Life Changing Thoughts

For the last couple of weeks I have been trying to write a post on therapy and how that is going. It’s hard though, really hard. Talking about my physical fitness adventures is a lot more fun! It also seems a lot less private. But let’s give it a go again and see if I can get one out of the draft box and into the published space, shall we?

Bravery

I’m going to start with a revelation I had while biking. That might be easier – I like writing about biking! I wrote about taking my bike up to the cottage a couple of weekend ago. While riding, I figured out something very important. It’s completely changed how I look at my life.

Spotted on the rail trail. (Yes, that's a pun!)

Spotted on the rail trail. (Yes, that’s a pun!)

A Little Background:

The week before I went to the cottage I had read a blog post by a woman who competes in triathlons. She was struggling with the bike portion – she wasn’t enjoying riding with certain groups, but at the same time, said she was afraid to ride alone. We’re talking about serious racing and long distances, not just little neighborhood jaunts or rides in the park like I do. I empathized with her dilemma.

Fast forward to the weekend at the cottage:

I’m tooling around on my one speed cruiser and meandered my way to the ice cream parlor. I thought it was going to be a fairly decent ride, but had grossly underestimated the distance. It took me… eight minutes. I had my ice cream, but the plan had been to take a nice long ride and then get ice cream. I felt a little cheated, and not quite ready to pedal home, so instead I went over to the nearby rail trail. It was nice. It was gorgeous going through the woods, wildflowers were in bloom everywhere. At first, I saw other people pretty regularly, but the further I got, the fewer I saw. Then I heard it –

The unmistakeable sound of a gun being fired.

This rail trail goes through some pretty rural country. You are on the backsides of farms and pretty rustic homes. A gun going off isn’t really that surprising. There are hunting ranges nearby and undoubtably a fair amount of target practice going on. I was dressed brightly and I was mostly sure that no one would fire a gun towards the trail, but still, it gave me pause. If I got into a jam, there is really no one I can call. It’s not like I can call my dog and have him come pick me up, (he’s a terrible driver and I don’t let him have a cell phone.) I have the phone number of one neighbor by the cottage, but how could she even get to me? I was pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Let’s put aside the shot for a moment, what happened if I got a flat tire or hit a root and fell off my bike? What do I do?

And that is when I remembered the blog about why the triathlete doesn’t like riding alone. I thought about it as I rode. I didn’t feel particularly scared, just a little cautious, and suddenly this thought floated across my brain….

You are brave.

This is something I have been struggling with. If you have been following this blog at all you know that I am really excited about all this fitness stuff that I’ve been doing, and one of the great things about it is that it makes me feel brave. I do things now that I never would have done a few years ago. Part of the reason this has been so important to me is because I haven’t been feeling very brave. But in that moment, with that one thought, everything changed.

I thought about it all the way back to my cabin, and then was so caught up in the idea that grabbed an old notebook and went to sit on the picnic table to write and think about it some more. There are a couple of big things that happened in the last 15 years or so that really kicked the snot out of my concept of bravery. They’ve stuck with me and made me feel out of control and sad, but as I sat writing at the picnic table that night, brave things started popping up. There are things I’ve done that are brave. 

  • I flew cross the country to meet my father’s long lost cousins, on my own, barely knowing anyone. I had met one of the cousins once, for about an hour, but when she invited me to come out and stay a week with her and her family, I just got up and went.
  • I own my house (which is a rental unit, so I am a landlord,) and my cabin. I take care of both these somewhat complicated properties on my own.
  • I got married.
  • I got divorced. (Both were acts of bravery.)
  • I regularly give seminars in front of large groups of people. I fly all over the country, by myself, to teach.
  • I stepped out of the familiar and decided to lose weight for the first time ever.
  • I started lifting weights.
  • and so on…

As I wrote, more and more acts of bravery started pouring out of my head. Even things I had earlier classified as decisions made on fear, I was able to turn around and see the brave acts within them. It completely changed my perspective on my life – in particular those parts that hurt.

I also realized that I have been struggling to regain my sense of bravery, and that a lot of my work over the last year has been trying to get back into my old groove – to feel like myself again. These rail trail bike thoughts helped enormously. I’ve got some decisions to make coming up, and it is hard to choose the right path when you are hamstrung with anxiety. Recovering my sense of strength is a step on the right path.

Flooded Heart trail

Thoughts on Therapy

I saw a little guy like this in my garden the other day. It is sheer joy to watch them.

I saw a little guy like this in my garden the other day. It is sheer joy to watch them.

Therapy… I want to write about it, but I am not sure what to say. Let’s start with some basics. It took me a few calls and a fair amount of time on my insurance company’s website to find someone. I’m delighted that my insurance covered it. The last time I saw a therapist, (during my divorce,) they didn’t, and I had to pay out of pocket. It’s pretty pricey that way, worth it, but pricey.

That first time I saw a therapist, the center was in an old converted Victorian home. The waiting room was the former dining room and it still had the chandelier and an oak dining table. My therapist’s office was in the den. It had bookshelves, a fireplace, heavy, thick furniture and hunting pictures on the walls. Her big wooden desk was in a bay window that overlooked a cherry tree. In short, it was exactly what movies lead you to think a therapist’s office should look like.

This time it’s a little different. This facility feels much more like a doctor’s office, and for good reason – they offer a lot more than counseling. They do occupational and physical therapy, sleep studies, neurological testing… all sorts of things. So, their waiting room is just like any doctor’s office waiting room. Perhaps it is a little more modern, but it’s your basic “chairs and magazines” set up.

My therapist is a woman. I like her well enough. We’ve met twice now. The first time, her office was in a doctor’s exam room, except that instead of a table she had chairs. The second time she had moved offices. Now she has a suite with a big window, actual art on the walls and comfortable seating. It turns out that the first office was temporary while the other was undergoing renovations.

Does it matter? To me, yes. I’ve mentioned many times that I do freelance work. That work is in theatre. And to me, set decoration, props… they all matter. If I am seeing a therapist, I want it to feel like I am seeing a therapist, not like I am getting a physical! (I was effusive in complimenting her on her new location.)

I feel like we have gotten a good start. We talked about what I’ve been feeling and she asked some good questions. She’s given me some techniques to try when I’m feeling anxious and some things to think about.

What I am dealing with is – I feel walled in. Normally, I’m a fiercely independent and confident woman, but I feel like circumstances have got me in a rut. I think that is what is causing anxiety. The hard part is that I know the steps to take to get out of the rut, (or at least some of them) but I can’t seem to find it in myself to take them. I’m hoping she’ll help me figure out what’s holding me back.

Here’s the thing about therapy – it doesn’t “fix” you. How I think about it is this: Anxiety feels like a giant pile of rocks sitting on my chest. Therapy does not remove any of those rocks, but it does loosen them a little. And a huge pile of slightly loose rocks is a lot more manageable than a giant pile of rocks cemented together. If even one rock loosens, it feels like there is hope. There is a solution somewhere. As long as the cement holds though, it’s almost impossible to imagine change. I don’t expect my therapist to have all the answers. What I hope is that she’ll poke at a few of the “absolutes” and turn the impossibles into merely “really difficult.” Really difficult I can handle.

 

Photo credit: Kevin Cole via flickr

Asking for Help

Iblue stars really liked this article on GoKaleo about weight loss and self compassion: Self-compassion: an Excuse to be Fat? No. It fits in with some things I’ve been thinking about myself. I’ve mentioned a few times over the past couple of months that I’ve been under some stress. After a gentle nudge from my boyfriend, I think it is time to do something about it. I set up an appointment with my doctor. I am hoping to get a referral to a therapist so I can work some of this stuff out.

I’m a pretty introspective gal. I’m not afraid of the long look inward, but sometimes it is good to have a guide. I was in therapy once before and it was incredibly helpful. I am good at asking myself tough questions, but the beauty of a great therapist is that they ask the questions you never think to ask. They challenge your beliefs, sometimes in ways that seem so obvious (in retrospect) that it is annoying, but usually really helpful.

I’m feeling a bit stuck in my life, like certain parts are in a rut. I know what I have to do to change those parts… and yet I don’t do them. Something is holding me back. I feel weighted down, and this weight is keeping me from moving forward. (Or moving forward at a glacial pace.) It’s causing anxiety and frustration.

I’ve been trying to get back to my healthy eating and exercising, and that does really help. As I type this, I am munching on a simple salad made from organic lettuce and greens plucked straight from my garden. I spritzed on some lemon juice and it takes like summer. These simple pleasures feed my heart, belly and soul. Lifting weights (hit a new personal record last week!) gives me added confidence and assurance. I’m not running off the rails, I just need a hand with my map.

I’ll let you know how it goes.