Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: emotional health (page 1 of 2)

Round-Up: Self-Care and Emotional Health Top 5 Articles

Self-care and emotional health are two very important topics to me. I recently saw this quote on a quote calendar I own:

“You must love and care for yourself because that’s when the best comes out.” ~ Tina Turner

So true, right? And as we all know, it is not always easy when you’re a parent, especially. So here is a round-up of the top 5 articles on my blog that have to do with self-care and emotional health. I chose this round-up thanks to everyone who took my poll on what topics readers would like me to focus on next. So here we go…

Life Is All About Your Reaction and Your Tribe (This post is about surrounding yourself with people who make you better and how you can’t control others, but you can control your reaction!)

Parents: Taking Time For Yourself (This post is about a trip I took with my girlfriends and why it is important for all parents to fill their well.)

The Thing About Change and Not Giving Up (This post was inspired by a book I read about ways to NOT become unglued and making imperfect progress toward goals.)

5 Things I Learned About Living In 2016 (From “balance is key” to “parenting is hard and give yourself a break”, this post shares my personal experiences while trying to improve my emotional health.)

Make This the Year You Start Taking Care of Number One  (Three tips for taking care of yourself and why you should! )

 

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Make This the Year You Start Taking Care of Number One

(contributed article)

Most people are incredibly concerned with looking after the people in their lives. This is an amazing thing, and it really is one of the very best things about human beings. However, a lot of people end up taking this too far and spend so much of their time worrying about the other people in their lives that they don’t manage to pay close enough attention to the things that they need. It might be something that you’re not all that used to, but taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of all of the people in your life. With that in mind, here are some ways that you can make this the year that you finally start taking care of number one!

Take care of your health

The first thing that you need to start doing is paying closer attention to your health. It’s crazy just how much people tend to ignore their own health in favor of focusing on other things. People can go years without a doctor or dentist appointment, let alone anything more specific when it comes to their health. Make an appointment for a checkup with your doctor, and then do the same for your more specific health needs. Look up dentists, dermatologists, and ophthalmologists nearby. Think of your body as a car; you need to get each and every part of it checked over if you want to avoid something going wrong.

Understand your emotions

Emotions are a tricky thing at the best of times, but it’s crucial that you’re as tuned in to your emotional health as you are your physical health. There’s a lot of stigma that surrounds mental and emotional health, but it’s always a good idea to pay close attention to your emotional well-being because otherwise, you could end up in some serious trouble. Pay attention to your emotions and think carefully about why you feel the way you do about certain things. Increasing your emotional intelligence is one of the best ways to improve your entire life.

Know what you’re worth

One of the hardest things for people to realize, and also something that makes it incredibly easy to put others needs before their own, is that they have worth. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do for a living, or how much money you have in the bank; you have worth because you’re a person and it’s important that you remind yourself of this fact every single day. If you forget your own worth as a person, it’s going to be that much easier for other people to take advantage of you.

Self-care might seem like a fairly new phenomenon, but the reality is that it’s been around for an incredibly long time and most people simply aren’t going to be able to function properly without it. It might seem selfish, and to a degree it kind of is. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, if you can’t look after yourself, how can you look after the other people in your life?

 

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Life is All About Your Reaction and Your Tribe

Today on Facebook, I saw the quote:

Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you react to it.

Isn’t that the truth? It was the right time to see this because earlier this week, I had a minor meltdown (I call it minor because it lasted a short time while one of my friends was saying: snap out of this; you’re just going to have to deal with it).  So what happened? When I was checking the balance of my bank account, I noticed 5 charges for $20 each to iTunes, which were not mine. And it looked like they were happening right then because these amounts were still on pending charges.

My anxiety level went through the roof. Christmas is already a time when I spend more money than I normally do; AND in Missouri, we also have personal property tax due. I immediately called the bank, and I was immediately put on hold. Meltdown occurred while I was on hold. I had time to think of all the negative, end-of-the-world things that were going to happen to me because someone stole $100 out of my checking account. Was the person still charging away? Would the person at the bank help me? Would I get my money back? When would I get my money back? I had been carefully planning my budget for this month, and now it was all shot to hell! I was spiraling.

Eventually, I took a deep breath with help from my friend. I called someone local at my bank who helped me instantly. I still don’t have the money returned, but I will get it back. I didn’t have to wait for a debit card to be sent to me; I could get another one at the local bank. So everything is fine. And the meltdown just made an unpleasant situation much, much worse. Luckily, I have a good friend who waded through my BS and said the things that needed to be said at that moment.

So I think that quote above is accurate; but for me, it’s changed a little:

Life is 10 percent what happens to you, 40 percent how you react to it, and 50 percent who you choose to surround yourself with.

That’s the key! Who YOU CHOOSE to surround yourself with! It is my choice, just like my reaction is my choice. I am so lucky to have amazing friends, but I would say that it’s not all luck. I pride myself on trying to be a good friend, and I am NOW careful on who I let into my life.

Just this morning, I was messaging with some girlfriends in a group chat, and we were talking about life and attitude. I mentioned a particularly difficult situation I had coming up and how there was really nothing I could do about it. I said: “I am choosing to let it go. We will tackle what happens when it happens–nothing that happens is the end of the world.” They all agreed and supported me. So again, 10 percent is what will happen (beyond my control), 40 percent is my current reaction and how I will react, and 50 percent is this group of amazing friends I have who are really the ones who have been teaching me all about reaction.

This holiday season and in 2018, you are bound to have some challenges. We all are. My wish for you is that you can choose your reaction and the people around you, and find joy in your life.

My word of the year this past year was peace (and organization–I like to continue improving on previous words of the year). It has taken me just about all year, but I am learning to live more peacefully. (Still learning, mind you…work in progress…) More about that next time. 🙂

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Turning a Mean-Spirited Comment Into a Glass-Half Full Moment

Recently, someone said to me, “You’ve got it made. What are you complaining about?” I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of why that comment was made or what I was “complaining about”; but I’m sure just from reading that dialogue, you can understand this person was not being kind. This person was trying to say that I was selfish, self-absorbed, and ungrateful.

It’s stuck with me. I take things people say to me to heart; I’ve been accused more than once of being over-sensitive. For a while now, I looked inside myself to see if I was truly being selfish. So, with all this introspection and being a writer, I’ve been wanting to blog about this topic for some time; but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say about it or how I wanted to approach a blog post based on this particular mean-spirited comment.

And then today in the shower, it hit me. (Many writers and artists can attest to the fact that great ideas come in the shower!) I can turn this comment, which was meant to be an insult, into something positive. I can look at my life and see all the ways I am lucky and all the ways that I truly do have it made. I can control my reaction to this comment and what I want other people to read about it. And so that’s what I am doing.

I do have it made because

  • I am lucky enough to have an amazing 7-year-old daughter who brings joy, love, and energy into my home every single day. My life would be boring and meaningless without her.
  • Both of my parents are still alive and involved in my daughter’s life on a daily basis.
  • I have a full-time job with benefits, using my college degree, which is paid off; and I work from home, which is a huge benefit as a single parent.
  • I am able to run 2 to 3 times a week because I am able-bodied.
  • I can shelter, feed, and clothe myself and my daughter.
  • I have enough money to do fun things, like go on small trips or go to Six Flags with Katie.
  • I am a writer–I am lucky enough to get to write and people read it. (This is a true blessing.)
  • I have friends and family who love me, care about me, want to be in my life, and invite me to do fun things.
  • I have a dog to keep me company and to keep me walking, even on days when I don’t feel like getting outside.
  • I live in a country, where I have many freedoms and opportunities.

So that’s right, I do have it made.

Yes, of course,  I have struggles. Who doesn’t? But I’m not going to allow myself to be weighed down by them or by negative comments because life is too short and too precious to not see the glass as half full.

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What’s So Hard About Being Nice? A Guest Post by Author Mary Maurice

Today, I welcome a WOW! Women on Writing blog tour author, Mary Maurice, who is celebrating the publication of her book,  Burtrum Lee.

Synopsis of the book:

Coated with a life of lies and deceit, Burtrum Lee Conner is sick to her stomach. Dozens of times throughout her life, the feeling of not being who she is has tormented her. But she kept it to herself, believing that maybe it’s just a chemical imbalance of some kind, considering she is one of the first artificially-inseminated babies of the 1960s. Now, there’s more though, something much deeper, much more maniacal than she could have ever imagined. She’s not the first test tube baby at all, but the first….

Burtrum Lee Conner, born into a world of scientific mystery, discovers that the life she’s been leading for the past forty years, is the wrong one. Her parent’s Jed and Jane Conner, stealing her as an infant, brought Lee up as their own. Even her devoted grandmother, Clair Conner, kept this secret close to her chest until they were found out. And now, Lee Conner’s biological mother, Katie Lee, wants her back, but not before the diabolical Dr. Stone has his say.

Paperback: 219 pages

Genre: Scientific Mystery

Publisher: Silver Leaf Books LLC (August 28, 2017)

Check it out on Amazon here! 

About the Author, Mary Maurice:

When I was a child growing up in the Detroit area, I thought I wanted to be a painter; and then as a teenager, the idea of being a musician intrigued me. Then as a young adult, I realized that I’m a writer.

After attending Western Michigan University for two party-filled years, I decided to leave academia and explore the real world to learn what life is truly about. For fifteen years, I traveled the country working in restaurants, writing and doing readings wherever I was welcome.

While living in Minneapolis during my twenties, I was fortunate enough to be tutored by Dr. Jonis Agee, who was at the time head of the creative writing department at St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul. Her lessons were imprinted in me for all of these years, and have influenced my writing ever since.

My adventures landed me in San Diego, Chicago, San Francisco, and Oregon, finally leading me to the Land of Enchantment, where I’ve resided since 1994. Living in Santa Fe, and the beauty and isolation that surrounds me, has inspired my creative muse in ways that no other place has. While still working in the hospitality industry, my passion for the craft of writing has never been stronger. And I know with each sentence I write, and every paragraph I compose, my ultimate goal is to find the perfect word.

Find Mary Online:

Website: http://www.marymaurice.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marymauriceauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MMauriceAuthor

Now, a few words from Mary: 

What’s So Hard About Being Nice?

The other day I had the TV on and an episode of Leave it to Beaver was airing. I couldn’t see the screen, but I listened to the dialogue and found myself hearing words of politeness and kindness. I thought to myself how long gone those days are. There were no vulgar words or soft porn themes, no selfish acts, no tossing a friend under the bus, no grabbing one’s crotch, or calling a woman a bitch. It was all clean cut and tension-less.

I miss those days when our world was PG, slowly and surely turning into an R rated society, and now swaying on R/X.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m living in Pottersville from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. At what point in our existence did being nice not matter any more? When the cool thing to do is to be rude and insensitive to the troubles of others. Where did compassion go or empathy disappear to? Or just doing the right thing, not because you want to, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Is it too hard to open a door, pick an item up that somebody dropped, tell a random person a silly joke just to make them laugh, buy a donut for someone just because they’re having a hard day? What is so hard about being nice? It’s very contagious, and I believe more people should be stricken with it. To me, there’s nothing better than making somebody feel good.

Don’t forget to check out her book, Burtrum Lee! 

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A Letter to a Narcissist

A little bit of creative writing I’ve been working on…

Dear Narcissist:

I am no longer going to be a supply for you. What do I mean? I know where you get your energy. You get your energy from me, from her, from anyone who will allow you to come into their lives and wreak havoc. But today, I am putting my foot down, and the thing is, I’m not telling you.

This may seem unfair to anyone who doesn’t know a narcissist. But if I tell you, if I let you know that today, I’m done allowing you to make me feel like I don’t matter, to make me feel like I am less worthy than someone else in your life, then I won’t be able to stick to this. All I will be is your supply for the day. You will make me feel guilty. You will make me feel wrong. I could be wrong, but the thing is that doesn’t matter. What matters is how I feel after dealing with you–whether it’s a conversation, an in-person meeting, or no response to my attempts at contact.

Actually, I don’t think you will notice. You’ve started to groom someone else, someone else is supplying your high.  You have someone else worried about your every need; you have someone else who will do anything for you. You found others who are supplying that emotional energy you need, when you make them feel like less than themselves. You make them feel like you’re the only one who can fix them, the only one who will have anything to do with them because of how horrible they are. You basically have to do nothing in return, except for your grooming, because now the people in your life are just waiting, hoping, yearning for your approval, time, and attention. It really is a wonderful support system you’ve created for yourself. But it’s not real, and deep down, you know it. Everything in your life is a facade. How exhausting that must be to be grasping a life, filled with beliefs that aren’t based in reality.

Here’s the other thing. I’m not upset with you–not anymore. I used to be. I used to be upset about how you always changed the rules; how you said something and then when I did it, you changed your mind and said it wasn’t enough or it was wrong; how you blamed me for everything; how you didn’t consider my feelings; how you acted like everything you gave me was a gift that I was super lucky to have because you were so busy and great, and I wasn’t; and how you made me feel like I owed you for the nice things you did for me. I’m not upset at you.

I’m upset with myself–for knowing that it would never get better; for getting away from you before and then letting you back countless times; for feeling like if I could only do this ONE thing right, you would want me again; for wasting my energy with someone who clearly doesn’t care about anyone, including himself.

I only hope I can stick to the first line in this letter.

I’m not going to be a supply for you anymore.

Love,

Someone who has a long journey ahead

If you have a narcissist in your life, the pain that you may be feeling is very real and similar to what is expressed in this post. I have found an invaluable resource in Kim Saeed’s website, if you are looking for answers and need to start healing. 

 

 

 

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It’s Time to Put You First

contributed article

Do you ever catch yourself thinking that life would be better if you could take time for yourself a little more? But it’s hard, and caregivers have the hardest time with this. Most people, both parents and adults without children just yet, need to feel needed.  It’s part of life to want to feel useful and vital to someone other than yourself. The ability to help and be compassionate to those who come into your life is one that most people treasure. The trouble with being needed all the time is that it can be extremely difficult to find time for yourself. By the time you’ve tended the needs of family, friends, children, work, and your home, there is very little time in the day that is left to have a moment to remember that you are important, too.

The idea that you must sometimes put yourself first is a difficult one to wrap your head around, especially if you are not used to finding time for your own needs. If you don’t take care of yourself, though, how can you expect to be there for anyone else? People need strong, happy individuals supporting them, and those who don’t take the time to look after their own needs often succumb to stress, depression, and sometimes, addiction.

If you find yourself being trapped in that cycle, where you feel like there is a lack of control over your life, then you need to start putting yourself before others. Stress and depression can lead to other physical manifestations of illness, and taking the time to rectify this is important. Checking into places like Compass Recovery for those who find themselves in the midst of an addiction as a way out of their stress is an important first step. It is not selfish to look after yourself or put yourself before other people, especially in the cases where you have spent so long looking after other people you’ve forgotten how to be you again.

Finally realizing that you matter enough to be important in your own life can set you on a path to freedom. Often, being relied on by so many other people can leave you feeling trapped. Their need of you can be suffocating and debilitating, and the feelings of guilt that you end up left with if you don’t help out on demand are consuming. The freedom you can feel by simply saying no and allowing yourself to be the priority in your own life is immense. The weight on your shoulders of unwavering obligation can lift, and you can start to see life a little clearer and a little lighter. You can still be there for people and put yourself first.

Start small, with evenings to yourself. A cup of tea in peace and quiet and enjoying the time you spend with your own company can be a refreshing change from being wanted and tugged at all the time. Finding a balance is never easy, but it’s one you have to seek if you feel pulled in different directions. Finding you is good for your health, and your health matters.

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Build a Brighter You

contributed article

Do you ever feel like you’re losing your confidence? Perhaps you have days where nothing seems to be going right; and no matter what you try, you just can’t seem to build up your mood. Well, the good news is that everyone has days like this at one point or another. The better news is that there are lots of ways to build back up your confidence and feel better about yourself.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

If shopping for outfits or accessories builds up your confidence, this doesn’t make you superficial. It makes you completely normal. There’s something about putting on a gorgeous new dress or a stunning piece of jewelry that immediately refreshes confidence. If you’re not one for traipsing around town, diving in and out of stores on the high street, you’ll be pleased to know there are plenty of places online to shop for what you’re looking for. According to sites like http://yourdiamondguru.com/reviews/james-allen/, James Allen is a great option for buying dazzling, deluxe jewelry that will make you glisten and sparkle. It just depends on the type of budget you’re working with.

You might think that to buy a beautiful outfit or a new selection of jewelry, you need to be going somewhere or attending a party, but you don’t. Dressing up on a day that you’re staying in can be just what you need to build up your confidence and self-esteem.

Night Out

Of course, that doesn’t mean that a night out on the town won’t help. It certainly could, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re married or single. If you’re single, you can head out and have fun with your friends. If it leads to something, great. If not, who cares? You’ll have a blast anyway. If you’re married, you can still head out for a night with the girls and make sure you don’t get too out of control. Even just getting a few looks across the bar from a tall, dark, handsome stranger can be enough to build up your self esteem. Or alternatively, you can head out with your partner and make sure you spend some time building up the foundations of the relationship.

Smile A Little More

Did you know that by smiling you actually make yourself just a little happier? You can learn more about that on http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/smiling-happy.htm.  If you are smiling, you let other people know you’re happy, which leads to positive interactions. Of course, it’s not always easy to grin when you’re feeling blue, but it could help you lead to a brighter day.

Take Some Time With Your Favorite Person

Of course, this is all about you, so why not take a trip, take a drive or even just sit and relax in your home by yourself? A little me time may be just what you need to build back up your confidence because it allows you to get in touch with yourself and find out what’s bothering you. Ask yourself: what’s going wrong and how can you fix it? Whether you’re climbing a mountain or heading on a spa day, you might just come home feeling refreshed and ready to be a brighter better you.

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Keeping Your Sense of Self When You’re a Mother and Wife

contributed article

It’s fair to say, as women, we have drawn the short straw in many respects, and there’s no doubt we have it tough at times. Along with growing, carrying and giving birth to our babies, in most cases, we’re their primary caregiver, too. And as wonderful and special as this is, it does mean that everything else in our lives can be twice as hard as we’re fitting it around our children. One thing many women struggle with after having kids is losing their sense of self or identity. You’re no longer just you, you’re a mother. Your new name is “mom,” and your new role is of a parent and sometimes wife. But just because you are these roles (and as enjoyable as they are), it doesn’t mean you have to totally lose the person you once were. Keeping your own identity is important; here are a few ways you can go about it.

 

Take Care of Your Appearance

As a busy parent, the way you look often falls to the bottom of the list of priorities. In the morning, it’s probably all about getting your little one up and washed, fed and dressed. But you don’t have to give up on yourself entirely, and actually making a small effort with your appearance is one of the best things you can do for your self-esteem. Perfect a super quick makeup routine- some foundation, bronzer, and a sweep of mascara will instantly make you look your best without being too done up. Every now and again, visit the hairdresser. Have a style cut, which is easy to maintain and quick to do in the morning. The trick is to work with your natural texture, for example, instead of shoving it into a ponytail. If your hair is already straight, run it over with the straighteners for just a minute or two. This will make it look tidier, get rid of any frizz or fluffiness, and allow it to sit better. If your hair is curly, you could scrunch through with some mousse; it won’t take long, but you’ll feel much better being well presented. You probably have your comfy “mom uniform” that you wear to run errands and get stuff done around the house; but a few changes here could make all the difference, too. Instead of a tracksuit, for example, a pair of leggings with a jersey skater dress and a long cardigan would look cute but be just as comfortable. If you run into anyone you know or catch sight of yourself in the mirror, you’re likely to be far more confident, too.

Exercise

Keeping fit is useful when you have energetic children to look after! It will allow you to play with them far more easily and generally keep up. You probably don’t have all the time in the world to hit the gym five days a week, but there’s plenty you can do. Go on a power walk with the pram, or take a ball or frisbee to the park and run around with your kids. Instead of driving shorter distances, walk them instead, and go on family bike rides. You’ll maintain your figure and the endorphins will make you feel good.

Maintain a Social Life

You might have hung up your dancing shoes long ago, and a night out with friends these days might not be to a nightclub or bar like it once was. But keeping friends is so important; find activities that you all like to do now that you’re mothers and wives. Whether it’s play dates with the kids, brunch on a weekend, or an afternoon tea, keeping those connections there is so important. There are of course other ways to keep in contact with friends too; you could use a postcard app to send any funny or sweet pictures as a postcard right to their house. You could talk on the phone, video call, or of course, use social media. But having that support and friendship group around you will help you keep a grasp of your own identity.

Go Back To Work

One way you can keep and maintain your identity is through your job or career. As a parent you might not necessarily want to go back full time, when you have children to look after. If that’s the case, how about part time? You could even start a home business or do some freelance stuff online. Either way, maintaining your career interests is a good way to go, and bringing money into the home will make you feel good.

Image source

 

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Parents: Taking Time For Yourself

I just returned from a three-night, four-day girls’ trip to Breckenridge, CO. We had a lot of fun, from sightseeing on Mt. Evans to dog sledding with a golf cart, from Oktoberfest to a winery with an incredible view–we laughed and relaxed; and each one of us took time for ourselves. We are all moms. Some of us are single; some of us are married. I am the only one with a young child; one mom has a special needs son, and others have teenagers, college students, and young adults. All of us have busy lives and jobs, but we made it happen. We took the time for ourselves.

The dog sled adventure

I’m not going to tell you it was easy or without guilt. I had a bit of guilt before I left about how I was taking this trip as a single parent, and two of the nights were my nights with my daughter. The guilt grew worse when KT had a meltdown on the phone with me the second night; and when I called her from the airport on my way home, she was teary eyed and wanted me home right now. My mom’s commentary on how miserable KT was also didn’t help. Grandmas hate to see their grandchildren teary-eyed.

I’m still glad I did it, though; but for a while, I doubted myself. Luckily, my friends are amazing.

One said: You have to let her figure out how to navigate life without you always there. You have to prepare her for the tough stuff. If you don’t, and life gets tough, she will have no idea what to do. (How about that for a smart, great friend?)

Another said: Everybody has to refuel. Everyone does it. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself, mentally and physically, so you are stronger and better for your daughter. (Exactly!)

And there was a handsome police officer…

I mean–this is free advice I got, and I am now sharing it with you. 🙂

KT and I both survived, and the next day when we were together, it was even more special. We appreciated each other more. We hugged a lot, and we told each other how much we loved and missed each other. That is very special and just an extra bonus of going on a fun trip with my friends and also having a beautiful daughter!

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