Step 13: Happy SPOT

Day 5: Gr-Attitude Challenge – Happy SPOT

Spotlight is a local department store in Australia that has everything I want and need to be happy in life (that’s an exaggeration but you get how I feel, right?! next on the list would be K-mart) – scented candles, throw pillows, artwork, crafts and materials, buttons, beads, textile, stickers, pens and ¬†markers, and the cutest household items. If you leave me there for a day, I’ll be fine and will probably ask if I can come back the next. Checking their stuff out and imagining what I can do with them is both relaxing and exciting for me. I don’t know how one thing can do both for you but it can.

image1 (2)Although, I did not end up buying anything, at one point I had an Ocean Breeze candle on hand, then some stickers, and lastly a feather designed throw pillow for my couch. I have a commitment not to shop ’til Christmas which I so wanted to break. If I had my way, I would have taken home a yellow elephant figurine, a new pot for my new baby plant, a set of tropical printed bed sheets and a frame with a zebra in a buzzing city (i don’t know why.. maybe I’m the zebra?). I tell you, I can go nuts in there! One day, I swear!

My short but fun trip to Spotlight today is what I am grateful for. For starters, I found my first spot in Australia – the place I can run to, unwind, breathe and restart on a not so pleasant day!!! Ten minutes in there would be healing. beautifulAlso, I realised I have self-control after all (Yey!! to me). I am in charge of my choices and can follow-thru on my commitments. But mostly, I am grateful because Spotlight reminded me that if you just choose it, happiness is free and available. Find it – what makes you happy, what connects you to the real you. Find it, focus on it and make it a part of your everyday life. If it brings you joy, it is not a waste of time at all! God created us specifically for His purpose. He is the One who plants the dreams and desires in our lives. Don’t you think He wired us so our passions align with that plan? The closer you are to the things that set your heart ablaze, the closer you are to God’s heart for you. As long as it’s a good thing, always choose what brings you joy.

 

Today, I am grateful for the joy of Spotlight.

 

Advertisements

Step 12: Commit to Cultivate

Day 4: Gr-Attitude Challenge – Commit to Cultivate

A few years ago, when my family and I moved to a new home, I found out something unexpected about myself – I enjoy gardening. I don’t exactly prefer the kitchen or household chores; but, I do love getting down and dirty in the outdoors, digging and trimming and planting and watering. Back then, I gave myself the role of assisting my mom in picking out the plants to decorate our home and placing them in the different spots where their individual beauty will blend in and at the same time cause them to stand out. One day, I went so far as to get some cuttings of a really pretty peach Gumamela plant in the parking lot of a clinic I visited.

Right now, living in an apartment, I don’t exactly have a lot of space to till the soil so I decided to start caring for indoor, potted plants. Today, I picked up a new baby and I love it! Cultivating the little greens and seeing them grow into beautiful mamas is a joy.

babyrosyHaving plants around your home does wonders to the way it looks and feels. It not only cleans the air you breathe but also adds so much colour to the space – it literally brings LIFE!

Consider the development of plants – a little attention, a little watering, a little grooming on a daily basis is really all it takes to make sure it grows healthy and strong. Show it some love and encourage it with some nice words and it will bloom and blossom for you, showing off just how wonderful their natural self can be. Stay committed to caring for it and you will reap the fruits of your labour. Isn’t this the way we want to be cared for as people too? In’t this how we should be caring for the people around us as well?

Amazing how God works to use these little wonders to show us great things. I am thankful for these creatures that reminds me of how simple it really should be to cultivate the things in your life that are important to you. It doesn’t take too much. A little a day is a lot when added up to a lifetime.

Thankful for my little one ūüôā

Next blessing please!!!

 

Step 11: Special Gifts

I skipped a day, but will go on…

Day 3: Gr-Attitude Challenge – Special Needs

Today, I had the opportunity of being around children with a variety of special needs in different levels. Honestly, the more I work with them, the more my eyes are opened. They are truly such a joy to be around. Watching them play, interact with their peers and accomplish tasks in their own unique way is so amusing. They are such remarkable creatures and bring joy to the lives of people around them without even trying too hard. They are the epitome of genuineness. Each and every day may reflect a different version of the same person but only because they wont change who they are for anyone. “This is me – I may get in trouble, but take it or leave it.” They are simply themselves – beautiful creatures indeed. Truth: The more you embrace who you are – the beautiful and the ugly – the more people around you will learn to embrace your entirety as well. The right people with the right hearts will love you and accept you and enjoy you as a person.

A lot of things dawned on me while being surrounded by these precious gifts. For starters, their presence alone warrants gratefulness. The life that we were gifted with we take for granted most of the time not considering the challenges these children have to face from day 1 on this Earth. Special children have to deal with different physical impairments that may cause them pain. Controlling their emotions and feelings also is such a challenge and they can get themselves into different kinds of trouble due to them. Not that I am limiting them, but the reality is not all of them have the future we look forward too; and actually, some of them don’t even live a long life. I sometimes wonder, how do they truly feel about their situation? How difficult could it be for them? Still, despite anything, they are able to enjoy themselves with the little things in life.

Today, I am thankful for the life that I have – the fact that I have all my functions. Some may need fine-tuning but all present. I am so grateful for the children I am able to work with as well. Special children can bring joy and laughter back into lives. Their existence is a blessing.

Next Blessing Coming Up!!!

 

Step 10: Third Drive’s The Charm

Day 2 – Driver’s License!!!

Too funny to even think about..today – after two previous attempts, the day I was so sure I would have failed my test by screwing up right at the start, I passed and got my driver’s license. So thankful for it I cannot explain! My heart is happy. At first, I thought about it and wanted to speculate (over-thinker mode) but I decided – No questions..no discussions..no theories!! Just be grateful!

A license might be a small thing to some but not at all to me. Driving myself around when I was back home felt like therapy. When times were stressful or challenging, I would get behind the wheel and go anywhere just to get a breather. I never felt trapped – I had the freedom to choose where I wanted to be when I wanted to be there and vice-versa. My first few months in Melbourne was such a big adjustment for a number of reasons but definitely including this. I felt immobile many times – fully dependent on another person to get to places. It shouldn’t be because there is public transport – but, truth is, I just miss doing my own thing. Now, I feel a kind of freedom I’m very much familiar with and I can honestly apply to all aspects of my life. My destination is my choice. The path is set out for you – now, there is more than one way and some will take longer than others – but if you stick to the course you’ll get there. Right on time, all the time!

To decide what is right for me, I have been trying to get answers from everywhere except within – how I should handle situations, what I’m allowed and not allowed to say or do, and to some extent even who I should be as a person. I stuck to things that didn’t feel right and made me unhappier. Follow your heart might not always be right, so no, I don’t advice that. My advice, honestly consider the things you allow to continue. It’s your life and no one has a right to it if you don’t allow it. Whatever it may be, if it doesn’t give you joy and robs you of your peace, let it go. Stick to the things that bless your heart so you can pay that blessing forward. Let your peace guide you. If you take the time to feel, even when circumstances are tough, being in the right place will give you the strength to persevere.

Today, I am thankful. My driver’s license reminded me that I ultimately decide where I go from here.

Psalm 46:5, “God is within her, she will not fall.”

More Blessings PLEASE!!

Step 9: Loves Me Despite Me

Day 1 of 30-Day Grateful Project – This goes to my God!

I know I am completely loved (head to foot, successes and failures, good and bad, past present and future). Best feeling ever!!! There is nothing I can do or say or even think to change that. Crazy or normal or in between, I am accepted and even more than that treasured – valuable beyond words (heart melts). This is what I am thankful for today! I am safe and secure even when my heart screams otherwise. My emotions will lie to me but not my God. When nothing seems to be going my way and when no one seems to have confidence in me, I look to God and remember He chose me for a reason. I am His forever and He has beautiful plans for my life. I am so grateful for my faith and the ability to come to God in prayer for everything that I need and want.

Jeremiah 29:11 ” I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

My faith is something that I cling on to. I am not saying things are perfect – struggle is real – but the fact that my God is bigger and stronger than anything calms my soul. This challenge has showed me one very true character I have – I go extreme. ¬†I am either completely hopeful and faithful or the opposite hopeless and faithless. Well, nobody really likes lukewarm so that’s pretty much a good thing. When I am on the positive, boy do I achieve things. I read and plan and get to work immediately without care or concern for the meaningless. However, when I am on the other side, I feel like I am in the middle of the woods with large trees surrounding me, blocking every ounce of sunlight with no path to follow.

The goal is not to change me – this is who I am, I was made this way for a reason. I like extreme because it shows passion – but I would rather stay on the positive side whatever comes my way. Beauty of life – the choice is ours to make and everyday is a new day to start again. Isn’t that another thing to be grateful for?? Fresh new days! No matter what, I’ve got it good and I plan to discover that more each day.

Oh, and by the way, today I got paid! LOL!!! Kaching Kaching!

Next Blessing Coming Soon!

Step 8: Gr-Attitude

I wasn’t getting any better. In fact, the relapse felt worst. It has become a mixture of anger and stress and annoyance and exhaustion and curiosity. One minute you decide to let go the next you go back to wanting real answers. What the hell is going on here? Even my UBER driver has become questionable.

This has to stop! But how? Many options came to mind – fight back (battle), let go of my current marriage and choose a better life (surrender), stick to my partner but move to another country for a year just to breathe (run away), or change my current perspective to detoxify the air I am breathing (change focus). Since what you are feeling inside shows on the outside, I knew no matter where I went, if I were to carry the same feelings around little to nothing will change. Our surroundings (including the people we interact with) only have as much power over us as we give them. So, considering that equation, if we decide with wisdom, they have 000 power.

Immediately, I realised that my greatest problem was that my eyes were fixed on the storm. I constantly focused on the trials and difficulties around that I failed to see both the small and big blessings each day brings. I got negative all over and I guess it poured out to everything I did and how I considered everyone around me. I just couldn’t find happy even when happy was right in front of me. I lost my appetite for life. I gave in and settled. Because I felt questioned and chose to dwell on it, I began questioning myself and thinking the way others thought about me. If you don’t have confidence in yourself – if you yourself are doubting who you really are – nobody will have confidence in you. How you feel about yourself will definitely reflect on others. I may not be able to change the circumstances that are coming my way, but I can choose to improve on my situation by changing me. Negativity makes you unhappy and ungrateful. Now, let’s do a full turn on that.

Gratitude changes everything. Very very true. My plan is to find a blessing in each day – no matter what it brings me. I guess this will start reminding me as well of who I am as a person because what you value in life talks a lot about your character. I wanna be thankful and happy again. I’ve considered that maybe it’s this city that isn’t for me, but happiness goes beyond borders. It’s a choice.

Be thankful. For the next 30 days, I will be writing about a blessing I received for the day.¬†1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Step 7: Rollercoaster

I was ready! After weeks of pouring my heart out and planning my next few steps, I felt it was time to head back and try again. One afternoon, I decided to just book my ticket and give this place another go. I felt stronger – I can’t say in tip-top shape but ready.

To be honest, it was so hard to leave home and not be sure of what’s to come.. Uncertainty – i hate the most! I guess because I like being in control – not very adventurous – always on top of things aware of what’s next. But then again, I was married and needed to be where my partner was if this newly formed union was to ever stand a chance.

So, I did. I flew back and tried to start fresh – mind clear, heart and soul ready, head in the game. First two weeks were fantastic! I focused on my purpose – to do everything out of love whether i wanted to or not. Not that I didn’t doubt or fear or encounter any stress at all, I did but I pushed it back well. I guess, that’s something we all can reflect on when we do things towards ourselves or others – is it done out of love? Is it really beneficial to the person your supposed to be serving? If it causes more harm than good, drop it. I truly struggle with this because I know my nature is selfish and self-serving. Many times, I only want what’s best for me and so this is something I have to remind myself everyday. Sure, my flesh wins many battles but I have my good days too (rare at times). Hope is the key. One day, if I practice this long enough and work on it regularly, doing things in love will become my new natural.

On my third week, I started my new job and this is where the fear and stress that I had supposedly overcome started to make it’s way into my life again. Certain triggers and situations affected me and the things of the past came back to light. When you aren’t sure of what’s going on around you, the next thing you start feeling is unsafe. This is exactly what was happening to me.

I started pulling back again – not wanting to see people, struggling to go to work, and questioning everyone’s motives toward me. Nothing felt genuine or real – nothing felt good. Up and down my mood went along with my emotions. I wanted so badly to understand what I was going thru and the people around me. I wanted answers to questions I didn’t even know how to ask without sounding crazy. I couldn’t quite disregard it though because I went thru it – i felt it and to me they were real.

Next Step: Search For Answers

 

 

 

Step 6: Safe Space

Never will I undervalue my home and family ever again. Each individual that comprised the unit plus the structure itself became a haven for me during this period in my life. I felt secure and safe in this place – a feeling I needed to feel again so badly.

As I mentioned, due to certain incidents and a great deal of stress I had in my life, I honestly thought i was being hacked (don’t laugh..i’m serious). My private conversations were being listened to and, for someone like me who relied heavily on my phone and the online world to stay connected to¬†the people I loved, the whole idea felt threatening. Just to be completely honest, to this day, I battle with pushing thoughts like this out of my mind. I choose to focus on what I know to be true and real – my God is bigger than anything. However, the idea aggravated my situation and was probably what really pushed me to head home. One option from the next statement was legit – either my privacy was being violated or I was hitting paranoia. Neither was acceptable!

People who have dealt with or are dealing with anxiety, depression or even a certain level of stress can probably relate to my experience. ‘Life’ happens in your head where another ‘reality’ full of demons and tormentors exist. These thoughts become so true to you, you stop accepting anything else as possible. Nope, this is it! I’m sure! How dare they?! What the?!?

Funny yeah? Not so when you’re the one going thru it.¬†It is inexplicable sadness¬†and discomfort that can even cause your bowel to react.

How did I get to this point? Why is this happening?

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know when it started but I know many different factors were behind it. For starters, I was so far from home – my safe space – the place where nothing I could do or say could make people love me any less. Yes, we fight but love wins! Adjusting to the new environment was also a challenge. Culture shock indeed! Here, there was no filter between the mind and the mouth. Good, on one hand, because nothing is ever hidden – you know exactly what they think and feel about things¬†or, in this case, me. On the other hand,¬†many times what we think and what actually is are two different things and the words that we say, naughty or nice, have impacted that other person’s life and made its mark. Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me – FALSE!!!

My first year honestly felt like a boxing match Рsix pros on the other corner and poor, little me on my side. Bell rings! Fight!!! In my case, round 9 РTKO!

Letting it all out, blow by blow, was a release. I needed to get rid of the toxic feelings I was harbouring in my heart. I knew it was changing me as a person – making me do and say things that weren’t like me. I was hurting and hurting people hurt others. I didn’t like how I was thinking, feeling and even acting. I wanted all the negativity gone. It’s the only way to really heal. My poor family had to bear with it! I guess it comes with the territory.

Next Step: Recover

 

Step 5: Bandaids for Big Wounds

For starters, here’s a short list of the things I tried to make myself feel better. Exercise – I started working out at home to get the blood pumping and got into yoga for it’s calming effects¬†and positive vibes. Later on, I joined a Bikram yoga class thinking practising with others might make it more fun. Almost 3 times a week, I went on a trail with my husband called 1000 steps (thus my blog name). This was probably the most effective activity¬†I did and often likened it to my current situation where every step felt like a struggle but in the end I made it to the top anyways. ¬†If we choose to push thru the difficulty, it’s so much like life don’t you think? I focused on eating well, keeping my home clean and neat, and reading different materials (a lot of feel good/self help/spiritual stuff). I could have easily emptied out my home from the numerous sorting expeditions I held (some of the things I gave away my husband didn’t even know about – hoping he never finds out). Being a Christian, I definitely prayed a lot. I lifted up situations, fears, shortcomings and even the future to the Lord. I knew the basics – He is on my side, Sovereign, Powerful and Faithful. He loves me and cares for me. I tried to keep my mind on the good and on what was right. Some days I would win but¬†my losses just began to increase in number.

I wanted to feel productive. I wanted to feel useful. But more than that, I wanted to feel happy¬†again. I wanted to get a grip so badly but I just couldn’t. Where is my peace and joy and hope? How do I get them back?

After exhausting myself, doing everything in my capacity to get better, I gave up and gave in. My heart called for the love and peace I felt I could only find at home and so there I went.

Many times in life we find ourselves looking for quick fixes not only for our pains but also for our messes. They work but only for a span of time and then there you are again looking for the next ‘feel good’ activity you can find to help yourself. Don’t get me wrong, most, if not all, of those activities are beneficial but the truth remains that bandaids can’t fix¬†big wounds. They merely cover it up in attempt to not worsen or aggravate the situation¬†without doing anything to heal and dry it up. Deeper, bigger wounds need tending to sometimes even by better-equipped people¬†to get sorted out. This, in fact, was what I needed.

Only a few people from back home¬†knew that I was coming in and so eyes were¬†wide open when I finally got home. People knew me and they immediately knew something wasn’t right. I am not one to just give up. Actually, it takes a lot for me to fold my cards and quit. The question from everyone was, “What happened?”

Next Step: Release to Recover

 

Step 4: Temporarily Unavailable – Under Repair

6 months – that’s it! I’m done! I handed in my resignation letter and left my job in December. My last day felt like a party after a parade. Longest, most stressful day of my life – I didn’t know what to expect and from whom! Stressed out me thought the worst and expected it¬†even before it happened (first proof I was going down). It’s coming, it’s coming…wait for it! But actually, the day wasn’t that bad – nothing I couldn’t handle and I celebrated with my husband after with an Indian dinner and a bottle of Gossips wine (cheapest and most delicious!)

Day after, I was scheduled to head home…Oh yeah!!! I had a plan. Get home, air out my grievances, celebrate Christmas and enter the fresh New Year with new vision and purpose. Sounds fantastic, right? Didn’t happen! Sad to say, for this very year when I needed my holidays to be merry, it wasn’t. Let’s just say there was greater family drama we had to deal with and it dragged everyone along.

Because of this, stress built up in my life and I just couldn’t deal. I could feel the cracks but tried not to focus on it. Actually, I purposely didn’t face¬†it. I started applying for jobs and prayed for¬†God to give me one – the one He had planned for my life. Days into weeks into months – 3 interviews, 1 call back, 0 hires. With so much time on my hands, I found myself reliving every stressful moment I went thru not only at work but even with family and friends. I was dwelling – and not on the good but on the worst. Being in another city, I had no people (My Peeps!). And there it was, I was drowning in my own misery, alone and bored.

I needed help and I knew it. Best solution ever –¬†Call home! Viber, Messenger, Skype and Facetime (my beshies) witnessed the lowest points of my life and so did my pitiful family and friends. I went from sad to angry to resentful to happy to sad to happy to angry. I was a yo-yo, me myself, I was. My life was a struggle and so was my marriage. These days, I honestly felt sorry for my husband for having married me but I couldn’t fix myself anymore. It got to the point where I thought I was being hacked and all my calls were heard by a mass of people who were laughing at my expense (GRRRRR!)

shellJust so it’s clear though, I tried. I fought really hard. I wanted to keep myself together. Thought bubbles day in day out – What would people think and say? How will I get out of this? This is identity suicide, how do i survive this? Am I gonna lose it?

April 1, 2017, Saturday – I woke up, opened my eyes and said to my husband, “I’m going home.” At this point, I knew I needed to. I had physical manifestations of the negativity I was feeling inside. Permanent but moderate chest pains (the type that doesn’t really feel bothersome but causes you to blow a big breath out to try and clear it), a woozy feeling in my head and the fact that it had been months since I actually slept well without the help of pills made me think about my life. Which weighed more – my health or my reputation?

Next Step: More Help!!!