Moments of Clarity

clarityI had one of those moments today, one of those moments of clarity that come along every once in a while when you really feel like you need it because you have been feeling off.  Not really sure when it even started except I was driving home after a pretty successful day at work (which basically entails getting all the clinical progress notes written up the way you wanted and submitted by the end of the day and feel like you really listened to the person sitting in front of you.)

So anyway, back to the moment of clarity.  I was driving along with the sun beaming in the car (yeah sun because it was only in the 20’s today) and it hit me.  “I can do a marathon and the training will pay off”.  I know, I know, I’ve been talking about it for a while but really this is the part in the training for something big that the self-doubt is the ruler at the table, the one who dictates your run (or at least my run) and when things go bad it takes quite a few days to get back on track.  Well, hey you self-doubter marathon dictator, “I’m gonna beat you!”  I might be tired due to the 21 miles I ran this weekend and quite frankly a little delusional from legs that feel like rubber bands (thank goodness today was rest day/tap dancing day) but I’m getting my mind directed on the right path.  Yippee.  clarity2

It kind of reminds me of when your favorite sports team is getting ready to enter the playoffs and they are ramping up their efforts and you are excited.  Excited that they might actually pull off a big win and take it all and you feel confident.  You can clearly see their path.  That’s how I feel (not that I can win it all because I am not truly psychotic) but that I’m feeling inspired.  A moment of clarity that it will all pay off in the end.  A moment that all I have worked for is finally coming true.

I guess it really helps that I am loving what I am doing.  I’m loving that I wake up each day to a great job and work with wonderful people.  I’m loving that my family is around and we get to spend lots of time together.  I’m loving that I am able to go the gym when it is just way to cold!  I’m loving that I’m able to make my legs and body do things I never thought I was capable of.  I’m loving that I get to spend some time with some of my oldest friends (24 years of friendship) in about a month and it inspires me to work harder.

A moment of clarity doesn’t just find you.  I think you have to make a moment of clarity happen.  You have to be putting the work and energy out there and be receptive to what is coming back.  You have to be aware.  You have to take it all in and live in the present moment.  Well, here I am, awareness available, happiness and gratitude right at the forefront and ready to go along for the ride.

Have you ever had a moment of clarity?  A moment that it all seemed to come together.  What makes it work for you?  Are you practicing awareness?  Living in the moment?clarity1

Passing the test….

test1Scary title isn’t it.  Where am I going with this?  Am I giving you a test at the end of reading this?  Don’t stop reading because the answer is no.  No test!  Or maybe you just passed the test by still reading along.

I don’t know about you but taking a test is scary and inside my head just the thought of it creates anxiety.  I even go so far as watching for signs that I ‘m gonna fail.  Like last weekend when I could barely complete my long run which was 18 miles but I wanted it to be 20 miles.  In my mind, I failed, I failed the test.  When really I should have been saying, “Yippee you just went 18 miles!”  And it even went further than that…  I have been studying to take my National Exam for my Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and when I failed my run by 2 miles last weekend it also made me start to doubt my ability to pass the test.  I know weird right!  How do those two even go together?  But somehow in my mind my self-doubt crept in and said “if you can’t even make it the distance in the run how are you going to make it through the exam and pass?”  Nice, right! test

So instead of letting my mind take over, I tried to take over.  I went home and started studying even harder, about 6 hours on Sunday and then 3 hours a night for Monday and Tuesday.  Then it was test day.  I woke up in a great mood and each time doubt crept in I would just say to myself “You know what you are gonna know and it is enough.  You have completed a marathon, you can do this” (not sure how this related but it worked).  I kept myself calm and just decided it was going to be what it was going to be.  As I sat in the exam, I just kept taking deep breaths and let my mind use the information I had crammed in to it to make the choices and guess what?  They were the right choices (okay they were mostly right) and I passed.  Yippee!!  I never have to take that test again and now I’m one step closer to that LMHC, just have to wait until May now, but that’s it.

When the weather was somewhat nice today (in the high 40’s or low 50’s) I thought this run will be great.  It was another long run, hoping to go 20 miles.  But again I was tested!  Why?????  I don’t know but it was bad.  The first 3 miles I just wanted to turn around and say forget this.  But I didn’t.  I kept going.  I stopped for a little bit and stretched hoping my calf pain would go away.  Pushing on and on and mentally saying to myself, just keep going (I kind of felt like Nemo, “Just keep swimming”).  I got settled in finally and did pretty well for most of the run until around 15 when the wind gusts became harder and it started to rain and with that it cooled off.  Really starting to think that forces are against me!

test2I just kept pushing and was able to complete 18 miles, still not the 20 but it’s done.  I have some time before the marathon and hopefully this is just a phase.  I’m really hoping that through all these tests I will have success, which I am sure I will.  It may just be a completion of the race which in the end is really what I want, I just have some huge expectations each time I tackle something.  I want to do my best.  Maybe that is why taking and passing a test is so huge for me.

What would I tell a client who is having the same struggles as me?  Well probably the same thing that I am finally telling myself.  It’s 100% preparation and 1000% mental thoughts.  I know that doesn’t add up.  But if you prepare to the best of your ability and your mind takes over, it make it impossible to finish and reach your goal.  Mental work is needed too.  A mantra is great or something you can say to yourself when your doubt creeps in (because it will).  I’m going with “trust your training”, “one foot in front of the other” and “you’ve done this before”!  I think with all this and the time I have put in training, I will pass this test too.

Do you have a mantra?  Have you been tested and made it through?  Tell me about it, I would love to hear it.

test3

Midday, midweek, midrun what was I thinking?

Yesterday I had an unusual finish to my day.  It ended way earlier than I thought or wanted it to (being an outreach therapist sometimes this happens because believe it or not people don’t always show up for their appointments even if it is at their home and you come there).  So I thought I would take advantage of a wonderful fall day and complete a long run, midweek and in the middle of the day.  Sounds like a great idea right?!  Well it sucked!

Oddly enough I wanted it to be great.  I felt ready.  I wanted to go 10 miles and make it long especially since I won’t be able to run a lot this weekend due to some family obligations.  I was also excited to run because the weather was awesome, nice and cool yet sunny.  I had my location picked, my local rail trail run.  Off I went.  Down the leaf covered trail, cautious at times because all the leaves covering the trails was quite slippery.  And from the beginning I felt slow, awkward and not happy about my choice to run a long distance.  But soon I found myself just doing it.  Trying to get lost in the motions and not think about the pain/distance.  This quote pretty much sums things up: giving up

My head really started giving up when I was unable to locate my turn around spot (still haven’t bought that garmin so I rely on the markings on the trail and on this day it was covered by leaves).  By the time I found a marker it was already 5.5 miles so I thought, I might as well go 6 and then turn around.  This was also me trying to conquer the horrible mindset I was in.  After finally turning back all I could tell myself was, “You are over halfway done!”  I got to the finish and was so happy to be done.

As I look back at this run I begin to see how this is often my mindset in daily living especially when I am challenged.  I find myself just trudging my way through the day and saying it will be great when this is over.  Do you ever find yourself trapped here?  I am not a fan.  I consciously try not to live in this mindset and when I find myself here I get a little/a lot irritated!

So how do you/me get out of it?  Well that is a good question.

Today I woke up and took my gift (the present moment) and unwrapped it and let it unfold like it wanted to.  I tried not to control each movement, each thought and at times found myself saying things that I was not sure would work or comfort someone but just trusting and knowing that even if it didn’t work it wouldn’t cause someone harm.  Maybe in fact it would challenge them to see things a little different.  And you know what, it worked.  I never know what I’m walking into when I visit a client which really is much like a run.  As much as I prepare, I never know if my mind is going to take over or if my body is just gonna decide it doesn’t want to do this today but yet I trust.  I trust that all the things I have learned all the training I have been doing are going to persevere and it will all be okay in the end.  And really, it is!  Or maybe I should say shockingly it is.  It seems to work out when I let things happen and keep my mind control out of it.

PS – as much as the run sucked and it was farther than I wanted to go, I was glad that I got it in and today I got to rest!

Overthinking Happy?!

happyCan you overthink happiness?  Can you talk yourself completely out of being happy?  Can you talk yourself into being happy?  What do you think?

Today I met someone who told me that they think a lot.  In fact they spend moments every day meditating and what they like to call philosophizing about all different things.  And yet they have decided, what is the point of being happy?  This person feels like he can’t make a difference because who would care anyway.  We had an interesting discussion about appreciating what you have been given and finding happiness in each day but that does not seem to be enough for him.  This person seems to be overthinking what it means to be happy.  Is it only big things that make him happy or at this point would those big events even make him happy?

With these thoughts going through my mind, I went for a run (cause that’s how I process things).  I would like to say I came up with a wonderful solution, ideas that will help him, and he will once again find happiness.  But remembering that I am only human, I started thinking whether I have had times in my life where I expected more from happiness and didn’t get what I expected.  Don’t we all have those moments!

Just last summer I read this book:happiness1

 

I am sure you have heard of it, but if you haven’t, find it, read it, savor it!

Anyway back to something that I learned that I am hoping will help with this “overthinking happiness”.  Rubin writes, “To eke out the most happiness from any experience, we must anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory.  Any single happy experience may be amplified or minimized, depending on how much attention you give it.”  Is this the answer?  Have we solved the problem of overthinking it or have I just added more confusion to the whole concept?  Well, I would like to think that if we can step back, quit thinking about whether we are happy and just savor the experience for what it is, this will be a stepping stone to getting back on the right path.  Maybe it is more about experiencing the raw emotion of the moment then understanding it and identifying this as “the moment I am happy”.  Can’t we just feel it!  Can’t we just BE happy and take our minds out of it?!

My answer so far is quit thinking about, savor the emotions of the moment, and find something else to stress about rather than”am I happy”.  Because chances are if you are having that thought the answer is probably “no” and it is time to find ways to make some changes!!happy1

Procrastination Station

procrastinationWelcome aboard my procrastination train, I hope you enjoyed the station.  🙂   Today was one of those days, okay really it was this weekend that was one of those weekends!  I like to call my procrastination, My chance to relax.  But really what is going on in my head it just get it done.

Have you ever wondered why we procrastinate?  I do especially when I am in that mode.  I know if I just did what I was trying to avoid it would be done and then I could move on, yet that doesn’t motivate me.  Unfortunately I have noticed it is the same for my child.  She has to finish two books by Tuesday for school and when did she wait to read them, well of course Sunday evening.  Oh wait she is sleeping right now so she is really still hanging out in procrastination station!  I also think this has something to do with Senioritis!  Yet somehow she gets it done and her grades are still good and she has been accepted into each college she has applied to, so I have to let her figure it out and I guess I need to focus on me.  (Hey it is easier to procrastinate if I focus on someone else, don’t you think!) procrastination1

Today in my procrastination I managed to clean the downstairs, clean the fishtank, start laundry and clean the bathtub.  I know it doesn’t sound like procrastination but I was avoiding the 28 degrees with a windchill factor of who knows what, but I know it was cold outside with those wonderful 15mph wind gusts.  Why avoid this, well it is long run Sunday!  My gym runs on the treadmill have been miserable lately and I was procrastinating making a decision of what to do.  So I cleaned.  This isn’t abnormal for me.  When I was in grad school I would bake instead of do the project, read the chapter, or study for the test.  So I have this all down to a fine art by now.  Don’t we all?!

Finally around 1:30pm, I just went upstairs changed into long leggings with windbreaker pants on top, a couple of layers of dri-fit shirts, put my cut little skull cap hat on, hooked my ipod in, and faced it.  The wind biting in my face but the sun beating down and telling me, “Hey goofball, it is about time you got out here.”  Honestly that is what when through my head once I started out.  What took me so long and why did I try to avoid this so long.  Well truth is, I was scared.  I think that is what procrastination is all about for me.  If I fear something, I will put it off until the last possible minute.  Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, and fear of can I really run in weather that is below freezing.

procrastination3Well guess what, I did it!  I had a goal of running 10 miles today  because of my horrible treadmill runs and the fact that I just did the math I am 13 weeks away from the other scary thing in my life right now, my first full marathon.  Which brings me to another point, isn’t it crazy when we are facing something that is so scary like a marathon, we face new fears and accomplish those along the way.  I know that someone doesn’t just wake up one morning and put on their shoes and run 26.2 miles (okay someone might of but it is not me!).  We have to build up those miles, go farther than we have ever gone hitting those milestones on a weekly basis so when the marathon gets here we will be prepared.

I think that is how I have to look at procrastination and push through it.  Only when we do those things we are scared of do we grow.  Avoidance can only happen for so long before we have to make a decision even if the decision is to avoid it, that in and of itself is a decision.  As for me, I am going headfirst into this running decision like I have in sharing my insights, challenges, and beliefs through this blog.  I hope you will do the same.  Because really we only live once and I don’t know about you but I am truly trying to make the most of my first and only time to live!!

Are you in procrastination station right now?  What is that you are avoiding?  Why? 

PS – the run felt great after all the avoiding and I ran 12.13 miles in 1:42:31.  Got really cold at the end but so happy!procrastination2

Tick, Tick, Tick…. Weeeeeeee!!!!

Now that I have your attention, can you figure out what I am referencing?  Answer: a roller coaster.  In particular, it is the emotional roller coaster that I am on right now.  Ever feel like you have been on one?  If not, I want to come visit you and find out what you are doing.  Right now my rollercoaster is beginning to feel out of control.  One minute I am doing okay, not great, just okay, but handling things and then the next I feel tears welling up.  Where it is coming from, I think I know but it is a huge combination of things.  Two of my main triggers are stress from work (sometimes feeling I can’t handle all the issues I am presented with and help everyone solve their problems.  Big error in that thinking because I can’t help everyone solve their problems they have to do it themselves but I sometimes put too much pressure on myself) and the next one is having a senior in high school and this one for multiple reasons.  One is I will miss her and I am already thinking about how she won’t be around next year (I am really conscious of the time I get to spend with her now and relish in every moment).  Another one came this evening when I had to go to senior parent night and listen to the guidance counselors tell us about the admission process.  Can you say DAUNTING?!  I myself have gone through the application process on multiple occasions for myself but it is different with your kid, mainly because it seems like they want more info now than when I was younger.  But we are facing it head on and will make it through.

So how do I handle the emotional roller coaster part that these things bring on?  Well, I would like to say with grace and ease.  But really I am my own worst client.  Tonight before my senior night I wanted to go for a run.  So I got dressed and was getting ready to head out for an outdoor run (it was in the high 60’s, perfect for a run) but at the last minute decided to go to the gym instead, mainly because my roller coaster was in mid-weeeeeee mode where I was not really in the mood to go, knew it would help, but really did not want to put out the effort.  So by going to the gym I could just get off the treadmill when I felt like I had had enough instead of knowing that I had to run back as far as I ran out if I went outside.  And that is what happened.  I made it 1.25 miles, got off the treadmill, went and stretched and left.  Did it help?  Kind of.  Should I have gone longer?  Probably.  But the problem was that my roller coaster had translated to tight muscles in my legs and I was in pain.  I am smart enough to know that if I am causing myself pain, it is better to stop than really hurt myself.  So I did.

My roller coaster is still running and I am trying to figure out how to at least slow it down.  I have some tricks in my bag like using breathing techniques and visualization techniques which I am finding somewhat helpful.  I am hoping that the most helpful thing is that today was my Friday so I get to sleep in tomorrow and I feel like I need that extra sleep.  Sometimes that is really all I need and here is hoping that my roller coaster is a kiddie one tomorrow instead of the crazy wooden one that jerks you around and sends your heart up into your throat as it drops as well as beats you up along the way.

My biggest hope is that you have learned through this blog post is that we all struggle (even someone trained to help others cope) and perseverance and desire to make some changes is what is going to pull me through in the end.

Bed Bugs!!!!!

Now that I have your attention, can I just start with YUCK!!!!!!  Just the thought of bed bugs make my skin crawl and today I had to it thrown at me and I am going crazy.  If you have read along you know that I work in residential care (if you haven’t been reading, glad you started now on this crazy subject but what has taken you so long to find me!).  Anyway back to the bugs… We had a person come to work today saying that he got bed bugs from a client in my building.  So we did what any normal person would do, we put anything he might have come in contact with in the dryer.  Because if you didn’t know bed bugs can be killed by heat.  They usually die at 120 degrees but a dryer can get them hotter and I don’t know about you but I want those suckers DEAD!!!!!

So then began the reaction of my mind throughout the day.  I was sitting in my daily staff meeting in my office and there sat the guy’s backpack that had come from his home infiltrated with the bed bugs.  I tried not to get anywhere near it.  But then the itching started.  Not just the simple head scratching of that poor guy, I hope he is able to get rid of them.  But more like the I feel these bugs crawling all over me.  Wait was that something?  My head itches, are they in my scalp?  And then it just got worse from there every time I thought about it.  So much so that when I got home from work, I stripped down in my entry way and took all my clothes to the dryer.  Remember, heat kills!!!

Now I sit here and randomly scratch (fully clothed and showered!) and wonder.  Did those bugs follow me home?  I sure as heck hope not!!!  I have carpet in my house and cats and if that happens it would be a nightmare!

But in reality, my mind is just creating something that is probably not there.  It is crazy the power of our mind.  I might have talked about it before (can’t remember because my mind tends to block some things out or I have major short term memory loss, you decide.  Hey who are you and why are you reading this? :-)) but our mind is a powerful tool.  It can cause us to go down the road of craziness faster than we ever thought. We just need to learn to take control.  Change our thoughts for the better.  Be hopeful.

So for now I am thinking positive, namely that if some creepy bed bugs came home with me that they are now baked in my dryer (sorry family but at least they are dead!) or even that I was just exposed to the possibility of getting them and escaped it unscathed and I need to be more careful next time (maybe it is time to wear a plastic suit to work).  I just need to convince myself that the itching I am having is dry skin because I shower twice a day (once in the morning and once after my workout at the gym).  Here is hoping that that is the truth.