Do you want to know where I started? I started with one excellent choice and then I made one more excellent choice. Then I came up with an idea. Then I came up with another idea. Then I got discouraged and I failed. Then I was inspired by other empowering woman all over the world telling their stories. Then I had more ideas and I gave up on them before I even started. I was so afraid of failure that I didn’t even try. I was so afraid of being unsuccessful and rejected that my great ideas stayed just that…Ideas. I’m ready to share my great ideas with you…bold beautiful empowering woman around the world. I have been inspired by so many strong, confident and beautiful women in my life that I hope I can do that for at least one other person. Every person has a unique story to tell. I am going to tell you my unique story. I am going to share my great ideas with you because I’m sick of living in fear. One of my biggest dreams was to write a book. So here it is. This is MY book. My Soul Compass.
I am a storm. At first I am calm, shy, fascinating, you get to know me, then the wind starts to pick up I’m feisty and stubborn. Then you dig real deep and the storm hits. You think I’m a little bit crazy but you love me anyways. Who doesn’t love a good storm? I come into your life calmly and as you get to know me better you will realize. I am a shit storm. I struggle everyday with severe anxiety. It’s the hardest battle I have ever had to fight. I love even more fiercely than I fight. On my journey to self-care I came up with one of my great ideas. The difference was that this idea was going to be one that changed everything for me. This idea is the one I am going to share with the world. Every day I think of ways that I can be the best version of myself. The woman that I want my daughter to aspire to be. My worst fear is that I am going to push my anxiety on to her. I keep coming back to the idea of feeding my soul. Giving my soul what I have always known it’s needed. That’s how my baby was born, The SOUL COMPASS. I am going to take you on the journey of MY soul compass and teach you how to find yours.
When you look at compass you see North, East, South, and West. When you use a compass each direction pulls you to where you need to go. Your Soul is no different than a map. You need to take care of your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. No matter how you use the Soul compass each piece works together to take you where you need to go. North is your physical journey. You start at your physical journey because your physical health is related to all other aspects and is the easiest one to change. East is your mental health which is directly related to your physical health. South is spiritual wellbeing and west is your emotional well-being. Each part of your compass is directly related to the other. The compass doesn’t function without one or the other. It functions as one. When you take care of each part of yourself you will find your soul compass.
My physical journey began because I wanted to lose the "baby weight," it got more serious because I started getting migraines which I still deal with on a regular basis. I decide to purchase beachbody on demand. It was 160.00 for a year of beachbody and a months supply of shakeology. I LOVE it. It's like netflix but they are work out videos. Currently I am doing core de force which is my favorite program so far. Since my journey started I have lost 15Ibs. I would have lost a lot more by now but I have not committed myself 100% to my health. I am doing my best but their is a fine line for me between a healthy obsession and just obsession. I put so much pressure on myself to be the best at everything. My therapist recommends I set a goal of 3-5 times a week instead of 7 days a week of working out. I try and find a happy medium and workout 4-6 times a week. Although my beachbody coach would disagree with this it is what works for me. I am not discouraging anyone from working out I am encouraging you to get moving. I also play soccer once a week in a Womens league and when it's over I am going to join yoga. I would say I eat clean 80% of the time. I am still working on the other 20%. So my physical journey is still a working progress but I have come so far since the start of my journey a year ago. I will share with you my migraine story but that is for a different time. It is long and an ongoing struggle.
My advice to you:
Get moving. Start today. Join beachbody. Join a class in your area they are all over you just have to make a commitment to one thing once a week. Fuel your body with food that will give you energy instead of making you sluggish. My grandfather always used to say "if you can't raise it or grow it don't eat it." Know that you are not alone. If you need a friend know that I am on this journey with you too. If you need additional support reach out to me. I would be happy to help in any way that I can.
Chapter Two: Mental Health
My Soul Compass started on my physical journey. You can start your journey in any direction they will all lead to your soul. Remember when I told you it was going to get ugly. Well this is the part where it is going to get REAL and ugly. I struggle with severe anxiety every day. It is the most difficult thing that I have ever had to fight. Before I tell you how I cope with my anxiety. I am going to give you a deep ugly look inside my anxious mind:
Today I was driving to work and I saw a pond. The same exact pond I see every day on my way to work. Suddenly I feel it creeping in. I feel it starting.
What if I get into an accident? I lose control and my car goes onto the icy pond? What if it falls through and I can’t get out? How would I get out? Smash the window. My baby is in the backseat. How do I get her out? Unbuckle fast. Crawl to the back seat get her out. I can’t her seatbelt is stuck. I forgot to shut the child locks off in the car. We can’t get out. The front I filling with water. It’s freezing. Breathe…breathe Alishia, it’s okay. You are driving in your car to work. Turn the radio on and listen to it. Slow down! Your going too fast. You could get in an accident. I couldn’t get her out of the car. I failed. I failed as a mother.
At this point I’m so freaked out, I feel like I’m on the verge of a panic attack. I have to talk to myself down. Sometimes it will take me all day to come down from a catastrophized event that I have created in my head.
Scenario # 2
Today I got home from work and my husband casually mentioned going out with his friends in two weeks for drinks. I know what your thinking. So what? At least he has the decency to ask right. It wasn’t always like this. He wasn’t always this understanding. The conversation begins
He wants to go out with his friends? Great so that means that I get to sit home with the baby while he goes out and parties. I have to sit and watch TV, control how often I text or call him, I have to watch what I say next..take a breath but not so deep that he notices. Oh okay honey, what day? What were you planning on doing? You don’t need to answer. I already know you are going to get belligerently drunk and then find some hot girl and cheat on me…he has never cheated on you stop it. How long? How late? Where will they be?? When will he be home?? How late do you think that is going to go? I don’t need you to give me an itinerary. I would just like a ballpark time. Will it be between 11-12 or 1-3? You better not say either. 10:00 would be good. I could handle 10:00 because then that would really mean around 12:00. I could make it through that. I know that you don’t like when I ask you a million questions. I just want to know for you safety. Do you have a DD? Please don’t drink and drive you have me and a baby girl to think about now. Sure say you won’t drink and drive and then show up clearly drunk and try to lie to my face about it. No I will give you a ride. I will always come and get you. I wish I didn’t have such an issue with this. It causes so many problems. I am going to ruin our marriage over this one event. Why can’t I just be normal?! What can’t I just say okay and not need any more information.
The night he goes out:
Hey honey please answer when I call you and don’t ignore my texts. You are going to be home at 12:00 right? Please be careful. I love you call me if you need a ride. Okay it’s hour number one. It’s 7pm, time to give the baby a bath, read stories, and put her to bed by the time I’m done with that it will be around 8:00.
8:00- Okay the baby is asleep, I haven’t checked my phone in this whole hour-wooo! Go me! Maybe I should just text a cute text to see if he will reply. “hey honey, we miss you I hope you are having fun with your friends.
9:00- Still not reply, breath Alishia self-control don’t text again. Wait at least another half hour. He’s out with his friends he will reply when he gets a minute.
9:15- I waited 15 minutes still no reply! I hope everything is okay. What if they got into a car accident. What if he can’t reply because he is unconscious and he’s been trying to get to his phone. I’m just going to text him one more time “honey? What are you guys up to? I’m just watching a movie.”
9:30- My phone lit up, I feel so relieved! He got back to me thank God. I need to reply right now so I can talk for a few minutes. He texts me back quickly for a few minutes.
10:00- I’m getting really tired, I guess I will try and sleep. –
12:30- I don’t feel my husband lying next to me. I need to check my phone no calls/texts. He told me he would be home by 12:00. What if he couldn’t get a hold of me so he decided to get drunk and drive home. What if he hit a tree and died on impact? Maybe I should call him. He might just be running a little late. If you start calling it could potentially cause issues. I am going to call. The obsessive calling begins…
1:30- I think I hear something downstairs, what if it’s not him. Where is the gun? I need to protect my baby. The dogs aren’t barking. I’ll wait at the top of the stairs with the gun until I know it’s him. I heard his voice, he’s letting the dogs out. Thank God.
A sudden sense of relief has washed over me. I feel protected and then I feel angry. He was an hour late he should have called. Then the fighting begins.
I know what you’re thinking…How the hell is this girl going to help me move past my shit when she is fucking crazy. I will tell you how. Because I am a fighter and I fought like hell to cope with this mental illness. I told you it was going to get ugly. Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so I want you to know something. You might be good at hiding your fear but you can’t live like that forever. It will destroy your family, marriage, and eventually it will break you. I was discussing my thoughts with a close friend of mine and she told me that I needed to get my shit together. I broke. Then I started to pick up the pieces. I started making hard choices. I started advocating for myself at work. You know what? I found that they actually respected me more for it! I started going to therapy and talking about the hard things. I started using self-regulation skills to cope with my anxious mind. For me that means when I start an irrational thought a blank white piece of paper covers them in my mind. I started talking to my husband in detail about what anxiety is for me and how he can help me cope with it. You know what happened? It made us stronger. My husband has so much love and respect for me that he was willing to do what I needed him to do. I started being open about going to therapy with my family (this was a hard one for me). They also respected my decision even though they may not “buy in” to therapy. I also started to take time out of my day just for myself, I use this time to write because it’s therapeutic for me.
My advice to you:
Take care of mental health. It is equally important as taking care of your physical health. Go to therapy if you know you need it. Talk to the people that are closest to you about your mental health and how they can help you cope with your anxiety or depression. If you do not have a mental illness it is still equally important to take care of your mental health. Create a space in your home that is just yours. It doesn’t need to be an entire room. It can be a corner or a desk(this is my space). Use that space and make it your own. Surround that space with dreams, goals, and positive affirmations. Make it your own and use it just for you and nothing else. Take 10 minutes each day to do something for you. If that means going for a 10 minute walk then do it. If it’s writing for 10 minutes then do it. If it’s doing yoga or organizing your space then do it. Just do something for you. Spend time with friends and talk about your dreams and goals. Be present in your life today. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect because as hard as you try you will never be perfect.You are enough. Now close your eyes and imagine one thing you can do for yourself to improve your mental health. See yourself crying to your therapist. See yourself having coffee with a friend and laughing so hard it hurts. See yourself telling your family about your new journey. Now take a deep breath in and out and surround yourself with the relief you will start to feel when you make the hard choices and take care of your mental health. Are you feeling better already? Do you feel motivated to start? Good…go make one hard choice and commit to it.
Chapter 3: Emotional Well-being
Today I feel so angry over things that seem so small and then they become so big. I actually want to beat the shit out of something. I feel like all I have is anger and hurt coursing through my veins. Starting to sounds like déjà vu? If your someone who suffers from anxiety or you just wear your heart on your sleeve then you know what it’s like to feel every emotion to the fullest possible extent and sometimes you just can’t pull yourself back. I want to talk about something very important with you...are you ready? Here it is….everything that happens in your life is not all because of your anxiety and how you cope or don’t cope with it. This has come up recently in my marriage. I recognize and accept that my anxiety has and will continue to affect my marriage. I work hard every day at coping with it and so does my husband, I am very grateful for that. I have just come to realize that everything is not all my fault. He tells me he needs space and to go away and every bone in my body wants to lose it. It is my natural instinct to become the storm. I tell him that what he doesn’t get is that I cannot let it go and leave him alone. I need it to be solved now. I need it to be okay so that I can be okay with us. So that I don’t start thinking that he’s going to leave me. Then he tells me “you need to work on that then” I seriously almost lost my shit. Instead I walked away and took out my laptop to write to you all because I learned a very important lesson tonight that I think needs to be heard by the world. Everything is not always my fault. Everything is not always because of my anxiety. Sometimes it’s his fault. Sometimes it’s not anybody’s fault it just is. Sometimes one of us is just in a foul mood. No matter how supportive of your mental illness your partner may be and how caring they are or how well they learn to cope with your mental illness, they still have their own shit to deal with. My husband is all about me taking care of my mental health but he NEVER talks about or takes care of himself. He never talks about how he can better himself for the good of our marriage. If I talk to him about something that is bothering me than he will work on it but he never takes it upon himself to work on himself. So now your wondering how I handled the situation? Well every part of me wanted to let my emotions take over but instead I gave him what he asked for …space. Turns out I actually needed some space too. I thought about why I was so angry but I didn’t stew on it. Then I thought about what I needed to say to him. I went back downstairs and I said what I needed to say. At that point he had calmed down and listened to me attentively. We worked it out. It’s not always pretty but we always work it out.
My advice to you:
Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Instead take a deep breath and give yourself some space. Then write it out ( I’m a little biased I know). Draw it. Cry it out. Scream it out. But be alone with your emotions. Feel them fully but not at the expense of someone else. When you are feeling in control again then go and deal with your situation. Now close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out. See yourself resolving a fight with your partner by communicating in a respectful way. See yourself crying by yourself in your car until you can’t cry anymore simply just because you needed to. See yourself giving the punching bag at the gym a beating because you need to be angry but your channeling it in a positive way. Now feel the burden of your emotions fall off your shoulders. Know that it’s okay to be emotional we are humans and it is our natural instinct. Embrace your emotions but don’t let them embrace you.
Chapter Four: Spiritual well-being
This is the last stop on my soul compass because it is the most difficult for me to share with you (mental health was not easy). I was raised a Christian. I went to church every Sunday. I went to a private Christian school which pushed me away from Christianity. I went to youth group every week. I made other young Christian friends. I went to Christian camps every summer. My parents raised me to be a Christian and I am one. The way I was raised certainly had a lot to do with it but I discovered my Christianity on my own. I had to discover it on my own. I turned to God for everything, but I never turned on God. I pray to him for everything. Now I know you are not all Christians but you all have a spirit. Take care of it. I made the mistake of neglecting mine for far too long. For me that means going back to church, praying, teaching my daughter to pray, meditating, putting my faith in God even when it’s hard.
My Advice to you:
Take care of your spirit. Take a few moments out of each day to focus on what is most important to your spirit. Meditate. Pray. Have blind faith in God. Have blind faith in yourself. The rest will follow but you must believe in yourself and your spirit. Now close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out. See yourself meditating on the top of a mountain at sunrise close to God. See yourself on your deck with a hot cup of coffee watching the sunrise reading a book. See yourself at your desk in the morning reading some affirmations. Now feel your spirit come alive inside of you and relish this moment. Be present.