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Is This Useful? (On Anxiety, Mindfulness, & How I'm Getting Through Life & Conquering Personal Fears)


I've been a collector striving for minimalism my whole life-- I've wanted less and collected more as a constant part of my life path. I've bought things, held on to things, struggled to let go of things, and then dropped everything completely and totally at once to start fresh all in the same month.

I've done this physically and emotionally throughout my entire life-- but I still feel like I've come a long way in my past 30+ years. If I met her today, I wouldn't recognize the candy bar eating, binge drinking, pretend-healthy microwaving mock meat cooking, Red Bull drinking insomniac, anxiety prone person that I was 12 years ago. Sure, I look the same--- maybe it's genetics on my side, and when attempted, most people do guess that I am a decade below my actual age. Other than my rounder face, the bleached blonde hair, and the non floppy pre-baby boobs I had, I do look the same. Emotionally, I'm different.

I still have my child like optimism--- always always hoping for the best. Idealistic to the fullest extent. I still and will always have my desire to change things-- to fix the world. I still panic in open water and I'm painfully far from ever riding a bike. I still want to grow and better myself every single day. And I do sometimes struggle to let things go (physically, not emotionally)--- but I'm working on it. But all together, my thought process is somewhat more streamline (somewhat). I'm not sad. I don't have highs and lows. And my anxiety has mostly (basically completely) been put at bay.

Before getting sick and after getting sick, I think diet has had one of the greatest impacts in my overall feeling and well-being. Eating real food and cutting out the processed "food" has made all the difference. It's made me feel alive. I felt a giant shift when I went vegan from the standard American diet -- but then (especially) the change from going from your standard vegan diet to a diet of mostly high raw fruit + greens and low fat (with a bit of cooked food for dinner--- sometimes lunch) in the past few months has impacted me in uncountable ways. I ate healthy the past two years since getting sick, I don't think anyone would argue that--- but the more recent change in diet really shifted my whole entire life. Without anticipating or expecting I've seen a countless number of positive outcomes in my diet and mood. And I am grateful that I finally have seemed to find something that really works-- or is seemingly really working for my health and my life (as mentioned, I don't consider myself 100% yet).

But I don't think diet has been the only part in my emotional growth. I think diet can get you far-- very far (maybe the furthest) but there's more to it than that. I think a big part has been due to my childlike (hopeless) optimism and my ever growing desire to better myself. I don't really care for the word 'mindfulness'-- it just feels like another trendy catchphrase coined by someone. But there is something to be said about being mindful in everything we do--- the way we breath, what we eat, in every person we choose to experience (or tolerate) in our lives, every single moment we decide to engage in and be grateful for, etc. It doesn't necessarily mean that I'm meditating every minute of every day, but rather, that I'm attentive to where and how each moment of my short life is spent... and what thoughts are happening in those moments too.

I'm now very cautious with my life-- sometimes, haha. Well, I should be cautious to use the word cautious. I'm teetering on a line between caution and GO. Sure, I sometimes jump into things without overthinking (my mom would describe me as a tornado) and maybe get caught up in less than perfect situations, but never regretfully. Because I know that at the end of the day, life is short and even when things are less than ideal, they're moments that I'm going to grow from and out of. Actually, you know what-- I dont want to use the word cautious at all. I do want to use the (trendy) word mindful. I've very mindful with my life now--- even before, during, and after I tornado ;)

I can't actually say with certainty that I'm cautious. I mean, I am, depending on the personal connotation you take with the word. For me, I've been cautious in a productive way, not in a hermit way. I've actually conquered more fears this year/month than ever before. And while I know that some of my own fears are silly, they've been personal crutches and set backs for me-- so as little as my own fears might be to someone else, it's had a big impact in my life that I've been able to conquer them--- without panic, fear, and crippling anxiety taking over.

So what is one of the most simple things that has had the biggest impact on my life this year? Well, as much as I'd like to take full credit for this thought--- I can't--- it goes right back to The Minialmist movie I've mentioned oh so many times--- Dan Harris (tv reporter, author) brought up the question:

Is this useful?

And this can idea can be applied to every single thing.

Whether it's about making (or not making) a purchase, or dealing with an angry neighbor, food, or best of all: fear and anxiety. With every anxious or overwhelming feeling I now ask myself: is this useful? Yes, some anxiety is useful---  anxiety can sometimes be how we save others lives or save our own lives in times of need. It's how we finish that task right on time that we've been postponing for much too long. Sometimes that feeling of anxiety can come in handy.

But sometimes (in many cases) it does not.

It's now those moments on trips, when the plane starts to bounce and the cabin gets a little too shaky for my personal comfort zone. When my heart starts to race and I want to cry a little bit--- where I now stop and ask myself: is this useful?

And the reality is--- my heart racing, my fear of losing Marlowe, and any other horrific thoughts I might have on that plane ride are not useful. The reality is that if something happens to the plane, then something happens to the plane. The plane will go down and there will be nothing I can do about it. So my fears and stress and worry are not useful in the moment. They don't get me further in my journey, they don't make me safer, they don't make me feel accomplished-- they are not useful.

So now, whether I'm 30,000 miles up in the air, or wading through water in a dark underground cave (I did that last week! I took a video to prove it!), or at home drowning in a never ending to do list, I ask myself, are my worries, anxieties, or possible pending negative emotions useful? You know what? They're almost always not.

Things are good. Hectic as all hell--- as mentioned I sort of (accidentally?) turned our home situation upside down this week--- but I don't let myself to negatively feel it anymore. My body (and every body) deserves to live in a feeling of comfort and not self induced, unnecessary stress.

I dont know.  I guess what I'm saying is this thought/idea/question/mantra/whatever really has helped me with so many stresses of life... and maybe it can help you too? I just remember life is short. It's up to me to how I will handle myself and the surrounding experiences around me. Or up to you on how you will perceive, translate, and handle the things, people, emotions, whatever in your life. So yeah, this post is longer than I intended, but the cliff notes are: with everything you do, ask yourself: is this useful? And if yes, do it well. If not, let it go.

*****

Alright friends! I hope you're having a great week! I'm running around like crazy and going to check out a temporary house later today too. But the weather is still pretty nice and something to celebrate for sure! ppppppssss. I have posted (a long time ago) about my anxiety issues if you care to read. I think most of the people around me would say I've overcome A LOT of it. I'm still an introvert that does better in small groups, but I can handle bigger situations and strangers a lot better now for sure. I'm even public speaking in a few weeks (at the west palm library, if you're local). Oh and I'm totally still pretty awkward, but I don't know if theres a motivational talk that can help me out grow that, haha. Happy first week of February!

*****

ps. thats me up there in that photo! but please note how I am approximately four feet from land. But hey, baby steps, right? Basically I had been mildly conquering new fears on my recent mexico trip-- it wasn't planned, just sort of happened. And with one hour left to catch our shuttle to the airport-- Celia convinced me to get in the cenote for a photo--- all alone--- with no one around to help me if a snake or something swam up haha. Something I would have NEVER done before. But I did it. So there's that. Photo by my amazing friends, Celia D. Luna.

pps. I was recently having a conversation with a friend (I don't even remember about what, but probably about recent happenings and predicaments in my life), but he said, "well, it doesn't serve you, does it?" --- which essentially translates the same way. My guess is he also picked up that idea from sort of motivational something or other (we're all lovers of self help self growth sort of things ;) haha), but I thought I should bring it up! There's lots of ways to stop and check in with things and moments in your life. I totally recommend you do--- in whichever which way you want to do it! For me, I really appreciate the idea of usefulness-- to the things around me, to what I choose to do, and especially in how I choose to feel :)

3 comments:

  1. Sending you all of the love on your journey and finding lots of comfort in your insight

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  2. Your rambling is addictive... and wise. Thank you.

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  3. i REALLY relate to this.. and for years I've followed you.. since Marlow was a tiny babe in arms and I marvel at how beautifully you've bloomed. the way you cultivate your life.. you are a true creator & conquerer!

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