balance

How Are You Taking Care of Yourself?

Happy New Year, one and all. I hope you are doing well so far as we approach the half-way mark of January. Did you make any resolutions/promises to yourself? How’s it going? Were they realistic, or did you shoot for the moon? Have you kept them? If not, don’t lose heart. You might need to lower your expectations. For many of us, the word “lower” is negative, and sounds an awful lot like “loser.”

Is that how you feel? Well, I haven’t managed to keep my promises to myself, totally, yet. Sometimes I might hit one or two. But I figured out today that – yes – I was shooting for the moon, hoping to at least reach the stars.

As I’ve mentioned before, I finally came to the realization after, literally years of bitching about my alcoholic sister or father or what have you– Sob, sob. Poor me–the truth of the matter is codependency has to be all about me, or I will never change.

Dictionary.com has this to say about two (or more) sick people:

adjective

1.

Of or relating to a relationship in which one person is physically or psychologically addicted, as to alcohol or gambling, and the other person is psychologically dependent on the first in an unhealthy way.
To my understanding, that means not only is the alcoholic sick, but my bonding/relationship/behavior toward that person also makes me ill. It also means, even when the alcoholic gets better it doesn’t necessarily mean I will too.  Whether or not I change and grow is entirely a separate thing.

I have to take care of myself first, in all things. Which brings me to the title of my post: How are you taking care of yourself? I recently enrolled in a year-long (or more, depending on how much progress I’ve made) course of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy).

According to Marsha Linehan  “dialectical” means a synthesis or integration of opposites. The primary dialectic within DBT is between the seemingly opposite strategies of acceptance and change. For example, DBT therapists accept clients as they are while also acknowledging that they need to change in order to reach their goals.

There are many phases of DBT, which is why it is a year-long course. The core of the whole thing is mindfulness;  learning to connect the extremes of emotion mind and logic mind into a center called wise mind, a mid-point which takes all those thoughts and emotions into consideration when making a decision.
There are also acronyms in DBT which help us to remember what we need to do, especially under stress. The acronym to make sure we are taking care of ourselves is PLEASE, and it stands for this:
  • Treat Physical Illness
  • Balanced Eating
  • Avoid Mood-Altering Drugs
  • Balanced Sleep
  • Exercise
So, risking repetition, I’ll ask one more time: How are you taking care of yourself (not anyone else)?
For any loyal readers who are still out there, I’ll be posting three days a week from now on: Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. 😀
Peace out,
Chris

A is for Acceptance

Acceptance is a difficult concept to deal with, even if we’re not talking about alcoholism. None of us wants to be unacceptable, or excluded from a group, whether we’re small children, adolescents, or older adults. The synonyms for acceptance are many, among them approval and recognition.

I know a young woman who is gay. She has found a woman she loves, is very happy, and engaged to be married. Most people she knows are very happy for her happiness, but not all are as accepting. Some are even judgmental, saying she and her partner would always be welcome in their home, but they would never attend her wedding. This makes no sense to me, and seems more than a little hypocritical. If you accept the fact that someone is gay, you recognize it, you approve of the lifestyle she/he has chosen.

With my sister, it’s different, but somewhat the same. She’s been sober for a while now, and attended several family gatherings as a sober alcoholic. I don’t drink often, mostly at major holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, my mom laughs at me, because I will see a drink recipe shown on The Chew or something, get all excited about it, buy all the ingredients, bring them home, and then the liquor sits in our cupboards, because I’ve immediately lost interest. :P)

Back to my sister. I never used to drink around her. I thought it was a sign of solidarity if I joined her in not drinking. Recently, I’ve realized it was actually codependency, and I was not allowing her a sense of self-esteem, and achievement all her own. She’s very capable, and strong in her own right. But I’m sure she feels that exclusion, that non-acceptance among non-alcoholics, even though she’s accepted by her recovering alcoholic friends. I still laugh when I remember going with her to an open talk AA meeting at Sacred Heart in downtown Detroit. I was so nervous I wouldn’t even smoke, even though I badly wanted a cigarette. One of her friends finally leaned over to me and said, “So, do you have any vices?”

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 417)

What Could Be Scarier Than a Great White Shark??

epiphanybatman Happy ninth day of Twelvetide. I wish you health and prosperity this day, and a modicum of sanity as we go and be with various family and friends that we may have a genuine love it or leave it sort of ambivalence toward. Living with ambivalence is not for sissies.

Let’s assume for a bit that you don’t live in or anywhere near Flint, Michigan, and as far as you know it’s safer than it’s ever been (since that great white shark in the 70s) to dip your toe back in the water. I give you three simple words.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

If your heart beats a little quicker than usual at seeing those three words, or you feel your shirt getting damp and wonder to yourself, “Did it just get hot in here?” … I am here to tell you that you are never alone. Don’t get up and check your thermostat. Don’t worry you might have a heart attack if you even allow the thought of those three words to linger in your mind.

You are absolutely fine. After all, they’re just words, right? Still, if you’re like me, the past 365 days of your life flashed through your mind’s eye on New Year’s Eve. Also, if you are hopefully like me, you’ll find some peaks and valleys in the past year along with maybe one terrific thing you did for yourself or someone else (or both). There will be those times we wish we could take back something we might have done or said. But no, Virginia, there are no takesie-backsies, regardless of how much you wish there were. And it’s useless to go back and wish we stuck with our diets, exercised more, quit smoking, read better literature, or whatever else happens to pass through your mind. That time’s gone; say bye-bye and face today with unflinchingly optimistic hearts. I have a few guidelines, as we go through this next year:

Be yourself: I don’t think I can stress this one enough. Always, always be your best self in any situation you find yourself. For me, if I have a bad time at a party or gathering, the largest reason I can trace it back to is that in some way I wasn’t being genuine to myself. When we work too achingly hard at pretending to be other than who we really are, when we strive to always be prettier, smarter, more interesting…than everyone else at the party, it falls flat. After all, we wouldn’t be invited in the first place if we weren’t so beloved by being exactly who we were meant to be. So, whatever happens, take a breath, square your shoulders, and open the door. You are wanted.

Be kind: I didn’t think this up, but it’s a great question to keep asking ourselves this year. That is, “What is the kindest thing I can do/say?”

Be forgiving: Forgive quickly and often, beginning with ourselves. Try not to be too quick to judge, because–well, we know what that feels like. Try, though surely we won’t often always be successful, to give the benefit of the doubt, to those you cherish, as well as yourself.

Be goal-oriented: This is essentially quite different from resolutions. Goals are infinitely good to have, for without them, we despair and languish. If your only goal is to make it through the day unscathed, and when you collapse into bed that night, having counted all fingers and toes and found none missing, then that’s a good day’s work.

Most of all, don’t live back there. You can’t get there from anywhere in the rational world that isn’t met with opaque glasses, never seen quite clearly. And for all the goodness in the world, don’t spend too much time in the future. You might start finding yourself too old for this or that, that it’s inevitably too late. I’m of the opinion it’s never too late. Not for marriage, not for love, for education, etc. It’s not even too late to have children, regardless of age–one can always adopt, or be a stupendous aunt or uncle.

I sincerely hope you have had nothing but happiness this past Christmas, and that Santa Claus was good to you. You deserve it. Moving forward, let’s join hands and step into 2017, with our eyes on trying hard to be better in every way. Here’s to you, plus a cartoon to make you laugh: bear-snowman

 

Rejoining The Human Race

first day on earth castellucciAmazingly, it’s been almost five months since I last posted to this blog. And I pay for it! LOL  I’m not sure I still remember how to do it. Have I been through some struggles in that time? Of course, but you know what? So have you, so have we all! I’ve experienced some major triumphs, too. Do tell me yours.

Here’s another thing. I don’t know how you feel about it, but I’ve really missed you guys. I’ve missed the camaraderie, the comments, the back-and-forth, and just knowing someone out there is reading silly things I’ve written.

You probably don’t know this, but there is a radio station out of Detroit (near where I live) which plays all Christmas music starting November 1st. Right? A little whacked, but I love it since it’s my favorite holiday. In fact, I was thinking of going to buy lights to put up around the ceiling. And, for the life of me, I cannot understand why it’s so important to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to put up the tree, even if it’s fake. Seriously?

Well, I won’t keep blabbing on and on. I read in a blogging book that the shorter the post the better (we’re all so busy these days!).

This will be my new schedule for posting: SU-T-TH-S. From now until just about Christmas I’ll be writing about trying to get my Christmas gifts crocheted in time. Yikes!

See you Tuesday. Until then, take care of yourself, and take care of each other.

 

Organize, Order, Originate

pig in bootsAs I started to work on my wood burning project (which I won’t be able to share with you anyway, because it’s for a family member, and I can’t take any chances online), I got this panicky ache in my chest. I started to think about everything else I have to do before Christmas. I know, it seems just too weird to think about Christmas in June, but not when you’re making all your gifts.

So I decided to write down everything I’m making; to get organized, and make a list (not including the wood burning project, since that will be done before Christmas).

Here it is:

  1. two blankets (just have to sew together)
  2. spirals rug — also easy crochet rugs
  3. crochet for charity scarf
  4. shimmery afghan
  5. easy going crochet blanket
  6. inside out blanket
  7. crochet brimmed flapper hat
  8. crocheted bookmarks
  9. circles afghan
  10. reader’s wrap
  11. snowflake ornament
  12. octie throw
  13. festive garland
  14. Christmas trees (small table top)
  15. Thai garden collar
  16. tactical squares throw
  17. Judy’s warm hugs blanket
  18. crochet basket (w/twine)

The ones that are bold and in italics are projects I have decided will be fairly simple and take much less time, maybe a day to do (I’ll make more than one snowflake ornament, of course!). My mom thinks I’m crazy and am trying to kill myself. It’s funny. I was worried about her a couple of weeks ago because of her diabetes (her sugar was going up and down). I said to her, “What am I going to do if you just don’t wake up in the morning?” And she replied, “Well, do you know where my funeral clothes are?” I was shocked, but when I share that with other people they just laugh that my mother has all her funeral clothes ready and in one place (shoes and all) so that I don’t have to deal with that  when she dies.

So when I showed this big list (plus practicing the piano to prepare two new George Winston pieces for her 88th birthday in October) she asked me, “Do I need to be planning for your funeral?” Ha ha ha.

Oh darn. I forgot the blankie I’m going to make for Henry, Geoffrey and Emily’s baby, who’ll be one around that time.

What do you think? Too much? Well, I’ll do what I can. When it gets down to the wire, I’m sure I’ll have to do some cutting and editing. 😦

Arrivederci!!

P.S. I will not be posting again until Wednesday. I will have family in town from this afternoon through Tuesday. Enjoy time off without me! LOL

How Do You Respond To Stress? Part One

saving-cry-for-help-ecard-someecardsYou’ve heard talk of Type A and Type B personalities. The first part of this two-part blog series on stress is about the Type A personality.

Here are 25 things you might not know (or might!) about this complicated personality:

1. They don’t procrastinate. They hate the idea of wasting time so they do things the moment they come to mind. Why wait and do it later when you can just do it now?

2. They always have a task list — a never-ending one. If there is another day to be lived, then there is another set of tasks to be accomplished.

3. They have several alarms set throughout the day so they always stay on top of things. They wish they could remember it all in order to save time, but this is the best next thing.

4. They have trouble understanding the stupidity of others. They don’t believe themselves to necessarily be exceptionally gifted or genius. So why is it that they are competent when almost everyone else seems like an idiot?

5. They don’t understand the concept of not being capable of doing something. To them, if something can physically be done, then why would they not be capable of doing it? If they need to learn something, they will.

6. They understand that laziness is a choice. Most people talk about laziness as if it was some sort of disease. Type A’s look at such people as idiots. Laziness isn’t more of a disease than is ignorance.

7. They often become passionate. If they are going to do something, then they are going to do something they believe to be meaningful. If it’s meaningful to them, then it deserves their fullest attention; passion is inevitable.

8. …But not always for too long. Unfortunately, because they are so passionate, and because true success takes patience, any sort of early failure easily discourages them. They are likely to pack up and change careers in a heartbeat.

9. They can be very emotional. Type A’s seem to be more strongly rooted in reality than most people. They seem to understand the world around them better, and because of this, they are more influenced by the outside world. Worse yet is that they are just as likely to be found lost in their thoughts — a very dangerous combination.

10. They’re prone to stressing. Put simply, they worry a lot. They do their best to see into the future and can’t shake the fact that things can always go wrong. Plus, being as passionate as they are makes them dread that ever possible and looming, crappy outcome.

11. Although they know they should take more time to relax, they don’t always find it appealing — and when they do, they simply can’t find the time. For them, they feel most at home working and doing their thing. It’s difficult for them to understand that getting away and slowing down is in their best interest.

12. They love sleeping, but have trouble stopping their thoughts from racing. It’s not easy to fall asleep when your mind just keeps on running through thoughts and images. Stopping them is no easy task.

13. They can muster superior focus. When things need to be done — for Type A’s, things always need to be done — they are able to focus intently and block out the rest of reality. They call it getting into their “zone.”

14. They’re perfectionists. It’s not that they are trying to be perfect, but blemishes, mistakes and inconsistencies frustrate them. They find them ugly and appalling, not being able to allow them to pass their inspection. If they could, they would – but they simply can’t.

15. Doing things efficiently is their first priority. As little time spent getting as much quality work done as humanly possible? If you just got a hard-on, then you’re a Type A personality.

16. They make plans, lots of plans. If you want to achieve something, then Type A’s only find it logical that you should know how to get there. So they make plans. Unfortunately, making plans isn’t always efficient. Once they realize this, they revert to focusing less on planning and putting even more emphasis on efficiency.

17. They center their life on their careers. Their careers are their passion, their purpose in life. Once they figure out what that is, there isn’t much else that interests them.

18. More often than not, they feel that they are too busy to be in a relationship. This is sad, but true. Type A personalities often end up alone because they don’t allow themselves to date. They feel that they don’t have the time, so they don’t bother with trying to make a relationship work.

19. They have a tendency to cut others off in conversation — not to be rude, but to be right. I mean, what’s the point of letting them yammer on with some nonsense when you can just tell them the way it really is, and then you can both move on with your lives, right?

20. They love the spotlight. Some may call them attention-whores.

21. Always having a plan for the worst-case scenario is a necessity. What’s the worst possible thing that you can possibly imagine happening to you? You losing your job? Your pet Pooky getting run over by a car? Cancer? Armageddon? Yup, they have a plan for that.

22. They walk fast and with a purpose, doing all they can to avoid lines of any sort. To them, walking is getting from point A to point B in order to do what needs to be done at point B as soon as possible so that they can move on to point C. If you’re out for a leisurely walk, then find a park.

23. They are punctual and expect others to be the same. Other peoples’ time is worth respecting. The sooner you’re in, the sooner you’re out. That’s what she said.

24. Doing things with a purpose is the only way they know how to live. If there is not purpose behind action, then Type A personalities don’t see a reason for doing it in the first place. They understand that actions are only worth the goal they are trying to achieve.

25. They love solving problems and believe there is always a solution. They believe the world to work in a logical manner – minus the illogical creatures that live in it – and therefore, believe that there must always be a solution for every problem. For the very few that may not have a solution, they should be forgotten.

Source: Paul Hudson, Elite Daily

Have a wonderful day. If you think of it, and if you pray, include me throughout the day. I had kind of a shock earlier this morning, and it’s making for a tough day. Thank you so much.

Ciao.

 

Performance Anxiety Redux

wpid-20150526_080944.jpgAll right. This is not an apology, this is an explanation. There’s a reason I have been so flaky lately with my posts . . . well, this whole entire month, specifically.

Last year, when I tried to crochet Christmas presents, I didn’t start working until like October or even November, and of course didn’t get finished in time. I have a large family. So this year I began in January. So far I have two granny square blankets crocheted. I just have to put them together. I’m working on my third (pictured above) which looks like snowflakes! I have 30 out of 88 squares done.

Anyway, we’re here to talk about performance anxiety, and the causes and helps for it. The three main causes of PA are:

  • Mild social anxiety.
  • Inexperience in public.
  • Strong distaste for failure

As with most anxiety problems, it’s hard to know the exact cause, but performance anxiety is also self-sustaining, because it creates a mindset that focuses only on mistakes and seeing others as judging you. One small mistake, even if no one notices, or one person in the audience that looks unhappy and all of your fears are reinforced, causing more performance anxiety to happen later. No matter the effects of anxiety, there is no denying that anxiety itself can create more anxiety. The more you are worried about your performance, the more your performance suffers.

Some strategies which can help in overcoming performance anxiety are:

  • Pre- and Post- Presentation Positive Writing Exercises – Since anxiety is a problem with negative thinking, one way to combat anxiety is to force yourself to think positively. An example of this type of exercise includes writing out 10 or 20 genuinely positive thoughts about how you performed or will perform. It’s not perfect, but it will stop you from focusing only on the negative.
  • Positive Support – You also need support from others. It’s easy to think about the negatives when you mess up – or when you have the possibility of messing up. But if you can find people in your life that are always supportive, you won’t care as much about any mistakes because others in your life will make things easier. Positive support is very helpful for this type of anxiety.
  • Happy Distractions – Much of performance anxiety is not what happens at the time of the event, but what occurs before and after it. This is when the mind can wander into negative thoughts. Keeping yourself mentally active and busy prevents the mind from focusing on the negatives, especially if you can focus on more positive activities like going outdoors and spending fun time with friends.
  • Practicing Under Pressure – It is often hard to practice under pressure, because practice itself rarely has that much pressure. But if you can get used to being under pressure situations, then when you actually face some type of pressure it won’t cause as much anxiety. For example, if you are giving a speech, do it in front of smaller crowds and work your way up to the bigger ones. If you are playing sports, practice playing where people challenge you with noise and energy – just like you would experience in a big game. This will help you get used to some of the components of pressure situations, even if it doesn’t resemble it completely.

 

Fino a domani, I miei amici! Mwah!

 

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