I have had social anxiety all my life but never really knew it until much later in life. In school, I was always the quiet shy one who liked everyone. If I was ever picked on, it wasn’t to my face. Or maybe I just ignored it. I have no school horror stories like many do now, but I didn’t fit in. I never fit into a “click” because I didn’t believe in it. I still don’t. I like everyone until you prove me otherwise.
Later in life I got more anxious about how I looked, how I acted, who I was professionally. Was I good daughter, friend, wife, mother, employee? I know we all ask ourselves that. I never felt good enough. Unfortunately a lot of that was because I was actually told that. Once you hear things over and over you begin to believe in them. You don’t really understand toxic people and relationships because you always want to see the best in people.
It took me a long time to be able to recognize a toxic person, employer or situation and a lot of mental strength to say enough was enough and I deserved better.
Strength is not only physical but emotional. I felt I was weak allowing myself to stay in a job, a relationship or a friendship because I felt that I had to keep showing up anyway. I felt if I just cared enough I could help someone else be better, do better. I wasn’t weak. I cared TOO much. There is such a thing as caring for people too much that it actually winds up hurting you more. And you don’t realize how your own children are paying attention, and they in turn have the same anxiety, or a different level of anxiety all their own. Cue guilt.
We are our own worst critics and through allowing myself to take care of myself just as much as I take care of everyone else, I believed in myself more. I VALUED myself more and the opinions of others didn’t matter. I allowed less toxicity in my life and became more aware of my own health, inside and out. I’m not going to lie, it isn’t easy and it still hurts having to release people from your life. But when you become aware of how much happier you are, how much less anxiety you have, you know in the long run it was the right decision. You become determined not only to value yourself, but to show your children how much strength they have as well.
Taking care of yourself emotionally and physically is not selfish, it’s necessary. Once you feel better physically your emotional health becomes even stronger. Life isn’t perfect, but it is wonderful…and so are you!
The journey is the destination – just keep moving forward!
Our life, in a pattern of family, career, hobbies, often feels safe and comfortable (although sometimes you can feel like you are on a hamster wheel spinning constantly in the same direction day in and day out). Do you have a title of parent, grandparent, co-worker, significant other, spouse, entrepreneur? Are these titles who you are or who you have become?
If you change even one aspect of your pattern you can feel overwhelmed and anxious. It’s even more difficult if you change your pattern completely. You move, you change jobs, your family life changes and even your hobbies seem interrupted. Now what. Where do you belong? Are you stuck in limbo of what was, what is supposed to be and the reality of what it actually is?
Then BAM a pandemic and whoa baby, now everything has changed. Your life pattern is disrupted. But wait, you hadn’t settled into the previously changed pattern yet, how are you supposed to adjust to this one?
Your original hobbies were interrupted when your pattern changed, and new ones were created. Now those new ones are almost non-existent. Someday they may come back, but in a new “normal”. But when, and how?
Your close circle of family and friends have been socially-distanced. When and if you do see them again, will it be smaller gatherings and more cautious? Do you hug? Do you fist-bump? What the hell do we do now. Where do we go from here.
Stress, fear, change. It’s all difficult to adapt to as it is, however now you find yourself less tolerant of others behaviors. You have more time on your hands therefore you are alone more with your thoughts, and you begin to see what is right in front of you that you hadn’t seen before because life was active and you believed all was right in your pattern. It’s not right anymore. It doesn’t fit. You don’t fit. But did you ever, really? Was it right to begin with, or did you just tolerate it. Was it safe and comfortable?
It’s okay to not know the answers. It’s okay to decide that you are less tolerant of things and people that have become toxic in your pattern. Life challenges us everyday and everyday is a new day to start again. You don’t have to feel guilty for releasing what no longer serves you. You just have to keep moving forward to make you, and your new pattern, better than it was the day before.
Remember, life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
𝐆𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐭 – we have all felt it at one point in our life. We have let it consume us at the expense of our relationships, our health and even our careers.
𝐈 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 both personally and professionally that have left a profound sense of guilt. It has caused me to lose sleep, to not run (although the cold weather and snow is not my friend sometimes!) and even to not eat well. My health had begun to suffer for it. I know the decisions in the long run have been the right ones, so why did I feel so guilty? Self-sabotage.
I had the opportunity to join an amazing committee doing something that I am extremely passionate about that combines both my personal and professional interests. However, I joined because I felt obligated. I joined because I wanted to show that I was worthy of such an opportunity. However, I knew deep down it wasn’t the right time to make such a decision. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to devote the amount of time necessary to be as productive and successful as I know I could be. But I did it anyway.
In rolls the waives of overwhelm of shifting my schedule to accommodate an already busy routine. The waive of stress attempting to fit everything in not only to attend meetings but to actually handle important tasks necessary to fulfill the goals of the team. I found myself removing my self-care goals for my own personal health to manage new schedules. I felt guilty for feeling guilty.
We all make choices we don’t want to make for fear of upsetting or hurting another. We feel bad for wanting to remove toxic people from our lives because our truest intentions are to help them. We feel bad if something doesn’t bring us joy anymore but we keep doing it because we feel obligated to. Once we realize that making the decision lifts the burden of guilt, the burden of stress…the burden itself, the sense of relief is so freeing.
It’s okay to make a choice that bests suits us. It’s okay to say no without having to explain why. It’s okay to not want something, or someone, in our lives that causes us anxiety.
I made the difficult choice to step down from the committee, for now. I realized that all the stress and guilt I was feeling for wanting to step down, was my own. I didn’t want to be seen as unworthy personally and professionally. I didn’t want to be someone who was unable to manage their time. Let me tell you, if there is one thing about it me, it’s that I am OCD about time management haha.
The point is, no one was making me feel bad for my choices. I was. I was feeling guilty thinking I was letting others down. I was feeling guilty for wanting something so good in my life but I couldn’t make it work. Even if others were making me feel guilty, they shouldn’t be in my life. We all need a circle of people in our lives that support our decisions and understand our whys. Much like my previous post, instead of What if, ask so what? So what, I have to step back because my attention needs to be elsewhere at this particular time in my life. Life does go on. Our decisions are inconvenient for others but that doesn’t mean we should let anyone make us feel bad or make us feel less worthy. I AM worthy. YOU are worthy. WE are more worthy to ourselves by making better choices.
Lift the burden of guilt and feel the sense of peace and calm it brings. Sometimes it takes a little longer to feel it, but it will be there. Give yourself time to grieve but don’t let it weigh you down. Keep moving forward at YOUR pace, not anyone else’s. What is the right pace for you? No one knows…but you.
Remember, life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful Carol
What if you decide to do something exciting personally or professionally where you put every effort you have into an idea or a goal and present it to others only to hear….crickets.
What if no one provided their opinions or offered their congratulations.
What if they did and they didn’t like it. What if they offered criticisms instead of words of support.
What if you begin to doubt yourself and whether or not you can take your idea and build it into something amazing, or reach that milestone goal you so desperately want. What are you doing wrong that no one is supportive or only has negative responses for you? You start to think, what if I rethink this, or what if I need more time to change it or make it better.
Hold on there…what if you don’t throw in the towel just because you think it’s too hard or because everyone else thinks differently. Everyone has these thoughts of self-doubt. We self-sabotage because we think we aren’t good enough, or strong enough or even that we are deserving of something better.
What if…you said SO WHAT. Take a step back and remember your “why”. Why did you want to take your creativity to the next level. What do YOU want to achieve? Why do you want to reach that goal you envision for yourself. Why is it important to YOU?
So what if someone doesn’t agree it’s the right time or the right choice. Unless there are serious repercussions to the choices you are making, it is not their why, it is yours. Whatever your reason is to continue to keep moving forward, is just that, your reason. You move at your own pace, not someone else’s.
Everyone’s pace and motivation for change is different. What motivates you? What helps you keep your mind at ease when the self-doubt starts to hit? Do you take a walk, sit back with a good book or a cup of tea? Maybe you have a close friend or family member you talk to. However you do it, be kind to yourself. Be patient and remember every step you take along the way, is your own not someone else’s.
It’s okay to be down but don’t stay there. Reflect on what it is that YOU want and work through it however you need to. Celebrate even the smallest milestones no matter what they are. Never give up.
When you are starting to think WHAT IF…remember SO WHAT…. life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. Forward is a pace…your pace…just keep moving.
Shelter in place…words we didn’t think we’d really ever hear. However, this is our life at this very moment. We are stuck in limbo between not being able to touch things or people. Our personal and professional lives are turned upside down. What was once our “normal” has become a twilight zone altogether.
Children are home from school. Parents are working from home if they are able. Many are laid off or let go completely. Businesses are shut down or working in limited operations. Many, unfortunately are sick or are continuing to get sick.
In-person communication is now virtual. Many have taken to the internet to remain connected, to remain focused and even to remain healthy. Many are changing how they exercise thru online videos and Facebook live. Business meetings are conducted through zoom (how many are secretly in their pajamas and loving it!). Outdoor exercise is encouraged however unfortunately many are taking advantage and not distancing themselves appropriately or acting like it’s one big picnic with tailgate parties, pick-up games and playdates. Come ‘on people really? I mean positivity is the key to happiness, but it needs to be responsible!
This to shall pass. This is what I remind myself of every time I face a challenge. I especially remind myself of this everyday now so that I am not stuck in the negativity of the situation. I do not take it lightly, it is a very serious matter all over the world. I live and breathe positivity and I will not stop now.
Working from home is stressful and inconvenient, for most people. I work remotely. I am thankful that I am able to do so. Try to find the positivity in the change in environment. If you are able to still work and receive a paycheck, that is more than enough reason to be positive! Most are not able, therefore be thankful and just keep moving!
In my previous blog, I talked about self-care and how we don’t take time to sit back and relax and the tasks that we often don’t get to. We are often so stressed out in our everyday lives, that now, there is even more stress placed on us. It is not what is placed on us, it is how we react to it. Positivity is the key to happiness and moving forward through this and past it. So how do we do that?
Encourage and teach. We encourage the kids and teach them how to handle change and stress. Teach them about our careers and how we are able to adapt in changing times and how they can handle these types of situations in their futures. Teach them how to keep moving forward despite challenges.
Relax and breathe. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed take a step back, take some deep breaths, find your center. What calms you? Yoga, a walk, stretching, a workout, perhaps a run? How about some meditation. Besides a run, it’s music for me. Music both soothes me and makes my soul happy. Of course, looking at beautiful photos of amazing destinations does the trick too! We may not be able to travel at the moment, but there is nothing wrong with dreaming and planning.
I believe that everything I do, personally and professionally comes from the heart. This truly comes from my heart ~ find your joy, find your why, find your purpose and hold onto your strength. Stay strong, stay connected (responsibly of course) and keep dreaming!
Remember, just keep moving! This has certainly been one heck of journey. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!
Wait, what?! I already try to plan a vacation each year, usually every other year, what is a “self” vacation? To me, it’s learning to say no. I do so much already both personally and professionally that I often over-extend myself. I feel guilty if I don’t volunteer for an upcoming event, make a donation, attend a group run, etc. But why? Because I care.
We often have such a busy schedule we don’t take time sit back and relax, have a cup of tea, read a book. How many tasks do you have in mind that you never get to because other obligations get in the way? Is the only time you take a break, when you are so stressed out you just can’t get out of the house or want to talk to anyone, in person or on the phone? Breathe.
You are no good to yourself, your family, your friends, your business, etc if you are burnt out. Although it can be difficult in the beginning, it will get easier to tell yourself, I need time, I need a break, I need to take time to get this-that or the other thing done you’ve been wanting to. If there are some in your life that get offended if you say no to an invitation to go out, to go to an event, to make a donation or to participate in an activity, you need to shift your inner circle. You are allowed to say no. You are allowed to say that you have other obligations. Most importantly, you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
So how did I take my “self vacation”? I blocked out one week per month where I am taking an evening vacation. No group runs, no large social events, no meetings, and no work. Unless of course there is a personal or business emergency. Don’t worry, I will still be working during the day, duh! I reviewed my calendar, picked a week each month with no obligations already and I blocked it out-in bright bold colors. I love having a calendar in my hand that I can write in each day, and it’s color-coded. My electronic calendar is as well, both personally and professionally. I will use this time to read, take the dog for a walk, have dinner with a friend I haven’t seen in awhile, clean out clothes to donate, take a yoga class ~ whatever I want to do!
Do it…try it…it just may be the most freeing feeling in the world. I challenge you and let me know how it works out for you!
And remember ~ just keep moving!
Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful! Carol
I’ve said it before, and probably will continue to say it a lot….Many of us struggle in all aspects of our life, especially when we are injured, sick or depressed and are not able to get out and do the things we want to do. It takes a village to help us through.
When I received my diagnosis in 2003 of Ankylosing Spondylitis, and then Lupus, my first thought was, what the **** is that, and why me?! I’m sure so many have said the same thing with any diagnosis they have received. What is important is what do you do with that news, what is next? Many fall into depression, often severe and they just can’t seem to get out of it. Others, thrive in a way many of us wish we could. They look the diagnosis in the face and say, not today, you will not get me. I honestly, didn’t know what to do because I didn’t understand any of it. No one in my family, that I knew of at the time had anything like that. And it didn’t end there, from 2003 to 2009 I was diagnosed with multiple auto-immune conditions. I considered myself pretty healthy and active, so what was I doing wrong? My family wasn’t sure what to do with it either. The more I talked about, the more I tried to describe how I was feeling or why I couldn’t do something, especially my daughter, they had a hard time hearing it, and many times didn’t want to hear it, because it sounded like excuses. Those famous words ~ but you don’t look sick. Honestly, please don’t ever say that to anyone with a hidden disease ~ autoimmune, cancer, depression, PTSD, anything. It is a gut-wrenching painful thing to say to someone. You have no idea the internal struggle that is faced.
As I read more about what my conditions were and what could be potential causes, as I listened to the doctor’s about treatments, I continued to question, why me. This isn’t my life. As I lay curled up in a ball most of the time feeling sorry for myself, I had that ah-ha moment while my daughter watched me struggle. Nope, this is not how my life is supposed to be. This is not what my daughter is going to think her life is going to be. I found a new doctor that would listen to ME, helped me on the path I wanted to follow and I was on the road to a new “normal” life. I changed my diet and began walking more – just keep moving. The more I moved the better I felt. My family and friends were my village, my support system cheering me on every step of the way, and they continue to do so. I am forever grateful for them. Eventually I started running and from 2010 to now, I’ve run numerous races including four full marathons. Currently, I am training to complete my first ultra marathon. Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad days, but I learned how to handle them better and how to help feel better both physically and emotionally. Even if people don’t want to hear it, I verbalize it. I share my story in the hopes it can help even one person handle what they are going through.
It’s not easy for those not experiencing what you are experiencing to understand. We try to educate them however it is hard for them to grasp. More and more though conditions such as depression, PTSD, addiction, etc are being brought to light so that family members and friends can learn to understand and find ways to help you through the darkest days. It should no longer be shameful or be kept a secret. Embrace it, understand it and just be kind for you do not know what others are going through. Just keep moving.
It truly does take a village. Whether you are an injured runner and you are down, frustrated or depressed because you are not out doing the things you want to do, you can form a group such as my running group, S.W.I.F.T. (www.swift4running.com) did. They basically created an injured reserved meet-up where those unable to run or walk at the time can meet with others and just get out of the house for coffee or a drink and socialize, boost the mood and provide support.
When an individual and their families are depressed and struggling to pay their bills due to cancer treatments and depression, it takes a village to help them through this process. There is an organization in Philadelphia, Legacy of Hope, that does just that. https://www.legacyofhope.life/ “Because we believe no family should lose their home or go without food because a loved one is fighting cancer and no promising cancer research should go unfunded.”
Life throws us a curve, all the time. It redirects when we least expect it. We allow it to suck the energy and sometimes the life out of us. It becomes toxic. We get lost and our life spirals out of control and we just don’t know how to get out of it. We find others in the same or similar situations and together, you unfortunately become toxic. We convince ourselves that we can’t. You can’t because you won’t. I know that sounds harsh, but you can, if you just try, one step at a time. It won’t happen overnight. But if you continue to allow yourself to stay stuck, to settle that this is how your life is supposed to be, you will remain stuck. You have a choice. You can say to everyone that is trying to or has tried to help you, that they can’t help you, that life sucks and there is no way out. You have a choice to at least try, to tell yourself one positive thing each day, or in each moment that you are struggling. I truly believe a positive mind leads to a positive life. Life can be unfair and shitty, but you don’t have to allow it to win because you will miss so many amazing moments that are wonderful. Remove the toxic self defeating language and feelings. Do me a favor, just keep moving. Find your village, even if it’s just one person. Because whatever your pace is, forward IS a pace. Others believe in you, just believe in yourself.
Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful! Carol
I don’t even know where to begin! What’s more fun then taking on a new challenge or adventure?!
I will begin with an expression of gratitude for the opportunity to take on a new challenge being healthier through diet and exercise.
Then there’s always the challenge of my health and the risk of flare ups if I’m not mindful of the challenges I take on. Always, be mindful of how you feel and be smart and know when to stop. It is not weakness, it is necessity.
In the past few years I began trail running and find it extremely peaceful. But, don’t let that fool you, you have to be on your game watching your footing while absorbing the beauty that surrounds you.
One of my goals for 2018, in addition to enjoying running more trails, was to run a trail race. I decided go big or go home apparently! I understood taking on this goal it would be a challenging course – that was an understatement for me!
I didn’t take pictures while on the course because I wanted to enjoy the beauty that surrounded me. The terrain, between the mud and hills, was very challenging. Most of the elevation was extremely difficult, for me , but would not be for more experienced trail and ultra runners.
Uberendurance Sports hosts a 20 & 40 mile trail race called the Naked Bavarian at Blue Marsh Lake in Leesport, PA. They are a well run race organization keeping costs low while providing challenging, yet fun races, little swag complimented by great volunteers and food.
By the end of the race, I truly exceeded my own personal physical limits, but the high of completing my challenge, while being mindful of my health, was exhilarating!
Fast forward to 2019, I decided I needed to do it again! Why you ask? Because I can! As long as I can keep moving forward, I will keep going. This year proved to be the biggest challenge yet, as it had snowed prior to race day. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I certainly wasn’t going to try to beat my time from the previous year. Snow, mud…and ice! Whoa, what did I get myself into? I did great just moving forward at my own pace (and had not yet fallen thankfully but I did slip a lot!). Stopped at the aid station at mile 10 (the volunteers are amazing!) and was met with – be careful, it’s really messy up there. Did I not mention after the mile 10 aid station, there is quite the climb and descent. Oh, and I’m afraid of heights! Climbing in 2018 was a feat in itself for me, but now to do it in snow, mud and ice. Ugh, do I drop out now?? Nope, just keep moving. Safely of course.
So, off I go, but after I hear from another runner, “hold up, I’ll head out with you”. Thank goodness because at this point I had been running completely alone. I still kept my pace, as did he, but I felt much better knowing there was someone else out there in case I had any issues, like falling off the side of the mountain (well it was a mountain to me, a “hill” to most ultra runners). And although it was not easy by any means and I did slip backwards a few times, I finally decided to take in the view at the top (last year I did not…did I mention FEAR of heights? Wow, what a view! (Nope, I did not get close to the edge)
Trudging along just moving forward and hoping to finish. I was exhausted from the efforts it took to stay on my feet, especially the descent down the other side of the “hill”. After awhile I, along with the other runner close by, decided to walk a bit. Our conversation got personal about tragedies, challenges and struggles. Depression, drugs, ptsd, you name it, the conversation flowed and the time passed. Next thing you know, we were nearing the end. Phew! The kind gentleman I shared the last 10 miles with proved to me, once again, that there are many people out there with similar, or more, struggles than I. He’s an ultra runner who’s goal was to finish today. He ever so kindly dropped back behind me to let me finish the race ahead of him, even after I insisted we finish together. We did finish together, and I am forever grateful for sharing the miles.
What are some of your challenges for yourself?
Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful! Carol
The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others
For 10 years, I volunteered and sponsored an annual fundraiser event for childhood cancer research on behalf of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. I found the St. Baldrick’s Foundation through a volunteer site and wanted something I could do together with my daughter (against her will at first!) that involved children. I’m so very proud of my daughter, although she was not interested at first, it was an opportunity for her to learn about some of the struggles that children face, and how we could make even a small difference, and year after year, she was by my side helping. I can’t even begin to describe what this experience has done for me. I met some of the most amazing people that became lifelong friends, just simply sharing my time. Although during this time I was very sick, I just kept going. I pushed through tasks that come easy to others, but were difficult for me. I needed to keeping moving forward, to help others who couldn’t help themselves, who had more difficult challenges to face then I did. The friendships that were created through the years will be bonded forever. Check out this link to see how you can be involved and make a difference for a child. https://www.stbaldricks.org
Giving of my time as a runner assisting at water stations, cheering and/or handing medals to finishers is very rewarding, especially seeing the smiling faces of those crossing the finish line for the first time, whether it is their first race, returning after an injury or illness, or maybe running their best race. The look of these brave and inspiring runners is the epitome of not giving up, the desire to just keep moving and just do and be the best they can. As a business owner, and runner, giving of my time attending and/or sponsoring local events allows me to give back to my communities. This year I had the opportunity to sponsor several local race events, as well as volunteer with a team fundraising for fallen heroes, which provides holiday gifts to children of soldiers who have passed in the war, or suffered from PTSD. A kind word, a hug, an acknowledgment and understanding means more than you know to someone. Be kind, always, you never know what someone is going through.
How about you? Do you volunteer locally, throughout the US or Internationally? Did you know that you can find out if a destination you are traveling to is sponsoring a local school or event? Some resort destinations, through the assistance of volunteers, provide school supplies to help a local school. When we travel, we can indeed help others and help to keep them moving forward.
Support while traveling
There are many reasons to volunteer while you’re traveling and there are literally thousands of charities and organizations that look for help from passing travelers. For example, the Maui Humane Society has the “Helping Paws” program where visitors can come spend time with the animals. Some, who are staying on Maui for a longer time, can actually “temporarily adopt” a dog or cat for their whole stay. Most end up taking them home with them at the end. Churches also offer mission trips and encourage members to participate as a group, usually in some specific area such as building a school.
We may not have a lot of time to give, but maybe if we each look for some small opportunity, we can all make a difference. The next time you take a vacation, consider asking what you can do to help. We are happy to assist you in learning about these opportunities as you plan your vacations. Have you ever participated in a program that you would like to share? Let us know and we will put it “out there” for all to see!
Let’s make a difference together and help others to just keep moving! Carol