life mental health renewal self care strong Mar 05, 2021

It is safe to say that this last year and more than likely this coming year have been, and will be challenging.

Everything we know is changing.

We see the world with new eyes. The relationships around us have become broken in a way; human connection has become terrifying. For those of us who dread change, we have been thrown into an alternate reality that still seems too skewed to be real, and we cover our internal suffering with humor, disbelief and denial. There are always tragedies around the world, even as close as down the street, but we never think it will be us. We never think it will hit home. As human beings we are naturally cocky, born into ego and given no sense of mortality until it hits us right in the face. So when surrounded by death, despair, and consistent struggle, our minds and bodies don’t know how to process the magnitude of the reality around us.

It is natural, it is human.

There are those that jump right in, ready to face the change, ready and willing to barrel through the obstacles that are laid out, without a second thought as to how long this race will be. You can be the greatest athlete in the world, but if the race doesn’t stop, if it doesn’t end, how long will it be before you can’t run anymore? How long will it be before you collapse and succumb to the misery you’ve been trying to run from?

Then there are those that are hesitant, that are unsure of the length of the race, but understand that there are many obstacles and fear exhausting their body so they stand stagnant. They refuse to move for fear that it will be too hard; it won’t make a difference, and watching people fall is at least entertaining. But while the rest of the world moves, there they stand, unable to accept or deny the changes around them, laughing as the rest of the world faces trial and error, and unable to take responsibility for the roots that have grown from their feet, creating hazards for other racers around them.

And then there are those that walk, slowly but surely scaling the hills and peaks that life resurrects, unsure of when the decline will start, but knowing that standing still will only amount to defeat. In some ways, the movement itself becomes meditative, but that doesn’t mean that there is any less of a struggle. The mind itself is its own tumultuous race, and regardless of the pace, in some ways it can seem to go backwards.

When this pandemic first started, just like everyone else I had mixed feelings. I was terrified, angry, sad, and ultimately unsure of what the truth was. In an age where social media is the stage of all information, and growing up in a time where the internet couldn’t be trusted, I was faced with feelings of doubt but also terrifying belief. I have always been able to take subtle changes with stride, but when it’s the entire planet that seems to be suffering, I didn’t know how to move forward. I tried to portray myself to others as a beacon of strength, taking on tasks to busy my mind and spirit so that the truth wouldn’t peek out. Internally I was screaming. The world as we know it is falling apart, our eco systems are crashing, Black men and women are being killed and prosecuted for existing, politics are separating people in detrimental ways, the rich and greedy continue to rule the world, people are sick and dying, hospitals and medicine have become a place of fear instead of innovation, people are losing jobs, losing money, and education is struggling to keep up with the demand and extremes of the current times.

I was carrying all of this on my shoulders.

I felt like the modern day Atlas, knowing that it was all too heavy for me to take on, but doing it anyway because I felt hopeless, and the media wasn’t mincing their words. And while I was carrying that weight, bits of my past starting resurfacing, whispers in my ear that were like five pound weights being added to my bar. I had started out okay, slowly but surely scaling my own obstacles, thinking that if I just make it over this hill, I will be stronger because of it. I had taken on so much of the world, that now I needed other tasks to mask the weight and hide my own truth. I started Curvy In Thirty, because stronger body means stronger mind right? I became an Ambassador, a wonderful excuse to encourage others and provide a front to hide my own misery. I started writing for this blog, coming up with posts weekly, giving myself deadlines and researching the morning away because that is the responsible thing to do right? I was also working for my parents at the time at their store, all while being a mother, a homemaker, and an educator to a very smart, energetic little boy. I was checking in on friends weekly, trying to stay connected, train and work with my dogs, be a good partner to my fiancé, be an inspired artist, and no sooner did I start all these tasks did I completely crash. The weight became unbearable. I slowly started disappearing from all of these tasks, taking one weight off at a time, and becoming stagnant. First it was Curvy in Thirty. Letting all of the women I had hyped up so much down. I wasn’t going to ambassador meetings, I wasn’t doing check ins, I wasn’t working out. Then it was the blog. I didn’t have any content, I was losing my creativity, I wasn’t feeling inspired. And my excuse for it all is “I’m focusing on my mental health.” Which I was, but I wasn’t at the same time. Then I stopped creating art, I stopped cleaning the house, I stopped giving my son the attention he needed to learn and grow. I was still a mother, he was eating and sleeping and doing all those kid things, but I wasn’t present. I wasn’t playing with my dogs, I wasn’t present in my relationship, I was exhausted all the time, but staying up late watching dumb videos on my phone because I just needed a distraction. I let everything fall through the cracks, and the first start of roots started to form at my feet. My past started to creep in more and more, and the roots kept me from running from it. I could see the playing field in front of me, the path of my life and where it could be going, but I had started the race with so much gusto that I had nothing more to give.

My body was failing me.

I wanted to be an advocate for change, I wanted to be an artist with original content and start pushing myself to be better for the future of my career. I wanted to be the mom that did everything with her kid, that didn’t confine herself to her home and be outdoors all the time, but I had overserved myself and my plate became too much to consume. I started falling backwards, eating to console myself, letting the TV babysit my kid, not going outside or getting any sort of exercise. For a while I recognized this problem but refused to fix it because for once in the past year I was comfortable. I kept telling myself that I needed a break, making excuses for poor eating habits and lack of movement. I allowed negative self-talk to guide my every movement and be the forefront my personality when in social situations. I could feel my anxiety heightening, I could feel my body rejecting my lack of movement and I was catching glimpses of the path I was going down. It wasn’t where I wanted to be. After two, almost three, months of stagnancy, I decided I needed help and guidance from a professional. Therapists have had their hands full with patients this year, and right as I started that negative self-talk crept in, trying to talk me out of going because I didn’t want to be a burden. I wasn’t bad enough. But I wasn’t good enough either. I did it anyway, and it was the best decision I could have ever made. Even though our conversations have been more about present issues, anxieties and child rearing etcetera, I can feel myself slowly shedding the roots that I had let get out of hand. I can feel the past staying where it belongs instead of acting as future obstacles. Now I’m not saying that therapy is for everyone, and I’m not saying that this is what everyone goes through, but I needed that small step backward to open up the paths that I needed to take to move forward. There is no right or wrong way to go through the race of life, some days it feels like I could be running, some days a slow paced walk is what I need, and other days I just need to stand still for a moment and take in the scenery before continuing forward. But stagnancy will get you nowhere, laying down roots when the race isn’t even over is taking away your own ability to see what’s on the other side of the hill or mountain. I know by now this analogy is probably overused, but you get what I mean.

Even the slightest of movements can get you closer to your goals.

I started writing down things that I wanted to accomplish in a week, things that I know will help move me forward, that are obtainable on a short term basis; things as simple as getting the laundry done in one day so I’m not stressing about it for days; taking time to write every day, even if it’s only a couple of sentences, to get me out of my head, and into a productive resource. Being active every day, even if that means just cleaning the house or taking a walk around my property with my son. I started meditating every day, just five minutes because it’s an obtainable goal, and five minutes is easy to spare. I give myself that time to reflect, let go, and give myself affirmations to make it through my day. And sometimes it’s nice to just be. I am not perfect, and striving for perfection only leads to disappointment. And I don’t need to be. For me personally, I am in a phase in life where I never know what I’m going to get. A kid that doesn’t want to nap, a kid that wants to nap all day, tantrums, colds, high stress and anxiety, who knows! But I deserve, and not just me, everybody, to give myself a fighting chance to continue the race, regardless of what my day gives me. This year and last year have been rough, but they have been reflective haven’t they? We have seen just how durable the human race is, but also how fragile and short life can be. I don’t just want to run through life missing these little moments that deserve to be noticed. I don’t want to blow past other racers because their pace is too slow, I want to be able to stop and carry those when they need carrying. I want to be the best possible athlete I can be for myself and for others, and that begins with hard work internally. So when you have a moment to just stop and be, just be. When you have a moment to be reflective, be reflective. When you have the opportunity to help someone, help them. Know that whatever struggles you have, whatever battles you face, and whatever obstacles stand in your way, you are stronger than you think.

You are worthy, you are able, and you are seen.

I have been blessed to be a part of a community of women that not only support your physical health and wellbeing, but also your mental health, and it is not talked about enough. So here is your reminder that you are not alone, that what you are feeling is valid, that there are people around you, even people you may not know well, that are here for support and love when you need it. Asking for help is not a weakness; it is the biggest form of strength. So don’t be afraid, you’ve got this, don’t let this race of life intimidate you, let it empower you. Let it make you be the best possible version you can be, and be it.

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