Keep calm…

… do yoga, follow a mindfulness class, meditate, relax, ….

As I have a year of blogging behind me, I want to go back to the basics, to that thing that pushed me towards blogging, my burnout.
I suffered from the symptoms long before my doctor ordered me to stay home, told me I was sick.
There were the crying parts, the shouting to anyone and no one in particular as long as they “caught” me in the wrong moment, there was the tiredness, the hyperventilation, the fears, the panic attacks, the “what am I doing” phenomenon, the mistakes, the angriness about these mistakes… you name it, I got it!

It was high time somebody called an end to that.
But it’s much easier said than done, as a matter of fact it’s huge, it’s difficult, it’s suffering, Burnout and mental problems are challenging their victim over and over again. Not in the least because the world around you doesn’t “see” there’s something “wrong” with you…  A mental health problem doesn’t show like, let’s say, a broken arm…  Especially also because people having such problems, most of the time put great effort in not showing…  It’s a vicious circle.

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I’m almost 2 years later now, and time has a healing power of its own.  The memories of the job I wasn’t up to anymore that had caused the melt down, have faded in the meantime. Burnout, meltdown… they go well together don’t you think?
I guess minds are made that way: what’s been horrible, they tend to push away or hang on to, or a mixture of both…
The hatred (I don’t use that word often or lightly) towards the people who did that to me  – for sure I wasn’t the sole responsible – faded too, a bit anyway.
But I will never be the same again.  Not only because I couldn’t anymore, but because I don’t want to go down that hectic, workaholic, manic road again.
When I look at myself back then, I’m looking at “somebody that I used to know”.

Does this mean I’m totally cured now? Not by far.
Things got better, other things came in its place.  The diagnosis Fibromyalgia for instance in November last year.
After a long and winding road, from one doctor to the next, there finally was a name for all my aches and pains.  Did it change much? No, not really because there isn’t a “one cure fits all”.  There isn’t a pill you can take that makes it magically go away.
It’s a learning process and I’m right in the middle of it.  Searching my new me, a new rhythm, peace and quiet.  Getting to terms with the fact that I can’t do anymore what I used to, that everything has to be done in small doses, and that sometimes – many times – there is a huge difference between what I planned and what I can accomplish.

I’ve never been the one who can keep her calm in every moment.  Gosh how I admire people who can.
But, I  have to learn to accept that I have my own temperament, my own dynamics.  I’m a terrible, terrible perfectionist (in case you wonder where the title of this blog comes from…), a control person, and hyper sensitive.
So, in order to cope with the fibro problem in combination with my personality, I have to learn… learn hard and work hard.
Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.  And when fears or worries hit me once again, they hit hard.

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It’s rather funny actually, as nowadays you can’t open a magazine, put on your tv or someone – preferably a psychiatrist – is telling you that mindfulness is the solution to all problems, that you have to create “me” time, that you have to “let go”, relax, go with the flow, meditate, do some yoga in order to be happy…
Did you notice too that we have to be happy like alllllll the time, that we have forgotten how to be sad, that we aren’t even allowed anymore to be sad….  That we get unhappier because we are not able to feel happy all the time…  All that happiness is making us crazy!

Well I think I’ve tried all those things, learned a lot, bought and read tons of books and picked something up here and there that lasted.  There’s the Morning Pages (Julia Cameron) I try to do as much as possible (except when life interferes), there’s the much slower pace for everything (from cleaning to driving), there’s the not trying to panic when work didn’t get done…
And then there’s yoga, that I picked up since December last year.  It helps.  It helps me in a way no other relaxation program did before.  All other stuff started with: you feel heavy, you feel relaxed, you feel your muscles let loose, think of nothing, don’t let thoughts interfere….
My gosh, I felt more insecure, incomplete and a total failure after every exercise.  I didn’t feel any of those things, not really anyway.  My thoughts didn’t just halt, they just kept coming, no matter how many boats I fantasized to float away with them on that river of tranquility…
And when the exercise was “done” and my therapist asked me “And? did you feel the warmth? Did you feel how your arms got heavy?…” I had to say “no, not really”…  Again, I failed….

But yoga made me realize that I don’t ‘have to’ feel anything, that my thoughts won’t stop and – what’s important – that thoughts are normal, they’re o.k., I’m o.k….
What a difference!  I finally feel normal again, people’s minds don’t come with a “thoughts on/off button”, I have thoughts and am allowed to have them, as long as I acknowledge it, and can refocus… even if it takes a hundred retakes, it’s still fine.  Isn’t that great?

Well, I guess I will never become the calmest person in the world.  To myself I picture this as a football career.  Apart from Cruyff, Ronaldo, Messi and a handful other super talented guys, born with football in their veins, there are players who learned to become great.  They learned techniques, they learned to deal with all kinds of stuff and they became world famous players, but they will never become Cruyff, Ronaldo or Messi no matter how hard they try, or learn, or work.

And that’s my lesson for this year and many to come: learn the techniques, practice yoga, meditate and accept that I’m not perfect, that I’m not born with a natural calm and ease, that my  “go with the flow” will get easily interrupted by other flows…  And when those moments of weakness do come, panic might get the better of me again, hyperventilation probably will strike again…  But I will also realize that I have not totally failed.  That it was just another moment and that this too will pass.
For me that will be pretty awesome goals to reach, especially the acceptance part.

Wow, this was a long one.  For those who are still with me here, thanks for so much attention.
But I guess I just had to write this, from my heart…

Thanks guys! Have a nice weekend!

Marleen

Letters from long ago

This time of year, there’s a lot of Valentine stuff going ’round.
We’re not really into that exaggerated, commercial pooha, for the simple reason that any day can be – and should be – Valentine’s day.  I much rather get a lovely flower or just a precious thought any time of the year, than on February 14.
Maybe there is a selfish thought behind that too… this way, I can get lovely presents every day :)

But photography wise, if it wasn’t for prompts or so, I probably would not be inspired by this “event” to make photos having hearts, or red, or the word “love” in them. Kim Klassen prompted her Texture Tuesday adepts to work around “heart(s)” for this week.  So, if it wasn’t for this prompt, the picture below would probably not exist.
I thought for a week about a “heart” picture, but inspiration came just this morning when I went looking for an old book.
Amidst all kinds of old things, I noticed a box I remembered very well.  Not that I think about it every day, but, when I see it, I immediately know what’s in it, and it always makes me smile.

Now for a little history…
My husband and I are married for 33 years, and we knew each other even a long time before that. 1 Year before our marriage he had to fulfill his duty to the country and was in the army for 9 months.
At that time, army service was obligatory.  Nowadays guys join the army on a voluntary basis only and most of them are professionals.

Another thing you should know, is that my husband is not the “letter writing type”.  Him being in the army in Germany (which seemed the other end of the world to me) I wrote him every single day.  And…. he wrote back… a card, a letter or just a note…. Isn’t that sweet?
Lucky for us postal services were free for mail to and from soldiers.
And thus it became a whole pile of letters, dating 1979.  I kept every single one of the ones he sent me.  What happened to those I wrote, I don’t know…. should ask him ;)
Anyway, finding the box, gave me the idea to use some of them for my Texture Tuesday heart picture.

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How it was made?

– Lowered saturation in Lightroom
– Brought it into photoshop and edited it with Kim Klassen’s SubtlyYours texture at soft light, 54 %. I applied a little gaussian blur to it to diminish the details. This texture – soft in itself already – set completely the tone I was looking for. Plus, it added that bit of lightness I like so much in a picture.
– resized it and that’s it.
I kinda like the result.

Happy ♥ to all of you – and to Kim: thanks for the memory
Marleen

Cold hug

Daily Prompt: You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear. Describe what’s in the room.

Nothing…

Except for me, old and grey, sitting in a cold metal chair, watching a shiny robot with buttons on it.

The buttons show large icons, a pill, a platter with food and a heart.
A sign says: push pill & food button 3 times a day.
I can push the “heart” button every time I need…a hug.
Then the robot’s metallic voice says: “good girl” and its shiny cold hand taps my head.

Apart from many big and small fears, like fear of heights, fire, floods, dead people…. this one giant fear haunts me the last couple of years, namely that when I get old, there will be nobody I love around anymore, to give me a big hug from time to time…  in a cold, fully automated world….

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Texel – Holland
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