I am working to knock loose negativity from my head this morning. I have retyped this first line a half-dozen times. I erased the first few, then felt compelled not to hide from the negativity. I’m facing it, but not going to feed it.
- Mornings, that time of day that is furthest from me at my best.
- Mornings, not my best time of the day.
- Mornings, cursed moment of deepest despair.
- Mornings, shit.
Those are some of the lines that did not get deleted. I woke slightly late this morning about a half hour after the second alarm on my phone. Somehow, I managed to hit snooze and snooze never resumed with a new alarm.
I probably needed the extra half hour. I had nowhere to be specifically this morning, besides a trip to the grocery store to buy more yogurt for tomorrow ‘morning’s’ breakfast. I do have a lot of work today.
As I stumbled out of bed, I am not sure-footed in the morning, I walked back and forth through my place tidying up here and there. I was trying to wake up. I put away a half basket of laundry that I didn’t get to yesterday. I through the towels that washed over night into the dryer.
I’m establishing momentum.
Initially, I feel anxiety. It has crept in since late last week. Lots of reasons for this, but anxiety is not welcome now.
I pause my writing to pour a glass of cranberry sweet tea, grab my vitamins and supplements, including my caffeine pill.
I’m a diet coke addict. I can handle tea, but do not drink coffee. I take a caffeine pill as a supplement each morning. I learned this useful thing about myself last spring. Without a little caffeine, 200 mg about the same as a cup of coffee, I experience a low-grade level of depression or anxiety.
I pause again to actually swallow the pills and capsules. (Vitamin C, Men’s Multivatimin, Claritin, St John’s Wort, 200 mg caffeine, and new this weekend a Juice Plus+ Vineyard Blend)
My place is very clean, but I’m looking at the pans from a breakfast of yesterday in my sink still. My girlfriend, Sharon, stayed the weekend and left yesterday just before noon sometime. We had a great breakfast of omelets, greens, goat cheese, hash browns with Tony Cacheres seasoning, plus some breakfast sausage patties cooked in coconut oil (in the pans I’m now looking at).
As I stumbled to and fro in my apartment trying to shake the dregs of anxiety, I realized a couple of things.
- I needed to write.
- The organization and lists I had created yesterday were a huge help to my psyche today(more on that in a minute).
- I needed yogurt, craving something sweet, but my best option seems to be my daughter’s frozen waffles with syrup. I’m passing.
- I need to build momentum quickly for this day and maintain it.
- I created a lot of good things for myself over the weekend, but also paused some of the good things I do everyday.
- The feeling that I had that I was ‘hurting’ (this was a key recognition), I told myself as I tried to honestly assess my feelings that I was ‘hurting’. (That was anxiety talking.) About a half second after I said it, I realized it was not true. I am healing, not hurting.
There is a difference between hurting and the feeling of healing.
They can be very similar especially because healing often follows hurting. What’s more, hurting can get in the way of us doing things. Healing can enable us to do more things. Like the slight pain of a sprained ankle or the itch of newly grown skin, or maybe the scratchy tightness of a scab that sometimes still cracks and oozes a droplet of blood, I am still emotionally healing.
I have come a long way since I started the process of separating and divorcing almost 15 months ago. I have come a long way in the last 12 months of my life.
It was only about a year ago, that I finally found some acceptance in my marriage really being over.
Arriving at acceptance in the grief cycle is an amazing gift. It does not mean we are done grieving as the grief cycle is not round like a wheel, it is more like a connect the dots system where we are the dot in the center, and all the stages of grief are outlying dots and instead of connecting the dots in a circle, we connect the dots from our center to a distant dot, then back, then to a different dot, then back, and do this over and over and over and over.
It feels like we are getting nowhere at times.
We retread some familiar territory.
We are progressing. It is more like weaving a web that turns into a cocoon. We stretch a strand from ourselves to each stage of the grief process and back again. Over time, the strands get thicker and eventually form something of a band-aid, or maybe a new layer of skin or replacement appendage or a new organ. We go back and forth and back and forth, towing the strands, creating our new whatchamacallit, the thing that is our healing.
Many of my strands are built with thoughts and with words, like these. I have written thousands and thousands of words over the last year. At times, I have written more than 40k words per week.
Taking supplements on an empty stomach, not a good idea. So now I am eating some of those frozen waffles after all to counter the growing sour feeling in my belly as if I just drank a wine cooler and instantly regretted it!
I have done some amazing things over the last year. I have met many amazing people. I have reconnected with friends and family and loved ones in ways that I can barely begin to describe here.
- I have grown as a person, as a father, as a friend, human, as a son, as a coach, as a writer.
- I have done a lot of very good things for myself to heal.
- I have done a lot of very good things for others and that probably helped me to heal even more.
I did these things to consciously heal at times and sometimes I did them because they needed doing and the healing was a surprising or unknown side effect that happened afterward.
Putting one foot in front of the other, creating forward momentum, this was essential.
I can not fully explain why, but I needed to move.
Maybe I had been stagnant for too many years. Maybe I was drafting, like a vehicle behind a semi truck for a long time and the relative feeling of going slow, made it feel like I was ‘finally’ moving as I pulled out and swerved around and forward, even faster.
Whatever it is, I needed to feel new momentum, a change in velocity.
Insight about Mornings
This morning when I woke up and my brain was still fogged with memories of being ‘Alice in Wonderland’ during my dreams, facing the option of one pill to make me smaller and a different pill to make me taller and in my twisted dream, two more identical pills with images of a mouse stenciled on the pill to presumably turn me into a mouse…
My brain was still clouded with dream visions.
I was not yet living in the present when I woke up. I was half in my dream world and halfway coming into this awake world.
During this time of transition, I am not able to envision the big picture. I cannot see my day unfolding. My vision of where I am, where I am going, what I need to do to get there, they are foggy and obscured.It is in this fog, that anxiety comes in and attempts to slow my momentum, miring me in
It is in this fog, that anxiety comes in and attempts to slow my momentum, miring me in muck.I lived in Monterey California almost 26 years ago. It is a beautiful place, but also often exists in a perpetual fog. In fact, they filmed the made for tv horror movie, The Fog there when I was a kid.
I lived in Monterey California almost 26 years ago. It is a beautiful place, but also often exists in a perpetual fog. In fact, they filmed the made for tv horror movie, The Fog there when I was a kid.
I grew up in the midwest where you can see at least 10-15 miles of horizon most of the time.
Moving to Monterey, where seeing the end of the block could often be a challenge depressed the hell out of me.
I was still very young then, but at that time, Monterey and its wet, drizzly and chilly fog did not serve me well at all.
It is the metaphor which helps me understand the fog that I experience when I awake.
Today, when I awoke, I had a fog piercing, no that is too strong a term, a fog-dissolving fix.
Yesterday, I had taken every scrap of note, list, bill, un-tended paperwork item and spread them out on every surface and wall I had in my apartment. I needed to see everything all at once. I needed to organize it both physically and mentally.
I needed to deal with the low hanging fruit to accelerate my momentum. That momentum then allowed me to make progress on some larger client projects I have worked through (with agonizing slowness this last week).
Some projects go at light speed, and some take a much more methodical approach. Neither is right or wrong, each project takes what it takes to do it right.
Yet, at a personal level, I’d like to complete them quickly and move to the next and the next and the next…
I organized everything. I set up two white boards. I listed old business projects on one that were in progress and then new project opportunities that I needed to make happen.
On the other white board, I listed personal projects. Things that were not really ‘business’ or not yet at least. It included writing this blog article!
This is one of those healing things that I mentioned before. If I do not make forward, personal progress, it inhibits my ability to do good things for other people. I need to keep the balance to be at my best. That requires planning for it as well!
As I was feeling anxiety about being stuck in the muck, I glanced at the far wall and saw my lists of old and new business.
I was feeling a cash flow pinch (that is tricky but not entirely real) and being able to view the actual old and new business opportunities, helped me see my way forward.
It was not a helpless situation. I was doing well. I was not stuck. I was moving.
The fog slowly started to clear just a bit.
I glanced at my other whiteboard and top of that list was my to do to write this blog article.
I started writing, and the first words out were negative. It was a pain to write the first sentence and then delete it. It was harder to repeat that. It felt like I was working kinks out with every letter.
The words felt negative. I felt like I was whining. I knew that I needed to rework my life’s narrative. I could not frame my story in a negative light and expect to have a positive experience.
Yet, the positive framing was not happening. I am still new to framing. I am just a white belt, or maybe a yellow belt in experience and skill. It will be years, maybe a lifetime before I attain a Muhammad Ali level of framing things the way I need them to be successful, again.
I have been successful before. I did it with brute force, intelligence and lots of methodical planning.
I could not maintain it though as my ability to frame things was non-existent and probably even served to hinder my progress.
I’m fixing that now.
As I write these words, the words are flowing. I can barely contain them from my finger tips.
The supplements and caffeine and waffles and syrup are laying some foundation of the things I need to do in the morning to make a day a good day.
Getting in touch with my own feelings and emotions and redirecting those in a direction that coincides with the direction I need to travel is also a critical element to my success. This is why I write.
I cannot spend all my day writing. I have to spend a lot of my day doing as well. There needs to be balance.
I can list to-do’s on a wall. I can diagram my vision in a map and put it on a wall as well.
These all help me immensely as they did this morning to cut through the fog and chase the fog demons away.
My current visualization practice though also involves writing. Working through these thoughts in writing, helps me to reframe.
What do I mean by framing and reframing?
This is one part a visualization thing. I am stepping beside myself, outside of myself and looking at who I am and what I am doing. I am looking at myself as if I am a character in my novel, this thing I call my life.
- I can be anything I want to be in this novel.
- I can be the character in an adventure novel or a love story or a greek tragedy.
If I choose tragedy, I can find all the tragic opportunities to live that experience out. I can find all the worst things that can happen to a person and observe as they start to happen to me. I can view these things as if they are ‘frames’ in a picture or a movie.
The key point is that I can choose the frames.
Like a cinematographer, I can choose where and when. Like a director or a writer, I can choose the what.
Knowing this, I can also wisely choose not to live in a greek tragedy.
I can frame and find the good things in life.
A lot of people speak about practicing gratitude or focusing on the positive, or avoiding negatives and negative people.
These are related concepts to framing.
If we are filming our life and focusing our mind’s eye of a camera on the amazing things in the foreground and some negative person walks up and says, ‘Oh my god, look at that awful thing over there, and we turn the camera away from the good things and towards the bad things, and the camera is out of focus, so we sharpen our mind’s eye and bring the negative things into focus, more infocus in our minds, we start to bring that visualized negative into our minds.
To understand it, we have to empathize it. We have to create a model of the thing in our mind. We start to follow the arch of its existence and the story it brings and the negative things it is connected to. We follow the arch of the negative things it leaves in our wake.
In the meantime, all those positives that are now out of frame and not being focused on behind us and our mind’s eye camera lens, they pass us by. We have lost the positives and replaced the negatives, because a negative person redirected our frame.
Now the simple solution, and one that I do not agree with, is to shut out negative people from our lives. Be done with them. Avoid them like the plague.
‘If someone says something negative, that’s it. Cut em off, turn em out. Never cross paths with them again. Burn the bridge, blow up the road, build a barrier of a wall and a moat to block their return into our lives.’
I do not agree with this tactic of shutting out negative people nor judging them as negative in the first place!
The example for this came to me from watching an analysis of Muhammad Ali’s ability to reframe.Even when he met a person that tried to redirect his camera in a negative direction, like ‘Did he almost beat you?’ Or ‘Did you ever have any doubts?’ Or ‘What about that time when all seemed terrible?’
Even when he met a person that tried to redirect his camera in a negative direction, like ‘Did he almost beat you?’ Or ‘Did you ever have any doubts?’ Or ‘What about that time when all seemed terrible?’He would not take the bait. He would seem to ignore the question, but in reality, he reframed it entirely from the positive vision of what he was focused on.
He would not take the bait. He would seem to ignore the question, but in reality, he reframed it entirely from the positive vision of what he was focused on.In this way, he did not have to burn bridges and ‘hide’ from negative people like a recluse. He was able to live and be ‘the greatest’ without any distraction.
In this way, he did not have to burn bridges and ‘hide’ from negative people like a recluse. He was able to live and be ‘the greatest’ without any distraction.When my momentum is strong enough, I can do this at times today. I will get to a point when I can do it all the time. I will do it soon.
When my momentum is strong enough, I can do this at times today. I will get to a point when I can do it all the time. I will do it soon.In my writing, I am able to do this often.
In my writing, I am able to do this often. My writing sometimes starts out caught in a negative, and I punch and dance and work my way out of the illusory paper bag I am in to find the light and beauty and wonderful things that I knew were there all along.
My writing sometimes starts out caught in a negative, and I punch and dance and work my way out of the illusory paper bag I am in to find the light and beauty and wonderful things that I knew were there all along.I’m not in the light all the time. I get there through rhetoric.
I’m not in the light all the time. I get there through rhetoric.Someday, as my vision and strength increase, I will be able to turn away from the rhetoric as the vehicle that gets me where I need to go and I’ll be able to do the same thing with vision alone.
Someday, as my vision and strength increase, I will be able to turn away from the rhetoric as the vehicle that gets me where I need to go and I’ll be able to do the same thing with vision alone.I’m making progress.
I’m making progress.Over the weekend, I was very aware that
Over the weekend, I was very aware that I move and operate at different speeds.
I often use the analogy of changing gears. I shift from fast to slow to medium speeds.
I shift from fast to slow to medium speeds.
I shift from doing sales and marketing to web development or copywriting or coaching, or teaching or tutorials, or counseling or parenting or shopping or driving to cleaning and exercising and dancing and meditating and many many more things.
There are times when I am going ‘so fast’ that I get spooked. I want to slow down as a feeling that going this fast cannot be maintained. Then there are times, when I feel like I am going so slow that I am surely going to crash my bike and fall over. I need to speed up…
Then there are times, when I feel like I am going so slow that I am surely going to crash my bike and fall over. I need to speed up…I am getting a lot better at accepting that the speeds and velocity that I am moving at are the ones that are right for the situation.
I am getting a lot better at accepting that the speeds and velocity that I am moving at are the ones that are right for the situation.When I was at the height of my diet coke addiction, forward and fast was really the only speed I knew.
When I was at the height of my diet coke addiction, forward and fast was really the only speed I knew.I have learned new flexibility. It is much easier for me to apply the best speed for the given situation.
I have learned new flexibility. It is much easier for me to apply the best speed for the given situation.I have been working on two websites at the same time. One is a restaurant website and it needs and is getting a menu system.
I have been working on two websites at the same time. One is a restaurant website and it needs and is getting a menu system. I felt that this would be an easy and fast project. Something seemed to be slowing me down on it though. I felt like a horse with a bit and bridle being reigned in, even though no one but myself was doing this.
I felt that this would be an easy and fast project. Something seemed to be slowing me down on it though. I felt like a horse with a bit and bridle being reigned in, even though no one but myself was doing this.As I was moving agonizingly slow through things, I discovered a cool new layout option or design last night. If I had blown through the project at the speed I had ‘expected’ I would have finished a week ago, and never found this great new design layout.
As I was moving agonizingly slow through things, I discovered a cool new layout option or design last night. If I had blown through the project at the speed I had ‘expected’ I would have finished a week ago, and never found this great new design layout.
The slower speed allowed me to be aware when the opportunity came along.
I needed to write about now to cement the lesson into my skull so that I can use this for lots of good in the future.
Wrapping Up so we can Move forward to be amazing
So as you go through your week this week, I hope you find a way to frame things in your own story in a more positive fashion. It is ok to witness friends and families experiencing negative things, but try to focus on your own positives and frame that back to them. Be a positive example to the people that temporarily feel negative, even if they have seemed to be temporarily negative for a little too long.
Your good example and the examples of others will eventually help them find their own way.
Focus and pay attention to the things that work for you, the things that allow you to get through your foggy moments with more and more ease. Plan those things into your life to help give yourself the opportunity for more balance and momentum.Find the things that work for you and do them. Practice gratitude and being grateful for the good things as that helps you frame your world view towards the positive not in a fake way, but in a real way.
Find the things that work for you and do them. Practice gratitude and being grateful for the good things as that helps you frame your world view towards the positive not in a fake way, but in a real way.
It’s time for me to shower and wash away the last vestiges of the fog that touched my skin, scrub it away and then go forth through this amazing day knowing that I have done something pretty terrific already. I have woven this new web of healing, a bandage or appendage growing my heart even larger than it was and polishing and focusing my mind’s eye, which can take in even more positive and find a path forward to greatness
I look forward to seeing you traversing your own path to greatness too! Thank you for joining me!