Archive for anxiety

Trudging through Anxiety

By Guest Blogger, Carolyn Cook.

I am anxious these days.

I know from experience that the feeling will pass. Oddly enough, in parts of my life I’m having fun and feeling productive, even as I feel anxious in other areas. I’m rehearsing a play, and I always feel a generalized anxiety until I really know what I’m doing. It’s frustrating to be carrying the script in rehearsal when I want so badly to be able to cut loose and act. At the same time, it’s fun to play and experiment with my fellow actors, not tying myself to any specific performance choices too early in the process.

The rehearsal anxiety will pass, because it has to.

I have to learn the show. It has to be ready for an audience in just a couple of weeks. I can count on a sense of relief and release as I gain confidence in my performance. My schedule will become simpler when I’m not rehearsing eight hours a day, six days a week. I know I’ll breathe easier soon.

In the meantime, my anxiety spills over into other areas of my life. This always happens. I worry more about my daughter. I worry more about my aging mother. I worry that I’m not doing enough for them. I try to solve problems that can wait.  I feel guilty for all the time I”m spending away from home. It’s part of the package. I’ve learned to live with this.

And yet . . . this time there’s more.

My daughter is thirteen, and I’m struggling to learn how to parent this new individual living under my roof. I’m considering sending her to school next year (we currently home school), because I think she needs more than I can give her. I suspect that prospect scares the you-know-what out of both of us, but I can’t ignore my gut feeling that something needs to change, for her sake and for mine.

And my mother .  . .  my darling mother . . . has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, and may already be developing dementia. Our roles are reversing. We are in the process of moving her for the second time in a year. Soon she’ll be living about five minutes from me, in a nice assisted living facility. My life is probably going to change significantly, as I visit her more often and help her adjust to her new situation (both physical and mental/emotional). You know what? That scares the you-know-what out of me as well.

These are challenging situations.

Of course I’m anxious. Right now I don’t know where rehearsal anxiety ends and real-life anxiety begins. I really believe I’ll feel stronger and calmer in two short weeks, when the show opens. I’m doing everything I can to learn my part so that I can relax about something.

Mostly, I just have to let this process run its course. So that’s my risk. For the next two weeks, I am going to risk living in the moment as much as possible. I’m going to resist the temptation to make any big decisions. I’m going to risk trusting that things will work out with my daughter, with my mom, and with my work.

I’m going to risk believing that I am doing my best, and that my best is actually good enough.

And just choosing that risk, and committing to it, makes me a tiny bit less anxious.

This post first appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog, a project, which has now concluded.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. You can now read about her life and insights at her own blog here.

Heartache

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

A few days ago I took the risk of being honest with myself. I sat down and wrote about everything that hurts right now: all the pain that follows me around, all the unfinished business and emotional uncertainty that causes my heart to shrink into a tiny, hard ball. My heart is a peach pit these days.

I wrote it all down, and I vowed to tell it to at least one person. I decided not to publish it here. As much as I trust my fellow bloggers, I don’t want the whole world to have access to my soft spots. But I know that I’ll only release the pain when I share it, so I promised myself that I wouldn’t keep that piece of writing to myself.

Then I decided to make a Risk List. In spite of all the stress and pain in my life right now, I realized that I have taken a number of risks just in the last month. I deserve credit. A badge of courage would be nice, if the Wizard of Oz is still handing them out.

Here goes:

I worked closely with my sister to move my mother from independent to assisted living, and I gave my mom physical and emotional support on a daily basis. I faced up to the changes in her cognition. I committed myself to a new way of life, with her well-being as a top priority.

I planned and carried out a long-weekend trip with my daughter to see a musician she admires perform in Philadelphia. I decided it was essential for her to know that her mother is here for her, even when Grandma’s needs are great.  I trusted my sister and my husband to care for my mom while I was gone (and they did, beautifully). I trusted the airlines, and the rail lines, and the kindness of strangers to see us safely there and back again. I trusted that my daughter’s life would be enhanced by the trip, and that it was worth it to go out on a limb, even at a stressful time.

I maintained a commitment to travel to Haiti in early December with others from my church. I attended meetings, got my shots, and asked my doctor for prescriptions for malaria and cholera. I still don’t know if we’re going; we are meeting next week to discuss safety issues. As of now, I’m still in the group. I don’t let myself think about it all that often, and when I do think about it I get scared. I am stepping into completely new territory. (For the record, if I come to believe I’m risking my life, I’ll stay home. I have too much to live for here.)

Those are the risks I’ve taken. I’ve also begun a list of risks I want to take. I’ll mention just one of them: I want to risk stepping out of my religious tradition and visiting a Buddhist meditation center. I need help staying grounded and peaceful. It feels like a risk to seek help in this way — not through the church, or yoga, or therapy, or coaching, but through a spiritual tradition I know almost nothing about. I wonder if I’ll dare.

Maybe my current heartache is leading me naturally to a tradition that acknowledges suffering as one of life’s basic truths. Time will tell.

Carolyn Cook is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship.

This post originally appeared on RiskADay.com.

Here. Now. You. This is it.

Hello, my dear – A poem for you…

Always We Hope
~ Lao Tzu

Always we hope
someone else has the answer,
some other place will be better,
some other time,
it will turn out.

This is it.

No one else has the answer,
no other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.

At the center of your being,
you have the answer:
you know who you are and
you know what you want.

There is no need to run outside
for better seeing,
nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide at the center of your being:
for the more you leave it,
the less you learn.

Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.

Abide at the center of your being.

It’s so easy to wander outside of our center and get bogged down by what we think we should do…can’t say…need to worry about. But through all of the messages we take in every day, the regret over things done and not done, the anxiety about what lies ahead of us, the one thing we really must do is be our full, true selves – the magnificent, human, spiritual, multi-faceted, creative, authentic beings that we are created to be.  It is only by being ourselves – abiding at the center of our being – that we have an opportunity to live full, rich, purposeful, joyful lives.

And it’s not just about us. We can fall into the trap of thinking that in being ourselves – honoring our dreams and desires and authenticity – that we are being selfish or self-centered. But I believe there’s a space in our world that is created just for us, a space in it that is ours and ours alone. It’s not only our right to be who we are, but it’s also our responsibility. It is only through being ourselves and filling our space that that our world has a chance to function the way it’s supposed to function. Think about that:  If we don’t fill “our space,” who else possibly can? Being ourselves – saying what we think, listening to and acting upon our voices within, honoring our dreams – is the only way that we can fill our unique space and fulfill our responsibility in our world.

The way to do is to be. Read More→