Every so often, I get hit with a day full of anxiety. Full-on, occasionally to the point of exhibiting physical signs, like shaking & tears. It’s awful. A few weeks ago, when I hosted my sister’s baby shower, I didn’t realize my 6 yr old & I would be driving in the early hours of a Saturday morning on an unplowed, icy expressway. A trip that usually takes 2 hours took me 4 hours that day, and it was awful. I’m not the best driver in the world, but I can hold my own, in good conditions. In bad conditions, I’m a puss. I had to stop several times on the way there, one time just to have a good cry after trying to pass a bus and nearly fishtailing into the median. I almost turned around, but couldn’t bring myself to bail on my sister, so I trudged along. About 30 miles away, the roads got better, and any time I started to feel afraid, I remembered F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real. I used that as a mantra to get me through the rest of the wintery drive. I arrived with barely enough time to get everything set up for my sister’s shower, but it was a success, and I’m so happy I not only survived that challenge, but felt empowered on the other side of it! I drove home, in the dark; usually another challenge for me, but since the roads were completely dry — I felt like the best driver on the road!
Amazing what a little perspective can do.
Last week, I got hit with another fun day of anxiety. We had a death in the family: my Great-Uncle passed away. He was such a good guy; patiently taught me how to play euchre at our family cottage on Lake Michigan when I was 11 years old, and the importance of always singing my heart out; Uncle Marv had such a sweet, strong tenor voice. He passed away in his favorite chair at home Wednesday after a full 88 years of life. There was no question that we would attend the memorial service — especially since it was happening on a Saturday, but doing anything across the state with 2 little kids does take some effort. And I blew it up even more in my head Wednesday night, so I didn’t sleep well, then woke up feeling even worse. A good portion of my day on Thursday was spent in my anxious-overwhelmed-head.
One of the reasons I had so much anxiety was because we did have a few things on our to-do list for Saturday, including the yoga class I’ve recently gotten back into. I took classes for awhile, but in order to save money & time, I’ve been practicing at home for the last 3+ years. Thing is, physically going to a yoga studio and being able to tune everything else out has helped me so much, physically & mentally. Since I couldn’t go on Saturday, I decided to do a makeup class and had two options Thursday evening — the beginning level I’ve been doing with my friend, or the intermediate level I last took 3 1/2 years ago. Since I was going alone, I decided to challenge myself. My anxiety felt debilitating going in; while sitting on my mat waiting for the class to start, I wondered if I would be able to keep up. I felt very awkward & shaky at first, but I not only managed to get up into a couple middle of the room hand-stands & half-moon (a pose I hadn’t attempted in a long time!) but by the time I got to a sweaty & well-deserved Savasana, I had let go of all of my anxiety & forgotten about all of the things that could go wrong over the weekend. I felt strong, yet at peace walking out of my yoga studio. I not only survived, but I succeeded!!
I came home to a family of 3 smiling faces — an added bonus. The hubs & I put the kids to bed together and shared a couple beers around our fireplace instead of stressing about the weekend ahead. My strength & pride leaked into the weekend, and I’m still feeling it today. I didn’t allow the random bullshit to infect me, sure, the hubs & I had a few moments of frustration, especially when we had to pick & choose what we could & couldn’t do, but they were fleeting. Saturday, we did what we had to do to be there for my family at the memorial & luncheon, ending the day at my Aunt’s home for a few beers with my cousins & shared several laughs; Sunday morning, we were able to have breakfast with my cousins at a big, long table that resembled one we would share breakfast around at the family cottage. The venue may have been different, but the laughs & love were the same. Then, before we headed home, we rewarded our kids for behaving as well as they did over those 24 hours by hitting up the Rainforest Cafe for lunch. Sure, we came home as an exhausted family Sunday afternoon. But I would’ve done it all over again.
Sometimes you need to face those stressful & challenging situations head on; if you can focus on what needs to get done, letting go of that debilitating F.E.A.R., you will come out the other side of it with a full & happy heart.
This post is dedicated to my Great-Uncle Marv who lived his life with a big, strong heart full of love for his family, music, and without fear. Uncle Marv will continue to live on in my heart & the hearts of all who knew him. To know him was to love him. Peace & love to his wife, my Aunt Mary, and to his children & Grandchildren, my cousins… all of whom I have the utmost respect & love for. Continued blessings of love & strength go out to the whole family.