Taking It Back

I ran across this article from Thought Catalog entitled “26 Ways To Take Your Life Back When You’re Broken” and found that most of the things on this list are things that I have either done already, am currently working on, or want to do at some point. Looks like I have the right idea.

* apologies for the very long post … but it felt good to write again *

1: Get In Shape.  I started this process a while ago, when I had made the decision that my ultimate happiness lie in my own hands. I started running again and that led to hours upon hours of time to think. It allowed me to lose about 40 pounds. It made me feel better in general. And all of that put me in a better place mentally. The trick now is to keep at it. What began as a literal way to escape (physically and mentally from my surroundings) has turned into something I need to keep doing because it makes me feel better and is good for me. I don’t have a need to escape any more so I keep reminding myself how helpful this has been and that it will only continue to help.

2: Get Out Of Town.  This is not something I have done yet, really. I did get down to Nashville for a few days for the BHS International contest but I really want to “get out of town” in a way that is a little more relaxing and refreshing to my spirit. I have a free long-weekend coming up and I’m considering doing something simple. Maybe an overnight in Hocking Hills or somewhere up on Lake Erie? Something to get me into nature, a little change of scenery, even for a little bit. If nothing else I want to plan a couple day trips for myself that weekend.

3: Rewrite Your Story.  I’ve done some writing about stuff, mostly private, and that does help. I need to make a better effort that this, because I know it helps me. I’m working on this one for sure.

4: Invite New People Into Your Life.  Also something I’m working on. While I do have the most amazing group of friends who support me in fantastic ways, new people = new experiences = exciting possibilities.  Another work in progress.

5: Tell Your Story.  See Number 3 Above. I have a private blog that I have shared a bit of my story on and it has gained a few followers who are going through (or have gone through) similar experiences and it is a nice way to unload, feel like you might be helping someone, and know that you are not alone in all of it.

6:  Be Disciplined About Self Care.  This is one I fail miserably one. And I worked in Oncology for 10 years, I know how critical self care is, but yet I am the worst at it. But, I know I need to do better and I want to do better. So this is one I need to focus on a bit more.

7:  Change Your Appearance.  This is something I am a professional at. Anyone who knows me, knows that I change my hair like the seasons. Although, most recently I had a super, super short cut that I loved and I held on to it for a very long time. At least for me. But I’m currently in the process of growing it out again. For me, changing up my hair is an easy way to keep things fresh. Growing out hair from a tiny pixie cut is not easy, but it has given me something to focus on, which has proven helpful from time to time.

8:  Quit What Isn’t Working For You.  Well. This is pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it. Done and done.

9:  Give Yourself Permission to Let Go.  This ties back into re-writing my story and quitting what isn’t working. But for me, it has a lot to do of letting go of guilt I put on myself. It is a horrible habit I have and most of my self-loathing is self-created. My focus on letting go has to do with cutting myself some slack for crying out loud.

10:  Connect With People Who Have Been Through Something Similar.  As I said above, I have done some writing and connecting with folks through that writing and that helps. I also have a dear friend who experienced something similar to me, mine is a walk in the park compared to hers, but there are enough similarities in our situations that she has been amazingly helpful, probably more than she knows. Seeing her navigate all of it and come out strong and beautiful gives me much hope.

11: Unplug For An Entire Week.  This. Would. Be. So. Difficult. For. Me. I can’t imagine unplugging for an entire week. I could do a day or two maybe. At this point, my social connections are so critical to me, that I really don’t want to even think about it. But … I may consider it at some point. I’m sure a time will come where this is something that will look a little more appealing to me. We’ll see.

12:  Physically De-Clutter Your Life.  Oh my goodness yes. I have done this and it is a fantastic feeling. I’ve moved into a tiny apartment and keeping it de-cluttered is pretty much mandatory. I don’t have space for extra crap and being able to live without extra crap is pretty fucking amazing.

13:  Strengthen Your Relationship With The People Who Love You.  Again, something I’m both doing and working on doing better. My friends have been amazing. Both my core group of BFFs and other friends that I, honestly, didn’t expect it from. My family also is fantastic. My issue is that I have a bad tendency of shutting down and shutting out when things get dark in my brain. It’s a constant work in progress for me.

14:  Follow The Food Guide For A Month.  Bwahahahahahahaaaaa!!  My food patterns are either “I’m too broke to buy anything but pasta and hamburger helper” to “I need to eat all of the food.”

15:  Take a Course That Teaches You Something New.  This is something that I would love to do if time and money were not an object. However, I do plan at some point this year (hopefully) to take some classes related to my job that will result in my duties being expanded, my potential for advancement to grow, and will get me a decent pay raise. So yeah, I’ll be doing some learning this year for sure. Someday soon maybe I’ll be able to learn something new for fun!

16:  Make a Budget And Stick To It.  Another constant struggle, although circumstances have basically forced me to live the closest to this as I ever have. I don’t necessarily have a working budget at this time, but I am so very conscious of it all. Baby steps.

17:  Establish A Healthy Source Of Validation.  Another constant struggle. I have zero capacity to validate myself, and tendencies to find validation in not super healthy ways. But I am getting much better at this one. For sure.

18:  Become Invested In The Process Of Change, Not The Outcome.  I’m finding that I am pretty good at this. I used to be one to focus and fantasize a lot about the future and what was going to happen. At this point in my life, I’m just taking it a day at a time and enjoying the things that make me happy. The little victories that happen every day and every week that prove I’ve got this. It’s a great way to look at life.

19:  Learn A New Language.  Cause that’s what I have time for. Once I hit the lottery and can quit working to travel the world … I’ll learn a new language.

20:  Learn To Walk Away.  This, I’ve got. Consider it walked.

21:  Let Yourself Be Happier Than You Are Comfortable With.  This is the big one. My big struggle. The large amounts of guilt I pile on myself make this nearly impossible for me. The minute I start to feel like life is great and I’m super happy … I start to second guess myself and if I actually deserve to be this happy. The internal fight I have on a daily basis with my own brain is epic. Legendary even. It’s ridiculous. I am my own worst enemy.

22:  Set And Enforce Boundaries.  Goodness yes. I have had some encounters and experiences that have proven how important this is. I’m getting a whole lot better at sticking up for myself very quickly. The bonus is that it generally helps me feel stronger and more capable. Boundaries are very, very good things.

23:  Cut Out A Vice For 100 Days.  Ugh. I know how good this would be for me. But I’m just not there yet. I’ll put this in the drawer with unplugging. I know I need to try it … and some day I’ll be ready for it. Just not yet. I’m gonna allow myself to be selfish about this one. Sorry. Not sorry.

24:  Try Something That Genuinely Scares You.  Quite honestly, my entire life right now scares me on an almost daily basis. Just getting through day to day can be downright frightening some days. I’m coming off the worst two weeks yet, financially at least, so pretty much life in general scares me right now! However, I get the concept and would love to explore it for real at some point.

25:  Look At How Far You’ve Come.  Again, some days a thing will happen and I’ll think “Damn girl … you are killing it.” And that is a fantastic feeling. Between the confidence I’ve gained, the healthy changes I’ve made with regular exercise, the great relationships I’m continuing to foster with my kids, crushing it at my job and getting raises and promotions, taking on more volunteer responsibilities and not totally failing at them, life is actually pretty good. The fact that I’m allowing myself to see that is a HUGE step in my personal journey.

26:  Forgive Others, Forgive The Universe, Forgive Yourself.  Part of this is SUPER easy for me. Forgiveness is something I am good at. Compassion, understanding, forgiveness. I have that in spades …. for everyone else on the planet. For myself? Not so much.

So, 26 things that I feel like I’m working through pretty well in one way or another. This new life of mine is a giant work in progress and I’m basically happy with the results so far. We’ll see how it goes. I’m hopeful and excited for the future, and that is pretty cool.

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