There’s a thing that sometimes happens when you’re standing in the forest – your feet firmly planted on the leaves and pine needles that fall to the ground. Silence. There are times when I’m on a trail that I don’t even hear a bird make a peep. If the breeze or wind is non-existent there’s no rush of wind through the pines (one of my favorite sounds ever). It’s just silence. This is a comforting silence. It’s even more comforting in the high heat of summer when the sun and humidity bake the pines. The intoxicating scent of pine and the silence of a still day in the woods, are a gift.

Silence, outside of this and a few other instances, is not my friend, however. Silence gives me one impression. I can draw no other conclusions. I – the lover of words and the woman who lives for them – need words spoken or written. I literally need them. Without them, I get lost along the way and have trouble keeping my head in the game.

I’m having trouble finding my way. The silence is deafening. I can only draw one conclusion – and it’s breaking my heart. In the silence, I’ve discerned my value to you. And though it’s killing me, I have to walk away.

Dealing with Anxiety

anxiety, panic attacks

I highly recommend this podcast “Unwinding Anxiety. Breaking the Habit of Worry and Fear,” if you’re a person that is dealing with anxiety, panic attacks, or fear/worry. It’s super interesting and helpful.

If the link doesn’t work, try this:

The Battle is Between our Ears

elaina m. avalos, the battle is between our ears, three tips for finding peace and calm in trying times

The photo below was posted today on Pastor Craig Groeschel‘s Facebook page. The timing was perfect. I’ve been working really hard at keeping my mind focused and on what I can control versus the vast world around me that I simply cannot. What can I control? Not much. I can control what I allow to impact my emotions. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with any emotion. The issue is what we do with it once it pops into our brain. I’m so over and done with letting situations, people, and the world in general steal my peace and joy.

Aren’t you? The world is a hard place right now. Between a global pandemic, economic instability, political tensions, and so many other things impacting us {that no one ever sees or knows about}, the best form of self- care, as far as I’m concerned, is to not let everything around us, win the battle for our mind. I am absolutely convinced we do have 100% control over that.

The battle is between our ears, friend. I’m certain. Please hear me on this point though – I know there are physiological causes of depression, anxiety, etc. Sometimes medication is what we need. Sometimes, we need therapy. Sometimes we need a combination of these things. But if you’re anything like me, I can {and do} spin myself up into a frenzy of anxiety & frustration over what? Someone else’s behavior I can’t control? Decisions made by politicians I can’t control {outside my vote}? I have literally no control over these things. And yet, somehow, they control my emotions.

No, bro.

My peace – your peace – it’s precious. So is our time. We only have so much of it. We can’t live forever. If it’s our jobs that steal our peace, think about what’s left after the job is gone and we’re left with what’s left? Did we build enough and invest enough in our own lives, that when we look back, we have what lasts, surrounding us? What’s left when we retire or move on to the next place? Hopefully it’s the people that mean the most to us. The job certainly won’t. Titles and awards and so-called accomplishments only get you so far.

What’s happening in the world today is no different. All of this will pass. We will get on the other side of this. We will. The masks, the limitations on our ability to do what we want, when we want, the people fighting over COVID and vaccines, and presidential elections – it will all go away soon enough. When it’s gone, what will it have stolen from you? Relationships? Time?

I won’t tell a lie – there is one area where I struggle with this more than others. I won’t share details about that here. But I’m trying. I think the hardest place to fight this battle is when it’s the people you care for the most, that are throwing your emotions into a tailspin.

But for me, I just can’t let any of the negativity around me, steal time, peace, or joy from me. So how exactly do we do that? I think it looks different for everyone. Here are three tips for finding peace and calm in trying times:

craig groeschel, elaina m. avalos, the battle is between our ears, three tips for finding peace and calm in trying times
  1. I’m picking my battles. I can’t fight or win all of them. If you don’t know where to begin, start with what lies ahead of you. Lay it all out in front of you – literally or figuratively – and choose to fight & wage the battles you can win. There may be less wins than you’re comfortable with. But if you make it through to the other side with your peace intact and you haven’t wasted time on things that don’t matter to you, that’s all the winning you need, friends.
  2. I’ve got a list of things I’m using to keep myself motivated & my head in the game. Quotes, Bible verses, music, yes, even essential oils. I’m walking again. I am working on getting back into a regular yoga practice. I am using meditation and mindfulness. I am praying. I am using apps like Headspace & Oak. I use a devotional app called Lectio 365. I don’t always keep up with Lectio 365. But when I do, I’m really glad I do. I’m asking myself a few questions when something happens to steal my peace: Can you control this? Can you change this person, this situation, or even their perception? Is my lack of ability in controlling them, impacting my emotional state or even my ability to accomplish tasks I need or want to accomplish? Why am I letting someone who will soon be a memory – impact my life today, tomorrow, or even six months from now?
  3. I’m taking breaks, giving myself some grace, and slowing down. I can’t be all things, at all times, to all people. If I need a break at work, I take it. If I need to lay on my couch longer on Saturday than I “should,” I give myself a freaking break. Give yourself a damn break. These are hard times. Even harder when you through in all the “normal” shit that can weigh us down. Give yourself some grace. You are not and cannot be all things, to all people. Do the best you can and leave it at that. Literally leave it at that. Leave it. And trust that the rest {or whatever} you’ve gained, is more than worth it.

    I started this year with wellness as my One Word for 2020. Ah, the irony. But in the long run, as usually happens, I find myself in December, seeing the ways my word has followed me all year, teaching me major lessons. And in the final three months of this crappy, dumpster fire of a year, I got one of the biggest lessons {for me} on being well and living well: the battle is in my head. And I know how to win that battle.