Sharing the lessons along the way…

Archive for the ‘Fear’ Category

Happy New Year!

I have written three different posts in the past week and none of them found its way onto my blog.  I didn’t post them because they were superficial and not at all where I am.  In between, something in life would happen to remind me of who I am, and where I am right now, so now you get what’s real.

The truth is, publishing a book about a challenging time in your life will stir up some crap.  The crap it stirs may not be what you think.  I am not traveling back in time revisiting emotions but I am again challenged to consider what I want to create in my future.

A future that, in that period of time about which the book is based, I wasn’t sure I would even have.  While I was busy these last few years making a difference in whatever time I had, I failed to realize that there may just be much more time than I had considered.  I am pretty sure on some level, I thought I was cheating the universe with each year that passed allowing me to do so.

I constantly remind myself that it was simply a colossal detour, it is in the past, not in my present or future.  Clearly, I have moved forward from it in action and in rational mind, but emotion often is more difficult to bring forward.

I am not just that young woman who became ill and homeless.  I am a competent and capable professional with more capacity to influence change than I probably ever will realize in my lifetime.  I am both that young woman and that middle-aged woman all rolled into one.

So now, the questions I have for myself include “How do I want to spend my time?”  “Where will I make the most impact?”  “Am I where I need to be to do that?”  “Is what I am already doing enough?”  “Can I broaden that scope?”  “What do I need to do to make whatever those answers are a reality?”

Honestly, I am not sure it matters how much time any of us have.  I think it matters more how we spend that time.  For me, it also matters whether or not my time is spent doing something that answers those very questions.  What I am doing is wonderful and I love it, but there is a gnawing somewhere inside that tells me that I can be and can do more.  More what and more how will have to unfold as I become clearer on what those mean.

I have a feeling 2018 has a lot in store.




Dinosaurs and Zebras


Earlier today, I watched a dinosaur and then took a ride on a zebra.

It was my toddler sister’s first movie at the theater and this auntie was invited along.  The Good Dinosaur might be for the little ones, but I feel certain that the grown-ups in the audience were the only ones bawling their eyes out.

It was a movie about family, loss, friendship, getting through fear (and not getting rid of it) and letting someone go so that they can follow their own path to happiness knowing we have to follow our own.

Heavy, right?  It was for me.  It has been a while since I have seen a “kids” movie, and I had forgotten how they tend to do that for adults.  I didn’t get that at all from the previews Pixar!!

There were intense messages throughout that my toddler sister couldn’t have possibly comprehended—just yet anyway.  She was a champ making it through the entire movie!

Afterwards, we rode a zebra through the mall, which was a wonderful change of pace.

Dinosaurs and Zebras make for a full Saturday if you ask me.  What have you done today?

Day 28 and totally recommend the movie if you are in need of a good cry!



Stand Tall

stand tall

Unless you live in a bubble, it is hard not to avoid attempts to make some sense of the world around us.

We are inundated with so much each day and with so many things that simply evade logical or rational explanations.

Not everything in this life makes sense.  Not everything that happens in this life is fair.  But we can certainly grow and learn from all of it in one way or another.

What is more important than making sense of things that make no sense, however, is what happens next.

What we choose to do or not to do after we hear of something tragic, experience something traumatic, or simply experience consequences of our actions is what matters the most.

Experiences and events around us change us.  How we move forward with those changes determine whether the change is ultimately positive or negative.

Today I imagine that the people of Paris are feeling much like we did on 9/11.  I remember being so full of fear.  I remember fear dictating just about everything for many months, in fact, so my heart goes out to all of us as we relive our 9/11 experience along with the people of France today.

Out of that trauma and fear for me came great changes.  Shortly after, I moved to be closer to family and I had a clearer idea of what was truly important in my life.  I have spent a great deal of effort in my life to move farther away from fear and closer to love since then.

Stand tall, remember there is still love even when there is so much fear in the forefront today.

Day 14 sending love to all.



tea bag love

What Would Duke Do?

Several weeks back, no matter where I was turning, there was a barrier.  Some of the barriers were biting and hurtful.  I couldn’t help but think that if Duke were here, I would feel better and figure out how best to move over, through, above or around the barriers.

I asked myself daily WWDD?  The answer was always that he would be love.  He would love so much that no one around him could feel anything other than special.  Everyone would feel his/her ability to rise to any occasion.  He would remind me that hurtful, biting, stinging things thrown in my direction were merely evidence that someone needed some extra love sent their way.

His love for me would then allow me to have the strength to do just that—to be love.

Sometimes it doesn’t come as easily as believing in rainbows.  Fear and ego serves no real purpose on the mission.  The mission to be the change essentially is to be love and fear and ego only serve to block the way forward.

buddha dog

I haven’t yet let go of the notion that if Duke were sleeping in the next room because he was my center of gravity.  He was my go-to guru on all things.

He could always figure out some magical dog antic way to make me let go of whatever it was I was holding onto so tightly.

Since June, I have actually had to find it and maintain it on my own.  He taught me how to do it independent of him, after all.  It just isn’t always that easy.

Duke would certainly always be love and I will do my best to follow his lead.

Day 12 and really happy to be back in the routine of writing everyday!  Go Team Pepper 2015!


Down and Dirty Truth?


The concept of mindfulness has become quite the buzzword in the last decade in both professional, spiritual, and self-help verbiage.  I am not sure whether it has become overused as a concept, but I feel certain it is not used enough in our day-to-day lives.  I don’t mean the word itself.  I mean the practice of it.  Our lives are too busy and we feel too hurried most of the time.

The way I see it, mindfulness is a combination of skill sets.  There are a variety of skills (for lack of another word) necessary to practice it, and most of those we have heard of, but find ourselves struggling with in our quest for genuine mindfulness.

One of the first things required is personal awareness.  This means that we have awareness of our hopes, our fears, our triggers, our thought patterns, our feelings, our bodies, our needs, our limitations and whatever else that makes us an individual.

While many of us think we are fully aware of these things, we often don’t take into account those programmed behavioral patterns and defense mechanisms that automatically create a reaction in response to them.  These triggers trip us up, cause conflict with others, create defensiveness and generate all around ick in our lives.  We create these dramas repeatedly because we don’t fully believe we are creating them or contributing to them.

Until we can have enough awareness and enough honesty with ourselves (dropping our defensiveness and denial that we are indeed humans that are imperfect), we aren’t going to be able to see these dramas unfold as part of our pattern of relating.  Instead, we perpetuate the dramas over and over again.

I watch myself create and take part in others’ dramas the most when I am not taking care of my basic needs of self-care.  Chronic, progressive illness aside, we are all going to find ourselves doing this at home, at work, at the grocery store, in the parking lot, etc. if we aren’t taking care of those needs.

In addition to down and dirty honesty with ourselves and awareness of our patterns, we aren’t likely to have mindfulness.  We also aren’t likely to respond and not react either, which definitely requires some degree of mindfulness.

If you look up definitions of mindfulness, you will find a variety of different versions of the same basic concept (in addition to hundreds of pages of people advertising they can teach you how for a fee).  Mindfulness is being aware, accepting, and non-judgmental about what we are seeing about ourselves.  It is being aware of what we are thinking, feeling and experiencing in our bodies, in our environments and everywhere.

I often feel the potential for reacting on a physical level first before I even realize there was a trigger.  Viscerally, I feel nauseated, tearful and angry at the same time, and know that something is definitely not ok with the interaction or environment I am experiencing.  I stop to search my memories for things that might be similar to see if it is my stuff or not first, so that I know better whether I am triggered and reacting to an experience or if it truly is something going on right now.

When we practice mindfulness, we are not reacting to the past.  We might be triggered in the present moment to react, but we stop short of that and mindfully process our experience so that we can respond in a thoughtful and considerate way that is actually appropriate to the situation at hand.  Because mindfulness is a practice, we are practicing it so that we can get better at it.

Uh oh…BIG Uh oh

My morning was almost like any other Saturday morning.  There was coffee, a dog walk, and a shower before heading over to my friend’s house to help with the cutest little girl in the land’s second birthday party.

I felt a bit sleep deprived, but generally good.  My legs felt stable, and I even walked the block with my walker over to help.

As people arrived, I visited out in the yard with them, colored with the birthday girl at the little table, held the cutest little boy in the land, and all the while couldn’t quite identify what didn’t feel quite right with my legs.

Until I was no longer in full command of my left foot or leg, so my balance was off.  I sat down in a chair and stayed there until I could figure out how I would make my way inside making a little of an effort as possible.  My walker was parked in the car port, and try as I might, I was unable to telepathically transport it to me in the yard.

My secret hope was that if I sat there long enough in one spot,  my left leg would work as it was supposed to again.

The conversations around me were interesting, so I was engaged in them enough to focus less on what seemed to be a problem.  I got up from my chair to give a couple of hugs to some early leavers and noted I had no real balance without leaning on something.

It was time for me to make my way inside, as unnoticed as possible, to find a seat.  While I wanted to continue chatting outside, I kept wanting to get up to chat with folks I hadn’t seen in a while who were seated or standing too far away, but couldn’t.

I could feel the tears welling up and I was starting to use a great deal of energy trying not to freak out, so I had to move myself away from the party in case I was unsuccessful.

As I made my way inside, I had trouble lifting up the left foot high enough off the ground to walk over towels in the Florida room, nearly tripping myself up on them.  A burst of adrenaline followed the near fall, which seemed to help get me back in the house safely.  As the adrenaline slowed, the tears wanted to fall even more.

My goal was to get inside so that I could sit quietly and figure out how to shift my thoughts about my left leg not working right.  But there were people inside, so I sat down and listened to someone sharing their woes of marriage and motherhood as a distraction to the tears.

After getting home from the party, the tears fell.  Continuing into the following day, the tears and freaking out continued.  Each task I attempted to complete was exhausting because the left leg simply would not cooperate at all.  While it improved with rest and medication Sunday, I undid all of that within an hour by attempting to do laundry and tend to the dogs’ needs.

It steadily improved as the days progressed.  I grew fonder of my walker.  I grew less fond of the freaking out and flashing back to the early days of the illness, however.  I am not sure all of that has to be necessary next time I overdo it.

I do not know if there was one incident of overdoing it, or an accumulation of months of overdoing it, but I do know I need to keep better track of the types of activities I am doing, energies being expended doing them, and at least do my best to decrease the chances of this sort of thing happening again in the future.




Kitt O'Malley

Bipolar Writer and Mental Health Advocate


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