Healing In Nature

If I could, I would love getting paid to lay in bed with a book all day. We often joke in my house that in a past life I was either an old baron who had every whim catered to, or I was a dutiful, yet lazy dog. There was a time those comparisons bothered me, but the proof is definitely in the pudding. All I ever want to do is read, eat cereal and sleep – not the best way to go about life all the time, but it’s who I am.

On the other side of the coin is my partner: all tree climbing, hiking, swimming, and dirt. Where I’m a happy (and clean) bookworm, he is a wild man, content to spend his days exploring caves and playing in the water. We are the poster children for opposites attracting. I have a background in sports and exploration, thanks to some cool opportunities, and he isn’t exactly Donnie from The Wild Thornberries ( throwback!), but we still had to meet in the middle when it comes to the great – and mosquito-y- outdoors. Thankfully, that middle ground means I get to experience the wonder of California through the eyes of someone who sees magic in every pond and dusty path.

 

Our walks have given me a chance to unwind, to decompress from the pressure of trying to find myself in words. It might sound counter-intuitive to be apart from what I love, as reading and writing are what give me a sense of myself, but I’ve begun to see how much weight that love packs onto my brain. Being in nature, next to my wily companion, I can breathe out and release all the information I’ve hoarded unnecessarily and bring back in a little relaxation. There’s no pressure in nature, no over-thinking, no need for wit; it’s as simple as one step forward, or back, or up.  Sometimes what we love to do can box us up in ourselves, keeping us from experiencing growth in new challenges. Out in nature I get to be a different kind of me, one that isn’t fighting to be right or safe. Instead, I get to follow the lead of someone I trust, and that is a beautiful thing.

Mixed in with the relaxation, between naps and chapters, is the wondrous clarity I get out in the wild. Yes, it is important to do what you love, to seek knowledge, to lay about under a warm blanket with some tea, but what about the feel of the wind on your scalp? There are many types of freedom, none better than the rest, but I can now (somewhat begrudgingly) admit that the freedom I get beside a stream is almost as good as Tolkien. It feels a little bit like healing.

So, I encourage you to get outside wherever you can, however you can, to get a respite from the oftentimes break-neck flow of life. Not every city is near the woods like mine, but even a little break outside, away from work, or the TV or those pesky family members can do wonders. You might just find you like it.

 

 

 

Do These 10 Things Before Your Next Big Move To Avoid A Monster Meltdown

Yesterday I officially became a Californian. Leaving the midwest behind was that bittersweet mixture of anxiety, elation and hope for the future I used to experience right before taking a plunge into a new body of water. When you can’t see the bottom it’s easy to imagine monsters slithering about the sides, waiting to gobble you up. Instead, I would discover (after dipping my toes in five times) there was nothing so dangerous to fear that I couldn’t survive.

Few experiences can spark an anxiety attack like moving away from everyone you know to an unfamiliar place. Hell, even knowing the place and what to expect can still be frightening! Today I want to share with you the list that aided me in this crazy transition. I found that when I was looking for advice online most lists were missing the human aspect – how to take care of yourself mentally and how to curb the understandable stomach knots that form.

Transitions for survivors, or those with depression or anxiety, can be truly painful. As I learn more about the ways trauma re-shaped my mind, I’ve discovered an obsession with control and order. In response to having control stripped from me, I now itch for ways to box up that which could mess with my flow. The unknown world at large with all the possibilities for chaos just scared me silly!

Now, I’m on the path of confronting my fears. A huge part of my healing journey has been the pursuit of chill. Going with the flow. Trusting those who have earned my confidence to help me take care of myself. And now, diving into waters I’ve been dreaming of exploring. So, this list is what has helped me with the dive, beyond most of the practical stuff you might read on other sites. Whether you’re going across the country, or a state nextdoor, these things could make it much easier on your mind.

Please let me know in the comments what you do to prepare yourself for big changes!

1. Secure a place to live (Airbnb, apartment, house, friend’s couch)

I was able to go to bed sooooo much easier in Kansas with the knowledge we had a place to stay once we were in California. This takes time and money, but it’s worth it. You want to make sure you’ve secured a safe place to rest, where you can decompress after that trip. Finding housing after the fact is a freakout waiting to happen. If securing a rental isn’t doable from your current home, you can buy a little time by utilizing an extended stay hotel or Airbnb. Either way, try to get your stay squared away early.

2. Eat your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant

Letting go of the familiar is hard, but it’s made more difficult if you don’t give it a proper goodbye. Mark and I ate at our favorite restaurants before we left so that we could move forward without regrets. We had ramen at our favorite noodle spot, po’boys, thai and burgers in the week leading up to the move, because we didn’t want any kind of regret attached to something positive. For me, regret is like a fog that distorts the present. You can’t enjoy the view fully through the haze.

3. Make sure your license and passport aren’t about to expire

Practical and also stress reducing. You’ll have to update your license for your new residence, however if you’re traveling with a license or passport that is about to expire you will be dealing with an unnecessary headache. There are extra fees when it’s updated late that should be going towards rent and food. Make sure everything is up-to-date before you leave, to buy yourself more time to get it all switched over.

4. Try something you always talked about doing in your current home

Here’s where regret seeps in for me. There was a cute little bar Mark and I kept talking about trying out. We’ll go next weekend was the usual response when we drove by. By the time we were finally ready to go? Closed permanently! We both groaned. In this case there wasn’t much we could do, but I still wish we’d tried it before the owner moved to a bigger city.

Try things before you go – karaoke, a bookstore, a concert, a museum, any place you’ve been putting off. I think this is the best way to know for sure whether or not you were missing out on something. Letting go will be that much easier.

5. Say goodbye to the people you love

You gotta. I know it hurts and you don’t want to start with the water works, but don’t take off without giving your people time to process seeing you go. They need to be able to let you leave just as much you need to be able to move forward. We took our time seeing our families and friends, but it still didn’t feel like enough. I can’t imagine my mental state if we hadn’t made time for it at all.

6. Create an on-the-go self-care plan

This one is a lifesaver! I’ve said it before, but self-care is the most important thing you do for yourself. Everything on this list is self-care! Why wouldn’t I demand you continue the love fest on the road? Before we left, I rounded up some of my favorite “quick fixes”: a lavender bath soak for the hotels, rose water for my hair and face, a relaxing playlist for when I wasn’t driving, my favorite snacks (veggie straws), my favorite blanket, relaxing movies and lots of clean underwear. We were on the road for four days, but having things that eased my mind naturally eased tension in my body. All I ask is that you not skip out on doing what you need to be happy along the way. You deserve a good trip!

7. Identify medical professionals in your new area

This might be the most difficult step on the list. When you’re not in the area and don’t have anyone to ask for recommendations it can feel hopeless. However, if you sit down for a few hours and take your time you should be able to round up a few names. I usually use these search terms: “[town name] + therapists” to get started. Local hospitals can provide information about professionals associated with their system of searching isn’t planning out. This one can take time, so don’t feel obligated to get it done before you leave. Having it on your to-do list for when you arrive is good as well.

8. Think about what kinds of groups you would like to join

Yep, you’re gonna have to make some friends. The worst thing to do when you move is to isolate yourself. How are you going to learn what you like about the place without locals? Now, not everyone is safe -that’s a sad reality – so it’s ok to be picky. Before we left, I researched women’s groups in the area, yoga studios, political groups, book clubs and classes so that I had options to meet new people. I’ll go to each, try them out, then move forward with the ones that made me feel welcome, and, most importantly, safe.

9. Work out a realistic fail-safe

I promise I’m not including this to scare you or talk you out if this big change; on the contrary, I want you to go for it! Since I’ve been using the swimming analogy, think of it like this: you’re most likely not going to jump into a pool without knowing how to swim, but if you fall in there are lifeguards around to save you. My dad regularly had to jump into pools and the ocean to save my brother, because he didn’t understand his limitations. Life happens. We think we’ve got a hold of things, then sometimes we’re out of our depth. Mark and I agreed if this town doesn’t work out, we’ll stay long enough to save up and leave for the next town. If you have to move back home? It’s ok. Your safety and mental health are more important than what anyone else thinks. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

10. Breathe. Then breathe again.

You can do it. If I can do it, with all my flaws and anxiousness, you can, too. I think you’ve survived time and time again. There have been dark days, but then you made it through to the light. Pull strength from the truth that you can make it, then breathe over and over and over again until you arrive at your next adventure. If we’re going to be in this world, we’re going to live it well.

Good luck, my friends!

How To Survive Comic Con Like a Boss

The time for nerds to reign supreme has come! Out of the shadows and into the streets, like the plague we are, the smell of sweet fandom is everywhere now that it’s Sandiego Comic Con season. I went to my first San Diego Comic-Con in 2013 and the experience was mind-blowing. My brother and I weaved through the crowds, swooping up free stuff like kids or feral wolves. We took part in a Viking competition – and almost won! – and tried a zip line. I have yet to go so wild in public since.

In the mix of all the joy that comes with letting your geek flag fly while surrounded by happy people in Deadpool onesies, it is so imperative to learn ways to navigate safely. Today we’re going to break down what you should be doing while you let loose at the Con, or any event that draws a large, jubilant crowd. Whether it be a huge fan event like Comic-Con, a concert, or a carnival, these tips are sure to keep you safe and happy. Planning for outings of this magnitude can do a number on those of us with anxiety, so continue reading to find out how to prepare yourself for the event!

Debate GIF

Take care of your body

This means sleep, food, a safe shelter, AND watching out for yourself while you’re out and about. You don’t have to carry a weapon or start training in jiu jitsu, just make time to figure out a shuttle service, exits, and when things end. A common misconception out there is all nerds are nice. If you’ve spent any time in the comment sections of i09, CBR or Youtube, you’ll know this to be false. Bad people exist everywhere, just like good people, so please take care of yourself. Taking time to eat and stop to rest will keep you from crashing like a ton of bricks before you’re ready to stop and will keep you alert enough to monitor your surroundings.

Go with someone you trust

I debated putting this point first, because it has such a huge affect on your experience and how you approach it. I do not advocate for going to events of this magnitude alone, as it is so easy to get overwhelmed in the crowd. Plus, who is going to take pictures of you with celebrities or cosplayers? More importantly, who is going to have your back? We’ve all got friends we love to be around, who make us laugh or think deeply, however a person you trust is much more important. Go with someone you mesh with, who cares for you enough to say no to a party with strangers covered in red flags, or who knows when to say yes to one more lap around the booths. Liking someone and trusting someone are two different things, so be sure to weigh your options. You don’t have to be fans of all the same things – in fact, I’ve found it’s better when you’re not.

Allot for time

Rome wasn’t built in a day and fandom won’t be fed in an hour! When I say this place is big, I mean HUGE. There are events outside, events inside, games, food, booths, panels, everything! It’s truly a wonderland. That might sound daunting, but if you go into it knowing you’re going to have your hands full you can begin to plan. Sit down with your buddy or buddies before you head out for the day to figure out how many hours you want to stay and what you would like to see knowing that it is ok for those plans to change. There’s no doubt you’ll want to do other things once you’re there, which is why it’s important to set aside time for your group to explore. You’ve got to be flexible if you want to enjoy the experience. The website – like most events of this magnitude – provides a scheduling breakdown to help folks navigate safely, which you can view here.

Celebration GIF

That’s it for now, kids! Just remember to be patient with yourself, take your time, and don’t get wrapped up in looking cool. No one looks cool at these, which is part of the magic. Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever gone to a con in another city or if you’re in San Diego now!