I celebrated my birthday last week. Birthdays have always been important to me. I don’t connect them to getting older or aging. For me, they are a celebration of life and our existence here on earth. Celebrating became even more important as each of my children were born and I experienced the euphoria of bringing a little life into the world, whom God entrusted me to nurture, teach, guide and most importantly love. It has always been essential, to me, to make sure my kids knew how blessed I am they are a part of my life.
My birthday is on Halloween. I love that it is always a celebration day. I have always enjoyed having my birthday on Halloween. I consider my own birthday to be a time of reflection. I check in with myself and ask how am I doing on my goals for the year, am I where I expected to be at this time and what is better or worse than what I expected. I reflect on what I can do different or adjust, in order to achieve my goals, and what do I need to let go of, have faith and turn over to a higher power. Having those questions in mind this birthday was unique for me. At 54, I am faced with being way off from where I thought I would be and having to really redefine myself, my life and my relationships.
So this birthday came with many highs and lows. Navigating my way through the separation and impending divorce caused me to be in a bit of a fragile place. The day started out awesome. I had already had a couple of early celebration dinners with my kids and family. I was receiving texts and posts of birthday wishes. Gifts were left on my front porch and back door. I had a lovely lunch with two of my awesome friends. It was a great celebration.
I marvel at how quickly the day turned, as night came and several seemingly insignificant things occurred that triggered me into the depths of despair. That is the thing about trauma triggers they can sometimes appear out of nowhere. Even with all of the healing work I have done over the last few years I still run into a trigger now and then that throws me back into the past and reliving a painful event. For the last few years I have worked on many triggers and thankfully these come fewer and farther between. Things that used to trigger me don’t any longer. But when I feel vulnerable and am not practicing the regular self care I need to, I can get hit and go down hard.
One of my favorite things to do for fun is art journal. I am not an artist but I like taking a concept, a belief, an event or something important to me and adding a page in my art journal to represent it. Below is my course correct page.
I made the background for this page a map, because this is my guide to follow when I get stressed, triggered, or run off course. At the bottom of the page are the things I need to do on a regular basis to help me stay the course so I don’t need to course correct as often. As was the case on my Birthday I had been very busy during the days leading up to that day and had slipped on doing many of the key items listed at the bottom.
The course correct starts at the top right where it says “mess up” and following the arrows and shapes works me through helpful tools to get back on track. Each of these items deserves a blog post all their own. It starts with repenting, then moves to reaffirming, then using a couple of NLP (Neural Linguistic Programming) cues, then tapping or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), then deep breathing with my hand over my heart and my tongue relaxed, then ask four questions (Byron Katie’s “The Work”), then walk away, and lastly there is a more personal and private tip under the globe if I lift the butterfly’s wing. The nice thing about the course correct is it is a cycle I can repeat as often as needed. Many of the techniques are quick, easy, and help reduce harmful beliefs or triggers on a long term and even permanent basis.
Thankfully, I had some loving friends and family and a good course correction plan to help me out on my birthday. I thought this was important to blog about because it is good, when you are going through hard things, to have a course correction plan. It is also OK to need and use a course correction plan when necessary. Update your plan as you grow and learn about new things. I recently learned about a new app called Mind Warrior that I have started using.
As I continue to work my way through challenging times, I marvel at the gifts, the growth, and the blessings that come my way. I am looking forward to the coming year and new challenges and learning in store.
I will talk more about each of these tools in future blogs and in the mean time try art journaling, and creating a correction plan of your own. 🙂