Ready Or Not

Life is funny sometimes. The last few years have been major ups and downs, an emotional roller coaster, and full of very hard life changing events. I kept saying “Something good has to be coming” or “I need something good to happen for a while so I can offset the bad”. I had no idea what I was even asking for. I would have missed it because I wasn’t ready to see. I wouldn’t have recognized it if it was staring me right in the face.

So here we are. I’ve put in my dues, I’ve struggled through some hard times, and I have figured out exactly what I want. And as soon as I realized that, it seems that it’s been waiting for me this whole time. Waiting for me to be ready. Waiting for me to see. I have worked for years with my therapist to be able to see the world this way. What was I missing? I needed to hit ‘rock bottom’, as it were. I needed to follow through. I couldn’t truly move onto the next phase of my life until the previous one was closed.

goodthingsThe last 6 months I have been on a self-discovery journey. I have learned what I wanted in my life, where I want to go, and the type of person I want to be. I have been focusing on how to live my life the way I want to, without letting other people influence me one way or another. I’m totally happy to be me and love myself for who I am. But, I would also be ok to share my successes, failures, feelings, and experiences with someone who truly supports me and helps me become a better person. Someone who will realize I’m going to do my thing and who can welcome all I have to offer. I won’t change who I am for anyone. I’ve done it before, and I was lost. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I gave away pieces of my soul until there was literally nothing left and I didn’t know who I was anymore. Let’s be honest, I didn’t think this person existed. So, it’s not like I gave up, but I was skeptical that this was something that I could find. If that person came along, great. If not, great. I can’t love anyone else truly until I love myself that way.

Seems I stumbled upon that person a few months ago.. At a party in a PUB on New Years, it just so happens. A few drinks, and one ballsy move on my part led me down this new rabbit hole. Something happened to me that night. I had a realization that I was waiting for something in my life. I didn’t realize what it was at the time, and I was confused. I had to let go for a bit to figure out what I needed. I needed to close a previous chapter, I couldn’t truly move on until that was finished. There was no way I would have been able to say with full certainty this is what I wanted and commit if I didn’t take that time. Every day, he exceeds my expectations. Something incredible is starting, and it’s just the beginning. He is in a very similar place in his life, and he really understands everything I’m going through. He never feels like I’m too much or not enough. He sees me for just me. He WANTS me to be just me. I realized I’ve never had this, and now I’m never going back. How was I not ready for this before? I guess I had to go through some shit first. I’m terrified of finding someone who is as intense in everything as me, but I’m also so excited to see where this adventure goes. I’m all about doing things that scare me, and this is a big one. If you don’t, what’s it all for?

My housing situation has been in the gutter since I decided to sell. My temporary place was only supposed to be for a few days to a few weeks. Turns out, it’s was more like a few months. Finding the right place seemed impossible. It seemed like I would find it, but it would be under contract even before we set up a showing, or I wouldn’t like it, but it was perfect for the business, or the business wouldn’t work there, but I loved it. It was always something. Starting to get discouraged, and looking at dozens of houses not finding anything, I started to have thoughts of giving up my dream. It had been one loss after another, but I kept going. Even though I didn’t have the energy, I kept going and looking because I don’t know how to quit. I don’t know how to actually stop trying and throw in the towel until there is literally nothing left to save. My patience and mental fortitude paid off. I’m under contract. It could still fall through, but now it would have to be because of something on the inspection. I’m allowing myself to get excited, but not get ahead of myself until the inspection is complete (which will be next week). Things are falling into place, and I’m ready!

Finding myself has been one of the most important things I have ever done. At the end of the day, at the end of your life, how will you feel about your imprint on history? What do you want from your life? I want to feel like I’ve helped people. That I’ve made a difference and people will remember me for what I’ve done. I want to share this with someone who is as intensely passionate about their own work as me. Finally…”The good is coming”.fear

Love Yourself

“If I loved myself truly and deeply, would I let myself experience this?”

“If you’ve had a thought once, it has no power over you. Repeat it again and again, especially with emotional intensity, feeling it, and over time, you’re creating a groove, a mental river. Then it controls you.”

“The goal here is to create a groove deeper than the ones laid down over the years – the ones that create disempowering feelings.”

These are all quotes from Kamal Ravidant, “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It”

painPeople who are going through a trauma, or a change, or trying to self improve know who they want to be, but usually they don’t know HOW to do it. How do I be better? Willpower. That’s how. Set goals. Stick to them. Oh, ok. Well, that’s easy…not.

Any action you do can either move you towards or away from your goals. Does this decision help me? How? I used to have self destructive patterns where I would fall into depressive emotional loops for days at a time. How did I stop? I literally refused to do it again. I refused to shut down and give up. Right, but how?

Find a thought. A goal. And stick it in your head. And repeat it. Over and over again. Every time you start down that path, say it out loud. Again and again, even if you don’t believe it. That’s what Kamal did in his book and that’s what I did. I refuse to let stress take over and send me back into those depressive, destructive ways. Those thoughts don’t have a place in my head anymore. Literally, I push them out. Ok, BUT HOW?! Willpower. I focused on that one thought. I made a deep, powerful vow to myself, just like Kamal did. One really late night, I just realized what I needed to do. It just came to me.

My thought was: “I am in control of my own state of mind. I will not let anyone or anything control how I feel or how I act. I am in control of my own life.”

I said this to myself a few times, and then I believed it. My brain works fast; it heals fast, it thinks fast, it works fast. It was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders immediately when I started to believe this. I felt free. Peaceful. What is, is. What will be, will be. I don’t control anything besides myself. I let everything else go. Just like that. For the first time in my life, not having any control doesn’t give me anxiety or fear. It just is. I just control my own feelings and my own actions. Nothing else in the world is as important as this. It is empowering to have this feeling, but not in a powerful “I can do anything” way. But more in a tranquil, carefree, zen-like way. I observe others without judgment, I listen without wanting to add my own stories, I enjoy each moment without worrying about what is going to happen or what others think. I just be, and I feel like my soul is a silent lake. No fish under the surface, no ripples, totally still without any interruption. I appreciate the little things more, and see how absolutely amazing the world is and how beautiful every person is.

“Memory is not set in stone. The more you remember something, especially if it’s emotionally charged, the more you will reinforce the pathways connecting the neurons.”

This also goes into something I have learned from years of therapy. Let yourself feel it. The emotions that are brought up in a memory shouldn’t be fought. Let yourself feel those emotions, and then let them go. Cry, be angry, be sad, scream, feel the anxiety, and let it pass. Don’t fight it, just let it go and move on. Take the time, every time (dog training reference). Take the time to understand the feelings, process them, and then ACTUALLY let them go. This is how we grow. Don’t fight or hide them. Fear and fighting always make it worse. Face it, and overcome the emotional block. Think about the emotions, the blocks, the challenge or whatever it is that is handicapping you, and ask yourself if it is real. Most of the time, it is our mind making it into something much bigger than it is. Let yourself take a step back and see the problem, then make a decision. Don’t get caught up in the ‘I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what’s going to happen’ trap. Make a decision and move forward, or you will be in the same destructive pattern, and you won’t ever let go or process. Things don’t ‘just happen’ or ‘work out’, that’s not how the world works. When the mind is left to itself (dog training reference again), it repeats the same stories, memories and thoughts. Most of the time, these don’t serve us and get us stuck in yet another loop. Get out of the loop. The only way to get out is to fully commit with as much intensity as you can to your truth. Or your vow. Or whatever it is.

Easier said than done, but if you really want to change, you can do this. Set your goal, repeat it. Believe it. It worked for me, and I love myself. I love my life, and I love the world I live in. Because I choose to.

Learning to Be

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Meditative pack walk

I forgot who I am. My friends used to describe me with things like: fun loving, care free, wild child, tough as nails, hilarious as hell, and I absolutely did not give a shit. All that mattered was that moment. “No filter Heather”. I said whatever was on my mind all the time. Yeah, this gets me into trouble sometimes, and I have gotten better, but that’s part of what makes me ME. I started to doubt myself and what I was capable of. I forgot how far I have come in my accomplishments. I started to hate who I was. What happened to me psychologically? I’ll tell you.

My independence was stripped from me. This happens to everyone at some point, I think. For one reason or another. For me, it was an injury. I gave up who I was and became irritable all the time, disappointed in myself, and insecure. I lost a giant piece of who I was. I didn’t realize this until I had a very therapeutic hike up Stewart Falls. My injury controlled me. I was very bitter about things other people could do and I couldn’t. I tried to stay silent for a long time, but eventually it came out. I was resentful and hurtful and wasn’t being supportive. When I hiked up all the way to the top and back, it was like I was leaving all those negative feelings on the mountain. I came back and felt refreshed and more like myself than I have in a very long time. I did it, even though I was kind of nervous. I felt like I could get really hurt, I would over do it, I would fall and seriously mess it up again. I was careful and I took my time. I have a bad habit of rushing when I get anxiety, and I worked through it and practiced slowing down. It’s advice I constantly give my clients. “Wherever you are struggling with your dog, just slow it down into smaller steps.” So I took my own advice and slowed it down. I thought it through. Impulse control. Mental filtering. Things I have been teaching time and time again, and yet here I am. Doing the same thing all my clients are doing, yet I’m applying it to a different area of my life.

Heather-stewart-falls-personal-growth

At the top of Stewart Falls

I went on another walk this week. One of my mentors would call it a ‘meditative pack walk’ because I wasn’t so concerned about corrections, or teaching. I was focusing on my energy, and learning to just be. I focused on my energy. Noticing things, and walking, but not really going anywhere or letting thoughts linger. I just let them pass through my thoughts without dwelling, worrying, stressing or holding on. I thought about a lot of things. But I focused on letting them go and just being. This is something I’m always trying to become better at. When I was at Cesar’s last year, I practiced this being in his DPC. I didn’t really understand the concept, and thought ‘I’ll try it later’. That’s exactly what I shouldn’t have done-there is always time to stop and think and be still. I was rushing, even then.

I’m learning to be. Again. I’m learning what I want, what I need, and figuring out who I am again. I have grown so much, and I’m so much more balanced, but there is always room to improve. I will never be perfect. I will never be the best. And I will never stop growing.

I am a strong person, but I lost sight of myself. I want to be the fun loving, bad ass, tough as nails Heather again. That’s who I am. But now, I’ll be stronger, better, and I’ll have learned from this. What we learn from our mistakes is what makes us who we are. This is what turns us into the people we are today. No regrets? Yeah right, we all have regrets. We all have our skeletons. But we have to get up, forgive ourselves, dust ourselves off, and hold our heads high after we make mistakes. Even the big ones, we have to get up at some point. Self love is an important part of life. We have to forgive ourselves and move on. I’ll never be complete, I’ll be a project for my entire life. I’m ok with that. I want to enjoy the journey a little more and stop worrying about the destination. THIS is who I am. Rushing to the finish line was a symptom of a bigger problem, an underlying issue that was hidden. Well, I found it and now I can treat it.

long-road

Where the Heart Is

I have been working on this post for a few days now, and I was hesitant to post it. But this is a safe place for me, and I can be vulnerable. Don’t like it, don’t read it.

I am currently reading and studying a book called ‘Captivating’ by John and Stasi Eldredge. It is about understanding a woman’s needs, wants, and hormones. It is confusing being a woman sometimes, and it is incredibly frustrating. So many women suffer from the same thing. We have needs and wants, but we feel ashamed to voice them. Have you ever felt like you aren’t good enough, but too much at the same time? I do every single day. This book is part of my rehabilitation program and so I have started reading it.

A quote from the book that really spoke to me that made me think deep about myself… “How can a woman be confident, scandalous, and beautiful, yet not portray herself as a feminist Nazi or an insecure I-need-attention emotional whore? How can I become strong without becoming harsh? How can I be vulnerable without drowning myself in my sorrow?” That is the question, isn’t it?

The expectations that society has on women is ridiculous. We are never good enough, but we are too much at the same time. This doesn’t immediately make sense, but think about it. I’m not understanding enough, not kind enough, not fit enough, not pretty enough, not stable enough. But then.. I’m too sensitive, too needy, too emotional, too selfish. I feel this way on a daily basis. The result of this thinking… shame about ourselves. We’ll never measure up. I want to be perfect, and I’m far from it. And I feel it every day. I didn’t realize until I actually sat and thought about how I view myself. I’m ashamed. I should be better. I should be “X”. If I was a better woman, this wouldn’t have happened. If I wasn’t so sensitive, if I looked like her, if I wasn’t so busy, if I … blah blah blah…

I will never be good enough. To who? Why does it matter what ANYONE else thinks? Why have I given someone else so much control? I want to be good enough for me. And part of the process is figuring out what I want in my life. This a huge question. But also, not only what I want, but who I am. Who am I? Ok, I’m a daughter, sister, friend, dog trainer, etc. But those are all titles. Who am I at my core? I’m on my journey to figure that out.

strongwoman I’m opening up and saying some of the things I want. I want to be precious to someone. I want to be romanced and chased. I want to be sought after. Noticed and seen, wanted. I want to be important. To be a priority. To be fought for. To matter. To be enough. To be loved unconditionally through all my imperfections and flaws. To be beautiful. To have someone who would give me the world if I asked for it. I want to be seen for me and have someone think “Wow, she’s amazing.” Because I am! I have worked hard to be where I am, and the things worth anything require work and dedication and commitment. This isn’t me saying I need someone to give me everything or I won’t be happy. I am very independent and don’t need anyone. But I long for it. And it’s even more crushing when you thought you had all that and it was ripped away from you.

But ordinary people don’t have this. This is for heroines, damsels in distress, and queens in storybooks. We don’t get our fairy tale happily ever after ending. I want this, just like every other woman. I am embarrassed to write this, but this is part of my recovery. Why do I feel ashamed to want these things?  Why does it make me feel foolish or stupid? Because the idea of this has been abused and shamed in society. Either women need to be more submissive and focus on the home life, or they need to be less sensitive and buck up. Women of all kinds of backgrounds and personalities struggle with this concept. They aren’t enough, or they are too much. They have lost a sense of what it means to be a woman, and what it means to know who you are.

Beauty has been distorted and is no longer pure in the world. Society has changed the way we view ourselves, and made our expectations unmeetable. We watch TV, see things online, see things in magazines that have been altered or changed. It damages our self esteem and how we see ourselves. THAT, what we see, is how we are supposed to look and act, right? I mean, that’s what everybody wants – THAT. Not us. Not me. Not the ordinary girl with an ordinary job with an ordinary life. So how can any of us ever be happy with knowing that? We aren’t good enough, we can’t be that, so why do we try at all?

As said in the book, the deep desire to understand the heart of a woman and to express these desires causes much pain and suffering if those needs are thrown back in our faces or ignored. I know I want to put this damaged heart into a box and never open it for anyone. I hate I want any of these things. But then again, part of my recovery and rehabilitation is to learn how to express what I want and figure out who I am at the core. So, I’m accepting I may sound foolish and stupid. And I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. Which is why I started my blog in the first place. To share, to help, to understand, and to educate.

Anyone interested in this book can buy it on Amazon for pretty cheap. I’m taking my time with it, and this was just the first chapter. All these thoughts came from reading it and I’m also doing the workbook. There is one for men as well called “Wild At Heart” (which women-it’s good to read this one too and understand the heart of a man as well. That’s next after this book for me).

Backstory

A story about my life, and the struggles I am currently facing. It’s difficult because my life would be out there for everyone to see. But… maybe it will help people who also struggle with depression and/or have gone through a personal trauma.

Now, about me. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the end of 2010. At the time,
there were quite a few traumatic events that took place leading up to a nervous breakdown, and eventually ended up with me at the therapist…because I tried to kill myself. Since then, I have realized I have always been depressed, though unable to accurately describe how I was feeling. I felt I had no reason to feel that way, and felt guilty because I was unhappy and sad when I should have been feeling happy and grateful for my life.

Since then, I have been medicated, gone through talk therapy, done self-improvement
programs, and discussed feelings. Some of it was effective, but when I was drugged, I was
numb. Instead of feeling sad and worthless, I felt nothing. I welcomed the lack of
feelings for a while, but then I felt like an empty shell of a person, just being a zombie
– going through the motions, but not really feeling anything.

In March of 2011, my husband and I adopted a gorgeous yellow lab, who is now a member of our family. He has helped me so much, and I can talk to him without feeling judged, lost, or walk like I’m on eggshells.
People don’t understand. When I open up and actually tell someone how I feel, they get
defensive or say ‘Don’t feel like that’, ‘Don’t talk like that’, ‘You know I love you’, or
‘You have friends you can talk to. Just talk it out.’. Yeah, well – because I haven’t
tried those before, right? Well, my dog doesn’t tell me those things. He just rests his
big head on my lap and licks my hand. In my world, he’s telling me that he understands and wants
me to know he’s there for me. With no words. He understands, and with just one look at me,
takes some of the pain away. He has become a crutch, and I depend on him to be there for me when I get home.

Napoleon

We thought about training him as a therapy dog. But his personality isn’t the right fit.
That’s alright, he’s still my crutch at home. I just can’t take him with me on trips or to
work or the grocery store. I just have to hold on until I get home and I’m with him again.

I love my husband, and I have talked to him about all my feelings. But again, there’s a
difference between a dog and a human. It’s not that I love him less, it’s that it’s
different. He tries to be supportive, but doesn’t understand how painful it is to be alive sometimes. When I try to tell him that, he gets upset. He doesn’t understand. We have been working through it, and he is trying to learn more about depression. He wants to try therapy again. Last time, my therapist wanted to talk about my childhood. I don’t want to
talk about it. There are a few reasons for that, which I won’t get into. Not yet.

This blog is about handling my depression and how I have/will overcome challenges. Right
now, I am in the process of opening up my dog training business. It has always been my
passion, and I am finally doing it. I am a ‘baby’ in this field, but I want to learn
everything there is to know, and become great in every aspect. I want to handle any
problem, any dog, and have any discussion (this includes the incredibly difficult
discussion of euthanasia). I want to be great, not just an average trainer.

Some of the challenges my husband and I have faced over last year have been trying on our marriage, on my career, and on my sanity. And I don’t exaggerate when I say ‘sanity’. We bought a new house in 2010 and had massive flooding problems. In 2012, we believed we had completely fixed the problem since we didn’t have problems for over a year. We struggled for 2 years to fix the problem, and rebuild 1/2 our home. Finally, we rebuilt and laid down new carpet. We refurnished our home – almost every piece of furniture in our house was bought new. We were finally done. This constant stress point put my stress levels and ability to deal with anything else at an ultimate high. For the last two years, this chapter of my life has been a constant struggle and pain point. Above that, we dealt with death, broken promises to each other, and loss of work.

This blog is going to be personal, challenging, and a journey for me. I hope that in writing this blog, I won’t be judged or seen any differently. For those of you who already know me, some of what I post will be a shock. I’m putting it out there, I’m not hiding anymore.