A.

Appreciating Stillness, Becoming Less Anxious

It really is enlightening.Last week I woke up and grabbed breakfast with my husband from our local spot. Unlike any time before, I suggested that we take it to-go and told him that we should just sit in the garden in front of our apartment complex for a bit.  And it was there, as I started to eat my breakfast sandwich and sit in minutes of comfortable, unspoken words, that I turned to him and started to cry.I was happy.

As I watched the water fountains splash water into the air, I couldn’t help but be happy. I turned to my husband and told him:

“It’s weird; I deeply appreciate the life around me. I am crying because I can feel the wind on my face, I can hear the splashes of water crash back down into the fountain and I notice the leaves dancing with the direction of the wind on the trees.  I think the reason why I appreciate this so much is because I can finally appreciate stillness.  I am just so happy; this is a taste of what I have been working so hard for and it’s slowly arriving.  I love it, I feel so blessed.”

In a world where there are a lot of fast-paced decisions, dinners, and footsteps, it becomes very hard to appreciate the little things sometimes.  I told him that if this was me a year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to just sit there and enjoy my surroundings.  I would have just been thinking about the 101 things I needed to do and 101 things I should have done; I wouldn’t have been appreciating the moment, the present.

As I ate my sandwich I continued to cry because I could taste every bite of my it, I could enjoy the sun peeking through the clouds and warming my cheeks. And all of this was amazingly nice.

It’s such a different feeling and I cry because I appreciate it. I didn’t need my phone to distract me at that moment.  I actually didn’t want my phone at all.  I secretly wished we were back in the early 1900s, in the countryside, with no technology. Just nature.

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R.

Rough Week, Staying Brave

*deep breath in*

This past week has been a major whirlwind, but a great teacher when it came down to learning more about myself.

Within the past couple of days, I have had many situations that really tested my bravery.  Interestingly enough, I managed to step up to the challenges.  To be blunt about one of my challenges, I had to have a serious conversation with someone about the way they were making me feel – something I wasn’t looking forward to.  When the first opportunity came to have the conversation, I actually surprised myself by not running away.  Meaning, I didn’t put it off for another hour, day, week, or month.  I didn’t give any excuses.  The situation presented itself when it did, and while I could have given an excuse to buy more time, I didn’t.  I knew that I had to ‘step up to the plate’.

I went into the conversation holding my head up high and just voiced my honest concerns.  Why must we hold things back from others and continue to carry the ‘pain’?  If you really want something to change, it’s important to be upfront about it, but always in a calm and non-accusatory fashion.  And that’s what I did.  In the end, I felt better that things were out in the open; we came to a mutual agreement and was happy we did.  But, if another conversation decides to come up, then I will welcome it with open arms, because it’s another chance to be even more confident and clear with how you want to live your life. Read more

F.

Fear of Popping a Balloon: Exposed

I know, I know.  It seems silly to be afraid of a balloon popping; but, truth be told, it was one of my greatest fears.  I know it may be trivial to some, but sometimes small things like these are earth shattering to others.

One of the reasons why I want to talk about it today is because I actually met someone this week that has the same fear I once had!  (I thought I was the only one!)

Living with Fear and Getting Over It
I could never be around balloons because they always filled me with anxiety.

I think my fear stemmed from when I was young and was forced to play that terrible game of ‘balloon pop’.  Many of the birthday parties I went to had the game where money would be stuffed inside the balloon and the only way to get it was to pop it.  While it seemed innocent, I was actually traumatized by cousins who would take the balloon, put a fork to it, and pop it in my face.  Left… POP.  Right… POP.  Under you… POP. “Hey Loren!… POP!”  Popping was going on everywhere!  And after many birthdays, I suddenly found myself with a fear. Read more

O.

One Year Since Anxiety Struck & What I Have Learned

I can’t believe it has been one year!

I must say, when I think of ‘365 days’ it seems quite overwhelming; but, the beauty is that I didn’t think like that while getting to this point, I honestly took it one day at a time.  And here I find myself, one year later, better.

The past year has definitely been a work in progress.  And while I am not 100% yet, I feel so much better than I did back when it first happened.  There were struggles, yes, but they were all tests of how far I have come and grown.  The beauty of it all was that I learned to control my anxiety so that if I felt an attack come on, I could just calm myself and nip it in the bud.

One of my hardest times dealing with anxiety during the past year, I must admit, was last week.

Being Your Own Worst Enemy
To be honest, I have been living anxiety-free for a couple of weeks, actually, and it wasn’t until last week, when I realized that my ‘one year’ was coming up, that I started to panic.  I kept thinking believing that the attack was going to anniversary itself.  It was as if the world was going to end and I, only I, knew it.  It just built this giant fear inside of me and I knew I was being overtaken by it.

While on my way home last Thursday, I almost lost it on the train again.  My mentality and way of thinking was “This is too good to be true, I have been able to fight the anxiety for almost a year and it is just going to come back and slap me in the face, I know it.”  So, naturally, thinking like this had me a bit paranoid for the whole week because I was just waiting for it to happen.  It was as if I wanted it to be a one-year anniversary.  But that was the thing: why was I waiting for it again?  Why was I putting myself in this prison that it will happen again?  Because if we think like that then, chances are, you will find yourself making it happen… again. Read more

L.

Learning To Fall and Get Back Up – Literally

Ah, bike riding.

It was something I grew up doing and absolutely loved.  I always looked forward to the summer time because it meant my family and I whipped out our bikes and headed to the park for a long day of riding.  Many years later, the excitement and joy still rang true.

Last summer, my husband bought me a new bicycle and I couldn’t wait to ride it (I really couldn’t).  As soon as we walked out of the store with it I turned to him and said, “Can you drive home… alone?  I’m going to ride my bike and meet you there!”  And, so, that’s what we did:

newbikeI was so happy that day; it was the perfect way to kick off the summer.  I then thought about it when I got home and thought, “Hm, I can ride my bike during the summer to the train station during the work week; what a great way to be active!  But, first, I need a helmet for that!”  So we went back to the store and bought a helmet – I even got a little mirror, too! 🙂

helmet

And that was it.  I was set.

When the weekend was over, I did as I said I would and took my bicycle out and decided to ride it to my train to get to work.  So I hopped on and went on my merry way.

As I started peddling along the right side of the street (being as cautious as possible), I noticed that there was a car that came from behind me and went into my mini ‘bike lane’.  It was about 40 feet straight ahead of me and then it started to make a right turn into a parking garage.  Figuring it would keep going, I kept peddling.  I timed myself well (I was a long-time rider, after all!).  But I was wrong. So wrong.

The driver decided to stop his car (now perpendicular to me) with its butt sticking out into my lane and the other half on the sidewalk.  I needed to either slow down or change lanes.  So I looked into my mirror and tried to see if I could merge into oncoming traffic for just a little bit.  But there it was, a yellow school bus, coming too close to me at a velocity that didn’t fit into my calculations.  So I freaked and panicked.  Knowing that I was either going to (a) get hit by a bus or (b) crash into the butt of the SUV that was trying to get into the parking garage, I did what I knew best: STOP.  I reached for my breaks, but being in such a panic mode, I undoubtedly made a big mistake: I hit the front brake instead of the back and, you guessed it, I went flying.

bikefall

My bicycle flipped under a car and I was flipped in the air.  I thank God that I had on my helmet (SO IMPORTANT!) because my head hit that concrete floor three times.. bang, bang, bang.  I felt dizzy, my palms were scraped and bleeding, and I was waiting for someone to come to my aide.  But wouldn’t you know it, no one saw what happened.  Not the random pedestrian walking by, not the car pulling into the garage, nor the bus that zipped on by.  I was SO scared and just SO grateful that I didn’t get run over by a random passing car or anything.  I immediately got up and snapped the above picture with my phone.  I sent it to my boss and team in a text message and said “Guys, I will be in late.  Just had a bike accident. See you soon!”

And wouldn’t you know it, I got up (limping and all), walked my bike to the train, got on the train, and headed to work.

I didn’t think much of the fall.  I tried to play it off like it was nothing, like I was stronger than it.  I called my husband soon after it happened, crying just a little, and he urged me to go back home, but I didn’t.  I wanted to be seen in the best light from the views of others: I wanted to be a strong girl.

A few days later I started to notice my legs and, yup, they were a little bruised and boy were my legs so sore from the impact:
ouchies

But, I was still ‘strong’; I didn’t show weakness to others. It was more of “Check out my bruises!  Cool, huh?!” than anything else.

To others I was ‘strong’, but deep inside, I was weak.  No one was there to console me when the accident happened.  I didn’t know what to do.  I worried about having a concussion or having fractured something.  All I knew was that I didn’t want to get back up on that bike.

And I didn’t.  I spent a year letting it collect dust and I was OK with that, because I didn’t want anymore accidents.  I wanted to be ‘safe’.

This was three weeks before my giant panic attack last year.  Who would have known…

Getting Back On
With all of the hard work I have been putting in within the last year to control my anxiety and just let it go, I finally started to feel stronger.  So, the other day, I went into the storage room, looked at my bike, wiped off the dust, took it off the rack and told my husband, “Let’s go to the park… for a bike ride.”

When it was finally time for me to get on that bike, I broke down.  I was so afraid.  I didn’t want an accident.  I didn’t want to relive the pain.  Because I do think that me falling off the bike and how that whole situation went down gave some fire to me panicking on the train last year, because it was, yet again, something I was suppressing.  It was something I needed to just say “okay, move on with life, it’s over.” But it wasn’t.

I would ride the bike for a few spins of the wheel and then I would stop, freeze, and cry.  It was too much for me.  Not to mention that I forgot my helmet.  I just felt so susceptible and prone to another accident.  I didn’t know how to keep my balance, I would fall off trying to make a simple turn, and I just kept envisioning myself flipping forward, because that’s exactly how I got off of it last time: I flew and tumbled forward in the air.

My husband took the phone and captured my struggle:
bike 1yr later

It’s a picture that I am both not proud and, yet, proud of at the same time.  I’m not proud because it’s not exactly the most flattering picture I have and it’s a time of my weakness. But, I’m proud of it because here I am, at one of my weakest points, and I’m sharing it. And I’m doing so because I want to share that struggles do exist and they could be anything to anyone.  And you know what? Pushing through this moment was absolutely not what I imagined.  I didn’t want to cry.  I didn’t want to freeze.  But I did.  I listened to my mind and in order to grow, it was telling me to just let the feelings go.

It was me, no one else, that took the initiative to rebuild my confidence in riding a bike at this point.  I felt ready after a year.  It was my idea to go out and try it.  It was my time to do this for myself.

And wouldn’t you know it?  I had such a great time after jumping over the anxiety hurdles.  I rode that bike like I used to when I was a kid.  I mean, yes, I was still a little hesitant, but I grew confident and started to enjoy every moment of it again.

Moral of the Story
Yes, you may fall off of a bike or fail at something somewhere at sometime.  But the important thing to do is to make sure that you take care of yourself, first and foremost.  Don’t try to pretend to be something you aren’t for others.  Make sure that you give yourself forgiveness and remind yourself that you aren’t perfect, that you may fail, but that it’s part of being human.  Just remember that when you do fall, give yourself time.  Don’t rush.  And if it takes a year for you to ‘get back up on that horse’ (or bicycle, in my case), then so what?  Let it be.  Only you know when you’re ready.  Don’t let others force you.  And if you face a moment of déjà-vu, know that no two times in life are ever the same.  You are always are given the chance to do different, to lead different, to act different.

Get back on that bike, even if it’s for a short ride, because even the smallest of tries is the best of tries that will get you closer to where you want to be.  So today, I went for a short ride and enjoyed it.  I’m getting closer to where I want to be.

yaybikeride Loren.