A little housekeeping before I begin: I started writing this blog post months ago. I’m not in the same headspace as I was at the time of writing. I feel strongly I should still share, regardless of it being an inaccurate portrayal of where I’m at right now.
A thought came to me a while ago: “I sure am taking other people’s driving personally. I wonder why?” So upon further reflection, I realized that I’m quicker to get frustrated and irritated by other drivers and pedestrians/cyclists. Like REALLY frustrated and irritated. I realized that it is most likely because I have been struggling a bit with how I feel about myself. My pattern is typically that when I am happy with myself, I am happy with others. The opposite is true as well, and that’s where I am at. I’ve been struggling in different ways, but especially with how I’m feeling about myself. Clearly, that is being projected onto others. For example, I’ve been getting extra frustrated with other drivers and/or pedestrians and cyclists. and their actions or lack of awareness. My default is to mutter negative names or phrases at them. “Are you serious about life?”, “Learn how to drive!”, “You have got to be kidding me!” are just a few PG phrases I’ll throw out. Useless and dummy are some names I have been known to say. It’s not a shocker that I have been speaking negatively about other drivers or pedestrians because my negative self-talk game has been strong. Recognizing this pattern has given me a desire to make some tweaks to my mindset. (Also? I noticed I am the most impatient while driving when I do not plan my departure properly. When I am rushed because of ill-timing, I am SO impatient and irritable at others. It’s really not you, it’s me. When I am prepared and leave enough time to get to my destination, I’m pretty darn calm. I’m also a more courteous driver. “No, after you. I insist.”)
I’m sure there are other connections I could make between my response to traffic and my response to life. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, so I will share something else regarding my driving. If you lived in western Canada or followed the news in 2016, you’d be familiar with the Fort McMurray wildfires. It was awful. Such destruction. Hearing the reality of what life was like during the catastrophe really had an effect on me. I remember there was an emergency evacuation and many people weren’t prepared to leave with such short notice. One of the struggles of the evacuation was how fast people had to leave the city. Many vehicles were pulled over along the hiway because they ran out of gas. That inspired me to work on my family’s preparedness. For example, I have worked hard on our 72 kits. I also now treat my gas tank as if half full is actually “empty”. So, I try to never let my tank get below half. These aren’t huge things, but they’ve certainly helped me feel like I’m a little more prepared!
Moving on from vehicles. A while ago, my sister Jill told me about a post she made on Instagram that said “Happy people don’t gossip”. She and I talked more about it, and it is so true! When I am happy, especially with myself, I don’t often engage in gossip. And I tend to not be so judgemental of others or myself.
Further to that, I was talking with my dad one day and I kind of emotionally spewed all over him. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. He wisely shared a story with me that gently reminded me that my outlook was on the negative side. It was humbling, and it was just what the doctor ordered. He called it the Parable of the Canker Sore. It went something like this:
Around Christmas time one year, when my dad was a young buck, he had canker sores all over his mouth. They were painful and made eating, drinking and talking difficult. He told me that he just focused on how awful the sores made him and that he lost out on all the great things going on around him. Christmas was always a favourite time of year for him, but he couldn’t see past his pain in order to enjoy the family time, festivities, celebrations and good food!
My dad’s story reminded me that sometimes we focus so much on our “sores” that we can’t see all the joy and goodness around us. When we have that kind of tunnel vision, we are unable to see the positive. I really needed that reminder. I guess you never outgrow a good parenting moment from your own parents. Between my sister’s and dad’s insights and the traffic insights, it further reiterates something: I have not been as happy as in the past or as I want to be.
I was watching an episode of Queer Eye in 2018 and Jonathan Van Ness coined the phrase “struggs to func”. I love a good abbrev every now and then, and this one really tickled my funny bone. So much that four years later, I still think of it often. And if I’m being honest-I’ve been a tad struggs to func!
Let’s not kid ourselves, I think we have all struggled to function a bit on a global level at some point. Two plus years into a global pandemic, and no one has been left unscathed. Our overall wellness mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and economically has been affected to varying degrees as well as varying timelines. I think we’ve thrived in some areas, only to just survive in those same areas later.
I’ve felt incredibly frustrated at times recently. I’ve come so far in many ways and I was maintaining or increasing that growth. And now I feel I’ve been plateauing or regressing. I have felt mentally and emotionally fragile. You’d never know that just looking at me. I’m strong like bull. Nothing fragile-looking about me, but I assure you, I have been.
I won’t share all of the ways I’ve been struggling, who has time for that? But I do want to share an example. I’ve always loved people. I’ve always been super social and thrived in social settings, big or small. Being near people energized me. And I haven’t minded being in the spotlight. (I may have been accused of being an attention-whore a time or two.) I have changed, though. Instead of being “textbook” extroverted, I feel I’m more introverted now. I guess you could call me an ambivert. But it’s more than that. The last few months or so, I feel like I’ve been struggs to func socially. I feel overwhelmed in social settings. Do I even know how to “people” anymore? Odd things just come out of my mouth. I’ve become highly anxious and I tend to avoid crowds. I have become so sensitive to noises. I definitely have stress responses to crowds. I rarely avoided people I know in public places before, but I find myself going down a different aisle in the grocery store so I don’t have to talk. This is not normal for me. I think if it’s a controlled environment and I am prepared, I am still quite social. I don’t know, but maybe I am okay with that because it is on my own terms?
I debated sharing this story that showcases I may or may not have forgotten how to interact with others. It has brought me so many laughs and maybe it will make you laugh too. It equal parts hilarious and humiliating.
In the area I live, we were near drought conditions this spring. We had a stake-wide fast in our church where we fasted and prayed for rain. One day, as I was walking into church, it started to rain. I was thrilled! We needed the rain so badly! And it was a faith-affirming experience for my family that our prayers were answered! I got caught up in the moment. Some male missionaries, also known as Elders, were outside too. They asked me how I was doing. Instead of answering my typical, “Living the dream”, I improvised and said, “Living the wet dream!” Meaning, it’s raining! Meaning, how exciting that we’ve been blessed with moisture after our prayers were heard! After I said what I said, I walked away happily and then I stopped dead in my tracks once I heard what actually came out of my mouth. I quickly tried to explain what I meant, but the damage was done. I just had to walk away. I wanted the ground to swallow me whole. I was mortified. The Elders were gracious about it, but I’m sure they’ll tell their friends back home about the crazy lady who was talking about wet dreams. I forgot to mention my 11 year old daughter was there. I wasn’t planning on discussing nocturnal emissions, but…teachable moments and all that. Also, can I pay sometime to follow me around with a hook full time?
Life has its ups and downs, that’s for certain. The good news is that I know gray skies always clear and that the sun will always shine brightly! (We’ve been having a heatwave this summer, so it’s definitely shining brightly.) I have a long list of things that help me see and feel the good around me and I want to work on them. My tendency with my goal setting, though, is to sprint out of the gate. I try to do too much at once and it’s just not sustainable. Do I need to try and do all the things on my long list in one day? No. I remember hearing a question posed while I attended university. The question and answer were: what is the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It’s a good reminder for me. It is okay to focus on just one thing at a time to help me reestablish positive patterns in my life. And then eventually, I can add more things. Not only is it okay, but it is good to focus on fewer things all at once. There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon (another testament of Jesus Christ) that talks about small and simple things. It’s one of my favourite scriptures.
One small and simple thing I have stopped doing is my daily gratitude sharing. Even though I know how important gratitude is, I just got out of the habit. The lack of gratitude sharing in my life has definitely had an impact of my mindset. Just writing it down has ignited a flame to start this personally and with my family. What better way to start than with the beginning of the new school year? One thing I can start today is expressing my gratitude out loud to my family. That’s not overwhelming. I can do it! Small and simple things are achievable. And the end result will be great! I’ve learned so much, yet it seems like I’ve forgotten much of it. I’m grateful for the gentle reminders I’ve been given to help me remember what’s already in me; what I already know.
This is a pretty packed post. I’ve thrown quite a bit at you. Just like I emotionally spewed on my dad, you may feel informationally spewed on. I hope you’re okay.
I don’t really want to end this blog post. It’s been so long since I’ve published a blog post. But, alas, it’s time. So I’ll just say a few things. It’s good to reflect. It’s good to have people in your corner who you can have insightful conversations with. It’s good to give yourself and others grace. It’s good to eat an elephant one bite at a time. Its good to remember the small and simple things. It’s good to look for the good. Hope is a good feeling to have. And it’s good to laugh!!!! Feel free to add any funny awkward stories in the comments. Also, please know you’re not alone in the struggs.