Last time I talked about choices and how we have the choice to take responsibility and control for our lives. I also mentioned a tidbit about the choices I made as a teenager. Today I want to expand on that. This is going to be one of my most vulnerable posts to date and I do want to warn you that if you have struggled with any of the things I’m going to talk about today, this post might be a trigger. So what will I talk about? Sex, drugs, alcohol, and looking for love outside of myself. While some of these things might be a trigger for some of you, I am sharing in hopes that I remind you that you are not the only one and that there are others of us who have been there or are currently there.More
Loving oneself leads to so much freedom in life. But what if you don’t love yourself?
From an early age we learn from the societal expectations that we need to be like this famous person or that family member that does everything right and looks the right way. We are told we need to act right and do the responsible thing. We are pressured to do this or that because that is what the family believes in.
Even if we aren’t told who we need to be like, we are told who we shouldn’t be like. This was more of the case in my life, at least externally. I consistently heard how this family member or that was stuck up or self-centered or whatever. I also heard how entitled my parents were to have everyone else do something for them.More
Learning to lean in and be the best you for you is a journey that has its ups and downs. With practice and persistence, you can be the best you.
I have a friend who has some deep and painful issues with her family that we’ve been talking about quite a bit lately and it reminded me of all of the work I’ve done over the years to overcome some similar familial challenges. I won’t tell you her story because it isn’t mine to share, but I thought I would go into some of my story and some of what I shared with her from my experiences.More
We are full force into the holiday season and that brings either tremendous joy or immense stress, or both, for each of us. Today, I want to focus on how extended family impacts us.
As a child, we always got up and went for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I do remember being able to open presents at home for Christmas, but we had to get moving and ready to hit the road. I don’t remember ever staying home for either of these holidays. As I got older and my parents divorced, holidays were split even more. I didn’t notice that I was bugged by not being home until I was an adult and lived in a different state from family and couldn’t afford to travel. I spent one Christmas by myself and it was so relaxing. It was refreshing.more
Life is a lot different today compared to just a couple of months ago. If there is anybody who can say that it isn’t, please tell them to share their story with me. I mean, how can it not be? Everyone went through the toilet paper rush and the lack of meat in stores and the boomerang advice of ‘wear the mask’, ‘no, don’t wear the mask’, ‘okay, yes wear the mask’. Others also went through trauma of one sort or another. Some are still in that trauma. For those who have or are still there, my prayers are with you. I don’t know how to help any other way right now.
We all used to have a life that we were living, sometimes without a concern of tomorrow. I used to travel for work frequently. I would go to friends homes or have double-date nights out or just go shopping. We have many expos and events that have been canceled this year. Absolutely every plan we had for this year has been canceled or rescheduled to next year. I haven’t traveled outside of Utah since early March. There have been zero double-date nights.
Life is different.
My husband now also works from home 100 percent of the time. His company is unwilling to open an office while cases are so high. They have no date in sight of when they will return to the office. We went from sharing an office to selling a guest bed so we could have our own offices. We have lunch together pretty much every day.
Life is different.
Is that a good thing or no?
In my life, my response is yes and no. No because I don’t get to travel and so many fucking people are dying or getting sick with last side effects that nobody knows how to cure, or if there is even a cure. Yes because we were forced to slow down and our society has been upended, hopefully paving the way for some better years.
Through all of the trauma and pain and change, we have a unique opportunity. We get to rebuild a new life. We get to design how we live our life as we come out of this pandemic. Do we know when exactly that will be? No. We don’t need to. We get this time to slow down and really take stock of what is important to us. Did you want to go back to school but couldn’t find the time? Did you want to start a garden? Yes, you did because all of you new gardeners took all of the supplies I normally buy. Did you want to pick up a new hobby or side gig? Did you want a new pet but didn’t have time to dedicate to training? Yeah, a lot of you have cleared out shelters. Thank you and be good to those pets.
For me, I don’t know how I will rebuild my life. What I do know is that I want to be more intentional on my health, my personal growth, my relationship, and my hobbies. I want to make more time for the house projects and the family (this includes friends) that are close enough to see. We need to be with them more often. I want to grow this website and our overlanding site as well.
I am going to build my life coming out of this pandemic intentionally.
How are you going to build your future? What are you changing? What are you keeping?
I am one who needs to recharge frequently. Whether it be simply from working five days a week or because I’ve been around a lot of people, I need time to get my mind right. Now, let me tell you what ‘getting my mind right’ really means for me.
It means a couple of things. First, for me it means releasing all of the thoughts and focus I’ve exerted. This usually comes after a week or few of work, or after a conference. I end up mentally exhausted and need time to clear my mind and do things that refresh me. Sometimes it is nothing but reading or watching TV. Sometimes it is mowing the lawn or reorganizing something, and boy have I been doing a lot of reorganizing lately. Sometimes I need to walk outside or be in nature.
The second thing ‘getting my mind right’ means for me is that I need to decompress from so many stimulants. When I’m around a lot of people for a any period of time, I get drained. Just traveling for work drains me, but the flights to and from are recharging for me. I know, that’s weird. If we have big groups of our local family and friends for a good day of barbecuing, I need time to recharge. Even our annual trip back to New Mexico for Christmas over-stimulates me and I need time to recharge. Those first few hours on the road back while Eddie is sleeping, yeah those are peaceful and wonderful. Even when driving in snow.
Why don’t I just avoid what over-stimulates me? Because I don’t want to. Life, for me, isn’t about avoiding what over-stimulates me. Life is about balance. Even though I might be over-stimulated, I still am most likely enjoying myself. I can be over-stimulated and happy at the same time. I can be over-stimulated and having a great fucking time. Being over-stimulated doesn’t always mean something isn’t good for you. Except drugs, those stimulants are always bad for you.
Needing to recharge is something that every person should balance with everyday life. Life comes at us fast and doesn’t always make sense (uh hello, we are living through a pandemic right now). Living life today means working, sometimes really long hours, taking care of not only ourselves, but also family members of all ages and pets, and possibly trying to enjoy some hobbies. Hobbies can be recharging. Work can be recharging. Family can be recharging. But for some, these can all be truly amazing things that just drain the energy from a person.
I am that person. I enjoy my work, spending time with family and friends, and all of my little hobbies. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes, and quite frequently, I need time to decompress and recharge. There is nothing wrong with needing to recharge. In fact, if you say you are taking care of yourself first but you don’t give yourself time to recharge, you truly are not taking care of yourself. You know, in my opinion. Recharging doesn’t have to be a week off of work. It doesn’t have to be leaving the kids behind for a weekend or more while you go off on some retreat. I mean, it could, but recharging doesn’t have to be some grand event.
Recharging looks different to everyone and for me, it looks different every week. Some weeks recharging is simply taking some time to walk the dogs after dinner each night. Sometimes it is reading some fiction fantasy book. Sometimes it is having the house to myself for hours or days at a time. My body and my soul usually tells me what I need. If I listen, I feel so much better. If I don’t listen, I get more and more overwhelmed and over-stimulated until I listen.
Recharging isn’t a bad thing. Being an empath and needing to recharge doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. You do you and take care of yourself first. I am.
I hate crowds. HATE crowds. In any situation. For many different reasons. Crowds stress me out and ruin my mood. It doesn’t matter if the crowd is the crowds at the mall, in the mountains, or large family gatherings. Crowds are not for me.
I used to think this was just a factor of being introverted. I believe, and I haven’t researched this, that many introverts are also empaths. I am both. I am an introvert and an am empath. I believe both prefer to avoid crowds.
Crowds drain me. It’s like they suck all of my energy out of me without me being able to control it. After being in or near crowds, I need to be alone. It makes life difficult around holidays or when camping in busy times. Going shopping, grocery or for “fun”, is difficult too. Hiking is miserable when other people are on the trail. Conferences are two-fold for me.
I cannot define how many people determines a crowd to me as it varies based on the day. Sometimes a crowd is as simple as just a few people hanging out. Most of the time, it is anything that most people would say is a small group. All of the time, it is mass quantities of people in one location.
No matter the occasion, as the volume of the group goes up, my energy and ability to function in the group goes down. I think that there is a part of this that has nothing to do with being an empath or being introverted. I can hear everything and I am always tuned in to everything going on around me. When there are a lot of conversations or a lot of people doing things, my senses and my brain absorb all of it. No matter how much I try, I cannot figure out how to shut this off. Hell, meditation in my nerd nook in my office can be difficult depending on the dogs moving around, people staying with us, or merely the sounds coming from the windows at 5:30 am.
When I know I’m going to be around large crowds, or crowds in general, I’ve learned to try to plan time to desensitize and recharge. I haven’t mastered it around holidays when we are visiting family because I am also contending with my need to make sure I’m not being too rude by taking time to be by myself, but I do plan around the trip. I have learned that for almost any vacation, I need to take time to recharge once we get home before jumping back into work. I always plan BBQs on Friday or Saturday, or on Sunday when it is a holiday three-day weekend. I used to do this to make sure I had a recovery day from drinking, but now I continue so I can recharge after having people over.
Don’t get me wrong, I love our family and friends. I love hosting for people to come over. I love seeing our nieces and nephews. But I also get physically and emotionally drained by it. The key for me, whether I’m an empath or an introvert, or just me, is to plan around crowds. If I plan for time to recharge after being around a crowd of any size, then I can handle crowds more often. If I don’t plan, my over-stimulation takes over and my emotions and reactions become a damn mess. Just another reason I plan pretty much everything about my life.
Part of who I am yearns for closeness and feeling love from others. But the rest of me yearns for solitude. It is a difficult balance that I used to ignore by drinking alcohol to be more social. Alcohol released my feeling of overwhelm or nervousness when around others, especially large groups. I used to think I was weird or had something wrong with me. I mean, there are lots of things wrong with me, but this isn’t one of them.
As I continue to grow as a person, and as I continue to research and learn more about who I am and the emotional and psychological dimensions impacting my life, I have discovered that I am easily overstimulated. Once I discovered this, I had a direction in how to adjust my life so I can recover from over-stimulation a lot easier than relying on alcohol to relax me.
One of the effects of being an empath is that we get overwhelmed and overstimulated by too much physical contact or too much time spent with others. Those who aren’t empaths and may be extroverts don’t understand this at all. They take offense to us needing to distance ourselves and take me time. My husband is one of those extroverts. He lives to have a lot of people around him and thrives off of the energy of other people and large crowds. I thrive off of alone time and no contact with other people. We are very different and once I stopped drinking and these needs became more prominent, it was a bit of a shock. We had to learn to function together with our different personalities while also learning to honor each other’s needs.
This quarantine and social distancing has affected both of us very differently. In the early months, he was driving me absolutely crazy. We were following the stay-at-home orders very closely and weren’t seeing local friends or family. Eddie has been working from home consistently and had no human contact other than me. I was losing my mind. I got to the point that I told him he needed to go to someone else’s house so he can get his energy out with other people. Since he didn’t have any interaction with other people outside of Zoom calls for work, he was driving me insane. Eddie is a fun guy who likes to pester and annoy me. It’s all loving, but I had hit my capacity for handling it. We had no time away from each other, even with him now having an office in a basement room.
As for me, well I’ve been generally perfectly fine staying home and not seeing people. I struggled when we had a friend here for about a month and then my mother-in-law right after, but it wasn’t anything to do with them. My struggle was primarily around having too many people around me. I didn’t feel as though I had any separation from people. As long as this quarantine/stay-at-home/social distancing continues and as long as I can get Eddie out of the house and in contact with other people who are staying home too, I could stay home forever. Yes, I want to travel, but without other people around.
I foresee that once life starts getting back to normal and we are able to be around larger groups, I’m going to have to slowly re-integrate myself into groups. I’m going to have to be more prepared and plan for giving myself the time and space I need to recharge. I’m going to have to be able to identify my reactions that indicate I am overstimulated. I’m going to have to relearn how to stand up for myself and my need for space and quiet. It won’t be easy, but to preserve my sanity, it will be worth it.