were clean. When those children turned into teenagers, my dirty jeans morphed into yesterday’s leggings. My wonderful boundary pushing mini adults with their messy rooms and natural self-centeredness, made sure I could not be a supermom even if I tried.

Freedom came when I remembered what I have always known. My daughter’s room with the clothes on the floor and her very messy closet, is not a reflection on my parenting skills or how valuable she is as a person. Her floor is messy because she is busy with her college acceptance process, preparing to leave the only home she’s known. She is buying shoes for Prom, studying hard, volunteering, working out and earning money as a dog walker. I am not saying don’t tell your kids to clean their room, I am saying shut the door and don’t take it personally. I am saying, DO NOT fake it to you make it. Keep it real, and be honest. Show your pictures of your kids’ messy rooms and dirty faces.

I am also saying, let’s slap on a cape, and turn all of us supermom wantabees into superheroes. Messy rooms, messy hair and messy houses is just small stuff.

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I love my daughter, but her messiness is no more a reflection on me than the college sticker on the back of my car. I love her in all her beauty and messiness. And guess what? I was the same way. I was messy, and today at times, I still am. In fact, the messier my house, the happier I am. It means I am busy writing, talking with my husband, sitting with my son and giving him my full attention when he wants to show me his latest Lego creation. It means I would rather bake fresh home-made cookies, making a mess of my kitchen and talk on Facetime with my college daughter, than have an immaculate house.

It’s a six step process to go from supermom to superhero:

  1. Sweat
  2. Admit we sweat – keeping it real
  3. Understand our children are not a reflection upon us.
  4. Order our superhero cape – it is on sale on Amazon Prime
  5. Grab a shovel and start digging – join me in burying the supermom
  6. Know we are not alone.

The trend has been going from #supermom to #keepingitreal for years. Websites like Scary Mommy  and movies like Bad Moms, are letting us off the hook. YouTube Videos of moms trying on bathing suits with less than optimal bodies and drinking wine in the laundry room, are the new normal, encouraging us to be real and laugh at our selves.

It has been my direct experience as a writer and mom that when we keep it real, there is a big sigh of relief; a feeling of gratitude when a mom comes clean and shows her child’s messy room, her own realistic unphotoshopped body, or her child’s college rejection letter. It is time to stop pretending and start laughing. Let’s smother the flames of perfectionism with a smile and the truth.

We are not there, but we are getting better. As more posts and videos pop up of moms keeping it real, more supermom posts will die in the wake of fake smiles and impossible to keep immaculate bedrooms.

The supermom is dying, and I am helping dig her grave. 

Next time, I may go crazy and show you my junk drawer and garage. Keeping it real.