brave, family, feelings, gratitude, holidays, John O'Donohue, plans, running, social media

Caught Off Guard (Again)

The last few days I’ve felt off. There’s this feeling I get when I’m anxious, worried, stressed. I can feel it in my head – a headache, sort of. Everything feels slightly out of place. I’m jittery. I need to focus but I can’t focus on anything. I’m antsy.

Sometimes when I feel this way it’s an indication that my hormones are changing. However, I knew that wasn’t the case this time.

Finally, after recalling some conversations I’ve had recently and after a quick text to my brother, I was able to pinpoint the cause of these feelings. And, there wasn’t much I could do about it. They aren’t problems to be solved overnight. They can’t just be fixed. However, just being able to identify the sources was a really good start.

Although I’ve probably always done this, when I feel anxious, stressed and/or worried, I have a strong need to control things. I know there are certain things I can’t control – those things that cause me the uncomfortable feelings – so instead I grab onto things I can control and go to town. A few days ago it was getting a timeline for our new floors. Yesterday it was planning out my week. Today it was figuring out my mom’s storm door. Seriously, all morning I was obsessing over her storm door!

None of these attempts at control eased my anxiety, worry or stress. In fact, I think they made it worse.

On my way home from work I had a very strong desire to get out a run. So, after taking Denali on a short walk, I hit the road. I ran. I didn’t listen to music or a podcast. I just ran. And, I ran during a time of day that in the past I would have avoided at all costs. It was 79 degrees and I still decided to run. Not only did I run, but I ran fast. The first two miles I hit it hard and the longer I ran, the better I felt. Well, not really. I was hot and thirsty and out of breath, but I was in control of that run. I could decide when to slow down or where to turn or how much longer to go. I had the power in that run and it felt so good.

I can’t control difficult people. I can’t control cultural norms or upcoming holidays. But, I can control a run. And I needed that to ease my anxiety, worry and stress today.

When I was texting with my brother, I suggested that maybe some of my feelings have to do with Mother’s Day coming up. He replied that he assumed that was part of it. He was aware of what might be going on with me before I was. I remember last year several people texting me the week before Mother’s Day expressing concern and love. Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about it… until it was too late to prepare. I find myself caught off guard again this year. But, I’ve got time to prepare and I have a plan. I do love my plans!

First, I’m staying off of social media this weekend. It’s not helpful. And since I have a choice, I’m not engaging in it.

Second, I’m not going to church on Sunday. Sometimes churches acknowledge non-traditional mothers – those who are “like mothers” to us, which is nice. But, the corsages and all the hoopla are not in the cards for me.

Third, I’m going to do things I enjoy – hike, quilt, visit my in-laws, read in the hammock, spend time with Brad, go on a walk with Denali. Okay, I may not get all of that in, but at least I have options!

Finally, I’m going to spend the day thinking about my mom, my grandmas, and all the other women in my life who have been mothers to me. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by so many role models who have helped me become the person I am today. I have much to be thankful for.

The more self-aware I become, the more I’m able to identify my feelings, the sources of those feelings and healthy ways of alleviating the build up of those feelings. And, most importantly, I am aware enough to know that I am not those feelings. They come and they will go, but they are not me. I am not anxious – I feel anxious. I am not worried – I feel worried. I am not stressed – I feel stressed. Subtle, but drastically different.

A three-mile run on a hot afternoon wore me out. I’m ready to go to bed. I don’t know what feelings I’ll wake up to tomorrow, but I feel a little bit stronger than I was this morning. I am more aware of what I need and how to get those needs met. When I truly pay attention to what’s going on in my heart, mind and body, it’s amazing what new things I can learn about myself everyday. The learning never ends. The growing never ends. And, I suspect being caught off guard never ends either.



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