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(A pretty picture I took today – April 14th, 2018 but when I publish it, it will probably say April 15th because it’s nearly 10:00pm now)

“By effort and heedfulness, discipline, and self-mastery, let the wise one make for oneself an island which no flood can overwhelm.”

Today, I got onto an elevator for work. I could have taken the stairs but chose the elevator. I was on the 4th floor of the apartment building. Going back down, I felt that the doors were taking longer than they’re supposed to to open and guess what?! I felt not one ounce of fear!! Not one little flash of fear, anxiety, panic, nothing!! And did not even feel a sense of panic coming on or anticipate it like I often do. This is incredible progress! This has to be my greatest accomplishment in this life, ever!

In case anyone reading this is confused or it seems like no big deal, here is some background info. about my experience with phobic fear:

F.E.A.R

It actually freaking happened

Welcome to rock bottom-the only way now is up

Serendipitous Strength

Phobia.

It’s a big, big thing! I suffered another terrible relapse recently and now I healed it again and can get on elevators myself with no fear! I have been working hard to heal this phobia. It doesn’t always take long to heal a relapse. Phobias are weak, even though they feel extremely powerful, and they lose their power very easily when properly faced again & again.

“Unlike many other mental health problems, phobias can be brought under manageable control or even totally destroyed, sometimes within hours. This is a far cry from some of the medium- to long-term work which is required for other mental health issues. So the good news is that phobias are relatively easy to deal with, providing you have the correct knowledge, support and treatment plan, along with a determined and proactive attitude. In life there are many REAL problems, which we all have to contend with, so my view is that we should conserve our energy to tackle those by ridding ourselves of the UNREAL threats, which are the hallmarks of a phobia.” ~Patricia Furness-Smith

The way I am recovering mostly, is exposure in combination with Buddhist philosophy (that can apply to anyone at all, not just Buddhist people – see Dhamma quote above). Even without the meditation part (which is also great!), I find Buddhist philosophy so very helpful in healing my fear (and in general!).

The reason that this is such a big accomplishment is not the amount of work it takes or the duration of treatment but the amount of courage & strength it takes to face it. It is hard!!

I am working on not just recovering but building my mindset in a way to see elevators as a safe place, a place of comfort, a space where I experience a feeling of being embraced in warmth & safety, security (i know security is an illusion but dont mind feeling secure in a place I once felt seemingly unbearable terror and panic). I don’t just want to tolerate them and don’t want them to just be a mundane thing or task I have to perform. I aspire to come to seeing them as an opportunity for a few moments of simple joy or pleasure.

I may not be recovered just yet or my recovery may be shaky and at risk for relapse again. It’s new and not quite ingrained yet. But it will be and then evolve into something more. I feel that Im already inclined to view elevators as a warm, cozy, safe place. Why not? They are safe for the most part. In there, alone, I am protected against the dangers of the world. I can feel that to some degree but not in great depth yet. Im working on it!

This is my goal!

I hope you are having a beautiful day or night wherever in the world you are!

Much love & light, always,

Xoxo Kim

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Phobia.

Roll With It – Steve Winwood

“When life is too much, roll with it, baby
Don’t stop and lose your touch, oh no, baby
Hard times knocking on your door
I’ll tell them you ain’t there no more
Get on through it, roll with it, baby
Luck’ll come and then slip away
You’ve gotta move, bring it back to stay
You just roll with it, baby
Come on and just roll with it, baby
You and me, roll with it, baby”

Recently, I chose to do something incredibly brave, to aid in my recovery. Every part of my body was telling me to run. There were all kinds of physical sensations all over my body, unpleasant ones, including light-headedness, fear, dry mouth, trembling sensations in my hands & legs, heart pounding…but some intuition deep inside was telling me to stay. The physical urge to run was much more easy to listen to and I was tempted. But I made up my mind. The intuition deep within is the wise voice, softer, gentler, just a whisper to “stay” next to that loud screaming “RUN” but definitely wiser. And I wont let the voice of fear drown the voice of wisdom.

So I chose to STAY.

I was standing before an elevator, alone, on the 2nd floor of a building. Right next to the elevator is a door to the stairs. I could have easily walked through the doorway to the stairs and walked down in less than a minute, which is what my intense fear was urging me to do.

But I chose to listen to that quiet but strong intuition telling me to empower myself, not my fear. For me to continuously avoid my fear (of small, closed in places, especially alone in elevators), at all costs, is to feed that fear. To give it power.

For me to face my fear, no matter how immense, no matter how suffocating, traumatic, terrible it is, is to loosen its grip on me, release me of its bondage and empower myself.

This is a fear so incredibly powerful, it knocks the wind out of me and weakens my body. I become lightheaded & disoriented and feel as if I may actually die. I have to face it & embrace it to conquer it. A cruel, twisted kind of irony to have to subject myself to the very thing that scares me most, but it is what it is.

I would have taken the stairs in this building anyway as it was only the 2nd floor but I saw this as an opportunity to evolve and I took it.

So I bravely stepped into that elevator and pushed the “1” button with my near trembling finger and watched in dismay as the doors closed on me, completely expunging my sense of control and actual control. The second the doors close, I am no longer in a position to choose. I cannot choose to run, to change my mind and take the stairs as I cant open an elevator on my own.

As the doors close, I instantly wonder if I have made a bad mistake. Maybe I should have run, taking the safe route, the easy way, the stairs. Sometimes, in buildings, we don’t have access to the stairs and I have no choice. But on this occasion, I had a choice and chose to lock myself in a big, mechanical box, alone.

But instead of completely breaking down, I stood strong and focused on my breath, each inhalation & exhalation and I became one with that breath. I felt the fear every few seconds, trying to get the best of me, that impending sense of panic threatening to overtake me, and acknowledged that fear then let it go. I felt it dissipate with each in breath & out breath. And before I knew it, there were the elevator doors wide open, inviting me to walk out into the rest of my day. Simple as that.

See, it’s really not so bad, is it?

But what if….

What if…the doors wouldn’t have opened?

What if…i would have been stuck in there all by myself?!

What if…the elevator malfunctioned and no one knew until way later or ever???

What if…one occasion it just doesn’t open and im stuck in there alone forever?!?!?!

What if….those incessant what ifs…relentless & plaguing…

After the doors close and sometimes even when Im not on an elevator but recently got out of one or will soon have to get inside one or sometimes just thinking about it, these are the thoughts that ensue. These what if’s…

But “what if…” doesn’t matter. What IS, is what does matter. And whatever is just is and that is that. I will breathe and focus and roll with it and endure until it’s over. And it will be over eventually, whatever “it” is.

After stepping off of the elevator, I planned to go right to another elevator and step inside, just to face my fear again.

And while it’s very helpful and wise and necessary to face our phobic fear again and again and again, there is such a thing as “too much, too soon” and “overdoing.” I know the value of breaks and rest and moderation and balance. Preserving energy and choosing wisely is a good thing. Generally, we have to keep facing this fear and not running. But a break when needed is also necessary. I felt that running directly to another elevator would have been more draining and detrimental than good. This may not always be the case but this moment, it was. Deep inside, I knew a rest is what I needed then, not more trauma.

Remember to keep going but also remember to rest when needed. Running, falling, once in a while is ok. Just keep getting back up!

Im not recovered. Not even halfway to recovery. And I may still have relapses and probably will before & even after full recovery. Who knows? But I discovered a place in me with a strong foundation that isn’t easy to be demolished and can be rebuilt even if it is.

Im not sorry to have encountered this struggle. I dont wish it never happened to me and dont necessarily wish it would just go away. Of course, I want this fear to heal and thats why im doing all this work. But i dont mind it. It’s a gift to have this opportunity to get better and have deeper empathy for others in similar situations. I see so much beauty in it.

Just last month, I think, my fear was so frequent, so intense, so debilitating, I became depressed and suicidal. I could hardly hold a toothbrush. I wanted to die just knowing that it’s possible to be trapped in an elevator alone. Just knowing it’s possible. Not even because it may happen. Just because it’s possible. My depression became an entity of its own and was not even just about the fear anymore.

Now here I am. Strong and still standing.

I want to share it because i believe we all have that strength to endure any battle and be even better for it. We all have the strength to see beauty in any struggle and to reach out to others in any way we can, to inspire and uplift, or just listen and understand.

The way to recover is to seize opportunities to practice no matter how difficult it is. It is very, very difficult but worth the struggle, the trauma, the pain, the terror.

Im not posting this to brag. Lol Im posting this because one night I was laying in my bed desperately longing to meet someone. A strong woman with some sort of severe phobia, preferably one similar to my own but any would do. I pined for a woman who faces her worst fear and lives to tell about it. A woman who conquered or conquers that fear. One who chose to rise above and lift others along the way.

I laid in my bed and fantasized and hoped so much to meet this strong, confident woman, either in person, in a book, or online and dreamed of being cloaked in her strength, enveloped in her compassion, lifted by her motivation, and empowered by her story. Inspired by her light.

I wanted to find blogs, books, stories… that chronicle her experiences.

I wanted to find this woman somewhere, anywhere, but couldn’t find her.

Then it hit me….

I can be this woman.

I am this woman.

I’m her.

So here I am, sharing my great fear and hoping to inspire, lift, help empower, and console someone who is struggling.

If you are someone who is struggling with a phobia/anxiety of any sort, maybe a social phobia/anxiety, or fear involving being on an airplane when you have to get on one(I have to get on elevators for work and feel your pain!), insects, or maybe a less common fear like fear of swallowing or fear of dolls, maybe a fear of dogs or noises… or any difficult situation, I embrace you in my love & am cheering you on. We all have different triggers but it’s that terrible, breathtaking panic & fear, outright terror, that we can all relate to.

Keep going. You got this!

Xoxo Kim❤

Someone you can be proud of❤

Recently, I saw this outside of a school for young children and LOVE it! What great values/characteristics to possess/display and teach children about. There’s nothing here about being physically good looking, being popular, religious (it’s a religious school, catholic, I think), financially rich, or even being intelligent, hardworking, or motivated. Not that those aren’t good things but they are not the most important or what really matters for being a good person. Someone chose great adjectives to encourage children to be, ones of substance and that will positively affect others. So beautiful!

I felt so proud upon seeing this sign but not sure what im proud of. Lol I have no kids and dont know any who attend this school. I dont know any of the staff/faculty there, that I know of, and have nothing to do with the school or people associated with it. I just see it when im walking dogs. But I am so pleased with the message! It’s an inspiring message for adults as well! Even adults can use a reminder every now & again!

Much love,

Xoxo Kim💜

Spring. 🌸🐞🐿

There are signs of spring appearing all around, assuring me that the natural world is re-awakening, despite the fact that it does not yet feel like spring.

There are still piles of snow on the ground and icicles hanging from the roof tops, and the overnight temp last night was a cool 15 degrees!

But in spite of what feels like winter’s final, desperate cling, there are buds sprouting on the trees, hundreds of birds returning to the garden, newborn ducklings, squirrels aplenty, and, perhaps, the most awe-inspiring sign has been the visits of two bald eagles, who have been flying overhead, right over my backyard at dusk each night, perhaps nesting in a special spot nearby!”

This is something I received in an e-mail through a soulfulliving.com subscription, written by Valerie. I was going to share my photo above, on Instagram, and caption it, “Spring is in the air!” Then I realized today actually is the first day of Spring here. I totally did not realize til someone told me lol

It sure doesn’t feel like Spring; it’s freezing cold and we’re having a snow blizzard. I love it! But also love Spring weather & am so happy for the impending Springy weather and everything that comes along with it.

This beautiful piece, I shared above, by Valerie, inspires me and is a beautiful reminder of how inspiring nature is.

I have been struggling a bit with lower back pain. It’s not chronic pain; it’s only temporary (at least I hope so!) but it does tend to get quite severe every now & again. Sometimes I can’t reach for things and it throbs whether I’m sitting, standing, or laying and occasionally I get just very little to no relief. It is difficult because I work with dogs! So it’s kind of hard managing back pain & physical limitations with a bunch of furballs jumping all over me and pulling me. Lol

At some points, I found it difficult to have an interest in anything because the pain consumes me. It’s definitely not the worst pain I ever felt and generally, it’s not unbearable. Pain of any sort or any level isnt fun though! I’m also sick and exhausted. Im laying in bed now half sleeping but still managing to think & write. Lol

For about two months, I have worked seven days a week(I generally work seven days a week and love it but have been working many, many more hours than usual), some days, 24 hours(overnight), morning til night. Some days I was out for work at 6 something in the morning til around 10:00pm. I LOVE the job. This much physical work really takes a toll on the body though. My poor body needs a break. It has been under a tremendous amount of stress. (At least it’s work that I love though)

As Valerie states in her message, it doesn’t feel like Spring. It’s cold, snowy, icy…but there are signs of Spring everywhere, still blooming through the harsh Wintery weather. Spring blooms and life blossoms are around. Snow, ice, cold, Winter, doesn’t hinder it.

I am reminded that we can do the same. We can blossom, keep going, and let our beauty bloom all around straight through the pain, stress, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, grief…or whatever other struggles we may currently be experiencing.

We can channel that inner-spring and unleash it, sending it out into the uni-verse to lift everyone around us. Look for all the little gems of beauty we can find, all the flowers, acts of kindness, butterflies, animals, smiles, hugs, laughs, pretty colors, inspirational quotes, uplifting social media/blog posts, the love of a pet, a favorite song or food, the feel of soft blankets, the fragrance of flowers, food, coffee, cookies baking….any little bit of beauty…these are the things to focus on, to dwell on, to embrace.

I’m happy to share this soulfulliving message here along with my experience and hope others can be inspired also, to keep going & appreciate all the simple joys of living.

We all have an inner-spring just waiting to be embraced & unleashed!

Much love & light, & hugs!!

Xoxo Kim💐💚

F.E.A.R

My therapist recently told me that we have a choice for how to handle fear. We can Fuck Everything and Run (lol!) or Face Everything and Recover. He said that both are ok but of course facing & recovering is more healthy and in the end will likely bring us the more desired results.

Recently, I encountered a scary situation. And I remembered my F.E.A.R choices. And I chose to……fuck everything and run. Lol!

The scary situation? Having to go into a building with an elevator.

In case you don’t know, I’m deathly afraid of being closed in small places alone, especially elevators – always have been and don’t know why – sometimes I actually feel like I’m going to die when I just think about it; I actually feel like death is around me, squeezing me, suffocating me. You can read more about my struggles & victories in these posts if you want!

It actually freaking happened

Serendipitous Strength

welcome to rock bottom – the only way is up

My choices? To suck it up and get on the elevator & know I have the courage & strength to handle it (going up I have to get on because the door to stairs is locked but coming back down, I can take the stairs), to take advantage of this opportunity for growth or to take the stairs and avoid that fear and the possibility of getting trapped on one by myself. And yes, I chose the second. :-/

Generally, I’m really good with facing my fear and even staying calm and getting inside the elevators alone. But this is the building where I recently got stuck in one, very briefly but still not pleasant(and I handled it so well, I must say!) and I just felt that I was in no mood for any nonsense that morning. Lol

It’s good for me to get onto elevators alone as much as I can so I can stregthen my courage & inner peace with them. I haven’t suffered any terrible relapse recently. But it’s possible that I can as I have before. Sometimes my heart still races a bit and my hands almost tremble when I get onto elevators alone but sometimes I’m very calm when I do. For a while, my phobic fear was pretty much gone, healed, recoverd. But I suffered a relapse a while ago and began to struggle again. Nowhere near as badly as before but still a bit of a struggle.

The morning I was in that building, I was struggling with the phobic fear and wasn’t up to facing it.

So when the elevator doors opened, I bolted and ran for the stairs.

I won’t make a habit of it. I will still choose to get into elevators alone and know I can handle whatever comes my way. I will remember my strength and progress and accomplishments. But there will also be moments I’ll give into weakness, forget my strength and courage and take the easy way, the way that doesn’t allow as much growth and an opportunity to strengthen my courage & virtue of patience. And that’s ok too!

We don’t always, always have to be strong and brave and inspiring and positive and perfect.

I’m generally very positive and mostly use social media for sharing inspirational and/or happy/positive things. But I also think it’s good to be genuine and share my not so inspiring experiences/choices. Like running away and not facing my fear.

I was disappointed that I couldn’t write a post about how I was brave and strong in the face of my phobic fear and how I handled it like a pro! Lol I was sorry I couldn’t use my own experience to try to inspire others or encourage someone to be brave, feel the fear and do it anyway. I could have written that post but it would be dishonest.

But then I remembered that sharing our weaknesses and less than pleasant aspects and experiences can be just as inspiring and just as encouraging and uplifting to others as sharing our strengths. There are others who run, make mistakes, have setbacks, do things that aren’t the best. And sharing this can help each other see that someone else understands and that it’s actually ok. We have permission to not always be positive and strong and brave. We have permission to falter. To stumble. To fall. We have permission to run once in a while. Just so long as it doesn’t become a habit or way of life, it’s all good! And if it does become an unhealthy habit, that’s ok, we can fix it. Habits can be reversed. Fall and get back up.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Or not.

Whatever you choose, I’m here cheering you on!

Virtual Hugs to you! ❤ (virtual hugs are good for all because even if you don’t like actual hugs, you’re not actually being touched. lol)

Xoxo Kim

My Endless Love❤

“…and your eyes
Your eyes, your eyes
They tell me how much you care
Ooh yes, you will always be
My endless love.”❤

Last year I got to spend Valentine’s Day with this lil baby. His name is Quincy. He got sick and died a few months ago but he’ll always be my endless love. I did not get to see him frequently and I cherished (and still cherish) every moment we shared together. He lived in a nursing home with his daddy and I used to walk him sometimes. He was so sweet & adorable and a lil porker. Sometimes he was mischievous and would run out into the hallway when he wasn’t supposed to. He knew how to get back to his room after we got back inside the building and stepped off the elevator. He knew his way around better than I did. He was never snappy and always sweet. He let me pick him up. I would take him to the park and he had so many friends there. Everyone, everywhere loved him. He got endless compliments.

Last year, on Valentine’s Day, they were having a big Valentine’s Day party for the nursing home residents. All the old people were dressed up and dancing to this song.

Endless Love – Lionel Richie/Diana Ross

How cute!

I miss & love Quincy and am so thankful our lives crossed. His death still knocks the wind out of me. It was so unexpected. He just got sick overnight. My heart completely broke when my boss told us.

But my love is more powerful than the pain of the loss. Quincy was around eleven years old I think. And he lived a very happy life and was surrounded by so much love.

In loving memory of sweet Quincy baby…💘❤

Xoxo Kim

Love is never lost❤

“All this time, I had hoped and prayed for a miracle. Maybe I’d missed it. Maybe the real miracle was all around me. Perhaps the greatest miracle of all was that I could let her go and never lose her. Why? I don’t know. I don’t think God explains why. Not because he isn’t listening or because he doesn’t care. But perhaps because the reasons don’t make sense. Not now, anyway. When Lazarus died, Christ didn’t tell his sisters everything would be all right. It wasn’t. Lazarus was dead and they were in pain. Christ knew Lazarus would live but he didn’t belittle his friends’ grief. He didn’t try to explain it away. He didn’t try to dry their tears. He wept with them. He loved them. It’s in that love that I trust now.”

Warning – Spoiler alert about a movie I watched, called Charley! This is a quote in the movie that I shared above. It’s about a Morman man who falls in love with a girl who is very unlike the kind of girl he always thought of as his dream girl. He always thought he wanted a simple, predictable woman. A woman who is reserved and grew up religious, one who is “safe” and cautious like himself.

Then he meets Charley and she’s anything but predictable. She’s loud and funny and spontaneous. She’s outgoing and skeptical. He never knows what shes going to say or do next.

Here is the spoiler.

I was in the mood for a lighthearted, funny romantic comedy, which is what this movie is at first. Then it turns dark out of nowhere. It was completely unexpected. In the description it says nothing about a tragedy which occurs towards the end. I won’t completely give it away but the man suffers a great loss. At first he will not accept it. He outright refuses. He denies. He screams, cries, sobs, yells in anger, throws things. He has a breakdown and cannot understand why his god would allow him to experience such a tragedy. He prays & prays for what he thinks is the biggest miracle.

And it never happens. His prayer is not answered how he desperately hoped it would be. At first, he cannot bear his devastating loss. Then he realizes that when we love someone, even when that someone dies, we don’t lose that love. Love is forever.

I love the message about non-attachment. Even though I’m not a Mormon or woman of any kind of religious faith where they believe in a god, I find that this message resonates with me on a deep level.

Perhaps the greatest miracle of all was that I could let her go and never lose her.

We can let go of those we love when we have to and still not lose that love we share with them. We will love & lose as long as we live, humans & nonhumans, friends, family, pets…and it will be extremely painful but we will go on and carry that love with us, always.

Also, I love the message about Jesus letting his friends grieve, weep, and cope with their terrible loss, without trying to make everything ok, without invalidating their pain, without any kind of platitudes. He just lets them be and shares their pain. I understand someone can argue that Jesus could have prevented this death or just healed their grief with his special powers….but that isn’t my point here.

Im not looking at this with a religious point of view as I am not a believer in this sort of thing. I’m just looking at it as a story with an inspiring aspect to it. This is a great way to be to others. To let them live their experiences without trying to change them or make things ok that can never be ok. No matter how positive we are and how happy we will be later, some things just aren’t ok to some people at this moment no matter what someone says or does. Suffering a devastating loss of someone close to us, human or nonhuman, may just never seem ok. And it may be better in some cases to let someone grieve, weep, suffer…how that person has to before moving forward into healing.

In this story, Jesus cried along with them. Sometimes maybe all someone needs is for us to sit close and share that pain.

What an inspiring movie. It is a religious movie but I also see a deeper message that even a “non-believer,” like myself, can be inspired by if we allow our mind to be open. The deeper message can resonate with us whether we are religious or not. It’s about how life can still be beautiful even after loss or other unpleasant experiences and how Love never truly is lost.

I hope you are having a beautiful day or night wherever in the world you are!

Much love & light & hugs!❤

Xoxo Kim