Every night I go to bed, I have thoughts swirling in my head. Things to do. Scrapbook pages I want to create. Gifts I want to make. Skills I want to learn. And, of course, daily happenings that I don't want to forget, but invariably will by tomorrow morning, only to pop up in a random thought weeks down the road. So, here I am. I may use this blog daily to empty my head and heart before cuddling up in my duvet, or as it may be, I may write in it once a month. Who knows. It is for me, but perhaps something I write or learn may spark a fire in someone else. Perhaps it may quiet a mind or make you feel like you are not alone out there. It is for me. But perhaps it is for you.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Spaciousness: Room to Breathe

When I was in my twenties I had my first experience with depression and anxiety.  I remember what seemed weeks of my body feeling SO heavy in my bed each morning that I was unable to get out no matter how much I thought I should.  I remember wanting people to check in on me as I lived by myself at the time.  I remember desperately needing to do absolutely nothing.  I was a substitute teacher at the time, between jobs, and I ignored calls to work.  What I didn't know was how much this would affect my life forever, in good ways.

One afternoon I was at my friend Kim's house and we talked about what was happening with me.  She walked me into her room and pulled out a book called feeling good: the new mood therapy by David Burns http://www.amazon.ca/Feeling-Good-The-Mood-Therapy/dp/0380810336.  She said this had helped her.  Although I also took medication for 2 years to help with chemical balance, I read and applied concepts in this book daily.  It is there where I begun to find tools to help me manage depression and anxiety in my life.

Although it seems simple and obvious now, one of the biggest triggers for my anxiety was that sometimes my life and my to-do list seemed overwhelmingly large.  It felt out of my control.  It was literally debilitating.  There was nothing people could do or say to help me gain perspective.  Reason and logic were not in play. Despite all the love and support of my family and friends, I had to do this on my own. I needed them to understand that what I needed from them was to simply be there for me without judgement or advice.  A tall order when someone you love cannot get herself out of bed for hours some days.  Slowly, I learned to break down the overwhelming tasks into a dozen small tasks and could feel a sense of accomplishment if I even moved one step towards completing a baby step.  It was amazing how effective this was for me.  As time went by, using this tool and others allowed the anxiety to diminish and I wondered if perhaps I had found this book before taking medication, that I wouldn't have needed it at all.  Either way, I trust that life happened as it was meant to.

Fast forward 6 or so years...

As a teacher and a person with a tendency towards a Type A personality, I had a lot of control in my life.  Order. Predictability.  It is what allowed me to breathe, to have fun, to enjoy life.  And I have always enjoyed life.  I love to travel, try new things and am always learning something new.  Enter a baby.  My baby.  My first baby.

I am very comfortable around children.  Growing up with three siblings and working with children most of my life, I get them.  But having my own baby, I was not prepared for the GIANT learning curve.  I love my son, but he was  not an easy baby.  To make a long story short, I dove headlong back into anxiety and couldn't trust a single instinct of my own.  This story of postpartum depression is one that deserves a much longer post, which I was save for a later date.  However, what it made very clear to me was that I needed to start listening to my body more and trusting myself in the inherent wisdom I was born with, as a human, as a woman, as a mother.  It does not come naturally to me.  In my job, yes, I am very confident.  And now, as a mother, I have gained the experience to be more confident.  But more importantly, becoming a mother to two beautiful boys I have been shown that my first instincts when it comes to them are almost always right.  Perhaps it is because we have an innate bond from them being created inside of me, but whatever the reason, they continue to teach me every day that if I listen to myself and them carefully, the answers will always come.  They may not always be what I expect or what is comfortable, but I really do know that when I give myself room to breathe and then simply listen, everything will come out alright.  When I stretch myself too thin or try to accomplish too much without allowing spaciousness, I become stifled and stifle others in my life.

Thank you boys for continuously reminding me to breathe.


What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

-Judy Brown

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