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Winter Tidings of Mindfulness

Happy Winter Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy Yule and all other holidays!

I had the plan to write out a post explaining the Pagan origins of the Christmas holiday many of us celebrate and also include how Christianity adopted it as their own. But honestly? That’s not where my heart is at right now.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and learning more about the traditions and all. But something that feels more prevalent is the topic of mindfulness.

To be mindful is to be aware of the present moment. Not thinking about what you need to do later today or what you should have done yesterday, etc. Just being 100% present in this moment.

This is tough, honestly. It’s a lesson I have been learning for years, and only most recently do I feel like I’m truly understanding. And understand that I truly struggle with this lesson.

As someone with anxiety, a lot of my unsupervised mind is focused on “what ifs” and the future. As someone with depression, a lot of my unsupervised mind is either focused on the past or on my flaws. For many years, I was only living life through my unsupervised mind’s eye. Practicing mindfulness teaches me to let go of the future, the hypotheticals, the shoulds and should-nots, and teaches me to just be. That’s it, to just be.

Let me emphasize the fact that this is hard. Like, really fucking difficult at times. Because it is SO damn easy to start daydreaming about my goals, which then turns into me comparing my life now to what I want it to be, which then just snowballs into me being overwhelmed with anxiety (if not also anger).

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This holiday season looks different for each and every one of us (in America, at least, where COVID is still very relevant). And it is all too easy for me to think about how I wish it looked like and how I want it to look next year and what I’m going to get everyone next year and how I need to plan ahead better and…yeah, it’s exhausting. And unhelpful!

A therapist I had years ago had tried to work with me on mindfulness. We did exercises during our sessions, but it felt very difficult to implement this. I was in a point of my life where my conscious mind was asleep. I was living on auto-pilot, and that auto-pilot flew me right into a shitstorm of feeling unsettled, to say the least.

Now I don’t want to come across like being mindful is unattainable, because it is very attainable. I personally think being mindful is the key to living a truly happy life. Think about kids, for example. There are not many 4-year-olds thinking about yesterday or tomorrow (unless it’s Christmas or their birthday). They are just in this moment, and that’s it. It’s so refreshing when I get to see my fiancé’s nieces, ages 9 and 4 (almost 5). They’re the sweetest girls, and just so present.

That childlike oblivion to everything isn’t necessarily always realistic, because we do have to pay bills and honor responsibilities and all that. But, be honest with yourself. How often are you doing something and you’re not really present with it?

Probably a lot.

And that’s fine! We are having this human experience, and being preoccupied with all the external factors that come with this life are going to happen. But. We also owe it to ourselves to really drop in to what truly matters to us and what we can actually do right now.

Without going into too much detail, my fiancé and I had a little disagreement a few weeks ago. On the surface, I felt unsupported and unheard. I felt like he was casting off what was important to me because it didn’t matter to him. After some sleep and some honest tough-love self-talk, I realized that I was not being present and I was being impatient.

Y’all don’t have to agree with me about this next point, but I sometimes forget that the circumstances of my life are unfolding the way that they are meant to. I do have control of my destiny and I am the creator of my reality, but I also can’t build Rome in a day. I can’t *snap* have the life I see in my dreams, I need to give it some time. I need to take the steps to get there. I can’t just jump the whole damn staircase, I have to go in order. (I know that’s vague, but hopefully you get what I’m saying).

Bringing that back to mindfulness: It will feel aggravating and frustrating and anger-inducing, but be honest with yourself about what you can actually do about a situation in this present moment. Most likely, there’s not much you can do about the big-picture in 1 day. You can make an effort to move in the direction of what you want, but more often than not, you need to let go of what you think things should be and just make the most of the way they are. And understand this is how they are for now

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Your holiday traditions probably look different this year. With the risk of COVID-19 still rising, family gatherings for the holidays might not be happening. And it sucks. But, this will pass. We live in a wonderful age of technology, where Zoom/Google Meet/any other video chats can still bring people together. And it’s not the same, videochatting is not the tradition that many of us know, but stressing out about how we think things should look like is not doing anything other than stressing us out and wasting our energy.
Or maybe you want to get your degree, but financially can’t swing going back to school right now. Or maybe you want to move somewhere, or change jobs, or get a new car, or whatever. You can take conscious steps to help you move towards what you want, but it’s important to remember that if you’re not happy along the way, you won’t be happy long-term once you get whatever it is that you want.

76 Most Powerful Mindfulness Quotes: Your Daily Dose of Inspiration

As we embark on this new holiday season, I wish you and your family good health, tidings of joy, and also a peace of mind that this storm will pass.

Allow yourself to have bad days, but make it a point to not wallow in the negative.

Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, and Happy Holidays! ❤💚

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Welcoming Winter

Happy December!

This time of year can be hard for some people, especially for people who find themselves experiencing SADD. Seasonal Affective Depression Disorder affects a lot of people! Essentially, it is when people experience depression during the winter months. Part of this is caused by the decreased Vitamin D accompanying the lack of sunlight, and sometimes also the holidays are hard for people.

2020 has already been an intense year, to say the least. And if you are finding yourself feeling depressed (or more depressed than your usual amount) during this, you’re not alone.

So what can you do about it? Especially during this time of stay-at-home orders?

Give yourself a fucking break.

Seriously. Put off for tomorrow what does not need to get done today. Let yourself have an extra 30 minutes of laying in bed. Eat what you feel like having. We are literally living through a pandemic, y’all. Our normalcy is being rearranged – and depression (seasonal or not) has a metaphysical reason for demanding rest.

Something I’ve read about briefly is ayurvedic medicine. Within this medicine is the idea of your body being closely aligned with the sun, that our bodies naturally need less sleep in the summer and more in the winter. Our eating habits change seasonally as well.

This is not me saying “depression during the winter is natural, just deal with it”. BUT I am saying that one of the healthiest things we can do is listen to our body. Give yourself the grace and give yourself the space to do your best every day, no matter what that looks like.

Sometimes my best is waking up early and doing yoga and exercising before the sun rises. Other times it’s waking up at 9:30am and eating cookies for breakfast. Life is all about balance, and it’s important that we hold space for ourselves.

So what are some winter activities to do during this time?

❄ Drive around and look at Christmas lights

❄ Make hot chocolate at home and have a game night

❄ Sit in front of a fireplace (in real life or on YouTube) and cozy up under a bunch of blankets

❄ Watch Christmas movies

❄ See if there’s any local Christmas light “events” (In New Jersey, the PNC Bank Arts Center has a drive-thru Christmas light show and they charge a small entry fee per car)

❄ Read one of your favorite chapter books from when you were a kid. (The Inkheart trilogy is my go-to)

❄ Have a movie night (Harry Potter is my go-to!)

❄ Do your favorite winter activities safely!

Remember, you are entitled to your feelings. Right now does suck. But this stork will pass. It might pass like a fucking kidney stone, but this too shall pass.

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General mental health

This Morning’s Musings

I’ve been in a funk, lately. I feel like I’m always saying that, which makes me feel worse.

Now I don’t know if I’ve been feeling more depressed, or if the depression is part of the spiritual awakening I may or not may not going through, I don’t know.

I just finished a book, “Gus” by Kim Holden. I’ve read the first book in the series a couple of times, “Bright Side”, and I finally managed to finish this one too. And dude, I fucking love the feeling after finishing a good book. The excitement and elation of the inspiration of finishing a story – especially a story like this. Overcoming grief and loss, finding yourself, and pursuing the hell out of your passions. I needed that.

Lately I’ve been feeling called for us to plan to get our own place, and move into an apartment. I miss having my own space away from the world. I miss being able to cook in the kitchen whenever I want, having only myself and my fiancé to worry about. I miss not having to share a bathroom with anyone else. And honestly? I miss the independence of being away from everyone else. I miss being able to be alone, truly alone. No other people in my space, not having to worry about who is doing what and where. I miss having a space that is my oasis from the world.

But, to play my own Devil’s Advocate, maybe my lower feelings currently are causing me to feel more antisocial so I feel more called to be away from everyone and everything.
Also, apartment living requires you to share walls with neighbors who could be loud or just generally annoying. And most units don’t have a washer/dryer in-unit. And carrying groceries up the stairs if you live on the second floor sucks. And we wouldn’t have the yard we have now and the garage…but I personally would be fine with that. I am willing to sacrifice the comfort of laundry and groceries for the general feeling of being at peace and being at home somewhere.

My fiancé is not on board, I don’t think. He’s not the most open with his emotions and his feelings, and he’s also stressed because he starts class in less than a week.

So I’m at a loss for what to do. Because I’m not happy with our current living situation…but I’m also not unhappy to the point of dreading being home. I feel indifferent/apathetic about living here. I also don’t feel the happiest inside about myself, which could be affecting my mindset too.

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After our talk this morning that was mostly me building the case for why I want us to move into our own apartment in 6 months and him listening but not engaging and also not 100% agreeing – I decided to finish reading “Gus”. Because I wanted to escape. When I’m not on the phone for work, I was escaping into another world. And it was this excerpt that made me almost cry:

When I got to this point, I gasped out loud and read it again. And then I sent a picture of this to my fiancé and shared to my personal stories on social media. It felt like these words were written just for me to read.
How, specifically, this works into my life I’m not 100% sure yet. I immediately thought of my writing career, and the fact is that I can’t earn a living from writing if I don’t actually do the writing.

I also know that happiness comes from within, so if I’m not happy within myself I’ll never be happy no matter where I live. But I also think it’s a valid argument that staying somewhere out of convenience and ease is a shit choice. If I want to choose happy and live intentionally, and not just let myself fall into a routine of mediocrity, then I need to be intentional with my life. Which leads me back to wanting to move into our own place.

But, I can’t force someone into wanting something that they don’t. Just like I can’t force myself to be happy with something that I’m not. So I’m going to throw myself into work and read the next book in the series (“Franco”, Kim Holden) and see what happens. I’m going to trust in the universe and surrender to the fact that I know this living situation no longer serves me, and that I am ready for our next chapter. I’m going to get out of my head a little and try to give my mind a break from thinking, and just focus on being. ✌

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Let’s Talk About Toxic Positivity

Welcome, August! 2020 is f l y i n g by, and I am here for it. This has been a year that I think no one was quite ready for, and in the midst of all the negative things that have happened – it’s actually been a quite beautiful year.

For one thing, Mother Nature has had time to heal. Countless species of animals returned to their old neighborhoods within mere weeks of less humans walking around, less carbon emissions during quarantine, etc. People have become more focused on small businesses, taking care of themselves holistically, etc. Communities have banded together in times of the COVID-19 crisis, in protest with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. There has been a lot of good that has happened this year.

However, there has also been a lot of negative things too. Division, hate, exclusion, violence, death.

So what does all of this have to do with toxic positivity?

By definition, “toxic positivity” is a phrase typically used when someone portrays themselves as happy no matter what.

I have found myself to fall into the trap of being toxically positive.

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Growing up, I was raised Catholic and had to go to mass every Sunday. Church was boring most of the time, but I had to go. My father, the lovely man he is, started a game with me where I tried to come up with one good thing about being there. And it was from this practice that we eventually applied this to life in general.

Looking for the positives in less-than-stellar situations is a great tool! This has been something that has become almost second nature.

The problem lies when someone only sees the positive in any/all situations, and does not hold space for the negativity.

Real life example. You hear from a friend that their elderly and ill relative has passed away. Telling them “At least they’re not suffering anymore” is a toxic-positive thing to say. Because yeah, it’s true, they aren’t suffering anymore, but a statement like that doesn’t leave room for their grief.

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Toxic positivity has been on my mind lately because it’s something I’m working on un-learning. Being taught to look for the silver lining is important but for some of us (🙋‍♀️), this became only holding space for the silver lining.

This is something that is super prevalent in the spiritual community. Those of us who ONLY accept #loveandlight and don’t allow for anything else, is where the issues come. Because while we should not wallow in the negative side of things, we can’t ignore it either. We cannot accept the good without the bad.

Yin and yang : im14andthisisdeep

This above concept is something a lot of people forget about. I think they get so focused on positivity only because they know that what they focus on is what they’ll attract (Law of Attraction 101)…but this mindset is similar to when kids throw all their toys under their bed or in their closet when they clean their rooms. Yeah, it looks pretty, but it’s not actually clean.

A friend recently has been going through a bit of a rough patch with their depression. And I kept finding myself not knowing what to say, because my first thought was to list out every good quality about her. I was going to say every positive thing I could think of, until I realized that that actually is not as helpful as I want it to be.

Because in this moment, I am making her struggle about me. What I want to do is make her feel better, so I’m going to say what I think she needs to hear. But who am “I” to decide what she needs? She knows what she needs. So all I should do in that instance, is hold space for her. Allow her the time to be as she is. Let her know that I am here for her, and that’s it.

And this, folks, is important. It’s important to be honest about the “why” behind our actions. It’s important to have the self-awareness, and the accountability, to question ourselves of our intent. Most times, concerning people who are unknowingly being toxically positive, it can be a reflection of their own trauma. Maybe, as a child, they were not allowed to show negative emotions. Maybe you’re saying something triggering to them and they process things by deflecting. And these scenarios are on them, but still.

In summary – everyone is doing the best they can with all things and we should not push them to feel differently than they do. And looking for the silver lining is just one of many things that can be done to process and deal with a kinda-shitty-situation

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