and just like that, it’s December…

One of the things I’ve said to my friends a lot lately is: Time is weird.

Maybe it’s due to getting older. Or maybe it’s the way living with chronic illness can impact days and weeks and months and years, making them slide together while at the same time changing so much. Or maybe time truly is getting different in the whole cosmic sense of things.

But for quite a while now, it’s felt like time goes fast…and slow…all at once.

Here we are in December already. Not only is it almost the end of another year, we’re almost at the end of the TEENS. It can sort of boggle my mind when I think of how it’s almost 2020…and how long it’s been since the numbers of a year did a repeat like that with zeros – 1010…and how long it’ll be before it happens again – 3030. (Yes, my mind boggles for odd reasons sometimes!)

December is my birthday month. It’s a month in the midst of holiday time.

It’s a month that invites looking back over the months of the current year, and looking forward to the year to come.

When I look back, when I think of all the months of 2019 leading to now, I can’t really even describe how I feel. But there are words and phrases that come with the feeling: Wow. What a year. Have I really survived all that so far? Yay, me! But what a journey in hell.

(For more context about the “journey in hell” thing, this post about tapering off anti-anxiety medication says more about what I’ve been going through.)

In some ways, January 2019 seems like a long, long time ago.

In other ways, it seems like this year has gone by in a blink.

Time is weird.

And as I look ahead, I feel a mixture…

There’s some anxiety, because my brain right now is still firing on fear, looking for danger, wondering when another shoe is going to drop.

There’s hope, too, and the good kind of anticipation. I have my 2020 word-of-the-year, I’m letting myself set a few goals for the first time in quite a while, and I’ve got plans for immersing myself even more in painting and writing.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on fiction regularly – and that feels really good.

And a couple of days ago – on a day that included painting at the canvas, and working on fiction, and going to book club, and laughter and talking and pizza and sweets, and a late afternoon phone call with a dear friend – I realized that afternoon (and it hit me a few more times as the day and evening went on) that I felt more “normal” (as in normal-for-me in the way my life used to feel) than I’ve felt in over a decade.

It wasn’t only that I had fewer physical symptoms that day (it’s true that I had fewer symptoms, and I’m very very grateful for days with fewer symptoms!). And it wasn’t only that the anxiety wasn’t very high (I’m always grateful when that happens too!).

It was the way I felt in my own skin. Something that’s hard to describe, the way I moved through the day, the way the day felt inside of myself. I honestly can’t explain it.

But it felt like my life a long time ago, the way my life used to be, the way I used to be.

And it felt so good.

It gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, that part of myself isn’t gone forever, erased by anxiety and physical problems and broken relationships and financial stress and benzos and anxiety.

It gave me hope for 2020.

I’ll be honest: I’m afraid to hope.

But there it is.

Hope.

Time can be weird, a mixture of fast and slow. Feelings and emotions can be weird too, a mixture of so many things – anxiety, dread, joy, hope, and more.

But here’s the thing: We can hold it all.

 

 

it’s often the little things…

As I wrote last week, my taper and now withdrawal from a benzo brings (basically daily) physical challenges that wax and wane regarding which specific symptoms, as well as the intensity.

The past several days have been difficult, with ramped-up symptoms, although I can’t always tell which are actually due to withdrawal and which could be something else – and I do have other physical challenges that have nothing to do with the anti-anxiety medication, so there’s that too.

But whatever the cause, an increase in symptoms means I need to consciously focus even more on joy and gratitude, because otherwise I’d just get too lost in the difficulty of it all.

So in the midst of hard days, I’ve been doing my best to spend time doing things I love, or things for self-care. I’ve been looking for the moments of joy in each day, joy connections that make me smile and help me breathe and bring me back to present time.

I’ve been painting. I’ve been writing, working on fiction. I’ve been listening to music that lifts me up and lightens my spirit.

I’ve been cuddling our cute Chloe.

I’ve been pushing myself more than I often do – although I have to be careful and mindful about just how much I push, because pushing too much and overdoing the pacing can cause a setback. But when I’ve felt up to it physically, I’ve been pushing myself to go out, be around people, have a change of scenery.

This has meant hours over days writing at the library. And stopping to chat in person with old friends. And having brief bits of time with my husband in the middle of the day on his lunch break.

Another thing I’ve been doing is reading. Books are loves of mine, and my earliest memories include books, and then reading, and then writing stories with fat markers in my can-barely-write scrawl as soon as I could print words on paper. This love is what led to becoming a librarian, and a writer.

Because of eye issues the past few years, I haven’t been able to read nearly as much as I used to. But I do still read, and one of the books I’m reading right now is Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts.

This is what I said about it on instagram:

A few weeks ago, two different people, in two different places, within 30 minutes of each other, mentioned this book and what a life impact it had. One of them mentioned a 5-session (and no-charge) online study running Nov 18 thru Dec 22, and I decided to do it. I thought I’d need to get the book but then I thought… wait, didn’t I get it already, maybe on kindle? And sure enough, I already had it – and according to Amazon, I’ve had it almost exactly 4 years… but I’d never read it. Until now.
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So now I’m reading it, and I’m doing the study that started last week, and…just wow. I hadn’t realized how strongly it would focus on three things I try so much to bring into my life: grace, joy, gratitude/thanksgiving. I don’t know why it took me so long from the time of getting this book to finally reading it, but it’s not the first time something like this has happened, and I believe books (our reading of them) can come into our world at whatever time is right for us.
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I know first-hand what a difference it makes to focus on gratitude. And joy. I’ve kept gratitude lists before…but I’ve never intentionally kept a running gratitude list of 1000. Until now. And wow.

So – in the midst of difficult and hard, I’ve been finding moments and connections of joy and happiness and laughter and inspiration and comfort and coziness and peace and love.

Painting. Writing. Cuddling the cat. Holding hands with my husband. Chatting with friends. Love. Laughter. Twinkle lights. Coffee. Comforting tv shows. Cozy blankets.

And so much more.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…

Sometimes – maybe even often – it’s the little things.

 

choose to trust {printable}…

It’s another free printable – this one is about trusting: choose to trust

As with the other printables here on the blog (when you follow that link, don’t forget to look at the previous posts too, to see all of them) there’s no charge and nothing to sign up for – just download and print as you wish.

The files include one pdf file (you should be able to set it to your desired size when you print), as well as a jpg file for size 8×10 – high quality, 300dpi, suitable for printing to frame, or put on a bulletin board, or use in an art journal – or just have somewhere for encouragement or motivation or as a reminder: choose to trust

Get the pdf file here.

The 8×10 jpg file is here.

More freebies – of various kinds – are coming, so please check back or follow the blog – or sign up to receive blog posts in your email inbox  (just go to this link  to sign up) to get them as they’re posted.