Feel.

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One of the things I’ve been working on this year, is accepting and enjoying life around me instead of just beating my own ass to do better. I don’t think I’ll ever stop pushing so hard, but that’s not a bad thing in my eyes, I’m proud of how far I’ve come, and how much I achieve each and every year. What I was doing though, was essentially killing myself trying to make life “better” for my child, and of course the men who shall not be named. I lost touch with the simple things in life and only focused on the future.

Could I finish this project before the next one had to be started? Would I be able to move out of my town in 5 years? Would I be able to keep repairing my car, or should I be saving for a newer model? Could I be happy.. in the future? Thankfully, I realized that I had no concept of the present during the whole -get the crash cart, her heart cant go much longer- bullshit at the tail end of last winter. Facing mortality, yet again, kind of makes you re-evaluate everything.

Through spring this year, I started focusing on the physical and emotional “now”. [Insert Zen Bullshit Here] When was the last time I really watched a sunset? When was the last time I laid in bed and just listened to the rain? When was the last time I watched my daughter play in the sand, without worrying about tomorrow?

I couldn’t remember. The ache that had developed in my chest wasn’t just my literal broken heart (subnote: I guess I could blame that on he who shall not be named hahaha) it was the lack of feeling.. the lack of seeing.. the lack of being right in the moment. So I started trying to appreciate the little things, and enjoy simplicity, especially with nature, in all aspects.

Truthfully, it took a couple of months to be able to be in the moment without forcing myself to pay attention. Worries for the future would take up most of my thoughts until I made myself feel the breeze, or until I directed my focus to the sound of the wind through the new leaves on the trees.

The last month and change, I finally noticed I was doing it without thinking about it. I could watch the sun glint off of my daughters blonde hair and think only of that. I could play catch with my dog, and just enjoy it. I could again write about things (mostly in my physical journals) that I was living.. instead of just worrying about what I would have to live through.

There have been many realizations along the way. I had to learn to become comfortable with myself, I had to start accepting things I wasn’t happy with, with my own body. (Still a work in progress, my surgical scars still bother me). How can you enjoy the cool night air on your skin, if you can’t bare all of it? To be comfortable with my own thoughts, had to be comfortable with my own skin. Then I had to acknowledge what I was capable of, what I had actually achieved. It was like a first step for me, then it was time to face the rest of my demons.

I’m getting there. I can set aside the future, and enjoy the current moment. I can just listen to the sounds of my boots crunching over the leaves on the ground. I can just listen to the fire crackle in my backyard. I can watch my daughter dance around, I can just take part in her joy when we dance in the kitchen. I can just taste the woody notes in my favorite tea, or the tang of my beer with the sun overhead. I can just feel running my fingertips across someone’s lips, just feel their touch.

Life is unbelievable short. It’s over before we know it. I think what I’m getting at, is how important it is to enjoy the little things in life.. to actually live.. instead of just living. Of course I worry about tomorrow, I don’t think I’ll ever stop, but now, I can live in today too. So no day is ever “wasted”.

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Stress, Happiness, Family, Home and Work: Rambling Does a Soul Good.

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This last year has been turbulent.  There were so many ups and downs (it seemed like more downs than anything to be honest) and to be completely honest, I was burning out and pretty damn near miserable.  The worst part is?  I didn’t realize how miserable I was, despite it tearing apart my life.

When you’re not happy, it truly does impact all aspects of your life.  A big part of my issue was work itself, and after I started burning out, I no longer wanted to be a part of it.  I felt helpless, taken advantage of, and angry.  Little did I know, I was taking all of that home with me.  My relationship with my boyfriend suffered, I was working 60+ hours a week, and was so crabby during what little free time I had, I threw most of it on him.  My daughter felt the brunt of it as well, I snapped on her for simple things more times than I’d like to admit.  Of course, working so many hours, made me feel like I missed out on her life (which I did, and I regret wholeheartedly), which made me resentful, which made me angry… and the cycle continued.

The stress from work, and my by that point, unhappy home life impacted my health.  In 2013, I had no hospitalizations.  In 2014 through now?  What, 3?  4?  With several ER trips in between?  It’s been ridiculous.  Crohns isn’t caused by stress, but it most definitely is impacted by it.  So, on top of everything at work, and at home… add in hospital trips.  When you add in hospitals, you have to remember to subtract pay and add stress at work from missing work.  Take all of that and re-route it back into the unhappy job, which leads back into the unhappy home.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

Towards the end of the year, I realized that work was my main issue, and was getting the impression that I was bringing it home and affecting my family.  I made a goal to make it through Christmas.  I had talked about it with Ryan, and once Christmas was past, I would make a decision and decide whether I would leave or stay.

Oddly enough the timing of that final conversation coincided with a demotion.  For whatever reason, my management decided instead of making changes I had been asking for, that it would be better to put me back into the customer service pool and bring back an old coworker as the new supervisor.  I jumped on it.  Sure, I was a bit angry, not at the demotion itself, but at the lack of help I had received, the lack of support I was given and the lack of training (which is improving markedly since then, might I add) for my position.  However, I knew I wasn’t right for the position yet, and at that point, I didn’t want it anymore.

Once I was firmly back in my customer service position, I vowed to leave work at work and to bring the happiness from home there.  I had never been good at separating work and home, never.  Not even when I first started working at 15 years old.  This time I was determined.  That was the first step.  Within a few weeks I was getting comments from family, friends and coworkers that I seemed markedly happier.  Little fights with the boyfriend seemed to happen less and less.  I started to sleep better at night and I realized that it was because once 5pm came along, I *refused* to be aggravated about work, I *refused* to be angry.  If I did manage to bring home those feelings, I did something immediately to put it out of my mind.

Since then, as the weeks pass, I realize what a mess I was.  I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t eating well, and I was perpetually grumpy.  My Crohns Disease started to flare again around Christmas, and I have been back in the hospital twice since then (one was just an overnight, the other almost a week).  The downtime while being sick really pushed home the changes I needed to make.  I have been doing great leaving work at work, and enjoying my home life.  My stress levels were markedly lower once I started focusing on how much I enjoyed doing silly little activities with my daughter, once I started working on my hobbies again.  I started to tweak my diet and cut out some of the fattier foods I eat and try to cut down on coffee.  I quit smoking again (wish me luck) even… that’s the newest, I haven’t had a cigarette since Saturday.

Needless to say, I’ve noticed a huge difference in myself.  I’m enjoying my life a lot more now, and I finally feel like I have my priorities straight.  It took a long time for me to realize that my family and my health come first, no matter what.  No more going to work sick, no more sending my daughter to school with a cold, no more rushing back after hospital stays.  No more bringing home work and no more stressing about it after the day is done.  The benefit also crosses back into the office.  I feel happier heading into work (or at least the dread of a new day isn’t there anymore) and I take my lunch breaks and work on something I’d like to.  When you feel better, you tend to have a higher quality of work.  I  also make it a point to enjoy cooking (like I used to) and my family is benefiting from home cooked meals again.  I’ve even done my best to bring as much music and art as possible back into my home, which is one thing I noticed fell out of my life this last year.

So while I still have quite a bit going on with my health (new doctor, new medications, and new symptoms – a blog post for another time), I’m enjoying myself, my home and my job a lot more these days.  I wish I would have listened to my friends and family earlier, maybe I would’ve caught on to how miserable I really was.  However, you can’t change the past, you can only create the future, and more importantly, make sure you enjoy the present moment.  Here’s to hoping for a better year, a healthier life, and more happiness through out it all.