A large rusty anchor and small fragment of chain and an orange life preserver hanging on a boat's hand rail.

The Life Preserver and the ‘Good Luck’ Anchor

A couple went for a sail in a small boat. A storm blew in out of no where and they lost their sail. They were getting blown out of the bay and out to open sea, when they noticed a rock coming out of the ocean. On the rock was a rusty anchor and some chain.

With much struggle they were able to guide the boat to the rock during a lull in the storm. They attached the chain to the boat. The top of the rock was flat and the anchor would not attach to it. They did not want the storm to bash their boat against the rock, so they drifted out a bit and dropped the anchor. It steadied them at a safe distance and they stopped floating out to sea.

They were grateful for finding the anchor. It steadied them and gave them hope. They might be found or rescued after the storm.

But the storm got worse and the swells increased that night.

By morning, they realized that the anchor was no longer catching against anything. They pulled it into the boat in the hopes they could use it again later.

A new storm rose again in the mid morning. It was fierce and worse than the last. Their boat started to sink. They had an inflatable life raft, and scrambled to get it inflated and into before the little sail boat was lost. They managed to bring some water, a life preserver and at the last minute they brought their ‘lucky’ anchor just in case it might be needed like before.

They floated all day and had no chance to drop anchor nor see anyone that might help. In the evening a new storm picked up and the ‘lucky anchor’ scratched a small hole in the raft. They worked to bail and re-inflate the raft and even patch it.

But the patch did not hold and the water came in to fast and eventually the life raft was lost, and yet in the distance they could now see the distant lights of a shore.

They decided to try and swim towards the lights, an obvious choice. They wanted to maintain their last bit of luck and clung to their ‘lucky anchor’ while they shared the life preserver.

They kicked and pulled trying to make progress. The anchor was dragging in the water behind them. They were holding on by the link of the chain. In some of the swells that were mild now by comparison to the night before, their preserver would bob under the wave by a few feet before barely pulling them back up.

The good luck that had gifted them the anchor was now holding them back, but they held on.

In the late hours of the morning, they got tired. They decided that they would take turns sleeping. One person would hang inside the preserver with their arms over top the ring. The other would hold the preserver with one hand and the anchor with the other and kick them towards land or at least hold them in place.

This did not work well. The swells were lessoning so they didn’t bob under the waves, but they were losing ground and the shore looked farther away than ever.

They had both had fitful naps a couple of times, but not enough to renew their energy. They were exhausted and tired and cold and hungry and losing hope.

All they had were each other, their life preserver and their lucky anchor.

They tried to boost each others spirits and thanked their luck for finding the anchor the day before. For if they had not found it, they would have surely drifted even further into the ocean and the jet stream would have pulled them into much colder waters. They’d probably be dead of hypothermia by now if that had happened.

They couldn’t wait to get on shore and show and tell the world about their great fortune in finding the anchor. They were tired and didn’t want to risk dropping their good luck anchor, so they found a way to tie the chain around their waists. This freed up both their arms and helped them paddle even further together towards shore.

They never once considered letting go of their anchor and swimming to shore faster with a lighter load, and that’s why when the tides changed, they were swept further out to see and the larger swells eventually pulled them under and they didn’t bob back up and they didn’t make it to land and they didn’t tell their story.

Epilogue

We know of this story because the locals on that shore hear the story of the couple every evening after a large storm rolls through. The spirits of the couple pull themselves up on shore and tell of their good luck in finding their good luck anchor and how it saved them, right before they recede with the tide back to their eternal resting spot at the bottom of the ocean.

Moving beyond being Stuck

Move Past Things that Hold Us Back

I had surgery last week. A small skin cancer tumor no longer resides below my right eye in my cheek.

I never had cancer before. This was a ‘small’ cancer. It was not life threatening. It could cause problems later in life, but it is gone now.

I never had a surgery that cut into my skin before. I received many stitches in my face. I am fortunate. These stitches are my first too.

The surgery was 5 days ago. It took more out of me than I expected. I slept a great deal.

I could not smile for several days. That took a lot out of me too.

Before the surgery, my life kept accelerating. It grew and it grew better, but the surgery forced me to slow down and pause.

I need to speed up again.

Things are holding me back. I can feel them. I need to move past these ‘things’.

I do not know how, so I am writing through it here and now to find my path again.

What holds me back?

First, there are things that hold me back. There are things that help me move forward with ease. I need to remove the former and heal or repair the latter.

Example

I am depressed. This holds me back.

I am unable to exercise due to stitches for a few more days. This prevents me from running or practicing yoga. Those are things that help me move forward with ease.

The depression has many roots. Some are ‘all in my head’. I have an initial therapy appointment for the second week of December. This is the earliest the VA can get me in to start working on me.

I made the steps to get that going though!

My finances are upside down. I have worked on this for quite a while. I make progress every week. Yet, I am still in the upside down. This is frustrating and a driver of my depression as well.

I work to accept what I cannot fix in the now. I work to fix what I can. It is far easier to do this work well, when I do not feel depressed. The depression creates a ‘catch 22’.

I self medicate with a 200 mg caffeine pills as a daily supplement. This gets me through the hardest time of day, mornings.

It’s not enough. It helps.

I suffer from distractions. I do not call this ADD or ADHD. I do not have a diagnosis for either.

I get hung up on things:

Cash Flow Problems – Clients that do not pay me or pay slowly. This is a big trigger for me. Even when the amount is inconsequential, it can stop me in my tracks.
News & Politics – For 18 months I kept these out of my life. It helped. They have seeped back into life.
Interruptions – Running errands for myself or the family distracts me. This is a big one. As a half time single parent, it can be more challenging every other week. I get behind when I have custody of my children. Writing that sentence makes me feel guilty as hell.

This list is not comprehensive. It is a small sample.

It helps me to have many things to do.

Before writing this:

  • I unloaded the dishwasher,
  • reloaded my medicine box for the next week,
  • made the bed,
  • took a shower,
  • dressed my wound, and
  • had a healthy snack.

These small tasks gave me momentum to start writing.

Writing will be another task that will help me move onto client work that requires more writing.

That will feed to another task and another.

I build momentum to move forward. Moving is necessary to move past things that hold me back.

How do I move past this?

It helps me to write out the things that ail me. I need to put voice to a thing to move past it.

So writing this now, is helping me move past everything I mention herein.

Writing alone is not enough. Therapy next month will help.

Reading books, taking courses, viewing things on screens that inspire help me too.

I am overdue for a trip to the comedy club. Laugh therapy always helps me. I laugh at life’s challenges all the time. I often have a ‘good attitude’ even while depressed.

Laughing ‘at my circumstances’ is not healthy. It is self deprecatory.

Laughing along with an audience led by a professional comedian can be very healthy.

I need that soon.

I need to get out and dance as well. Music and moving to music, helps me metabolize my depression. It helps me transform into a positive person.

I need that soon too.

Did I really put the monster down?

In a month or a year or 5, will I look back and witness that I moved past the things that held me back?

Will I have put down the monster?

I do not know.

I will set some goals. I need to consciously see what I am working to improve. I need to KNOW when I have achieved it.

I will need to course correct if I fall of the path. I will need to adjust my goals if my view from the next vista indicates, I have chosen poorly.

In some ways, I may never put the monster down. That’s ok.

For many years, I never needed most of this stuff.

Well, I did, but I didn’t know it.

I lived without knowing what I needed to be happy, healthy, or to perform at peak performance.

I know better now.

Many of these steps are one part first aid and another part ongoing maintenance.

If I heal for now, and stop performing the maintenance, a serious problem might develop.

First aid might not be enough!

I can get to an easier place in life. I can get back to a place where I have things taken care of as part of my regular routine.

Next Steps for Me

So I will publish this short article. I will help a client and then another and another.

I will help some of those same clients pay me.

I will improve my work and business. I am doing a lot to get far more organized. I am cutting costs too using new tools.

I will build more momentum.

My face will heal and the cut will stop oozing blood at unfortunate times.

I will exercise again. I will reboot my head practicing yoga again.

I will do many more things and do them well.

I will make mistakes and learn from some of them. With luck and effort, I will learn from all of them!

What would you do? What would be next for you?

I do not know everything. I am in unchartered territory and learning as I go.

If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

🙂

Enough about me. How are you? What would you do for you?

What will you do next for you?

Care to share some notes? Maybe we can learn from each other, maybe not.

I do know that it is healthy and helpful to work through life with others.

Thank you for coming along for the ride!

 

Stuck in the Negatives? Is Unsticking It possible?

I listen/watch a Ted Talk or two several mornings out of the week. This morning it was ‘Getting Stuck in the Negatives’ a 2013 talk by Alison Ledgerwood.

This is not so much a ‘how to’ as it is a ‘how to be aware’ so as to ‘avoid it’.

Alison Ledgerwood joined the Department of Psychology at UC Davis in 2008 after completing her PhD in social psychology at New York University. She is interested in understanding how people think, and how they can think better. Her research, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, investigates how certain ways of thinking about an issue tend to stick in people’s heads. Her classes on social psychology focus on understanding the way people think and behave in social situations, and how to harness that knowledge to potentially improve the social world in which we all live.

 

Writing In The Cleansing Rain – Week off Processing

It is a rainy Thursday morning. Yesterday was a very hot spring day and some patchy clouds rolled in and the morning is cleansing away the pollen. The rain seems to transition between a light but constant sprinkle building into a light shower then back again.

I just dropped off my daughter at school. I did not sleep quite enough last night. I have time this morning to get another hour of sleep if I really need it. I might do that as my day will be more productive if my energy level is at max. Sometimes sleep helps me to get to max and sometimes it does just the opposite.

I stopped by the little park by the South Fork River that I found a few days ago. I had known of it before I found it, but feel as if I found it for the first time when I learned it was a good place to write.

Today, it is even better as the tables are covered by a pavilion. I could explore and walk or hike and find a new place, but probably not one that will keep me and my gear dry.

I have a bottle of water and a bag of tropical trail mix. That seems to mean that it has a nut or two in it, a couple pounds of raisins and similarly shaped non descript berries, some dried papaya and banana flakes and pineapple. Sugar, it has lots of fruity sugar. 

The pavilion roof is made of tin and at times as the showers increase the noise of birds die down and the rain on tin volume goes up. At the moment, the birds are coming more alive. There are geese grazing on the grass in the distance, and a male gander flapping his wings at me behind me to warn me away from his recently hatched goslings.


It is daylight, but I have no idea where the sun might be due to the clouds. The waters of the South Fork look like glass despite the sprinkling rain.

I have been waging a war on inner anxiety the last few days and weeks too for that matter.  

There are two things that have been keeping me preoccupied the last few weeks. First, my cash flow is about as still and glassy as the waters of the South Fork. I have been working and billing hours away, but I have a number of clients who are a little behind on their payments. This is unusual. It happens with a client here or there sometimes, but this seems to be with many of them. The payments are not very late, but usually these things move in a very timely fashion. 

The majority of my invoices are paid electronically and things are usually very very speedy. Not so this month.

That’s causing me big challenges as I have zero cash reserves. I have been rebuilding my life the last 7 months and my cash reserves disappeared as I ended a past relationship and worked to reestablish a new household for a family of four. I have made a great deal of progress, but even progress runs out of money from time to time, and I can live in the present on the things I earned and paid out on bills in the past.

So that’s a challenge.

In addition, as life would have it, I have been working through a lot of past issues the last couple weeks. I’m using the term, processing. I have been processing past emotions and feelings and problems and past issues with people that were or are in my life.  

This too is something I do need to do in order to move forward. I need to process through this stuff. I need to identify what still serves me and let everything else go. There’s a lot of good stuff, but there is a lot that needs to be let go of as well.

The thing about processing is that we can’t always do it in one go. It can take hours, days, weeks, months or even years.  

Among other things, I ran into a situation where my present life ran into a speed bump over issues of trust. I felt like I had been betrayed by someone I loved. Afterwards, I forgave them for the their acts of betrayal. I forgave them in my head. I forgave them in my journal. I forgave them in writing in posts. 

It worked for a while, but there were two components missing. I never told them that I knew of their betrayal. They had kept it secret from me for almost a year. I learned about it after our relationship ended and for a number of reasons did not confront them with the knowledge. It did not serve me to do that at the time. I did forgive them and moved on with my life.

But 11 months later it caught up with me. I forgave them but did not forget. What’s more, they knew they had betrayed me. Or at least I feel that they knew this. They no longer seemed to trust me and this was getting in the way of present life.

I realized that I needed to rip off the scab on the wound and try again, try more completely this time. So I wrote to them and described why and how I felt betrayed. Then I forgave them again. I included in the same letter some of my own apologies for things that I believe I made mistakes on or could have done better. 

I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I also work to own my own shit. I can change me. I can fix me. I can’t do either of those things with other people.

I can let them know when something they do hurts me. I can establish barriers to protect myself in the future. Healthy barriers that allow me to live life, I’m not creating barriers to shield me from living.

So I got this out of my system. I felt better for it. Yet, after doing it, I also had to reprocess all the emotions and feelings that went with that betrayal and the emotions and feelings that went with the death of the relationship subsequent to the betrayal as well. I had to grieve that relationship one more time. 

The grief cycle is like that. We have to go through the grief cycle as often as we have to go through it. In the early days and weeks of grief, we might go through it multiple time and at very deep levels. As time goes by, our grieving stops being a full time job and starts to take up part time hours. Then it spreads out more and more until we might go weeks or months before we feel the grief again.

In this case, I felt some pretty heavy shit, but it was like watching a movie on the first and slowest level of fast forward. It was a movie that I was very familiar with. I recognized and viewed all the scenes, I felt everything all over again. But it was on fast forward and did not take nearly as long to go through the grief cycle.

I have realized that for the last 2-3 weeks, I have been processing some new big thing almost every day. I had a day off here or there for some insane amounts of fun. That helped. 

We have to play hard if we are going to process hard and keep our sanity!

But through all of this, I had to work as well. Work requires a different kind of focus, a different kind of processor and I was doing some big things there as well.

I feel at this point, that I need to give myself a vacation from my personal processing for awhile. I need a week off. I need a week to lose myself in work and fun and things that do not require the weight of the world on my shoulders.

The rain has stopped and the family of two geese and their gosslings are slowly walking along the bank of the river. I can just see them past a pavilion post and a tree. Further in the distance, I now see another new family of geese walking their own goslings through the grass.

Life waddles on.

The skies are clearing up in the west. It is probably going to get very warm again today. My legs are jogging and jittery from the sugar of the tropical trail mix.

I need to pack up and take my office to its next location and start doing some technical stuff, web dev related for two clients and also some for my own business reboot.

The baby geese are inching closer to the pavilion. They need their space and I need my own and its time to make this happen.  

I’ve raised my energy by simply stating where I am and what I’m doing. I’ve brought my consciousness alive by simply being aware this morning.

I hope you can do the same. Bring your awareness to yourself and raise your energy and then go forth and do great things today for yourself and for the people you care about!

Postscript

I have not published this after writing it a couple hours earlier. I reminded myself that it is a nice idea to say, “I am going to take a break from processing.”

It is not always easy to accomplish.

I have found there are some things that can help me do this. Maybe they will help you, or maybe help you think of something better for yourself.

Practicing yoga in a studio guided by an instructor can help. It allows me to fully reboot my brain, not just a pause, but a termination of all the running programs. Later when my brain comes back online, I can often pick and choose what to focus on next.

When I need to work, two things can distract me from processing so that I can get work done. Listening to fiction audio books, and listening to fast paced music without many lyrics that I know tempting me to sing along and connect my brain. There are many styles of music that can work here.

Intermittent work breaks to stop and exercise help too. A few hundred crunches, a set of pushups, a set of pullups, lift some free weights, anything to break up the work and prevent daydreaming from taking me into my head. Then right back to work again!

If you have techniques that work for you or a specific meditation or something, I would love it if you considered sharing. Always looking for more things that work!