Mind Confusion: Good for you?

dance_school-1280x1024 (2)Body confusion sounds bad but is good. As my yoga coach explained, when your exercise routine becomes routine, your muscles get bored and slack off. You can schedule the same exercise routine every week, but after awhile it becomes old hat, and your body does not benefit from the workout. In other words, you have to challenge—shuffle things around; in essence, confuse the body to keep it at its best. Challenges and new moves keep you in healthy grooves!

In this same vein, if the body slacks off, wouldn’t the mind do this also? Not to minimize the impact of a life crisis, but one thing it does do is shake you up and orbit you to unfamiliar places that may feel foreign and scary at the beginning, but later as the journey unfolds, recharges the imagination and ignites the creative problem-solving juices.

For instance, before our family’s personal crisis in 2010, I could have continued to hide under some fifty extra pounds of weight and allow myself to fade into the buttermilk color walls of my house, vaporizing behind my then husband’s emotional tailspins.

Instead, nearly four years later, “mind confusion” has kicked me into over drive. Tons of new challenges undertaken…daunting jobs, grubby courtrooms, and a longtime friend who threw me under the bus just when I was about to get my bearings! With the challenges, new joys have also unfolded…dating again since 1989, the last time I had a date; neighborhood kids who come to the door with shovels during a blizzard and a late-life love who surprises me with a kiss that transplanted me back to feel sixteen again when my high school’s gym class cheered me on as I did a tap dance atop the trampoline.

Thanks to the element of surprise, total mind confusion, I not only shed the pounds, okay, some of them, but I have also had a love affair—with my femininity, my individuality, my sometimes tragic, miserable, highly interesting, amazing life, and I learned that courage doesn’t come to me naturally, but that I have to have faith and work at it…not face danger and freak out and bolt, but face danger, freak out and stare it down—a little bit longer at each new perilous zone.

In the end, I still have “the bad” confusion in my life and I struggle as a single mom. It remains an everyday challenge to be stable and balanced, especially when the mortgage due date draws closer, every month, and my mind becomes a 24-hour melee in which I must battle it out with beasts that can and will flex their muscles to frightening proportions. Then there are those days when my body joints tell me I have been squeezed out of so much youth.

Through it all, I have learned to get my shine on and dance through life as if my experience on this earth has been a skip through a meadow of wildflowers and not a plunge into an abominable pit of hot coals, employing grace and dignity at all times when tears mar the vision, but faith carries me forward through the downpour.

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A break for freedom

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1freedom

In the fall of 1984, I had hit bottom for the final of the final of the final time (but really final!) and unchained myself from all addiction, including, one year later, a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. I don’t want this post to be about my alcohol/drug past, which reared its ugly head in adolescence.  I want it to be about freedom. Oddly, without a bit of pre-planning, this topic came to me on Independence Day, but to me, every day is Independence Day. The one thing that no one can ever take away from me is how hard I worked—and spent every last dime—to earn my freedom. It took me ten years—my debt paid in 1994—finally to finish paying my rehab center in New Hampshire. I also feel proudest of the fact that no one ever paid a dime towards my years, and I mean, years of therapy. Sad people view therapy as a taboo. (I have discovered that the more someone equates therapy with a dirty word, he or she is the one who needs it the most!) Anyway, much like a recommended yearly physical on the body, I think people should have a regularly scheduled look-see on the mind too. At this point in mid-life, I can say, no one, absolutely no one, knows themselves better than I do. I owe this not only to hours of therapy, but also support groups, retreats, seminars and everything, including the kitchen sink stuff that I have done to peel every stinkin’ layer (ouch!) off me and uncover myself. ME.

As a young child, the real ME never emerged. Like many, I was polluted by adults who tried to carve me in their own image. Their paddles of shame bludgeoned my God-given spirit and left me flat. Thus, I had an instant love affair with anything outside myself that lifted me up and allowed me to be my authentic self–or so I thought. Of course, these outside things ended up, ironically, enslaving me until I broke free.

Freedom comes not from fancy cars and good-smelling perfumes, it comes from being who you are and having at least one good friend who will accept you on the days you look like you rolled around a dumpster!thCAHCR5FDfreedom2

Three years ago I experienced crisis in my life.  I held onto my house with bloody fingernails. I attempted to hold onto my marriage. I held onto everything that I thought defined me, but the truth is, I was holding onto a world that enslaved me. Crisis stripped me of so much again, but, paradoxically, gave me back myself. I am far greater than a house. Far greater than the car I drive or the job I do. Sure, a lot of “friends” who opted out of a stressful situation, dropped me cold, but I have a total of two friends today that have been my glue; a wonderful boyfriend who accepts me as I am. I have been gifted by co-workers who sometimes prove to be my lifeline. I have my children who know me perhaps too well and whose presence has allowed me never to have a bucket list to meet, because the unconditional act of mothering, to me, supersedes everything else in life.

Bondage, whether to money, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, people, places or memories scares me and robs my faith. Lately, with a birthday looming over my head, I’ve had a hard time fighting the bondage of aging too. I’m afraid that my body will fail me.

God willing, if my body does not fail me, I may end up pushing around a shopping cart with my belongings on the streets one day when I am seventy, but I’ll tell you one thing, I’ll be free of mental anguish, which you can have regardless of what you do or where you live. It all started so many years ago in New Hampshire, walking down a very long hospital corridor towards the exit door, fearful of the life I knew I had to go back to and revisit so many demons outside those walls. Of course the official motto in New Hampshire is “Live free or die” and to me that means peeling off the chains, inching forward, breathing, first shallow, then with practice down to your diaphragm in a place where every last tad of you, down to the wart hidden in the nape of your neck, has found a peaceful home.thCAFTUKWWfeedom3

Until next time….Faith forward!

Angel Strong

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. –Ephesians 2:8-9

Believe in GodWhen things hit the fan, most of the people who had been around for years bailed out. I do not blame them. For the sake of survival, in the case of  the “fright and flight” response, many times the “fright” switch goes off in the strongest of human beings because we really are “only human.” Vulnerability threads us together.

My fright and flight switch toggled but, thank God, I was in for the fight. A sense of love kept me grounded during some crucial moments. Whenever my faith plummeted, angels flew into my life to let me know that no matter how deserted I felt, I was not abandoned. Sure, from the start, there are a couple of “pins” that still remain intact. My dearest friend Pat, for whom I am eternally grateful, literally saved me from a couple of gun-in-the-mouth moments. A lot of people said they’d “be there.” Pat said she would “be there,” but really was there. Broken down vehicles, car accidents, illnesses, we knew who to call to get a last-minute lift, pick up a prescription and the like… .She never seemed inconvenienced, irritated or angry at taking the time out of her super busy life to “be there.”

Then there was my angel banker. He took hours of time out of his busy schedule. There was a very critical time (or two!) when I really thought he was going to have a complete meltdown with one of the supervisors by fighting on my behalf. I’d go into his foxhole any day.

The first significant sign, in fact, came right when everything went tumbling down. It came in form of a fellow elevator passenger. I did not know this woman nor have I ever seen her again, but I can hear her voice often.

“The world in spinning right now for everyone, darling. We all want to get off, but we have to hang on.”

Don’t ask me how she knew my world was spinning; actually thrown completely out of orbit, her words conveyed what I needed to hear at that time, which was “You are not alone.” She the first angel in a long list that kept me holding on; sometimes with bruised and bloody fingers, but grasping to survive another moment in the hopes that it would lead me to a new day unveiled with a glorious sunset…and when the clouds, rain and bad weather met the dawn, the angels that “miraculously” appeared gave me a healthy dose of Vitamin D.

Going thru a lot of angst and disappointment, I would be a liar if I said I had hope. At least in the sense that I used to have it, but I do believe that I can cruise forward, hang on even when all I have to grip is the tippy-tip of an angel’s wing.

Until next time….Faith forward!1195425090647322028PeterM_Angel_wings_5_svg_med

My name is Stacy, and I am an Analysis Paralysis Junkie

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.

“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”Mark 11.22-24

486700646_5a6c7cb706I have another confession. I am an Analysis Paralysis junkie.

It is not so much a defense mechanism I use in order to procrastinate on things as it is to throw myself into a whirling dervish.

Go-to source Wikipedia provides a comprehensive description of the state.

A couple of weeks ago the state threw me into the throes of this zany mindset.

My thoughts fell loosely into the Personal Analysis category in which Wikipedia defines, “Casual analysis paralysis can occur during the process of trying to make personal decisions if the decision-maker overanalyzes the circumstance with which they are faced. When this happens, the sheer volume of analysis overwhelms the decision-maker, weighing him or her down so much they feel overwhelmed with the task and is thus unable to come to a rational conclusion.”

The only difference was that there was no decision to be made. I began over-analyzing a current state of affairs. Before you know it, I was in the “What if my job phases out?” “What if I lose the people I really care about?” stage.

Granted, a part of this obsessive, unhealthy thinking may stem from the fact that I am still teetering from some major setbacks.  Another part is because I am afraid. Afraid to lose what I have worked so hard to get/hold onto. Afraid that I’ll never shift out of crisis mode. You know, that old adage about “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

To make matters dire, someone reminded me that my thoughts manifest into my behavior that creates the reality around me. Although there is a lot of pop psych about this brand of positive thinking, it can be traced back to the bible as quoted above,” Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

So, back to a couple of weeks ago: I’m a whirling dervish, over analyzing, feeding on my Analysis Paralysis addiction and making myself and anyone with a listening ear CRAZED. The outcome amounted to nothing—nothing earth shattering happened. I still have a roof over my head. Food. Friends. A pretty nice Jersey Strong to lean on.

The thing I did lose, however, by allowing Analysis Paralysis to overtake my week was my physical and mental well-being. I was tired, drained; thus, I could not accomplish some of my routine chores, and I was by no means present to the ones I love in the manner I like to be. The result was that I had to cancel some pleasure time in order to play weekend catch-up.

The problem with Analysis Paralysis for me is that it kicks me to the abyss of a swampland. There I spend idyll time stuck, going under, sinking while the rest of the world moves on.

To have faith is to trust in the process of the good. Unlike a swamp-like, sinking environment, it is a positive forward movement, which nourishes our needs.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

This is a positive affirmation if I ever heard one. We don’t say things like “have a little faith” and mean that the barrel of a gun awaits!”

Of course when I pick up my Analysis Paralysis addiction, I pick up my imaginary gun; it may not be real, but it is still a hazard.

The best defense for me is a three-P approach:

Prayer…

Positive People

Actually…four, Patience.

I am currently in remission. Things are looking up. I hope.  I’m thinking…oops, that’s one of my downfalls.