If you have a loved one with mental illness

As I pushed my loaded shopping cart into lane 12 of my local grocery store I found myself behind a man with a cart full of items. I was in for a wait, so I leaned against the cart and began surveying the candy. Deciding against the sweets, I began to skim the magazines to my left: Oprah, Good Housekeeping, and People. I turned to the right and read a few covers of more magazines placed in the rack: Soap Opera Digest, Star, and Healthy Living.

It was the latter cover that caught my attention. Catherine Zeta-Jones, with her smiling face, but her eyes lined in shadow, seemed empty and…lost. The headline reads: “Living with Bi-Polar (Mental Illness),” at this moment I think, “Yes. I understand. Myself and so many I know. Yes. We understand.”

You see, for me, mental illness has become a place where compassion and real life have collided. Although this has not always been the case. I used to harbor anger and bitter resentment.

You may be able to think of a number of people in your life, people with mental illness or mental disorders who have greatly affected and continue to affect your life. For me this is my mom.

Living with someone who has a mental illness creates a myriad of situations. Somedays are the best days of your lives while others seem to come from a terrifying nightmare of a horror movie. That’s how I viewed it, that’s how I lived it. I embraced the amazing moments and dismissed the oddities as if they were not part of my story, not part of my life.

This created confusion for me as I began to venture out in the world on my own. I was incredibly sensitive to others “thinking” I was weird. I did not want to turn into my mom. As if that’s how it works, you magically turn into someone who is labeled as a person with Mental Illness.

I did not address any of the emotions until much later in life. The way I had chosen to deal with them allowed me to be identified as a happy person. After all, I choose to only identify with the happy moments. This served me well through the bulk of my life; it kept my energetic vibration high and really wonderful people were drawn to me. However, there came a time that I could no longer keep all of it hidden. It was as if some unseen force was pushing me to address how I felt about the circumstances that I was put in.

There are many instances that I can share with you but I’ll just share a couple here so you can get the idea of some of the situations I experienced. I was 9 years old and my mom called the police and told them that “people” where coming into our apartment, living in our attic and rearranging the dust all the while switching out my designer clothes for potato sack clothes.

It was just the two of us, where could I turn? There was no one to help, this was my “normal”. It did not feel right, but it was what I knew. Once I began to address my feelings; it took me years of feeling through the experiences that I had, but eventually I got to a place that not only had I found forgiveness for what I went through, but more importantly I found immense compassion.

After truly making an effort to spend time with my mom and having some really open conversations about what her life experience was like, from her perspective…I came to the realization of how terrifying it must be for her. She expressed to me that she hears voices, telling her ugly things about herself and others. Now I imagine these “voices” are not like what I hear from my ego with ugly self-talk, I imagine them to be a much more dominant force. I contemplated how scary it must be to walk through life with your own head consistently “whispering horrible statements”. This allowed me to soften, forgive and really find so much compassion for my mom.

Today my mom is medicated and does not experience the episodes that she once used to, but that has changed her as well. I notice now that she is medicated, that she does not have the capacity to feel the depth of life that I have the privilege of. Please know that each of us has our own battles and love and compassion can overcome any perceived obstacle. If you have a loved one with mental illness, one of the most important things you can do is to invest the time to understand the dynamics so you can learn to forgive what they may have done to you and learn how to best deal with it move forward.

Angie Grimes, also known as Muse Maven, is a Spiritual activist providing Inspiration, Knowledge, and Motivation. Teaching you to look within and awaken – guiding you to use practical techniques to reactivate understanding and spiritual connection, so that you can begin masterfully building the life of your desires.

I had a crisis of identity and it can happen to you too!

I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing an amazing career, with many high highs and nearly as many low lows. It was much later that I realized I had allowed my identity to be directly tied to my successes at work. I co-founded my first business at 24 years old and it was one of the most exciting and terrifying times of my life. Our company experienced TREMENDOUS growth and within 2 years of beginning it was just grossing just over $5 million dollars a year in sales.

My confidence was high, I really thought I understood who I was and what I was offering as a person and a business. I worked, and worked and worked some more…iterating, evolving and changing. The machine had become my baby, but it was more than that…it became WHO I was.

For years I had incredible successes over successes, so I did not even realize that I had identified who I was with what I did. Then there came a point that I began to struggle meeting those continued successes. Everyday seems like a battle and a grind to get things accomplished, I was overwhelmed and stretched way too thin. Then we took another blow as the economy came crashing down. It was a scramble to revamp our business model, all the while seeing the sales slow and margins shrink.

I tried to bolster my resolve, I’ll work harder, innovate more, I can do this! When I made this commitment something strange began to happen; the more I tried to hold on, to get a grip, to make it work…the more that I lost control. This was a business with 170 team members and I was not adequately engaging them or allowing them to grow. The reality unfolded that I was stifling my business, my staff and in turn stifling myself.

Ultimately, I was pushed out of the business and it crushed me personally. In the months that followed I felt battered, defeated and exceptionally lost. It took me years of contemplative assessment to understand that when my accomplishments became fewer and farther between (and ultimately stalled), I equated that to my self-worth and I began to spiral. I had allowed myself to become a reflection of my work, and who was I without my work?

Upon this realization, I experienced a shift in my perception that lead me to learn to never identify yourself with your actions. You are not what you do. No matter what you do or where you live, these criteria DO NOT DEFINE WHO YOU ARE. When we choose to live by this false identity and draw our security from it, we are always in need, always dissatisfied, and really only focused on our needs simply because nothing is ever enough. We are left with an insatiable desire to search for fullness and completeness, but never finding it. We are continuously trying to fix, change, or re-arrange ourselves or our personal environment. This puts us in a position of lack and need, which pushes us to try and hold on tighter to control of our lives.

This can be said for so many facets of our lives; careers, relationships, physically and financially. Life eludes us, people fail us, and ultimately we are miserable.

This is a choice, the opportunity lies within each of us.

Angie Grimes, also known as Muse Maven, is a Spiritual activist providing Inspiration, Knowledge, and Motivation. Teaching you to look within and awaken – guiding you to use practical techniques to reactivate understanding and spiritual connection, so that you can begin masterfully building the life of your desires.

What is normal anyway?

I have a little secret to share with you, something that only a few people on this entire world know about me…until today I suppose.

I have a physical reaction to cringe whenever anyone would tell me that I was weird or crazy. Have you ever experienced anything like this yourself?

I’ve tried for a good portion of my life to please others while largely flying under the radar. It took me a good portion of my life to be comfortable with my own personality, quirks and all. I had several traumatic childhood experiences (I know, who didn’t) but it really shaped much of what I was willing to show others about myself. My mom suffers from mental illness and this created a complex living situation. I never knew what I was going to walk into when I would get home. Each day was unexpected, could be a fun day of cooking, laughing and playing games or strange oddities such as being told that the dust in the house was being rearranged.

At the time, this did not create many anxieties for me. Later I understood that you only know what your surroundings provide to you. Amidst all the chaos that I know I was in, there was a sense of normality while I was going through it as if it was simply part of everyday life.  Once I had the vernacular to know that life could be different, I made it my mission to achieve that for myself.

But I knew in the back of my mind that mental illnesses can be inherited and anytime that someone would tell me that I was being weird or crazy, I would get this visceral physical reaction and want to shrink up into a ball and fly away. I wanted no association with those terms, EVER! I was terrified of the prospect that if people were telling me that…I was turning into my mother. This lead to me always be very *careful* with how I behaved and what I said, erring on the side of normal so not to be thought weird or crazy. Somewhere along the line I realized that I was really stifling who I was and more importantly who I was meant to be in my life. I began to ask myself questions like “What is normal anyway?” and “Who has the right to judge what is normal?” However, I had treaded the line of suppressing myself to fit in the “normal” box for so long it took me a lot of exploring to determine what the authentic me looked like.

As I began to become more open to showing who I AM all sorts of wonderful things began to happen. I began to recognize that individuals who were using those terms about me, really where showing more a reflection of who they were than an actual depiction of who I was. This really softened the physical responses that I had over time. Also, the people that began to come into my life had an appreciation for who I was. Yes, I may have been different, but the terms weird or crazy where not what they saw. This in turn bolstered my confidence to want to show more of who I really AM and wanted to become. Another wonderful side effect was that I began to find happiness in my life, being able to express freely. A good, longtime friend said that he viewed me as “slightly altered”, today I can take a statement like that and know that there is beauty in the being different. But long ago, I would have crumbled.

You must explore the depths of your being to find who you are and then learn to love it all, the good and the bad of it. Only in this way do you become aware to the whole truth of the matter; the process of shaping yourself is eternal and only you have the choice of what each stage entails. Not only does your perspective change that shifts your past experiences, you are faced with new challenges that continue to shape the current individual that you are to become.

Once you readily own this, it becomes an incredible space of freedom that can be achieved in no other way. So today go out and be free to show this world who you are!

 

 

Angie Grimes, also known as Muse Maven, is a Spiritual activist providing Inspiration, Knowledge, and Motivation. Teaching you to look within and awaken – guiding you to use practical techniques to reactivate understanding and spiritual connection, so that you can begin masterfully building the life of your desires.

Speak Your Truth.

Empowerment is a term very commonly and freely used in the self-help arena.

Empowering oneself often means to give yourself the authority and capabilities to achieve your goals. I would like to suggest that this term by its very definition can be debilitating.  I know that this seems to be an odd standpoint on a word that is so freely used, but I want you to consider this.

Today “empowerment” invokes power while signifying the lack of it, to begin with. Empowerment does not increase your potential so much as it assures you that your potential was and is just as it should be. The term empowerment is synonymous with permission, approval, and consent. The implications are that before you made the decision to stand for yourself, you did not have the authority to do so. But, you always have!

This word has become widely used as a marketing tactic to apply a feeling of power behind something, typically products you can use. But here’s the thing, you’ve had the power all the while.

I had previously experienced a situation related to work. A bit of back history, I’m not one that reveals in confrontation. In many instances, even when I have something to say I won’t engage if I believe it will lead to conflict. This may sound like I’m too timid or shy, however it’s quite the contrary.  You see, I value my energy and what I focus on. So, I just assess if it’s worth the energy that I will have to expend to confront an unwanted situation and in more instances than not, it is something I will let go.

But, I had a situation at work where there was an implication about my work effort that simply had no merit. This particular instance I was not prepared to let it go. I set aside some time to carefully and thoughtfully allow a space for me to speak my truth, unsolicited and after the fact, I might add. I truly spoke from a loving place that honored who I was and what I wanted to represent and it definitely seemed to soften the response.

Afterward, I experienced this amazing powerful release that you can have when you voice your truth for someone to know and they accept it. This situation could have been considered an empowering one, but in reflection I had an understanding that this capacity, to speak my truth, is always within me. I did not need any permission, approval or consent to use it.

So you see it becomes more about the recognition of your power within. Don’t get sucked into the glamour of “being empowered” today. Own it, embody it, use it! You are all powerful and don’t ever need to be empowered to know that.

Angie Grimes, also known as Muse Maven, is a Spiritual activist providing Inspiration, Knowledge, and Motivation. Teaching you to look within and awaken – guiding you to use practical techniques to reactivate understanding and spiritual connection, so that you can begin masterfully building the life of your desires.

Alter the Window Through Which You View the World

We all hear so much today about how much your life can change when you practice positive thinking and even research is beginning to reveal that positive thinking is about much more than just being happy or displaying an upbeat attitude.

Positive thoughts can actually create real value in your life and help you build skills that last much longer than a smile.

But I want to expand upon this thought even further. I’d like you to visit a place called perspective.

Over the years of my life I began to recognize that there is two basic ways to change your circumstance. One is to physically make changes that by their very nature, create change for you. The other is to change your perspective about your circumstance, thereby shifting your thoughts and feelings.

Several years ago my husband passed away at what many would consider to be a young age and I can tell you without a doubt losing anyone that is such an integral part of your life is one of the most painful experiences.

Now looking back, I decided that could look at that part of my life in one of two ways: either I was destined to live a miserable life full of pain, hurt, and injustice for what I had lost; or I could choose to revel in all the joy that we shared and that allowed me to sink into the gratitude for the time that we did have thereby coming out stronger, better, and more spiritually aligned than if I did not go through it.

I opted for the latter.

You see absolutely nothing has changed about the circumstance, but EVERYTHING changes with a shift in perspective. This single realization, that is part of mindset, created a knowing that I can shift my perspective to experience my life in the way that choose was so powerful for me! I found so much comfort knowing that I had the power to change my feelings in an instant by changing my perspective.

We all experience personal tragedies of one sort or another but how we view what we are going through is completely up to us. Even after I realized the importance of perspective, I still had moments when I let the negative invade. When that happened, I changed my thoughts in the way below to shift my mind back to a place of peace.

There is not one single thing that lasts forever. No emotion or circumstance lasts indefinitely. Life is comprised of ebbs and flows, we all experience good and bad in life.

We live in a place of duality. There is so much more than the physical world we see and feel. There is an energetic vibration, encompassing spirit and purpose. When I remember to tap into that deeper meaning behind what I am experiencing, then I can accept what I am going through with greater ease.

We have a choice in how we view things. Today, as I reflect on all of my comprised experiences I know that I have a choice about how I want to think and feel about them, so much has come from it.

Take a moment and reflect your life, how many of the tough times that you endured have actually turned out to be a blessing? Only you have the choice to find the bright side in your situation, no matter how tough it seems. The most empowering way is by changing your perspective and identifying the positive of each experience.

Remember, changing your perspective is like altering the window through which you view the world. The window still exists in the same way it always has, you’ve just changed your mindset about how you relate to it. When you can change how you view the world, it will change how you feel about it.

It is my belief that changing the perspective of your mindset is really key to masterfully building the life of your desires!

-Angie

Angie Grimes, also known as Muse Maven, is a Spiritual activist providing Inspiration, Knowledge, and Motivation. Teaching you to look within and awaken – guiding you to use practical techniques to reactivate understanding and spiritual connection, so that you can begin masterfully building the life of your desires.