My experience with Headspace (Review)

For a long time, I was very much against the idea of meditation. I didn’t see a purpose for it. I thought that I would immediately fall asleep having someone speak in a calm soft voice to me and be instantly bored. However, when I was in the height of my mental health struggles, I was desperate to try anything to find some sort of relief. I tried a few different apps on my phone as a means to relax and get away from social media. I finally found Headspace and was able to get exactly what I needed to help quell my anxiety and assist with the sleeping issues that comes with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Headspace has a detailed meditation library that offers meditation courses, single, live and SOS meditations for your in the moment needs or daily use. Headspace also provides focus/sleep music playlists, focus/sleep soundscapes, sleepcasts, and short videos that are labeled as advice of all kinds to help assist your needs and better your mental health. In my experience, I found the guided meditations the most helpful. I used a variety of meditations centered around calming my body down and breathwork to help my racing mind throughout the day. Some of my favorite guided mediations are Alone Time, the WFH series, Taking a Break, and the Self-Love meditation. Each of these were able to be applied to my exact needs and help me gather my thoughts and feel more grounded throughout the day instead of fixated on worries and the constant need for the control of every thought and sensation that would feel like it would race through my body. All of these meditations are offered by different meditation coaches each providing their own calming cadence and structure to the meditation. I also used sleep mediations to help me fall asleep faster at night. The relaxing voice of the founder Andy Puddicome was able to calm my nerves nightly and get me into a comfortable sleep cycle.

As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I would reccommend this app to anyone who’s looking for a way to calm their bodies and mind. I’ve learned that once both are connected and quieted, it makes life’s daily functions a lot easier and your ability to sleep a lot better.

The Pieces of Me – A Journey to Radical Acceptance

The concept of radical acceptance felt like conceding when I was initially told by my therapist that would be the game changer for healing. How could I accept debilitating anxiety? How could I accept the disruption my mental health was causing to myself, my wife, and family? The idea was a very confusing concept for me when she suggested it. Wasn’t the whole point of therapy for me to continue to fight this battle I was in? The thought of abandoning control and just accepting things for what they were in each moment felt so foreign. I entered therapy with the mindset that I needed to be saved and fixed. I was inherently broken in some way. How could just letting things be do anything? I had a lot of questions that were slowly answered over the course of each session we’ve had.

I fought the concept initially. I am a fixer by nature so none of this made sense. While they continued to explain this to me further they also recommended Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With The Heart Of A Buddha by Dr. Tara Branch. The first few chapters into the book gave me a lot of anxiety. The author made this all seem too easy to do. Was I missing something? Was there some sort of skill set I wasn’t mastering? The shame and fear grew larger. The idea that accepting all of the parts of myself that I found inconvenient or wrong or “too much” would make all of the heaviness of anxiety and mental turmoil go away felt counterproductive. I was in therapy to rid myself of this, not embrace what it did to me. However, once I stopped obsessing over doing everything the therapist and the book told me to do in a perfect way, the change happened on its own.

Action took the lead and I stopped myself from overthinking every step that I was given. I told myself that it’s time to stop beating myself up for being anxious about things not everyone may be anxious about, it’s time to stop labeling myself the resident “chicken shit” of any room I walk into, it’s time to experience big emotions and fully even when it makes me feel uncomfortable or vulnerable. It’s time to accept that I am a human with complex emotions and thoughts just like anyone else. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to mold myself to fit the needs and wants of other people. Life as a people-pleaser will give you that fate but everyday I try and make the conscious choice to allow myself the full spectrum of the human condition with condemning myself for it.

Is Radical Acceptance easy to do? Absolutely not. It is the hardest thing I’ve been challenged to do in therapy but it has been the most helpful. I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life living in the shame of my mental health, shouldering the burden, and not giving myself the freedom to be me even when it was hard. It’s a process that I still struggle with because of my learned patterns in my 32 years on earth. The journey for acceptance will be never ending, it’ll always be a new challenge to endure and push myself into but I am determined to love myself with the same reckless abandon that I love others with. It’s so needed and deserved.

To anyone who struggles with anxiety like I do, I see you and I feel for you. But, know that you are not alone in any way. Everything you think is annoying or inconvenient isn’t nearly as bad as your mind makes it out to be. I challenge anyone with anxiety to try for acceptance. As much as you may want to control your situation because it feels like its spiraling, I promise you there is a freedom in the ability to let go and face things as they come. There’s a freedom in being present and not allowing your anxiety to be your sole focus. You deserve to be your whole self, without the label of good or bad and just being.

Sugar, butter, BROADWAY!

When Covid hit, New York gradually started to shut down some of the biggest staples that kept the heart beating in our Big Apple. Landmark after landmark went down, but when Broadway went dark I knew that this pandemic was serious. I took the loss of the great white way harder than I wanted to admit. Theater was a part of the magic that my younger self found in New York City. It was my own oasis of a glittery escape in my own backyard. I pictured the normally lit signs dim as the streets lay deserted with no usual foot traffic and life to pound the pavement. Sad wasn’t the word, I was devastated with no control of what was to come and it was the scariest feeling to watch my city slowly go dim.

I know we aren’t out of the woods yet. The threat still remains real but we are figuring out every day a little more pieces to the puzzle. Science is working double time and the lights are coming back to my beautiful hometown.

The last time we saw a show was November 25, 2019. Katharine McPhee was back on Broadway reprising her role as Jenna Hunterson in Waitress. We’d seen the show twice by then but couldn’t resist going back to see our girl tear the roof off the place again. We were 13 days into our new marriage already kicked in the teeth by the thoroughs of life. We needed an escape desperately and Waitress more than delivered. Our mutual love for the arts is one of the many things my wife and I share and this show was no different. Life was good in that evening, there was no reality, no stress, we were having a date we both needed.

Today after 650 days since our last show and 555 days into the Covid-19 pandemic in New York, I can happily and gratefully say that we made our return to Broadway and back to the diner. I felt like a kid on Christmas. A bundle of nerves being exposed to crowds again (we were all masked and vaccinated or tested) but excited to be back in the theater. It’s been almost a year and a half since I’ve seen Times Square and today I took it all in like I was seeing it for the first time. Waitress was revived and brought to the Barrymore Theatre directly across the street from its original home at Brook Atkinsons. I’ve dreamed about this day, I’ve mourned the idea that lights would never come on again and I cannot explain how happy I am to have spent time inside of a Broadway show again. The world has a ways to go but these gifts of what was once reminds me to never take advantage of what you have in front of you because it can be gone in an instant. I am thankful, humbled. Thanks for taking to me to the moon, Waitress. I’ve missed you and I’ve missed my city more than I could explain.

Wife heading to the theater.

Blogtember

I’ve been writing since I can spell. For as long as I can remember, writing was an emotional outlet that allowed to express myself in ways I didn’t know were possible to do. As a child, I wrote elaborate handwritten birthday cards expressing how I felt for loved ones because it was one of my favorite ways to say it without appearing too repetitive or not acting my age. As a teenager into my early 20s, I created an entire world in written roleplay on MySpace with my character as a way to experience life on my own terms and meet others who were doing the same. It was the ultimate escape and what would lead me to find the love of my life in the real world outside of the pages of writing. Writing has always fit somewhere into my identity in an obvious way and I’ve never questioned my place in it until now.

As an adult, life gets in the way. Anxiety flares up, I’m living experiences in real time and sometimes so swept away by it all I’m exhausted. However, the ember is still flickering inside of me and a craving for self-expression. I still consider myself a writer but I find myself getting lost in the comparison to others. I’m surrounded by such an insane amount of talent in the Twitter world and my tiny NaNoWriMo platform and it’s been a daunting task to try and keep up. Am I an author exclusively or can I be a blogger too? Am I up for the challenge of consistent publishing and marketing? Can I stick to a deadline? I’ve found I’ve had a lot of difficulty with self-trust and I want to be able to keep a promise to myself in one of the safest places in my world; my writing.

I’ve tried series on here and always somehow embarrassed myself along the way with some sort of excuse as to why or how I couldn’t continue. I want to make the change and train myself with Blogtember. I’ve decided to do this now versus December because as of this month, my life is going to pick up to a level of pre-Covid speeds. Am I crazy for trying this during that? Probably. But, I am eager to build this stamina in my writing. It’s who I am, it’s one of my gifts and I want to use it as a wisely as I can. I’m going to be creating a table of contents below that can be used to enjoy the entire 30 days of this journey. I’ve had some topics I’ve wanted to discuss and some personal journeys I want to document. All of these will contain links as each article becomes published so you can use this to follow along.

30 days of September:

  1. Introduction
  2. Once Upon a Penny
  3. My experience in finding the right therapist. (And breaking up with one too.)
  4. Covid Summer Vs. 2021 Summer
  5. Sugar, Butter, BROADWAY!
  6. The Pieces of Me – Acceptance Journey
  7. The Silver Linings of a Pandemic
  8. The realization of my people-pleasing.
  9. ~~~~DAY OF REST~~~~
  10. Connection for the disconnected: TLP experience
  11. September 11th – 20 years later
  12. I LOVE NY
  13. My experience with Headspace
  14. The Dare App Premium Access (Review)
  15. Hard decisions to make (Life during Covid-19)
  16. Dream Hunter: A short story
  17. My love hate relationship with Social Media
  18. My Mental Health Update
  19. The Truth About Self-Love
  20. ‘Twas’ the Night Before A Very Delayed Honeymoon
  21. Disney World: Travel Day
  22. Disney World: Day One
  23. Disney World: Day Two
  24. Disney World: Day Three
  25. Disney World: Day Four
  26. Disney World: Day Five
  27. The Disney Downs are Real
  28. My experience traveling in Covid
  29. Dear Me,
  30. Blogtember Wrap Up.

Self-Discovery in a digital age [My coming out story]

It baffles me when I hear some of the stories from people who bravely declare their truths only to lose everything they’ve ever known. Parents disown them, relatives not speaking to them, their churches turning them away; all because they had the courage to live as who they really are. To anyone who has had such a horrible loss, I am sorry but I am also incredibly proud of you for loving yourself in a way that no one ever could. I stand with you always.

My personal story of coming out was an exceptionally lucky one when it came to sharing my identity with my family and friends.

I was 17 years old when I first started to realize that I didn’t identify as a straight woman. At the time, I was heavily into on-line roleplaying on Myspace and began writing characters that were romantically connected to both males and females. My attraction was matched for both of the sexes which was a new thought to me. Experimenting on-line was my quiet way of figuring things out that didn’t require me actively going out anywhere or talking to anyone in person. I lived a very sheltered childhood so my ability to go out to different places to explore this idea in person would have been difficult. Being online was my own private world where I could be whoever I wanted without the need for anyone’s approval. After a few months of writing relationships with both sexes, I found myself needing to tell someone in my personal life. The first person I came out to was my-then boyfriend. He was understanding for the most part but quickly grew jealous at the potential of my leaving him for a female or him not being included in the scenario should I ever decide to try it. It was a hard thing to manage because at the time I was still very much in love with him but his jealousy was so prudent it was hard not to want to remove myself from the relationship in the search for more. We eventually split up. Young love wasn’t meant to last for me this time.

The majority of my experimenting remained on-line until the story jumped off the page and I met my now wife in person in January 2009. We went on our first date and I had my first experience formally dating a girl. It was nice for the most part but the date wasn’t much to write home about. She was still figuring herself out just as much as I was and we ended up parting ways as friends for the time being. Her on and off again relationship with a woman prevented anything from flourishing until she decided it could, when she finally broke up with the woman she was seeing. We started seeing each other more that summer and that’s when I knew that it was time to tell my family my true feelings because I could no longer pass her off as the girl, I met at college in an Anthropology class.

The first person in my family that I came out to was my mother. My Mom and I had a rocky relationship in my teens and early 20s. She was trying to mold me into what she thought was a girl and I was everything but the mold she had set up. My coming out only furthered that. I was never going to be the mold she set up for me and she was going to have to accept it. Despite, being in shock her love never faltered. We may not have always seen eye to eye but I’ve always known that there is no fiercer a protector than my mother. She is the living example of lifting a car off of her children if she needed to. Her protection and good intentions knew no bounds for us growing up. My new found bi-sexuality would be a challenge for us because she would continue to challenge my feelings and call them a phase but eventually, she realized my wife wasn’t going anywhere no matter how uncomfortable she was in the new found thought of my romantic relationship with a woman.  My mother grew into the idea of the possibility that I would marry a woman and ended up being one of my biggest supporters of my relationship always providing guidance wherever she could.

I’m forever grateful that we didn’t have the tragic ending which could have cost us our relationship. She loved me fiercely through it all and I’ll always be thankful.

My father was next for me to tell my truth to. My Dad has never been one for big ordeals or a scene to be made. We were driving in the car and Katy Perry’s I kissed a girl came on so I just went for it and told him. His reaction was minimal as expected but loving regardless. The only thing he wanted to know was if I was happy and I promised that I was. He went onto to continue to enforce that anyone I dated needed to love me half as much as he did and continue to treat me with the same respect I deserved regardless if it was a man or a woman. I was told that just because I had changed the rules didn’t mean any exceptions would be made for any of my partners. They still wouldn’t be allowed in my bedroom with an opened door. It’s a funny story to look back on but it proves the consistency that my Dad posessed. All romantic interests would be viewed with the same scrunity and watchful eye for his baby girl. It was a sweet notion and my bi-sexuality was something he never challenged despite genuinely not understanding the concept of it at times.

After I told my parents which were the most important people at the time, I moved onto my brother and eventually my best friends. My brother never cared about who I was dating as long as they treated me well. He also confessed he had already known about it and was glad that I had finally come to terms with telling other people. It was a relief to not feel like I had to go through a whole explanation of my new found thought. I just was his sister and there was nothing else to say. My best friends all welcomed the new idea and they all offered their reassurance that nothing would change between us and they were eager to meet my newest potential girlfriend whenever I was ready.

I realize how lucky I am that my story doesn’t have a tragic loss involved. My family and friends never once changed the tempo of our relationship because of my identity and never stopped trying to be as present in my life as they could.

I wasn’t shunned or turned away, I was given the floor to have open dialogue about what I was embarking on and loved just as much as I was before they all knew who I was growing up to be.

Acceptance is the foundation of our pride. Love is our bravery, even when it challenges what is considered to be the norm. Your family are the people who should accept you with condition. I am so thankful to have all of this in my family and friends as my strongest allies who supported me from the very beginning of my journey to my true self.