Author Archives: Dana

Anxiety, Stress and PMS

It was the perfect storm. A combination of pre-existing anxiety, a mountain of stress and PMS. But guess what? I survived it! But not without a lot of love, compassion, help and understanding from other people.

I’ve been on a hiatus from writing which was only in part from the title. The other part has been due to a total disruption of my daily life – which contributed to the anxiety and stress.

We’re undergoing a major renovation on our house and have temporarily moved into a travel trailer at my parents house…with our three cats. I’m not sure if challenging is the right word – let’s say it’s been an adventure.

All I can say is thank God for my parents. For being so kind and gracious to not only have us stay in their yard but also take care of us – particularly that first week. I honestly believe that had it not been for them, we would have been eating cereal three meals a day.

As difficult as the lack of routine has been, I am truly grateful we have the means to make the necessary repairs to our house. I feel blessed to be where we’re at because only ten years ago living in a travel trailer in my parents yard wouldn’t have been a choice – it would have been a necessity.

Back to the title. A month ago, we had to pack our house, demolish our large deck as well as demolish a shed attached to the carport. It all had to be done in a week.

My anxiety kicked in. I was completely overwhelmed. My stress level made me feel like I would explode. Yet I knew in my mind that somehow, someway, we would get it done. It didn’t seem to matter what my mind believed because my body and emotions were contradicting it.

I had two meltdowns (I’m talking hysterical crying mess) while my poor husband held me and tried to convince me it would be okay. I couldn’t make him understand that I knew it would be okay because all he could see was that I wasn’t.

I called in sick to work thinking a day at home would be good. Then I called in the next day and my boss called me. I had a meltdown on the phone with her. She was amazing, compassionate and no -judgemental. We decided I would take the week off.

But I have to tell you that during all of this, I was embarrassed, confused and berating myself constantly. I felt so weak. And for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t handle what was going on.

My emotions didn’t match the situation. I knew that but I couldn’t get a hold of myself. Then, the instant my period arrived, my stress level dropped about 50% and I actually felt like I could handle things.

I don’t usually like to share so much information but I feel like it’s important because if I’ve gone through it then maybe someone else is struggling through it as well.

Now that I look back on the week from hell, I have so much compassion for myself. Having any single one of the issues in the title can be overwhelming but to go through all three at once is a true accomplishment in my opinion!

Whatever you’re going through, try to be kind to yourself. Remember that you’re not alone. Sharing our troubles with other people not only gives them an opportunity to help but it takes some of the power away from our own emotions.

I’m not sure who said it but I read somewhere that pain shared is pain halved. Let people surprise you with their compassion, empathy and understanding. They might also surprise you by sharing their own story and helping you feel like you’re not alone.

BE GRATEFUL

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Gratitude is a huge part of happiness because it changes our mindset so that we focus on the positive.

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Every morning, I write in my gratitude journal. Some days it seems like I don’t have much to be grateful for. Those days, I start with the things that I appreciate the most. I am grateful for my family, my home, my job and the possibility of tomorrow. Every single day, I start my gratitude journal saying: Thank you for this day, I am truly blessed to be alive. We all know that tomorrow isn’t granted to everyone, so it’s important to be thankful for today.


When we’re going through something difficult, it can be challenging to be grateful. This is when it’s most important to do so.

PARIS

A most recent example for me was when our dog passed. It was heartbreaking. How could I feel gratitude when my life felt so dark? My life felt dark because I was focusing on the loss instead of the time I had with our dog. Each time my mind led me to the final vet visit, I had to replace that with a happier brighter image. I’d put a stop sign up in my mind whenever I’d think of that final day. Instead, I’d recall the memory of our little dog stealing carrots out of the garden. I’d remember how she’d lift her legs as high as they could go when she was being lowered into water. Sometimes I’d replace it with the memory of how she’d look running across the yard. Or how she’d do anything for food.

I didn’t want that one horrible day to take away from the thirteen years of good memories. I didn’t want her death to be more prominent in my mind than all the love and joy she brought me. When I’d stop the dark thoughts and replace them with the happier ones, I felt instant relief. This allowed me to feel grateful for the many years we had with out little dog.

We’ve all gone through trying times. But not all of us realize that being grateful can help us overcome those times. Whatever you’re going through, realize that focusing on the negative aspect of it will make you feel bad. I know first hand how difficult it can be to rid yourself of those negative thought patterns. I know what it’s like to be so consumed with the darkness that you can’t see the light. I also know that even though we can’t always see the light, it’s always there. All we have to do is shift our thoughts.

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If you can’t find the positive in a situation that you’re going through right now then focus on the basics in your life. Some how, some way, you’re reading this now. That means that you have access to the internet. Be grateful for that. One simple thing. Then find another and another. Set a goal to think about 5 or 10 things you’re grateful for. Write them out. Write out why you’re grateful for them as well.


When dealing with financial issues:
Be grateful for all the money you’ve had in the past – somehow, you’ve made it to today with the money you’ve had
Be grateful for the many creative ways you’ve thought of to get money (taking in bottles, rolling change, selling things or tightening your budget)
Be grateful for all the places that money comes from and all the ways it can come to you


When dealing with difficult people:
Try to find something in them to be grateful for
Be grateful that this difficult person is teaching you. They’re teaching you about yourself, your triggers, your patience or your level of compassion and understanding.
At the very least, a difficult person shows you exactly how you don’t want to be.


When dealing with health issues:
Be grateful for the parts of you that are healthy
Be grateful for the healing that is happening in your body
Be grateful you have a doctor


When dealing with negative self-talk:
Be grateful for one thing in your appearance
Be grateful for one thing in your personality
Be grateful for the people who help you see the good things in yourself

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Today I encourage you to start practicing gratitude daily. Find a notebook or sit at your computer or write a note in your phone. Once a day, sit down and write out five or ten things you’re grateful for. No matter how small they seem. Be grateful you used your reward card and got a free coffee, be grateful when someone lets you into their lane, be grateful for the parking spot by the door, be grateful for your life. Go on Pinterest and search for ideas for your gratitude journal. Practice this daily for the next month and see how you feel.
Five to ten things for one month.

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I can tell you that this practice has made a world of difference in my life. I’ve been doing it a long time. When I haven’t been able to write my gratitude list, I feel like I’m missing something.
The law of attraction states that you get what you think about. Ask yourself: “Do I want to attract more of these negative things into my life or more of the positive?” The way to attract the positive is by being grateful. Give it a try and feel free to let me know how you feel.


With much kindness,
Dana

You’re stronger than you think

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Maybe strong isn’t a word you’d use to describe yourself. I know it’s not one I’ve used very often to describe myself. Yet, we’re stronger than we realize.

Look at all the times you’ve made it through something you thought you’d never be able to handle. It could have been heartache, heartbreak, financial distress, illness, losing a loved one or massive changes in your life. Whatever it was, you did it. Somehow, some way, you made it through. That, my friend, takes strength.


For those of us who’ve lived with depression and/or anxiety, be proud of yourself. I know firsthand the strength it takes to make it through the dark days. There were times when I thought the depression and anxiety meant I was weak. I thought it meant that I couldn’t handle even the smallest things. Oh, how wrong I was.


Looking back now, I realize that surviving an internal battle of emotions was one of the hardest things I’ve done. Every day was a struggle and every day I made it through. So have you. We’re still here to tell our tale. It doesn’t matter if we went through those dark times a blubbering mess, or hiding beneath our covers. What matters is that we made it through.
We hung on and things got better. That’s not to say there won’t be bad days – everyone has bad days. The important thing is that we work to have more good days than bad ones. More importantly, we decide that we won’t beat ourselves up for those bad days.

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You don’t have to feel strong to be strong.

As I said, I never felt strong. I just know I am. It’s like a silent, quiet energy that lives deep inside of us. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’ve tapped into it until we look back. Think of all the times you’ve struggled but set your stuff aside to help a friend in need. Perhaps you did something wrong and you owned up to it. Maybe you shared your struggles with someone else. Telling other people you’re not okay takes strength. Maybe you quit your job to follow your dreams. Or, despite the heaviness weighing you down, you got yourself out of bed and forced yourself to start your day. All these things take strength.


The strength that we draw on comes with something else. Within that energy there’s hope. Hope that today will be better than yesterday. Hope that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope that one day we’ll wake up and realize how strong we truly are.

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Whatever you’re going through, remember that it’s temporary. It’ll pass and you’ll find yourself on the other side. If you look back on the things you’ve struggled with, you’ll realize this is true. As I said, you made it through things that at the time seemed impossible. You are strong, brave and you can make it through even if you’re not sure how. Believe in possibility. Believe in yourself. Look inside and tap into that silent quiet energy that gives you strength and know that you’ll be okay.

My Mom Reads My Blog

I love that my mom reads my blog. She’s my strongest supporter and loudest cheering squad. I made sure to send her the links to my first posts and she didn’t let me down. She cheered me on and encouraged me. She made me feel good about myself and boosted my confidence. Then, I shared it with my sisters. Their reactions were confidence-boosting as well. My family is exceptional in that regard. They’re dependable, encouraging, supportive, loving and caring. They got me excited and made me want to write more.

But then I started overthinking it. I began to wonder if my mom would be the only one to read my blog. I got a sinking feeling. My shoulders tensed up so bad I needed a massage to relax them. I knew that if I didn’t get it under control, I’d delete the site and go back to hiding in the shadows.

So, I wondered what it was that my mom and my sisters saw in me that I couldn’t see for myself. I began wishing that I could live my life seeing myself as they do. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if every time we thought of ourselves it was through the eyes of our moms? All we’d see is perfect imperfection and all we’d feel is unconditional love.

That’s my goal in life – to feel unconditional love for myself.

The problem is that we don’t see ourselves through the “mom glasses.” How we perceive ourselves determines how we feel about ourselves. Or it’s the other way around; how we feel about ourselves determines how we perceive ourselves.

Why can we look at other people and see the best parts of them but we tend to see the worst within ourselves? Why is it so easy to criticize ourselves and doubt ourselves? How do we put on our “mom glasses” to accept our flaws and focus on our good qualities?

In dark times, when battling depression or anxiety, I’ve found it impossible to see any good at all. A part of me knows it’s there but the veil of darkness won’t allow me to see it. Does that sound familiar? In times like those, I’ve learned that the best thing I can do is the thing I want the least – be around other people. It’s hard to do because I can’t stand to be around myself when I’m feeling down. Which makes me wonder how anyone else will be able to either. Yet, they do and it helps me to see it again too.

When you can’t see the good in yourself, surround yourself with those who can. Chances are, it will help pull you out of the darkness and help you move forward.

I know it comes down to self-perception. I see myself in a certain way and when I stray from that, the negativity in my head increases. When the negativity increases, my physical body feels the effects as well.

For instance, I’ve always seen myself as a shy introvert. Someone who doesn’t like to be the center of attention. That perception or belief doesn’t mesh well with writing a public blog. For me, there have been consequences for going against that perception of myself. Including stress, anxiety and an increase in negative self-talk. It’s caused tension in my shoulders; it’s made my stomach upset and caused other physical ailments. The worst of it is how it makes me feel. It makes me depressed, anxious and an overwhelming feeling that I’m not good enough.

So, how do we change our self perception and turn it into unconditional love? That’s the million-dollar question. It took time to get to where we are and it will take time to change it.

The first step is to understand how we see ourselves. The next is to figure out how we want that to change.

Write it out and ask questions like: What do I believe about myself? How do I feel about myself? What is the benefit of thinking of myself that way? What do I want to believe and how do I want to feel? Even ask yourself; what can I do to change this? You might be surprised what comes up from your subconscious mind.

Resistance to change could mean there’s something deeper that isn’t allowing you to let it go. When this happens to me, I ask myself a lot of questions to try to uncover the issues holding me back. If I’m still having difficulties, then I’ll seek out professional help.

If you truly want to change, then nothing can stop you – not even your own negative beliefs. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to change. What matters is that you’re trying. You might not see your value, your brilliance or your amazing self, but I guarantee you that someone does. For today, try to see yourself through their glasses. Today, I’m going to put on my “mom glasses” and I’m going to see what I think she sees. Today, I’m going to feel confident. Today, I choose to believe I’m talented. I’ll tell myself I’m amazing and I’m going to accept my flaws and love myself unconditionally.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if my Mom is the only one who reads my blog. What matters is that I’m writing it. The fastest way I know how to change my perception of myself is to work through it. I have to challenge it. Even though I’m scared, I’ll do it anyway and never give up. That’s what I hope you’ll do too!

For the record, I’m honoured and blessed to have a Mom who loves me, believes in me, is proud of me and who reads this blog.

I love my Mom ❤️

NEVER GIVE UP

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LISTEN TO YOUR HEART

There are things in our lives that are so important to us that we can’t let them go. Even when we think we’ve given up and forgotten about them, they linger in our subconscious and wait for an opportunity. Our hearts won’t let us truly give up. Instead, our hearts will put something that’s important to us on the back shelf but it won’t ever go away. If you have anything like that, you need to pursue it.

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I have many things like that. Writing is one of them. I love to write. It’s something that’s been with me for as long as I can remember and has hung on through the ups and downs of life. Writing is an outlet for me, it’s a passion and it’s something I know I’m meant to do. I’ve wasted years trying to figure out what I can do with it but it’s always been there.

Whenever I look forward in my life, in a dreamy state, there are three things that are always the same. I’m a writer. I’m healthy and fit. I’m a non-smoker. (I’m also always rich!) The first three, are things that I can control and they’re things that won’t leave me. Sometimes I get discouraged because I haven’t accomplished them all yet. But I know and believe that eventually they’ll be my reality.

How do I know that I’ll achieve these three things?

  1. They’re important to me.
    • No matter how many times I think I’ve given up, they won’t leave me.
  2. I want change.
    • I continuously look for things that can help me achieve these goals.
  3. I believe they’ll happen.
    • Every time I look into my future, these three things are always there.

If we listen to our subconscious minds, we’ll find the things that are important to us. If there’s something that won’t leave you, then you know that it’s something that’s meant to be. We’ll recognize the areas that we want improvement in. We’ll seek out ways to help us make changes to reach our goals – even if it takes us years.

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The only key you need to remember is to never give up. Keep trying until you find what works for you. This applies to every area in your life; mental wellness, finances, career, relationships, health and any other area you can think of.

Dreams will follow you wherever you go. No matter your circumstances, you have the power to make them come true. If you can’t believe in yourself yet, then believe in the possibility of something more; something better. Hang onto the hope and desire that your dreams lend you. Be open to opportunities to learn and grow so that you can become the best version of yourself. The version where your dreams have finally met reality.

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Want to share? What’s one thing that has stuck with you that you won’t give up on?

OVERCOMING FEAR

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BE SCARED AND DO IT ANYWAY

I’m afraid.

I’m afraid of so many things. I’m afraid of big things like dying or someone I love dying. I’m also afraid of smaller things.  Like putting myself out there.  I’m afraid to be seen.  I’m frightened of failing.  Oddly enough, I’m also scared of succeeding.  I fear that people won’t like me, of being misunderstood, and of people judging me. One of my biggest fears is that I’m not good enough.

My entire life I’ve let the fears win. Then one day, while my insides felt like melting wax, my heart raced and my eyes watered, I decided to fight back.

Even as I sat there thinking about it, I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream out from the terror that seemed to be consuming me. I wanted to stay safe and hide behind the fear like I’d done my entire life. Yet deep down, a spark flickered in the darkness and it wanted to grow. I knew that I couldn’t hang onto both. I had two choices.  I could let the fear win and snuff out the light for good.  Or I could feel the fear and push past it so that the light could grow and I could become who I was always meant to be.

I chose the light.

I often wondered why things seemed so easy for other people and so hard for me. I thought that those other people must have something I didn’t. Did they have magic that gave them unlimited confidence and high self-esteem?  They had no fear; how could they? Why was it so easy for other people to put themselves out there and be recognized?  Meanwhile, I hid in the shadows, terrified someone would see me?

At first, the answers seemed obvious. I lacked confidence and self-esteem.  I was afraid of not being good enough and of other people’s judgment. Then one day, I asked myself a question that helped changed the way I viewed the situation. “What if those other people are as afraid as I’ve been but they did it anyway?”

You see, as long as I believed that those other people had something I didn’t, it was easy to hide behind my fears. As soon as I asked the question, it leveled the playing field and there was hope that ignited the spark in my soul. The only difference between me and those other people was that they were afraid and did it anyway.

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That’s it. One small yet significant detail had kept me from pursuing my dreams and becoming the person I wanted to be. Rather than feeling afraid and doing it anyway, I let fear consume me and then stop me in every area of my life. I suffered from depression and anxiety. I belittled myself daily. I felt weak and insecure. I believed that there was something wrong with me and that I truly wasn’t good enough.

Then I asked myself more questions. What if I am good enough? What if I do succeed? What if I quit thinking and start doing? What if I try?

Again, my eyes welled up with tears.  My stomach turned to knots; my breathing became more rapid while at the same time I felt like I couldn’t breathe at all.  My heart raced uncontrollably. Panic had set in.

I stopped, closed my eyes, took in some deep breaths and asked myself what in the hell am I so afraid of?

Everything, was the answer from my subconscious mind.

What is the point of being afraid of everything?

If I don’t try, I can’t fail. I won’t know if the answers to the questions are true. Not knowing is better. Trying could lead to the discovery that my fears are true. If I’m not good enough then I would find out the truth. At least now, I can pretend that there’s a chance.

You’re right, I replied. But the point that my subconscious brain was missing was that the opposite is also true. If I don’t try, I can’t succeed either. I’ve learned as much from my failures as my successes in my life.  I would rather try and fail than to spend the rest of my life wondering “what if”.

So, here I am. . . trying. I want to lead by example.  By taking a chance and following my dreams, I hope to lend some courage for someone else to follow their dreams too. Maybe that person is you.

We decide how we’re going to live our lives. We control whether we let fear consume us or if we follow our light. Many people have fear. Lots of people who try things suck at them at first. The ones we admire, the ones we think have something that we don’t are the ones who were afraid and did it anyway. They’re the ones who let themselves suck until they didn’t anymore. Now it’s our turn to take a chance. It’s our turn to be afraid and do it anyway. It’s our turn to shine.

Join me on this journey of self-discovery, of conquering fears and living our best lives. Join me and let’s see where the light takes us.

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Want to share? What are you afraid of but are going to do anyway?