I consider myself a positive person. I was born blessed with a sunny disposition and a cheery outlook on life. I also consider myself a realist, but you can count on me to find the silver lining, see the glass half full, and put a positive spin on any situation. However, these last couple weeks had been very trying for me and the reserves I’ve had of ‘saving happy for a rainy day’, were starting to run low.
Along with being a naturally optimistic person, I am also (like most people) a person of habit. I’m highly functioning and having my routine makes me feel comforted and in control. By no means am I saying I’m a rigid, OCD, control freak. I’m just saying I like having a plan and crossing things off lists. Having a loose schedule helps me feel grounded.
Over the Christmas holiday my sweetie and I decided to get off the grid and take a road trip. We turned our phones on airplane mode and vowed to stay present and in the moment. We had a general idea of a direction to go (south) but for the most part we drove until we found something cool, slept when we were tired, and ate when we were hungry. It was a great way to experience letting go of “the plan” and enjoying life on life terms. It was so refreshing to not have to worry about answering to anyone or returning phone calls. We left the dogs at home, so it was even nice no having to worry about making sure they got walked. We were adventurers to the fullest extent.
Living free spirited like this lasted for 3 beautiful days. A few years ago a good friend taught me her camping practice- on these getaways, turn off your phone, but turn it on for 10 minutes every day just to see if there is something super pressing that needs to be taken care of and cannot wait until you get back. I’m glad I took that advice. On the fourth day, December 26, we were driving through Death Valley and pulled over to enjoy the scenery at the Furnace Creek Inn. I finally had Wi-Fi so I turned on my phone. I had a barrage of voicemails, texts, instant messages all with the same message, my dad had unexpectedly passed away and the funeral was in 3 days. The road trip that we had been looking forward to and planning for months was now cut short so that I could get back to Reno and back to Illinois. It was a hard lesson in giving up control and accepting situations as they come, but I was disappointed. I now had to go back a “reality” of checking my phone on time so I get a good section on the plane and getting to the airport with enough time to get through security.
Funerals are weird. You see tons of friends and family that you maybe haven’t seen in years and you want to catch up with them, but at the same time you are there because you’re mourning the same loved one and it seems unsympathetic to talk about anything other than the deceased. Funerals are exhausting too. I show emotion, but I’m much more comfortable and used to showing “happy” emotion and I felt me judging myself from time to time on if I was grieving enough or the right way. I felt like I had to be strong for those around me and honestly I felt a little bitter about my dad’s death. I stayed in Illinois for 5 days to hang out with my mom and sister and came back to Reno feeling drained. It was hard holding space for others without having anyone to hold space for me. I had been telling the Universe that I wanted to get out of Reno a little bit, get a change of scenery, but this hadn’t been exactly what I had in mind. I had accepted that my Christmas break hadn’t gone exactly how I expected and needless to say, so I was ready to get back to my normal schedule and my little routine.
The Universe wasn’t done yet though. In the 2 weeks coming back to work I think we had 5 snow days and 3 delayed starts. Some of those were even delayed starts that turned into snow days! I absolutely loved them because I was able to catch up on my own projects, like studying for my personal trainer exam, creating a vision board, journal, make some new yoga classes, etc. I had a lot of fun things to keep me busy and it should have been super enjoyable, except for the little voice in the back of my head that kept annoyingly nagging at me saying, ‘you’re not supposed to be at home right now. Christmas break is done, you’re supposed to be at work. This wasn’t the plan.’ Leave it to me to find a way to stress myself out about schedules on a surprise vacation. I think it was the uncertainty of not knowing what the next day was going to be was stressing me out. Funny how on a road trip, not knowing what the next day holds is exciting, but back in reality, not knowing if I’ll be working the next day gave me was stressful. And I had nothing to be stressed out about at all! These were paid snow days anyways! I am seriously a freak.
My life was feeling inconsistent and my inner peace was really starting to crumble. It was getting hard to find the balance in my life. During this time it was even proving difficult to get up and be motivated to teach yoga. I felt like I was keeping my head above water and on the surface I looked fine, maybe a little tired. But underneath the water my legs were flailing and I was struggling to stay afloat.
During this time my best pals came to visit. These three ladies are the loves of my life. I’ve been friends with Goose since 1st grade, Uni since 5th grade, and Lulu since 6th. Cumulatively that is 60 years of friendship. These frands and I know a thing or two about each other. These last time we were all together was almost 3 years ago and a lot had changed since then. Goose graduated Pharmacy school and is engaged to be married this fall, Uni graduated Nursing school and went through a huge break up, and Lulu is a boss climbing the corporate ladder in her advertising agency and her man just moved in with her. Me on the other hand, I’d gotten sober, moved to Nevada, started teaching yoga, and am also engaged to be married this fall. The 4 of us have a group text message that we write in almost daily, but nothing compares to quality time with your best friends. They visited for 5 days and we did enough talking, laughing, crying, and being silly to get us through to this fall when we see each other at the weddings.
And just like that, in a trail of glitter, Bobbi pins, and perfume, they were gone and I was left to figure out my emotional state of balance again. Thankfully it didn’t take long. The Wednesday after they left I woke energized and excited. I popped out of bed at 5am and immediately knew I was back to “normal”. (Side note, I HATE that word. I don’t even know why I used it. I am one of the weirdest people I know. A new coworker at a job I had last year once told me, “You are probably the nicest person here and also the weirdest.” That was the nicest compliment Id received in a long time.) I was eager to start my day and looking forward to what awesome surprises it held. This is how I typically feel 99.9% of my mornings and I hadn’t felt this way consistently since before we left for our road trip. It was good to be back.
The moral of this story is it’s OK to feel sad, stressed, out-of-sorts or whatever. Sometimes you can pinpoint why you feel this way and other times you can’t. The goal is not to be 100% happy and excited and having what I call “your dial turned up to 20” all the time. That is not realistic or expected and anyone who is excited and bouncing off the walls all the time, is either on drugs or needs to be. The goal is to be self-aware enough that you recognize these deviations from your normal thought processes and behavior patterns. Once you are aware of these changes in your energy and acknowledge them, it’s up to you how you want to handle them. And always acknowledge the feeling because it’s happening. It’s real and covering it up and hiding it just because the feeling is uncomfortable or not fun isn’t going to make it go away. For example, you wake up one day and feel sad. Nothing has happened but you simply feel down and you don’t know why because that’s not how you typically feel when you wake up in the morning. First, you acknowledge the feeling and bring awareness to your state of mind. You might think to yourself, ‘I realize I feel sad right now’. You don’t need to change anything just yet, just be there, noticing what you notice. Like a headache, you notice there is something different about you. From there you either choose to actively try and move past being sad, or you choose to be sad for a little bit. And that’s ok! Sometimes it’s nice to have an excuse to stay in PJs and watch Netflix and eat a family bag of pretzel MNMs to yourself because. Just don’t let that little bit turn into a big bit. Either way, the mind is going to do its own thing, there is no need to attach to the feeling. And when you’re ready to move on, you come out on the other side of being sad. Except this time you and energized and full again, with a renewed appreciation for life and positivity and optimism.
Being positive doesn’t mean you live in a candy land. Positive people feel sad and melancholy. They also get angry and challenge people and stick up for what they believe in. being positive is not about being oblivious and hiding from reality behind a unicorn. Positivity is about being strong, self-aware, and accountable for your state of mind.