It's almost Thanksgiving, like in less than 24 hours. I am spending the day relaxing, catching up on blogging since I haven't posted a blog post in a little bit, and decluttering (i.e. getting rid of teaching materials that I haven't used in about five years). All in all a pretty nice day.
Recently I've been doing a lot of reading about the incredible benefits of keeping a Gratitude Journal. You know, by consciously thinking and taking a moment to acknowledge the good in your life you can actually change your brain. Let me find someone to quote about that.....hold please......how about the always positive Deepak Chopra, Cultivate The Healing Power of Gratitude. There are so many things to be gained by paying attention to all the things one has to be grateful and thankful for each and every day.
One of my goals for 2017 is to be more attentive to the good that happens to me every day. I think part of my resistance towards keeping a Gratitude Journal is that I'm afraid nothing big enough will happen that is worthy of noting. But really, it is the small, consistent things that we need to note. Yes, we need to take note of the big, large, in your face, amazing things that happen to us. But, at the same time, we need to pay even more attention to the small, easy to miss, repetitive things that happen to us. Those things that we are so used to we don't even notice them any more. Like your heart beating.....how incredible is the human body?!? Homeostasis much? Crisp, cool, clean air to breathe. Amazing! The list goes on and on. To return to Deepak Chopra for a minute, he sets out the challenge to "not repeating items from the previous days— this will make you look more deeply at all the little things that enhance your life and give you joy..." Seems simple in theory but I am going to try and hold myself to that for one month. Can I list three things every single day for which I am thankful and NOT repeat myself once?
I have a planner that I have devoted to be a Gratitude Journal (click here for $10 off of your first Erin Condren order) that runs through December 2017, so I really have no excuse to NOT journal my gratitudes every day. Deepak Chopra recommends journaling when you first wake up, or right before you go to sleep. He recommends journaling right before you meditate. Something I am trying to incorporate into my daily schedule is "quiet time" that is just for me. Meaning, for 10 minutes before I really start my day I want to sit in my comfortable chair in my bedroom and either read an enjoyable book, journal in my Gratitude Journal, write out a card to a close friend I haven't seen in a while (J.B.R I think you know I'm thinking of you), or something else geared towards grounding myself and setting myself up for a good, productive, positive day. Shout out to Kayse Pratt who talks a lot about her "quiet time" and how it sets her up for a great day; read more about it here.
I guess to end this long and quite rambling blog post I should make a gratitude list right here and right now, so here goes:
I wish you and whoever you are celebrating with tomorrow a very happy, healthy, and thankful Thanksgiving.
Now here is a question for you: did Leonard Cohen know, I mean actually know, how apropos his songs would be to so many of the situations we continually find ourselves in? I mean, come on now.....Anthem.....can you get any more timely right about now?
Leonard Cohen, may your memory live on in all the amazingly meaningful and hauntingly beautiful songs you've written. Go with G-d.
We are all aware that yesterday was election day here in the United States of America. This presidential campaign has been one of the most divided times in recent history. Even within party lines there were divisions. It seemed as if nobody could give anyone the benefit of the doubt or a kind word. It was over before it began in my eyes. If the race to president gets ugly, gets dirty, gets immoral, well then how, exactly, can we expect the results to be anything less? I'll be honest, I was asleep by 9:45 pm last night. I knew that Trump was leading but I didn't realize he had won until my alarm went off this morning and I heard the words that I was dreading, "President-Elect Trump."
are we, the Average American? We nominated Hillary Clinton. We also nominated Donald Trump. We did. We spoke and democracy listened. Done and done. And now we need to wipe off the tears, put on our grown up panties and make the best of the situation. But how? I will be the first person to admit to looking into Nefesh b'Nefesh this morning. But in reality, I'm not going anywhere (at least not until I have completed Baby Step 3).
I think now is the time to get involved. To find your cause and get vocal, get active, get caring. I may not be a minority in the sense of being Latino, or Muslim, or Mexican. I might not be fighting for equality as a member of the LGBTQ community. But I am a Jew and the Holocaust is not all that far away in the grand scheme of things. I am living with a mental illness, and we all know how Trump treats those who don't fit into his mainstream. So I will find my cause, which is mental illness, and I will get vocal. I will fight, tooth and nail, for the medical benefits I should be afforded simply because I am a human being. I hope you will find your cause and get just as loud and proud.
And because I don't want to be a complete Debbie Downer I will end with a verse from Shemot 17:12: "But Moses' hands were heavy and he grew tired. So they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side and one on the other side; so it was that his hands were steady until the sun set." We see here how the two worked together to support Moses. My prayer for us on this November 9th, the day after President-Elect Trump was elected, is that we too can work together to steady the hands of the elected leader of our nation. Regardless of what walk of life we come from, regardless of who we love, or what we believe, we should all be able to join together and truly make America what she has the potential to be--the land of the free and the home of the brave.
However long it's been taking, however difficult it's seemed, or however lonely you've become, Rachel, remember, you live in a dream world where literally tomorrow, everything can radically change for the better.
Especially when you've been visualizing.
Love, love -
Everyday I receive an email from "The Universe." My good friend told me about this website, The Universe Talks, http://www.tut.com/, and you sign up for daily emails. Now these emails are different because they are custom tailored to you and your season of life. As part of the sign up you fill in questions and select from menus. Mike Dooley really wants to get to know you--I mean, as much as one can get to know you through a bunch of questions. And so I get a daily dose of wisdom from The Universe.
Today's daily dose was especially apropos after the night and week I had. To give a little back story, for the past two weeks I've felt fluttery. It is the only way I can describe it. I can't settle, I need to keep moving, but to keep from getting manic I sit still as a statue. Totally makes no sense, I understand that. Anyway, with all of that came a ton of panic and anxiety. Every night, almost as soon as the sun set, I would take an anti-nausea and a Klonopin. One Klonopin no longer took the edge off. I now regularly was taking two, twice the prescribed dosage.
On Sunday I developed a something or other. Had a 102 degree fever. Throat hurt. Ear hurt. Felt pretty crummy. Well last night, Wednesday night, my face, throat, and ear felt like they were going to explode! I was in pain. I went to Urgent Care at 9:34pm. They checked me out, declared I had a sinus infection, and prescribed Augmenten. It was too late for me to eat so I elected to start the regimen on Thursday morning instead. Well, feeling so poorly, having the nose drippage into my stomach, pushed me over the panic edge. From 10:30 pm until 1:00 am I was in full on, no holds barred, panic attack mode. I was hot, sweaty, my full body was shaking uncontrollably, I was CONVINCED, CONVINCED!! I was about to throw up. I couldn't calm down, I couldn't sit still, I couldn't breath slow and deep. I was a wreck! Thank goodness one of my friends was up watching the World Series and could text with me. She sat on the phone with me from about 11:00 pm until 1:00 am when I finally fell asleep mid-text. I don't know what I would have done without her being there for me.
The point of that is that, "however long it's been taking, however difficult it's seemed, or however lonely you've become, Rachel, remember, you live in a dream world where literally tomorrow, everything can radically change for the better." And that is what I am hoping for, but not without doing some of the work, or the visualizing. I saw my therapist this morning at 7:45 am. I saw my psychiatrist this afternoon at 3:30 pm. He prescribed Valium to help break me out of this sun-down panic state I'm currently repeating. I will see my acupuncturist tomorrow at 4:00 pm where we will discuss some mindfulness activities and classes I can take to give myself more tools for my anti-panic toolbox.
I am taking what I learned at the NAMI Maryland Annual Conference about recovery being an active choice to heart. I am willing to do the work. I am willing to put in the time. I am worth it and if I don't do it for myself why would I expected anyone else to do it for me?
How do you visualize yourself to a better present? Do you try? I'd love to hear.