Single, Unemployed … and Kind of Grateful

Using life’s upheavals to find yourself and peace

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Well, my friends, life has sent me another curve ball. I’ve recently been laid off from my job. It’s the first time since I was 17 years old that I am unemployed. At first it was a shock to my system. Panic. Anger. Sadness. All the normal feelings came up. But now that I’ve had a few days to wrap my arms around it, I’m at peace with it … at least for the time being.

That is why I recommend yoga, exercise, journaling and meditation. I truly do. All the things that I have done over this past year to improve myself has actually made dealing with this situation much easier than I think it would have been if I was the same person I was last year. It gives some structure to my day. Let’s me focus on myself rather than any challenges I may be facing. It allows me to let go of the negative feelings.

Lesson 1: When life throws you a curve ball, your daily self-care routine grounds you.

I’m practical, as I’ve said many times on here, so I’m still pursuing roles in my current profession. But, I’m also opening myself up to a lot of other possibilities. I don’t think I would be in that mindset if I hadn’t been practicing self-care over the past year or so.

Everything happens for a reason. It usually drives us in some better direction — even if we can’t see that right away.

Gratitude journaling helped me over the hump of this perhaps more than anything. I didn’t do it the same night I found out that I was being laid off. I wasn’t feeling very grateful that day, I’ll admit. But, I started a couple of days later. I basically forced myself to look at the positive side of this situation. Sometimes we have to do that. Sometimes it’s just a choice we have to make.

I wasn’t happy in my role, so I was grateful for not having to get up and go into a job that I didn’t love. It made me realize how much I wanted a job that I do love. You start to realize how much time you put toward things that don’t bring you joy, and that’s not the way life should be lived.

But back to the gratitude journaling. I give thanks for the things that are positive about the situation — the release of stress from dealing with some folks, the free time to look inside and determine what I want to do. More time to take care of myself. I can be much more conscious of what I eat — choosing lower-cost fruits and vegetables rather than more costly items or going out to eat. Those are all good things and they are all part of getting laid off.

Lesson 2: Gratitude journaling forces you to look at the positive regardless of the situation. Try it … that’s all I’m saying.

When I do gratitude journaling, I also incorporate some visualization. I’m just starting to hone in on some key components of my dream life. This helps me let go of the emotions around being laid off and move toward something more meaningful in my life. There are all kinds of tips out there for gratitude journaling. Here are a few articles that may help you start this ritual, but if you Google it, you’ll find tons more:

I don’t know where I’m going right now, but I know I’m going to start down a new path. This situation and the journaling that followed has led me to the realization that I don’t want to spend my life doing what I’m doing any more.

Now, I’m not going to look back at all the time I have spent doing it in the past, because that doesn’t serve me.

If you believe in messages and signs, the world has been filled with them today. Almost every post I’ve seen on social media is about life being a dream and we are the creators of that dream. How can you deny that kind of message? Especially when you’ve seen it at least 10 times in the same day.

In fact, I just finished a book last night that I will recommend to everyone here that kind of coincides with everything I’m talking about here. The book is called Love The Beat Goes On  by Lynda Filler.

She was diagnosed a with a form of heart disease that is usually fatal. She was told to get her affairs in order. Talk about putting my lay off into perspective — that certainly did. I’m out of a job … she was on the verge of dying. Big difference. I think I got that book just when I needed it. I believe in synchronicity if you can’t tell.

Back to the story. Basically, she refused to die. She used positive thinking, shaman work, journaling, gratitude — all of the same things to heal herself and beat the odds of this disease. It’s inspirational, but it also has some tips at the end to help you live the life you want. She’s not perfect and she doesn’t have everything she wants, but she believes these things will come her way. In my opinion, she’s living in Puerto Vallarta writing poetry and taking photos, so she seems to be doing something right. And more power to her.

The funny thing is that she also mentioned dreaming your life — you know using vision boards. Creative visualization. Positive thinking. Manifestation. Whatever you want to call it, she’s an example of how this can work. I’ve done it before and made things happen. I think I will try to do it again.

Just today I’ve been thinking of my own passions. Yoga and music and somehow wanting to combine the two. Then I was followed by a group called Yoga Vida Festival. Their theme? Uniting people through yoga and music. What are the chances, right?

There is something about putting vibes out into the universe. I’ve seen it happen. Magic can happen.

Lesson 3: Magic does exist. It’s inside us. Be positive and focus on what you want. Dreams can become reality. 

And would I be feeling this way or seeing these things syncing up if I was going to that same job, complaining about the same things, and doing the same work I’ve been doing for the past three years? No. I would be working and complaining and coming home to veg out like I normally do. Where I may let a bit of panic enter my being when I think of finances from time to time (damn that practical side of me), I’m not focusing on it and I’m feeling pretty good and hopeful.

I think I’m even going to start painting and maybe do more amateur photography and poetry. I might even share some of it on here. Hell, maybe I’ll throw that into my dream life/career, too. Why not? If life is but a dream, might as well make it a good one, right?

Peace ya’ll. Make magic happen.

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In Case of Emergency

Using self-care as a flotation device.

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In some ways I’m very lucky. God, the universe, life circumstances … I don’t know what did it, but my brain was switched sometime at birth to “carry on.” To fight my way through when things get kind of dark. I turn inward instead of doing drugs or forming some other self-harming habit. I could very easily go down that path. It’s in my genetics. I have family members who have struggled with those things. Luckily, I haven’t.

Somehow I always manage to find something to cling to. Fantasy. Sleep. Lately, self-care. It’s not a happy process all the time, but it’s better than the alternative.

I recently mentioned that I’ve been seeing a therapist and that it appears I’ve experienced some trauma in my life. As a result, I developed what my therapist calls maladaptive schemas. They’re in the subconscious. Basically they’re emotions as a result of something in your past that just hang out in the back of your brain.

What sucks about them is that you are unaware of them. Some thing — a smell, a song, a place, the tone of voice someone uses — triggers this subconscious memory. That memory, or the emotion behind it, then fills your head. Or it can. Apparently it has been for me and I didn’t even realize it.

As I said in a previous post, we all have some level of trauma. Those negative feelings you get where you think you can’t do something or be something or you’re defective in some way … those are probably maladaptive schemas. Some times they’re just nagging little things. Sometimes they’re more than that and they start to impact your life choices — what career you follow, whether you go out or not. You can lose interest in the things you once loved.

Lately, I’m seeing how these subconscious emotions have had an impact on me. And it sucks. Big time sucks. I’ve been quite down lately. Lethargic. Unmotivated. Lost. Confused. I told my therapist this weekend (I use a mental health app called Talkspace) that I’m upset because I’m realizing that maybe I didn’t live the life I was supposed to have.

I’m at the midway point in my life, at the very least, and I’m not sure this is the life I was supposed to have. What would my life be like if I had not had these subconscious feelings altering my thoughts and decisions? I had visions of a much different life when I was younger. The whole idea started messing with my head.

The last few years have been kind of rough, to be honest. That’s how I got into self-care to start. I’ve been anxious, suffering through a few panic attacks on my way to work, depressed, angry. It all frigging sucked. Then I realized that I got there, to that place of total suckage, because of these subconscious feelings that were developed when I was a kid.

The thought put me in a tailspin. I’ve been coming to the realization over a few weeks. This weekend, it hit me and knocked me over the edge of the boat. I’m floating in this sea of unknowing. Floundering, perhaps, a little. This isn’t what my life is supposed to be.

So I’m not feeling like going to work. I’m not feeling much of anything but sadness. But I’m using my self-care routine, my daily rituals as a flotation device right now. It’s better than drugs or alcohol. It’s something to hold onto that in the end is helpful rather than harmful. At first it doesn’t provide instant gratification. It’s not a quick fix. But you get there eventually.

So I’m holding on, and I’m going to hold onto it for dear life. Because I carry on. That switch in my brain always sends out this signal that says, “It will get better. Something better is out there. There is a reason you’re here.”

Thank God for that signal. It gets faint sometimes. I’m not talking suicidal, but just the giving up on life thing. Giving up hope. For some, though, I can see how that signal could disappear. I hope for those people they learn how to use self-care. Whatever form it takes can literally save your life. I’m going to do more research on this. Read more about it. I’ll share things as I come across them that may be useful.

Today, I forced myself to get up and do yoga. It’s a routine that is helping me through this. I worked out at lunch as I have for the past year. It’s similar to dealing with the death of a family member. You know how you go back to work to occupy yourself, to busy yourself? It’s the same thing but, in my opinion, better for you. Work has stress. Yoga, meditation, exercise, eating right — in the end they all contribute to your recovery, healing, and overall well being.

So, if you have thoughts that have stopped you from following a dream or that have kept you in a job you don’t enjoy any more, maybe talk to a therapist. Trust me. Maybe this isn’t the life you’re supposed to be living. It’s a painful realization, especially when you’re not so  young any more but, believe it or not, it is a good one to have.

I may be hanging onto my flotation device right now, but the waters are calming. The sky is clearing. Maybe there’s a new life out there waiting for me to join it and the only way I’m going to make it is to hold on to that lifesaver.