Grief

When Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, I was 16 years old. In the time after that, I saw how much people grieved although I couldn’t quite understand why. It’s not like people really knew her. She was basically a celebrity. How could you feel grief for someone you hadn’t ever met or really even known?

Last Sunday, at 11:32 am, I received a text from my mom in our family group chat that said “Breaking news. Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter accident. Not 100% confirmed yet.”

I could feel the chills immediately take over my body. I did what I normally do when I hear a big piece of news. I start researching to find out if it’s true and what sources it came from. Obviously, there have been hoaxes before and I was hoping this was just another one. But as the day went on, the news was confirmed.

We were completely immersed in our personal family events that day so I didn’t really have time to process what had happened. The more we learned though, the more real it became. And when I went home that evening and finally had a quiet moment to myself, I felt it.

I don’t quite understand why I felt grief. I didn’t know Kobe Bryant other than he played for my absolutely favorite team on the planet. I never met him. I’m not very star stuck and am not really interested in meeting celebrities in general. With all of the drama and problems that Kobe had gone through and with the ego he had on him, I honestly didn’t really care to meet him.

So why? Why did I feel this way?

The best answer I can give is because we grew up together. I watched the Lakers from when I was a child but the Showtime era started before I was old enough to be a fan. I remember hearing about Magic Johnson’s HIV announcement and all of the questions that came with it at the time. I remember Johnson making a comeback and getting cut while playing and all of the players freaking out because he was bleeding on the court.

But Kobe, he came to the Lakers right after high school. Being only 3 years younger meant I was also in high school. I watched him learn how to play NBA basketball. I criticized what I thought were his stupid decisions (like marrying Vanessa at the age of 23 and having the power struggle with Shaq and Phil). I wondered as he went through his sexual assault case, wanting to defend him because he was a Laker but knowing full well that it was possible that he wasn’t innocent and that I would always side with the victim. I judged how long he stayed in the league and how he was drawing all resources to himself so we couldn’t put a decent team on the floor to win 3 more championships.

Then, he retired. I can honestly say I didn’t follow him so much after he was off the court as I did when he was on the court. I didn’t even know he made a movie until he won as Oscar. But when he did win it, I was proud like it was my friend that had won.

He was like that friend that you don’t see often or even talk to often, but when you do, it’s like nothing has ever changed. He would always be a part of our lives because he was a Laker. He was part of the purple and gold that runs in the undercurrents of Los Angeles.

It’s complicated. I know there are things he’s done that were wrong but I also believe that he learned how to change for the better. The more I learn about him now, the more I believe he might be someone I would have wanted to meet as an adult. He had drive, passion, and ambition. He was doing exactly what we all do with our kids every day, take them to their extracurricular activities and watch and support them.

The only way I can describe what I feel is grief. Grief over seeing someone I grew up with gone. Grief over seeing someone who was finding his new path gone. Grief over someone who had changed the history of our city gone.

I still have trouble believing it. I don’t know if I ever will.

EMPATH

Who knows what an empath is?

According to Merriam-Webster, an empath is one who experiences the emotions of others.

It took me a long time to figure out I am an empath. Well, I believe I am. I don’t actually have an official way of knowing.

According to this article from psychology.com, here are the 10 ways to know you are an empath:

  1. Highly sensitive (in my case, oversensitive)
  2. Absorbs other people’s emotions
  3. Tend to be introverted, can be overwhelmed in large gatherings
  4. Highly intuitive
  5. Need alone time
  6. Can be overwhelmed in intimate relationships
  7. Targets for energy vampires
  8. Replenished in nature
  9. Highly tuned senses
  10. Huge hearts but sometimes give too much

It took me a long time to figure out that a lot of the times I was overwhelmed by my feelings, it was because I was absorbing other people’s feelings. It devours you and makes you want to hide and not deal with anything. I’m sure there also people out there that would be surprised that I need time alone. I can specifically remember one night I had gone to Knott’s Scary Farm with my friends when I was 16. At the beginning of the night, I was super social. By the end, I just wanted to be in my bed by myself. There are many more examples that helped me realize that I fit the description of an empath. I wish I had known when I was younger so I could have figured out how to deal with it better. I don’t think I fully realized it until I was almost 30.

It did make having a relationship difficult. How do you explain to someone how you feel when you don’t even completely understand what is happening? The accusation of being oversensitive was thrown at me a lot. And I thought I was. I thought it was my fault that I felt the way I felt. I finally realized that my feelings don’t need to be invalidated. This was something that was a part of me. I had to learn to own it.

That’s exactly what I ended up doing. I learned not to stop my tears or if I was feeling upset. It didn’t get rid of the feelings. It just bottled them up until I exploded. Now, I try to understand them and I talk about them. It helps to move forward faster.

Now, let’s talk about being an empath and a mother. That means that you rarely get alone time, there are feelings all over the place, and picking up other emotions is a daily occurrence. The positive side is I also know when my kids are really feeling things and I need to address them without assuming it will heal. The only way I do know how to deal with it is to shut myself down (which I admit might not be the best way). I have to compartmentalize a lot. I don’t know if this makes me a better or worse mother because I have to separate myself from whatever my kids are feeling or doing.

Something I hadn’t thought about until recently is that my children might be empaths as well. The older one already shows signs of empathy at an extremely young age. How do I teach her to deal with this? How do I teach her how to handle it when I’m not even sure how to deal with it myself? What is the healthiest way for her to handle it?

Do I have any empaths out there who can offer some advice?

Controlling Your Thoughts

Have you ever had one bad thing happen to you and it made you focus on everything that has gone wrong in your life lately? How about thinking about one thing that scares you and it makes you go into an out of control negative thought spiral?

There are days that I will wake up fine and have a hard time dealing with my kids and then it just seems like nothing goes right. I start thinking of all the things I’m unhappy about and it grows and grows until I’m completely resentful. I think about all the things that used to make me feel good in the past and dwell on that instead of my present.

The crazy thing is that if I just change my point of view to focus on the good instead of the bad or found a better way to deal with the harder things that happened, I wouldn’t go into this downward spiral. That’s not to say that I’m not correct in what I’m feeling. It’s just that there are good, positive things that do happen. I just focus too much on the negative.

It’s hard to control our thoughts. It’s easier to follow our instincts. It’s an uphill battle to continuously think positively. It’s work to recognize the good things, especially because they may be little things. I can easily name 5 things that I don’t like about my life but constantly struggle to name 5 things I love about it.

If I continue to follow this pattern though, it will be hard for me to find happiness. I’ll stay in a constant state of anxiety and disappointment. I will miss the great things that are happening in front of me.

I also do believe that appreciating the good surrounds you with positive energy and it attracts more good stuff. So as much daily work as it is, it is definitely worth trying to stay positive. Recognize and understand anything bad that happens and feel it but don’t dwell on it. Shifting your thinking is a daily mind exercise.

So work on not sending yourself into a downward spiral. Find the good.

How Do I Make 37 Better?

I just turned 37 this past weekend.

Honestly, I think I never thought about my life past kids. I had a plan to go through school, get married, get a graduate degree, and have kids. Now that I’ve accomplished all of that, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.

I want to make 37 good. I lived 36 in this weird state of not sure where I was. I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. I was set in my priorities for everyone else around me.

I don’t want 37 to be like that. I want it to be filled with things that I can make memories out of. I want to feel like I accomplished something big. I know it seems like a weird thing to want considering in the past year, I’ve been raising 2 kids, managing their schedules, managing a household, and starting a new business.

Part of what I’m feeling is that a lot of that isn’t for me personally. I want to feel good about myself which I definitely have not been lately. I need to do something for me.

So I’ve decided to start a “bucket list”. The next step is trying to figure out what I really want. My feelings have been so jumbled up that I have to wade through all of those feelings to really understand what will make me happy. I also want to be able to commit to something. I usually push back if the thing I want to do takes up too much time or energy. I give up and walk away. I don’t know if that shows lack of interest or lack of follow-through.

I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in a routine where I have a hard time finding what makes me happy. I want to be proactive and really jump in and take the chances I need to be taking.

If you have any bucket list suggestions, I would love to hear them. I’ve been having a hard time figuring this out and the only way I know to expand my thoughts is to hear what others are thinking.

The Itch To Change

I’ve gotten comfortable. I have now fallen into my stay-at-home mom schedule with a set of responsibilities and I’ve become comfortable. My biggest challenge is literally just to find a way to get dinner done before I have to leave for the gym since the time I go is dinner time for the kids.

I know I should be proud of raising children and taking care of my family and etc etc etc. But I can’t shake this feeling that I’m meant for more.

The last time I had this feeling, I changed around my whole life. I left the relationship I was in, my job had just laid me off, and I had just finished my MBA. That’s when I met someone who became my business partner and together, we developed a really great dance show. It was great. It was exactly what I needed at the time and it brought me a sense of fulfillment and contentment.

I have that feeling again. This time, I don’t think I need to make any major changes. I love my husband and my kids and the life we have created. My husband and I have also started teaching dance as a side business and are loving it.

That itch is still there though. I’m not sure what it means or what I should also be doing. I know things I’ve dreamt of but I’m not sure which ones are meant to come true and which ones I really want to pursue. I don’t know if I have the motivation to really figure out what it is that I need. I don’t even know which ones are realistic.

Have you ever sat on the edge of something you know will change you? I don’t know how to quite describe it. I’ll know it when I see it. And afterwards, I’ll be like “Remember when I was talking about this? This is how it happened. “.

To quote The Little Mermaid “I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but I know something is starting right now.” (It’s stuck in my head. Thank you, children of mine.)

 

Coping

Life is hard sometimes.

I don’t want you to feel like just because you have everything you physically need that it can’t be hard as well. Many of us deal with emotional issues on a daily basis. And it’s just as important. It’s easy to argue with ourselves and list down the positives that we have and therefore, ignoring the things that are difficult for us. I believe that you should definitely acknowledge the positive but instead of ignoring the negative, find a way to deal with them. Find a way to make it better.

Me, I’m constantly struggling to feel my value in this world. My brain can argue with my heart and list 100 different ways I am valuable to many people. But I really need to feel that contentment. I have been diagnosed with depression at least once in my life. I haven’t felt the need to see a therapist again about it but I am aware that I probably am fighting against it constantly.

I cope with this struggle by exercising. Not only does it help me get out from inside my head and heart but it makes me feel good about myself physically. Dance is also a big one for me. Just being able to fall into the music and leave myself for a few hours is really helpful. I’m not thinking about anything except what my body is doing. I’m not really thinking about anything. I’m just feeling.

I have a sister who does a lot of coping by being out in nature. It helps her to deal with whatever she needs to deal with in her life. Whether it’s hiking or traveling, just being outside helps you to realize how much positivity there is in the world. I once did a hike where I had no cell service the entire time. It felt good to disconnect and emotionally recharge.

There are a lot of ways to cope with the emotional anxieties that we face. These are just a couple of examples that work for my family.

I hope you find whatever helps you cope.

One Step

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little bit restless. I’m a stay at home mom and while I enjoy doing this, I feel like I need to be doing more. I know there is a next step to my life and I need to find it.

I’ve always feel like I could make a difference in this world but I have to find my way of doing so. The problem is finding the path that it meant for you. There are a lot of  options but I want to narrow it down to something that really helps fulfill me.

It’s easy to fall into a rut. It’s easy to just go day by day and accept life as it is. I felt like I was doing that. I started to realize that I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything.

It’s not easy to take the first step into change. Now that I have, I worry. I worry about whether I’ll be able to take care of my kids. I worry about being in a different place after. I worry about if it is okay to put my needs first. I worry about failing.

But since my other alternative is feeling stuck, the first step to change is worth it. I don’t know where I’ll end up but at least I won’t regret it. I know that I’ll have tried to follow my path. And maybe this will be greater than I can even imagine right now.

So for those of you who feel the need to make a change, just start with one step in the direction you are looking towards. It might be just what it takes.