But despite my efforts in self-care, I still struggle to not let anxiety and fear plague my mind.
After being very sick as a child, I've struggled with anxiety about my health. When I get sick (no matter how minor a cough, no matter how inconsequential a sore throat)...I worry I won't ever be well again.
My nine-year old self, who was once left with little hope of recovery, crawls out into the Austin sunlight. She remembers those days of visiting doctor after doctor, she remembers those nights of resting in a too-big hospital bed; she still feels the pinprick of those needles that went into her thigh, day after day.
As hard as I try to tell this little girl that things are different now...that I'm healthy...she has a hard time believing what for so long she thought could never be true.
So while battling this minor cold, I've also been battling a few inner demons.
Isn't it amazing how long-lasting those early memories of childhood can be? Both good and bad, my memories come back to life. And because they are memories, I find that they shift and change as I grow older, as my experience broadens.
As a writer, I have a fondness for this kind of drama, and I spend far too much time creating outlandish stories about my own life. Stories that are often too wonderful or too terrible to come true. This past week, my stories were all about sickness...about having to return to that same place I spent so many years in.
But as I talked with Mandy, I remembered how much power our minds possess. We have the power to create a narrative and then to watch our emotions fall prey to that storyline. So after meeting with my therapist, I decided that I was going to shift my focus. Instead of telling nightmares, I was going to tell stories where Monet walks in happiness (with a few trials along the way).
I could imagine myself being sick , but now I needed to add in a caring husband, a group of loving friends, and a grace to withstand a trial.
So as of this afternoon, the stories have shifted. Instead of feeling desperation, I'm starting to feel peace.
I don't know all of the struggles (real or imagined) that we are facing. But I do know we all have days and nights that feel dark and deep. I know that our minds can take us to places we don't want to go....places we don't need to go. So I encourage you to reach out to others when you feel those anxious thoughts surround you. I encourage you to speak beauty and hope into your life...not fear and anxiety.
Make a loaf of bread....invite your friend out for coffee...take long naps with a stuffed animal or your best friend curled at your side.
The words that we here are meaningful. The words that you leave me, week after week, have brought me joy. Let us celebrate the power of our minds and the good they can create in our world.
The bread that I'm sharing with you today is from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads. The book is an amazing resource, and the recipes are worth your time. Instead of sharing the recipe here, I encourage you to check this book out at the library. The process is time-consuming, but the result is superb. His recipes produce some of the best bread I've ever tasted...and after a week of panic attacks and a nasty cold, I need some good bread.
Anecdotes and Apple Cores