A Mindful Weekend

Every Monday morning, people ask, “did you do anything fun this weekend?”

They usually expect a grand answer.  With the exception of my old party days, my weekends are always pretty quiet.  I wake up early to explore the city, take pictures, write, and do a little shopping.  I indulge in coffee, see a few new spots, and do a lot of walking (Saturday alone was 12 miles!).  

My weekends are sacred to me; they’re my time to recharge, reset, and do the things I love.

I’m the rare breed of human who loves solo dining, going to a movie by myself, and exploring alone- not only because I am comfortable in my own company, but because I can truly be in the moment and enjoy the beauty around me.

I used to think I had to change to fit into other people’s lives, but I have finally realized that they’re the ones who need to be able to fit into mine.

I’m grateful to have wonderful people in my life who do fit- and these days, I don’t have to go to a major event or fill my time with activities just so I don’t feel alone.

I am already home within myself.

More Meditation, Less Medication

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In this day and age, there seems to be a pill for everything.  Not only are people running to their doctors for relief, the providers themselves are over-prescribing, patients are misusing their prescriptions, and often times, they become addicted to their medication.

Depression and anxiety are two of the most common disorders, which are treated by a variety of medications- some addictive, some not.  Although antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills can be helpful, they don’t solve the biggest problem- the root cause of the discomfort.

Researchers and a growing number health care professionals are encouraging patients to practice meditation in addition to their medical treatment and therapy.  Although many disorders are a chemical imbalance, most don’t consider how meditation can help re-wire their brain.

What if treatment facilities and doctors prescribed more meditation, and less medication?

I’ve had anxiety throughout my life, which is something I’ve never been treated for.  My social anxiety was so terrible growing up that it caused me to eat lunch in the library when I didn’t know who to sit with, skip classes or school events, and, as soon as I began college, I started drinking heavily to self medicate.  I may not have taken pills to relieve my discomfort, but I drank my worries away so I wasn’t aware of my surroundings.

I eventually went to therapy and tried antidepressants to keep my depression in check.  I didn’t take the medicine long enough to know whether or not it helped me- life situations had improved and I was abstinent from alcohol- but I also added something else to my life:

Mindfulness and meditation.

Between therapy, group support, and meditation, my anxiety and depression have been alleviated. I learned that spending more time inward was the solution to my issues.  If you break down depression and anxiety, it’s quite simple:

Depression is living in the past, and anxiety is living in the future.

Living in the present is being happy.

Whether you choose to medicate or not, consider adding meditation to your daily routine.  There are many apps that can get you started if you’re a newbie to the practice, such as Calm and Headspace, and even a variety of YouTube videos to guide you along your way.  Meditation has changed my life, and I know it can change yours, too.

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No, I’m Not On A Diet

Over the past eight years I haven’t quite accepted the identity of being a “sober person.”

Yet.  So, that’s why I’m writing about it.

My thoughts about it have wavered; at times, I was accepting of myself, and at others, I threw the idea of recovery out the window simply to “fit in.”

I couldn’t stand explaining myself to people about why I don’t drink.

As I mentioned before, some people assume you’re defective, problematic, or trouble if you say you’re in recovery.  However, most of the time people are supportive and understand.

So, if people have been supportive, why have I held on so tightly to the ignorant responses of “are you pregnant?” “are you on a diet?” or worse, “are you a mean drunk?”

I simply can’t put mind altering substances into my body.

But why would I want to?  This world is beautiful.  It’s a gift to be present.

A lot of people have questioned why I can’t just have one drink.  “Why can’t you have a glass of wine?”  These people don’t understand that the one drink sets off a switch that isn’t shut off until I’m passed out on the couch of a stranger’s apartment in Brooklyn (true story).  I could write novels about all of my mishaps while drinking- and I’m lucky to be alive to tell the tales.

Glamorizing the good old days isn’t helpful, though.  Today, I can look back and smile at the good times, but remember that the very best days are the ones where I am living in the moment, not looking forward to the next- with a clear mind and open heart.