Finding Magic In the Mundane

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ConsiPhoto by Pixabay on Pexels.com (because I forgot to snap a photo – I need to work on that. This oldie looks pretty cool though, in my opinion. I’d drive it.)

Let me set the scene:

Springtime is a reprieve in the desert. It’s a reprieve from sweltering hot, dry days and from the gloom of the not-quite-winter that rolls through for about four months out of the year. (Side note: I currently live near Las Vegas.) On this particular day, a few days ago, you could smell the sky like fresh laundry, a quiet blue blanket overhead, a gentle breeze making the trees dance. The sun did not beat down. Instead, it caressed your skin as it mosied towards the edge of the horizon to kiss the world goodnight.

These were my observations as I was sitting in a very long line at our local In-N-Out™ drive through, window rolled down, country music playing on Spotify™ via my (crackly) car stereo. I was paying little mind to the two order takers going from car to car, doing their best to take orders at every vehicle before the line started moving again. (If they weren’t quick enough, they would get a quick reprimand from their shift manager, who was standing idly by, bless their hearts.)

After they took my order, I lounged leisurely in the driver’s seat, shifting just enough to safely accelerate my car when I needed to creep towards the window as the line ahead of me moved. It was sitting in my car, waiting for the line to move, that I was suddenly overcome by a wave of peace. I was struck by how beautiful the world around me was, and I thought to myself, “this is perfect. This is exactly what I needed.”

And then I laughed out loud at the irony of having this moment as I was sitting in a fast-food drive-through ordering double cheeseburgers and fully loaded french fries for myself and my fiance.

Here’s the thing, though.

I’ve understood for pretty much my entire life that happiness and magic exist in what are seemingly the most mundane and ordinary moments.

The complexities of adulthood sometimes make me forget this. It takes quiet moments (and sometimes unusual scenarios) to bring that wisdom back to me.

I have come to understand that, as human beings, we can’t find something that we aren’t looking for (and I don’t mean your car keys). People who look for joy tend to find joy. People who look for the good in others tend to find the good in others. Vice versa, people who look for the negative, tend to find the negative and are the most susceptible to fear – and maybe you haven’t heard, but “the only thing [you] have to fear is fear itself.” (At least, according to Franklin D. Roosevelt. I tend to agree.)

I, for one, choose to look for everyday magic. Things like fresh lilies on the kitchen table, talking to my daughter when she turns into a tiny boxer in my tummy, and being playful with my fiance give me that everyday magic feeling.

I was asked to write a post about all things positive. Instead, I’m choosing to make this a post about how to help you find the positive (and the magic in the mundane).

How do you look for magic and positivity when you feel yourself living in a state of doom and gloom?

First of all, tell yourself to stop swimming in it.

Seriously. Say that out loud.

Second of all, remember that you don’t have to put pressure on yourself to feel positive and motivated all the time. That’s not realistic (even when we aren’t under quarantine).

Treat your negative thoughts like passersby, not like residents or long term visitors. I can’t take credit for this one (I’m pretty sure I saw the advice on an Instagram™ post), but I’ve found it to be a great metaphor for my personal approach to spiraling thought patterns.

Negative thoughts and emotions happen, and it’s important to acknowledge them. Don’t try to pretend you don’t have them – that’s the equivalent of letting a wound fester and not telling your doctor. It’s stupid to lose a leg over a minor injury that would’ve been healed already if you had just acknowledged it was injured and cared for it properly. Consider this when you just want to get the bad thoughts and feelings out of the way because they make you uncomfortable. Secrets make you sick.  (Have you ever been to TWLOHA’s website? If you have, you may recognize this saying from there.)

Once you’ve acknowledged the negative thoughts and emotions, once you’ve given them a little time to breathe, give them a smile (you can take this as literally…or not…as you’d like). Imagine them floating away. Give them a name and tell them thanks for stopping by, please (don’t) come again. Think of one positive thought; flip the negative thought on its head, think of something you’re grateful for, or something you have to look forward to.

It might sound something like this:

“Gah, I’m so tired lately. I have all of this time on my hands, and I feel like I can’t get anything done, and this quarantine is messing with a lot of the plans my fiance and I had over the next few months, and it’s stressing me out. But it’s okay – I have this beautiful new home that my fiance and I live in together. Shoot, I have a roof over my head. I’ve been able to acquire things that we need (and don’t) through the modern convenience of online shopping (keeping the economy alive!), and my fiance and I started painting our daughter’s room today, which feels like progress. Oh, and thanks to current events, I found the inspiration to start this blog that I’ve been sitting on for three years! Not to mention the Final Fantasy 7 remake is out, and we have fresh food in our refrigerator, and I have a beautiful mixer to use when I want to bake and everything I need to make a cake…mm cake…”

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Painting the nursery <3

It’s a magic trick for the mind.

Of course, if you try to replace your negative thoughts with positive thoughts and it starts to feel like you’re just trudging through the deep end of the swimming pool of negativity (which happens too), take a deep breath. You can always take a nap, put on a funny movie, watch funny videos on YouTube™, do a web search for positive news stories (the Good News Network appears to be a good place for that), scroll funny memes, or put on a positive playlist.

You could even try to make a list of five activities that bring you joy (that are accessible to you in your current situation) and try to do one of them.

And, of course, if you’re struggling with a mental health issue, addiction, abuse, or anything else, and quarantine is exasperating your situation, remember that you are not alone. You can try the Crisis Text Line or 4help.org, or any of the other resources from my previous post.

And here’s the takeaway: If you feel overwhelmed by your current situation, concentrate on one thing that feeds your soul. Acknowledge your negative thoughts and feelings. Smile. Try to let gratitude trump negativity. And when you speak, speak with intention. Speak to spread joy. Speak mindfully.

You have to lift yourself up if you want to lift others up with you, and you can’t find something you aren’t looking for.

Consider these ponderings, and you too could feed your soul at the In-N-Out™ drive-through.

Or…feed your soul with In-N-Out™, or whatever else floats your boat.

In all seriousness, let me know what’s feeding your soul these days. Leave it in the comments if you feel like it…you never know who might need to hear your take on finding joy during this quarantine.

Keep your chins up!

Alexandra

 

 

 

 

How’s Your Heart Today?

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How is your heart today?

Are you feeling heavy or light? Restless or peaceful? Anxious or calm?

What’s on your heart today?

Where your next paycheck is coming from? The health of your children? The health of your essential worker spouse, family, or friends?

I’m not a mental health expert, but if someone were to ask me, I’d tell them they should be doing a Heart Check at least once a day, twice if you’re feeling ambitious, and more if you need it.

Why a Heart Check?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just get swept up in my day. I make to-do lists (sometimes to my detriment, as I discussed in my last post). I try to maximize my productivity while allowing myself to be pulled in twenty different directions. There never seems to be enough time in the day for everything that “needs” to get done. And frankly ya’ll, I suck at making myself a priority.

Sometimes I just have to stop and check-in.

What sensations am I feeling in my body?
What is the most important, or the essential thing, right now?
Am I trying to do too much?
What small, immediate action can I take to alleviate what’s weighing on my heart right now?

Our world has been turned on its head with COVID19. Some of us are essential workers, people who work from home, or the lucky few who get paid even while we’re on an “extended vacation.” You may be in the extended vacation camp, grateful for the time off, and just irked by the toilet paper shortage. (Seriously, is the toilet-paper shortage going on everywhere or just in my town?) You may be someone thanking whoever or whatever you believe in that our government is depositing money in your bank account because you had no idea how you were going to pay your rent or mortgage this month. You may be in quarantine and feeling worn down from being in such close quarters with your spouse and children for so long. Or maybe you live alone, don’t have too many people to talk to, and are starting to feel the weight of your own world pressing down on your shoulders.

Whatever camp you’re in, make sure you’re taking time throughout the day to check in with yourself, and don’t be afraid to talk to someone if you need to.

I think there’s one thing that we all need to remember during this:

There are always people who are worse off than you.
There are always people who are better off than you.
No matter what your situation is, good or bad, what you’re feeling and experiencing is valid.

I’m going to leave you with two things today.

First: here are three things I’m grateful for today. I encourage you to think of three things that you’re grateful for today, and if you want, leave your list as a comment on this post.

  1. My fiance, and all of the love and support he provides me every day. The enthusiasm he has for sharing that love and help with our daughter. (We get to meet her in July.)
  2. The fact that myself, my fiance, and our daughter are all healthy.
  3. Online shopping. Seriously, it’s been like Christmas every day at our home for about two weeks now.

Second: if you’re struggling right now, or feeling alone, here are some resources that I want you to have.

1843262To Write Love On Her Arms
To Write Love On Her Arms has been an official non-profit since 2007 (according to their website). I love TWLOHA because it’s truly a community. They have life-saving resources listed on their website, and they provide treatment and recovery scholarships that are funded through fundraisers and merchandise sales. They also have a blog and communities you can join, such as TWLOHA Blue, all of which are designed to bring people together, help individuals receive the help they need, and destigmatize the conversation around mental health. I recommend To Write Love On Her Arms because I have been active with them for over ten years, and they have been a beacon of hope for me since their MySpace beginnings and my volatile teenage years.

logo-small-2xNational Alliance on Mental Illness
Another great resource. NAMI has been around for a long time (check the logo), and they have it all. According to their website, “NAMI provides advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.” They also have physical locations across the country, and of course, they have a list of phone numbers you can call if you need immediate help. This a very reputable organization, so I feel entirely comfortable recommending it to my readers.

#4Help Hotline Information Page Logo#4Help
From the website: “Our primary mission is to create the only database of all hotlines, helplines, text chat and web chat services from scratch. We have chosen this mission because no such database exists.” If you’re in crisis mode, this is another excellent resource for finding the help you need right now. They boast over 20,000 services (“as of March 1st, 2020”). If you want to know more before you use their website, they have a great about page that explains why they exist, what they do, how they do it, and more.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. And make sure you do a Heart Check today.

I love you all.

Alexandra

*None of the links in this post are affiliate links. I don’t make money from sharing them. I genuinely just want to put some resources out there for those who may need it.

*The logos that are used in this post are copyright their respective organizations. I pulled them from either a google search or directly from their websites in the interest of providing a visual reference. The links take you directly to the homepages of each respective website.