It has been a while. A long while. But I have come back around again. Here are a few of the things I’ve been up to while out of sight…
A hat. Polar bear variety.
One of five flamingo costumes.
A painting of my little brother.
And another necklace.
A baby blanket for a brand new baby.
Lately, in response to this kid acting in very age-appropriate ways, I have found myself dictating open letters to him in my head. For example:
To the free-loading two year old living in my house: I found the butter knife in the litter box.
(…) Gross, dude. So, so gross. The level of grossness is so great that I think I have to go ahead and throw the knife away.
(…) Stay out of the litter box, for the love.
Liam’s been on my mind a lot. I’m really aware of the ten year reunion of his life and really aware that it only lasts for nine months. And this awareness feels important. I’ve put out an intention to check whatever this is out; to be open to…anything.
Part Two: PTSD
On Friday I went to a training for an intervention (SBIRT) and at the very end we touched on PTSD. I was reminded that sometimes people who have been diagnosed with PTSD do not remember the trauma. Or if they do remember it, they don’t perceive it as such. It’s a coping mechanism, right, and it helps people—us—to get on with our lives. So, not remembering and/or not identifying with a trauma—that’s in my head all weekend. Read more
I have heard this a few times: I would go to therapy, but I feel like it’s selfish (?). And I’m here to tell you that it is.
It is 100% indulgent, all about you, don’t-look-at-anyone-else time. For a lot of people that can sound kind of scary. It can lead to thoughts of, “what about the children?” or “what about the dogs?” or “what about my book that I should be writing?”…what about all of these things that I should be doing instead of going to therapy, right?
As it turns out, the more we take care of ourselves, the more space we free up for the other people/animals/interests in our lives. You gotta take care of your brain, dude, there’s no getting away from it. No matter where you go, there it is, still inside of that big ol’ dome.
Taking time to do things for yourself feeds your brain, body, and soul. It declutters and reorganizes which then, for me especially, gives me greater energy to direct at other things, like my kids. So instead of deflecting them I am able to engage and read a book for the seventh time, without wanting to scream. Or maybe I still want to scream (let’s be real), but it’s without resentment. I find I have time for homemade lotion. Freeing up this space makes room for other things you care about.
This lotion is kind of indulgent. I have to take time out of my day to make it. But it makes me so happy when I smear it on my hands. I love to grease up my kids after the bath and know that I’m not putting chemicals on their bodies. And it’s not complicated. You don’t have to make lotion, but when you start taking time for yourself (therapy, exercise, good food), you might just want to make your own lotion.
The Scribble Directive. I used paper, a pen, and water colors.
Okay, I can’t take credit for the actual scribble, that was done by the little person that snuck into some of the pictures. The Scribble Directive is great for practicing mindfulness. It’s great if your working on living in the here and now. It’s great if you want to paint something. Here’s how this went for me this morning:
Find scribble (you can make your own).
Practice breathing while child joins in on the action (take notes on how child stays in the moment).
As you can see this is simple stuff. Paper and paint. Some inspiration from the bluff I can see out of my window. This is about movement, clearing out the brain, and simply allowing whatever wants to happen happen.
As ever, check out what’s happening through the process. Be an observer of your thoughts. See if you can stay in the present. When thoughts creep in you can acknowledge them and then simply ask them to leave. Practice being here now.
Last week I resolved to blog twice a week and, well, I didn’t. I think we can count that one as a fail. Failures happen. All of the time. And we move forward. Last night, in fact, I had started this blog:
Want to know a really cool antidepressant? Wash the dishes. For real. That pile of gnarly, dirty dishes in the kitchen is a depressant, but as soon as you wash them or fill the dishwasher and press start–boom–a little dose of happy hits the brain. Check it out.
Me? I have dishes in the kitchen right now and I really, really, really, really, really don’t want to go in there and wash them (depressant). Yet I know as soon as I get in there and get it over with I will feel better (antidepressant).
I got that far and went to bed. Didn’t do the dishes. Didn’t finish the blog. Fail, fail. Failure, man, at least it gives a place from which to grow. I don’t expect to be perfect, but I do plan to keep going, just like a human.
Check it out! Create! Eugene is a month long event happening this August in Eugene that is all about making art. Art workshops will be happening all month long; some of these workshops happen no matter what and some are being created special for August. Regardless, if you’ve been wanting to learn how to felt or paint or dance, August is the month to flip forward to in your calendar and block out some time for your soon found passion.
Making art, breaking a sweat, cooking food…these are all great ways to move energy out of your body. Energy can very easily build up in our systems, it might look like stress or anxiety or something else. Here’s an example, it’s morning time and your two year old is screaming for reasons you only wish you could fathom and you are hanging on to your sanity by a frayed piece of floss (that your two year old brought to you (where the heck is the rest of the floss?- oh awesome, it’s in the toilet – please stop touching the toilet, it’s gross)). Anyway, if that energy doesn’t get acknowledged and used up in some form of expression (gardening, painting, banging on drums, journaling, kickboxing) it will eventually force it’s way out and often in an undesirable way…you know your way, I don’t think we have to go into it. Which brings us back to Create! Eugene. Put that energy to good, healthy use. Enjoy yourself, enjoy Eugene, enjoy something new.
My kid turned two a couple weeks ago and I made her this cake. I am so proud of it! Not because I made it up all by myself (nope, I found it on Martha’s website), but because I made something colorful and beautiful and fun to honor my kid. What I really want to talk about, though, is how the creation of this cake felt. That, my friends, is what I want to talk about all of the time, as corny or cliche as it might sound coming from a therapist, I want to talk about your feelings. Oh, and you’re safe here. Really, you are.
Let’s talk about my emotions first. In making this cake I felt excited, happy, proud, nervous, frustrated, scared, anxious, and delighted. Being able to track my feelings like this (excited: saw the cake on the internet, wanted to make it, great anticipation; happy: purchased all of the ingredients, loving that it would require eight sticks of butter…) took some practice. Life used to happen at me. Emotions hit me and I accepted them without question and took the ride. Now I can experience an emotion and recognize where it comes from and intentionally experience how it affects me. I’m not trying to say that I have control over my emotions; I simply have a better awareness of what’s going on. Why is that important? Being able to track my emotions helps me to know when I’m getting triggered and allows me to make a decision about how to proceed in life, versus allowing the emotion to take me over and make poor decisions. Ever say or do something in the heat of the moment that you later regretted? That’s what I’m talking about. Staying grounded if and when you want to stay grounded.
Try it out for a bit. Track your emotions while you are going through your morning routine, or at lunch, or whenever. Check out if you can identify your emotions and why you are feeling them. It’s a step in the direction of greater self-awareness which ultimately points toward living a happier life.
Why ground? We make our healthiest decisions when we are grounded. That’s my experience at least. Here is a little grounding exercise that I like to do, especially in a group. It helps me get into my body and exist in the present moment. Try it out. Make it your own. And try not to judge yourself. If you find yourself judging yourself, try not to judge yourself for judging yourself.
A grounding exercise:
Put both feet on the floor and place your hands comfortably in your lap.
Close your eyes or simply look at the floor with a gentle downward gaze.
Feel your feet on the ground. Feel your butt on the seat. Feel your hands on your legs. Feel your clothing on your body.
Begin to pay attention to your breathing. Don’t change anything, just notice how you breathe. As you are breathing take notice of the thoughts going in and out of your head. Give them permission to leave. Try not to judge them, simply allow them to exit. If they come back give them permission to leave again…and again.
Take a deep breath in, deep into the nooks and crannies of your lungs. And breathe out. Push all of the air out of your lungs. Push the old air out; the stuff that has been sitting in there for a couple of days. Do it again. Using your breath move deeper into your body until you are breathing down into your toes. Notice how your body feels. Really try to get in there with your breath and check out what is going on. Get acquainted with your body. Again, give your thoughts permission to leave.
Continue to breathe until you feel comfortable in your body. Start to move your fingers and toes wiggle around a bit in your chair. When you are ready open your eyes and get reacquainted with the room.