Christmas stress – get rid of it!

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I have been following the Becoming Minimalist blog by Joshua Becker, and everything he posts makes me shout, “Right on!”

Being in the Christmas season, I want to be enveloped in the important parts of this holiday – giving, togetherness, relaxation.  I want to be able to focus on the hope, peace, joy and love of the advent season.  However, in our consumerist society, it is easy to get caught up in being too busy, buying too much, attending too many events and stretching everyone too thin.  I have been trying really hard to let go of the unimportant things and to give myself time to have peace.

I run the children’s programs at church and yesterday was the Christmas pageant.  I worked hard to have everything ready ahead of time so that I could show up Sunday morning, have a great, stress-free play with the kids, and watch them enjoy their Christmas party afterward.  I slept well the night before and I was not nervous at all for the morning.  It was a great feeling.

Once at church, I noticed we were missing a key member of our volunteer team and upon further inspection, I found out that she was down with the flu and wouldn’t make it in.  This could have thrown me for a major stress-out session, but I didn’t allow it to. Yes, she was going to pick up apples and candy canes on her way in.  I am a huge stickler for offering healthy portions during the meals we feed the kids, but I thought, oh well!  The kids will just have pizza and chips.  One time won’t kill them – and let’s face it, they will not mind begin without apples one bit.  No candy canes?  That’s ok!  We have beautiful cards to pass out to the congregation after the play ends.  Who will be in charge of setting up the coffee hour and lunch for the kids?  We have plenty of extra volunteers this morning.

Everything went fine.  I was sad that our friend missed seeing the pageant, but I was glad that I stuck with my desire for the day, which was for it to be stress-free.

It was a lovely day.  The kids were awesome!  Everyone was fed.  Clean up went quickly.  The rest of the day at home was perfect and relaxing.  Just what this season should bring!

 

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A quick thought on Intuition

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gutfeelingsignI have been thinking about intuition lately.  You know, that gut feeling.  I describe mine as the feeling that raises my heart-rate a little bit and is trying to tell me something.  When I ignore it, or purposefully push it aside, it quickly becomes an “icky” feeling, much like the feeling of guilt.  For me, atleast.

I have been trying to listen to my gut instinct lately, whether it be on a large or small scale.  I am trying to fine-tune this God-given skill so that I can use it for the intended purpose, which is to keep me out of danger and uncomfortable situations, or perhaps to know when Wendy’s is having a special.  Oh wait….no, no that’s not intuition.

The dictionary defines intuition as “the act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes; immediate cognition”.  I think that as we grow, we are taught to rationalize, and then make decisions based on our minds and our reasoning.  However, intuition is based on feeling.  I think that I have ignored my intuition and focused on reason for so long, that I need to reacquaint myself with my intuition in order to learn what the feelings mean.

It’s true that there are situations where I may feel nervous or scared.  For example, before a flight I may start to worry about the plane crashing.  I think, “What if now is the moment I make that decision to not get on the plane?  The place will be in a nose-dive and I will be thinking: Shucks.  I was sitting right there outside the Which Wich and knew this would happen.”  Or, while at the beach I feel a fear to not swim because sometimes, very rarely (but horrifically), people are bitten by sharks.  These are situations where I tell myself rationalization is ok – I have clearly begun to be irrational so I have to talk myself down.  Plus, I have a superhero complex (that’s another blog post for another time) that makes me inclined to believe that I could survive a plane crash by positioning my body in just the right way.  I also think that God would save me from a shark attack with a pack of dolphins (again…we’re going deeper into my psyche than necessary at this point).  Those are examples of anxiety.  Intuition, however, is that gnawing feeling in my gut that something bad is going to happen.  I can’t perfectly describe what doesn’t feel right, I just know that it doesn’t.

Here is a time when my intuition was trying to communicate with me and I ignored it: I was driving home from a party in college.  I was living in a new apartment in the slightly shady part of town.  It was 5am.  It was dark.  I remember pulling into the parking lot of the complex and thinking how strange it was that there was not one person outside their apartment.  There was always somebody coming or going, or outside smoking.  I got a weird feeling, but I was so tired, I ignored it, glad to be home to my bed.  I had my guard down, got out of the car, flipped the lock and shut the door.  I turned around with my head down to go to the apartment and I walked right into a man’s chest.  I was so startled that I just stood there.  He asked for money and I had $5 so I gave it to him.  I was lucky that he took the money and left.  I am lucky I had money – I never have cash on me.  I hope that if I hadn’t had cash and told him that, that he would’ve believed me.  He was clearly coming off of a high, so I don’t know how rational he would’ve been.  Let’s just leave it at that I was lucky (and that what my dad always told me is true: Nothing good happens after midnight…well, that’s mostly true).

The point – my intuition was telling me to be alert.  I actually thought, “That’s really weird that nobody is outside.”  When your intuition is trying to tell you something, listen to it.  We have the ability to sense without seeing for a reason – survival!  We are animals at our core, just trying to survive.

So, that is my thought for now.  I will continue to hone my intuitive skills and differentiate between anxiety and intuition.  It is quite interesting, really.  Try it!  And if anyone develops a sixth sense for deals at Wendy’s, let me know.

Losing a Grandparent

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GrammyVandMe

This picture is of me, Grammy, and my cousin Vanessa about two years before Grammy passed away.

Losing Grammy just before my 15th birthday was the hardest thing I have ever been through to date. Knowing that someone you love so much will never be around again was something especially difficult for me to overcome in my teens. I know that I am fortunate to not have lost a parent or sibling, child or spouse, and that this is the “natural order” of things. However, it was no less significant to my life or any less of a feeling of hurt for my grandmother to die.

If I put myself back into my mental state at 15 years old, I remember feeling so empty. In fact, for a long time, I never felt quite as happy as I had when Grammy was physically present in my life. My brother and I were on a ski trip with our youth group and our parents took us to the hospital as soon as we returned home because Grammy was dying. Her condition had worsened while we were on the trip. We saw her around 8pm that Saturday night for an hour or so. Hospice said that we could leave, she would likely make it through the night. She died at midnight, not long after we left.

We went to church the next morning. The minister, a wonderful man, did the sermon on Grammy and her life. When I first got to church a longtime parishioner saw me and just opened her arms to me. I did not want to cry but that gesture brought the tears flowing hard. My Sunday School teacher brought me into the church for the sermon, so that I could hear about my grandmother’s life. As I am writing this I am emotionally put back into that day and I find I am feeling the same heaviness that I did at that time.

Since that morning at church, I cried every day. At night I would put on my *NSYNC disc and listen to “Sailing” and think of Grammy. I cried myself to sleep each night, wondering if this is how it would be for the rest of my life. I remember after my Granddad died five years earlier, I felt like an angel was in the corner of my room, and I felt peaceful. But as I lay there mourning my Grammy, I felt nothing. No comfort. Only loss.

At school, friends and teachers said they were sorry for my loss. I felt nothing. My basketball coach, Cindy, asked me how I was doing. She was a tough coach, always pushing us, so when she hugged me and said to let me know if I needed anything, I felt comforted and like she, too, had experienced the same loss. That week of school was such a blur. I just remember coming home, doing my homework, eating dinner, and crying myself to sleep. My parents helped my brother and me by having us remember good times with Grammy. It helped in the moment, but I was still so sad.

The memorial service approached that Friday. I was to read Psalm 23 (“yea though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me…”) in the middle of the service. As soon as the eulogy started I began to cry. I really wanted to keep it together and read the Psalm to honor Grammy. We were so close and I wanted to do this for her. My brother asked me if I wanted him to read it and put his arm around me for the first time in our lives. I sniffled, composed myself, and took the podium. I read the psalm clearly, and was so glad I made it through, and as soon as I took my seat, I began to cry again. After the reception and hugging everyone who had come (a LOT of people, by the way), we headed home. That night was the first night that I did not cry myself to sleep. I remember my dad telling me about funerals and how they can give people closure and peace, but I didn’t really believe him until I experienced that sense of peace myself. From that point forward, I was able to move forward. I was still sad to not have her with us and I felt her loss more on some days than others, but I did move forward.

My dad told us one morning that he had a dream of Grammy when she was around 50 years old. She was entertaining at her home and making everyone laugh. He said she looked beautiful and vibrant and happy. It gave him peace to see her like that because his last vision of her that he couldn’t get out of his head was seeing her dying. He felt that she sent him that dream to help him feel at peace, and I believe that. I was so happy for my dad that he had that experience because he was so close with his mom. I remember thinking I wanted her to come to me in a dream.

Fast forward six years. I am in college. I am working three jobs, volunteering at three places, playing hockey and in school. I am overloaded. I am dating someone new (who now happens to be my husband). I am feeling pulled in every direction but I fear that if I leave any of the above things that I will be letting others down. I don’t know what to do. My boyfriend suggests that I give a few things up to have more time and be more balanced. I shrug. I just can’t make that decision. I don’t know what to do, but I do know that I am falling apart at the seams. That night, I had the most powerful dream of my life. Thinking about it, even now, seven years later, it overtakes my body and I have no choice but to feel what I felt that night, and I am thankful for that because I never want to forget.

In my dream, I was walking toward Grammy’s house. I was carrying four bags. One stuffed duffel bag was on each shoulder, slung across my body. I also had two large old-fashioned suitcases in my hands. They were so heavy. When I found myself on Grammy’s street I thought, What are you doing? She doesn’t live here anymore. Yet I walked on, toward the door. I was on her porch telling myself, Seriously, she’s not here. A man bought the house and you are trespassing on his property. But my body pressed on, despite my thoughts. I walked to the door and it just seemed to open up. First the screen, then the wooden door. I remember pushing myself through the wooden door and expecting to find an angry man wondering what I was doing in his house. Instead, I turned right so I could see down the faded blue carpet in the hallway. I saw the bathroom at the end of the hall, the two spare bedroom doors on the right and her bedroom door on the left. It was open and I could see light coming from the room. I could smell the familiar smells of her home and I could HEAR her puttering around in her bedroom, muttering under her breath. My senses were exploding, my heart was pounding and I was frozen in that moment. My thoughts were telling me it couldn’t be, but I was there, it was happening. My thoughts went silent when she spoke, “Just a minute honey.” Heart pounding, I stood in the hallway. I could hear my breathing. It was like I knew deep down that it wasn’t possible, but it was. It was real. It was so real. I was completely conscious in this dream. When she appeared from the doorway, she came toward me, but it was like she was floating. There was a glow behind her and everything was quiet. She was wearing flowing clothing, like a nightgown and robe. I remember it being soft blue in color. She had on her glasses and her hair was worn like it always had been. As she came toward me the bags on my shoulders that were slung across my body faded away. I looked down and the suitcases were gone, too. She hugged me into her chest and said, “Why don’t you just stay a while.” And so I did. I had no worries about being late for appointments or getting assignments done or missing being the places I was supposed to be at. I just was. I was in the moment with Grammy and it felt ok. The rest of the dream is blurry. Little snippets of her in the kitchen and me sitting on the blue sofa in the living room, of her sitting in the chair in the living room and me on the carpet – it was like snapshots of memories I had with her from our time together but I was an adult instead of a child. I felt so at peace, I could have stayed there in that dream with her forever.

When I woke up, it felt like I was transported. I didn’t feel like I had awoken from a dream. I felt like I blinked and was back in my apartment, in my bed. I was not groggy. It was like I had been awake, just somewhere different. I had clarity. Grammy had given me the answer I needed. It was ok to step away from some of the responsibilities I had given myself. When the bags fell in the dream, she was letting me know to let go and gave me the light peaceful feeling I had been craving. She showed me that the important thing in life is to just be in the moment with those you love and I think she wanted me to know that those we love are never lost. I felt her with me and felt that she had been with me. She was watching over me and stepped in when I was truly lost and needed guidance. That moment of being with her again, was all I ever wanted. All I ever wanted after she died was to have one more moment with her. She gave that to me. I will forever believe that this was Grammy, with me. It was no dream. We were together and I am so grateful to her for giving me that. I hold out hope that she will show herself to me again in my life, but I know for certain that she is always there, whether I can see her or not.

Just last week my cousin, Vanessa, and I were sitting outside on her patio with her new baby, Charlie. Vanessa also held a very close relationship with Grammy and felt the immense loss of her death. We are her only two granddaughters and she loved us very much. As Vanessa, Charlie, and I were sitting outside, the church bells began to play a hymn. Vanessa looked at me and said, “Is this Grammy’s favorite hymn?” I listened and sure enough it was “Onward Christian Soldiers” that was playing on the church bells for Vanessa, Charlie, and I to listen to. There Grammy was, with us on the porch, letting us know that she is never far away.

An author gives this blogger a mental boost

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grassToday I received my “O” magazine and really let myself enjoy it.  I read the whole thing, cover to cover, which is something I rarely have the time to do.  Usually I skim the pictures and doggy-ear the pages of articles I want to get back to.  When I have some energy before bed I try to read through some of the stories that pique my interest.  I tend to skip over Suze Orman because my dad and brother are financial advisors (and good ones – which Suze verified today when I took the time to read her column).  I also bypass most of Dr. Phil because many of the scenarios don’t apply to me and I spend my work days as a social worker hearing about others’ dilemmas so I steer past his column.  However, after reading it today I did feel like some of my counseling skills were mirrored in his and thus validated.  Martha Beck always beckons to me (pun intended) but I shy away from her column because I struggle with my mood day to day and am usually not ready to face her truthful advice.

But not today!  I read through everything, enjoyed the pictures of fresh veggies from Oprah’s garden, and even put a few new books on my “to read” list.  My eyes saw every little thing on every page: a new novel from Jeanette Walls sounds wonderful, oh yes I will try grilled pineapple, what cute rain boots…and then something happened to me while I was reading about author Beverly Donofrio’s life – much of which she writes about in Riding in Cars With Boys (now on my “to read” list).  Dear Oprah, I do say I had an AHA moment.  After a near-death experience in which she was hit by a car, Beverly realized something and she phrased it to herself like this:

“You’ve been acting as though this is the warm-up, but it’s the ball game.”

This hit a major chord with me that is still resonating.  I have learned that I am a person who is constantly thinking about what’s next.  I like to use the euphemism “day-dreaming” but in reality, I often think the grass is greener somewhere else than where I am right then, in that moment.  How awful.  After making a recent big decision to not attend graduate school for an M.S.W., my husband and I also decided to stay living in Canada – where he grew up and I did not.  We were 95% going to move back to my home state of Arizona, but after putting everything in perspective, we decided to stay.  The 5% won.  It is the right decision and we are happy with it, yet I struggle with the fact that it’s more of a permanent decision.  This is a bit funny to me because what is more permanent about it now than it was four months ago?  We still have the same house, the same jobs, the same dog, each other…but yet, it feels more permanent.  Perhaps it’s because we always thought we would live in Canada short-term.  I was always picturing our lives with what I thought lay ahead of us, rather than accepting that our life was also composed of what was currently happening.  Part of my reasoning for staying in Canada was that I wanted to put down roots somewhere.  When I thought about it harder, I realized we already had roots digging into the sandy soil of southern Ontario – a foundation at the very least.  Another reason was I wanted a nice home – something else I realized we already had.  What were we really after that we didn’t have here?  Perhaps we just need to work harder to make ourselves happier where we are; we need to water the grass so it becomes greener where we already are.

This quote sent this feeling home for me today.  I have been making a conscious effort to focus of the here and now and not so much about what is to come.  If I look ahead my entire life I will die with having missed the whole thing!  I think that’s what Beverly means by, “You’ve been acting as though this is the warm-up, but it’s the ball game.”  I am in my life, the ball game, so I might as well treat it as such.  No more warm-ups.   This is it.  Live it.  Enjoy it.  Be present.  The grass will always be greenest where you water it and give it nutrients, so that is what I will do!

Beauty in unconditional love.

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Check out this article from a German magazine.  I can only wish this type of acceptance and tolerance and love upon all children and families.  Thank you Pickert family.

Father of the Year Helps Dress-Wearing Son Feel Comfortable By Putting on a Skirt Himself

“My five year old son likes to wear dresses,”says German dad Nils Pickert.

Back when he lived in West Berlin, it was certainly a conversation-starter, but not much more than that. Now, however, Pickert and his son live in a “very traditional” South German village where his son’s predilection for dresses is the talk of the town.

“I didn’t want to talk my son into not wearing dresses and skirts,” Pickert tells the German feminist magazine EMMA. “He didn’t make friends in doing that in Berlin already and after a lot of contemplation I had only one option left: To broaden my shoulders for my little buddy and dress in a skirt myself.”

At first, Pickert’s son was reluctant to wear a dress in public, fearing he would be laughed at, particularly by other kids at his preschool. But that all changed one “skirt and dress day” when he and his dad made a resident of the town stare so hard she slammed into street light face first.

“My son was roaring with laughter,” says Pickert. “And the next day he fished out a dress from the depth of his wardrobe. At first only for the weekend. Later also for nursery-school.”

As you might imagine, this story has a happy ending:

And what’s the little guy doing by now? He’s painting his fingernails. He thinks it looks pretty on my nails, too. He’s simply smiling, when other boys ( and it’s nearly always boys) want to make fun of him and says: “You only don’t dare to wear skirts and dresses because your dads don’t dare to either.” That’s how broad his own shoulders have become by now. And all thanks to daddy in a skirt.

…I would teach her about feelings of guilt.

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I may be the most guilt-ridden person out there.  When I was little, if I even raised my voice or was short with my parents and ran to my room, no more than a few seconds passed before I was crying at their feet begging them to forgive me.

Yes, I was raised on guilt.  It worked.  My parents decided that instead of spanking my brother and myself, that they would love us so unconditionally that it would literally wrench our guts if we did anything to defy them (at least for me, I can’t speak for my brother).  There are some things that I have done in my life that I have totally been forgiven for for years, but when I think about them I get sick to my stomach.  I almost want to say that I would rather have felt physical pain than the emotional anguish caused by guilt.  For example, in high school I lied to my parents about spending the night at a friend’s house when I was really trying to get in some extra time with my boyfriend.  My mom and dad caught me, and when I got home, we sat down and talked about it.  My mom was looking at me like she didn’t even know me and my dad kept saying how he couldn’t believe that I would ever be capable of lying to his face so convincingly.  (Who can feel the weight of guilt piling up just from reading this?)  The real kick in the gut: the next morning my dad was sitting outside and my mom told me to go speak to him.  When I went to him I could tell he had been crying.  He was so utterly disappointed in me.  My dad, whom I have only see cry at his own parents’ funerals, was crying because I had lied to him.  (Oh my gosh, I can’t even believe I am writing this–I am feeling those old feelings so strongly just by rehashing the story.)  I am thankful that my parents raised me this way, though, because it had made me so much more conscientious of other people’s feelings (and guess what, I didn’t pretend to spend the night at a friend’s anymore unless I really was going to be with that friend).  I have not done certain things because I was afraid of the guilt I would feel.  For instance, I have never cheated on a boyfriend or my husband.  I have never said anything behind anyone’s back that I wouldn’t say to their face.  I have never intentionally put anyone in an uncomfortable situation.  Other than a few passing moments in high school I have been a rule follower to the core–something that drives my husband nuts (ie-“But the sign says to exit to the right, Honey…”).

The big drawback to having an extremely guilty conscience is that I put myself through hell over minor issues.  Sometimes I even feel strange (I can only describe it as feeling like a bad person, like I did something wrong) for no reason.  Then, because I feel that way, I try to think about what it is that’s making me feel bad and I will actually dig so deep that I find something I can scrutinize enough to make me feel guilty.  I feel guilty about things that most people wouldn’t even think twice about–then, because I feel guilty, the only way to feel better is to “come clean” so I usually apologize or confess to someone and confuse them or make something out of nothing.

This has been the biggest battle that I have had to fight with myself in my life.  I am constantly trying to work through my feelings of guilt in order to function normally in society.  I still hate getting presents because if I don’t love the gift, but I do the polite thing and tell the gift-giver that I do love it (“really, really, I always wanted the K-Fed CD!”), I feel guilty for having deceived them.  But honestly, would the person rather I pretend to like their gift or tell them the truth and embarrass everyone involved?  My best birthday growing up was in 4th grade because I remembered that I actually loved every gift I got so I didn’t have to tell anyone a white lie.  It was the least stressed I ever was at a birthday party.  Do you see how ridiculous this is??  It’s a struggle also because it has manifested into anxiety in adulthood, but I also work on controlling that, mostly with biting my nails…

I just hope that other young girls don’t go through this.  It is really difficult and can hurt your self-esteem if you’re constantly judging yourself for past actions.  Feeling bad and guilty can translate directly into “I am a bad person” or “I’m not worthy of these people’s love”.  For me, it translated into being walked on by a lot of different people in my life, mostly boys.  I think that as women, we tend to be extra sensitive and empathetic, so perhaps we are more prone to guilty feelings.  Granted, guilt is good and it helps us act decently toward one another, but for me, there is a fine line between real guilt and created guilt.  I actually used to wish that I could care so little for others that I could easily dump a boyfriend or tell a “friend” what I really thought about her selfish actions.  But no, I was the one who would rather be dumped than anguish over hurting a boy’s feelings by breaking up with him.  Unfortunately for me, I have had a boyfriend or two that knew this about me and preyed on it.  Once I told my boyfriend that our relationship was fading and I thought we should break up.  He turned it around to make me feel like the relationship was failing because of me and that I was giving up on us.  He convinced me to stay in the relationship, otherwise he had implied that it would be my fault for giving up and hurting him.  Wouldn’t you know…he had been cheating on me!  Why he didn’t take the out when I gave him the chance will always boggle my mind….but that’s for another post to be titled “Men Who Need to Have the Upper-hand”.

If you are struggling with guilty feelings like me, here is what I try to do: I ask myself if the issue is something to really feel guilty about.  Did I hurt someone?  Is the damage irreparable?  If I haven’t hurt anyone, would apologizing or confessing the truth hurt the person more than them just not even realizing what I did?  Most times, the person I think I have offended isn’t even aware of the situation.  If I bring it to their attention I actually create a hostile environment (and then I am actually being selfish because by making myself feel better by relieving my own guilt, I have hurt another person emotionally–I feel better, but now they feel worse).  So try to analyze your guilty feelings in a different way–try to think about why you are feeling bad.  Is it really because of something you did or is it another reason?  Life is too short to go through it feeling guilty.

 

 

…I would encourage her to step outside of her comfort zone!

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I started to go through an old notebook this morning and came across a list I made of things I wanted to do that were outside of my comfort zone.  Since I moved to a new city (and country, for that matter) after marrying my husband, Rick, everything is a new experience.  Some I welcomed, and some I shied away from for too long.  I realized this summer that we were approaching our second anniversary, which made me look at what I had and hadn’t accomplished for myself in a new place in that time.  I made a goal to do one thing that was new, either with someone else or by myself, each week.  I hoped that it would help me learn more about my surroundings and meet new people.  I really haven’t made many friends outside of our family, and I was hoping that by doing new things I would meet new people.

Side note: Have you ever moved somewhere new and realized that trying to make friends as an adult is much like dating?  For example: I met someone at a bar, a friend of a friend, and we had such a great time talking and hanging out.  Then I found myself panicking: how do I ask her for her number?  What if she doesn’t want to hang out?  She probably has enough friends already, why would she want another?  Then, say I do ask for her number in my most care-free way and she gives it to me.  When is it appropriate to call?  Should I even call, or just send a text?  Do I ask her to hang out on our own, or must I invite the friend that introduced us?  Would she be more comfortable in a group setting?  I haven’t been in the dating scene for five years yet I feel all of the same anxieties that I used to feel!  (I am laughing as I write this because it all sounds so ridiculous, but it’s true!)  Making friends is hard!  I am an outgoing person, but I have become more introverted with each year and a little more shy.  I had plenty of friends growing up, but making friends when you’re a child seems so much simpler (mostly because our parents are the ones who really dictate plans with our new friends).  I also lived in the same place my whole life and had friends in college who were in my kindergarten class years before, so I really didn’t have to strive to meet new people in college.  I did have new college friends who were awesome, but I always had my really fun childhood friends, too, which was a safety blanket, I guess.  So, I haven’t made as many new friends as I was hoping by this point, but I am still working on it…but I digress.

So, when I found the list of goals I had made this summer, I read the list over and was pleasantly surprised that I had done five of the things on the list without really consciously thinking about them.  I went to a hot yoga class by myself (several now, in fact), I have explored downtown where I live (by myself and with others), I started a book club (we are on our second book), I attended a new church (several!), and I have explored Toronto more (after all, it’s only an hour train ride and big cities are so cool!).  The feeling of excitement and pride for having done some of the things that I was putting off because of fear or nerves still floods me as I re-read the list and see check-marks next to those five things.  I have to say, that with fall in full-force now (the leaves have almost all fallen to the ground, it has been raining for weeks, and I have switched from a light jacket to my down-jacket), it is nice to have something to brighten my day and make me feel good about myself.

There are still things on the list that I would like to do.  I think I will re-write them and add to it, and this time I will put the list where I can see it daily.  Or, maybe not.  Maybe I should tuck it away again so that when I find it in a few months I can check off lots of items.  Perhaps if it was in front of me everyday I would feel like it was daunting because I would see all of the things that are outside of my comfort zone; maybe I should pick one goal and display it until I do it then put up a new one.  I don’t know.  Whatever I decide, I just hope to keep doing new things and adding check marks to my list.  I do feel much more confident in my surroundings and I don’t feel lost for ideas anymore when friends and family come to visit.  I actually know a few things around town to do!  And, dare I say, I have made some new friends!  I even got two phone numbers last night :o)  Now, should I text or call…ha ha!

Yes it is scary acknowledging the things that make us uncomfortable (writing the list).  Yes, sometimes you have to be willing to try the things on your own and hope for the best (for me, a GPS was incredibly helpful!).  Take it from me, it is worth it.  The anxiety that I had to explore new places on my own, or step into a yoga class by myself and sit in (gasp!) the front row, seem so small now since I have actually done these things.

Sometimes we have to nudge ourselves off of the “cliff” to realize that we were only standing on a curb.  So make a list for yourself.  What is something you want to do, but fear or anxiety has been holding you back?  Simply putting that thing in writing is the first step toward doing it.  Life is short, so we should take advantage of the time we have by not letting nerves run our lives.  Step outside of your comfort zone and relish in all that new experiences have to offer you.  You might just have fun!