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Go With The Ebb and Flow

As someone who is easily bored and fears complacency, I also have a strong fear of change—which is a dichotomy in and of itself. To be clear, if I initiate the change—I’m cool. But if something changes dues to natural evolution or decisions made by someone else, I freak out a little. I realize it is largely due to my anxiety—but it actually affects me physically---I get knots in my stomach, I lose sleep, and I have a general feeling of unease that’s palpable and radiates off of me, making me a little “challenging” to be around.

For the past six months I’ve felt like everything in my world is up in the air. And, although I try to stay positive and upbeat about the little curve balls life throws me (and everyone else), I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult. First, my body hasn’t felt like my own since my accident in August. It doesn’t move the way I want, it sure doesn’t look the way I want right now, and I’ve lost a lot of motivation as a result. Where I used to love to go run, I now find it harder to focus. Where I used to love to ride outside, I’m now scared and tense on my bike. Where I used to feel so strong from strength training, I now can’t lift as much as I used to and it’s frustrating. The people I thought would be there to listen or push me through it either don’t get it, are too busy with their own issues, or don’t live here—my family and best friends are a couple of plane rides away. It’s been tough, and scary…..and honestly a little lonely.

Next, I made some pretty big decisions over the past six months that included leaving a stable corporate job to return to freelance and fitness. I don’t regret it—in fact I’m certain it was the right move because I’m busier than ever. But there’s this overwhelming fear of whether I’m really handling it all—or if I’m doing everything but nothing well. Some days I feel like I’m 100% on top of my game—and others I feel like a complete fraud. Some days I feel strong enough to take on the world, and others like I want to crawl into a hole and hide for a month. Thoughts of, “Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Do I have what it takes to continue to do the things I want to do? Do I still want to? Can I pick myself up and start again….and again?” These are the things that run through my brain on repeat.

Maybe it’s Mercury in retrograde, but I know a lot of people struggling with similar issues right now. Fortunately for me, it doesn’t happen that often—these have been extenuating circumstances for sure. But lately it’s been a bit all consuming---so I did what I always do when things start to feel too heavy to handle---I slammed the breaks hard, and then I hit reset. One of my favorite ways to reset is to spend time with the people who make me feel loved and like I am enough. So I went home to Tennessee last week to spend time with my family and my best friend of 40 years. No one gets me like these people do and I feel safe, relaxed and secure in myself. My other no-fail solution is to pack up and head to the beach—which I did with my husband and son immediately upon my return to Texas last weekend.

I could spend hours walking on the beach—and I usually do. There is something about the way that the tide ebbs and flows that takes my anxiety from a 10 to a 1. It reminds me that life’s rhythm is natural and although it may seem random, there is actually some order to it. When the tide flows it might wash away sand castles (or sweep your favorite sunnies out to sea) but when it ebbs it leaves behind shells, sand dollars and other naturally beautiful treasures. It helps me to remember that when life knocks you down, there is usually something good for you to find in what’s left behind---even if you have to search a little. And the vastness of the ocean and sky make me realize that my place in the universe is pretty small and, in the grand scheme of things, so are my problems.

One of my favorite spots at the beach is an area where rocks form a jetty that juts out into the water. On one side, the waves crash relentlessly against them, spewing foam angrily in the air, only to return and do it over and over again. On the other side, the water is calm, and swirls in and around the rocks with no fanfare--it just flows. The juxtaposition of this view always reminds me that trying the same thing again and again, banging my head against the same wall and expecting different results, isn’t going to work. Instead it’s about adapting, moving in, with, and around the obstacles life gives us in order to either find your path again--- or make a new one.

Hitting reset is necessary in life every once in a while. It gives you a fresh perspective on the bigger picture and lets you see clearly the people and situations around you—and maybe even see hard truths you’ve been avoiding by throwing yourself against the rocks over and over again trying to force things instead of going with the ebb and flow.

One of my favorite books, and one I give to special people in my life is “A Gift From the Sea.” Every time I read it, it speaks to me in a different way depending on my stage of life, but one of my favorite passages remains this:

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”