You’re Not the Only One

Do you sometimes think that you are the only one on the planet who feels uncomfortable around others? Do you worry about looking awkward on the outside because you feel so awkward on the inside? Do you have performance anxiety during certain activities that are supposed to be fun and enjoyable?

Well, go ahead and take a big sigh of relief, because you are not alone. You are not the only person who feels this way, not by a longshot! According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America,

“Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting children and adults. An estimated 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders.”

So, you’re absolutely not the only person who feels awkward and out of sorts. In fact, you are not even the only species who feels this way! That’s right — anxiety is not just your condition, not just a human condition…it is a condition that stretches far and wide across boundaries and labels of all kinds.

Exhibit A — this article from BoredPanda —

Cheetahs Are So Shy That Zoos Give Them Their Own Emotional ‘Support Dogs.’

Get Out! What?!?!?!?!

That’s right! These impressive animals, widely recognized as the fastest beings on land, are actually Nervous Nellys! They are naturally socially awkward, shy and nervous. It’s hard to believe, right? When I look at a cheetah, the first thoughts that come to my mind are – FAST!                    CARNIVORE.    Don’t get too close to one!                        Impressive. Spots.           And… Don’t get too close to one!

According to the article, “they get so anxious, they don’t know how to socialize with each other and get too stressed to have sex.”

This is one reason why their numbers are dwindling. Smart zookeepers have found a way to help with this – by pairing cheetahs in captivity with emotional support dogs.

In the article, Janet Rose-Hinostroza, animal training supervisor at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park explains that “the cheetah looks to the dog for cues and learns to model their behavior. It’s about getting them to read that calm, happy-go-lucky vibe from the dog – and that helps them be more confident.”

This is great news! Right?

Nelly: er….how is a nervous cheetah great news? What in the world does that have to do with me?

Well, Here’s how. Tah Dah!!!! Presenting……the amazing take-aways we get from knowing that cheetahs are Nervous Nellys:

  • You’re not the only one! Although we’re not really supposed to compare ourselves to others and all that, sometimes its just comforting to know that, hey, there are others out there, dealing with the same difficulties that I am.

 

  • Cheetahs are highly respected and highly impressive beings…that also happen to be nervous. When you think of a cheetah, is anxiety the first thing that comes to your mind? Hell no! You probably think something like, fast, or dangerous, or beautiful. Anxiety is just one part of who they are – same with you! So stop worrying that anxiety is the first and only thing people see when they interact with you…You have a million other wonderful qualities that come shining through without you even trying.

 

  • It’s not the Cheetah’s fault. Animals act purely on instinct. They didn’t intentionally or unintentionally develop a nervous habit. These animals were born nervous. It’s a part of who they are. Your nervous tendencies may be inherited or learned, but either way, they are not ‘your fault’ and are nothing to be ashamed of. Be proud of all of your spots!

 

  • Help is out there! If a cheetah can be paired up with a Laborador buddy to ease his anxiety, (how strange, yet cool is that?) don’t you think that you can find some support out there? To help you through the tougher times? I say yes!!!! And that support is closer than you may think – AKA ME!!! Yes, I, Normal Nelly am always here for you, my Cheetah 😉

So, my friends…take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in this world. And please do not focus on your anxiety as the only thing that defines you.

Instead, be FAST. Be Fierce. Be Beautiful. And go ahead and be Nervous.

Be a Cheetah. Rawr.

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Fire Walker

Tony Robbins was just in town doing his Unleash the Power Within (UPW) Event. So, of course I have to reminisce about the time I went…

It was a year and a half ago and I was hemming & hawing about starting Normal Nelly. I had purchased the domain name but hadn’t really started publishing. I had all these AMAZING ideas but I was afraid of putting them out there where they would be SEEN and ANALYZED by other people (gasp!).

So, my husband, being the amazing man that he is, surprised me with a UPW ticket for my birthday. Really, my hubby is amazing. Because you see, he was the Tony Robbins fan. He had read Tony’s books, watched Tony’s videos and dreamed of attending UPW. But instead of splurging on himself, he got me a ticket to see Tony Robbins live because he thought I needed it more.

I just love him.

The whole 4 day loooooooooooong event, of course, is killer. Bomb. Amaze. But let’s focus on the Fire Walk. Leading up to it, I was stoked. I was all in. I was going to WALK ON FIRE for crying out loud! I was going to rip the anxieties out of my brain and throw them away forever. I would be a card carrying BADASS and I couldn’t wait.

But just like in real life, all the motivational hoo-ha isn’t worth a dime unless you can take action — aka walk on mah fuckin fire. And by fire, I mean, actual (insert cute emojii flames here). I don’t know how familiar you are with Tony’s whole fire walk thang, but let me just tell you —  it’s real. Imagine a bed of burning coals — there’s some black…some gray…and ORANGE! Glowing, throbbing radiating ORANGE. AKA hot. AKA pain. AKA OMFG.

Tony had been talking about the Fire Walk all day, stoking us up mentally as his team was stoking up the coals outside. Early in the afternoon, I started losing steam. My stomach felt funny and my head was pounding. Uh-oh.

Was I getting sick? Was that taco plate I had for lunch just the wrong choice? I tried to ignore the icky feelings in my tum and focus on Tony. But that nagging, nauseous draining feeling would not let up. Then my head began to pound and it was hard to be present with Tony’s words. Hours and hours went by. Trying to find some comfort, I left my seat in the audience and found a spot on the outskirts of the hall, where I could sit on the cool concrete floor by myself and breathe.  At this point, the walk was imminent. The room was dark and Tony was leading us through some meditation/visualization prep.

I thought, “how crap would it be if I got this far and my hubs spent all this $ on me, and I didn’t do the walk?”

But I felt genuinely ill. It’s not my fault. I’m not doing it on purpose. I’m sick! Then it hit me — I was FOSing (Freak Out Session) about walking on fire! I was making myself physically sick as a way to get out of doing it! Holy crap!

I know this about myself because it has happened many times. Before, during or immediately after an anxiety-provoking event, I can become very very sick. Think migraine with a large side of vomit. This is how my mind tries to protect me.  Mmm hmmm.  Thanks.

Becoming sick will make me get away from whatever is making me scared…a party, a work presentation, an interview, WALKING ON ACTUAL SMOKING FIRE.

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Wait – I came here, actually my hubby sent me here, to learn some tools for pushing through my anxiety. And now, right before the Fire Walk I’m gonna go home? Because my mind is telling my body to be sick because my mind is scurred?

NOPE!!!

Nope.

Unacceptable.

UN-FUCKING-ACCEPTABLE.

These two realities were just going to have to deal with each other:

1. I am sick

2. I am going to walk on fire

Nelly, of course, jumps in like, “WTF? You’re staying?!?!? Getting sick ALWAYS works! We always run away and go home when we get sick. What is going on here?!?!?!”

Nelly was understandably shocked by this coupe, and might I add, a bit vengeful with that last trip to the bathroom. Ugh.

Of course, by this time, Tony had already asked everyone to find a Fire Walking Buddy. Crap. There were like 9,999 people in the audience and 9,998 of them were all paired up, ready to go. And then me. Sigh. This was just not going to be easy on any level.

Dang it! I was socializing with my seatmates the whole day —  until I got sick and went to go sit by myself — and now, I’m sure they were all paired up. Then Tony said, “If you STILL don’t have a Fire Walking Buddy, go stand next to one of the volunteers in the aisle holding the ‘Loser’ signs and they will get you paired up.”  (Actually the signs  said ‘Buddy’ but Nelly likes to embellish).

I made my way over to the closest sign-wielding volunteer and was relieved to discover that I was not the only one w/o a partner. A very nice guy, maybe 10 yrs younger than me,  took me under his wing and declared me his Fire Walking Buddy.  Thank the Lord he had enough verve for the both of us.

We had to turn to our buddy and tell them why we were doing the walk. Why we were here. I told him that I was doing this to push through my anxiety. I also told him that I was currently barfy and migraine-ey. He was ok with that.

And so it began. We took off our shoes and socks, and left them under the closest chair. We followed the masses out of the conference hall, into the dark night and lined up behind 30 rows of hot burning coals. I held onto my partner’s arm most of the way. He was doing all the talking since I could not. I was well beyond my comfort zone and it took all I had just to be there, putting one cold, bare foot in front of the other.

After all, during a typical Nelly-induced migraine I would have escaped by now. I’d be lying in bed, feeling less and less sick, but more and more guilty for running away.

Instead I was in line, inching toward the fire.

It’s always the anticipation that gets me. Talking about it, thinking about it, standing in front of it, Looking at it. Thinking about it some more. It’s the worst.

FINALLY we got to the front. My partner went across first and then it was just me. Standing in front of a long, hot smoking track of pure TERROR. The volunteer in charge of that line looked me in the eyes and said “Go!”

I didn’t think, I just went. Step 1…Step 2…Step 3…I didn’t feel a thing until…Step 4 my thoughts started spinning again…and BURN! As in…flesh! Ahhhh!!! I hustled up through each scalding step to the end.

I DID IT!!!!!

I thought, as I squished my feet up and down on the soggy grass pads on the other side of the fire walk.

I did it.

Anxiety and all. Fear and all. Nelly and I. We all walked across fire. Together.

I learned a very important lesson that day – you can’t wait until you get rid of your fear or anxiety to act. You will always have some measure of apprehension. That is just how the brain is wired. Fight or flight baby. The trick is to take the action regardless. If Nelly pops up, well then, she’s coming along for the ride. Saddle up.

And here’s the part I’m not sure I should tell you — I was pregnant!!!!!!

I know, right?!?!

You see, being pregnant made it impossible for me to bitch out. I had to grab Nelly by the hand and drag her across that fire because I wanted to be a courageous example for my daughter. I was teaching myself to move forward, however uncomfortable I felt… and I was taking my daughter with me.

This is precisely why my hubs sent me to UPW. I was supposed to walk across fire, carrying my daughter, while feeling physically ill and mentally FREAKED.

That was a life-changing moment for me. I am so thankful for the opportunity to, as Tony says:

“Set a New Standard! Defy the Odds! Step Up! Step Up! Step Up!”

And now, my 10 month old daughter is everything you would expect of a Fire Walker —  a total BOSS.

 

May I Catch My Shenpa Today

2017 is the third year that I am choosing “One Little Word” as my guide and focus for the year. This is a brilliant idea that my friend Marina at Mindful Memory Keeping introduced to me. Ali Edwards came up with the concept of choosing one word to meditate and focus on each year, instead of a long list of resolutions.

My word for this year is “shenpa.”

Er, whah? Yes, I know…

Shenpa is a Tibetan word meaning ‘trigger’; it’s a catalyst that starts you moving down a habituated path. I learned about shenpa from Pema Chodron, who credits her teacher, Ziger Contril, for teaching it to her.

Here’s a fabu article by Pema that explains shenpa:

http://www.lionsroar.com/how-we-get-hooked-shenpa-and-how-we-get-unhooked/

Pema describes shenpa as an itch. A terrible itch and an urge to scratch. But, of course, scratching is bad for us. It doesn’t lead to relief but rather more scratching, and pain.

Shenpa sends me down the path of anxiety – usually in the form of racing thoughts. Before I know it, my thoughts and hypotheses and fantasies and worst case scenarios have snowballed into such a state that I don’t even realize I’m worked up until my anxiety snowball is monstrous. And it has gained so much momentum that it takes a lot of time and effort to decompress and calm myself back down. (yes, I did start that sentence with the word “and.” AND I liked it.)

For me, this feels like suddenly waking up eight miles into a 10 mile race that I don’t remember starting. I become conscious of my exhaustion, shortness of breathe, clammy skin, sweating, steaming and overheating. I am running for my life and I can’t stop…I am wondering – why am I running? How and when did I start running? How do I stop?

Pema teaches the idea of shenpa along with the habit of distraction – the repeated practice of taking yourself away from the present because its emotions are too scary. AKA ‘flight.’ We think about or do other things in order to move away from the present; escape reality. Some people distract themselves with alcohol or drugs. Some people use work to escape.

In part, I use anxiety to keep myself away (safe) from things that scare me. I hide in a swirling tornado of never-ending thoughts that prevent me from dealing with the issue/situation/people at hand. Anxiety and obsessive worrying prevent me from making decisions, taking action and interacting with others.

Pema explains this in one of her recorded teachings:

“Unfortunately, we get a lot of comfort from leaving – lost in thought, fantasies, plans. It gives us a lot of security and ground. So we’re very habituated to it. Pretty much we like it, and it gets stronger.”

Shenpa, or, the trigger, hooks us into a habit and we get stuck performing an action that we know is harmful. We’d like to change it but we don’t know how.

The reason that so many techniques for correcting our behavior fail is that they walk us through a multi-step process, starting at number one.

This makes perfect sense on paper but it doesn’t work in real life because we don’t consciously start at number one. In real life, we become aware of the negative habit somewhere after step number 3 in a 10 step process. Often we don’t remember when or how it all started.

At some point, a gun went off; a starting pistol that sent us, automatically, flying down the track. This response is built into our muscle memory. Our nervous system.

  1. Gunshot
  2. Adrenaline surging
  3. heart racing
  4. thoughts swirling
  5. overheating
  6. shortness of breath
  7. AWARENESS OF RUNNING
  8. winding down
  9. winding down
  10. start to come back to baseline

You don’t even realize you are running until you are about halfway around the track and by this time the gunshot is forgotten and you have no idea why you are running.

The key to changing a pattern is to hear the starting pistol.

If you can identify what catapults your behavior, then you can begin to change that behavior. Choose a different reaction.

The bang of the starting pistol is my brilliant (heehe) analogy for shenpa.

So…for the duration of 2017, I am going to focus on “catching my shenpa.”

I will practice hearing the starting pistol that sends me running into anxiety. I will work on identifying the triggers that send me fighting and flying and freezing.

For me this is a process of working backwards. In a 1-10 step fight or flight race where 1 is the starting pistol, or shenpa and 10 is the finish line where I finally start to relax and decompress, I may realize I am running at about step 7. Then I have to retrace my steps/thoughts to try and discover what the trigger was. The sooner I can “catch my shenpa” the better. When I start identifying the trigger at step 3 instead of step 7, for example, that is awesome and I work through the whole process and get back to baseline a lot sooner!

In 2017…I’m going to catch my shenpa.

Thank you Pema. You Rock.

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In Defense of Self Help Books

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I read self help books. That’s right. I read self help books and trust me, I have heard all the comments and noticed all the judgy looks.

I can’t tell you the number of times someone has noticed me reading as they walk by, then stop and say, “hey, what are you…oh. It’s a self help book,” and quickly continue walking.

But really, what’s the big deal? Pregnant women read What to Expect When You’re Expecting and nobody gives them grief for it. Undergrads study GRE prep guides and no one looks down on them. Techies immerse themselves in coding books and onlookers think they are uber smart.

So, why is there such a huge stigma about reading text from the self -help genre? Let’s think about this logically. Self-help books explain how to improve various aspects of ourselves. Things like:

How to be confident.

How to be more productive with your time.

How to make money.

How to make friends.

How to find a meaningful relationship.

How to maintain said meaningful relationship.

How are these ideas lame? Does anyone on the planet think that confidence is lame? No. everyone pretty much agrees confidence is awesome. Does anyone you know want less money? Nobody I know. Does anybody you’ve ever met despise love and avoid connecting with others? Ok, you probably know a few people like this, but come on, we all know they are just fronting…they really do want to connect.

So what’s the dealio? Why should I be embarrassed to run into someone I know in the self -help section of the bookstore? Why don’t I read my copy of Tony Robbins’ Awaken the Giant Within at Starbucks, for all the world to see?

Well, the answer is very simple. Because reading a book about gaining confidence conveys the message that I don’t already have it. Reading a book about finding love leads others to the conclusion that I am a sad, lonely spinster.

Reading self help books is an admission that I am lacking in certain traits and possessions that make people attractive: happiness, money, friends. Reading these types of books proves that I am not perfect in at least one area, namely, whatever the topic of the book I am reading. I might as well post, “I am a loser with no friends” on my Facebook page. Why don’t I just tweet, “I’m broke and have way too much credit card debt.” How Embarrassing!

I get it, people want to put their best foot forward. They want to showcase their strengths and make themselves look as good as possible, especially in a group setting or in front of people they don’t know. Why? Because we all assume that our strengths will make others like us and want to know us better. But here’s the rub: we never gain more knowledge without first admitting that we don’t have it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the advice “the best way to make friends is to act like you don’t need any.”  Well, I think THAT’S pretty lame. Ya! How ‘bout them apples!?!?! I think it should be ok to say, “hi! My name is Nelly and I’d like to meet some new people.”

It’s ok to be imperfect. We’re all imperfect, after all, and everyone knows it. But it’s also ok to admit to the fact that we’re imperfect. To be open and upfront about the areas that we’d like to improve.

So, let me be the first to start –

Hi, my name is Nelly and I read self-help books. I would like to be more confident, manage my time better and improve my anxiety coping skills. I find that self help books, especially those written by subject matter experts, have some great ideas about how to accomplish these things.

Ya! Take that, Self-Help Haters!

Moded, corroded, your booty exploded!

So, hey, check out all the Self-Help books I am into on my NormalNelly GoodReads.com profile. And comment on this post about what self-help books you love or want to check out.

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Panic Attack 7/24/16

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I was home watching my three littles and my husband had just left to go pick up a small plastic kiddie pool. You know, through one of those local buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook. We had been hemming and hawing the decision to buy the pool the day before, and finally decided to go for it, since this was an especially hot summer and we thought the kids would love it.

As soon as my hubby left to pick it up, the questions started whizzing through my mind — Was it really worth the trouble? What if we don’t even end up using it? We don’t have any room to store it. We don’t even have a place to use it since we live in an apartment complex. We can use it at my parents’ house, but what if they get mad at me for bringing it over? It’s a lot of extra work for the hubby. This is going to make his already bad knee hurt. He’s going to be pissed. My parents will be mad at me.

I tried to stop the now whirling cyclone of negativity in my mind and calm myself down. Deep Breath. It’s too late now anyway, I thought. He’s already left to pick it up. It’ll be fine. Deep Breath. Then he text me:

This thing is massive! It won’t fit.
Bringing the slide home. Hav to take
seats out of van, then go back for pool.

A tingly sensation rushed down both arms. My heart was knocking against my rib cage. Painful twinges shot through my left shoulder and pectoral area. Was I having a heart attack? Could it be just a muscle spasm? Was it my heart? I’m by myself with the kids! How can I get to the hospital? Oh my God! I should never have shown him the pool. He is upset and it’s all my fault.

The tingly feeling that had started in my arms spread over my chest and back. Oh my God. Deep Breath. Deep Breath. Deep Brea– but I couldn’t focus on my breathing. Electricity buzzed through my entire upper body. I got up off the couch where I had been watching cartoons with the kids and began pacing. They of course, started to follow me around.

“What are you doing, mama? Where are you going? What are you getting? Mama! Mama!”

Attention. Pressure. Eyes. Questions. Anger. Blame. Beating down on me. Can’t take it. Have to escape. Have to hide.

I walked to the bedroom but the panic came with me. I kept going into the bathroom, but the swirling thoughts, the fear, and my two kids aged 3.5 and 22 months came with me.

Then my two-month-old baby started crying. She needed to eat. In fact, it was now almost noon and my older two needed to eat as well. I rummaged through the pantry, grabbing the first thing I could and handed it to my toddler — a bag of dried apricots…I was going to regret that later!

I needed help. Get help. I called my mom while I made a bottle for the baby. A couple sentences into our convo, she could tell this was no run of the mill freak out. “Come over,”  she said.

When my hubs made it home (for the second time) and jammed that freaking pool and slide into our tiny garage, AND put the seats back into the van (OMG!) we loaded up the kids and booked it to my parents’ house. Thank God my husband understands me. I went straight to my mom, who gave me a much needed tough love session. Here is what she said:

“The reason that you get overwhelmed is that you don’t know how to prioritize. You have to be able to count to three. You have three priorities. Number one is you. You must take care of yourself first because everyone else depends on you. Number two is your kids. And number three is whatever you want – whatever you need at the time. But that’s it. One two three. Forget about everything else. If you have number one taken care of, then you can drop that off and add another one to the bottom — Kids, number three and number four. But as soon as you feel yourself starting to falter — WHOOOOSH! — you move back up and take care of number one. You take care of you. You have to.”

She just reached into my brain and pulled out a crippling habit that I was not even conscious of — giving every single thing on my list level one priority. I try to get it all done. Perfectly. Efficiently. On Time. Every. teensy. tiny. thing. The result is I either don’t get the important stuff done because I am focusing on the small stuff, or I am just so overwhelmed by the volume of IMPORTANT items that I just implode and don’t get anything done.

You see, I have a preschooler, a toddler and a newborn. That right there is more than enough to fill out 16 To Do lists. Add to that the reality that the older two had been sick with a cold for the past two weeks before passing it on, along with a fever, to my newborn a couple days before.

Small kids. Sick newborn. Maybe this was not the time to buy a second-hand kiddie pool.

It took many hours to decompress. For the jittering, the pounding, the shallow breathing, the looming, dooming, BOOMING thoughts to stop. Then I was just exhausted. Emotionally, mentally and physically spent.

But I learned a crucial life lesson. (Thank You, Mom!)

Count to three. And number One is always Me.

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This is How I Want to Feel…

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Relaxed     breezy     calm   carefree   casual     composed

E a s y   flexible   laid-back   unconcerned   nonchalant   serene

tranquil   collected     even-tempered   free and easy

loose   happy-go-lucky!    mild   n a t u r a l     unconstrained

light     cool as a cucumber   cool-headed        unruffled

imperturbable   laid back      level-headed     unemotional     still

serene      pleased   satisfied   placid    adequate     content

soothed   happy   CLEARheaded         sure of myself

self-assured   serene     harmonious   in order     reposed

complacent     BOLD      assertive        satisfied     certain

hopeful     positive     secure     undaunted   VALIANT

organic     unapologetic  confident

 

I am shocked at how distant and unfamiliar these words seem to me. I want to feel these words more. A lot more, but I am somehow scared and intimidated by them. If I let them in and stay for too long, its like I am letting my guard down. I wouldn’t be prepared if something were to go wrong. How can I be “ready” for scary eventualities if I am lost in a cloud of fuzzy, feel-good feelings?

What I am trying to understand is that “ready” and “content” can co-exist. And beyond that – I don’t have to be “ready” all the time. I just need to trust that, when something scary arises, I can handle it. I can be comfortable and prepared at the same time.

What are some feelings that you want? Feelings that seem illusive but that you would love to become regular, constants in your life?

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This is How I Feel…

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Nervous     Worried       Concerned      Uneasy        fretful      full of angst fearful        doubtful      dreadful      jitters      miserable      agitated     misgiving       mistrusting

panicked       unbalanced       restless      SUFFERING        troubled      uncertain   butterflies      careful       disquieted      distressed       fidgety       shaky     fussy      bothered         shakes      shivers         watchful        all-overs        ants in pants         goose bumps         nail-biting        pins and needles            eager       intense       impatient       itchy       frantic       ardent         off        avid         expectant         upset       wired    uncomfortable         TENSE        unsettled      neurotic         agitated       taut        carried away       apprehensive         edgy       ill at ease           twitchy         solicitous         overwrought         on tenterhooks               like a fish out of water         antsy          weird       discomposed           uptight         basket case            hyper        in a tizzy   daunted        vigilant          cautious   perplexed             fidgety         perturbed          frozen           stuck        petrified            intimidated           crazed         berserk            shook up       unhinged         hysterical           out of one’s mind          crazy         mental      worked up           tied up in knots           worried sick            desperate

oppressed            frazzled       irked       OBSESSIVE          weighed down           addled        discomposed         muddled             unglued             “bundle of nerves”       skittish              touchy         ALERT!!!       all a dither          unnerved             keyed up            harried            beset           hard-pressed            wonky      stressed       AWKWARD            insecure             self-conscious               unsure      rattled                    disconcerted   ruffled   riled up   frazzled     wonky   beside myself     agitated    turbulent      indefinite      meek

Too many of these words take up too much of my day.

These words represent feelings that wash over me often and stay with me far too long.   Typically, I either try to ignore these feelings or put my head down and barrel through them, but I am learning that this doesn’t work. The more I ignore them, the more they stick around. They come for a reason and need to be acknowledged, so they will hold their ground until I give them some attention.

I am learning that I have to see these feelings and spend a little time with them. I need to identify them and sit compassionately with them. I need to give them space and attention. Only then will they release their strong hold on me and flow away – leaving room for other, more peaceful feelings.

What are some of your difficult feelings? The ones that you wish would give you some breathing room?

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Ownership

Let me get right to it – Normal Nelly, the blog, the brand, the beast, is an exercise in ownership. I have made a decision to acknowledge, embrace and yes, celebrate all that is me. This includes the part of me that I have worked fiercely to hide from the rest of the world, namely, my anxiety. This anxious part of me could be called Nervous Nelly.

Oddly enough, I have also worked very hard to hide the part of me that is amazing –the skills that make me stand out…the accomplishments that garner attention from others. This part of me, the part that strives for and often reaches greatness, could be called Notable Nelly.

It’s pretty obvious why I would want to hide the supposedly negative parts of myself (anxiety) from others. I don’t want them to think that I am strange or different. I don’t want my discomfort to make other people feel uncomfortable. I want to be accepted — to be liked. But, why would I also want to hide the positive parts of myself? The skills and accomplishments? The creativity and the determination?

Same answer. I want to be accepted – to be liked. After all, many people don’t like the success of others. This is sad, but true. The accomplishments of others make them feel less than.

As a high-ranking member of the People Pleaser Club, being liked and accepted has been the number one driver of most of my actions since I can remember. I’ve tried to keep myself on a very neutral plane…balancing between appearing as good as others, but not better than others. I’ve always had dreams of greatness –great achievements, great successes and public recognition – but my fear of making others “feel bad” when comparing themselves to my awesomeness (and therefore, not like me) has always caused me to make myself smaller. Dimming my own light was just more comfortable than shining it out into the world and awaiting criticism. But that perspective is changing. Now. With this blog.

The idea of ownership seems simple enough. You own the car that you drive around town. You own your favorite college sweatshirt that you bought freshman year.   These are your possessions. They are yours because you keep them with you…you take care of them…you are responsible for them. Exactly how you own these things says a lot about your feelings for them. Do you wash your car every week and keep it cleared of junk? Or is it caked with dirt and marred with scratches and scrapes? Do you put on your college sweatshirt every Sunday morning, relaxing into the comfy fabric, faded lettering and frayed seams? Or do you keep it folded and clean, tucked away in a special mothball filled box under your bed?

We don’t often make a concerted, deliberate decision about HOW we are going to own something. We just instinctively act out our feelings toward that object. The same goes for ourselves…I never thought about how I was going to take responsibility for my life and my identity; I managed myself unintentionally — based on feelings like fear and worry. I was the college sweatshirt in the box, kept safe under the bed. Sure, I would come out to strut my stuff on rare occasions when I felt brave, but for the most part, I stayed inside, watching others walk around. In the box I was safe from wear and tear,  judgment and any other potential dangers of living life.

Today, and everyday hereafter, I am laying out a new plan of deliberate and calculated self-ownership based on how I WANT to feel about myself and my environment. I have decided to lay claim to every single part of me…the scared, the neurotic, the magnificent, the depressed and the extraordinary.

This new conscientious ownership of myself, for myself, will take time and practice to be sure. It will not be an easy or a quick transition. In fact, I expect to spend the rest of my life learning and practicing how to embrace and accept myself in a way that makes me happy. There is no need to worry about what others will think of me and if anyone does have a negative opinion of me, well, that’s just none of my business 🙂

This blog is my way of staying accountable to the new ownership style. After all, true commitment and dedication needs to be reestablished and reaffirmed on a regular basis. Through the blog, I will share my experiences and feelings regarding anxiety and other related topics. I will also share strategies, information and resources I use or plan to use in order to manage my anxiety and my life. There will be other fun things to discover here as well, such as short stories and personal profiles.

I would love nothing more than for you to come with me and participate in this new ownership strategy. This blog will be a continual declaration that all parts of me…you…us, even the nervous parts, are normal. Normal Nelly.

What are you going to OWN today? What part of yourself will you embrace and share? Comment below and let me know!  Also, make sure to subscribe to this blog to receive notifications of new posts coming soon!

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