Transforming or “Coming Out the Other Side”

See my shadow changing,
Stretching up and over me.
Soften this old armor.
Hoping I can clear the way
By stepping through my shadow,
Coming out the other side.
Step into the shadow.
Forty six and two are just ahead of me.

-TOOL, “46 and 2”

Welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

I’m starting to remember what it feels like to have an opinion about what happens in the world around me. I am remembering what it feels like to have an opinion about what is going on inside my head as well. In choosing to take responsibility for the action between my ears, I was recently confronted with an experience I’ve never dealt with before, and I’m basically writing this post to ask for help and input from anyone who reads this and has experienced something similar.

I think I’m depressed. Or I was depressed. Or maybe I still am. Also, I’m not sure. About anything. I lost my shit last night. It was not pretty.

Writing is helping the process along, so you guys get an earful (eyeful?) from me, right here, right now.

There has been a heaviness in my chest for the last two weeks. There has been a dense black cloud hanging heavy over my head for at least as long. Please let me be clear: my life is good. My life is good in ways some people will never experience. My life is good in ways some people can’t even imagine. I have nothing to complain about. And that is the worst part. The lack of a reason. The lack of a cause. The lack of a solution. Naturally, I am not comfortable or familiar with feeling like shit for no reason at all. Naturally, research began immediately. Was it my hormone levels? Did my diet play a part? Should I add supplements? Was I training to little? Too much? Let’s just say my “leisure” reading in the last month included more peer-reviewed literature than it has in a LONG TIME. I felt like I was holding it all together pretty well, but then it got worse. From previous life experiences, I know that if I breathe during times of high stress, I can usually calm myself down. I take a deep breath in through my nose and out through my mouth, and after a few deep breaths, I’m usually able to focus on the task at hand. In the last two weeks, this has happened in the most random situations and scenarios and I can’t even begin to describe how unsettling this is for me. In situations where I would normally feel confident, I was now feeling anxious. In times when I would normally feel in control, I was now feeling unhinged. I found myself focusing on my breathing. ALL THE TIME.

I took deep breaths when I dropped the kids off at school. I took deep breaths while I made breakfast. I took deep breaths while I answered emails. I took deep breaths when I was sitting in the car, waiting at a stop sign. I recognized a dull, tight feeling in the middle of my chest. Naturally, my first thought was to “roll it out”. Or stretch. Or pick up something heavy. Nothing helped.  I worked to find my center and to feel that tension release. It did not.  It would not. Now, this was starting to not make sense. From where was this feeling coming? What was happening to me? Think of a anemone in a tide pool. You poke it. It folds in on itself, trapping your finger. That feeling right there; in the same spot where you get the wind knocked out of you; for days.  Ugh.

Last night I finally lost my shit. I tried to scream it out in the car on the way home. I was alone. Why was I starting to cry? I definitely don’t cry. And I definitely don’t cry when there isn’t something to cry about. I parked the car and walked inside. She met me at the door, with a smile and open arms. I’ve never been so grateful to see anyone. I told her I was freaking out. She said that was okay. She told me to go sit on the couch. She cradled my head and she held my hand. She talked me down. She put her hand over my heart and it felt like she punched me in the chest. It came in waves, and I cried. Hard.

When it felt like I was finished, she told me to take a shower and wash it all away. The water scalded. Hot steam filled my lungs. More deep breaths, and trying so hard to find that release, but nothing. Then, a blast of icy cold to snap me back to reality. I laid down on the bed and played that song over and over again. Wanting so badly to feel the change consume me. Wanting so badly to be done feeling like this. Wanting so badly to come out the other side, scarred and tested, but much improved.

Three days later, I’m still not there. But I do feel like some progress is being made. My self-talk is improving, and I have the most incredible people in my life guiding me along and taking such good care of me. I’m still unsure what this is all about. I’m still unsure there is something that I can “find” through this process. I’m still unsure what is happening in my head, and why I have this dull ache in my chest. I don’t imagine that I’m the only person who has felt this way. These emotions, these feelings, probably manifest in a whole host of baffling ways, and some of you have probably felt like this too. How do you handle it? What are your thoughts on my “symptoms”? Any advice on how I should proceed, or how I might handle a situation like this if it ever happens again? I truly need help, and I’m open to receive anything you offer in generosity :). Please leave a comment here, or send me a quick note at tobias.shea.livingrevolution@gmail.com . Thank you all for participating in the Living Revolution!!

Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

Skill-Building

Hello Friends,

The title of today’s post is really just a nifty way of saying “practice”. I read about “skill-building” in a conflict resolution class I took in college, and I have also seen the term used in some communication textbooks Alix used in college. The psychology behind this phrase directs the speaker/actor to be empowered by improving themselves, adding a positive value to the repetition of whatever action is at hand.

I bring up skill-building now because it serves an important function in establishing and maintaining effective Communities. Also, skill-building is necessary to become proficient at the variety of new Tools we will be using together in the Living Revolution. I even have a simple personal anecdote to help make my point a bit more cogent.

Alix and I went out hiking last fall, for the first time without the kids. She and I decided to take a short trip and do a quick overnighter, just to get away from the city for a while. All week, I was looking through our hiking guide, trying to find somewhere to go, but many places were already closed for the season, or they were expecting bad weather. Finally, I found a nice short hike on the south side of Mt. St. Helens, and the weather report showed no signs of inclement weather.

We made plans to leave early Saturday morning, drive up to the trailhead and then hike until we found a good place to set up camp. We followed the June Lake Trail to the Worm Flows, a huge lava field leftover from St. Helen’s 1980 eruption. The hike wasn’t very long, but it was rough, and after about two hours, we were both ready to set down our packs. We found a small gully between two dry creek beds, covered with a bright green moss that was as soft as carpet. It looked like a nice place to chill out for the evening.

This was our second trip together, and like our first trip, we packed entirely too much STUFF! After setting up our tent and gathering wood, it was time to make a fire. This point in the story is where today’s little nugget of knowledge comes from. I, literally, could not start a fire to save my life.

When I was younger, I learned how to build a fire from my dad, and from the Boy Scout Handbook. Over the years, though, I apparently forgot. I forgot to bring anything to use as tinder, and I didn’t have anything but a lighter with which to produce a flame. I didn’t think that was a problem though. I watch “Survivorman” and Bear Grylls enough to know that you just take two sticks and you rub them together REAL FAST and then you have a nice coal that will start anything on fire. I was wrong.

For more than an hour, Alix and I both thrashed about trying any kind of rubbing we could think of to make those two pieces of wood burn. Finally, I decided the blank pages from a book I brought along must be sacrificed, or we were going to die from exposure!! Luckily, I built a textbook “log cabin” and with four small sheets of paper, I was able to build a fire than kept us warm the rest of the night.

My point is that the wind wasn’t even blowing hard. My point is that we were only going to be out there one night. My point is I had no idea at all how to negotiate a simple obstacle without the convenience of modern technology. It will be important to learn new skills, but it will be more important to constantly and consistenly repeat those skills until we can do them without even thinking about it. Remember, practice can be boring, but Skill-Building is empowering!

What skills do you need to brush up on today? When was the last time you learned something new and then practiced with intention until you were proficient? When was the last time you found yourself in a situation where you were forced to adapt and overcome, using little else than your creativity, ingenuity and will to live? If you are having some trouble recalling anwers to any of these questions, it might be time for you to step out of your comfort zone and see what happens….

Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.