Thoughts From The Wilderness – Three Tips In Dealing With Anxiety

Anxiety.

A word that many of us(including yours truly) deal with. An anxiety onslaught can occur on a daily basis, although at times – they can be much less frequent. They can be minor bouts, that aren’t such a huge deal. While on the other hand, our anxiety attacks can be major outbreaks that are debilitating and rendering us at times incapable of undertaking the simplest of tasks.

Through most of 2020 and now into 2021, anxiety and other mental wellness issues and concerns are becoming more and more prevalent as people work to deal and cope with the ongoing pandemic.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any real answers to this. The only thing I can share, is that you are not in this alone.

I wrote this about a year or so ago, maybe longer on my journeys and struggles with anxiety.

I must admit that the last number of months or so, things have been really good for myself. The ongoing anxiety fights have been much fewer, to at times non-existent. All of which I find sort of weird(but in a good way), given that my job as an essential front line worker has kept me in the midst of the “need to keep yourself safe from the virus” deal since the beginning of this.

Nevertheless, I share this to encourage you that even though you may feel alone – you’re not.

— as always; with love —

You feel anxious; I feel anxious; in fact, we all feel anxious at some time or another.

Whether it’s the “big exam” coming up at the end of the term or that fast-closing deadline for a project at work or your first back-country solo hiking trip, everyone feels nervous or worried at times.

In reality, this type of anxiety can be helpful given that it can motivate us or warn us of danger.

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On the flip side of the coin, an anxiety disorder can cause unexpected or unhelpful anxiety that seriously impacts our lives, including how we think; how we feel, and how we act in situations.

Health Canada estimates that one in ten Canadians is affected by some type of anxiety disorder. Given the population of Canada in 2019 was 37.59 million people, that one in ten ratio equates to approximately 3,759,000 people in Canada with an anxiety disorder.

Why am I posting on anxiety?

Because I deal with anxiety episodes generally on a daily basis.

The most acute occurrences tend to happen fairly early in the morning and while at work. It will continue to escalate, becoming more intense until my lunch break, which generally occurs mid-morning. Ninety percent of the time when my break happens, I take a minute to call Lynn to see what is new(nothing ever is new it seems).

Simply talking to her and it doesn’t have to be regarding the anxiety, but just talking to her helps in diminishing the anxiety and anxiousness to a more manageable level.

Continuing on, more often than not the anxiety episodes will subside until mid-afternoon when they sometimes, but not always ramp-up until I’m finished work later in the day.

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At this point, I have not had a formal diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.

I have spoken in the past few months with my Doctor regarding what is happening.

But this graphic, pretty much describes where I am at.

I realize that everyone who deals with anxiety, whether they are being treated by a professional or plugging away on their own, is at a different place in dealing and or treating their anxiety issues.

Three Tips

Here are three tips I work at and try to implement when dealing with my own anxiety concerns.

Thoughts Patterns

I find that very negative/untrue or unsubstantiated thought patterns can enter my mind instantly, take root and completely distort the reality of the situation.

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I’m trying to challenge those fears and negative thoughts by asking if they’re true(always they’re not true at all) and to then see if there are ways to take back control of my thought patterns.

For example, as I mentioned above my anxiety ramps up early in the morning generally getting more intense until I find the opportunity to connect with Lynn.

If I can’t get Lynn via text message or on the phone, my mind heads off down something similar to this type of rabbit hole:

  • something has happened to her
  • she is sick
  • why doesn’t she turn that damn phone up
  • she’s packed up and left

The usual case is this:

  • was in the shower and didn’t know you called
  • I was doing something with my own business and couldn’t get back to you
  • I was on the phone with my Mom and didn’t do the whole switching between calls thing
  • I didn’t hear the phone ring or the incoming text message beep. Lynn is hearing impaired by the way.

When all this happens, I try to remind myself that it is likely one of the above or something similar occurring as to why she might not get to the phone.

Take back control by challenging the negative thought patterns.

Breathing Exercises

A lot has been written already and I guess much more will get written in the future on the benefits of breathing exercises in anxiety reduction.

Deep breathing is suggested as one of the best ways to lower stress in the body.

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When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain says, “good idea here” and then sends the “calm down and relax” message to our body. When your anxiety is kicking in, all of the things that occur, such as an increased heart rate, rapid breathing and higher blood pressure, decrease as you begin to breathe deeply to relax.

There are literally more specific breathing exercises than one can possibly imagine to help in the reduction of anxiety symptoms.

In the morning when the anxiety seems to be “doing its thing,” I try to find two minutes or so to complete “belly breathing” exercises. I find it helps to slow things down and become a bit more relaxed.

Belly breathing technique:

  • Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position
  • Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move
  • Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out
  • Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath
  • Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise

I don’t often have time to complete ten cycles, but I do as many as possible.

Another one I read about is the 4-7-8 technique. I haven’t tried it yet, but I may give a whirl when at home

The 4-7-8 breathing technique:

Apparently, this exercise also uses belly breathing to help you relax. Practitioners of this one, suggest you can do this exercise either sitting or lying down.

  • To start, put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest as in the belly breathing exercise
  • Take a deep, slow breath from your belly, and silently count to 4 as you breathe in
  • Hold your breath, and silently count from 1 to 7
  • Breathe out completely as you silently count from 1 to 8. Try to get all the air out of your lungs by the time you count to
  • Repeat 3 to 7 times or until you feel calm
  • Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

Deep breathing exercises help to slow things down and get you relaxed.

What are your triggers?

There is something that triggers anxiety episodes.

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If we can identify what those “triggers” are, that goes a long way in helping to deal and manage our anxiety issues.

From what I’ve been able to read, the causes of anxiety and anxiety disorders can be complicated. Research suggests it’s likely that a combination of factors, including genetics and environmental reasons. It is also very clear, and I think obvious(at least to me) that some events, emotions, or experiences may cause symptoms of anxiety to begin or may make them worse.

These events, emotions, or experiences are called triggers.

Because we are all individuals with our own complex issues, anxiety triggers can be different for each of us. Although many triggers seem to be common amongst those of us dealing with anxiety issues.

Research indicates most people dealing with anxiety find they have multiple triggers. But on the other hand, for some people, anxiety attacks can be triggered for no reason at all.

Regardless, it’s important to discover any anxiety triggers that you may have.

Figuring out what they are is an important step in managing them.

For myself, most of my anxiety issues at this juncture occur when I’m at work.

I’m sure that there are underlying factors as to “why”, but for me, the trigger(s) seems to be my work environment. I don’t experience anxiety attacks or episodes for example on my days off or on holidays.

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Nevertheless and unfortunately, the side effects of anxiety issues for myself are 24/7, as the graphic illustrates.

At this stage, I don’t have many options available to me in terms of career changes.

Because of that, I work at using the above coping techniques for identifying negative thought patterns and breathing exercises to manage my anxiety episodes and issues.

Final thoughts..

This post is not to be taken as the remedy to fix all anxiety issues for yourself or me for that matter.

If you’re dealing with anxiety or any other mental health wellness concern, you should always seek the help of a qualified medical professional first and foremost.

For myself, I try to practice challenging the negative thought patterns; breathing exercises and identifying the triggers as ways to cope at this stage. Some days I deal with the anxiety stuff pretty good. Other days, I just want to come home; hug Lynn; eat dinner and crawl into bed.

If you have an anxiety disorder, how do you deal with it or deal with anxiety-related issues in your life?

Thanks for hanging around and reading this.

— with love —

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – “Soul Place” – What Are They and Do We All Have One?

It’s early on Friday morning(January 15) and we’re well into Day 2 of “Lockdown Light – Part 3” in Ontario.

The emergency measures put in place by the provincial government indicate(which defines out as merely suggested) that we are to “shelter at home” except for getting groceries; essential work; and medical appointments. There may be a few other items to include on that list, but no one knows what they are.

Needless to say, there has been much confusion throughout our “dear old province” as to what is deemed essential or for that matter “not essential.”

For many of us, we can’t even figure out if we’re allowed to drive 15 minutes to the edge of town to hike along some county forested trail. I think we can, but “what we can do and what we can’t do” – seems to be a moving target at best.

It goes without saying that over the past 10 or 11 months, all of us(including the government) have come to realize the mental health impacts resulting from COVID_19. I assume this is why getting outdoors and exercise(like trail walking or hiking as examples) has been included as part of the province’s list of permitted activities – what I’m calling “essential – light.”

Where to go?; how far can we go? Don’t honestly know for sure. Maybe today there will be yet another presser and we’ll get a clearer picture.

Why the exceedingly long preamble?

The mental health aspects resulting from the pandemic, if and when they get media time never seem to get “front page treatment.” It’s always sort of an afterthought or buried so far down your Twitter feed, it never sees the light of day.

But, the effects of and how to minimize the issues resulting from pandemic mental wellness is vitally important.

I wrote the following post a while back.

Each of us, and whether we believe it or not, have a special place we run too at times. We blast our way at all costs to wherever that “place” is to dwell in that sense of “inner peace.” We might not know we’re doing it, but we are.

We’ve all heard or uttered the phrase, ” I feel most at peace when I’m in the forest; or mountains; or at the sea.” Or something similar in nature. It may even be the beachy type waterfront in the large city you live in.

It seems these days, we live in a world where it is exceedingly difficult to be “at peace” whether globally or our own inner peace.

Which makes it all that more imperative to find that place that gives us that inner peace. A place that when we arrive, we know instantaneously that “I’m home.” A place where our soul is a rest.

— as always; with love —

One thing that has been bouncing around in my mind for the past several weeks is the idea of “why are people attracted or drawn to a particular spot or place?” 

Phrases like:

  • “Algonquin Park is my special place; I feel most at peace there”
  • “I can’t help it. When I’m in the mountains it’s like being home.”
  • “The seashore calls me and when I’m there it’s like heaven to me.”
  • “I feel a presence when I’m out in the forest, in the trees, and in the streams. It’s where I’m supposed to be.”

Talking with Lynn about it, I wondered if there any substance to this, other than a purely an intellectual exercise or response.

We often hear from friends or even tell ourselves that, “such and such a place is where I feel most at home.” But, when pressed as to why they feel that “this place is like being home,” all I ever get for a response is “well because it just is.”

For most of us, that answer should be enough, but it got me to thinking that maybe the “why” is much deeper.

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That the reason why are people attracted or drawn to a particular spot or “Soul Place” is almost or is spiritual in nature.

After doing a bit of reading, I came across this concept or idea of “Soul Place.”

So, what is a “Soul Place?”

Soul Place

Good question and without getting into a long discourse on the meaning of “soul,” this is what I’ve been able to glean about all of us having and/or needing to find our “soul place.”

It doesn’t take being much of a rocket scientist and no disrespect to rocket scientists, but we live at a time where our existence tends to be based on consumption and consuming A LOT, rather than something else.

This “something else” is the idea of each of us being born(obviously), but not to necessarily consume(yes, we need to consume to some extent), but to also engage, serve and nurture our place within the ecosystem of the universe.

As such, our soul is simply not our true nature, but also it is our true place in nature.

In as much as our soul may have a spiritual dimension, it also has a physical domain to it as well.

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The concept of a “Soul Place” is very personal and will be different for each person.

But, from what I’ve read, we all have at least one soul place on the planet and it will be personal – very personal.

So, a soul place is a special site, spot or location where we experience an exceedingly personal and unique feeling of belonging, acceptance, energy and renewal.

This sounds pretty fantastic to me.

Finding Your Soul Place

Here are some things I came across to help discern if you think you’ve found your “soul place.”

  • you’ll feel a sense of familiarity
  • a greater sense of harmony and ease
  • might intuitively sense that “you’re finally home and can rest now”
  • if there’s external chaos in this place, you’ll still feel internally peaceful
  • feel inspired and have bursts of creative thought
  • you are content with simply “being there”
  • feel a new sense of freedom and joy
  • feel introspective and will get to know yourself in deeper ways
  • feel recharged and energized

So, what does all this mean?

I think the purpose of looking into this a bit more and then posting about it is to create a dialogue, because if there is one point in the history of humanity that we need to find our “soul place”, this is likely it.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I really don’t know much about “Soul Places”, although I have blogged on something close to it Thoughts From The Wilderness – Why The Outdoors, just a few days ago.

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But, the idea of a Soul Place intrigues me, as I think I have at least one.

So, here’s where you guys come in. I would love some comments on the concept of “Soul Places.”

  • what do you think about each of us having a “Soul Place”
  • do you have a “Soul Place?
  • how do you feel when you’re there?
  • is the idea of “Soul Place” ridiculous”
  • or any other comments germane to the discussion

— as always; with love —

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – A Foggy Day Is Still A New Day

Seems last January was a good month in terms of posting pieces of motivation and alike. More often than not, they were strewn with an abundance of motivational quotes, cliches, along with a decent sprinkling of kitty and puppy pictures to melt the darkest soul of the most hard-hearted curmudgeon.

However, thinking about this for a moment or two, I’m not sure that the word “cliche” is entirely appropriate here.

Cliche is defined as, “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” People have been known to utter that what I write “is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” Hard to argue that point. Perhaps that is best left for another time and place.

Nevertheless, often inspirational quotes and especially when they are combined in a graphic, often create this magic panacea to cure all our low self-worth issues. And as such, they do have a slight “cliche” feel and ring to them.

So, where are we going to on this Day 1 of “Lockdown Light – Part 2” in Ontario?

I’m not sure…… do these motivational/inspirational quotes, graphics and cliches do anything more than present a reality or a vision of reality that simply might not be real. A lot of use of the word “real” here.

— as always; with love —

It seems inspirational quotes and writing in the inspirational genre often appear to be the most fertile ground when it comes to the use of cliches and such.

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Obviously, that opening sentence is a massive over-generalization and yes, it may be a somewhat unfair suggestion.

But, cliches and or quotes from those who are famous or the near-famous certainly have found a place within the whole inspirational genre, whether it be in text or some visual representation.

Now, this post isn’t to disparage any of these quotes or cliches or how and why they’re used.

I get all of that, and I understand why people can find solace and comfort reading them. In addition, Even, I find many of them pretty good.

Here are a few quotes or cliches to help illustrate where we’re going.

Night is always darker before the dawn and life is the same, the hard times will pass, everything will get better and the sun will shine brighter than ever.

— Ernest Hemingway

Sunshine always follows the rain

— unknown

Tomorrow is a new day

—  unknown

Each one of these has been used or may even be used by someone today to help people dealing with a period of “darkness”(going through a challenging or difficult period in their life) and that the “darkness” will somehow end and what follows will be a “glorious dawn of a new day” filled with eye-blinding sunshine.

The problem is, when I read these and other quotes or similar cliches, there seems never any middle ground.

You head from one end of some ethereal spectrum of “darkness” and magically overnight awaken at the opposite end having arrived at an “a new and glorious dawn filled with sunshine.”

And often when presented in a visual form, they appear something like this. And again, leave us with the impression of a day dawning with the sun brilliantly coming up over the horizon and a day filled with sunshine.

But, in reality, does it really happen like that?

Do people actually come out of some difficulty or challenging period in their lives and fall into this new dawn of brilliant sunshine where all is good?

I suppose it does happen and for all I know, maybe it happens all the time.

So, here is the crux of it.

Do these types of cliches and quotes, set people up in some way with slight or even gross unrealistic expectations?

What if the day dawns, as it always does, but it is overcast and foggy?

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Is this still not a brand-new day?

Did the sun come up or not?

The answer to both questions is, obviously yes.

Even a dull, foggy and dreary morning, is exceedingly brighter than a night that wasn’t even all that dark out!

In other words, even if you went through a difficult and challenging time and start to see a change happening for the better and even if the change was a tad foggy or dull, is that not better than the dark period?

Assuming that it is, certainly, that has to be a “win” for us?

A change for the better regardless of how it arrives and/or how big the change, is still a change for the better.

I suspect that we all want to go from the dark(difficulties are happening) end of the spectrum to the brilliant(all is better) end, without having to travel through the middle part. The problem is, we need to travel through that middle part. Which may be 12 hours or 12 years.

I believe that most of us eventually work through those difficult times, depending on what they are and at some juncture, a new day will dawn for us. That those troubling or difficult circumstances would be entirely gone or at least vanished for the most part. And that this new day will give us plenty of sunshine on some level.

Remember, though, we may have had a few foggy and dreary days along the way before we get there.

And if nothing else, we will have learned a few skills along the way to cope and deal with whatever the issues where and still might be.

Nevertheless, a foggy and dreary day is still a new day and it will always be brighter than the darkest night.

And that in my mind is a “HUGE WIN.”

— with love —

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – To Colour Or Not To Colour?

I wrote this last January, with reckless abandon and with no clue of what was about to transpire and grip the entire planet is just a few short weeks.

Not that the timing of when it was penned or of what unfolded after really matters. What does matter though, is now is the time, not next week; or next month, but now is the time to start colouring again.

Colour with the joy and freedom that we experienced as four year olds, sitting at the kitchen table with Mom or Dad and with a blank canvas in front of us. Ready to go wild and create the world’s greatest masterpiece.

And that masterpiece is you.

— with love —

A few weeks ago, I was going through some stuff(mostly unknown clutter) that had been boxed away in our art studio.

When rummaging around, I came across a small container of things that obviously had much use and where a well-worn memory from our daughter Sara’s childhood.

Crayons and colouring pencils.

How many of us remember back to when our children picked up that crayon or marker for the first time?

Sitting with them at the kitchen table; your child not even able at this stage to hold a crayon correctly. But, it did it matter? Of course not! They just latched on to it and started wildly moving the crayon across that blank piece of paper, creating in their mind the perfect picture to give Mom to put on the fridge for the world to see.

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As things progressed, you likely bought them a simple colouring book suitable for the age they were at. Having said that, a colouring book is a big step up from a white sheet of paper.

With colouring books, the lines define the shape and also where to colour.

But like the blank piece of paper, this is fun. REAL FUN. There were no rules. The sky can be green and not blue; the lines in the book are merely a suggestion; the grass can be red and not green.

And with great abandon and without care for the rules, children colour, create and express themselves in such wonderful ways with a simple crayon. Why? – because they can. And no one stops them.

In fact, we encourage and support them all along the way.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the path we call life, there is a point when society or someone says, “in order to fit in – you must colour between the lines.”

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As the days move along and as we grew older, even though we may not have known it, “colouring between the lines” creates a loss in our life.

The “stay between the lines mantra,” begins to ever so slightly strip or erode away part of who we are.

It takes that “wild child-like abandonment and care-free attitude” from our childhood and slowly over time smooths out those rough edges to create something that conforms to a much more narrowly defined existence.

This underlying and often not so underlying layer of “staying between the lines conformity” ultimately creates a picture where the colours match up(the sky must be blue) and the colours don’t cross over those tiny lines that define the shapes on the page. The result is a picture that all can see and recognize what it is.

Remember though, as a toddler, when starting to colour there were no rules. There was nothing to confine or restrict the crayon crashing across the page in the colouring book.

Did you care? NO!

You were simply being you; being who you are; having fun and living life. You were creating a masterpiece.

But at some ripe age as an adult or even a bit earlier, the mind-set of “colouring between the lines” can take us down a variety of different rocky/tree root strewn and foot catching stumbling paths:

  • do what’s safe or easy
  • don’t be unique or really different
  • be perfect
  • don’t bend the rules
  • keep your creativity in check; no individuality
  • don’t make a scene
  • stay in your comfort zone; take no risks

If that’s where we’ve ended because we’ve been herded into “colouring within the lines,” we can often find ourselves saying, “trying that won’t work” instead of actually seeing if it will work. Or “it has always been done that way” as the only reason to not try and do things differently.

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“Colouring between the lines” can bring us to be a near-perfect rule follower, not willing to step out and “bend the rules” a bit. You’re afraid to take or make a path of your own.

You study and become an accountant(not to disparage accountants), but deep within you; your soul aches and your heart cries and screams that you need to be a writer; an actor; or make pottery. And you know it’s true, because you feel and live the ache of your soul and the scream of your heart each and every day.

But how often do you simply end up living life – “painting by numbers.” Number 5 is blue; number 7 is green.

Rigidly colouring within the lines leaves you afraid to be who you are, cut off from your creativity, resourcefulness, and genius.

Source – Unknown

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You see, each of us(and that includes you) was born to create a masterpiece.

And that “masterpiece” is us as an individual.

But in order to create that masterpiece, we need to at times and often all the time “colour outside the lines.”

Life may or may not be a “big wonderful and yummy bowl of cherries,” but it certainly is a big box full of brightly colour crayons.

Regardless of what people around you or even what society says, it is okay to “colour outside the lines” and along with that, it is also okay to use every colour in the crayon box.

In fact, to create “your masterpiece” you’ll need to use each colour; mix them up a bit(make the sky green), and to say “to hell with the lines on the page.”

Live life to the fullest. You have to color outside the lines once in a while if you want to make your life a masterpiece. Laugh some every day. Keep growing, keep dreaming, keep following your heart. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

~ Albert Einstein

Now is the time to open back up that box of crayons that have been put away over the years.

Get out there and colour with “child-like freedom.” Use the brightest and wildest colour schemes you can think of.

Bring perspective to life and things that only you can bring.

You are different, unique, original.

Be you – the world needs your masterpiece.

— with love —

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Photo Credits: Pixabay and Google Images

Thoughts From The Wilderness – We’re Not Simply One Layer

Although this is a post I did back in January 2020, the message is still timeless.

People, each one of us(and yes, that includes both you and me), are exceedingly complex individuals. All of us are comprised of multiple layers of “things” that only when taken in totality define who we are.

Often those layers remain pretty constant throughout our lives, while often we work on those layer(s) that need to be changed or eliminated. We are without a doubt – “a work in progress.”

As individuals though, each one of us needs to look inward to see how we “define others in our life?” Do we slot them into some cubby space based on just “one layer” – which tends to have a negative value assigned to it. Or do we honestly look at the person in front of us in the totality of all the layers?

Remember – when you define me you are often simply defining yourself.

From January 2020 – with love

Somewhere along the way, I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase(s), “they’re such a multi-layered or multi-faceted person.”

And did you know, that if you start typing “a multi-layered or multi-faceted person” into a Google search you get “multi-layered” and “multi-faceted” answers? In other words, Mr. Google ain’t much help this morning.

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The photo here clearly shows the growth rings of a tree.

What is in the picture is actually a very old beam that is somewhat rotting.

The beam is or was part of a weir in White Falls Dam that controls the flow of water from Six Mile Lake to Gloucester Pool in the Muskoka area, not far from where we live.

In simple terms, each growth ring shown in the picture represents one year of growth for a tree before it was cut at some point in the far distant past in order to be shaped into the beam that is in the photograph. In other words, each growth ring or year of growth represents one layer within the life(multi-layers) of any tree.

But, a tree isn’t necessarily defined by one growth ring.

It isn’t defined by one smallish growth ring or layer, that occurred during a rough summer of little rain nor is it defined by several larger consecutive growth rings which were due to near-perfect growing conditions.

The life and substance of the tree are defined by all of the rings(multi-layers) when taken together.

So, back to the “multi-layered or multi-faceted person” phrase.

I’m finding arriving at any reasonable and easy to “get a grip on” definition of the two terms is difficult.

The phrase “multi-layered” seems to refer to personality traits, while “multi-faceted” has this vague definition of “something comprising many parts.” All of which might very well when lumped together, might not a bad definition of who we are as individuals after all.

It goes without saying, that of course, as individuals, we are multi-layered and multi-faceted for sure. It is also for sure that we ARE NOT simply defined by one single layer.

Or are we?

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Who and what we are, in other words, our whole being is the totality of all of these layers. Some are good; some are great; some not so good; while most may be neutral.

One analogy that often gets used is that we are akin to the layers found in an onion.

All of this is fine and dandy, except for one thing in my mind.

How often do we get defined or that others see and view us by only looking exclusively at one layer?

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People see us; judge us; make assumptions about us, through a myopic view focussing on one layer and one layer only of our multi-layered and multi-faceted make-up.

Often the layer those around us bite into and hold with a vice-grip like tenacity, is one that is generally seen as negative or certainly not one that has much of a positive attribute attached to it.

Honestly, who wants to be defined or viewed by only a single and often negative layer of your multi-layered and multi-faceted being?

But that happens, doesn’t it?

You’re seen and viewed as cold and distant person; or seen as far too emotional; perhaps viewed as way over the top; viewed as too quirky; still seen as a bit of a “mental case” because you had some emotional and mental-wellness concerns years ago; or people still define you by something that happened in your past that you are desperately trying to move on from.

All those and other things may be true, but that one layer doesn’t define who we are as individuals.

Honestly, we need to move way beyond seeing, defining, judging others simply by the one layer we see or that one layer “we want to see.”

That one layer you see; that one layer you define me by; that one layer you only “want to see” – it hurts.

I know, and my wife can certainly attest to it, as much as I have wonderful qualities or layers about me, I also have layer upon layer of qualities that can be viewed with a negative lens to them. Most of “those other layers” tend to deal with emotional and mental wellness issues.

Unfortunately, there are many who have or continue to this day to view me as a person defined by “those other layers.” Too bad, because in reality, I’m not such a bad guy.

judge 1

It is a terrible shame, that we can fail to see and experience the whole person because the best we can do or the most we will try to do is view only one layer of a person.

You see, the problem isn’t you or me.

The problem is this.

Everyone else assumes they’re perfect.

If people only view and see someone as this single-layered individual and not as a wonderful multi-layered guy or gal, that narrowness of scope actually kind of backfires. It reveals something dark about them.

judge 3

I guess many have forgotten or perhaps don’t know or often have chosen not to know this simple, yet powerful truth.

By defining me or others, you’ve just defined who you are.

Something perhaps we all need to, is step back and examine within ourselves are we defining who we are by defining; viewing or judging others by only one single layer of who they are?

That’s a good question.

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Trust Your Struggle

I’ve heard said and I’m sure you have as well, that when we’re in the middle of a battle, it is often hard to know if we’re winning the war.

And if we’re brutally honest, all of us are in right at this present moment or have been in and/or will be dealing with some struggle, or issue within our life of some description and size.

In 2020, they seemed to arrive on a fairly consistent basis. One might even arrive 15 minutes from now.

The reality is, I don’t know many of us out there, that are true fans of the “struggle.”

I suspect that most of us would be quite content and happy to truck along through our years and not have any serious struggles show up on any regular or semi-regular basis. Ya..right.

struggle3

The truth, however, is that struggles do show up whether we want them to or not.

Some might be minor like waiting for the bus in the rain, while others will be much more serious and traumatic within the context of our lives.

Trust your struggle, because it reveals something yet to come.

As they say in the maritimes…Whaaaaaaaaaa! What? Why?

Why “trust your struggle?”

struggle

The obvious answer is – “why not?” 

But, come on, there has to be a better response than “why not?”

At some level, the struggles we go through at least from my perspective are not the same as difficult events that arrive on our doorstep unannounced.

Although an unexpected and difficult situation that suddenly arrives in our life can be full of challenging struggles for sure.

I’m not really talking about that in this post, so here are a couple of points in regard to this struggle of “trusting your struggle.”

Trusting Your Struggle

One

Ever notice it can be the same freaking struggles that keep showing up again and again.

Often referred to as “the same shit; different day.” 

The circumstances may be different; the people involved may be different, but one particular struggle or problem occurs exactly the same way each time. It is like the universe has pre-ordained that this struggle is the burden we have to carry.

Well, perhaps it is the universe with a tad of a “hate-on” for you. But, I doubt it.

But more likely it is this.

We(and I have myself at the top of the list here) can have a really hard time acknowledging the struggles we deal with. In other words, we refuse to take ownership of them or see what our role is in the struggle we find ourselves in. We can get trapped in a cycle of resisting and denial for a wide variety of reasons.

We get stuck in the struggle. Sort of an endless-loop.

For example, you get pissed by the same things again and again in each relationship you find yourself in. Or perhaps it’s the story you tell yourself and others if they will listen, that you will always be on the lower economic end of the scale because you continually tell yourself “you’ll always be on the lower end of the economic scale.”

I get that admitting we may have a role in the struggle we’re in, is a difficult and many times virtually an impossible reality for many of us. I include myself in this particular group.

But we do need to get a handle on our responsibility in what’s going on.

Although a challenge at best, we need to examine what our own accountability is in those situations. Perhaps it means working at developing greater tolerance and empathy towards ourselves and others. Maybe, we need to be more cognizant of opportunities that surround us and seize one, before it passes us by once again.

Trusting our struggles, means we’re taking the “bull by the horns” and working towards growing as a person that will allow us to move beyond some “endless struggle loop” we’ve dealt with in our past.

Two

The second point and the first point, go together like “ham and cheese” in a sandwich.

As such, the only way we can grow from our struggles is to really be in the struggle.

sherlock

Brilliant deduction there Sherlock.

In other words, when you are in the middle of the struggle, show up, kick it in the “nards” and be aware of what is going on.

“Stay with the struggle” might be an appropriate phrase right here.

If we hang there and are truly working on getting a handle on the struggle and how to get out it or smash that crap out of it, that’s where you want to stay.

That’s where the growth occurs.

Bailing out of the struggle by distracting yourself with substance abuse, or perhaps crazily spending money, or mindless time spent on social media or any other number of ways of numbing the “old mind” is bad.

Stay is good; bailing/distracting is bad.

Hanging in there may allow you to grow in ways, that well, you likely have needed to grow and change all of your life.

In order to grow and win the battle, you need to be in the battle and doing the work/fighting in order to win.

struggle2

Can you “trust your struggle?”

You can if you really want to.

The most difficult and often challenging, yet life-transforming endeavour before you, may end up being to do the dirty work of looking at and examining who you truly are in the reflection of life’s mirror.

mirror

Do you have the guts to take a peak?

That is often the biggest struggle of all.

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Slip Sliding from 2020 to 2021

The year 2020 was 365 days that none of us would have predicted.

The first 60 or so of them weren’t so bad. But, as we reflect back over 2020, every 24 hours that we moved closer to mid-March last year, things started get a bit dimmer and blecker as each day passed.

I’d been pondering over the last remaining days of 2020 on what type of retroreflective “gobbly-gook” I might be able to crunch out. All of this is assuming that I want to “crunch” said post out.

And then the “aha!” moment sprang forth.

2020 can’t just simply be about the dumpster fire of a global pandemic. News story of the year? I would suspect so. But, 2020 can’t just be that.

One thing that COVID_19 did for most, if not all of the world, was to slow down and stop.

Literally stop. Put the breaks on and go home.

Most of you reading this were involved in some type of lockdown; shelter at home; quarantine enforcement.

For many of us, the things we took normally for granted vanished more or less overnight. Big vacation plans, big events or simply time spent with distant family and friends evaporated like water sprayed on hot concrete during a scorching summer afternoon. Even going out for a meal – gone.

Most of us learned that what “might be here today could be and was gone tomorrow.” We learned a hard but necessary lesson in “taking things for granted.”

But, having said that we also learned or re-learned a few good lessons along the way.

I think one of the most important lessons to learn is that, at the end of all days it will be the simple pleasures we remember. Those memories not of the big events(don’t get me wrong, those events are vitally important), but the memories of the seemingly small and often perceived as insignificant events or things.

The point is to make memories. Memories falling out of big events or tiny coffee date with someone it doesn’t matter.

Let’s finish by saying this, ““your most valuable possessions are the shared experiences and memories that link our hearts together.”

The following was my retrospective look for last year. I’ve gone through and changed dates and updated a few things to make it appropriate for this year. Let the message of it, flow through your body and soul.

With love…..

hangover3

There is right this very moment, some exceedingly groggy and perhaps hungover bloggers that are unsteadily and perhaps with a significant level of befuddlement, typing away at a retrospective post on the year that was.

On the opposite side of the coin, however, given the expertise and professionalism found throughout the blogosphere, many of you will have your ever so thoughtful and sombre retrospective of 2020 done already. Written last week utilizing a sober-mind(or at least semi-sober) and now have it scheduled to hit the blogging world at some point today, if it hasn’t already been published by now.

Pat-on-back

I can confidently and with many self-indulgent congratulations admit, this retrospection was written during the week between Christmas and today, January 1, 2020. Having said that, it is entirely appropriate to recycle it again for looking back at 2020. And forward to 2021.

So, not so much groggy typing this morning.

Most “year in review” posts that I’ve read and I haven’t read all of them(insert your sarcastic voice here), often follow a semi-predictable pattern of focussing on highlights of posts throughout the year and then followed by goals, dreams and aspirations for the year coming up.

Realistically, in any “year in review” post, I’m not sure one can follow any other basic template, other than simply presenting a review of your past year. We may add to the mix life events that occurred and such, but in the end, it is still a review.

Screen Shot 2019-12-27 at 7.59.46 AM

Honesty time here.

It’s the “basic template” and in some respects the whole “year in review” post thing that has my “pantaloons in a twist.”

And in that regard, I took a stab at starting to untangle my “twisted pantaloons” in this post last week(written in 2019).

Nevertheless, one thing that did come to me while thinking about putting this retrospective together was the word “theme.”

“Theme”, when used as a noun, has two meanings:

  • “the subject of a talk, a piece of writing, a person’s thoughts, or an exhibition; a topic”
  • “an idea that recurs in or pervades a work of art or literature”
making memories

Both meanings fit perfectly with a theme that seemed to evolve throughout this year – making memories.

Making Memories

As I scrolled through the posts, I had written throughout 2019 and 2020 for that matter, and while pondering each one(some had more pondering than others), the theme of making memories seemed to rise to the surface.

Making memories when stripped right down, involves people. Our spouses, our children, our families, our friends and perhaps those we don’t even know.

It’s the people we love that are the most important. In fact, people are the most important things in our life. Not the gifts, nor the house or the “stuff” we work ever so diligently to acquire through our lives.

It’s people and making memories with them.

So, here’s my retrospective look back on 2019 and now for 2020 from a theme of “Making Memories.”

Be sure to click on the highlight links to read the full posts.

February 6 – “Making Memories” 

This entry is important not just because I wrote it, but I believe it has a couple of universal truths attached to it.

And it is these particular truths and the meaning they hold, that one day we will either be thrilled to look back on them or exceedingly disappointed we don’t have them to reflect and celebrate on.

The choice though is entirely ours to make.

The first is, that time marches on. It waits for no one. A bit of a cliche I admit, but true, nonetheless. Therefore, fill your time with things that won’t rust or fall away. Things that have true meaning and value.

The second truth is, people are the most important things in our life. Not work, not things, not “stuff.” People, plain and simple.

Lastly, this point is a kind of sub-set of the second one. And it’s a quote, “your most valuable family possessions are the shared experiences and memories that link your hearts together.”

That last point should make it simple and blunt enough that all of us should get the point here.

As you read through Making Memories, it goes on to highlight five elements found or important in “making memories” and why making them so important and necessary.

Get out there and make some memories.

October 27 – “Hope You Had The Time Of Your Life”

Oh, where to begin with this one.

If I had to choose a post from 2019 that would make me the proudest of “hitting publish” it would be this one.

Not because of outstanding writing, content, layout or any of that stuff. It would be all due to the “spot I was at.” Which in all honesty, was and not a very good place.

time

The fall of last year was for the most part, not the best for me in terms of my own mental and emotional wellness.

The nub of it was dealing with anxiety issues on a daily basis, combined with feelings of self-doubt and “where do I fit in; not feeling like I was contributing much; my life wasn’t much to look back on” it all simply left me at a rather low point.

I had heard “Good Riddance – Hope You Had The Time Of Your Life” by Green Day several times throughout the fall months on the radio. Any lyrics, although written perhaps with a specific meaning originally, they can create a wealth of different meanings though to the people who hear and listen to them.

At that time, the song resonated for me along the theme of, “we only have one life to live; only one shot to do it in; so you better get it right.” And that when it is all said and done; and before you take your last breath, you can look back and boldly proclaim, “I did have the time of my life.”

Originally when creating the post, I planned to take the lyrics and intersperse a few pictures that would somehow correspond to the meaning of each verse.

It didn’t quite work out that way. In fact, it worked out far better than I could have ever imagined.

What made it a powerful and such a gut-wrenching post for me was compiling the pictures and I mean the many photographs found in the post. I simply started adding pictures I felt held meaning to me of past wonderful memories. And I kept going and adding until I felt I was done.

Some of the pictures were very important, like our daughter’s college graduation, to those of seemingly insignificant events like a hike along the Bruce Trail.

The point is, all of those pictures represent an incredible memory; lots of memories in fact. And that if today was that day I took my last breath, I could look back and say, not hope, but say, “I did have the time of my life.”

We often get stuck and spin our wheels in the present when things are at some low point. Digging ourselves deeper into some muddy bog, that we really don’t need to be in.

That was me.

So, I absolutely implore you to click the link for the post.

After that, start compiling your own pictures of those wonderful memories of days gone by. They could be from last week or ten years ago. Keep going until you either run out of pictures or emotionally you can’t select another picture.

Step back and take a look.

You’ll then see without a doubt, you “have had the time of your life” to this point.

December 13 – “The Importance of Christmas Traditions”

This one is similar in most respect to the post above from February 6 – “Making Memories”

Where it differs is in the importance of Christmas traditions.

As I wrote in the post if there is one season or time of year that yells out “traditions” it has to be Christmas.

Christmas traditions, like any tradition, involves people. Most often it is those people who are nearest and dearest to us.

In fact, a Christmas tradition can’t exist without the energy and power found within the hearts and souls of the people involved.

Those Christmas traditions we dearly and often eagerly anticipate are fueled by the wonderful and heart-warming memories those traditions have created over the years for us.

Twenty years from now, not many of you will be to remember the presents and gifts you received, but I can guarantee you will be able to remember those Christmas traditions, that became the glue that has bonded the memories and souls of our families and friends together.

So, there you have it.

looking

A slightly different way of looking back at 2019 and now 2020 from where I was sitting.

Obviously, there are other posts that are noteworthy(at least in my mind), as well as events in from last year that could have made the list for inclusion.

I didn’t include blog stats and such, because I’m not sure what they would add to the mix.

Having said all of this, one thing I pray you to take from this particular retrospection is simply this quote:

“your most valuable family possessions are the shared experiences and memories that link your hearts together.”

Go out right this very moment with your family/friends and get creating memories in 2021 that will last a lifetime.

Lynn and I thank each and every one of you who took the time to visit for a while with us at “justabitfuther” during 2019 and 2020.

We pray that you made it through 2020 healthy and well. Now, let’s look forward with hope and anticipation for a brighter future unfolding before us in 2021.

With love……..

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Lost In A Crowd

I did this just about a year ago. Early January as matter of fact.

Just felt the need to repost it.

Ever feel lost in a crowd? Raise your hands if you have…one, two, three, four…

You know, a place or setting where you are indistinguishable from everyone else?

2020e

You kind of end up feeling you’re simply just a number and perhaps at times even less than a number.

Unfortunately, it can be a feeling we often get.

And that’s the point, it is simply at times a “feeling.” Other times, well perhaps it might be true? I don’t know – maybe?

And I get that the “feeling” can be exceedingly strong and in some instances can be perpetrated and reinforced by and in the situation you find yourself.

Although these wildflowers look almost identical, closer inspection would reveal that each one has individual characteristics about them.

There are differences and although they might be only slight ones at that, there are differences for sure.

Size of the flower head; perhaps the number of petals may be different or there may be slight variations in colour.

The point is that they are not all the same.

One point to remember is that “feelings” can be a fickle companion at the best of times.

Why?

Because “feelings” are simply that – “feelings.” They may and often don’t represent the reality of the situation.

They can often be a result of where we are emotionally and mentally at any one point in our lives. For example, if we’re at a low point emotionally, we may “feel” that everyone is against us; or we “feel” that no one likes us; or have “a feeling” that what we contribute in life has no meaning at all.

I must admit, it is difficult to compare wildflowers that all appear the same in a photograph to the human condition of “feeling lost in a crowd.”

But, nevertheless, we do at times have that feeling we’re simply “lost in a crowd.”

Looking back at that picture again, the flowers certainly for the most appear all the same. Looking closer though, they all are individual flowers, even if they look and appear to be identical.

stand-out-crowd

Individual. Now there’s an interesting word.

Right now, we could go a thousand different directions here in this post. But lets for the moment keep the word “individual” swirling around.

I do think these days that conformity within the context of our society is the expected and accepted norm.

Do this, but don’t do that. Be this and don’t be that. And all of that is true to some extent.

However, at some point along the “conformation within society spectrum”, that whole “you need to conform” does tend to strip the “individualism” out of people. When we start to lose a sense of “who and what we are” as individuals, the next logical is that we “all look and appear the same.”

So, how can we be a “blue penguin” when everyone else around us are “brown penguins?”

Remember that whole “feelings” can be a fickle companion deal?

If we “feel lost in a crowd”, then we probably are “lost in the crowd.”

If we “feel lost” it may mean that a part of us is lost. Part of who we are and what defines us has slipped away to some extent.

We are all wonderfully crafted individuals, each with unique skills and abilities that add necessary and needed elements and pieces of this mosaic called life.

purpose

When we can rediscover the passion; the purpose in our life; the who and what we are”; the thing that defines us; the thing that makes us the “individual” that we are, then we will be a blue penguin” in a crowd of “brown penguins.”

Stop blending in with all that is around you.

trees

If you feel lost in a crowd, then it is time to stand up in order to stand out.

It’s okay if your purpose in life is to be a “square peg” when trying to fit in a “round hole.”

In fact, often the quirkier you are; the better.

How many of us have the quirky sister or the fun to be with Aunt? Didn’t have any sisters, but had the fun to be with Aunt.

Quirky is good; be a blue penguin; don’t be a brown penguin.

Remember, feelings are simply feelings and there is no need for you and me to feel lost in a crowd.

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Five Reasons Why Slow Progress Is Still Progress

This was first published about 10 months ago or so.

I don’t often travel back down the road of re-reading old pieces, but yesterday I did and had another look at this one.

Over the years I’ve scribbled out a number of posts on dealing with mental health wellness issues that any of us may face. And most were written during what we might fondly refer back to as “normal times.” However, times these days are “not so normal.”

There is light at the end of the tunnel, but realistically we’re months and likely longer before we are anywhere near what will become our “new normal.”

Nevertheless, the mental health wellness issues and concerns we had pre-pandemic didn’t suddenly disappear when the world went into a lockdown back in March. Nope, they were still there. I can attest to that.

Now, let’s all go and add all the mental health issues surrounding the unknown issues and now the things we do know regarding COVID, and to be honest, at times it can appear to be pretty fucking grim.

Many of us, including myself wake up every morning hopefully with the view that “today is a new day.” A blank canvas on which to paint the next magnificent scenes in our existence. A new day to work on myself; to grow; to move one step beyond the past. Is it like that every day. Nope! Can’t say that it is.

Rolling out of the sack in the morning and staring at that fresh, clean and unblemished blank canvas with the wide-eyed anticipation is a step; it’s progress. Hell, at least you rolled out of bed.

For many of us who have dealt with or deal with mental health wellness, it feels often easier to roll back into bed and pull the covers up over our head.

Those small steps we take each day will all add up over time. Of course, there will be setbacks or a stumble or two along the way. There often are.

But, slow progress it still progress.

It might not be much comfort, but three steps forward and two steps back is still one step forward in the right direction.

I was a teacher and I’ve done the math.

From a number of months ago……….

They say(although not sure who “they are”) that are two things which can be taken as a certainty in our lives. One is death, the other is taxes. The first one I’ve yet to experience(exceedingly thankful for that). The second one, however appears to grow at an ever increasing alarming rate every two weeks on my meagre, yet most thankful direct deposit paycheck.

If you were to add a third thing into the mix, perhaps it might be that we’ve experienced progress at a speed that has been unprecedented in our history. Coupled alongside such rapid progress, is the dizzying speed at which the world and our lives revolve around in it.

slowprogress5

Cutting edge technology unveiled one day and then obsolete in six months’ time. These days there are more demands put on our time; our energy and our lives which we tend at times bend and buckle under, then there ever has been.

All along with that, are sector(s) within the whole self-help industry and mental-wellness fields have developed to help lead us back to a quieter and more simple existence(which is a good thing), while all around us the world spins much like an angry F-5 tornado.

We’ve become used to and often demand that things happen immediately. At something greater than “warp speed.”

We no longer wait or like to wait for anything it seems regardless of its worthiness or lack of. Convenience now is often the “word of the day.” Our vehicles have become rolling restaurants, so we can eat our breakfast sandwich and drink our coffee while spending off to work each morning.

Fast, convenient and on MY SCHEDULE and FITTING MY LIFESTYLE pretty much sums up how we tend to live our lives in this day and age.

Whatever it is, we want it NOW; want it FAST; want it MY WAY.

But, on the other hand, life has a funny way of interjecting in our life, situation(s) that just don’t fit very well into a lifestyle we’ve created. You know, our lives that accelerate to 120 kilometres per hour by 6:45 am every morning.

slowprogress4

The reality is though, there will be situations we find ourselves in that move or arrive at a conclusion that appears to chug along slower than the retreating ice-age.

For example:

  • dealing with a mental-wellness issue in which we think we’re not making any progress in;(but we actually are)
  • our doctor has told us we have a certain medical condition that is entirely treatable and curable, but it will take a long(ish) time to deal with(honestly, you feel better than eight months ago)
  • the new business you started isn’t as big and successful as you thought it might be by this point(but you’re making money)
  • the part-time studies you’re in to enter the field which has been your passion in life is taking forever to complete(but each course makes you one course closer to graduation and your dream)

And the list goes on.

Unlike our seemingly 120 kilometres per hour daily life that we zip about in from morning to night, those above examples are more of the “5 kilometres per hour crawling along trip” and often frustrating situations we may find ourselves in at some point during our life.

But, if you go back and re-read the four bullet points, is progress not happening in each one of them?

Is slow progress, not progress, nonetheless?

Of course, it is.

The problem often lies in this:

Fast, convenient and on MY SCHEDULE and FITTING MY LIFESTYLE pretty much sums up how we tend to live our lives in this day and age.

Whatever it is, we want it NOW; want it FAST; want it MY WAY.

Five Reasons Why Slow Progress Is Still Progress

Slow does not mean failure

If you drive in your car at 100 kilometres per hour, in one hour, you will travel 100 kilometres(more or less).

On the other hand, the average person’s walking speed is around 4 to 5 kilometres per hour.

For this example, when walking at 4 kilometres per hour it will take you 25 hours(more or less) to go the 100 kilometres, that the car did in one hour.

Regardless of how one looks at this, whether walking or driving you ended up at the same point.

slowprogress1

Slow progress does not mean failure.

A little effort over time is better than no effort at all.

We’ve all been in or know of situations, that although completed very suddenly and quickly, in the end, gave rise to issues that might have been foreseen and dealt with if the process had been taken at a much slower pace.

Dealing with mental-wellness issues for many people can be a long and often difficult process. At times it seems like there is no progress being made at all. Today seems no better than yesterday. That might be true. But, this week might be better than last week and this year might be better than two years ago.

In the midst of a battle, it is often hard to tell if you’re winning the war. You are.

Slow progress is still progress. 

It all adds up over time

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” ~Proverb

I don’t know who uttered that phrase, but it does carry a lot of wisdom in it.

But what does matter is that all those small steps which you think are getting you nowhere or you feel are causing you to move at such a slow pace are actually adding up.

slowprogress6

Every victory, no matter if they happen to be big or small, it all adds up in the end.

Each small step along the way adds experience, wisdom and knowledge to the situation you find yourself in.

From personal experience, I know that dealing with mental-wellness and anxiety issues, there are no quick fixes. Each new skill learned and applied is but one small step along the path to wellness. If something or someone rushes towards you with a seemingly quick fix or what appears like a “great leap forward”, remember a “great leap forward” often precedes “a stumble backwards.”

The goal is to get to the end; the place you want to be. Every step; every small victory will eventually get you there. It all adds up over time.

Slow progress is still progress.

New things

It goes without saying, when hurdling along through life at something just under lightspeed, it is tough to learn or pick up new skills or adapt to new or suddenly occurring situations. There is little opportunity to stop and try a new approach.

When life seems to be spinning madly around us, often the best we can hope for and accomplish is to simply hang on for another day and wait until tomorrow for it to happen all over again.

Using the mental-wellness example and knowing that progress can be slow and take some time, there is ample opportunity to incorporate new techniques and coping strategies into your wellness routine and program.

At each step along the way, each new technique learned is a tool that can be added into your toolbox of skills that can be used in a variety of situations as they develop and come into your life.

Adding new skills and learning new techniques and approaches always create a stronger and more resilient you in the end. And it is the end place we’re striving towards regardless of how long it takes to get there.

Slow progress is still progress.

Makes you resilient

resilent1

Slow progress is slow progress for sure and often depending on the situation, we all wish and desire that the progress we’re making might just speed up a bit.

We all get that feeling from time to time.

But slow progress no matter how slow or small in nature builds resiliency in us.

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines resiliency this way:

  • able to be happy, successful, etc. again after something difficult or bad has happened; and
  • able to quickly return to its usual shape after being bent, stretched, or pressed

Slow progress allows us to learn and develop new skills that builds strength within us and the skills necessary to deal with life in a much more positive and healthy way so that we CAN bounce back after experiencing challenges, which we know will happen.

Progress and success that are often the result of “overnight success” can be fraught within many issues and concerns and one of them is lack of resilience.

Resilience takes time to nurture and develop. Those who haven’t taken the time or been given the time and opportunity to develop the skills of resilience can get easily overwhelmed. Because they lack the skills to handle adversity as it comes(and it most certainly will), they may turn to utilize unhealthily coping mechanisms in order to get through the situation.

resilent2

Resiliency or our ability to bounce back, often better than before is a by-product of slow progress.

Perhaps Tigger says it best.

Slow progress is still progress.

Never give up

Our goal is to get to the end. That place we want to finally be.

It might be finishing those part-time course studies; dealing with that on-going medical issue or getting a better handle on and developing new skills to deal with our own mental-wellness concerns.

Along the way we’ve had the opportunity to learn that slow progress is not failure; it all adds up over time; we had the ability and opportunity to learn new skills; and that we’ve become more resilient

nevergiveup

But, through all of this though, we’ve learned the skill of “never giving up.”

One small step; one tiny win; one small victory gets us closer than we were before.

Regardless of what the world may say or do and regardless if society looks upon slow progress as something less than desirable, remember that slow progress is still progress.

The skills and lessons you will learn along the journey far outweigh and look far better than the swirling chaos that likely surrounds you.

Slow progress is still progress.

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Christmas Coping Helps

Came across this I wrote in December 2019.

Who would have figured. Written blissfully unaware like most of us, of what was about to transpire in just a few short months.

Nevertheless, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines have started to roll out here in the frozen north. Front line critical care COVID healthcare workers and the most vulnerable are first in line for the vaccine.

My turn to get jabbed will likely be at some point in 2021. As a considered “essential front line worker” I’m hoping sooner than later. If someone from the health unit showed up right now at my front door, I’d say “stick it in me.” Maybe I’d better rephrase that slightly.

But, you get the idea.

Christmas coping helps from 2019 was a lighthearted look at surviving the Christmas season.

It might not hurt for 2020 as well.

Enjoy…….

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One thing that is certainly a given in life is that Christmas and the holiday season can be a hectic time, to say the least.

Shopping for presents, decorating, Christmas parties and get-togethers, cooking, baking and everything else, do make December a month that often drives many of us to seek out mental wellness counselling.

If we’re not driven to seek counselling, then the zaniness of this time of year drives many to seek solace at their local liquor store in order to see life through and live to see the new year.

Lots of us have developed coping strategies over the course of our lives, that we implement at this time of year that help in some small or big measure in getting us through the season.

I’m no different than anyone else and feel I have an obligation to share with you some of the things that help me.

So, I’ve taken the liberty to compile some thoughts, Christmas themed quotes and such to help soften and reduce the anxiety and pressure that many of us, including myself deal with during this time of year.

Christmas Coping Helps

Decorations

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Decorating the outside of our homes can be a fun and wonderful time spent with family creating the ultimate light show. And it certainly is a Christmas tradition for many families to drive through their neighbourhoods to check out the light displays.

But, be very careful when decorating a palm tree.

If there was ever a “picture is worth a thousand words” picture, this surely has to be the one.

In fact, no words need to be said. The picture says it all. Now, palm tree decorating isn’t such an issue in the colder climate found here in Canada.

However, I can see places throughout the world where a bit of forethought may need to be exercised.

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Now, in addition to that, selecting the correct decorations to go on your tree can present problems that many of us would have never have assumed to exist. It is wise to remember, ornaments have their own struggles too!

Christmas Spirit

It’s funny the season that promotes “the spirit of Christmas” can also suck the Christmas spirit out of a person faster than matter getting pulled into a black hole somewhere deep in the outer reaches of the cosmos.

Just remember, the spirit of Christmas can have a multitude of meanings for each one of us.

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If Christmas spirit for you means – “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. But if the white runs out I’ll drink the red” That’s okay – go for it!

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Big family Christmas celebrations can be a special time of merriment and memory-making and they certainly can ramp the Christmas spirit meter up a notch or two.

Now, having said that, if Christmas spirit for you means having an “old fashioned family Christmas”, then what else can I add other than to quote the seasons greatest originator of an “old fashioned family Christmas” – Clark W. Griswold:

“Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no! We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f*cking Kaye.”

Gifting

One way in which the spirit of Christmas is felt is through gifting.

The giving and receiving of that perfect Christmas gift. They say “it is better to give than to receive.” Not sure that the person who said it gets the full meaning of “Christmas present.” But, I digress.

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We love that time spent fighting the hordes of shoppers in the mall, searching out the perfect gift for that special person in your life. Finding that one present they will treasure and adore forever. Or at least until they can return it sometime between Christmas and the New Year.

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Just remember, buying Christmas gifts doesn’t mean going into debt to show your love for someone.

However, it most certainly means and in no uncertain terms, be very careful when buying the “cute Christmas outfit” for your cat.

That is not a “chocolate nut log roll” kitty purchased at the mall for you. Just sayin’.

Christmas Eve

There are a ton of Christmas traditions that have a deep-rooted place in the lives of families on Christmas Eve. Many of them are focused around religious themes such as the time-honoured Christmas Eve service at the church they may attend.

There are those though, that Christmas Eve is the only time they make it out to church for the entire year – and often reluctantly and often only after “a small tipple of wine” as an incentive.

Regardless of what the Christmas Eve tradition is, one that most children and their parents make sure happens is leaving milk and cookies out for the “jolly old elf himself” – Santa Claus.

One word of advice though.

If you happen to own a furry friend, placement the “old cookie and a glass of milk” gift near the Christmas tree for Santa needs a significant amount of thought and planning before the big night.

Never underestimate the willpower of a dog to find and eat the treats left for Santa. And you can almost be assured as well that the dog will blame the cat. Or the other way around.

The Christmas Story

The true Christmas story, it seems now gets lost in the commercialism and marketing of “the holiday season” by those out for profit and the all-mighty dollar.

One way to help in keeping our sanity during this time, and it is an important one at that, is to keep the real and true meaning of Christmas in front of us at all times.

So, we all know the true Christmas story, at least to some extent.

Or at least we’re aware of the major players in it.

Mary and Joesph; obviously the baby Jesus; the shepherds in the fields at night; Bethlehem and the manger; and of course the arrival of the Three Wise Men.

I have been told that the “Three Wise Men” is somewhat of an oxymoron. Not sure oxymoron is the correct term here, but let’s say it is true for the sake of this post.

As a side note, in our nation’s capital of Ottawa this year, they cancelled the nativity display on Parliament Hill outside the House of Commons. Apparently, they couldn’t find “three wise men.”

Nevertheless, would the arrival to the manger in that lowly stable in Bethlehem on that cold night a couple of thousand years ago of “Three Wise Women” made any difference to the entirety of the Christmas story.

Perhaps.

Let’s take a visual look, shall we?

Apparently, a huge difference.

There you go.

A few tidbits of information and advice to help get you through the Christmas season reasonably unscathed.

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And remember, Christmas is the only time of year you can sit in front of a dead tree eating candy out of socks.

Merry Christmas – I hope you make it through!