The beginning of a new year leads one to reflect on the past year. On New Year’s Eve I visited Fern Dell Nature Center to quietly contemplate 2014.
Surrounded by the smell of fern, the sight of hummingbirds, the sound of running water, and the feel of warm rays of the sun on my skin epitomized a perfect place for thought and reflection.
2014 was a year of transformation. In order for one to grow, things have to change. While 2014 did not start off as a piece of cake for me, halfway through the year, and with a lot of work – things got better.
I am so proud of my health: mind, body and spirit. Perseverance, resilience, and taking the time to get to know myself and fall in love with who I am and am becoming are all I could’ve asked for in 2014.
**Sending you warm hugs and happy wishes. Happy New Year!**
I leave you with some images I took while at Fern Dell.
Soft blankets, hot cocoa, rainy days, holiday lights, and fuzzy socks. That’s what comes to mind when I think about winter, particularly, December.
Along with the coziness found in homes on chilly winter evenings come cheery, almost always fun filled holiday parties.
This year, my job’s holiday party invite was sent out via email. I excitedly RSVPed immediately. As the date neared, I occasionally checked the list of confirmed guests. As more people replied yes, one thing became obvious — almost every single person had a plus one.
____ + 1 (my husband)
____ +1 (my partner)
…and on it went.
On the days leading up to the party, I became mildly obsessed with this idea that everyone was taking a +1. And yes, saying Everyone is a cognitive distortion.
Let’s take a moment to rationalize that thought: some people are in relationships and are taking a plus one. Others, however, are going solo, just like you.
That symbol and number led me to spend some time thinking about my current relationship status: single.
I made a cross-country move while being in a long distance relationship with an individual living in the city I was relocating to. I was starting over in a new place. I had left several things behind: friendships, a job — an entire life I had spent 5 years creating.
The difficult reality of relocating hadn’t fully hit me and a big reason was because I had someone there.
My life revolved around work, him, and reconnecting with family and some friends. Along with ridding myself of many physical belongings when I moved, so did the powerful traits that once defined me shed away. Transplant amnesia took over as I completely forgot about the passionate, empowering activities I had spent years committed to that truly defined me. And, I was okay with that because I was in love.
After the break up I took care of my self, focused on positivity, cognitive behavioral therapy, and self-love. Slowly, I began to find myself again and find meaning in my life outside of my partner.
Now, months later, I know and am truly happy taking care of myself by myself. I have once again dedicated my hours and days to fighting for a better, more just world.
I have set short and long term goals and have regained confidence, self-esteem, and levels of productivity. I have become a better person by prioritizing my needs and wants.
Currently, I stand in a place of compassion and self-care, where I am becoming a better version of myself. Along the way, I have created unimaginable amazing experiences and fostered even stronger relationships with others – all which would have not been as achievable if I had not had the opportunity to blossom.
So, tomorrow is my work’s holiday party. Tomorrow, I will go as a RSVP without the +. Tomorrow, however, I will also spend the entire day prior to the party engaging in empowering work that has provided me a space to find myself once again and develop my own life. A life independent of another person, i.e. a man; a life where I am building myself; a life filled with experiences that have transformed me, built my confidence, and surrounded me with love.
I am writing this after a few weeks of being MIA due to a very hectic, yet amazingly productive last couple of months.
I am working hard to stay in the present moment — mind, body and spirit. However, I can’t help but sometimes think of where I was and how far I’ve come. I am incredibly happy and filled with love. I want to spread this message with the world: things will get better. We all go through dark, rough times. Life events, good and bad are cyclical, but things do get better. People heal, hearts mend, and love is found again. Happiness — in many shapes and forms surrounds us all the time.
I expect this message to reach someone out there — and if that someone is you — please know that you will be better. Focus on self love, self care, and being a great person to yourself. You matter and you deserve to be happy.
Being an introvert simply means I gain my energy by being alone. As an introvert, I do love to be out with people, I love to party, socialize, build relationships, and explore the world. Yet, in order for me to continue doing these things I have to spend some time alone to recharge my batteries.
It used to be that I felt depressed because I was alone, however, I was happy being alone, but then was mad at myself for wanting to be alone, however, I didn’t want to be around anyone, but I was depressed because I was spending time alone. Yes, that’s how my brain was wired — thoughts would ramble on and on without end because solitude made me feel good, but I felt this intense guilt from within because I had this cognitive distortion causing me to have an all or nothing way of thinking. I would think , “Everyone is out doing something. All these people are out enjoying their beautiful day. I am the only person home alone right now.”
Remember that I said I actually wanted to be alone? Well, that’s the thing about depression — we create our own misery by thinking about things a certain way — and it’s almost always thinking of things in a negative way.
A lot of the work I have done in therapy sessions and on my own has been to rewire my brain by facing those cognitive distortions head on and challenge my irrational distorted thoughts by analyzing them and replacing them with positive rational ones.
It has been good exercise and the process has helped me a lot.
One of the things I have rationalized is that not everyone is out doing something on weekends or weeknights. Also, I’ve come to realize how much I love being alone. I love recharging my batteries by staying home every once in awhile. Most importantly, I understand that it is OKAY to stay home and it is OKAY to spend quality alone time when I need it.
I spent the past three days with co-workers for a work retreat in Santa Barbara. We attended workshops and lived together the entire time. When I am away for work I enjoy socializing with my co-workers, having dinner, and grabbing a drink or two. However, the entire experience tends to be pretty draining because it really does take a lot of energy out of me.
I did have a few minutes of solitude. There was a beautiful pond where we were staying and I was fortunate enough to spend some time there meditating.
I returned home on Friday night and have this weekend free before going to San Diego on Monday morning for three days to attend another work related conference. I will be living with my co-workers again in a large Victorian home.
Being an introvert does not mean I am some anti-social weirdo. All it means is that I need to understand when I need to recharge my batteries and regain some energy — and I do that by spending time alone. I knew today was a day I wanted to and needed to be on my own. It is a Saturday night and I am very happy to eat a delicious watermelon, watch some television, and organize my apartment.
Knowing myself better and understanding why I prefer to spend some time by myself helps me tackle my depression. Because yes, it may be Saturday night and some people are out doing typical 20-something things: drinking, dancing, spending time at a restaurant, etc. At the same time, others are staying in: relaxing, watching 48 Hours, cooking dinner, ordering delivery, reading, exercising, etc.
The world is not black or white. The world is colorful, beautiful, and full of people with many interests.
Tonight, I am grateful for the opportunity to spend a day in my adorable apartment. I am grateful because I am fortunate to have a place to be alone, calm, relaxed, and for having the time to fall in love with myself. I am so happy right now!
On Friday morning, I left my apartment at 6 am to pick up my little sister. She took a seat in my car, fastened her seat belt, we hopped on the freeway, and 3 hours later arrived in San Diego for Comic Con.
I did not have tickets to Comic Con, so I used the two days she’d be at the convention to enjoy some quality me time.
I spent Friday afternoon and Saturday morning poolside taking in some vitamin D. The sun rays on my skin felt so good. I’ve grown to appreciate the sun more as an adult because its existence nourishes life on this planet.
On Saturday, after a beautiful morning by the pool I checked out of the room and headed to Old Town San Diego with a map of a walking tour in hand. Old Town San Diego is where the area now known as California began — home of the first Spanish settlement in California, i.e. the first place in the Golden State where Spaniards conquered, converted to Christianity, and eliminated the original indigenous people of the area, the Kumeyaay.
Present day, buildings from the 1800s have been preserved or reconstructed to give one a glimpse of the past. Despite the actual history of how this town came to be, it was interesting to walk around Old Town San Diego. There is a heavy Mexican influence and many shops sell beautiful Mexican handmade crafts and art. Also, many of the buildings are used as specialty shops selling goods that were available to people long ago, such as a candy shop, candle shop, root beer shop, jerky shop, and even a Wells Fargo.
Old Town San Diego was a fun place to spend the afternoon because there was so much to do, see, eat, and photograph!
I was crawling into bed when I began to feel so grateful for the amazing people in my life who’ve crossed my path.
Five months have passed since I was on medical leave and I could not have gone every single minute, sometimes a second without the support of amazing people along the way.
Today, I am writing this to thank every single person who gave me a place to sleep, took me to the hospital, called me to find out how I was doing, gave me words of encouragement, and/or showed me genuine love when I needed it the most.
Having a support system is so important to feeling better. Healing happens from within, but often times is extra painless when others are selfless, giving, and truly human.
Today at this very moment I am in a great place. I thank you all for helping me get here.
A huge part of feeling good is living a balanced life where the amount of time dedicated to self care, work, and relationships is distributed evenly. There are a few things I want to do everyday that I would consider self care.
Living in a capitalist society, work tends to take over our lives and it’s super easy to neglect ourselves and/or friends and family.
I have set four weekly goals for myself that will make me feel happy and ensure I am practicing self care:
1. Read 50 pages per day everyday of a book of my choice
2. Meditate for 5 mins everyday after choosing a card from Psychic Tarot of the Heart
3. Place at least 3 picture frames for the Xiomara Project each week
4. Practice yoga 3 times per week. Only one of those 3 may be a restorative class – additional restorative classes will be in addition to the 3 classes.
What goals can you set for yourself in the areas of self care, relationships, and/or work that are achievable and will help you balance your life?