Not The Comforts of Home

Hello, Dear Reader! I’m writing this from the boonies of southern Iowa by way of my phone. I’m also without the assistance of Grammarly, so be forewarned. I’m a somewhat solid writer, but I fear I won’t win any prizes with today’s post. But, if I may redeem myself, I have sweat pouring down my back, and it’s headed to my nether regions, and yet, I’m here to visit with you. That should be worth a little grammatical grace, right?

The point of this trip is threefold:

  1. My kiddo is with the other half of his DNA this week, so I’m taking advantage of my free time.
  2. I wanted to try car camping and, yes, I’d prefer it to be cooler, but it isn’t.
  3. I’m uncomfortable, which is the point of this trip and today’s post.

I’ve spent the last few years being comfortable. Or, more accurately, avoiding being uncomfortable by ignoring my needs. Last August, I had a revelation that catapulted me into my fiftieth year with new insight. I knew I needed to make some changes, but I wasn’t sure how to move forward.

Fast forward nearly a year, and you’ll find me on the other side of several uncomfortable and challenging experiences. I’m no longer in a dead-end relationship, I sold my home in a town I never really liked, and I’ve (somewhat) reconciled with my ex-husband. (“Reconciled” as in I no longer cast spells on him. Not reconciled reconciled.) But none of those things came without some rather painful moments.

So, last night, as I sat in my car to avoid all the mosquitos, sweating my ass off and praying it would cool down enough to fall asleep, I briefly thought “Fuck this. I’m leaving and finding a Super 8”. But I stopped myself – even though it was excruciatingly balmy. I stopped myself because I want this to be the year that I continue to push through things that are challenging and hard. So what does that look like? Fuck if I know, but I can already see progress.

Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s get real, shall we?

Before we get to my point, it’s safe to assume that no one, if given options, will choose ‘the uncomfort’. Right? If you disagree, well fine. Read on anyway. I’m not sure I believe you…but whatevs.

My point is: No one wakes up one day and says, “Hey, I think I’d like to have a negative experience today.” I didn’t plan this trip with that idea at all. I didn’t think “Hey, I’d like to camp in a hidden piece of property in the middle of Iowa in the sweltering heat with no place to shit or shower while fighting an army of pigeon-sized mosquitos. After that, I’d like to lose my deodorant and travel though the rest of the state in the sweat soaked underwear and t-shirt I slept in while I look for a public library and a free source of body-washing water facilities.” I promise you this trip did not include any of that.

We all avoid being uncomfortable as much as we can because discomfort connotates a negative experience. Don’t believe me? Then come watch my nine year-old as the Wifi goes down. 

Physical discomfort can mean pain, and psychological discomfort can mean anxiety or sadness. As I drove up on the property last night and was instructed by the owner to ‘head on up that there hill to the camp’ – while passing a homemade axe throwing station – I can assure you that my anxiety levels went up and I was glad my fella subtly suggested the Glock I decided to bring at the last minute.

So why push through the discomfort? Why put ourselves through all that? As it turns out, discomfort is the key to success. Success? You ask. Yes. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.

  1. You could fail. Yes, you could. So what? I pushed through the night and will move through one more, even though it’s hot AF.
  2. You’ll get a good dose of dopamine. Interestingly, Forbes states that putting yourself in unfamiliar situations makes your brain produce dopamine—the feel-good chemical. In other words, once you actually put yourself into a new situation or give yourself a new challenge, you’ll start to feel good. And if you can combine those good feelings with a positive attitude regarding what you can accomplish simply by trying something new—even if you don’t get it right the first time—you can turn fear of failure into motivation to succeed. You know what I did – all stinky and needing a shower and a nap? Went to a wine tasting. And no one cared. I found a little happiness in a glass at the Madison County Winery. I had some great wine and good conversation and met a super friendly woman who offered me her spare room should I ever find myself in the area again. I could have easily poo-pooed that idea because I didn’t ‘feel’ presentable, but (you guessed it) I thought “Fuck it. I’m here. I’m thirsty. I’m going.”
  3. You’ll invite creativity into your life. I get it…the comfort zone is such a safe place. But if you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you might find yourself tuning out much of your life daily. When you go out of your way to experience new things or let new things happen to you, your body creates new neural pathways that fuel your creative spark and enhance your memory. I needed this trip because my fictional characters are just sitting on the shelf, waiting for me to develop their story. I’ve been unmotivated and uninspired for so many months because I’ve been ‘comfortable’. I’m tired of feeding the complacency. 

I’m not saying uncomfortable experiences are lovely. In fact, I’m saying that all painful experiences are scary and barely tolerable. But I am saying, feel the fear and do it anyway. Repeat that: Feel. The. Fear. And. Do. It. Anyway.

As I wrap up my time in this nice air-conditioned public library in Boone, Iowa, I give you your song. This song is the fight song of all songs when it comes to pushing through the fear. Plus, the singer/songwriter pushed through all his own anxiety and doubt to make it to where he is today. He was told a million times that he was not going to make it and he did it anyway. (Watch the documentary here).

PS…If you liked this post and thought others might, too, feel free to share on all the socials.

Fear, Faith, and Letting Go – Part 2

Good morning, dear Reader. I have to say, it is a lovely day here in the Ozarks. Weatherman Ron promises temps in the 60s today, Kids. I’m on Cloud 9. I won’t go into much detail, but have you ever just been in a place where you feel the stars are aligning just right? Yes? Then you understand.

I want to just jump right in here today. We are closing out our time together this month pondering how to let go of the illusion of control. In this post at the first of the year, I introduced the ten things we need to let go of in 2022. Today’s post follows up a few others, such as this one that kicked off February and this one a few days ago.

So, if you don’t mind, may I suggest that you grab a drink and settle in? I’m launching right into five more tools I use when I need to let go of the illusion of control. (Psffft…you can read about the first five here.) Ready? Let’s do this.

  1. Use affirmations. Affirmations are helpful, but I tend to be a bit pragmatic. I can’t will myself to believe something if it isn’t true at the moment, which is what I feel most affirmations attempt to do. So instead of saying, “Everything is perfect and right,” I affirm, “I trust that everything will happen as it is intended to.” I wouldn’t lie to you, so why would I lie to myself? Here are some great affirmations to get started: I honor and love myself. | There is no need to control. | I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given thus far. | Everything is working for my highest good with perfect timing. | I am supported and loved.
  2. Do esteemable acts. What are those? “Esteemable acts” are acts that help us gain self-esteem. For example, I am learning to use a firearm. The first time I picked up a 9 mm Glock, I fired one shot and placed it back down. I refused to shoot with it again that day (It was too loud. I was too jumpy). My partner encouraged me to use it again the next time we went. Turns out I’m better with it than I am a 380. You don’t have to be perfect at any esteemable act; just choose something that lends to your sense of accomplishment. Sometimes my ‘esteemable acts’ are simply making a delicious soup to share with others or cleaning out a closet. Maybe for you, those acts include washing the truck, reading to a child, or journaling.
  3. Reach out for support. Long before this pandemic hit, we were starting to isolate. I felt lonely months before any shutdowns occurred, and I’m an introvert. I, by nature, hate people. But, we are not on this planet to be or feel alone. The more we feel stuck in a vacuum, the more the need to control takes over. It goes back to that “fear breeds anxiety” thing I mentioned last week. Before that happens to you, reach out to someone you value and trust. Talk about how you’re feeling. Get a therapist. Or hey…here’s a thought: I’m here. I love free coffee.
  4. Remember that you are not alone. This ties into asking for support. Repeat after me: I am not alone. Trust and accept this and practice saying it to yourself. There are eight billion other people in the world. Trust me, someone out there loves you. Everything happens just the way it is intended. You might be surprised just how much in common you have with other people. I just connected via Ancestory with my 4th cousin in Norway. We share so much more than DNA – it’s almost freaky how similar we are. You have people out there, whether related or not, who enjoy doing the things you enjoy doing. I found great connections about spiritual topics and hiking groups on Meet Up. My fella and I knew each other in high school, so we connected with that piece of shared experience. Look for the good, and you will find it.
  5. Make a freedom list. (This is my favorite!) Freedom means surrendering. It means you are at peace with yourself and trust that everything is unfolding exactly how it is supposed to for you. So, what does freedom mean for you? Is it being free of debt? Because if you are free of debt, you aren’t so tied to that job you hate, right? Is it the freedom to just let others ‘be’? Because if you just let others ‘be’ then you are no longer responsible for the decisions they make – which in turn allows you to stop attempting to control every outcome (Hello fellow Co-Dependents…I see you.) So, create a freedom list and remember the need to control minimizes everything on this list.

Finally, I feel the need to remind you: I don’t have my shit 100% together. I’m just a blogger who journals publicly and enjoys feedback while sharing the results of many hours (and dollars) spent on therapy (Welcome to my Creepy Online Diary!). But I will say this: A lot of soul-searching and personal growth have gone into this work I’ve been sharing with you over the last two years. What once started (on Feb. 5, 2011!) as a blog about living the simple life has morphed into much more in terms of self-discovery.

This journey has unveiled that living in simplicity isn’t always about getting rid of material things (although that’s a good start) but more often about ridding yourself of limiting beliefs. In the animal world, there’s a shedding that takes place so new growth and/or freedom can occur. I invite you to start your own shedding process – whatever that looks like for you.

Nothing too terribly funny or earth-shattering today, dear Reader, but I can’t close out without your song. Here you go. Surrender to whatever weather Mother Nature has provided to you. Enjoy your day. Take a nap. Go for a hike. Read a book. Paint a picture. Watch a dirty movie. Whatever you do, don’t apologize for it (Unless you are mean to your kid. Then, yes, Asshole. Apologize for that).

Oh, and, if you liked this post and thought others might, too, I shamelessly ask you to share on social media. Please and thank you.