Being Kind to Yourself This New Year: Three Ways to Ease into 2020

After transitioning from blissed at the beach to stressed to the max in 3.5 seconds, I've turned my new year's intentions into anti-anxiety strategies.

 

Happy New Year Everyone!  I’m sitting at my desk after 2.5 days of catching up on correspondence and getting organized for 2020.  I’m going to get into the art studio this afternoon for the first time in about a month and I’m sooooo excited to get my hands dirty! 

I have been thinking for a long time now about a series of paintings that focus on horses and ocean waves.  In Greek mythology, Poseidon gifted the earth horses.  They were born of the sea and when you see waves break, those are horses rearing up from the surf.

In my mind, I’ve been thinking, “2020 is the year for this project.  I must find somewhere to volunteer with horses since I don’t know much about them.  I must start researching their anatomy and I want to know more about how they are therapeutic for people suffering from PTSD and emotional disorders.  I have to do this.  I have to that….” and now the hamster in my brain has begun its first 2020 run on the wheel.

As soon as I started thinking seriously about this project, I became completely overwhelmed.  To me, that means that it may not be time yet.  Maybe in a month or two.  Or maybe I just need not to be thinking about big projects while I’m still in the getting organized process of my January.  Which leads me to question, how I can already feel crazy when it is only the 9th day of the damn year?

We got back from our vacay this past Friday.  The weekend was fine.  I organized the house, took down Christmas, and got the studio cleaned up from the holiday madness.  I cooked food and watched football.  It was nice.

Then, Sunday night, I awoke in the middle of the night, the hamster in full sprint.  My brain was going crazy.  I found myself worrying about revenue plans, art projects, my family’s needs, if the boy scouts were ever going to come and pick up my Christmas tree from the curb...  I didn’t sleep much after that.  I practiced my breathing exercises and finally got another hour or so in. 

Monday, I was a bit of a mess.  I felt completely stressed out.  I had an appointment with my therapist and asked how it could be possible that while at the beach the week before, I was fine.  I get back home, and within three days, I’m in nervous breakdown land.  I mean, WTF for realz?

Just like that, I had slipped right back into worry and overwhelm.  Happy new year. 

 

My intention for 2020 is to stay positive, keep moving, and don’t be attached to outcomes.

 

My intention for 2020 is to stay positive, keep moving, and don’t be attached to outcomes.  Since Monday, I have found myself repeating this over and over and practicing my breathing.  I began to think about the horses, and frankly, they stress me out.

FYI – I’m terrified of horses. I have always been scared of them and they know it.  Every horse I’ve ever ridden, with the exception of one, has taken off with me on it.  They know I’m scared and thus, that they are in charge.  But I digress… Back to the breath.

Within 48 hours I have made a decision.  Yes, I will work towards the horse/wave project this year, but I don’t have to start RIGHT NOW.  I mean, jeez girl, calm down already. 

In my head, I had to have the project done like next week and of course all the marketing and sales work that go along with introducing a new series should have already been mapped out, and I don’t have my revenue plan for 2020 done yet, nor do I have my social media content thought out, and I already had to abandon a collaboration that I was supposed to have my part completed for and I had to back out, and I feel terrible for that, and I hope that person isn’t mad at me and…now I have entered the tornado…

Just breathe.  I am inhaling. I am exhaling.  Repeat. 

Today, I feel a bit more stable.  Maybe because my to do list isn’t two full pages long anymore.  Maybe it’s because I have decided to do a few “breathe” paintings instead of diving head first into the horses.  Maybe it’s simply because I actually slept last night from 11:00pm straight until 5:30am without waking up.

I will admit that on Monday, I went from “anxious” to “entering the panic zone” because I simply felt like a failure.  I thought, “Really? Even merely thinking of getting back to work and life is enough to send me off the cliff?”  It doesn’t seem fair, and sometimes I feel shame because I feel like I should be able to hold it together better. 

My therapist had to remind me that I am quite a capable person.  I had to remind myself that it’s ok to take re-entry slow.  So that’s where I’m at today.  My new year’s intentions have become strategies to easing in to 2020: 

 

Be positive – This will pass and I will get back into my routine. 

Keep going – Today a few more things have been checked off the to do list and I’ll make art this afternoon. 

Don’t be attached to outcomes – I wanted to work on horse/wave paintings, but it simply isn’t the time so I’m going to work on something else that doesn’t stress me out.

 

There.  That’s not so bad, is it? 

Did you get back to work from the holidays and is having or had trouble settling back in?  I’d love to know I’m not alone in this.  In the comments below, let me know your post-holiday experience.  I mean, does anyone out there actually feel rested after the holidays?

Just in case you need to hear it, it’s ok to take it slow.  Put one foot in front of the other until you find the pace that works for you.  I’m going to go take a walk before studio time.  Time to get outside again and let Mother Nature calm me.  Peace.

 

The photo above is my first 2020 action in the art studio.  I'm beginning a "breathe" painting, starting with painting paper in an abstract ocean scape sort of way.  From here I'll cut the paper and create a pattern on a darkly painted canvas.  I feel more relaxed already.

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.

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Anti-Anxiety Poetry: The Chase

Slow and steady poetry from an anti-anxiety artist. It's time to stop running from myself.

The Chase


It wasn’t until I stopped running

that I realized I had forgotten why I started.

Short of breath and with muscle fatigue, 

I stop. 

I listen.

I decide to walk.

Before, the roaring wind had made hearing impossible.

The focus on where my steps were landing was polarizing.

I saw nothing else.

Just one foot landing in front of the other, over and over.

Must be progress.

But is it?

The walk slows even more.

I am now still.

I hear birds, leaves rustling, a car horn.

In the distance, way beyond the twelve inches that my foot occupies,

I see how far my journey is. 

I run from fear.

But if it is born within me, I will run forever. 

I offer another option.

Stop. And wait to see what happens next.

 

Do you know what you're running from or why you're even running?  In the comments, tell me one of your worst fears.  Mine is a fear failure.  And I'm deciding to leave it behind now.

 

The painting at top is Seeing Through 2, 8"x10", Acrylic & Paper on Canvas, framed in a silver natural wood floater frame.  From my Lovely Mess series.  We can see through the chaos and find peace whenever we choose.  It is waiting for us. For more details and purchase info, CLICK HERE.

  

I am an anti-anxiety artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Fear Eats Our "What Ifs" for Breakfast

During uncertain times, it can be easy to feed into our fear. 

 

A cat moved in the bush that I had just walked by and it completely startled me.  I almost dropped the toothpaste and felt a jolt of electric panic strike my body.  I tripped on my own foot and an intense surge of anxiety ran from my stomach up to my chest and back again.  

I think it’s official.  I’m scared.

I had been cruisin’ through this whole pandemic isolation thing just fine, until things started loosening up.  Now, I’m terrified, but the funny thing is that it’s a physical terror that seems to be rooted all the way in my bones.

Logically, I know I’m fine, my family is fine and we have been doing well with isolation, hand washing, cleanliness, etc.  But my anxiety doesn’t seem to care, and now that the freedom boundaries are being pushed, my fear is trying hard to take over.

It’s showing up places where I’m normally fine…like on my daily walk when a damn cat scared the crap out of me by simply moving.  I’m having trouble making decisions, and I when I finally do make one, I obsess over if that was actually the right decision to have made. 

I’m so tired of my fear right now.  It’s like having another person in the room with me at all times, making me doubt my every move.  And when I say “every move”, I mean EVERY MOVE. 

I question the Netflix show I’m watching.  Deciding whether or not to eat a sugary treat is filled with terror and then fear gives me more shit even after I eat the damn treat. 

Should I surf?  Should I not? Should I hang out at the beach?  Should I be scared my kid is hanging with her friends? Am I washing my hair too much?  Blah blah blah blah blah.  It’s never ending.

 

I know I’m a capable person, but this fear thing, it seems to always have its claws in my shoulder, forever holding me back.

 

And it’s fucking exhausting.  It makes me feel like I’m broken.  I am forever jealous of people who are sure of themselves.  Why can’t I seem to believe in myself and my decisions.  I know I’m a capable person, but this fear thing, it seems to always have its claws in my shoulder, forever holding me back.

I feel like I’m in my own way most of the time.  I think that one reason I was feeling just fine when our county was being asked to stay home, is because the amount of decisions to be made was forcibly reduced.  All of a sudden, there were way less options.

Now we’re in a weird kind of limbo, waiting for more freedom, or for it to be taken away again…. We’ll see which way it goes.  And you know what causes my fear to blow up?  Uncertainty.  There are too many “what ifs” right now, and my anxiety loves a good “what if” party.  The fun never stops.

I feel like I’m driving my family crazy because if I had my way, I be just fine isolating for the foreseeable future.  I don’t even need an end date.  I work from home.  I love cooking food for my family.  I now know that I love freezing food so we always have something for dinner out of the freezer.

I built a veggie garden.  I finished my back yard, and I now absolutely enjoy doing my computer work outside on the patio.  My work has changed with all the other changes happening, and it’s fun to see where that’s all going. 

But I worry.  I worry about my friends and family who are chomping at the bit for things to “go back to normal” (whatever the hell that is). My parents are diligently isolating and disinfecting everything that comes into the house.  I worry that the steps they are taking don’t matter if all of us aren’t taking the same steps.

 

 I’m scared that the life we have all worked so hard to build is crumbling away.

 

And FINE. I’ll admit it.  I worry about getting sick.  I worry about anyone I know getting sick.  I’m petrified that I could be actually walking around without any symptoms, infecting others.  I’m scared that my art biz won’t survive this.  I’m scared that the life we have all worked so hard to build is crumbling away.

I’m sick over the fact that my daughter has decided to not go to college in the Fall.  Not because I want her to go, but because I know that she REALLY wanted to go, but she doesn’t want to risk having to move out of the dorms in October because of a outbreak of Covid-19.

I’m sad that she’s missing her high school graduation and I’m finally ready to admit, that I’m also extremely sad that I’m missing her high school graduation.  She’s my only kiddo.  That was my only chance to see that.  I cried when I returned her text books and picked up her cap and gown, which we’re still not sure that she’ll get a chance to wear.

 

I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore.

 

I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore.  Everyone I know seems to have different opinions on how we should be responding right now.  Very few agree on all points.  It makes me question myself more, even though I feel strongly and surely about what I believe.  What if I’m the one that’s wrong?  What if, what if, what if….

My husband keeps saying that we have to live our lives.  Yes, I agree…and no I fucking don’t.  Are we so singular that we have to keep living our lives, or is it ok at times, to take a pause for the greater good? 

I’m scared that I have had a more peaceful time than I’ve had in years, just by staying home.  What if home is where I prefer being?  Would me wanting to simply be home more effect my relationships?

Aw crap.  There are a lot of questions in this blog post.  Sorry, but that’s all I have to offer this week. 

But maybe you could help me.  In the comments, I’d love to know, when you feel fear starting to take over, what’s one thing you do to keep it at bay? 

I’m going to go walk to visit my friend’s horse today and try to do a few sketches.  Don’t worry, I won’t be touching it as horses scare me…are you surprised?

 

The painting at top is Psychedelic Sea Stars, 8"x10", Acrylic on Canvas, framed in a black natural wood floater frame.  My surfboard collection makes me happy and reminds me to go with the flow and ride the wave that's in front of me.  For more details and purchase info, CLICK HERE.

 

 

I am an anti-anxiety artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  

 

 

How Not to Punch Friends Who Think the Pandemic is a Conspiracy

Mask or no mask?  Social distancing or hugs.  To vaccinate or not. If we thought we were a culture divided before, now we have more differences to add to the list.

 

Are you one who is listening to the recommendations of the scientific community, or are you following your own guidelines?  For me, I’ve been pretty good about doing what is being suggested. 

One of the biggest challenges for me during all of this uncertainty, is feeling how I feel about how we should be acting within our communities, while having to deal with the fact that not all of my family and friends feel the same way.  In fact, I seem to be in the minority. 

Now, I could totally spend my time this week ranting about why I think my point of view is the right one, but to be honest, that does absolutely zero good.  I think in all of the posts I made on social media encouraging others (especially surfers) to stay home, I made one couple change their weekend plans. (Thank you, Alice.)

Of course, that was back in March, and now it’s May.  Things have changed.  But exactly how much they’ve changed, and what is looming around the corner is yet to be known.  One thing we all seem to be able to agree on is that we don’t know what will happen next.  Only time will tell. 

 

We have to learn how to live (sometimes in the literal sense) with those who feel differently than we do.

 

But while we’re waiting, it seems to me that we have to learn how to live (sometimes in the literal sense) with those who feel differently than we do.  So instead of ranting and raving, let’s talk about two things that are infinitely more helpful: Acceptance & Flexibility. 

My daughter got hired at a pizza joint two days before the school closure happened.  Within 48 hours, she lost her senior year of high school, and the new job was questionable…accept that it wasn’t. 

When the pizza guy discovered that my kiddo was wanting to work, he was ready to schedule her.  That was at the beginning of April, right when we were being told that, “the next two weeks are going to be pivotal”.

She came to me wanting to work.  I asked her to please wait the 2 weeks, kind of hoping that she would lose interest.  No such luck.  At the end of those 2 weeks, she asked to start work again.  I was against it. 

Problem was my husband supported it and my daughter obviously wanted to do it.  I called her Dad down in New Orleans for back up.  Certainly, he would support my position as he lives in a hot spot, but nope, he supported it too. 

Totally outnumbered, I had a decision to make.  I could dig my heals in, pitch a fit, stand my ground, and insist that she didn’t work.  I could then deal with the aftermath of anger, disappointment, and depression that living in isolation was causing, especially for the teenagers.  Or, I could compromise.

 

Anxiety plus pandemic, mix in a little bit of OCD “clean genes”, and the fact that I trust my scientific leaders and want to follow their guidelines…well…I live pretty frustrated. 

 

Oy…not an easy compromise for me.  We made a deal.  While the pizza joint was requiring employees to wear gloves, masks were optional.  My deal was that masks are not optional for her.  She has to wear one.  We also created a checklist of things to do when she gets home from a shift.  Her close and mask go right in the washer. Shower immediately. Wipe down doorknobs and whatever she touched on her way in...

She wasn’t thrilled (mostly about the mask), but agreed.  That was about a month ago.  Now the restaurant is requiring all employees to wear masks (thank goodness), so she doesn’t feel so singled out anymore, and she loves the job.  She has been working her booty off and looks forward to her shifts. 

All better, right?  Not quite.  I still have to live with being uncomfortable about it all.  Now I’ll admit (and you know) that I have an anxiety issue.  Anxiety plus pandemic, mix in a little bit of OCD “clean genes”, and the fact that I trust my scientific leaders and want to follow their guidelines…well…I live pretty frustrated. 

 

All I can do is to continue to speak my truth, respect that their truths are different than my own, and be flexible.

 

And that brings me to my point.  I can’t help feeling frustrated.  I can’t help that I feel disappointment in that many of my friends and family are making poor decisions (as I see it).  I can’t help that at the root of these poor decisions, I see selfishness.  It makes me sad. 

But there’s how I feel, and there’s how they feel.  All I can do is to continue to speak my truth, respect that their truths are different than my own, and be flexible.  I also ask that they be flexible and respect how I feel, and they do.  

We are all trying our best to stay true to ourselves and supportive of our loved ones. I think that this may be one of the big lessons of the pandemic.  That we can feel differently and yet still be one community.  But it does require some give and take on both parts.

I had to call a friend out yesterday because I witnessed him give another friend a hug and then encroach on my space to get an elbow bump.  Aren’t elbow bumps like so 2 months ago?  I got pretty turned off and retreated to my own space.  He sent me an email saying he hoped he didn’t bum me out with his encroachment.  I replied honestly that he did and I explained why in detail. I also told him I loved him dearly.

I think the best strategy right now is to keep on stating how we feel and then accept the fact that we may get a statement back that is the complete opposite.  Because really, if we zoom the lens out, this is definitely not the first thing that we have disagreed about. 

 

Don’t react.  Respond. I'm working on it.

 

I will admit that it was easier before when most controversial topics paralleled one’s political lines, and we as people seem to congregate with those who have the same views as our own. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with the pandemic. 

It’s a real mixed bag, and we either have to be ok with that, or live in a state of anxiety and frustration, and that will do nothing but lead to massive amounts of resentment.  I really don’t want that to happen. 

For me, I have to stop before I react with a bunch of yelling word vomit that begins with, “What the fuck is wrong with you!?!?”  I sit for a minute and think about how I feel, and how the other person feels, and how I can best respond to what’s happening.  Don’t react.  Respond.  I’m working on it. 

So, don't punch your friends who think differently than you do.  For one, you would have to touch them for that!  Instead, practice patience and openness...and wear your own mask and wash your own hands as much as you want.

I’d like to know from you, how you’re dealing with your loved ones having a different perspective from your own.  Gracefully?  Not so gracefully?  It’s all ok.  We have to start somewhere. 

 

In the comments below tell me if you’ve been reacting, or responding to those with different views from your own.  

 

As always, I believe at the root of everything is love.  I wouldn’t be so worried if I didn’t have so many damn people in my life that I love.  I want us all to be safe and respected, and at the end of it all, I want us all to still be friends. 

 

 

The painting at top is Soaring Heart 10, 6”x6”, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas.  
Pelicans soar just inches from the water, in long single file lines.  Each one using the energy from the ocean waves and the bird in front of them, to effortlessly fly without even having to beat their wings.  We must work together and respect the fact that we have the ability to lift each other up simply with our own energy.  Be kind to one another.  For purchase information CLICK HERE.

 

I am an anti-anxiety artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  

Pandemic Life: Finding Excitement in the Little Things

Outdoor visits with friends.  Reduced house wipe downs.   Hair washing every other day.  These are some of my new favorite things.  It’s amazing what we can get excited about these days.

 

Today I am filled with gratitude.  Part of that has to do with a conversation I had yesterday with my dear friend, Tamiko, who lives in Boston.  She aptly described the situation in Boston as “a shit show”.  No one wearing masks or practicing distancing. Crowds of people are walking on the river without a care in the world. Grocery stores have never quite been restocked since the beginning, and now there are restrictions on meat.

Last week, I talked about learning new things about myself during this isolated period of time.  Tamiko said, for the first time ever, she could see herself living in a smaller more rural community.  One with less people that is surrounded by farms. I get it.

Each day, I find new reasons to be happy to live where I live.  Because of how isolated we are, in general, the effects from the pandemic are “lighter” than in say, a place like Boston.  That is something to be grateful for, right there. 

But this week, I’d like to talk about how humorous I find the things that we get excited for, when we are living more boring and restrictive lives.  A few days ago, I had a friend over for an outdoor BYOE coffee date (Bring Your Own Everything).  Oh, to have company come!  You’d think I was getting ready for the first guest I’d ever had in my life. 

Yesterday, when my daughter came home from work she asked me, with exhaustion in her eyes, if she still had to wash her hair after every shift.  We decided that, at this point, every other shift would be ok.  She left the room fist pumping saying, “And we’re easing, and we’re easing…”  I’ve never seen her so happy about something so…well…uninteresting.

But that’s the world we live in right now.  We are lucky to be where we are.  If we lived in New York or Boston, there’s no way she would even be working right now.  

 

Ah the adaptations of the quarantine.

 

Last night, she went over to her friend’s house where they recently built a new outdoor space to hang out in.  Ah the adaptations of the quarantine.  She left the house with the same look in her eyes that I last remember seeing when she got her driver’s license, and was pulling out solo for the first time.  

I have also spent time on my outdoor spaces, and I’ve been hanging out there a lot.  It’s like discovering a new room in your house.  There is just so much “newness” right now.  Each time I get frustrated about not being able to do something, I think of something we’ve implemented that we’ve never done before.

For example, I have a projector that I use for art projects.  Now I’m thinking that outdoor movies sound like a great idea!  Just hang a sheet and put out some socially distanced blankets and chairs.  

 

I can’t wait to see what’s lifted next or what new activities we can engage with.

 

I can’t wait to see what’s lifted next or what new activities we can engage with.  I’ve never gardened much before.  In fact, I always though gardening was kind of a bore.  Well, you should see my backyard.  It’s so pretty now!  I can’t believe it took a pandemic for me to finish it.

In a way, we’re getting to know ourselves all over again.  I mean, we live our lives in the manner that we do in part because of how the outside world dictates we do things.  I’ve never really thought about that before, but now, it’s hard not to see.  And the interesting part is that we’re watching this “new normal” grow right before our eyes.  

Maybe we’ll get drive through movie theaters back.  Maybe we’ll be seeing the musicians we love continue on in more intimate ways, as they share acoustic sets from their living rooms.  Maybe we’ll learn how to comfortably sit still for longer periods of time.  

It’s hard to know, but what I do know is that I never thought I’d see a day when my kiddo was totally stoked because she can now wash her hair less.  I also recognize this feeling of anticipation in my belly.  It’s one I’m familiar with because it is one of my anxiety symptoms. 

 

I’m working on feeling excitement about the anticipation instead of anxiety.

 

However, after being just fine and (mostly) stress free from simply hanging at home, I’m working on feeling excitement about the anticipation, instead of allowing it to fill me with worry.  It’s harder for me to worry about the future when I don’t know what it looks like (ain’t that a life lesson…we always never know what it’s going to look like...).  Don’t get me wrong, I can find stuff to worry about, but what’s the point right now.

All my worries are on the “what if” train anyway.  The only place that train is going is to anxiety central.  I don’t think I’ll get on it.  Instead, I’ll keep coming up with the pearls of this situation and feeling excitement for our new world.   So, pump those fists.  There is light in sight.

In the comments below, tell me one thing you got excited about this week.

 

The image at top is Sea Plants 1, 12”x312”, Acrylic, Paper, and Water Color Crayon on Birch Board, natural wood floater frame included. Take a good look, then close your eyes. Can you remember what it feels like to float on the surface of the water? Sea plants drift back and forth with the current and catch the sun in reflections of the water.  The ocean sway that remains calms my anxious heart.  For more information and to purchase, CLICK HERE.

 

I am an anti-anxiety artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  

How the Easing of Restrictions is Causing My Anxiety to Surge

One minute I’m in my kitchen just cooking away.  The next, I’m doubled over, yelling into my hands, trying to expel the anxiety that has collected in my chest. (Don’t worry…I washed my hands afterwards.)

 

Do you know what it’s like to feel absolutely fine one second, and the next, feel like you are exploding out of your skin with every emotion in the book?  Welcome to my Monday afternoon. 

I have been doing so good.  I have been holding myself together and (should I even say it?) have actually found some pleasure in the simplicity that isolation has brought.  I haven’t had to question what to do next within my day to day.  I’ve been cooking, cleaning, working, building a garden, tending to my yard, making art, and taking care of my family.  Life is full.

 

Monotony has its perks.

 

As much as I long to make it to the beach to surf, I must admit that not having to prepare for long weekends, and instead, spending those weekends tending to my home and family have felt, in a way, rather liberating.  There’s no juggling of schedules.  There’s no cramming two days of work into one so I can surf when the swell calls.  Everything has just slowed down.  The clearness of the days is bright.  Monotony has its perks. 

Then, over the past couple of days, it seems that things are beginning to ease up a bit.  In some states, beaches are opening and non-essential businesses are being given the green light.  Good news right?  Well…not for my anxiety.  Yesterday was my first true attack since this shit started. 

 

All of a sudden, tears exploded from my eyes and the sound that escaped my throat was something that can only be compared to terror mixed with extreme dread. 

 

I was in my kitchen making banana bread for my Mom and salads for the week, when it hit.  All of a sudden, tears exploded from my eyes and the sound that escaped my throat was something that can only be compared to terror mixed with extreme dread. 

All of the windows and doors in my house were open, and I hope I didn’t scare anyone walking by, but it could not be contained.  It was fast and furious.  I went from fine one second, to standing up crying, to doubled over yelling within two seconds.  And before I knew it, it was over.

When it happened, I managed to notice a few things.  One is that in my head, for the first time during an acute anxiety attack like this one, my brain activity went from a million topics at once to one: “It’s ok, Girl.  This will pass.  Don’t hold it in.  Let it out and let it out good.”  That’s about when the howling started.

I also noticed that it was one of the first times since we have been self-isolating, that I was home completely alone for an extended period of time.  Being alone gave me the freedom to let it out as it needed to come out.  I didn’t have to go run a shower and cry all quiet.  I could let it rip and man, did it ever.  Short, but intense.

 

I realize that the easing up of restrictions, and the invitations that followed, actually created more stress and anxiety than staying home has.

 

I realize that the easing up of restrictions, and the invitations that followed, actually created more stress and anxiety than staying home has.  Within two days, I had been invited to Costa Rica (for June) and found a loop hole regarding going to the coast to surf.  Normally I would be shouting with excitement about these two opportunities.  But not right now.

Right now, I’m understanding that the easing up of the lock down, and the options that are coming with that easing, is what caused my anxiety attack.  Not the lock down itself, but the possibility of being freed.  I have to admit that I may not be ready to be completely free.

 

I may not be ready to be completely free.

 

I guess this is where we are all going to have to make our own individual decisions based on our comfort level, and we should all feel completely ok with doing what feels best for us as individuals.  Members of our own families may feel differently, and that’s ok. 

This is going to be a practice in flexibility, tolerance, and understanding.  For me, I’m quite alright hanging around the house for another couple of weeks.  What I don’t want to be is part the reason for a resurgence of cases that spikes our now official state wide flattened Covid19 curve.  I want nothin' to do with that.  

I have finally gotten into a groove with work.  I’m exercising every day.  I’m meditating most mornings.  I’m making new art.  My backyard is finally completely finished with the addition of a raised vegetable garden.  In a way, I don’t want to go back to the way it was before.  The complexities of my pre-covid life was stressful.

 

I have to let this new normal bloom.

 

Things have changed for me, as it has for all of us.  But I find that I’m really quite ok with the changes.  I have to let this new normal bloom.  No resistance.  Spring is here in the Rogue valley.  It has been absolutely stunning. 

I have felt blessed during this time.  To be where we are.  To have the jobs that we do.  To be stuck in a house with people that I love and want to spend time with. I continue to focus on the silver linings and I don’t have any sort of grip on my past life, except that I really want to go surfing again soon.  Every day, more and more people feel safe doing so.  I’m waiting until I do too.

How are you feeling about easing out of this mess?  Scared?  Antsy?  Impatient? Excited? In the comments, give me one word that describes how the idea of no longer self-isolating makes your feel. 

  

The image at top is Heart Flower 7, 6”x6”, Acrylic and Paper Hearts on Canvas.  Just as Spring has sprung, we must let this new normal bloom. These heart flowers are a wonderful Mother’s Day gift.  Click here to purchase a one-of-a-kind Heart Flower painting for Mom by CLICKING HERE. I'll even write a hand-written Mother's Day card from you.

 

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  

I Don't Like Hugging Strangers: Quarantine Discovery of the Week

We have stepped into a large pile of transition. It's pretty stinky.  You may want to keep your distance.

I’ve been having a little trouble sleeping.  This is not normal for me.  I’m a pretty good sleeper.  Maybe a little bit of a light sleeper, but I can sleep.  This week though, things are different. 

I’ve been falling asleep fine, but I wake in the middle of the night, feeling completely antsy, especially in my upper legs.  It’s like they can’t stay still. I flip and flop trying to find the position that they can relax in, but I haven’t been finding much sleep past that point of the night.

It happened a night or two last week, and perhaps a few nights the week before. This week, it’s been every night and I find myself wondering, “Is this my new sleep normal?”. 

Now, I will first off say that I don’t think it is.  I think that my anxiety is heightened right now and is deciding it would like to be nocturnal.  The result is that I lie there in bed, my brain tired AF, but my body is like ready to run a marathon. 

Should I just get up?  I mean, I have no kids to get up with in the morning for school anymore.  That’s a new normal.  My kiddos are both seniors and so they have had the bittersweet experience of graduating early.  So, my mornings are mine a few months earlier than expected. 

I no longer have to wake up at 6AM in order to get a meditation in before everyone else wakes up.  I don’t have a crew to make breakfast for anymore, which was one of my greatest pleasures, as it was the only meal we were all home together for.  Now we have dinner together, and the teens get to sleep in. 

 

What does my new normal look like and how do I gracefully handle a transition that has been thrust upon me so quickly and so furiously?

 

Theoretically, I could get up with my jumpy body at 3AM and run a few miles in the middle of the night and then sleep in late.  Do you think that would work?  I’m not sure, but it’s got me thinking…what does my new normal look like and how do I gracefully handle a transition that has been thrust upon me so quickly and so furiously? 

I spent the first six weeks of 2020 in my therapist’s office, addressing the huge transition that would be happening when I became an empty nester in September of this year.  Well…I may not be an empty nester yet, but both kids are now high school graduates and are eager to start working and figuring out what their plan is going forward.  They simply don’t need the same kind of support from me that they needed while they were in high school.  

The hilarious part is that me seeking help from my therapist was, proudly, the first time in my life that I foresaw a future transition that I knew would be challenging for me, and I was attempting to address it head on.  Go me.  Apparently, the Universe has other plans, and none of us have a say in it at all.  

 

Our new normal, it seems, is a lesson of our human instinct to want to control everything.

 

Our new normal, it seems, is a lesson of our human instinct to want to control everything.  Spoiler alert: WE CAN’T.  Not anymore…well…really not ever…but pre-Covid-19 it was easy to pretend that we were the queens of our own queendoms. 

Now, Dr. Fauci is saying that we shouldn’t shake hands “ever again”.  EVER AGAIN.  Think about that for a minute.  The handshake is our gateway to knowing another person.  It is our primary way of greeting, and once familiarity is created, usually the more intimate hug follows.  In my circle of friends, hugs are primary. 

The idea of not hugging my people anymore is difficult for me.  Although, oddly, through this experience I have found a sense of relief in not having to hug everyone.  I now know that I like space with people I don’t know very well…which is normal I think…I just happen to live in a very huggy community.  Hippies…you know?

So, our new normal may mean that we are not as touchy feely as we once were.  It may also mean that we will have a greater understanding as to why people in China have been wearing masks around normally, ever since the first SARS outbreak. 

It may mean that we don’t get to go to concerts or any large gatherings for a little while.  That’s a big deal for us.  For my birthday every year, I always ask to go to High Sierra Music Festival. I look forward to that every year.  

My Hubbie is a huge Phish fan.  When will he get to see them play again?  Will my kiddo be able to start school in the Fall and have a true Freshman college experience of living in a dorm?

What about our surf competition in September?  All the surf camps that I volunteer at each Summer?  What about air travel?  When will we feel comfortable doing that again? Will I ever be able to hold my friends’ babies again?  I freaking love babies. That would break my heart.

 

The truth is that we have a new normal that is being formed all around us, right now.

 

If I start diving into all of those questions (and believe me, the list is endless within my tornado brain), my anxiety spikes.  (I apologize if I’m stressing anyone out with this blog post.)  But just as I was addressing the transition that was supposed to happen this Fall, I feel it’s important to address these current changes, head on. No hiding. 

The truth is that we have a new normal that is being formed all around us, right now.  We are sitting in a swirl of our old normal, which is exiting and perhaps we are clinging to, and the new normal, of which I’m sure we will have a certain level of resistance to.  But we shouldn’t.

We are not the first people to go through such a cultural changing transition, and we won’t be the last.  In fact, we should not be surprised by this change.  The only thing that’s constant is change, right?  

While we’re all feeling pretty dang trapped by this situation, I am trying to find a sense of freedom within this new normal.  If you think about it, the second that we decide to loosen our grip and just let the new normal develop as it will, we are liberated.  Because the truth is, it’s not up to us.  And it won’t be for a while.

 

We are not the first people to go through such a cultural changing transition, and we won’t be the last.

 

Life will change.  We will change.  Instead of being terrified, I’m deciding to ride this wave and watch in wonderment (as opposed to terror) as it takes me into uncharted waters.  What will this all look like?  Surely, there will be pros and cons and in fact, I’ve already found one pro – I don’t have pressure to hug strangers anymore.  Oddly, I didn’t even realize that I felt pressure surrounding that and yet, there it is.  One piece of my new normal fitting into the puzzle.

Have you noticed any pieces of your new normal yet?  In the comments, tell me one thing that you see changing. 

And hang in there.  This process is going to take a minute, but try not to worry, we’re not alone. We’re all in it together and that’s definitely another pro to add to the list.  We got this.

 

Up top is one of my surfboard relief paintings, Three Dollar Board – Pink, 8x10, Acrylic on Canvas, framed in a natural wood floater frame.  When I was making my surfboard collection, it was simply about the joy I find in surfing.  But now, they take on a new meaning as we all have to ride this wave and go with the flow into our new normal.  Each surfboard is hand molded and shaped directly onto the canvas for a three-dimensional look.  Click here for more info and to purchase.   

 

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.