Transformation of Thoughts

Today I offer you a transformation in thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.  My December 2014 self in comparison to my September 2018 self.  The words flowed as easily today as they did back then…but with a much different perspective on the energy I choose to bring into the world.

I have made seemingly small, insignificant choices over the last 1,400 days that has brought me to a new place…one that is sustainable and deeply rooted.  A place that is more comfortable and equally (if not more) productive and fulfilling.  A place that still takes pride in a job well done or a smile across someone’s face…but does not require me to sacrifice my mind, body, and soul to achieve it…In fact, I am more me than I have ever been before.

I share this with you as a source of hope…that maybe you are not as trapped as you think you are…maybe with some journaling sessions, meaningful conversations with loved ones or bosses and a possible therapy session…small adjustments can begin to be made over time.  Sure some chaos may ensue, but the dust will settle and everyone will adjust around your new normal.  You deserve a life that you don’t NEED to take a vacation from!

Bio picAlicja Carter, MHR, LADC, BHWC, has been working in the behavioral health and addiction treatment field for over ten years.  She is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Wellness Coordinator/Coach for Gateway to Prevention and Recovery in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  Alicja is passionate about pursuing a well life and collaborating with others for the purpose of stimulating positive change in her community.

 

Rock What You Got!

Rock What You Got - Blog Branding

My girlfriends and I took a road trip to Kansas City over the Labor Day Weekend for some R&R and to spend time with my family.  Late Saturday night, we were sprawled out on the bed and floor, talking, reading, and looking up new recipes.  I had found a box of papers from my childhood and was curiously reconnecting with my younger self.  I discovered various journal entries that expressed my love for pizza, sheet music and lyrics that warned of acid rain and global warming, and a remixed poem of people at a mall working together to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.  My favorite was a letter than we were asked to write in the 4th grade (I think) to our parents regarding what they could expect when they attended parent-teacher conferences the next day.

So, what was my take away from all of this?

Sometimes, life feels very big to me.  I can get overloaded with information and overwhelmed with decisions about who I am supposed to be or what I am supposed to do at any given moment.  These readings reminded me that I have cared about certain things and operated in certain ways for my entire life.  These are the characteristics that make me…me.  Of course, I want to stay open-minded to how other people experience this life.  However, I have the tendency to lose myself in the land of infinite possibilities (podcasts, Pinterest, social media, recommended readings, etc.)  At the end of the day, I have to connect with and contend with the passions, quirks, ideas, expressions, obstacles, family systems, geographical settings, and culture that I embody.  My experiences are no more important nor insignificant when compared to my fellow human.

As my friend Aja Owens proclaims so wholeheartedly, it is our right and responsibility on this earth to, “Rock What You Got!”

Take time this week to think about the characteristics that make you – you! u.

Write down 30 facts about yourself and see what surfaces. 

Ask friends to describe you in one word. I wonder what sticks out to others that you are not giving yourself credit for.  It is easy to dismiss the attributes that come most naturally because we don’t have to work for them.  We have trouble recognizing our strengths because they come easy to us and we just assume they come easy to others as well…and therefore are not deserving of a pat on the back.

Wouldn’t it be wild if we took a month off of self-improvement and spent that time just noticing how freaking unbelievable we already are?!?

Ya’ll are amazing and are positive forces for good in this world.  Even on your worst day, we all benefit from your presence.

 

Bio picAlicja Carter, MHR, LADC, BHWC, has been working in the behavioral health and addiction treatment field for over ten years.  She is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Wellness Coordinator/Coach for Gateway to Prevention and Recovery in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  Alicja is passionate about pursuing a well life and collaborating with others for the purpose of stimulating positive change in her community.

 

3 Adjustments You Can Make To Shred Stress

Throughout my life people have always told me, “Wow, you sure have a lot of things going on.”  I heard it my sophomore year before I caught pneumonia from overexerting myself with school activities and depleting my immune system.  I heard it when I was teaching six Zumba classes per week and crashing from too many caffeine supplements and not enough rest.  I heard it when I was working 12+ hour days, mindlessly shoveling Van’s burgers down my throat, and experiencing intense, regular headaches and near blindness in my left eye.  I heard it when I was juggling work, fitness classes, a new business, band rehearsal, and play practice.

In fact, my therapist confirmed that I am better at “doing” instead of “being.”  For the most part, I am okay with this part of myself.  My energy, ideas, and work ethic have me floating on cloud nine most days.  Even when I do have time to relax, my mind and body fight it.  It seems like I am calibrated to a frequency where “calming down” is what requires the most work.

So why do it?  Well, because no matter how unnatural downshifting is to me, it’s going to happen one way or another.  I can mindfully pump the brakes slowly throughout the day or my keen biology will slam my butt into park until further notice.  According to research developed through the Blue Zones Project, communities that take time to downshift or shred the stress of the day live longer, healthier lives. 

So after learning everything the hard way, here are 3 adjustments that I’ve made to my routine to slow my roll:

1.  I have priorities… and no, not everything is a priority.  When reading the book, You Are Not Your Brain, I was encouraged to make a list of my priorities.  Webster’s Dictionary defines priority as “something that is more important than other things and needs to be done or dealt with first.”  So tell me why by the time I was finished, I had filled two pages.  Needless to say, when everything was a priority, my life was like the Tetris video game…eventually the pieces came too fast, piling on top of one another, until it was GAME OVER.  Today, one of my top values is MY Wellness.  Each day, I put items on the schedule that support this value and place all other demands, expectations, and obligations around it.  Balls are going to drop.  This time, it won’t be me.   

2.  My calendar has blank spots.  Just because I can say yes to something on the weekends, doesn’t mean that I should.  Sleeping in, cooking healthy food, talking with people that I love, and taking my time at the gym all have their rightful spot in my life today.  Sure, it sounds like I am still “doing”, but the pace isn’t harried or forced.  I experience peace and contentment.  It is not a check on my To-do list.

3.  I eat food that I have to cook.  Recently, I found myself very anxious in the evening.  With all of this “extra” time on my hands, I was restless and would wind up in the kitchen looking for something accessible to munch on.  This would turn into making poor choices and eventually getting down on myself.  I also realized that I wasn’t respecting the process of what it takes to harvest, ship, purchase, cook, and consume healthy food.  Therefore, I connected with individuals in my community that support a Plant-Based Whole Food way of life.  The process of chopping vegetables clears my mind and the end result nourishes my soul.  Sharing recipes and experiences connects me to a healthy tribe and makes me feel settled.

Honestly, There is never a good time to downshift.  You will most likely feel guilty and the people around you will get annoyed.  Things are never going to slow down.  The break is never going to come.  The light is not at the end of the tunnel.  No amount of better preparation or organization will keep the pieces from coming…faster.  The world will continue to take as long as you are offering.  Every time you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to another.  You can’t have it all.  What are you sacrificing… and is it worth it? Only you can make the change.

 

Bio picAlicja Carter, MHR, LADC, BHWC, has been working in the behavioral health and addiction treatment field for over ten years.  She is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Wellness Coordinator/Coach for Gateway to Prevention and Recovery in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  Alicja is passionate about pursuing a well life and collaborating with others for the purpose of stimulating positive change in her community.

 

Top of the List

I don’t know about you but many of the expectations I have placed on myself are unrealistic.  They did not take into account an injured knee, an emotional job, or the fact that cleaning ANY dishes will be the straw that breaks this camel’s back.  Also, my judgments have lacked perspective.  I’ve come to conclusions about myself without seeing the big picture.

Specifically, I have always had an eye for what was “wrong” and seemed to skim over the multitude of good deeds and characteristics that I shared with the world every day.  These unrealistic expectations and harsh judgments lead me to feel helpless and “not good enough.”  I might as well have been dodging hammer fist punches while walking a tight rope!

My solution?  Grind a little harder.  Make a better plan.  Be more organized.  Say it in a new way.  Really commit.  Sound familiar?  Now, this extreme way of living required relief.  Yet, a nice cup of tea and yoga session did not do the trick.  No, only a Netflix binge, bottle of wine and package of Oreos relieved the worrisome pressure in my chest.  Yikes, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel, but unfortunately it was a train.

After numerous consequences to my mind, body, spirit, relationships, and career, I reluctantly surrendered to the fact that my way was just not working.  To me, this was the toughest blow of all…especially for a person whose main goals had always been to “do well” and “fix it.”  I felt deflated, yet strangely grounded…humbled.  I woke up each day and took a good, honest look at myself.  I wrote in my journal and read my own words.  I cried…a lot…and considered what I actually wanted out of life.   How did I want to exist in this world?  Why did I even want to exist?

Hmmm, I had never asked myself these questions.  How interesting that my whole life I had frantically and ferociously tried to meet and live up to expectations and judgments that weren’t even mine.  If you are nodding along to my words, then we can take comfort in the fact that we are not alone.

Okay, let’s take a collective breath.  We have proved time and time again that we possess creativity, compassion, problem solving skills, and a killer work ethic.  We are not lacking in any way.  Our efforts have simply been divided, interrupted, and unfocused.  We need to take time to consider our values…what is most important to us above anything else…Maybe we step out and put our own well-being at the top of that list.

 

Bio picAlicja Carter, MHR, LADC, BHWC, has been working in the behavioral health and addiction treatment field for over ten years.  She is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Wellness Coordinator/Coach for Gateway to Prevention and Recovery in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  Alicja is passionate about pursuing a well life and collaborating with others for the purpose of stimulating positive change in her community.