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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Do You Have a Ritual Or Place To Go To Which Will Unfailingly Lift You Out of the Blues?

Self-love is an important part of getting back to doing what means most to you, and having a ritual you enjoy indulging in when the going gets rough is one of the finest ways to give back to yourself. I’m not saying that the ritual has to work permanently, and in fact, chances are it won’t. The ritual or place to go may change with time, too. But it can provide a temporary respite from a storm which, if left to it’s own devices, could turn into a hurricane. The idea is that you’ve planned in advance a place and/or a thing to do that will serve as your retreat. Don’t get me wrong. There are going to be times when you get caught in the hurricane thrown by life, no matter what, and getting out is impossible. Sometimes (like when you’re at work & can’t leave, or have a young child & escape is simply not an option), you have no choice but to fight on through the wind & the rain. Sometimes you’ll survive with barely a scrap on you, sometimes you’ll survive with nothing left but the shirt on your back. But for today, I’m talking about those storms that there’s no point in driving through, and those times where you actually have a choice as to whether or not you have to drive through them, and can turn around in the other direction. Or, at the very least, you can delay the drive for awhile, making a pit stop. Having such a ritual in place for those times is imperative. It’s a fail-safe when you feel like you’re a pot about to boil over, or you have boiled over & need to just cool the hell down completely, before clean-up can even begin.

For me, personally, going to a movie & either dinner or lunch alone is this respite. I’m lucky enough to live literally around a couple of corners from a huge outdoor “mall”, with several decent restaurants; a big movie theater that’s been built within the last decade, and is therefore very comfortable & state-of-the-art; a few little clothing or specialty shops; a very yummy ice cream store; a mom-and-pop coffee & mini- dessert shop; and a beautiful salon that offers the works- pedicures, manicures, day spa treatments, massages & all kinds of hair-care services. Unless it’s extremely late at night, I can go to this respite center of mine & be assured some place will be open, able to provide me some time to think. If you live alone, such a place so close to home might not be so necessary, as your home itself is then (I would hope!) a quiet enough place of solace to be in. But if you don’t live alone, or if your home is a barebones noisy hellhole, you need another tidbit of space you call your second home in times of trouble. I feel so strongly about this that I believe you should set aside some emergency money, to have a place like this to go to. Literally a respite fund, what you can allot depends on your salary & circumstances, but it’s vital to have a little bit set aside for yourself. How often you can afford to do this, I know, will also depend on personal circumstances. But try never to let more than a month go by without replacing those funds, if you’ve used them up on your last retreat. This isn’t a full-on vacation we‘re talking about, either (unless you’re incredibly wealthy & time is of no object!)

I’ve known a few friends that literally go to the nicest hotel they can for the night, simply to have a clean place to sleep where they can escape from their spouse or roommate for a time. This place, obviously, can’t be too far from home. It should preferably be some place that you can go nearly any hour of the day or evening. Therefore, a park or a particular walking path isn‘t often the respite I‘d refer you to, unless you’re using it during the daytime & it’s completely safe. And safety needs to be a priority, because this a place you will want to turn to even when you’re really upset or sad- and that means you might not be in the best frame of mind (please always put your safety first!) A bar, then, especially if you know you will drink if presented with the opportunity, may not be your best bet. If, however, you can nurse a drink or two with water or a soda in between each imbibing, and the bar is to your liking otherwise, okay, I’ll give in. If you drive, though, PLEASE do not drive if you are at all under the influence. Leave enough time after you have an alcoholic drink (and make two drinks your maximum, period), drink a full glass of water or a soda in between drinks, have a little something to eat nearby or at the bar, and calm yourself down before you even think about getting behind the wheel again. Try to find a place without lots of loud music, people that’ll be hitting on you, where you’ll be elbowed all night in a crowd (hardly a mood-lifter), or with a less-than-friendly staff in place. Even if you do nothing but blankly stare at whatever sports game might be on the TV for a couple of hours, not having the person that is on your current negative emotional radar around is better than staying & letting their energy infuse your psyche. I’m telling you to have this respite set aside & to use it even if (however rarely) it’s your fault that the argument or whatever fallout occurred. Once you’ve said the nasty words, or if more violently-inclined, thrown the punch, you can’t take it back. Better to walk away, cool off, get your head together, and come back later. You may owe the other person an apology already, and if all they’ll do at the moment is pick on you instead of accepting it easily, you need to be prepared not to add more propane to the already-overflowing tank.

I really do suggest that the other person NOT know where your place of respite is. If they find out where it is, odds are you’ll have to find another place. This place needs to be a haven for you- and that means your significant other (or whoever it is that pushes your buttons too many times in a row frequently) won’t show up there to get you even more unhinged. Having a cell phone or an ability to make a phone call at the place of business isn’t something you neglect, though. You can always turn the phone ringer off, or just ignore the person if they’re irking you. But don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation on purpose- and being without a phone, or access to phone, is incredibly dangerous.

I didn’t start having this respite for myself this until I was in my thirties. And I’m really sorry that I didn’t utilize this place of mine until then. I would’ve saved myself a lot of misery, money & bad decisions in the long run. Locking yourself in the bedroom doesn’t count! You have to physically get yourself off of the offending premises for a time. Maybe another person isn’t even involved. You may just have gotten bad news over the phone, and you feel like the walls are closing in on you. However briefly, get away from those walls. If it’s the dollar-fifty movie theater in town that you go to, and you’re watching a movie you’ve already seen, so be it, as long as the calming-down theme works. Spending a couple of hours in a darkened movie theater by yourself, w/ no one interrupting you, no one raking the coals of your fire again, can be incredibly soothing. I know so many people who refuse to go to a movie or out to eat by themselves, because they don’t want to appear to be a social outcast or feel self-conscious. If you feel that way, trust me, you are taking yourself too seriously. Chances are, no one is even looking at you, you definitely are not the only one to have ever gone to a movie or out to eat alone, and even if people are looking at you, odds are, they’re not judging you. Get over it, because even if they are judging you- that’s on them! This is not the rushed-at-lunch-hour-fast-food-eat-by-yourself-in-the-car break I’m talking about, either. I’m talking about going to a place that serves food you really like, preferably somewhere that you can sit quietly (without the interruptions or abrasive noises of kids, loud drunks or huge throngs of people) & maybe get a glass of your favorite wine, beer or spirit. Where time is not an issue.

You may get into a conversation w/ a nice waitress or bartender, which could be good for you. A stranger can often be nicer to you, and maybe even provide a refreshing breath of change in some other way, that you desperately need to feel, see & hear. Trust me, if such is the case, the universe has done this for a reason. And trust the universe to provide you w/ the people, situations & places you need at all times. What seems like the hundredth hellish argument your roommate started may be the catalyst to help you see that it’s time to move out your own. A stranger may comment on how pretty you are in passing, making you realize that a spouse’s cruel & repeated advisement that your butt is too big is not worth putting up with anymore. A “chance” talk with a complimentary businessperson may be the boost that you need to end employment with a company that takes advantage of you too often. Never disregard things that happen during your respite. They can provide the most important contacts, assessments & yieldings that you’ll ever gain in your life.

Staying out all night long without even making a phone call to who you’ve left behind isn’t necessarily the best thing to do. After you’ve cooled enough to at least tell whomever you left behind that you are safe, that you’ll be coming home in the morning (or after work tomorrow, whatever the case may be), do so. Don’t get a missing-persons case started in your honor, if you can avoid it! If you intend to go to a hotel by yourself for the night in advance, you don’t have to tell the other person that specifically, but I would suggest you advise them in advance you won’t be back that night. If they follow you (not unheard of), drive to the police station nearby or some other extremely busy & safe place- do not keeping driving to your sanctuary! Even if the other person’s not a danger to you, don’t give them easy access to your safe place‘s location.

A friend’s or family member’s home can be an okay place to go, and is perhaps better than nothing, but I wouldn’t really recommend it, personally. Maybe you have an especially terrific mother or father or aunt that you can go to at any hour, and they’ll be okay with it, without fail be a comfort to you, and consistently provide be a safe place to recuperate your wounded feelings or thoughts. But there are a couple of caveats to this. For one, a particular friend or family member may actually not be thrilled that you stopped by unannounced. You’re dependent upon them being physically there, unless you have a key to get in, and that can present it’s own weird complications. They may have had a crappy day themselves, and really don’t want you there- and having an argument with, or even sensing judgment from, yet another person will only make you feel worse. Whomever you escaped from may know much more easily where you went if it’s somebody easy to think of, like your dad‘s place, and may show up there. To me, this is simply not best. There are myriad reasons for this, many of which I’ve already discussed. Friends & family should be great sources of comfort, yes- but they can prevent one of the best things from happening to you, a thing which can give you a fresh perspective. Anonymity and/or solitude in another place can be a brain-changer. I can’t begin to number how many times I’ve gotten my head cleared, had a totally-fresh series of thoughts & figured out real solutions, from going to my own personal sanctuary. There’s real power in this. Talking over the problems yet again w/ your best friend or parent isn’t a bad idea. But it may not give you anything new to bring forward, when it’s time to head back to the belly of the beast once more. Safe solitude is one of the most-underused techniques in our current society for solving problems, getting a new spin on life, and healing a broken heart. Self-care is often the last thing on the totem pole, and taking time out to indulge in it can really be a form of healing. If it’s the time of day when you can get this done (and assuming a practitioner is available to help you), a pedicure, massage or aromatherapy session can bring you back to a center you might not have even known you possessed.

Beware doing things that will cost you big-time in cash or credit, or things where you know you’ll have a problem over-indulging in. Over-drinking alcohol in a public setting isn’t an issue for me, and eating a dessert in a restaurant won’t cause me to overuse sugar as a soother- having other people around deters from abusing substances, I guess! But eating a big box of chocolates alone, and downing them w/ a bottle or two of wine, is a bad idea for me- it solves nothing, and is just a way to gain weight more easily. Just sitting & feeling sorry for oneself isn’t a good salve for frustration. If you know you can’t stop at one or two drinks, whether you’re driving or not, DO NOT go to a bar or other place where liquor’s served. Getting drunk, while it may temporarily block the pain of the current moment, is too risky in too many ways to count. Don’t do it. Don’t take recreational drugs (this includes high doses of prescription drugs) as a respite. Again, it may temporarily smear the pain enough to make it unreadable, but it’ll be legible again in your brain in no time- and is not only unthinkably dangerous, but illegal.

Shopping is also something that I do not recommend undertaking in the heat of anger & hurt. Once in a great while, if it’s something that you needed to do anyway, and if you have good self-control over spending money, it’s all right. An example of an “okay“ splurge- If your bras aren’t feeling good anymore, if you’re not getting the support that you need for your girls, and you can’t seem to find the right size to shop for, spending an hour or two getting a proper bra fitting done & buying one or two bras that lift you up (literally & figuratively), look great & are in your price range can be wonderfully invigorating. But, in general, shopping should be undertaken when you’re in a good mood, have budgeted the money in advance, and have a clear head enough to know exactly what you’re looking for beforehand. Too often, otherwise, you’ll end up overspending, buying something that you don’t need or even really want, or you’ll try on something that doesn’t fit or look good on you- and then you’ll really just feel worse.

And if you think that I didn’t learn this info the hard way, you’re dead wrong. I’ve done the overdrinking, overspending, over-everything to try & fix the pain, block it out, end the suffering. It only came back to bite me in the ass nearly every time. Thankfully, as I never drove, and never did anything illegal, I never put myself in any serious danger. But I definitely didn’t make myself feel any better in the long run, I spent more money that I should have (and paid the price later on, believe me), and didn’t learn anything valuable when I looked to just block out the pain instead of dealing with it as an adult. And that is the vital difference.

By giving yourself a respite, you give yourself a chance to think outside the heat of the moment, the fire of your anger, and the sorrow that other person may inspire inside of you. If you need to make some changes in your life, or figure out a new way to approach a persistent problem, you can’t do that if you’re drinking, shopping, smoking or eating mindlessly. A respite, while it is indeed a form of escape, it’s a thoughtful one. It’s about self-nurturing, not self-destruction or saying. “I’ll leave your ass & get back at you, too!”, to the situation or person causing you pain. You may have already said to yourself, “What does this have to do with organization or minimalism?”, but hopefully, what I just wrote answered that question. Minimalism isn’t about denying yourself what you want, nor is organization or simplifying. Just the opposite, in fact, is what you’re going for. To be an organized minimalist means that you are always in the process of minimizing that which is negative, unhelpful, fruitless & painful-without-need in your life. It means choosing the healthy, organized way to solve problems & resolve the struggles that we all come up against in your life. They can be related to the space in your home, the way you put things in your purse or how you decorate your office, which is what you might traditionally think of organizing as being about. But there’s a whole lot more to a chosen lifestyle of minimalism, organization & simplification, which is what I hope you‘ll come to me to find out how to do. We’re both learning together, by the way, me right along with you- I didn’t come out writing this blog hold all of the commandments in place. I’m a student of life, too, and will be even if I live to be one hundred years old. I told you I wouldn’t be like your typical personal organizer- and I meant what I said!

Peace to you,

Liz

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