New Chapter

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Now we are back. Back from the woods. Back from the mountain. Back from the small town.

We have arrived in the big city. the flatlands, the urban surroundings, the crazy.

For a while during the summer I thought of this as the pause button. I thought of it as the boring part. The summer is the excitement, the productive part of the year,  and the winter is the lull, the bleak months of bread lines and struggle. I viewed the return to here as the inconvenient return to reality and drudgery.

That’s not how life works.

There is no pause, there are no breaks and inconvenient stops. Sure, there are seasons in life. There are periods of calm, times of chaos, bleak days and happy days. But life ticks on.

This is not a season for sitting on my haunches and being miserable. Instead, I need to see this as an opportunity to grow. I have the time and the energy to invest in so much right now, it would be foolish to let my anxiety get the best of me.

It hasn’t been three days back and we already have met a few setbacks. I need a functioning truck to make money. She needs a vehicle to get to Virginia to make money. One’s got shot brakes and the other is still full of unpacked junk. We have a lot of emotional baggage about this house. There aren’t a lot of good memories here, and walking in the door to find it still cluttered with all the trinkets and accumulated crap from all the years is a drain on the mind and spirit.

Not to mention the adjustment to the time zone difference. Two hours makes a surprising difference.

In spite of that I have been able to accomplish many things so far. I have unpacked boxes, bundled up laundry, cleaned up the mile thick layer of dust on several surfaces, mowed the front yard and start tackling the back, cleaned the fridge of six months of scary, unburied the kitchen counters, diagnosed a brake issue, and hung out with friends.

Tackling this is no easy feat.

Taking credit and feeling proud of my accomplishments is not something which comes naturally for me. I tend to downplay or just outright deny my successes. This is something I am working on. There is nothing inherently wrong with looking at something I have completed and saying “I did this well.” It is not arrogance to take pride in legitimate accomplishments, only in made up ones.

This is a new chapter in our adventure. I intend to make it a good one.

 

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Daily Thoughts #72

Not on the road yet. We have wayyyy more stuff than I thought. And of course the truck has to start misbehaving.

But my confidence was lifted a little by an old man in the Walmart parking lot. We had just taken our wheel off because we suspected the caliper was stuck. It was not. He listened to the motor and gave a few suggestions about the odd noises and sensor issues. So tomorrow morning is electrical connector test day.

My body is rebelling. No amount of positive thinking or praying makes the gut sickness and chest tightness go away. The Anxiety Monster is a disrespectful jerk.

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Daily Thoughts #70

There are days when I genuinely don’t like myself. There are days when I feel like a failure, a loser, and a complete slacker. Today was one of those. I need to learn gratitude. I am supposed to be where I am. I am blessed to be who I am. I am blessed beyond comprehension. But I am ingrateful. I have never been able to distinguish the fine line between ambition and ingratitude. How is one able to be grateful for what they have but still be able to work and strive for more? How does one love themselves without becoming engrossed and consumed with narcissistic tendencies? I can’t hate myself, for when I hate myself I am incapable of loving others. How do people love themselves and others? How do people express thankfulness while striving for the next thing in life?

My wife pointed out to me that I have never legitimately failed at anything. I may not be as good as I’d like, I may not be as good as the next person, but I have never flat out failed. This is an interesting thing to ponder.

Sneak trip to Albuquerque tomorrow. Woot!

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Daily Thoughts #68

Been one of those days. Near panic attack in the morning, still broke truck in the afternoon, and then a porcupined dog in the late afternoon. I suppose you could say I was productive?

One more week. Probably why my body is in flight mode. There really is not a whole lot to do, at least not stuff that I can do right now. So shut up body!

Again I am forever grateful for YouTube. If you need to fix it, there’s probably a video, whatever “it” is.

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Not There

I’m not where I want to be.

This might come as a surprise to most of you.

Or not.

Maybe you have guessed that I am a bit restless in my current situation. Maybe you suspect that I am merely living a lie and will eventually give it up and go back to my old way of life.

I don’t want to go back.

I left a career of nearly ten years to go do something else that I loved. Then I left that after two years to give my wife an opportunity to do something I knew that she would love (and I wasn’t wrong). But am I doing what I love?

Yes and no.

I love being with my kids. I love teaching them and talking to them and watching them become great little people.

But sometimes they are real jerks. Sometimes I get tired of being around them. Frequently I feel like I fail them on so many levels. But I love them. So yes. I love what I do.

But.

I need adult interaction. And more than just the superficial internet interactions. The presence of people is a balm for my anxiety and loneliness. There are times when being around the kids perks up my spirit, but they are the takers in the relationship. Adults give and take, the dynamics are different. Right now where I am I do not get the kind of adult interaction I need.

I have dreams and goals. But I never think I am good enough. I am always the contingency guy. I have a goal, I assume right off the bat that I won’t get to it, so I automatically search for all the secondary plans.

Where do people get their optimism? How does one make a goal and dream and actually think themselves good enough to get them? How do they take control of their lives and make the things they want happen?

Or do they? Do people ever actually get what they want? Or am I just watching too many movies? I swear I see people out there on blogs and Facebook and elsewhere living the lives that they want. Surely there is something flawed in their life, something they don’t like, something that is not quite right.

How do they live joyously despite those things? How are they successful in jumping past those kinds of problems and focusing instead on the good things, the successes?

The simple answer is that they aren’t. Everyone has struggles. No one is arrived 100%. Some people are just better at displays than others. They are simply good at social media.

Or perhaps they really are hopeful. Some people are just optimists. They do a good job at seeing the good and understand the best way to make those good things happen is focused work towards them.

So the answer to getting where I want is simply focused discipline? Make an effort to get adult time? Focus on the good goals and spend a little less time on contingency?

Time will tell.

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Daily Thoughts #37

Took the kids to a gun safety event. They loved it. I know it’s odd for some people in the rest of the world to see this kind of thing but I want my kids to appreciate weapons and treat them as tools and not toys or something scary. Especially considering the part of the world we live in.

Learned some bad news today about a friend back home. For a minute I wanted to diminish my worries in light of hers but I realized that my worries are legitimate too. We each have burdens and cares that God allows us to bear. He wants us to bring them to Him no matter how “insignificant” they may be.

And just like those burdens He also blesses us in ways that bring Him the most glory. While I may not understand why He has not blessed me with a comfortable level of wealth or nice cars or fancy toys, I am grateful that He has blessed me with health, an amazing wife, and beautiful children. Gratitude is a great feeling that lifts up even the most anxious of hearts.

Stabbing Anxiety In the Face With a Soldering Iron, Part 2

Last week I discussed some of the things I do to conquer the physical aspects of anxiety. But what about the thoughts?

In order to kill bad thoughts it helps to understand the motives behind one’s thoughts. Most of my anxious thoughts stem from my severe need to be in control of all things. I am a control freak. When things are out of my control I panic. I begin to think the worst. I lose all faith and go into the selfish cocoon of anxiety.

Knowing what motivates my wrong thoughts helps in creating a strategy to defeat them.

So what do I do?

Well, I take control of the things I actually have control of. Despite my negativity, there are things I actually have some power over. Like my time, my children, and my personal space.

I make a schedule and try to stick with it, understanding that sometimes things happen that make that schedule obsolete for the moment. At the very least I follow a routine and make habits.

I work on establishing healthy boundaries with my children. Kids can be chaos incarnate, but usually only because we don’t put a foot down and make it clear what is allowed and not allowed. Discipline goes a long way towards helping calm that storm. Boundaries are important to all relationships, if there are other relationships in your life that create stress and anxiety it is likely that you need to establish some basic rules regarding it.

By personal space, I mean my house. I have control over the cleanliness and clutter of my home. Part of a good schedule and routine is taking time to organize and clean up. Visual clutter and messes are huge triggers for anxious thoughts. It took me years to figure this out, but it has made a huge difference since.

As for the things I can’t control… (which are far fewer in number than my mind will let me believe) those things get put into my prayers. Only God can control those things.

That may seem like a cop out answer, but I assure you that faith is harder than any scheduling, disciplining, or cleaning. Having faith requires catching my thoughts and correcting them. Taking every thought captive requires constantly telling myself truths to correct the lies that my mind wants to tell me. In order to do this I have to know truths, I have to study and think about truths, and I have to believe truths.

Anxiety is ultimately the antithesis of faith. Faith is ultimately the solution to anxiety.