We make our own reality
I had a moment last week - you know, one of those where you start questioning everything in your life, your head starts spinning, and you start forgetting which way is up. Rather than barreling through like I used to do, I booked an Airbnb and am in Sedona right now recharging.
Old me would have been mad at myself, pushed down how I was feeling and would have worked even harder. But I learned a few years ago that forcing myself doesn't work. It only leads to some type of breakdown or burnout, so I implemented some well-needed self-care and came to my happy place here in the red rocks.
And what a week it’s been. I picked probably the best week of the year - it’s right before the tourist season starts so there’s been no traffic; I’ve found parking spots, and I’ve had trails almost to myself. And to top that off, it’s been going up to around 60 degrees and the sun has been out. It’s helped bring me back to my center.
Since I’ve been here, I’ve hiked trails I never thought to explore before (I’ve been coming to Sedona on and off for over 20 years) and got to absorb the most amazing scenery. I used to have intense anxiety walking or hiking on my own in the desert or woods - this time, it was pure joy. I even officially broke in my new(ish) Subaru by doing some serious off-roading to nearby ruins dating from 650 AD. It was a really fun experience now that I (and my car!) survived.
This trip has given me time to think about how we perceive things. I post photos and share my experiences on Facebook and Instagram because I’m here alone and enjoy sharing the experience. But I’m aware it probably comes across to some friends that I have a perfect life. Social media can do that.
And, well, I do have a wonderful life, but a wonderful life includes downtimes, stress, anxiety, and sometimes even depression. How would we be able to experience the highs and joy if we didn’t have the lows? The goal for me is to ultimately average on the positive side.
I also think the way we look at the world is crucial to how we feel. For example, I just moved to a new Airbnb. I couldn’t get the heat to work properly and have been freezing for the past couple of hours. I finally texted the owner because I wasn’t able to figure out what I was doing wrong. He was here within five minutes and turned on another heating unit in the place and I’m now happy and toasty.
I know this is a minor example, but hopefully, you’ll get my point. I had a few choices in how I looked at and handled this situation. I could have been angry at my host for not having proper heating and been mad when he came over. I could have suffered and not contacted him and froze all night.
Or I could see it as something that simply happens. I could use the experience as an opportunity to feel grateful when the heat was working and I got all toasty again.
Not so long ago, I probably would have suffered, froze, and resented the house owner. But that’s old me. Right now, my feet are comfy warm, and I’m filled with joy and gratitude because I have a warm place to stay. And I’m enjoying my ten toes and the warm tingles I’m feeling.
That’s an example of perception. How I interpreted the situation was my choice. A few years ago, I made a life decision to always look for the positive, to uncover the lesson in every experience.
I took time to come here to Sedona because I had spent a couple of days the other week freaking out about changing careers at my age. I know it’s stressful at any age, but when you hit the age of invisibility (happens to women about age 55), it becomes super stressful. I was also worried I’d never earn a paycheck again. I’ve also been feeling kicked out of my profession, and I felt like I had no purpose on the planet.
None of this is a ‘bad’ thing - it simply is what it is. Transition is difficult for everyone. All of that was swirling around in my head until I was starting to feel sick to my stomach - so, again, I had a choice, and I understood that how I perceived the situation was going to create how I felt about it.
I could have sat around and gotten more and more anxious and stressed, and/or I could have felt sorry for myself and been miserable. I could have given up, stopped trying, and let my soul die a slow death. I could have created massive internal drama and soaked up the negativity, as some people do (and as I’ve done at times in the past).
But I felt how unhappy I was and how it wasn’t getting better, and my gut told me to get away for a few days. As soon as I got here, my gut said to stay a few days more, which I’m doing. (I happen to be avoiding a huge snowstorm in Santa Fe by staying so yeah to my gut!…)
How has the trip turned out? I’ve met up with a couple of new friends who live here. I’ve hiked gorgeous trails and gotten some good exercise, and I’ve experienced the most amazing scenery with the best hiking weather anyone could ask for. In other words, all that jumbled-up gunk swirling around in my head allowed me to get away to a place I love. So thank goodness I had a mini-meltdown.
Again, perception. And I’m not making up how I’m feeling. It’s taken a few (okay, more than a few) years for me to get here, but I make a great effort these days to still myself, check-in to see how I’m feeling, acknowledge it, and then let it go - or do something about it to let it go. Even the really good stuff - I try to breathe it in and absorb it but not cling to it. Breathe it, be it, and then exhale and release. That opens me up to even more good.
How do you see the world? Can you see the good in everything you experience? If not, I challenge you to try. It’ll blow your mind because your life will most certainly change.
I’m off now to enjoy my warm toes. I hope you’re toasty and cozy wherever you are.