Lifestyle Photography & Creative Content

Journal

Posts tagged encouragement
It’s Alright to Cry

Do you ever have those days where you just want to cry it all out — all of your exhaustion, frustration, pain, grief?

I experienced one of those days recently while walking around the city and cried under a tree in a church courtyard. I didn’t expect to cry while out and about, but all of my emotions from the week hit me with such great force that it all came pouring out. I had my journal with me, so I sat under the tree and allowed myself the space to be still and cry.

When I had taken enough time, I collected my things and grabbed some much needed coffee and food nearby. During my recoup, I had freed up space for reflection.

I used to live under a mindset that I had to keep it all together or think positive to make my life better. Trying to turn negative thoughts off and pretend I wasn’t anxious only made my anxiety and heartache worse.

I have found that crying is incredibly good for me and opens up more space for facing difficult emotions and feelings. It helps me to tap into a deeper part of my soul, to tune in to how my heart feels. It allows me to just feel and not judge myself for it.

I do have moments where I don’t know why I’m crying, but I know my soul and heart know. I trust the process and feel tension leaving my body when I let go of the tears.

For me, crying allows for time to pass, which is usually the self-care I need. Super simple, time.

If I try to do one million things on my task list, reach out to a bunch of friends or even distract myself, I start to feel irritable, grumpy and very anxious.

It’s when I allow myself to turn on a moody playlist, listen to the same songs on repeat, cry, take time, maybe even read, and cry some more that I feel some relief. I may not always feel 100%, usually I want to take a nap after crying and that’s okay.

Crying is exhausting like all of the difficult emotions it helps to release, but it creates space for vulnerability, for introspection. Crying has helped me to learn more about the things in my life that need some attention, some healing or some kind of change.

I cry and now accept myself as a pretty frequent crier. It has helped me and I’m so glad it has opened up a space for more self-love and compassion.

Challenge: Next time life feels overwhelming, don’t bury all of the emotions, grab some tissues and a cozy blanket or find a space that you feel safe, and cry until your heart feels just a little more at ease.

xo Joni Marie

The Power of Placing Positive Words Where You Can See Them

When bad days and difficult emotions present themselves, it’s easy to feel like giving up. I am on my on journey to overcome these bad days and embrace these emotions, but have been learning some awesome things along the way and practicing something so simple that has started to rework the way I approach life daily.

I was listening to a podcast focused on recovery for a specific type of anxiety disorder, OCD, and the therapist being interviewed talked about one of the best analogies I’ve heard for facing your fears and working to overcome the type of anxiety that couples itself with OCD.

I feel like this analogy is super relevant in everyone’s life even if you don’t suffer from anxiety or OCD. All of us have specific fears, reservations in life and absolutely everyone comes face to face with bad days and difficult emotions.

The therapist started to talk about the difference between cows and buffalo when a thunderstorm is coming their way. She said, cows being scared of the storm, start to run from it hoping they can ultimately avoid it altogether. The ironic thing is, that no matter how fast they run, the storm catches up and they still get stuck in it, but are now exhausted from running. Oppositely, buffalo decide to run towards the storm, knowing that if they run through it they will get out of it faster and will be able to rest sooner. How funny? I thought this analogy was so perfect for embracing fear, those bad days, and difficult emotions we can push down and bottle up. It is also so counterintuitive to how we are wired as humans, to run, to take flight and most of the time avoid what scares us.

I’ve been trying to fully embrace this idea in my life of running towards the storm. Another therapist puts it this way, “It’s a great day to do hard things.”

I decided to write down short mantras/ideas like the ones above I can read and absorb each day. I took some sticky notes and placed them all over my bathroom mirror. This way I read them and let them sink in more and more. At the top of the sticky notes I have the word Perseverance written. It’s the word I chose for this season of my life and it has been so life giving as I am reminded by it daily.

There is something so powerful about placing words that empower you to keep going where you can see them. It is a retraining of the brain, to run towards the storm, to read positive words even when you don’t feel like it, and to keep going, to keep persisting even through the worst of days and the most difficult emotions.

Some of the mantras I have placed on my mirror are:

  • Run towards the storm

  • It’s  a great day to do hard things

  • Trust in God

  • Even when you feel like you can’t, press on

  • Press through the pain

  • Practice Mindfulness

  • Practice Self-love & Compassion

  • You got this

What will your mantras be?

xo Joni Marie

We Are Not Our Circumstances

Anxiety and OCD can cause a lot of feelings and emotions to stir up.

Feelings of grief, devastation, questioning my identity, choices, and analyzing every single mistake. Evaluating my responsibility in everything and ultimately feeling like a failure. ON REPEAT, day after day. These feelings fully encompassed me recently and made me start believing that I was those feelings. That I was my present circumstance. 

Going through some really difficult life situations over the past year sent my anxiety and my lifelong struggle with OCD into a downward spiral. The biggest issue was, I didn’t know I was experiencing such deep grief and feelings of loss for months. It caught up with me and it can be completely overwhelming some days. 

I write this as I’m in the process of healing and definitely do not have life figured out right now. Quite the opposite. 

I ended up quitting my job which I worked really hard to move up at for almost three years and where I could support others and was promised growth. It was a hard decision, but I felt like it was time to fully take care of myself, to focus on myself without the busy weeks I encountered at my company. It has been a rough past couple of months to say the least, but incredibly necessary to my humanity. 

I have felt like I’ve lost pieces of myself for the past decade, and like I’ve been trying to pick up those pieces this past year, except I keep dropping the pieces and losing them to circumstances, anxiety, and feelings of loss. It can be a vicious cycle. And yet again, the thought likes to present itself that I am my circumstances. But how untrue that is. 

I recently came to this realization, that I may just need to let go of a lot of those pieces. Those pieces of self-doubt, blame, feelings of failure, of wanting so desperately to be in a relationship again. Ones I thought I needed to be a part of me or my life, that actually never fit or made sense. Kind of like they were never supposed to be a part my life in the first place, but I picked them up thinking they could fit somehow, that they should be things I felt or thought. Slowly I started to realize that God had given me brand new pieces, but still they are all still mixed up and I’ve wanted to avoid even looking at them or trying to put them together, and have wanted to skip ahead to see how my life will turn out (which creates a lot of what ifs and increased anxiety btw). 

The best analogy I can give for this thought was when I was visiting my family recently and my mom decided we should put together a puzzle, a 1,000 piece puzzle –– okay mom, I see you. She laid out all the pieces and started to group them by color and outside edge pieces. As she was doing this, I of course reached for the box with the picture on it to see what it was. And boom, the thought occurred. Looking at the picture is not going to help me put together the puzzle any faster and it kind of takes the fun out of it. Looking at the picture actually overwhelmed me and reminded me of how many pieces were laying there in front of me.

I then started to compare it to my life, like I do with everything, that God had given me all the pieces and even started to put them into different sections for me, but doesn’t want me to look at the end picture yet. Because he knows it would probably overwhelm me and that I would probably not want to have some of those pieces essential for my growth and learning. That I would have to trust that the end result is something beautiful, and just focus on putting one piece together at a time. WHOA, I thought, I’m so bad at that. Like extremely bad at that, but I’m working on self compassion so here we are. 

And then, another thought occurred just as my mom was continuing to put the pieces in sections...I don’t have to put this together by myself, another whoa moment. If you’re reading this and have experienced anxiety or OCD, it can feel like you’re in it alone. I have definitely thought that and have had to be reminded that I’m not alone. Support is out there, whether it’s family, friends, support groups, therapy, etc. –– Find your people and they will love you through your life and help you put the pieces together. 

Ultimately I’m choosing to embrace the thought that I can’t see the end result, the end picture. I have to focus on one piece of my life at a time. I have to feel one day at a time, even if it feels sucky. That I don’t have to hurry up and get over any feelings. Rather, I should be taking care of myself, finding out what I like and enjoy in life, and giving myself a high five at the end of each day, just for making it through another day. The biggest lesson –– I am not my circumstances. 

Yes, life with anxiety sucks, but it doesn’t mean life is over and that beautiful things can’t simultaneously exist. I think puzzles kind of suck, but I always love putting them together with others and the satisfaction they bring once complete. 

You may want to see the end result right away like me, but instead try to take a different approach and free yourself from trying to have it all figured out at one time. Don’t define yourself by your circumstances. It’ll open up more space for being loving and compassionate toward yourself and others, and will give you the freedom to really explore aspects about your own personality that you might not of even known about. 

We are lovely & brave, we are not our circumstances. 

xo Joni

How to Practice Joy in the Midst of Chaos

Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to manage my own stress (upcoming article coming soon!) breathing technics, the best yoga positions to ease anxiety, and a few self-help reads here and there. Yet in the midst of certain chaotic moments, i.e. those moments that feel soul-sucking and so overwhelming that the only cure seems to be a full pint of Ben & Jerry’s or a trip to the best local donut shop to buy a full dozen of pure sugar and carbs — I lose all that knowledge and basically go into panic mode. BUT I don’t have to get to that point, and neither do you.

I’ve always struggled with anxiety, but after one of the hardest years of my life, this year is a year of taking full control, listening to my mind and body AND making choices that promote self-care rather than people pleasing.

So, here we go, a few simple things you can do when you’ve entered into chaos, but still want to embrace all the joy (trust me, it’s there waiting to give you a big bear hug) AND ease the anxiety that likes to creep its little way back into your life. The anxiety is small compared to the JOY that awaits.

Number 1. Go drink some water, tea or coffee.

lindsay-73.jpg

This might sound super duper simple, but that’s only because it is. Joy starts with recognizing the simple things in your life that are oh so tangible and always present to partake in. Taking a second to nourish your body with something hydrating or just plain delicious like your favorite tea or coffee, gives you the minutes to remember a few good things your thankful for — which brings me to…

Number 2. Name at least 3 things you’re grateful for.

regan-87.jpg

Try to stick with simplicity on this one as well, naming things that bring a smile to your face because life likes to surprise you with good things — finding that incredible parking spot at the store, because you know you forgot to buy groceries last week and parking close means you can fill up that cart and not have to walk super far to the car. Maybe its that sweet hug your best friend gave you just because they love you and want you to have joy filled day. OR maybe it’s the sunshine on your face as you go on your morning walk to take the dog out. Whatever those three things are, remember them throughout the day, and even better write the down in a journal as positive take aways from that day.

Magic Number 3. Take some time to RELAX.

website-9.jpg

This one is definitely easier said than done, especially if you struggle with anxiety like me. I've found that a good book or better yet a good movie to watch or go see is a great way to take some time to just relax. Other options are: taking a bath, going for a walk (recommend this only if the weather permits and is comfortable outside), sleep, getting a facial (even if it’s just a diy one at home), and coloring/drawing/writing your thoughts out. Giving yourself some time to just breath and refocus, to better align both mind and body towards embracing joy.

Now, I say all of this not to forget that some days are super tough and just remembering to breathe can be difficult. BUT you got this, joy is always there waiting to give you some love ESPECIALLY on those difficult days. Don’t give up and continue to take time for yourself — to heal, rest, and grow. Remind yourself that you can get through it, AND that true JOY runs deep to your roots.

xo Joni Marie