Life

4/30: I want to break free!

This seems to be a reoccurring topic of conversation for my fiancée and I. She’s mostly fearless and I’m fearful of a lot. We’re an odd pairing when it comes to how we live out our lives but we somehow make it work. While she genuinely means well, her blunt opinions of me always stir up a ton of feelings for me. “You never leave your comfort zone.” My instant reaction was to be defensive. How could she say that? I do a lot of things outside of my comfort zone, especially with her. But, after collecting myself out of “my feelings” I decided to really take a look my inner scope and workings. This happens a lot when she talks. I like to think, it’s a mix of her opinions mattering to me more than anyone and she’s someone I admire and trust. When she’s on, the girl lives and dies by logical thinking; a trait I wish I could capture.

Today’s prompt questions my preference on safety net or taking risks. See below for the full question asked in the 300 Writing Prompts book by Piccadilly.

“Do you prefer taking risks or having a safety net?”

My heart pounds when I’m about to do anything that I have a fear of. My body tightens up, my face drops and I’m ready to curl into a ball and shut down. My knee-jerk reaction is to always go to what’s safe or what feels safe in my eyes. However, a safety net hasn’t always been kind to me. While it protects me from these fears, it’s also robbed me of experiences. I skipped out on amusement park rides, going places with friends, going away to school and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve been afraid of so many things. I don’t like the dark, I don’t like going out of control fast, or being at a height any bigger than myself. I don’t like to shy away from routine or what I know to be normal and safe. As a child and teenager, the world is your oyster for adventures of all kinds. However, I spent a lot of time terrified of what could happen; would I get hurt? Would I fall? Faint? Be alone? You name it and I’ve probably ran the scenario. This is paralyzing to feel and the more I age, the more I want to turn away from fear and into adventure and love. We’re given one life and I want to make it count.

I’m not totally denouncing my comfort zone. It’s a great place that isn’t just built on fear but my moral compass of right and wrong. It has kept me out of trouble and for the most part on a clean and safe path away from harm. It’s not all bad but for the most part, I want to break free like Freddie Mercury in front of a packed crowd. Life waits for no one and I’m ready to at least /try/ and step away from the same old thing and find some new places, new ways, and live with an open mind.

What do you prefer? Are you a risk taker or do you like to play it safe in your safety net? How do you carry out these lifestyles? Let me know!  

3/30: Always be grateful!

It has been a WEEK and it’s only Tuesday. Life is very busy, so my anxiety is a little bit peaked by that. I feel like I’m getting pulled all over the place and the balancing act isn’t my thing. However, I am still very lucky to have what have and be where I’m at. A couple of months ago, I was in a big fat limbo after losing my job of four years and now a few months before my wedding I finally got that on track. I have a fiancée and a family who loves me, my health is good. I couldn’t ask for more. One of the practices I do to keep me centered when in an anxious state is practicing gratitude. In my experience when my anxiety is at its peak, this practice can sometimes feel pointless or cheesy but when I actually put focus on the positive, the negative tends to fade away.

I did a search for prompts online for today. I wanted to give the book a break and also plug some sites that could potentially help out other bloggers like myself. Check out the Link for this prompt and others.  I’ve always done this exercise in a list, so check out the 10 reasons below:

  1. I am grateful for a family who loves me regardless of the distance or time we spend away from each other.
  2. I am grateful for technology. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to maintain relationships with the people most important to me. I always try and visit people and spend real-life time with them but when schedules don’t permit that, it’s nice to have the technology at your fingertips to see friends and family far and wide.
  3. I am grateful for the ability to learn on a constant basis. Age and maturity has given me a thirst for knowledge on a daily basis. There is always room for growth and betterment.
  4. I am grateful for a job that doesn’t make me feel like the other shoe is going to drop out from under me. I have always been fearful of the “firing boogeyman” on a constant basis but this new firm has not given me anything to fear.
  5. I am grateful for a steady paycheck and being able to afford to live in a big city. Not a lot of people have that luxury.
  6. As much as I complain, I am grateful for the gift of aging. It’s a privilege denied to many and I hope to God, I get to see even more years ahead.
  7. I am grateful for my fiancée for a multitude of reasons. The one that sticks out the most right now is her ability to soothe my overactive mind. I drown sometimes in a sea of scenarios and what ifs and oh my gods, and when she’s feeling 100% she’s an anchor of logic. I need that and I love that I have it in her.
  8. I am grateful for Twitter. I recently started one for this blog. Follow me @JMWeberWrites on there. Twitter has given me access to the #WritingCommunity where I can get to wander around so many talented people and dwell in the same space as them; learning, networking, and chatting away. It’s been such a help!
  9. I am grateful for my anxiety. It sounds weird but it is a measuring point for my stress levels and having it peak allows me to know when to slow down and re-evaluate.
  10. I am grateful for all of my streaming services because without it I’d be watching the same 10 seasons of Friends permanently on loop! I do that anyway, but at least not 24/7 much to the delight of my fiancée :p

What are some of the things you’re grateful for? I’d love to hear them!

Pause Button: Finding Balance

I think this weekend proved to me that I have a little bit of re-adjusting my schedule to do. I was hoping to promise a 30 prompts for 30 days series, but I fell short. However, this won’t stop me, even if I need to carry over into the month of June I am determined to see this through. Time management has never been my strongest point in life so I suppose writing is no exception to this personality flaw. My weekends I try to reserve for time with my fiancée, time to catch up on errands or clean my house, and sometimes work at a second job; leaving little room or much hope for any writing time.

Or so it feels.

This weekend left me feeling a little more than blue about the whole thing. The intention of this series was to celebrate my upcoming birthday but also beta test committing to a schedule. I have a few ideas for new books in the next year and one of them required a schedule so the whole thing just felt like a giant let down. I am a perfectionist at heart but after having a chat with my fiancée, I’ve decided to get back on the “horse” and dedicate myself to the task once again.

I’m speaking this plan into the universe of dedicating 30 minutes of my day or night to stop and remove myself for writing. After a long chat, she passed this suggestion along and reminded me that taking time for myself is more than okay for something I’m passionate about. Sometimes I get too far inside of my head so to have a partner who thrives on logic and reason is a blessing. She’s the reset button I needed to finish this series and see it through the entire 30 days. So, with one minor breakdown out of the way, I am keep on keeping on. Thank you all for being patient. I am very lucky to have any kind of traffic on this blog and I’m grateful for every view, like, and comment.

Day 3 resumes tomorrow with a fresh pair of eyes and an open heart. Wish me luck!

2/30 – I am woman, hear me ROAR!

Over the course of my relationship with my fiance, she has gotten me countless tools for the betterment of my writing. She’s given me journals, fancy pens, not so fancy pens, and most recently a book of 300 writing prompts.  Today’s selection comes from that book. Thank you, babe! The book comes with lines below each prompt to write on but I know that I would likely go beyond the lines so I’m using some of these wonderful prompts here for this series.

“In what way are you are strong?”

Most of the time I have trouble identifying my positive qualities. I am self-deprecating by nature and it’s a habit that I’m working hard on breaking. To be humble is one thing, to self-loathing is another. I have found that my thoughts of myself have been shaped by the people around me cementing sometimes incorrect things into my brain that just are not true! As I age, I’m starting to realize my strengths while accepting my weaknesses. Not everyone will excel in everything and people can only hurt my feelings if I let them; best advice my Father has ever given me. Strength comes in many forms. For me, I see strength in my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self. Each of these differs in journey for the winding road that’s my life.

Physical strength, I excel at in brute force and ability to shift weight in many ways that most women couldn’t. I really don’t know how that worked out. I am bigger in stature so I could only assume that it’s a result of being that body type. I am able to lift heavy boxes in my office, I am able to break a part the cardboard when its called for. It’s a minimal example but it’s a valid one. My family jokes that I have “Monica strength” like Monica Gellar from the TV show friends.

Mental strength has been a journey for me. I like to consider myself a work in progress because it has taken me quite some time to reach the mental space that I’m currently in. I have been seeking validation from all the wrong places. Whether it’s in education or dealing with life, I have always downplayed my abilities because I found my self-esteem in what others thought of me. It became a downward spiral to live through because anytime someone spoke ill of me, I found myself in a tail spin. The acceptance that not everyone will always approve of everything I do was hard to come by. I’ve always had a need to be liked so it was a mountain to climb inside of my brain. Knocking on the door of 30 years old, I find myself less enthused by the opinions and approval of others. I’ve learned that it’s my job to decide what I need and what I don’t.

Emotional strength is one of my strongest points. As a self-proclaimed empath, I feel for me, I feel for the room I’m in, the world around me. I am forever feeling in the biggest of ways and sometimes it’s absolutely exhausting. I’ve done a lot of trying to push away my feelings to fit the needs of others. Being the sap in the room isn’t the easy of tasks but it’s not an impossible task. I am forever going to be the one with the most emotions in any room and you know what? That’s okay. The acceptance of myself has been the final hurdle that has solidified my pride in my emotional strength.

Last but not least touches on my spiritual strength. This has been an arduous journey for me. I was born into a home that casually taught the teachings of Christianity. We went to Sunday school at the local Lutheran church and for some reason I took to the teachings. Religion has always been a foundation for me. It has been the space where I have my found my moral compass and values. I eventually became Catholic in the fifth grade and completed my sacraments making me an adult in the eyes of my church. However, all of that was tested when I came out at 17 years old as a bi-sexual female. Catholicism doesn’t recognize my relationship as natural. “It goes against God’s wishes and teachings”. With my pending marriage coming up, I find myself gutted. I would love to be able to complete the sacrament of marriage with my own, I would love to find a way to make my union “valid” in the eyes of my church but the closed minds of others doesn’t allow this. But, I can’t be stopped. My faith in God is unshakable, I live by my mother’s example and pray without a church, and believe with a whole heart that God’s got me and despite how much it hurts he’s there with me and will be the day I marry my fiancee.

I’m stronger than I give myself credit for most days. While I may not always feel it one hundred percent, I know that it’s there. What are your strengths? Are they inner or physical? Are they hard to attain or does it come naturally? I’d love to know more.


1/30: Fight Fear

26. Fear: What scares you a little? What do you feel when scared? How do you react?

Credit: https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

May starts Mental Health Awareness month. Approximately 1 in 5 people in the US suffer from some sort of mental illness. It’s a stigma that needs to be erased by talking about it and fighting out in the open to show those who suffer in silence that they are not alone. I figured I’d kick off this series with a dose of honesty. I deal with my own share of anxiety and fear. Every single day is a new vow for me to fight fear and do my best to not allow my anxiety to get the better of me. Some days I kick fear’s ass, others not so much.

The door opens and I step inside of the well lit tight space, it’s filled with other commuters getting around New York City. Sometimes they’re sleeping and weary from the early morning, others they’re wired with their to-do-lists trying to race home to their home lives with the small amounts of daylight that they have left in their days. I stand with music blaring in my ears and as far away as possible. Truthfully, riding the train back and forth to work scares me more than it should. I take the bus to get to the train and it rarely triggers any kind of anxiety but the train pushes it to happen. The crowds of people squeezing into a tight space just feels suffocating and life in the Big Apple of New York City could present tragedy at a moment’s notice so knowing I would have to combat those crowds who are usually self-serving 9 times out of 10 is unnerving. Add the below the ground factor away from any kind of resources but the scatter of subway rats and garbage and I’m in a tailspin of fear.

My best combatance of this fear is my phone and listening to music. While a lot of people discourage people to be glued to their devices (they’re probably right, but…), I find myself using mine as a life jacket of sorts. The music keeps me tuned into the rhythm and lyrics of the song versus allowing my mind to wander into the land of “what ifs” creating unneeded scenarios that may or may not ever happen. My phone has games or a book I’m reading to further tune out the mind wandering and keep me occupied instead of counting the train stops only.

Despite, my distraction of myself I do my best to stay tuned into my environment just on a less intense scale so that my brain doesn’t freak out my body. The physical symptoms of my anxiety can be very debilitating which feels a lot more dangerous than my multi-tasking with my phone. Extreme anxiety has been known to induce dizzy spells so I’d much rather find a happier, calmer mind set and have a safe commute versus working myself up and risking not getting to my destination in one piece.

What scares you? How does it affect you? Better yet, how do you handle this fear? Let me know!

Prompt Series: 30 prompts for 30 years

We are knocking on the door of the 5th month of 2019 and it happens to be my birthday month. I am a May baby; a proud Gemini, a spring lover (even if I think allergies are slowly creeping in), and so very into having a birthday. I know a lot of people don’t like to celebrate theirs but I have never been shy about the celebration of mine, but this year feels a little mixed. On May 23rd, I will have three decades of life under my belt. Three whole trips around the sun! The Big 3-0! It feels so daunting to me because it feels like the official beginning of my adulthood. My 20s were a cluster fuck of still being a teenager through the early parts and a second puberty/finding myself in the later parts. Turning 30 is terrifying because it feels like I’m forced to put my “money where my mouth is” and apply all of the things I’ve learned in the last 10 years.

Despite, the weight of the number I still find myself looking for ways to celebrate. Every day above ground is a gift, but every birthday is an even better one. Age is a privilege even if it feels scary and I will be so thankful to make it to my 30th year. While the little mid-life crisis is on the top of the radar of my mind, I will be experiencing so many positive things in turning 30 too. Getting married being the biggest accomplishment. A happy and healthy relationship to celebrate that I hope sustains me for the rest of my days. When I think about it like that, 30 doesn’t so scary.

My wish is to grow further as a wife (almost there!), daughter, friend, and writer. My passion for learning and growing will never end. With that being said, I am going to challenge myself to a series of 30 prompts to celebrate 30 years. Writing has been taking a front seat on my mind’s list of things to do so I am hoping that by putting myself to the test, it’ll give me a chance to learn and you all a chance to see my writing and see me a little better. Ideally, I would love to self-publish before 31 (speaking that into the universe) so every chance to explore myself I’m going to take head on.

I will be pulling prompts from the collection of books I’ve accumulated over the years and a few websites I’ve found. However, all prompts are welcomed and appreciated. Please feel free to reach out to via Twitter @JMWeberWrites or in the comments below.

DARE: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks (Review)

“The only way out is through.” That’s one of the many positive affirmations given to the reader in this book and it’s the one that stuck with me the most. Last year was probably one of the worst of my life professionally. I was in constant conflict with my managers, always having to look over my shoulder in professional settings and my anxiety was at all-time high. I saw a therapist for a little over six months but my insurance was no longer accepted at the facility. I was out of options and too anxious to try and get to know another therapist. That’s when I found DARE by Barry McDonagh. Social Media keeps me in touch with people from all parts of my life and a friend from high school was posting excerpts of the chapters of this book and I knew I had to read it. Everything on his Instagram stories felt like it was talking directly to me. After doing more research, I found out that author and founder of the program DARE, Barry McDonagh also suffered from debilitating anxiety. Knowing this made me feel less alone and less suspicious about opening my mind to his new suggestions. He had applied his program to his own anxiety and it had worked so I took a chance and hoped it would work for my own.

The book introduces something called the Dare Response, which is a new way to view your relationship with your anxiety. The key points of the response are defuse, allow, run toward, and engage. Defuse shows the mind that you are not in any real danger when you take on a blasé approach to anxiety, “Who cares”, “So what” are phrases that the author uses to allow anxiety to take on a smaller form rather than feel unstoppable. By using the act of diffusion, it replaces worry with power of the situation when anxiety makes you feel powerless. Allow is the means of letting the anxiety come as it wants to. Resistance can make anxiety seem bigger than it is. By allowing anxiety to just come and flow naturally through you, it takes away the fear of what could happen or what is happening to you. You have the control of the outcome. A funny line from this step’s section for me was when McDonagh says to sit down your anxiety and invite it in for tea. The visual created in my brain was exactly what I needed to see that I was in control of my anxiety and my anxiety didn’t control me. I was the one calling the shots and deciding what, when and where anxiety can appear. Run towards is the next step. McDonagh suggests that by running toward your anxiety you can change the perspective of it. He explains that fear and excitement are often the same and when the mind readjusts the feeling toward anxiety, it can reduce its power and change the way the brain views anxiety. A negative can quickly become a positive and instead of looking for the “boogeyman” over your shoulder, you can embrace the present world around you. The final step is to engage. Engage in something that takes up your full attention so the anxious feelings can no longer reel you back in. This felt like the most important step because it encouraged me to focus on my life and stay in the present versus stay in my head with the fearful anxiety. Furthermore, the book details ways to apply the response to several different aspects of anxiety such as panic attacks, health anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and fear of being abnormal. Each section details how to apply the response to the situation but also provides thoughtful insight on his experience with the situation or the experiences of others that he helped. I found several different scenarios relatable and have returned back to these chapters for guidance and help.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Self-help books aren’t for everyone but this method got me through a time in my life where I feared there would be no way out. Applying the DARE response to my life allowed me the confidence I needed to take back control of my anxious mind. While I still have issues with health anxiety from time to time, I have since gotten a new job and thanks to the DARE response I am able to contribute my experience with an open mind and heart to my position and have had a very successful three months at my firm because of that. I think any kind of positive outlet can help mental health issues and I would suggest this book to anyone who wants to reach with themselves and learn to navigate ways to better themselves.