Tag Archive | reflection

Reflection in the Mid-afternoon of Life

I have a habit of making three or four big goals when I reach a new decade in age. I tend to do a lot of reflecting, and anticipate what kind of adventure I can write for myself for the next ten years. I started doing this when I turned 30. I believe it is because the first twenty years of my life were controlled by others in terrible, sad, and tragic ways. When I broke free of my perpetrators, I understood that I own my life, and I get to decide who I want to be. That revelation and freedom have been an intense/unrelenting driving force for my life since the age of 22.

With this most recent birthday, I’m now (as my friend beautifully described it the other day) in the mid-afternoon of my life. So, with that mid-afternoon sun shining gently on my face, I began to reflect: Did my passion for writing, speaking and trying to destigmatize living with PTSD help others? What was the impact on myself for learning, growth, and change? How can I continue to be a support to this community of survivors as I venture down a different fork in the road?

As I was reflecting, I recalled a wonderful talk given by Arthur Brooks at the Aspen Ideas Festival, titled: Strategies for happiness in life.  In very brief summary, his four points were, “don’t rage against change, teach others what you know, take away the parts of you that aren’t really you, and surround yourself with love.”

I’ve stopped raging against change a long time ago. l respect that change is life. Everything is impermanent, including the feelings I encounter when change happens. I have taken away the parts of me that weren’t authentic, and definitely surround myself with love. My children want me to rest more; to relax, to not be so driven and hard on myself. I heard them; it landed, and I will be more mindful about the message I’m giving myself when the negative self-talk tries to sneak in.

As I hang out and look deep inside in my spirit mirror, I believe this will be a time of deep personal growth, a bit more rest, and a lot of self-acceptance. I’m looking forward to reflection in the mid-afternoon. There is a lot of daylight left, and the evening is still decades away.

photo: Alexis Rose

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph    

Reflections and Goals

I have a habit of making three or four big goals when I’m about to reach a new decade in age. I tend to do a lot of reflecting, and anticipate what kind of adventure  I can write for myself for the next ten years. I started doing this when I turned 30. I believe it is because the first twenty years of my life were controlled by others in terrible, sad, and tragic ways.  I spent my twenty’s trying to recover and repress my past, so I could simply survive day-to-day.

Then I turned 30 and I thought, I’m going to set some big long-range goals, and see if I can work towards attaining them in ten years.  I never really told anyone my goals, I just knew what they were. For example, I wanted to own a house by the time I was 40. I figured out what I needed to do and began working towards it.  To reach that goal, I focused on a career choice. I went back to school and this time earned a degree that would help set me up financially. I became a homeowner at 38. Some goals are not that grand. Some are small, such as, I would like to learn a new kind of exercise that is completely out of my comfort zone. I also give myself a break. If I no longer find that a goal I set is useful, or I simply can’t reach it, I let it go. After all, I’m the one writing my own adventure.

I found that the goals I had set in my 30’s and 40’s were focused on family, career, travel, with a reach for the stars attitude. I’m extremely motivated to try new things and don’t shy away from taking risks.

Then I got sick with PTSD. And my goals became extremely clear to me. Learn the truth of my past, have a congruent timeline of my life, and learn to live, not just survive. In fact, those goals weren’t really a choice, they were imperative to my survival.

I recently had a birthday. And although I still have a year until I reach the start of a new decade, I found I was stumbling around and feeling quite unsure of myself, because I didn’t really want, or have a need to set goals.

As I reflected, I was sure I wanted to just be content, surround myself with like-minded and loving family and friends, continue to learn compassion for myself and enjoy this life that I’m living. I wanted to feel happily satisfied that I will always have a natural and insatiable curiosity about life, people, and how we’re all connected. With a little astrophysics thrown in along the way.

Somehow, that resistance of making “goals” caused me a bit of distress. I felt lazy, or like I was giving up, and tuning out. When in fact, I realize I was tuning in. It just looks different than before.

Then I was sent a link to a wonderful talk given by Arthur Brooks at the Aspen Ideas Festival, titled: Strategies for happiness in life. After listening to this talk, I went from fighting this self-imposed feeling of irrelevance to, wow…this is the trajectory I was dipping my toes into but felt like I couldn’t or shouldn’t. In very brief summary, his points were, “don’t rage against change, teach others what you know, take away the parts of you that aren’t really you, and surround yourself with love.”

As I reflected on this talk, and let go of my distress, I took to heart Brook’s four points, and also added a few more of my own. I decided that these points (I’m not using the word goals any longer) are how I want to live for the next decade(s) of my life.

I can make a difference in this world by understanding that although I’m a quiet voice, I still have a ripple effect that may bring change in how we talk about mental illness and help remove stigmas. I can live content, surround myself with like-minded and loving family and friends, continue to learn compassion for myself and enjoy this life that I’m living.

My natural and insatiable curiosity about life, people, and how we’re all connected, with a little astrophysics thrown in along the way, is a part of me, and that’s okay!  In fact, as I reflect and look deep inside in my spirit mirror, I believe this may be a time of deep personal growth, change, and acceptance of… well…me!

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph    

Inner Landscapes

An inner landscape is a life you lead inside of yourself; a place no one else can go unless invited. Although it looks different for each of us, all inner landscapes have this in common: they are a place of refuge. If you look deep enough, you will be able to find the images in your mind of your inner landscape; your own place of power and peace.

My inner landscape is multi-dimensional and serves more than one purpose depending on how I need to restore, rest, empower and breathe. One part of my inner landscape is a field of flowers. That’s where I go when I need to feel at peace. It’s a place where I can rest and restore my inner resources because I feel safe and protected there, with very little noise coming from my busy monkey-mind that tends to nag at me during the day.

Mostly my inner landscape is peaceful, warm and sunny; although, I also have a cliff I go to that is rugged and barren. There in one leaf-less tree there with a few wisps of grass growing up around it, but otherwise it is bare. The cliff is jagged, gray and very rocky with the sound of a turbulent sea splashing thunderous waves against the rocks. That’s the inner landscape I go to when my life is stormy and I’m dealing with challenges that I’m not quite ready to confront.

When I’m there, I hear my inner voice of self-doubt, self-judgement, and shame. It’s a place I go to when I know I need to look at things about myself that are comfortably uncomfortable but I’m not yet ready to change. I sit on the edge of my cliff and listen to the water crashing up against the rocks. Even though it is a place I go to when my life is  stormy, I love my rocky cliffs and the crashing water that surrounds me.

My inner landscape is different from my happy place. My happy place is where I go to help me face the typical stresses of daily life. Sitting in a traffic jam, going to the dentist, standing in a long line sends me to my happy place. That quick take a deep breath to stave off the frustration place that we go to. My inner landscape is a place I go to for reflection. A place where I go deep inside of myself.

What would your inner landscape look like if you could describe it?

 

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photo:pixabay