Medication Reflection- By Guest Blogger Sean Temple

Introducing a blog post by Sean Temple, for His Art is Heart!

  “How many times has someone told you to take a pill to fix something wrong with your body? It starts out small. We have experienced headaches requiring aspirin or ibuprofen to alleviate the pain. We have used salves to cure cuts quickly, remove tooth pain, or relieve sore backs and joints. Substances have greatly impacted our present reality, having us believe anything can be dealt with if only you find the proper dosage of a given remedy. Our physical forms have benefited greatly from medical discoveries and procedures…

but what about the mind?

For a great length of my life, I have fought and experienced mental illness. Often, many people cope with something mentally affecting them, and I knew I wasn’t a special circumstance to the vast dilemma of staying sane. However, we can never disregard that every person’s life is separate, and that they experience struggles differently. It took me a great while to understand this concept. I thought I was weak for not dealing with it properly on my own, and believed that everyone else shunned those who couldn’t cope. I receded into myself and repressed every depressing, sad, hurtful situation that occurred throughout my life.

Pills were always the first or final solution suggested to me by psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists. The truth is these pills remove the sadness and hopelessness, but they do not make you happy. Joy and excitement come from a personal standpoint I believe to be deeply rooted within our conscious mind. We may feel the affects of our brain giving us the right chemicals to feel happy and experience pleasure, but the underlying ability to initiate it comes from an emotional level. As such, conscious behavior does hold power.

Our will is a tool and asset;

If we harness it, we can change a great deal in our lives.

            Obtaining the strength of will I now have has not been easy. It has taken years of perseverance and tribulations that have tested me time and time again. It’s an ongoing process that I am challenged with on a daily basis. Some days are worse than others, and some days I hardly think about it at all. I feel every single emotion, every tide of anger, and every sad thought. I allow myself to accept what I am feeling as it is. I have learned to not simply repress it with apathy and try to forget about it.

By doing this, every situation has become a debate that I win.

Every negative self-perception is challenged by my consciousness. No matter what happens, I do not accept that I am worthless or that I must feel guilty.

“You don’t deserve happiness.” I am sure we could all list a handful of reasons why many of us might think this is true, but in all honesty, we as humans are not entitled to anything other than the essentials; I believe these to be food, shelter, water, and love. The world is not responsible for our happiness– we are. Once we learn not to rely on certain outside factors to make us happy, and instead find a silver lining regardless of the situation, we become more observant of the gain rather than the loss.

“No one cares.” As humans, we adapt. Most of us learn to cope with a situation and move on. I believed that family, friends, and those I loved would be sad temporarily and forget about me. As logical as it was in my head, I forgot to think it through completely. Many of us do feel pain and recover in time. When you get a cut or burn, the pain remains for a time, and then it dissipates; You heal. However, a scar tends to remain and always reminds people of why it is there. What about the process? Who or what put the cut or burn there? The idea is the same for attempting or committing suicide. People may recover, but they didn’t need to feel that pain in the first place. Loved one’s should not have to suffer because of someone else’s sadness and actions.

“Nothing has gone right. Why would it get better?” This was by far the hardest thought process I, personally, had to conquer. I was so used to everything going wrong that I couldn’t perceive anything going right. I assumed anything remotely good that happened was eventually going to end badly. Why bother, right? I forced myself to challenge that thought over time. I tell myself, “Life is a constant flow of ups and downs. It’s not supposed to stay up, and it’s not supposed to stay down the entire time. Be patient, and take each step, one at a time.” I learned to become more grateful for the small things. I enjoyed even just having ice cream for the day. I took a shower– wonderful! I ate today! I got up for work! Once we begin to appreciate everything that we do for ourselves, we can start moving on to bigger goals. We can change our lives around, whether it immediately or slowly. There is no set way in life to do things, as much as others may tell us otherwise.

Pills help our physical bodies, and I do not deny that they also help those who have chosen to take them for their mental health. We do have the option of willpower to aid us. It is not for everyone, but it is a possibility we should never ignore or dismiss. I believe the human mind is capable of many great things, and we can control our life without a substance controlling it for us. I am happy to know I struggled and came out stronger without pills. If you are in a situation where you have to decide to take pills for depression, anxiety, or etc, I recommend opening up to the possibility of trying a safe medication that can help you, but never feel pressured into believing you can’t cope without taking meds. If you can trust yourself, you can access that willpower. I believe in me, and so I believe in you.

Why I Suck at Life, and You Probably Do Too

I admit it, I’m not great at breathing in life. And I bet, if you say you feel anxious, or suffer from an anxiety disorder, you probably have this problem too. I also bet that if you have a dysfunctional autonomic system, you suck at breathing too. And this isn’t said to chastise or alienate anyone! I think it’s freeing to admit I suck at life. I said it- I suck! One of the prerequisites to LIVING is BREATHING, so if I suck at breathing… I suck at living!

And again- this is not said to shame you! I say this to free you of your shame, and me of mine. Once we accept our “failures” “mistakes” “downfalls” “flaws” (or however you like to word it) and then see it as a starting point for development and learning- then we automatically start to win at life.

I’m a beginner in life. You are too. Each day, minute, second is a chance to “begin” again at something new or something you wish for improvement in. (Wow, I sound so coachy, don’t I?) But for realzies yo, If there was one easy, quick thing you could change to live a more productive, fulfilling life…

it would be to BREATH, and to focus on what your breathing is doing, and learning how to best breath for the feeling you want most in life (ex- breathing for energy vs. breathing for calming your mind).

In this video, I open up about what led me to my path of wanting to suck less at life, and learn how to be a better breather. You’ll hear about the chronic illness I dance with daily (I say dance, because why use such criminal words like- “suffer”, “deal with”, or”put up with”?)

Hellz nah, I dance. I two step. I conga line!

Giggles for Gratitude- A Visualization Technique that Gets You Grounded

I have no clue how, when, or whereabouts this started.

Actually, it’s rude to begin a blog post with a lie. I’m pretty definitely, positively sure this started on my daily commute to a job I used to work… and HATED.

Oh, I tried to like it. I tried to sit myself behind that grungy cubicle every day, 9-5pm, and convince myself that a light shone from within me, shielding me from the negative comments, complaints, and bitterness around me. I tried to convince myself that this Eeyore-the-donkey-vibed environment was making me stronger, building my character.

But no, let’s be honest: it was sucking me dry. As much as I prayed, sang, and upped my frequency in the car- as soon as I sat in that cubicle, for even an hour, I would be back to my original sadness and desperation.

And so, I developed a morning “Tune-up” routine to prepare myself for war– er, I mean work.

Every morning, I envisioned those around me, family, and friends snorting and laughing. Seeing their joy in my mind gave me strength, at least for an hour- but it was enough. It was a start. It was also enough for me to realize that the environment I was in was toxic, destructive, and did not fit my goals in life. Daily, during this practice, I was able to get a gleam of happiness- and knew it existed. I also knew that gleam died quickly in the job I was working. So when I got laid off, I saw it as an opportunity… and I knew it was the universe KNOWING I hated it there, but also knowing that I would never give up. I’m a good little worker-bee, after all, and I don’t back down. (Thanks Universe, for having my back!)

imagining the joy my family has gives me strength.

 

So here! Have another tool for your happiness toolbelt! If it doesn’t work for you, but some other tool does- please share!! I’d love to hear more.

If It’s Not Broke (and it never is)- it’s Abundant!

Keep holding on! Life is full of many twists and turns

Recently, I’ve gotten away from diving in and writing a blog post. I got sucked into my old habits of overthinking and analyzing my choice of words, so much so that my initial, beautiful message came across inauthentic– at least to me. I’m breaking down that barrier, and here’s what inspired me!

There has been wonderful news on the job front. Last I spoke, I believe I had been laid off (boo- hiss!) and due to complications running my own business, I was not eligible for unemployment benefits. Depression annoyingly booped me on the head as I realized I was now unemployed and BROKE.

And see that’s the thing. I felt broke…broken.

It took some digging out of that hole over the next few months to reconnect with my spirit and realize, “Girlllll, you ain’t broke!”

I was actually pretty abundant. All that time I spent wallowing in my little hole of despair, I could have spent recognizing this free space as just that… free. I was in the land of the free! When the fear of losing everything and not being able to pay bills clouded my judgement, I became insufferable, especially to myself. The stress was so much that my boyfriend and I took a break to recalibrate.

Financially, it appeared I was in ruin. Spiritually I was drained. I lost sight of myself, what brought me joy, and my old peppy nature vanished into… well, I have no idea where it went…

But what once was lost, was soon found.

Having been through trials and tribulations before, I took this as a hint from the universe to figure out my shizz.

(Recalibrate!! Recalibrate!!)

What did I want in life? What did I actually, truly, reeeeeeally need?

Being “broke” taught me the lost art of simplification. I didn’t need to only eat organic food from the most expensive store. I didn’t need to stop for breakfast every morning before work.

What I needed was my family, friends and a reason to get up in the morning- and my reason was: I needed to serve others.

And so began the job hunt! Tirelessly, I sent endless cover-letters and resumes out to the internet. I reconnected with a past retail job I had loved, so I could be surrounded by beautiful friends and beautiful clothing/jewelry I actually enjoyed selling. It isn’t a ton of money- but it’s more than nothing, and working customer service keeps me sharp.

I also reconnected with my high performance coach, who always believed in my capabilities, and became her executive assistant as she helped me on my own path.

Along with the lost art of simplification, I remembered the lost art of appreciation. And with it came new opportunities.

“Them that’s got shall get…”

I was getting. And it wasn’t my overflowing bank account (hah.) that was proof, it was my new perspective, light and happy, that now allowed new opportunities for further abundance to pop up.

Once Upon a slip of paper…

While working my last job, stuck behind a sad cubicle, migraines on the daily, I decided to try the whole “manifestation” concept again. It had worked before. I set a goal, asked the universe, oh so politely for my desires, and diligently continued on with my life as if I hadn’t done so. Then POOF, it appeared. So I gave it another shot. I wrote on a piece of paper what my dream job would look like:

  • surrounded by supportive employees and bosses
  • trusted to go out and about to meet clients
  • not stuck behind a desk the whole day
  • better lighting- more light!
  • doing what I love to do and getting paid to do it
  • valued.

Hah.

So many hahs. Why? Because POOF it appeared.

Once upon a Gallery Night…

While walking from one gallery to another, in celebration of Erie’s community-wide Gallery Night, I happened across a local marketing business I had heard about before, but never looked into. As my gaze turned toward their front window, a little internal “Ding!” noise went off in my head, as if someone was letting me know “take note!”

The next day– and I do mean the very next day– a new job listing was posted for this same marketing company. (Ding, ding, ding!!) I applied immediately. And instead of spending hours overanalyzing my cover-letter and berating myself for it’s minuscule imperfections- I said SCREW IT and sent it as fast as I could; perfection had left the building.

And now I work there.

The job I got hired into surpasses my expectations every day. Initially hired to do graphic design, I am now also recognized as a valuable copy writer, photographer, and videographer. Hot damn- I seem to be doing everything I love? And getting paid for it? Um, whaaaatt? And the people I work for are encouraging, supportive, and trust me to get work done. And don’t get me started on the amount of natural light pouring into the office. It takes little to no effort to get out of bed and off to work, and so I am feel very grateful.

In the end, it took recognizing I was already abundant to allow abundance back into my life. Seems so simple, but it can be easy to forget. I created daily Tune-Up routine to help connect myself back with that “rich” mentality. Next week I share part of this tune-up routine in a video so you can learn to bring in more abundance yourself. Stay tuned for a new Sunday Session with Sooz on, you guessed it, Sunday!

I Saw Myself in a Mirror Today and Judged

I saw my past in another person today. At first I blamed them, judged them… but then I paused. I allowed myself to feel their struggle: unapologetically, unbiased. And in doing so, I saw myself in a new light. I realized I was not blaming them, judging them- I was judging me. Although I lived like I had forgiven my past and the burden I felt I had been- I had not. Not entirely, at least. I tried, as I must every time the chance arises, to forgive myself. I had hurt others by hurting myself- and in the past, instead of showing myself love and compassion- I further beat a beaten man. Own worst enemy? You betcha. That was me.

5But it isn’t anymore.
When I feel myself judging someone and their hurt, their guilt, their shame- I am further beating that beaten man- Still. To this day.

We all judge at some point in time. And during those times, we must follow-up with forgiveness, to promote stability and growth in our own lives. Acknowledging the past and respecting the struggle helps build the belief we have in our own capabilities and perseverance. And since we all struggle, and mirrors of ourselves are all around, we have so many opportunities to build and grow. Forgive ourselves. Love ourselves. Respect ourselves. Cuz’ we dope ASFUQ, and we are all deserving of love and compassion.

If you are struggling and feeling like no one can understand your hurt,
and agonizing even more because you wish they did,
but beating yourself up because you know you are preventing that growth…

You are not alone.
Feeling this way does not make you unlovable, deserving of more hurt, or mean you are incapable of overcoming this. It means you know you deserve more, want more- although you may not know what “more” is.

So why not start with self love? Be your own best friend, especially if you are scared to find one outside of yourself. Why not start there? And when you’re ready, I’m here for Bestie spot #2.

I don’t judge. And if I do? I’m not judging you.

Let Loose, Get Kickin’ !

Swish

I always think of that one scene in Garden State, where Natalie Portman’s character says:

You know, back in High School I was a clown. I was in theatre, I was big (in spirit) and loud! I laughed, I danced, and I made weird noises… a lot like Natalie Portman in this scene. These days, I recognize how timid I am in comparison.

With fears centered around “don’t get fired”, “Make that money!” “be grateful, or else suffer!” It’s hard to live a life free, loose. It’s easy to fall into thinking about pleasing others first, because you have internalized society’s fears. It’s hard not to! We’re surrounded by it!

I miss those good old days though. Cliche’? I remind myself often that it’s a state of mind though. I am still technically that loud, slightly obnoxious teen who loved and lived life with open arms. Admittedly, I conked out in College. Depression and Anxiety set in, I missed my family and friends from high school dearly, and my sadness swept away my vibrato. I was lost for a few years, 8 to be exact. Then, I found the light again after years of therapy and realizing the light was always there, it had just gotten overshadowed for a bit.

I learned a lot from those dark years, and it deepened my understanding of the human condition for sure. My “empathy bone” (as I like to call it) grew, and I slowly learned the lost art of compassion. The biggest way to be compassionate is to first start with yourself. And every moment that I find myself thinking ‘I miss that lively girl I used to be” is every moment I could be living as the beautiful, matured, compassionate person I’ve grown into being. Yeah, Teen-me was a LOT of fun, and hilarious! And I still embody those traits, though they may be more subtle. I don’t need to beat myself up for NOT being the young, somewhat blissfully ignorant me. I can embrace this new chick; she’s pretty dope too.

And Ah, the memories! I have so many great memories to be proud of and so many more to create. Feeling sad missing the past robs me of the beautiful moments now, that will be just as memorable in 5 years.

Do not lament me, for I am still kickin’.

Don’t Make It a Thing

Photo taken by fellow photographer and graphic designer, Sarah Bennett. See her blog at www.bennetttrails.com !

Photo taken by fellow photographer and graphic designer, Sarah Bennett. See her blog at www.bennetttrails.com !

So I wasn’t always this way.

I wasn’t always easy to laugh, easy to forgive, nurturing and patient. I didn’t always have the ability to laugh at myself for the mistakes I make, or even to allow myself a Big Ole’ FAT ugly cry when I was upset. In essence, I used to be young. I used to be 21.

Maybe you’d assume I was a victim of the drink’, being the age at which I can consume alcohol. But no, actually everything got rough when I was 18. By age 21 though, I realized I needed to change something up: I realized I needed to start loving myself. That first step I took? I wrote myself a letter.

Dec 12, 2009. Not any kind of remarkable day with a remarkable story, just a day I chose to sit down and talk to myself. The catch was this letter I wrote? I couldn’t just look at it willy-nilly as I liked. I made myself wait until Dec 12th, 2015 to reveal it’s original contents. I guess even then I realized my overwhelming sense of urgency and noticed I lacked the patience I desired. So I made myself wait. I guess I was also trying to give myself something to look forward to, something personal: A secret- just for me, to myself. I guess that made it pretty special… I needed that.

Yeah… well… about that letter: I had forgotten about it! Dec 12th came and went, and I had the letter openly sitting out, ready for the BIG DAY. But it wasn’t until a good week and a half after the date when I happened to remember,

“That friggin’ letter!”

I wasn’t doing anything remarkable at the time.

You know how sometimes making a space, making something a “thing”, a ritual or tradition, giving it this air of significance makes a moment more momentous?

It wasn’t.

It was an off hand realization. I was running around my room, as usual, cleaning, hanging up clothes, and I remembered…

“The friggin’ letter!”

I believe my exercise playlist on iTunes was playing, bumping out some high-octane fuel. I didn’t switch it to low key, emotional music. I didn’t try to set the stage, center my emotions.

I didn’t make it a thing.

I opened the letter, and read it.

 

Self Portrait taken in 2009

Self Portrait taken during the dark years! 2009.

Now, back in 2009, my life was pretty damn different! I was a lonely, severely depressed, highly anxious college student with no free time because I overbooked myself with classes. I was stressed and decided I was to blame for that stress. I treated my body like it was public enemy #1 because I was the determined bounty hunter. Not an ideal person to be attached to! Every chance I got, I attacked myself, blamed myself, and tore myself apart with the guilt: Guilt on top of guilt, on top of guilt. I had so much anger but was so depressed and lost that I didn’t know where it was coming from. I blamed others and was a very, very difficult person to be around sometimes… especially if you were someone I loved and truly cared about. They took the hardest and most hits. Some stayed with me, some got the hell outta there. I never blamed them, although outwardly it would seem I did. Inwardly, I knew it was all me- but I was the queen of denial, queen of unhappiness, and queen of “I’m a freakin’ loser, woe is meeeEEEE!!!!”

But despite the terror that was I, I always had a spark. I knew what happiness had felt like. I knew I wanted to learn how to love myself better, and to treat everyone with love and respect.

Sadness? Dance it out!

So yeah, I knew vaguely what to expect from this letter. My past has been pretty well recorded. I’ve kept a personal blog since I was 14 and during 2009 in particular I wrote in it up to 9 times a day to relieve my mind of the destructive, obsessive thoughts that were morphing my mind into an all encompassing black hole of BLAH and AHH! And although throughout the blog I would curse myself, blame myself, tear myself apart- I knew it was because deep down, somewhere in the great abyss, I KNEW I had it within me to be better and find the light again. I just had no idea whether I was supposed to go right, left, – wait, did I pass go? I had never been lost before. And I had yet to find a working compass.

Alright, so I didn’t allow myself to think about all this the morning I remembered,

“That friggin’ letter!”

I just did it. I jumped in and didn’t have time to be a judgey-McJudgerson to my past and myself. “I’m sorry Mam’am, the baggage claim is on the wayyy other side of the building.” I was leaving my suitcase behind. All I needed was my ID and wallet: aka identity and abundance!

And so I read:

Dear Susie,

You know how you can be. You’re unbelievably talented and ambitious. I know you’re probably killing yourself right now to make things “perfect” or “just right” in your life. Just think like Eckhart Tolle- and think in the NOW- not the future.

You’re so smart and beautiful. You have so much going for you- so why create extra stress? I hope you’re still writing in your online journal- that’s good therapy. I hope you are where you didn’t expect to be in life- but in a good way. I’m only 21, young, naïve- you’re an uber adult now! What’s that about? Haha

I feel like I’m writing a letter to my older sister- because I just want things to work out for you/me. I hope you can make it happen- and you DID make it happen.

I think that’s all I’m going to say…

I’ll keep it short because I know it’s hard to read my own handwriting.

Toodles Susie!

I hope everything worked out

Love,

your younger self.

 

As soon as I read it, I wanted to write about my reaction, get my thoughts on it out. But life had other plans. Life reminded me that we’re constantly moving forward and not to focus on the past too much. As my mom always told me (especially back in 2009!) Rumination leads to Ruination.

Rumination Ruination

So, I moved on. I didn’t make it a thing.

This morning I wrote a new letter. I won’t say what’s in it- that would spoil the fun for Dec 2020! But I wanted to keep the tradition going: I wanted to have a reminder in the future of what it was like, and what I was thinking here in 2016.

It’s fun thinking how different I was in 2009, how much I’ve grown within that time: What I’ve learned, what I’ve experienced, who I cared for. And I no longer harbor resentment for the pain I caused. I have learned from my mistakes, forgiven myself and I believe that is why I went through this ordeal: to strengthen myself.

And yeah, everything did work out. It’s still working out. I have much to be grateful for. When I was 21, I didn’t know these words: Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Abundance… I didn’t even know

Love.

Now I’m pretty confident I know what love is. I see it all around me, am able to connect with it, I feel it within me. Before, I would feel “love” but couldn’t communicate it, wanted to understand it and analyze it, ultimately stripping it of it’s magic. Now I just let it happen, I go with it. I can cherish others and especially myself.

I no longer need a letter to give myself something to look forward to. I look forward to everyday- but there’s something powerful about getting a glimpse of the past and recognizing the growth you have undergone, subtle or bold. It’s pretty remarkable.

So I’m making it a thing.

 

Photos taken by the lovely Sarah Bennett of www.bennetttrails.com