The Secret of Routine

The only time I can remember solid routine in my life was in grade school. After that, I saw no use for it. It was a mere hinderance to my day. So here I sit on a Saturday afternoon in a coffee shop sipping a spiced chai latte. My soul’s desire is to taste of the place where things were created. For instance, one day soon, I shall taste the warm dark spice of chai in the depths of a remote town in India where it is grown and harvested. I will have it prepared by local farmers who know all the secret things of the herb, it’s medicinal and recreational purposes. Here I will laugh with his wife as I bounce their baby on my lap recalling my first time tasting of it’s sweetness. They will laugh at at how I first attempted to prepare the herb with hot water and sugar. I will tell them how and who drink their teas in my country.
I dream of things such as this. I write them down eloquently, flourishing each sentence and daydream with my signature flare.
I am searching. For me to be searching, some may say that I am lost, or weeded. My mind sometimes adrift like loose leaves in a storm. Yet, I am here, as solid as a fortress nonetheless. I am right here. With you.
Routine, yes, routine. I have read in books how routine builds strength and enables you to replace and reshape the muscle of habit. This is all true but most important or most peril in this instance is what to build routine around, what to make a habit? From an early age, my life and routine was centered around work, either my parent’s work or soon after, my own, or the work of others. School generally started around the same time that parents went to work. Our times to arise from sleep were set to the time of not being late to work. Lunch breaks were timed and coordinated around work productivity. Dinner was coordinated around the end of the work day. Recreation, relaxation, and spiritual activities took place with whatever time was left over from our work day. What we were taught in school was in direct coordination of a work-centered curriculum aimed at shaping young minds into obedient future employees and acclimating them into the work culture.
Gaining entry into adulthood, I faced a crisis. To continue as I was taught or to answer another question that begged an answer or me: Can I do it another way? Is there another way? By another way, I mean, is this all that life is about or can I live it another way? I wished to read and pray in the early part of my day. I wanted to work but a few hours each day. To be honest, most of the 8 hours a day I put into a job, only half of that day was really productive. I wanted to drink tea, read, and sit in deep thought for several hours of my morning. I wanted to have breakfast and let it digest before moving onto other things in my day. I wanted time to write and to be.
I made it my mission to live the life I wanted to live. In books, we are told that we are habit forming creatures by nature. I can see the results and impact of a strong and deeply rooted routine. This is why we are here and have evolved into an universally accepted truth that the perfect work day is 8hr and the perfect work week is 40 hrs. We also accept all of these other truths that are encased in labor laws about work and our time. There is strength in habit and routine. Obviously. I soon learned a thing or two. If you don’t form new habits to replace your old habits, you will not win. I tried a few times unsuccessfully to check the work lifesytle at teh door but  found that the power of a routine was strong. I had to replace it, before completely destroying it.
This is where I am today. I am here, creating a routine to disrupt the alignment of fate the stars have bestowed upon me. To shake the bonds of routine. To be.  You too can change your life with a new routine.
My new routine involves taking care of me and my priorities first in my day. At first this seemed so backwards to me. I felt out of place. But I did it anyway. You would think that doing what you wanted when you wanted to do it would feel liberating. It did but worry would sometimes threaten to get the better of me.
Setting Your Intention
Intention is the power of your will. Setting your intention means stating, believing and affirming what you mean and want to do. I like to write so I always set my intentions in writing, meditating and verbally.
I took a hard look at my life and discovered that I had lost my curious zeal and appetite for life. I found that by asking myself what I really wanted, I did not know. So for now, I found a routine that sounded promising and went with that one while promising to myself that I would spend some time investigating what I wanted. Something gave me the inclination that I would soon find an answer to what it is that I truly wanted.
Routine:
Early rise with tea and meditation, writing, then work, home, relax, read, tea, meditation. I wanted the majority of my time to be spent working on myself vs working for someone else. This is not to say that I neglected my responsibilities of taking care of myself and my family. This is all I needed to know.
I found that there was a purpose and a mission beneath the madness. I was not a mental health case. I was a human. Being. Human. This was of little solace to me. But it gave me enough room to work. So I set to work. Each day I made it my mission to live as if I were already free. I set my intention as I knew I was able to bring it to fruition. I felt my the muscle of my will growing stronger. I knew I was close to that which had called me. A familiarity settled upon me. Like an old friend coming to visit, I felt a peaceful nostalgia.
This routine awakened and tuned me to postulate what I will write. This book was meant to be a guru. I came across a guru in a book. An omnipresence that existed everywhere and nowhere. I knew things that I could not prove but was content to know. The need to show and tell relaxed. I begin to drink from the fountain of knowledge, gaining real truth and power. I felt a dawning arise in me. I knew there was a common denominator of all things in this world. All we needed to do was awaken to it. To feel it. To experience it. To be one with it.
The secret is to wield the power within and act responsibility without.

Online Therapy Sessions for Social Media Addiction

Have you ever wanted to decrease the amount of time you spend on social media and being distracted by the internet? Was the task much more difficult than you imagined it would be? You are not alone.

I have been free of my social media addiction for several years now. I quit in 2013 and life has transformed in so many ways:

  • I have increased productivity and creativity;
  • I have more time for friends and family;
  • My mental health has improved greatly;
  • I am more aware and compassionate.

If you would like to live a more fulfilling life, you can start today. I offer therapy sessions via Skype, weChat, and Google Hangouts in several different timezones. No matter where you are connected in the world, help is here.

Please contact me today via email ingramr88@gmail.com to set up your first session and build a happier life.

Peer-to-Peer Therapy: India’s Approach to the Mental Health Crisis

If you haven’t heard or read, India is suffering greatly with providing mental health care to the millions who need it. To help us understand how much of a crisis they are in, remember that India has a population of 1.2 billion people with only 43 mental health hospitals.

In order to combat the crisis, communities started introducing peer-to-peer therapy. Peer-to-peer therapy is talk therapy provided by a neighbor. In order to qualify as a counselor, you do not need a college degree or certificate. Those wishing to be community therapists take a class that instructs them on how to perform talk therapy. After the session, community counselors then go on to provide talk therapy for their neighbors.

This seems like a remarkable idea. Neighbors helping neighbors  during a crisis. What do you think about peer-to-peer therapy? Would you be willing to give or receive help for depression or a mental illness from your neighbor ?

 

To listen to the NPR radio show about peer-to-peer therapy in India, click here.

Going Without a Mobile Phone in 2017

A few days into the New Year of 2017, I decided it was time to ditch my mobile phone device, my smartphone. This was not my first time thinking about the idea of being phoneless. For a while in 2015 and 2016, I played with the idea of going backwards in time and getting a flip-phone.
At any rate, I decided that today was good as good as any. I guess I did have some middle ground I could rest upon, Google Voice. Before totally giving up my mobile phone, I set up a google voice number for instances where it seemed almost dire. (Use your own discretion as to what is deemed dire. Dire in my case was needing a number for potential clients could call and leave messages for me. )
How to Go Without a Mobile Phone?
Step #1: Open up and Tell People
This step, especially as Step 1 may seem a bit weird. Let me assure you that you will want to be as prepared as possible when doing this. Doing this step first also strengthens your resolve for the time after you have stopped using your mobile phone. You will appreciate knowing possible objections to your decisions and criticisms from others as knowing them will help you come up with creative alternatives.
Step #2: Plan Your First 30 days
Having a plan for your first 30 days will help ease the transition for yourself. For just 30 days, try to calendar out for usual interactions you would have by phone. For example, make a plan weekly to communicate with your friends and family. Going mobile less, time can be your friend or your enemy. Trust me, you want time to be your friend. Having time as your friend means that you stay committed to time contraints as much as possible and you want others aware of your commitment. When events or such circumstances require that you be at a place at a certain time, being mobile less, you do not have the option to text or call to let someone know you will be late. Planning ahead is how you make time your friend.
Step #3: Know Your Limits
Knowing yourself and your limits is crucial. Know that sometimes, you will need to communicate with others that are not immediate to you. Let’s face it, in this day and age, you are probably never less than 10 feet away from a person with a mobile device or access to a telephone. Use your resources wisely. I do not advocate using unsafe measures but I have been know to walk up to a stranger or a store to ask someone to use their phone if I get lost. Know that there are limits. Know when you need to reach out for help or when you need access to a phone while you are out. Lastly, have confidence that you will be okay. Even in emergency situations, think clearly and act fast.
What have I learned since going mobile less?
I learned that there are not nearly as many emergencies that pop up that require me to have access to a phone. I also learned that I have to rely on my instinct and myself when faced with a problem or issue instead of relying on instant communication. I have learned a lot of random things going mobile less:
  • I learned how to navigate my surroundings better;
  • I learned that not everything is an emergency and that eventually everything works itself;
  • I learned that life is more interesting when you are looking up and not down at a phone;
  • I learned that I am much more resourceful than I ever could have imagined.
If you think going mobile less is for you, give it a try. Even if you don’t think it’s best for you, it won’t hurt to give it a try and see what you learn. Let me know if you have tried to go mobile less before or if you are going mobile less now.
Good luck!

Experiencing the Unexplainable

29 days into the New Year of 2017 and already something feels really awry. I am not just talking about the political environment, no. Something else is happening inside of me and maybe you at this very moment. Stick with me as I tried to describe it.

The very beginnings of it started maybe two months ago. This sudden, very heavy cloud of dread started to form over my head. I noticed that I was more anxious than usual, more irritable than usual, and more frustrated that usual.

These feelings were not the run of the mill, usual feelings that are mostly fleeting and have some basis to understand them. No, these feelings seemed to have come out of nowhere and STRONG.

At work I was mechanically going through the motions but something felt amiss. At home, I was unsatisfied and hardly able to do anything because I was so tired when I got home, more tired than usual. I also felt confused because given my lifestyle, I would seem to be a happy person with minimum worries. I am married to a great husband, I was gainfully employed at a law firm as a paralegal making okay money, and living in a nice neighborhood in a rather affluent small town. Even at my job, I sat down in an air-conditioned office, rarely saw clients and had much autonomy. But something felt very wrong.

One day on my way to work in November 2016, the clouds of dread totally descended upon me. I began crying heavily and soon I was having a full blown panic attack around going into the office. I was paralyzed with anxiety and fear that I could not get into words but it felt like that if I stepped foot into the office, I would drop dead. The fear was so real that I decided I would rather die now so I insisted upon trying to jump out of the car while we were driving. My husband jumped into action to grab me, locked the doors, and pulled over.

All I was able to tell him between choked tears was that I simply could not do it anymore. Do what anymore, he asked? Life, I replied. I could not do life anymore. Not in this way. I crumpled up into my chair, hoping that my soul would leave my body, rendering me lifeless. I stopped caring about any and everything at that moment.

My husband became silent and began to drive. I had lost track of all sense of time and responsibility but soon, I noticed that the car had stopped and my husband was on my side of the car pulling on my arm for me to get out. We were at the Emergency Room at the local hospital. I don’t remember what he said as I was totally checked out but I assume he told them what he just occurred and that he didnt know what to do. They took me back into a room for me to undress into a hospital gown while they took inventory of my things. They involuntarily admitted me into a psychiatric in-patient program where I stayed almost two weeks.

Fast forward to the beginning of January 2017. My employer was nice enough to let me return to my job as if nothing happened and was very helpful to help me get back up and running again, of which I was grateful. Life was still going on around me. Trump was still president-elect and people were still mad about it. Future still had a number one song on radio play and I still couldn’t understand what he was saying. Time had not stood still. As I tried to settle back into the swing of things, something still felt off. Each day I would come home tired as ever, frustrated and confused. A few days into the New Year and once again I had another panic attack about going into work. I would sit in the car and cry my soul out, hurting from a place deep inside that I could not put into words. At work, I was not focused as all I could think about was when I would leave and how I did not want to come back ever again. This kind of thinking and feeling was not conducive to productivity which made me feel depressed.

One day, I decided that enough was enough of feeling this unexplainable dread. Enough was enough of not knowing or feeling lost. Enough was enough.

I couldn’t even articulate what I had had enough of. I just knew I had to try something.

Simply going to work, coming home, watching the news, and trying to be present with friends was not enough. So one fateful day, I typed up my resignation letter to my nice kushy job and quit. According to my surprised husband and family, I quit without rhyme or reason. When asked why, I told several different reasons but none contained the real reason. The reason couldn’t not be articulated. To my boss I told her that I wanted to go into self-employment. To my co-workers I told them that I may be moving soon. To my husband and family, I told them it was because I wanted to be a housewife. None of these reasons were lies but neither were they the truth.

So why did I quit? And what do I expect to gain from quitting? How will I sustain myself or help bring in income for my family? These are all the same questions that others have asked me including my family, my husband, and quite frankly, myself. Stay tuned to the blog as I tell you my journey of self-healing and explaining the unexplainable. This will not be a story that is retold by me. This is the documentation of a story unfolding.