learning

starting fresh

Hello dear readers,

The last few posts I’ve written have felt kind of heavy. Usually, I try not to do that many in a row, but between the world lately and everything I’ve been working through and processing internally, it would have felt fake to try and post something more upbeat or lighter in nature. That isn’t to say that I’ve been depressed and miserable for the last month. It’s actually been quite a good summer overall! But I do try to write about the real and the raw aspects of life, and things have definitely been VERY real lately.

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Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

So the short version of the story is that I’ve been doing a lot of internal processing lately. 2020 has been a really strange year and I’ve found myself breaking out of the box I had previously put myself into in so many ways. I’ve found the courage to state my opinions and beliefs, to actually speak with people more boldly than I ever would have before, and it has been really really freeing. But in the same breath, it has been so very hard because I overthink every little thing and having disagreements with people is something that I have always avoided with a passion.

But I know, in my heart, that I’m not making mistakes in my life, that I’m just coming home to myself and owning who I am in a whole new light. I’m recognizing my faults and my bad habits and in doing so, I’m motivated to overcome them. I’m focused on loving the people around me, and in doing so, I’m learning how to love myself all over again. I’ve had the right intentions for so very long, but I’ve been blind to how I was blocking myself from really reaching my dreams or how I was dividing and hurting other people, which was the exact opposite of what I wanted!

Tracking my moods and my habits in my planner has been absolutely invaluable in helping me realize when I’m being selfish and when I’m being selfLESS, two things that get tangled sometimes in my mind (odd as that may sound). Making my opinions known is different from arguing with someone and in trying to stand up for what I believe, I was becoming resentful and bitter, all because I was going about it the wrong way. (I’m still figuring out the right way for ME, so I’ll keep you updated lol.)

I’m getting used to saying it out loud, but I’m a very empathic person. It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time, and I’ve really come to terms lately with the fact that I was not dealing with it very well at all. I never truly understood how much my empathic tendencies were taking over every minute of every day, or how much I was feeding off of other people. And that isn’t healthy. Not at all! I’ve had to take a step back from people in general and do some work on me before I can even think about helping others in the same way.

There are a lot of things that have contributed to me being in a place to write this blog post and a lot of things that I want to discuss moving forward, but I’ll get to those in the future. All I want to say right now is that I am deeply sorry if I have hurt or offended anyone. I never wanted to spread anything but love and I’m so upset that I’ve done otherwise. My beliefs may not change, but I am working on changing my actions, which I hope will become self-evident.

I won’t be posting this Friday and it’s deliberate this time, not just because of a hectic schedule. I need some time to recharge and I’m also way behind on planning blog posts for the rest of 2020. So I’ll be working on that as well. But next week is August and I’ll be back full force!


Much love and lots of light to everyone,

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Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, Depression, General, Life in 2020, Lifestyle, mental health, Setting Goals, 0 comments

Five Years of Choices

Hey there, all you lovely folks out in the big wide world!

I’ve been in that weird mental space lately where I’ve been thinking about everything that has happened in my life and the choices that I made that led to where I am today.

Five years ago I was getting ready to head off to university. According to the plan I had at that time, 2020 would have been the year I would have started teaching/working/something, likely moved into the Dallas area (or another metroplex). I had zero intentions of settling down or having kids for a looonnnggg time yet. Don’t you just love how life doesn’t turn out the way we planned? It’s great.

My brain is very inconsistent sometimes. It’s very hard for me to let go of that one inconsequential thing I didn’t do yesterday and kick myself for that. But do I wish I hadn’t gone to university, struggled really really hard, and spent a crapload of money for three rough semesters that would leave me totally confused about what I really wanted out of my life? No, not really. I could easily look back and see where I could have made better choices or done things better/differently, but I don’t regret the journey that brought me to where I am today.

I learned SO MUCH about music during the years I spent studying and pursuing that career. I may be out of practice right now, but even without playing regularly, I’m still a pretty great pianist and that’s a skill I value highly.

The first semester I spent at university, I leased a lovely little horse and took weekly lessons for several months. It was easy to think that I failed at my horse goals because ultimately it was expensive/time consuming and I ended the lease in order to focus on my music classes. But in actuality, even four years later, I’m still feeling the effects of what I learned in those lessons and from that horse when I ride Lady. That’s worth it.

I might have felt lost. I might have spent my time in questionable ways. I may have spent too many late nights out on the town because I was confused. I might have ended up in the wrong relationships. But I learned from every single thing that happened.

I stressed myself out. I cried. I got a new kitten. I had a lot of panic attacks. I spent hours pounding away on super expensive pianos and questioning my career choice the entire time. I took criticism. I made good and bad grades. I discovered a unique love for music history (that was unexpected). I failed a class for the first time in my life. I struggled with money and then spent half a month’s earnings on my first tattoo – because I wanted to. I made and lost friends. I worked long hours and went into debt for the first time.

Basically, the first few years of “adulthood” were hard for me. And I think, in a way, they should be that way. It was rough being on my own for the first time. Plus, I’m stubbornly independent and will not ask for help unless it’s extremely dire. So I needed to learn a few lessons.

But I don’t regret the choices that I made or the experiences that I had. None of it was a waste of time or money. I didn’t think I would end up where I did, but I’m also not the same person I was five years ago. I still don’t know what I’m doing half the time. I had no idea what I was doing when I said yes to The Husband’s proposal and I had no idea what I was thinking when I said I wanted a baby. But those were the two decisions that led to the most happiness I could ever ask for in a lifetime.

I’m still searching for more, and I think I always will be, to some extent. But truthfully, I could not ask for a better life. I’m grounded and truly confident in myself and what I believe. It’s a nice place to be.

Maybe this week I’ll manage to get out two posts again. I’ve been in the process of clearing more space in my schedule and school is tough this term, so it’s been a juggling act lately!


Until next time,

Love, light, and kindness,

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Posted by katharine_marie in General, Life in 2020, Life of a Writer, Lifestyle, mental health, 0 comments

Taking Classes

Hello beautiful dreamer!

Welcome back! It’s a beautiful Friday, and as always, I’m staying super busy. Between blogging, fun side jobs, keeping up with the house, trying to ride my horse whenever it’s not raining, and now keeping a very active baby from eating shoes or climbing shelves, it’s been a bit chaotic lately! But on top of all of those things, last week I started my second college course through Southern New Hampshire University.

My first class was an Intro to Literature course and it was a really good one! I had the best professor who was extremely helpful and gave me every opportunity to succeed. I could not have asked for a better introduction to this school, quite honestly. It was fun getting to read and analyze and write again and I certainly learned a lot.

This time around, I’m taking my first Creative Writing class and so far, I’m enjoying it. It’s a change of pace for me to have more open-ended assignments, but it’s also pushing my comfort zone a little. Which is a good thing, since that’s the whole reason I’m getting this degree, right?

When I first wanted to go back to school, I was a little worried that taking my writing habit from a hobby to something full time like this would take the fun out of it. But so far, it has actually been a treat! Getting feedback and connecting with other people in the same field is very encouraging.

There are six more weeks left in this course and then I’ll have another eight-week literature course before there’s a short break between the summer and the fall segments. It’ll be a lot of work, but hopefully, the excitement I’ve got at the moment sticks around a lot longer.

At any rate, I’m staying busy, and it’s a lot of fun, if quite exhausting. But between work projects and school, I do think my writing will start improving, which I’m very happy about!


Until next time,

Love, light, and kindness!

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Posted by katharine_marie in Books & Writing, Creative Writing, Life in 2020, Life of a Writer, 0 comments

What Horse Ownership Taught Me

Hey lovely readers,

So one of the things I’ve done while stuck at home/social distancing is online shopping. I mean, haven’t we all ordered at least a couple things during this whole chaotic time? I haven’t bought everything I wanted, but there’s definitely a few things on their way to my front porch this week that I might not have ordered if the circumstances had been different. Whoops.

But overall, I would say that I don’t buy a lot of things on a whim. Coffee from my favorite local shop just because I was driving by? Yes, that happens more often than I care to admit. And I do tend to grab one or two things out of clearance bins before checking out at stores. But 98% of the time, if it is going to be spending more than five dollars, I can say no really easily. And I attribute most of my ability to spend money wisely on my teenage years of owning horses.

 

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My own photo of Lady!

 

See, I got my first horse when I was eleven. And then I got another two when I was twelve. And then the horse that I still have now came home when I was thirteen. So I’ve spent all the years from then until now making sure she stays healthy and happy. My parents definitely helped out with vet bills and they made sure there was enough food and pasture available, but I always felt the responsibility of making sure I had enough money to pay for whatever Lady needed. As someone who naturally spends money on whatever she wants at the moment, having a responsibility like that was a great thing. I still probably spent more money than I might have needed to, but it was all on fancy feed and equipment for my horse, so it was justified.

Most people talk about getting their kids a pet so that they learn responsibility, and it absolutely can teach kids a lot. I’m certainly grateful that my parents allowed me the opportunity to have horses as a teenager – not just because I enjoyed the horse, but because I learned a lot.

Growing up with a horse in my backyard that was my responsibility gave me the opportunity to practice caring for someone besides myself. I made sure that Lady had enough food for the month before I bought myself a new pair of shoes. I got out of bed to break the ice on winter mornings and tossed hay with frozen hands. I walked the fencelines and made repairs in hundred-degree weather. I spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours building confidence, patience, and inner strength while riding and training horses – all things that I’ve carried over into every other part of my life.

Originally, this post was supposed to be about how owning horses made me better with money, but it morphed into more than that. I keep casually shopping for a miniature horse for the Tiny Princess because now that I have my own daughter, I realize just how much I learned from my experiences and I want her to learn how to have that same strength and confidence that is unique to horse girls. There are a lot of hobbies that help shape strong, confident women, but I’m rather partial to this particular one. Maybe because I’m still learning from my horse? And even if my little girl doesn’t have my own interest in horses, I’ve still learned so much that I can hopefully share with her anyways.

In a belated Mother’s Day note – thank you Mom for always encouraging me to ride and learn everything I possibly could about horses. You probably kept me out of a lot of trouble, haha!


Love, light, and hoofbeats in your dreams,

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Posted by katharine_marie in General, Life in 2020, Lifestyle, 0 comments

5 ways to cope with stress

This post is up later than I had planned because I wrote it and got it ready to go and then promptly forgot to actually post it. Whoops.

Hello wonderful readers!

I hope everyone is still managing to stay safe and healthy through the pandemic – it’s definitely not easy! I take precautions whenever I have to go get groceries, and I hate wearing masks because hello! claustrophobia! But I keep reminding myself that this will only be temporary. One day, hopefully not too long from now, we won’t have to worry so much about being around other humans again. Won’t that be nice? I just want an evening out or to be able to go to the movies. Very silly things, but I’m allowed to feel a little selfish sometimes, I think.

Even though my personal life has only changed a little bit, I still find that my anxiety levels have been higher. The main reason, of course, is the uncertainty and the unpredictability. Husband has been on furlough for just over a month now and even though we have been and are still financially stable, it’s the uncertainty that stresses me out – not knowing when that consistent paycheck will be back. As someone who likes to plan ahead, I’ve definitely been forced to sit back and just take it one day at a time.

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Photo by Max Kleinen on Unsplash

Everyone has different ways of dealing with their stress and coping with the chaos that is the world right now. And even if we take the pandemic situation completely off the table, we still all deal with these feelings at some time or other. I sometimes find it interesting to see how others handle anxiety because its usually slightly different than mine – even The Dear Husband has some anxieties as well and he deals with it in a vastly different way than I would. It’s kind of fascinating, or it would be if I wasn’t talking about STRESS. Hahaha…

Breathing is one of the things I do the most. (I mean, duh.) There are a million techniques to calm anxieties with the breath alone – like the 4-7-8 method, for example. Just simple deep breathing is helpful though, nothing special.

Grounding can also help pull my mental state out of whatever funk I was in before. My current technique is a 54321 idea, where you identify 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. It can be very helpful to just refocus on the immediate surroundings and bring yourself back into the moment.

Singular Focus. If I find that I’m so stressed I can’t even focus on the above grounding technique though, I’ll focus instead on only one of my senses at a time, either by burning a candle or incense so that my sense of smell is activated or by listening to music as a way to bring my mind back whenever it wanders across the line into chaotic territory.

Writing things down is one technique that my therapist constantly reminds me to do as well. Free-writing or association isn’t easy for me as a very precise writer, but I’ve been taking the time to practice because sometimes it really does help to braindump, and having the option is great.

Acceptance can also be a way to overcome some of the really tough spots. Denying the negative feelings that come up doesn’t really help because it doesn’t deal with them, it merely shuts them up in a box and puts them away. Acknowledging that “yes, I am angry and that’s okay” can really provide a chance to FEEL that emotion and then maybe uncover a way to move past it. This is also something that is super hard for me because I don’t like negative feelings so I beat myself up over them and can never move past them. The handful of times that I’ve actually sat down and acknowledged that I was feeling guilty or sad and allowed myself the chance to just be with those emotions for a little bit, I’ve been able to process and work through them much better.

Obviously, none of these are perfect ways to overcome stress and anxiety, but they are definitely good ways to cope and start working through some of the issues. With all the chaos in the world right now, I think everyone is going through some added stress, and it is far too easy to let things turn into a vicious cycle which can then be difficult to break free from. But identifying the issue is sometimes half the battle. We can do this!


Love, light, and kindness,

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Posted by katharine_marie in Anxiety, General, Life in 2020, Life of a Writer, Lifestyle, mental health, Setting Goals, 0 comments

the energy to be mindful

Hello beautiful readers!

In November of 2018, only a couple of months after I first launched this website, I wrote a post called Mindful Monday. It was meant to be a weekly check-in post to help keep myself accountable for whatever goals I was making. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it when I wrote that post, but it evolved into something lovely. According to my archives, I wrote a total of 27 posts under that tag – Mindful Monday.

And then, when I was sorting through content ideas for 2020, I left the Mindful Monday idea off the table. I enjoyed writing those posts, but something compelled me to go in a different direction for a little while.

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My goal for 2020 was to dig a little deeper, to bring some more focus back to mental health and how it affects daily life. And for all intents and purposes, I didn’t feel I needed to expend my energy on a weekly/biweekly accountability post when I was doing so much better at keeping up with my planner. So I decided monthly was enough of a check-in for right now, and wanted to focus my writing energy on as many other posts as I could get to.

Being mindful can mean so many different things, and I’m learning to practice mindfulness in different ways. Sometimes it means meditation, sometimes it means just taking a deep breath and finding a way to focus on how things are right now and not how they might be in the future. This has been very important during the pandemic since everyone is under very new and different forms of stress.

I still think at some point I will bring back the idea of my Mindful Monday posts, but this season of my life is very different – everything is moving so much more quickly, I have less time in my day than ever before, and as I work on managing my perfectionism and control issues, my simple planner is more than enough for the moment. That’s if I were to use the title in the same way that I did before. I am considering changing the focus and writing the occasional informative mental health post and the title could be used there too – this idea might come back a little further in the future. We will just have to wait and see.

I follow a variety of different blogs and it’s been nice to see that I’m not the only one having feelings about everything that’s going on. It’s so hard right now not to see the chaos of the entire world and feel an impending panic attack because of it. It’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves at times because we can’t go to our favorite restaurant or just go shopping for the fun of it, and then, if you’re like me, you feel guilty for it because “at least you’re safe and can stay home.” It’s a delicate balance of being incredibly grateful that we are financially stable enough for The Husband to spend a month on furlough and still recover and also just wishing things would go back to normal. It’s complaining about wanting sit-down Mexican food while at the same time planning for another month-six weeks of social distancing for us personally, even after Texas reopens. There are lots of complex emotions surrounding this whole situation and there’s no need to try and explain them away because it’s totally normal to feel this way.

This blog post has been a complex jumble of thoughts and emotions too and it’s turned out nothing like what I planned. And I think I’m okay with that and I’ll go ahead and post it because someday in the future I’ll flip through and contemplate everything that we went through during this season. And it will be a good reminder of how easily we take things for granted.


Love, light, and kindness,

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Posted by katharine_marie in General, Lifestyle, mental health, 0 comments