Day 9: Pain and Tears #GIG2017

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If this quote isn’t perfect for this Monday, I don’t know what is. Take this little tidbit of motivation in stride.

Despite calling myself an empath, I’m rarely to the point of full-on crying. But sometimes the best thing you can do in a situation is just let it all out. Just be safe if you’re doing so and driving: I don’t recommend that.

Last week, simply put, was rough. I could say that for any week this semester, but especially as classes start to wind down and everything seems to be due on the same day and require all of your attention, I have often felt like each professor has a hold on one of my limbs and is pulling me in opposite directions.

Not to mention last week when I pinched the sciatic nerve, something that with a Google search apparently doesn’t happen too often in young people, but I spent much of my week cringing to walk up any stairs and basically limping everywhere I went. Certainly the best time to remember that your body acts older than it rightfully should.

I could go on if I wanted to, pile on every burden and hardship and little inkling to complain about something going awry, but instead, I want to be grateful. Even if it’s not the automatic response to a tired body and mind, there has to be some silver lining here, some reason I’m putting myself through dire circumstances and still getting myself up and going each day.

I feel a lot of emotions, probably too many, but expressing those emotions in a healthy way doesn’t come easily to me. I want to package my feelings like a Christmas gift, sealed with a bow, all straightforward and manageable for myself and anybody else who comes across them. If I can write things out, that works better for me, but if I’m left to my own devices, I’ll just bottle everything up and keep chugging forward. That’s the easier way to go, right?

Sure, I have a high pain tolerance and take a lot of hardship before I crack. Sure, it seems better in the moment to not deal with the uncomfortable if you don’t have to. But what is there to learn from that? How do we grow as people if we refuse to acknowledge our own nature? Our own innate signals telling us to slow down and seek some refuge?

Too often I see people glamorizing apathy, to not feel anything and think you’re somehow thriving. Maybe you’re thriving as a robot, but certainly not as a human being. We need those challenges, those times when we are teetering on the edge and just need to scream or sob. We don’t want to burden others with our difficult emotions, especially when we don’t know how to properly address them ourselves, but that’s what our loved ones are for. True people who care about you want to feel wanted.

Since pain is a universal part of life, it seems odd that we, in our everyday lives, don’t talk about it more. Probably because it’s a “downer,” since who goes online or talks to other people just to hear how crappy things are and vent all our frustrations? Except the more we pretend the world is sunshine and daisies, the more we deprioritize our true feelings, degrade them, even condemn them from public view. It’s like how I feel about people who feel extremely uncomfortable talking about going to the bathroom: everybody does it? Why make it so taboo?

We shouldn’t feel less worthy or capable if are currently in pain. It doesn’t make us weak. It reminds us how wonderful it is to be alive, to be able to react to our surroundings and experience everything this world has to offer, the good and the not-so good. Pain forces us to slow down our minds, constantly abuzz with what to do next and continue an uber-productive schedule, and actually recognize how we’re feeling.

And by all means, cry. Don’t fall into the trap of swallowing back the waterworks because letting it free seems inconvenient, seems trivial. Your feelings are valid. And you have the right to express those however you see fit. Vulnerability can be the greatest strength we as humans possess, in becoming our truest selves and connecting with those who need it most.

I’m grateful for the hurt, the pain, the times when I couldn’t help but cry, because they were defining moments in my personal journey. They marked stepping stones along my path I needed to experience to get where I am. I’m grateful for the people who stood by me, proving how deserving they are of my continual love and appreciation for them in my life. I’m grateful for the times I chose to let my guard down, or others let their guard down in my presence, just because it felt like the right thing to do. And it was.

Pain feels like anything but a gift, unless gifts now come wrapped in thorns, but it can be so much more than the immediate discomfort. They are opportunities like any other emotion and experience we come across, and we should value them just the same.

Are you or someone you love in a time of pain right now? If so, show them your gratitude for their presence and role they play for you. Take care of them. Offer what you can.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Day 8: Humor #GIG2017

I could’ve put any meme here and would’ve gotten a chuckle. Internet humor has certainly evolved my odd tastes.
Laughing when the last thing anybody else is doing is laughing. Laughing until you’re no longer making noise and your stomach is cramping and tears swell in your eyes. Laughing to turn a dreary day into one with at least little bit more sunshine.

I don’t necessarily call myself full-out funny. I’m certainly awkward and pretty quirky, but not everybody understands when I use sarcasm in 90% of my conversations or refer to some obscure TV show or YouTube video. Or, my general obsession with memes…that’s a whole other story.

But humor is powerful. In fact, it’s great for our health and well-being. Laughter has been shown to relax your muscles, release those good endorphins, boost your immune system, and improve your connections with others. 

There’s a reason we’re drawn to watching comedies when we feel blue or stressed out. Humor allows us to draw our perspectives away from negative emotions of anger and anxiety and realize the potential resentment and tension we hold. We can then see how small and insignificant some grudges can seem, or be able to distract ourselves enough to think of new solutions to make improvements.

Some of the funniest people in the world are the ones suffering the most pain. They utilize humor as a tool to cope with their mental illness and traumas, to continue finding purpose in life whilst connecting with others beyond their struggles. We might underestimate humor in this way, that it’s just a funny joke to share or late night talk show. But humor can mean so much more.

It’s part of our psyche to laugh, to seek out ideas and situations that swell up in our bellies and on our tongues. How hopeful it is to know that we’re wired to be humorous, to use humor as a bridge to reach other people and thoughts and emotions. Plus, it feels great. If anyone out there genuinely doesn’t like laughing…well…I don’t know what to tell you.

Let’s face it: If you’re in the midst of a hectic schedule, working or taking classes or whatever else, it’s not like humor appropriately arises. I’m sure I go days without laughing, which really isn’t my preference. I can feel the difference it makes when something or someone out of the blue leaves me in stitches, and I almost rediscover myself through that humor, especially if my personality resonates in it. 

I’m grateful for laughter, for well-intentioned jokes (I’m looking at you, offensive words made as jokes that are anything but), for the memories I share with loved ones that are filled with unadulterated joy. I’m grateful for how powerful humor can be, in improving our lives and making us aware of new perspectives and ideas.

Think of how blessed we are in our everyday lives, and sometimes how silly it can be to make a huge fuss over little situations and details that at the end of the day don’t matter? That you won’t remember a day from now? An argument with someone over a trivial matter you’re lucky to even be worrying about at all? An embarassing mishap that, trust me, others won’t be dwelling on any longer you feel angry about it. It’s not always easy to do, but you might as well laugh.

How can I incorporate my laughter into my days? Find places in conversations that can be filled with humor, a good joke or random meme shared online. Spend time with those who tickle your funny bone. Find the outlets that make you laugh, certain TV shows or websites or whatever else. And when in doubt, smile, and the whole world will smile with you. 

I challenge YOU this Friday to make the extra effort to sneak in a laugh, from yourself or from someone else you encounter. See how it impacts your day. And count your blessings from there.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Day 7: Brain and Mind #GIG2017

For a bodily organ, the brain so both vastly complicated and intriguing.

My mind is the very essence of a love-hate relationship. As often as I wish I could just take a break from the constant noise going on, the worries, the doubts, the self-deprecating and obsessive thoughts, I cannot think of not having that aspect of myself.

While it’s a choice to do all I can to support my well-being and put the best version of myself forward, my mental health is ingrained in my genes. The misfiring neurotransmitters are always in action, and they in turn lead to swinging moods and less-than-fun behaviors and habits I could have less of, thank you very much.

But I’m grateful for my mind. My messed up, imperfect mind. I could wallow in my pitfalls and drag myself further down the hole of dispair, but why would I when I truly do have so much gratitude inside my skull?

My brain is something I literally and metaphorically couldn’t live without. This one brain has grown and matured, has allowed me to pursue my education and passions. I appreciate my ability to become engrossed in certain subjects, soaking in all the knowledge I can. I appreciate the ability and desire to learn and embody the student I hope to be beyond the classroom.

I’m so blessed to have a fully functioning mind that has inevitably made poor decisions, but has adapted from those to then forge a path I could only fathom but ended up solidifying into my life. 

I’m grateful for the creative ideas that stir in my head that I can translate into text that others can read and share. I’m grateful for the random “Aha!” moments that can arise from mundane tasks but end up turning into a enthralling venture.

My brain is capable of taking in every physical sense to instill meaning in the world around me. I can voice my thoughts and opinions with others, even when my mind is hesitant. I can rationalize when it’s best to be the speaker or the listener. And my brain is capable of empathy, of supporting others and expressing a full range of emotions all part of the human experience. 

No, my brain doesn’t operate like a well-oiled machine. Sometimes I don’t know why I do or feel certain things. My autopilot goes to criticism, to negativity, to isolation, to numbness, to a limited existence. 

But I know others have different struggles, more difficulty learning and adapting, harder emotions to face, different talents in different areas. Some of us aren’t born with all five senses, or the right number of chromosomes. Some of us grow up in circumstances that hinder our mental health and development, inflicting lifelong damage. 

We can choose to be angry with our weaknesses, our pasts, our diagnoses. Or we can choose to be grateful, for the lessons those negative points teach us, for the many gifts we do have, and for the ability we have to wake up in the morning and define what it means to make the most of our day and do our best. 

Our brains are so complicated, a intricate web of nerves and consciousness. And they make us who we each uniquely are whilst still serving as a common thread. How twisted and beautiful that is.

What can you do today to show your brain some love? Perhaps a good night’s sleep, a crossword puzzle, or a simple affirmation that everything is okay.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie