and now it’s March…

Time still feels strange to me, passing fast and slow all at once. I’ll think about posting something here, and then…more time passes.

Anxiety is still a problem for me, in a big way. It’s been a bit over 18 months since my taper off xanax ended and I still have times of flare-ups of various symptoms, and my central nervous system is still super-sensitive. I continue to try to take things day by day, even moment by moment, and get through as best as I can. As to be expected (since this is the way life is) some days are better than others.

Here are some of what’s currently helping me through what continues to be a difficult time…

Painting.

Even though I can’t really explain the why behind it, holding a brush and moving paint (on a page or a canvas) helps me calm. I don’t worry about how it looks. I’m not doing anything fancy. I even call what I do “paint play” because I’m just playing, simply moving the paint wherever.

It’s okay if I don’t know the why of it working – what matters is that I know painting helps me, and I’ve been spending time doing it. It’s grounding, and relaxing, and calming. It’s one of my joy connections – and whenever we can connect with joy, it helps.

Writing and research.

I’m putting these two together because, for now, they’re overlapping for me a bit.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been working again on genealogy research.

I’ve also been doing research for my current fiction project.

But. I’ve been having trouble getting back to a regular, consistent, routine with writing. To try to shift this for myself, I decided to try having a writing schedule even though, historically, writing schedules haven’t worked out too well for me. I’m willing to try it again, though, so…I’m giving it a go.

What I know is that my life is better, in general, when I’m writing consistently (especially, when I’m writing fiction). Even when life is difficult, it’s better when I’m writing.

That’s a big reason I’m giving the writing schedule a try again. I really-really-really want to get back to writing consistently again.

Walking.

Because of various physical things, I’m not always able to take nice long walks. But taking walks is something else that really helps me. It helps the anxiety, it lifts my mood, it just makes me feel better.

My husband and I have been walking in the neighborhood, as well as taking walks some days near his workplace on his lunch hour.

Getting out in the fresh air is something else that really helps me.

Reading. And watching shows.

Reading fiction takes me to another place, putting me in the lives of imaginary characters far away from whatever is happening in my own world.

Spending time reading on the front porch has become a grounding routine of the past months, and it helps calm me. I also generally read for a while in the evenings.

Watching shows does a similar thing for me, putting me into another place and time. I have a variety of what I call “comfort shows” and I’ll often watch complete series multiple times.

Prayer and Bible study.

Time with Jesus just helps me in so many ways. It brings comfort and clarity.

It helps me remember that I’m not alone.

It helps me deal with life.

Connection with loved ones.

Hanging out with my husband… taking walks with him, watching “our shows” together, sharing meals, cooking our usual breakfast-for-supper on Sunday evenings… I’m so grateful for him, and for our time together.

And there are the phone calls and texts and messages and voxes with friends and family.

And also…

Our girl.

And this sweet kitty continues to bring joy and love to our household. We love her to bits.

These are some of the things helping me through.

Simple things, but oh so helpful and valuable.

Find what helps you get through, what helps you cope and deal… and what helps you connect with joy.

I’d love to hear what helps you (if you’d like to share your thoughts) – just get in touch with me anytime.

do what makes you feel alive {printable}…

Over the weekend, I was tackling a tiny bit of much-needed decluttering, and I came across a couple of printouts I had totally forgotten about making. Both were printables I made a few years ago, one from one of my watercolor paintings, the other from part of one of my acrylic paintings.

Both paintings are abstract, intuitive paintings, not paintings of anything in particular (“paint play” is what I often call what I’m doing)… and I took photos of the paintings, digitally added words, and turned them into printables.

Tracking down the digital files took some time, but track them down I did. Turns out I made the printables back in 2017. I think (but I’m not positive) I shared them on my old blog but they got lost in the shuffle somewhere along the way.

The first of these printables-from-original-paintings is below. I’ll be putting up a post with the other one in a few days.

This one is from one of my watercolor paintings, with the words: do what makes you feel alive

I think we often need that reminder. As long as it’s not something that hurts someone else, it’s a good thing to keep in mind: do what makes you feel alive.

Do you know what that is? If not, take some time to get quiet and feel into the question. What lights you up? What sparks your inner fire and stirs your soul? What makes you feel alive?

This reminder – and putting it into practice – is something that helps us connect with joy. And, I believe, helps us connect with our purpose.

The printable is yours if you’d like to print it out. As with the other printables on the blog (you can find those here – be sure to go back to all the “older posts” to see them all) there’s no charge, nothing to sign up for, no strings attached. Just download and print as you wish. The file is in .pdf format, and you should be able to resize the image to suit your needs.

The link to get it is here.

Or just click on the printable’s photo below to get the file.

Do what makes you feel alive.

 

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.