crash into me

car accident, crash, gratitude, higher power, Positive Thinking, slow down

crashintome

This post has nothing to do with the popular Dave Matthews Band song, although I will forever love that piece of music. This has more to do with the fact that I’m starting to believe that I have a huge neon sign on my car which reads “Hit Me”. I was rear ended last week exactly 3 months after I was hit by a tractor trailer. No lie, they both happened on the 11th day of their respective months. Surprisingly this most recent accident left me feeling worse than the first. I walked away with a mild concussion and major back and neck pain. I’m happy to say that my head feels a little better each day, I can’t exactly say the same for my back and neck, but I’m hopeful.

I had to take some impromptu time off from work, this is very rare for me. I felt so weird staying home on a Friday and doing absolutely nothing. I began to feel lazy, and uncomfortable. What’s that about?? Usually when a friend has something happen in their life causing them to slow down I get all spiritual and say things like “This is a sign from the universe that you need to spend some extra time on yourself and take a break.” Why is it so easy for me to give that advice and not take it myself? I still haven’t figured that one out. If you have the answer please let me know!

It’s hard for me to pump the brakes, especially at work. When Monday finally came, I told myself that I would monitor how I felt and take my time if needed. And I did just that. I noticed after an hour of sitting at my computer that my head was already pounding and I needed to take it easy. This really helped me throughout the day. I’m usually always rushing around, trying to accomplish 50 tasks at once. Does this sound familiar? I get burnt out easily even when I’m feeling 100%. I needed to be soft with myself, and so I was.

We have to know our limits. Sometimes too much is too much. We’re not super human, our brains do have a max capacity, whether we want to admit that or not. This entire ordeal was a huge learning lesson in many respects. It taught me to slow down, it also strengthened my faith. Here’s another accident where I made it out alive. My gratitude goes through the roof when I think of the outcome of each recent crash. I know that my higher power and my guardian angels were there protecting me through each experience.

Moments like this also teach me to continuously turn my will and my life over to my higher power. I’m completely helpless in this situation. There are many unknowns, I don’t know what the outcome is for my car, I don’t know how my wellbeing will be impacted down the line, etc. It’s okay though, I used to be terrified of the unknown (sometimes I still am) but mostly I am okay with putting a situation into my higher power’s hands. That is freedom to me. Freedom to know that I am not in charge, freedom to know that something out there has it all covered, something greater than myself.

 

(Photo cred: https://weheartit.com/entry/51431708)

 

 

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guest of the week: amanda zitzelman

brain aneurysm, friendship, gratitude, Guest Blogger, happiness, inspiration, Kindness, Positive Thinking, survivor

 

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This week’s guest blogger is a woman that I worked with last year, a woman that I admire. Her strength, courage and perseverance is inspiring. Earlier this year Amanda suffered a brain aneurysm, and she survived. Below you’ll read her encouraging words and hear her story of this life changing event. She shares her struggles but also shares what she’s done to turn this experience into a positive one. We chatted the other week for almost 2 hours and sometime in the future her and I are planning on starting a podcast! She inspires me everyday. She also started a GoFundMe page that she talks about in this post.  I’ve included the link at the end of her story. Thank you Amanda for taking the time to write this post, it means so much.

“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to write this post. I want to thank Sarah from the bottom of my heart for giving me a chance to share on her blog.

“Life is all about how you handle Plan B.” – Unknown

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post. How do I want to share my story? What details, if any, do I provide? I wrote a draft with the timeline and details of what happened. But details can be boring and it’s easy to get bogged down in them. Then I wrote a draft that had condensed details and a brief timeline. What happened and the timeline IS important but doesn’t necessarily add value to this post.

In the beginning of May my brain exploded, or in other words, a brain aneurysm ruptured. Let me frame this for you: 50% of all ruptures result in death and of those who survive 66% have some type of disability. Post-rupture I was out on FMLA. Much of my first month home was spent sleeping, napping, or just resting. A brain injury recovery can take many years and even then survivors are never quite the same.

I said it before and I will continue to say it – I am blessed. I survived and I don’t have any physical deficits. My cognitive and motor skills are in tact. Yes, I get neurofatigue. Yes, I get worn out much easier than I used to. Yes, I get headaches.

It is an odd thing to have come that close to death. One of the things I see a lot in my survivor groups are people who are grieving their old life. I sympathize with them and understand. However, my life is not wildly different than it was pre-rupture. I don’t ever say this to rub it in someone’s face about how well I am doing. I share it because I (now) know statistics were against me. But even for how well I am doing I am still a stroke survivor. I am still a ruptured brain aneurysm survivor.

One of my biggest struggles has been balancing “I’m fine” with “I went through this huge life changing event.” I never want to use it as an excuse but I don’t want to downplay what I went through. I’ve been struggling with what I refer to as survivor’s guilt. I’m so thankful things turned out so well for me but I sometimes feel bad that not everyone who survived is doing so well. I try not to get hung up on this too much because so much of it has to do with where the rupture occurred, timing, proper diagnosis, age, overall health, etc.

Time is valuable in so many ways. It can save a life in a medical emergency (such as it did in mine). It is a currency that you cannot get back. How you spend it matters. Who you spend it with matters. What you do with the time you are given matters. What is unique about time is everyone chooses to spend their time differently but time all spends the same. Once it is gone you can’t get it back.

This is something I have been thinking about a lot the past several months. I had a lot of time on my hands being out on FMLA. Some of it was spent doing schoolwork as I did not drop my last class for my master’s degree. As I mentioned a lot of time was spent sleeping, napping, and resting when I first got home. Eventually, I stopped sleeping as much but still was on restrictions so couldn’t do much. Towards the end of my FMLA I started crocheting again. I thought if I was going to be sitting around I should at least do something productive.

I started a GoFundMe to raise money so I could make blankets for brain aneurysm survivors. I have made three so far that I have given away in one of my survivor groups. This gave me something to do and give back to a group that gave me so much in the days after my rupture. It also gave me something to do with my time.

I really understood the value of my time and how I wanted to spend it. We often work to make ends meet (unless you happen to be born into a wealthy family). But we were not made or meant to work to live. There are so many more things that are much more important. Don’t get me wrong – I definitely have to work or my bills aren’t getting paid.

Pre-rupture I was working through lunches and if it was particularly busy I would be there until 6pm sometimes even 7pm. No more. I made the decision that when I went back I was not working through lunches and I would be leaving at 5pm. And I have pretty well stuck to that. There was one day when I was there until about 5:45pm and one day I worked through lunch but that is it. In both cases there was an extenuating circumstance.

Doing this has brought me less stress and even some peace. We need to find a work/life harmony. This can be difficult but it is vital. It is in our non-work life activities that we do things we enjoy and love. These are the things that bring us joy and help us to weather the stresses of our work life. Our time here is incredibly short. This gift of life can be taken from us at any moment.

Find joy in the little things. Find peace in the quiet moments of your day. When we do this we start to find our mind shifting. It doesn’t mean that life becomes perfect but we start to attract the good things. Positive thoughts become the norm. It is easier to find the good in a situation that is otherwise difficult.

Whatever we fill our minds with will spill out in the forms of our emotions and actions. If a mind is filled with negativity or hate it will spill out. On the flipside a mind filled with love and positivity it will spill out.

Life will never be perfect. Might as well buckle in and enjoy the ride with all it’s twists and turns.”

Blankets 4 Brain Aneurysm Survivors

 

 

friendship: tangled roots

friendship, gratitude, happiness, Love, Positive Thinking, relationships

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This past weekend three of my closest friends and I had the honor of being bridesmaids at our best friend’s wedding. When I think about life and relationships, I feel lucky to have these women by my side after all these years. The bride is one of my oldest friends, we grew up around the corner from each other. If I try to think back to when we first met, I truly can’t remember a time in my life that she wasn’t there.

I’ve had many “best friends” over the years. I used to search for myself in others, this sort of behavior started at an early age. I bonded with girls that I thought I wanted to be. I would go along with everything they did, and I rarely voiced my own thoughts or opinions, just to be accepted. This would become a pattern throughout my young life.

The universe did however, sprinkle some special people in along the way. Friendships where I didn’t feel the need to behave that way. These women always accepted me for who I was and the mask would come off when I was in their presence. What a comforting, peaceful, feeling. I didn’t need to pretend anymore. I am happy to say that I’m still incredibly close with these very same women. These relationships span some 15+ years.

There are 6 of us in this particular group and we’ve all managed to keep our bond going strong. We each have separate lives with friends separate from our group, but that doesn’t change anything. Two of us moved away and yet we’ve never strayed from each other. There are definitely periods of distance and we’ve grown apart some, but at the center of each of our hearts we hold this friendship dear. That is why I picked the image for this post. We are tangled. We grew side by side for many years, we were there for each other when things were the messiest. I am thrilled to see these ladies with their lives [mostly] figured out (because I mean c’mon who really ever has it all figured out?). We’re all building our lives up, the mess is behind us. We can all sit back and watch each other grow and flourish. And if things ever get messy again we’ll be there for one another.

Something amazing happened at the wedding. Our group was originally 7, but she had moved during the earlier part of high school and her and I lost touch. She was at the wedding. The bride brought the original group back together again. It’s been 16 years, I think, my memory is a bit foggy, but roughly 16 years since I’ve seen this person. Her and I were very close for a period of time and wouldn’t you know that nothing has changed in that absence. The first few moments may have been a little awkward, but once the initial shock wore off, we picked right back up where we left off all those years ago.

That’s the magical thing about true friendships. They know no distance, or boundaries of time. I have several of these relationships today, even outside of our group, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the universe for putting each and every special individual in my life. If we haven’t talked lately, or even if we have, know that I love you very much and I am forever thankful that you are in my life.

 

guest of the week: jen williams

Guest Blogger, loss, Love

JenWilliams

This week I am featuring my co-worker and friend, Jen Williams. She is a truly talented writer, she sent over a short novel that she wrote years back about her grandmother passing away. She is great at describing situations, I really felt like I was there going through this experience with her. I challenged her to shorten the story for this post and she rose to the occasion. This is a story about loss, love, grief, acceptance, awareness and much more, in only a few short paragraphs. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us Jen.

“You know, I’ve always been good at accepting death. It was never something that scared me. Plenty of people in my life passed away when I was quite young (both my grandfathers, great aunts/uncles and even my own uncle) I was a person of faith so I believed those people went to heaven and we’re happier. However, when I was 16, I really knew what it meant to lose someone. To make a long story short (which literally it’s a long story. I wrote a short novel about it if you’d like to read the WHOLE thing let me know) I didn’t just lose my grandmother, I lost a place at the table. A friend when no one else was there. A comic relief. A voice, though quiet, spoke volumes.

You see, my junior year of high school was not easy. I had a bad relationship with a boy my grandmother told me wasn’t worth my presence. I struggled in school due to my personal life. My parents just struggled in general with work and money and raising a family while taking care of a sick parent. It was a hard October. To paint a better picture for you, my grandmother came to live with my family when I was 9. Throughout the years she was a caretaker for us. A good bit of my teens my mother worked at night and my father worked in the day and played video games all night. My grandmother was the one who made sure my brother and I were taken care of. She made sure that when we were out of line she’d become Grambo (like gramma and Rambo. Get it??) However, the beginning of senior year my grandmother, who was never healthy to begin with, became even more ill. Now at this point, she had already lost a toe due to neglecting diabetes. Well, she had the flu to begin with but while at the hospital learned she had gangrene from a cut on her foot from when she was cutting her toenails. Now, this kind of thing always irritated me because she seemed to always be sick and never took care of herself and here she is possibly losing a whole leg. I felt that she was always causing my parents extra work to take care of her and now we may have to remodel the house again for her to be in a wheelchair. Well a month went by and everything fell apart, literally. Our refrigerator broke as well as our furnace. I spent time in the emergency room. My boyfriend broke up with me. And my grandmother couldn’t fight her infection any longer and she passed away after telling the nurses she was ready and to stop treatment.

Her funeral came and went and it started to hit me. I felt so guilty. Why was I ever upset by who she was? Yes my parents had to do a lot for her and spend a lot of time with her. But why was I jealous of the attention she got? She needed it. I was selfish. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss her at the dinner table giving us updates on the weather (even when they were wrong) or repeating something someone JUST SAID because she wasn’t all there all the time. My house felt empty, cold. Her room just a hollow shell of the moments that were now memories. Christmas won’t be the same without her there. To think, just six months before that, we threw her a surprise party for her 70th which I’m so glad now we did.

Here I am now, almost 10 years later to the day, writing about her. Do I still feel guilty? Not as much as I did. I was a bratty teenager who had a dose of reality. However, I do still miss her. I no longer live in my parents house but when I go there I think of her. Her room was an addition that was torn down and we don’t have the same kitchen table but the memories remain. We talk very fondly of her and we talk about her often. The only thing I honestly regret, is I wish I would’ve listened to her more about not being with that boy in high school and not having some of the friends I did. She worried about me. I feel I still ended up okay in the end. I just wish she was able to see me now. I graduated college, married a great man and own my own home. I just wish she could see that I’m doing okay. But like I said, I do believe in heaven, so I think she knows I am.

I still love you gramma Betty Jean.
Your Jenny Penny”

being okay, with being okay.

gratitude, happiness, higher power, podcasts, Positive Thinking, quotes

girlfield

“The happiest of people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything they have.”

BOOM. This powerful phrase just knocked me on my ass. I was driving home and I saw it on the church marquee near my house. I don’t practice any set religion but I have a higher power, a God of my understanding and he/she/it likes to slap profound messages in my face. And I love it. Considering I just had a major discussion with my significant other on this topic two days ago, I don’t think this marquee message is purely coincidence.

I have really been struggling lately with my happiness. For someone who believes that happiness is a choice, you might think that I would or should be happy all of the time. Or that it might be easy for me to change my feelings around and instantly be happy. I know I think that. Maybe that’s my problem. I beat myself up when I am anything but happy. The truth of the matter is that I need to be okay, with being okay. That’s hard for me. I am such an all or nothing person, so even keel doesn’t make much sense to me. At the end of the day if I’m not happy, I’m sad. But I’m not even really sad. I know deep sadness, and this isn’t it. So what am I? I’m just okay. I’m going through the motions. For some reason that is not okay with me.

Some people say to practice gratitude when you feel the way I’m feeling. It’s not that I am ungrateful. I have gratitude every single day when I open my eyes. I should not be alive. But I am. I’m grateful to have a roof over my head, fur babies that I adore, my sobriety, an amazing relationship that I’ve waited 13 years for, a hot shower every morning, food to eat, a bed to sleep in, a job to provide me with income, a car to get me to that job, best friends from home, best friends from this new city, best friends in different parts of the country and the world, family members that are there for me no matter what, and the list goes on.

If I’m being honest with myself, I haven’t felt much fulfillment lately. I’m happiest when I’m creating and helping others. Every few years my creativity comes bursting out of me, and I let it out briefly, then I stuff it back inside, and resume my daily routine. I’ve recently started listening to podcasts created by these extremely talented and fierce women. They talk about pursuing their dreams, and going after what makes them happy but also making a living out of these dreams. It really is awe inspiring to listen to their stories. However, this yearning for what they have and not being there yet myself, I believe, is the contributing factor to my not being okay with being okay. Truth is, none of these stories start out with instant success. There is typically a struggle. Always some barrier to over come. Without the struggle how can we appreciate success? They all started somewhere. This is my starting point.

New mantra: I embrace the beginning, I’m okay with where I’m at. I also have a new goal towards leading a more positive life: being okay, with being okay. What’s one of your goals that you’re working on?

guest of the week

gratitude, Guest Blogger, Kindness, Love, Positive Thinking

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I went to my dear friend Annie with an idea for a blog. This idea. Positive Aggressive. She was 110% on-board and supported and cheered me on. I went to her because I value her opinion and I knew that she would give me honest feedback. Not only did she give me that, but she gave me an amazing idea. Guest bloggers. I am the type of person that is interested in anyone’s story. I love to hear about people’s lives, it fascinates me. Yesterday at work I practically hounded this woman who was born and raised in Fiji to tell me about her experience and her family. It was quite incredible. So naturally I approached Annie to be my first guest writer and I couldn’t have chosen better. She is a talented writer and a passionate human being. I loved reading what she had to share and I know you will too! And no, I did not pay her to say these kind things about me. Annie really is the kind of soul that sees the best in everybody and has a huge, loving heart.

Hi y’all!

I’m Annie, a dreamer/doer/lover of all things broken and beautiful. When my sweet friend Sarah asked me to contribute something to her new (and fabulous, if I do say so myself) blog I was honored. I wasn’t sure what I’d write about, so I thought I’d leave it up to the power of prayer and meditation.

I had a crazy work week, which is a constant and re-occurring theme in my life. So,on this lovely fall Saturday, my plan includes a guilt-free relaxing morning on the couch (with no bra or pants on, mind you) with edible cookie dough and season five of Grey’s Anatomy. And in the middle of a Christina and Meredith dance off moment,my “prayer and meditation” paid off: I had my topic.

I thought I’d write about friends: beautiful, loving, compassionate, soul connecting friends and the gratitude I feel when I speak their names. The friends that give you warm and fuzzy feelings when they cross your mind, even after days, months or years since you’ve seen or spoken to them last. Thoughts of my sweet friend Sarah have those effects on me. I knew from the moment I met her that I’d met a woman who would serve a greater purpose in my life. Sarah and I share a pain that only some young adults feel: the pain of losing a parent too young. It’s the club that no one wants to be in, but once you’re in you feel thankful to be among like-minded company. There is large, gaping hole in my soul that aches when I have thoughts of the sweet father who passed six years ago, this part of my soul understands the part of Sarah’s soul that aches, too. We exchange empathy for one another in such a way that God’s fingerprints can only explain. We have a common bond, a connection that only those who have similar experiences can understand. I wonder if you get it, too? I’m sorry if you, as our reader, are a member of our club. But if you are, please know you are not alone and your pain is our pain, too.

Throughout my life, I have been given the privilege to live and love in many different parts of our country. I can list off hundreds of humans that I’ve crossed paths with that have left footprints on my soul. Let me tell you about a few: There’s Amber, we met in Florida in 2009. She is “my person.” I haven’t actually spoken to her in about six months. But, every time our busy lives allow for us to connect, we re-ignite our flame. She’s a wife, a mom of two and a friend who lives by spiritual principles, connecting to other women around her, changing lives. We are both in the business of passionately serving God’s kids. When we first met, at particularly low spots in our own lives, our internal desperation allowed for us to form a bond that holds tight through the years and the miles between us. She’s also apart of the club, another side that reflects our level connectivity. I am eternally grateful that the powers of our universe brought us together almost ten years ago. Amber and I pick up exactly where we left off. She is one of my soul sisters.

And Brent in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he regularly posts to social media about his father who suffers from the end stages of Alzheimer’s disease. I met Brent at random while attending a philanthropic gathering in August of 2015. When he and I hug, we embrace each other with one of those super tight and meaningful hugs; the good inside of me always has the ability to recognize the good inside of him. We formed an unbreakable bond in our first exchange and I am grateful to the Gods for his presence in my life. Now, when I read his words, I physically feel the love in my heart and the admiration I have for him. I often pray that his pain is softened and I believe that some days he can hear my prayers. I believe that when I speak Brent’s name, God nudges him and he smiles for a reason he may not be able to explain. I wonder sometimes how two people can be so connected internally but yet exist so far apart physically.

And my timeless firecracker, Emma. Emma is my BFF. We met in ninth grade where we fought over a boy in Mr. Langan’s first period history class. Out of all of the people I’ve met in my life, Emma is one that I know I’ll never get rid of. They say if you have a friendship that lasts more than twenty years, it’s likely to remain. I find peace knowing that I get to have Emma until the end of time. Her friendship is like coming home, it’s familiar and comfortable and natural. And, although she lives in Las Vegas and we only see each other once a year, we talk almost every day and she consistently proves to me that she knows me better than I know myself. I suppose that’s what two decades of love and tolerance can do to two people. She’s a mom to two beautiful children, a girlfriend to an amazing man, a daughter, a sister and a Green Bay Packers fan. My confidante. NHFL. Do you have a friend who means so much to you, in such a unique way that there aren’t really words to describe your feelings? That’s how I feel about my Emma.

I hope you find solace in reading about my friends. My people. My loves. And, I hope you find yourself thinking of yours, too. I hope you appreciate the people who bring joy to your life. I hope you feel gratitude in your heart for your people. To shift gears slightly, I want to mention how heavily of a believer I am in the power behind gratitude in action. Gratitude, just like love, should not only be felt but also enacted. Both words, when used correctly, can turn into beautiful actions. When I think of someone I love, or someone who’s presence in my life has meaning, I tell them. There have been many times over the months that I haven’t seen my friend Sarah that I randomly message her to let her know her worth in my life.

My suggestion to you is this: tell people you love them. It is impossible to overuse the words “I love you.” If you feel it, say it! My life has changed with every smile I’ve encountered, every hug I’ve felt and with every exchange of the language of our hearts. Pick up your phone, send the message. Dial the number you’ve been meaning to dial. Meet people, embrace your experiences and exchange love. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Fall in love with people. Find similarities instead of differences. Everything you do, do it with love.

Let Love Rule.

Annie, xo

driving through the weeds.

flowers, gratitude, Love, Positive Thinking

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This past weekend did not start out great. I won’t bore you with the major details but my boyfriend and I were heading out of town. Keith was chosen to be the best man at his best friend Brian’s wedding. I’ve grown to love Brian over these few years and his new bride Jess. They are perfect for each other. They were both there at the beginning of my journey with Keith, and will always hold a special place in my heart.

Now, I’ve mentioned before that positivity does not always come naturally to me. In fact, Friday was a day where my positive attitude was nowhere to be found. Nothing went our way early on and it was very upsetting. The morning started out with Keith leaning on me for support and me crying half way through the day leaning on him for support.

Expectations. They do it to me every single time. Just when I think I have the upper hand and I’m finally over expectations, WHAM! Life hands me another lesson. A lesson that teaches me that I am not done having unrealistic expectations. That I am only human and alas I must continue to learn. When you’re “in it” it’s hard to see the big picture, it’s hard to see past the eye of the storm.

It’s when you’ve made it through, that the magic really happens. The self reflection. On our 4 hour road trip, about half way, I blurted out to Keith “Yes today sucked, and nothing went our way, but Brian and Jess are getting married.” He said “You’re right”. In that moment we both understood the bigger picture. We were on our way to witness a sacred ceremony between two people who love each other. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic, and that is how I view a wedding. At the end of the day it really didn’t matter what went wrong.

We had a great night at the rehearsal dinner catching up with old friends, laughing until our sides hurt. The ceremony was stunning, I teared up as soon as I saw Jess walk out, she was breathtaking. The way Brian looked at her as she walked down the aisle was magical. The speeches were perfect, the music was on point and the food was tasty. Conversation was good and the dancing was much needed. It was a night to remember.

The drive home left room for more self reflection, I started to focus on gratitude. I thought about Friday before we left on our trip. I thought about my vulnerability and how grateful I am to be in a relationship where I can show that side of myself. I felt grateful that the shoe can be on the other foot and that Keith can be vulnerable with me. This wasn’t always the case for either of us in our previous relationships.

While thinking, and driving, I began to notice these yellow plants all over the side of the Pennsylvania highway. I couldn’t tell if they were flowers or weeds. I wondered how many people driving by thought the same thing. Did the majority of people think they were weeds and dismiss their beauty? I did, for a brief moment. Then the sun came out.

There’s something majestic about the sun breaking through the clouds. It lit up these beautiful plants and it made me realize just how much of our lives we think are weeds. For instance, when something doesn’t go the way we want it to. However, it’s when you stop and think about a situation or begin to see things differently, once you start to embrace and learn more about yourself, then you can see the flowers.

past & present collide

Love

Past Present And Future Signpost Showing Evolution Destiny Or Aging

I had something very interesting happen over the weekend. An experience that I’m still thinking about days after it happened.

I was at an NFL game, mainly because my boyfriend loves it, and we support what the other loves. Also, we were spending time with his family, whom I adore.

So, I posted a picture on social media and my ex boyfriend from 13 years ago messaged me, he was at the same game. Sitting in the section next to ours if you could believe it.

We grew up in the same small town and dated when we were 16 and 17. He moved away to Pittsburgh to attend college. Flash forward 13 years later and I am now living in Pittsburgh with the love of my life. I haven’t seen my ex in who knows how many years, if I had to guess I would say maybe 8 or 9. So in the messages we decided to meet at halftime. He is married to the love of his life, and I’m with the man I’m going to marry, so I didn’t think it was weird. But I really wasn’t sure how to tell my current love that we were going to see my first love during halftime. I decided to use the term “friend from highschool”, and off we went.

When I saw my ex I was flooded with these nostalgic memories. He wasn’t just my boyfriend but my best friend when we were dating. Things did not end on good terms, young love rarely does. But seeing him now, all these years later, I had nothing but compassion and genuine happiness in my heart for this human. For years after our break up I held on to resentments against him, resentments which I’ve worked through quite a while ago. Working through those resentments allowed me to trust again and to open my heart to the man I am with now.

Half way through the conversation I blurted out the truth, that he was my first boyfriend, and nothing in the conversation changed. My boyfriend now didn’t react negatively, in fact he kept the conversation going. Just another reason I know I will be with this man forever.

I went through a few heartaches before finding Keith, but after each heartache I always remained open to the possibility of love. I never closed the door on it, sure it was hard to learn to trust again but it happened. I had to face things about myself and see the part that I played in each failed relationship. I’m no walk in the park. I could be needy, and insecure and possessive. I’ve learned to scale these traits back nowadays but they still live inside me. They just don’t show up as often anymore because of the time I took to really look at myself and work on my shortcomings. I’m not perfect and that’s okay, because there really is no such thing as perfect. As a matter of fact it’s great because I’m given the opportunity to continuously work on myself and grow to be the best version of myself, and that’s all I could really ask for.

Isn’t life funny though? If I hadn’t posted a picture, I wouldn’t have met up with my ex. I wouldn’t have had the chance to see Keith gracefully handle a situation that might come across as weird to other people. I wouldn’t have had the chance to finally acknowledge the forgiveness I’ve been carrying around in my heart for this other person.

It truly was my past colliding with my present that ended up having an outcome better than I ever could’ve imagined.

 

make stress your friend

Positive Thinking

YourAttitudeThursday, September 13th was Positive Thinking Day. I meant to post that same day but I got caught up in other things. This week also had World Suicide Prevention Day, and it was the 17th year since 9/11. I had many mixed feelings throughout the week. Each day was meaningful in it’s own way, but in this post I want to address Positive Thinking Day, after all the name of my blog is Positive Aggressive.

I’m a total dork when it comes to stuff like this. I was announcing it at work, addressing it in emails, telling whoever I could. I strive to make everyday positive thinking day, but there are times when I fall short, and that’s okay. I mentioned in an earlier post that I was having some really negative days a few weeks ago. I was feeling so overwhelmed at work, I was having panic attacks to the point where I felt like I couldn’t breath. My chest felt like it was caving in and my heart was racing. It was not a good time. I remember texting my boyfriend, telling him that I wanted to quit. He quickly reminded me that any job is going to come with it’s fair share of stressors. It’s no coincidence that the very same day his professor had his class watch a Ted Talk on how to make stress your friend, I will share the link below. I didn’t watch the video right away. I’ve also mentioned before that sometimes I like to sit in my shit.

When I did finally take 15 minutes to watch Dr. Kelly McGonigal explain how she’d been telling people the wrong information for 10 years; Stress is bad for your health. That if we learn to make stress our friend and get excited instead of anxious it can make a huge difference. It took a few more stressful work days and a weekend to decide to put her advice into practice.

Let me tell you how the following 2 weeks have been for me at work. I have felt so much lighter, I haven’t had an anxiety attack, I’ve been happier. The stress still remains, but my attitude has shifted. It’s taken a lot of conscious effort to create this new habit, but after a few days of working on this it feels like it’s slowly starting to feel natural. I’ll catch myself in the same situation that used to make my heart pound and my palms sweaty, but now I feel cool, calm and relaxed.

Dr. McGonigal talks about turning stress into a positive – using it as a motivating factor in tackling your tasks. When we view stress as a negative that is where the problems lie. There’s a study that she speaks about how people who think that stress negatively impacts their health were likely to pass away at a much higher rate than people who believed stress didn’t negatively impact them. It really is fascinating how our brains work and how our mind and bodies believe what we tell them.

I just finished a chapter in the book, You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start living an Awesome Life. The chapter focuses on positive thinking and affirmations, and not in a corny self help way either. These can truly change your life, I wish I could tell you that I use affirmations everyday, I don’t. I am going to start incorporating them into my life again, because I’ve reached another transformative point in my life and affirmations help me ease into the transformation.

I remember when I was first practicing self love and forgiveness. I used the old post it note suggestion. I put messages up like “I love you” “You’re worth it” “I forgive you” “I am happy joyous and free”, etc. I can’t tell you how positive the impact was for me. It really does work when you believe in it.

Think of one affirmation you can start repeating in your life to help make an impact. I’m going with Jen Sincero’s suggestion of “I am one with the Universe. The Universe is awesome and so am I”.

 

Photo credit: http://www.confessionsofateachingjunkie.com/2015/05/positive-thinking-thursday.html

 

give away kindness, it’s free.

Kindness

This is just a short little post about kindness. Day to day life is busy for everyone, I get it and remembering to be kind doesn’t always come naturally. But when we slow down and are just genuinely nice to each other it can really change someone’s life.

I want to tell you about the young gentleman at the Rite Aid counter this morning. I’m beginning to get sick, so I was there stocking up on cough drops and alka seltzer. I was greeted with a huge smile from the man behind the counter. If I had to guess I would say he was anywhere from 19-21 years old. He genuinely asked how I was and was just so friendly it made my heart smile.

Every so often I buy quick pick lottery tickets and never check them,  I had one in my purse that needed checked and I tried to use the self scan machine. It wasn’t working. I asked the man for help and he immediately jumped around the counter to inspect the machine. He unplugged it and plugged it back in, then waited to try and scan it for me. I won a dollar and he was excited for me. I decided to buy another quick pick with that dollar at another machine. Guess what, this machine wasn’t working for me either! I had to ask the man for help, again. He gladly came over and it worked for him. On my way out he told me to have a great day.

I walked out of that place feeling like I was on cloud 9. I walked in there feeling like crap because, like everyone else, I do not like getting or being sick. This guy really made me feel happy. It was such a simple gesture but made a huge impact on me.

This is how I want to impact strangers. I want them to be able to think of the kindness they received at the end of their busy day from a complete stranger. Won’t you help me give away kindness? After all it’s free.