Tag Archive | motivation

It doesn’t matter – Yes it does!


What you do matters. What you want matters. How you feel matters.

I’m ready to start my list and I figured out why it is so difficult. Remember those stuck points from cognitive processing therapy?  It seems I am still stuck, big time, on a major one.

“It doesn’t matter” or, related but even bigger,”I don’t matter”

Those two thoughts run rampant in my head, causing downward spirals into negative thinking, but even worse, causing numbness, thoughts of worthlessness, causing my protective shields to go up full force and dissociation to engage.

How do I get past this one when it is so huge? I need to build off those sparks I wrote about previously. Those moments when life sneaks through and I do feel something. I must be in here. And then I parent myself. What if my daughter had no desires? What if she thought it didn’t matter what she wanted? What if she thought she didn’t matter?

Okay. Wow. That hurts, unbelievably so. To even imagine for a moment another child having these thoughts is unbearably painful and brings tears to my eyes. But for me – for me it is truth. Okay. So this is how I will get my motivation and feel something, and get my head on straight. I’ll tap into this pain, because this pain is feeling alive. This pain brings me strength as it washes over me and I realize if only for a moment that if my beautiful children matter, then I must have to. I must still matter. It is just so hard to hold onto that. And now I know I matter most because I have taught my children they do matter. They know it in every cell. They will never question it or hear this in their heads. And I matter to Hubby. I now understand his pain when I say I don’t. Wow. Okay.

So if I take that realization, that raw emotion, my inner strength – how do I make a list of what I want? This is still really hard….



Stop Settling for “I Don’t Care, I Don’t Know, and It Doesn’t Matter to Me.”

It doesn’t matter how small the decision, to begin reclaiming your right to decide what you want, have a preference. Yours is just as important as anybody else’s so speak up, voice yourself.


If you are having a hard time figuring out the one thing you want from your life, why not choose thirty? That’s right. On a piece of paper, write down a list of 30 things you want to do, 30 things you want to have, and 30 things you want be before you die. Sometimes when the pressure to find just one thing is removed, the floodgates open and you discover that there are a multitude of things that you want to do with and in your successful life.

Make an “I want” List

For 10-15 minutes have a friend record your answers to the simple question, “What do you want?” During the allotted time, have your friend ask you the question over and over again. If you’re like most people, your list will range from the very material things to matters of the heart and the true revelations of who you are and what you want from your most true self. Go ahead, start asking: What do you want? What do you want? I want! I want!

So I’ve been trying to trick myself. Ask what I want (what I really really want, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want (sorry for the Spice Girls intrusion)) so quickly that I get a response before my stuck points engage and all my defenses kick in.

I also saw a comment on that page that helped a bit

“I’ve always had a hard time making “I want” lists, so I started with “I don’t want” instead. It’s amazing to see how much hard work we can put into getting things that we don’t even want. Once we eliminate some of those, it’s much easier to see what we do want!”

Things I don’t want? Hmmm let’s try that:

  1. A sunburn
  2. Trump as president
  3. Fake friends
  4. a meaningless job
  5. insects. except maybe honey bees
  6. cancer for anyone else I know
  7. to feel dead inside
  8. to fear so much
  9. to waste my life
  10. to ruin my kids’ lives
  11. to hurt or bother people
  12. to feel irritated or bored all the time
  13. to go on a cruise
  14. to scuba dive or snorkel
  15. to be alone
  16. Poison Ivy
  17. lose my sight
  18. to gamble my money
  19. noisy, smelly fish tanks in my house
  20. to be homeless

30 is hard, so I’ll stop at 20. That was interesting what popped into my brain. So let’s reverse now. What do I want? (remember – do not think about money or what feels possible, only what you want. If you want it but think “that will never happen”, it still needs to be on the list) The first thing I keep hearing is: travel. Go somewhere. Get out of the house. Get out of the state. See something new. Do something.

  1. Travel somewhere I have never been before that has an amazing natural view, landscape, or rich history – mountains, lakes, caverns, forests, rivers, estates, cabins,  mansions, museums, parks, etc
  2. Experience Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue live with full symphony
  3. Take kids to see Joseph and Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  4. Go to a concert without kids – Zac Brown, 21 Pilots, Jack Johnson, Shaggy, Lumineers, Chili Peppers, Chicago…so many options
  5. Walk on a white sand beach
  6. Take kids to Niagara Falls
  7. Write a novel (finish the one I started ?)
  8. See the stars in the giant telescope at the observatory
  9. Hear a jazz band in New Orleans
  10. Sit on a horse (I’m not allowed to ride…)
  11. Paint a large painting from my heart
  12. Join a club or meetup group (hiking, art, photography, writing, book club, drum circle…)
  13. Explore Machu Picchu
  14. Take canoe trip down a river
  15. Join a performance group – get on stage again
  16. Take a weekend getaway with hubby and no kids
  17. rescue and train dogs, certify service dogs
  18. grow fresh herbs indoors
  19. illustrate a children’s book
  20. write and illustrate a book of poetry
  21. get a tattoo
  22. save the world
  23. research and write about the brain and behavior
  24. cure PTSD
  25. find where I fit in, a job with meaning
  26. make a friend to have a coffee with once in a while
  27. be a good person, feel like a good person, feel like a person
  28. See original art from Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Dali, Botticelli, Michelangelo….
  29. Do something that afterwards I say “I can’t believe I just did that!”
  30. Drive a fast motorboat

What do you want to do today?

What if there was no tomorrow? What if you couldn’t rely on tomorrow and another tomorrow and another to delay your dreams, goals and desires? What do you want to do today?

This video is from one of our favorite shows, Phineas and Ferb. Everyday these boys fight summer boredom by coming up with something outrageous to do. So many catch phrases and twisted plots, nerdy humor, and awesome musical numbers. Everyday they say I know what I want to do today. And then they do it. Whether it is building a roller coaster, a time machine, a winter wonderland, robot clones…And of course their pet platypus is actually a secret agent fighting against an evil scientist and no one knows… We just love this show.

I’m guessing most of you spend most of your time doing things you don’t want to do. You trudge through life, running endless errands, doing tedious chores. Maybe you don’t hate your job, but most people seem awful happy to get a day off. But then how do you spend your day off? Escaping life in front of the TV? Are you bored? Tired? Do you even know it?

When is the last time you truly felt alive?


I’m not sure most of us are actually living. If you are, please ignore this. I do know some people that skydive and run with the bulls or climb Mt Everest or whatever. Or I know some people that are going back to school to pursue the career they actually wanted. Living can take very different forms but I do think some key ideas are central.

How to feel alive:

  1. Do something you want to do everyday, not only out of obligation
  2. Tackle your fears – you decide which ones need tackling
  3. Have multiple goals, little ones and big ones, and not all of them related to self-improvement, some are just for fun because you want to do them
  4. Practice mindfulness, live in the moment, experience everything NOW

I think that’s how to get started. I say I think, because I am not truly living. I can’t tell you the last time I felt alive. It has been years, many years. I am idling through life right now, going through the motions of what needs to get done. I enjoy moments, not saying that I don’t. This is different. I might enjoy leveling up in my video game, or that snuggly feeling watching a movie with my kids on my lap. Those are nice. But they don’t fuel me, keep me going, or make me feel alive, move me towards a greater goal, define me, fill me with awe or rock my world if you will.

I want to be amazed. I want to be overjoyed. I want to be excited. I want to feel.

I want to learn. I want to create. I want to grow. I want to experience. I want to share.

I want to feel alive.

So I’m going to start a list full of things I want to do, fears I want to tackle, and goals I want to accomplish. I would list it now for you, but I can’t. My list is sadly empty. White space and crickets. I don’t know what I want. Hmm. So I guess then

Goal #1 – figure out what I want and make a list

There I started it!!

Get Motivated. Right Now.

How do you reach that motivational state of mind?

Motivation is tricky and not well understood. It is not linear or one sided. No motivation is complex and loopy and involves multiple factors, some within us, some external to us. Each move we make is a choice. How do we choose?

Our motivation is a combination of our beliefs, our goals, our dreams, our environment, and our mood. Currently I’m in a safe environment that is a bit lax on housekeeping standards. No one here cares if I leave some dishes in the sink or dust on the shelves. No one cares if the papers pile up on the counter. The clutter is overlooked.

I would prefer if everything was perfect and tidy at all times. Somehow I allow myself to overlook the clutter as well, feeling overwhelmed and defeated by it, by the repetition, by the fact that even if I clean it all up perfectly now it will be destroyed later the same day. I can’t keep up so I stop trying. I lost my motivation long ago in this losing battle.

But when someone is coming over to visit, I dig in deep and take care of it. I talk to myself encouragingly to get the job done. I break it down into small steps and lists. This may sound silly. If it does, then I am happy for you that brain functions without you having to kick its ass. If I don’t jumpstart mine, I will remain motionless, thoughtless, an empty shell trapped inside itself. I have tried being my own drill sergeant. That makes me angry and stubborn. No, I like to be my own nurturing mom, holding my hand, gently reminding and encouraging myself that I can do it and what I need to do next. I speak to myself firmly but gently, just like I do to my own kids when I give them instructions. They listen to me because I’m supportive and authoritative. They know there will be consequences if they don’t

Make yourself some coffee
Load the dishwasher
Wipe down the counters
Sort the papers from the hutch

Go on, get up, get started, you can do this. (give possible consequence: You don’t want so-and-so to see this mess, right?) back to supporting. It won’t take long. You’re strong now. Just get started and it will be done before you know it.
Coffee, dishes, counters, hutch

Coffee, dishes, counters, hutch

I turn into a Dora the Explorer episode, repeating to myself what I am going to do. I usually do about 3-4 things in my list. Then I start a new list if more needs done, so nothing gets overwhelming. Often I turn on music once I have my list going in my head.

But something always happens, I can feel the change in my brain and mood once I make the decision and start this motivation process. I go from feeling empty, spaced out, exhausted, to having a bit of energy and focus. Although I don’t exactly enjoy the tasks I am doing, I feel good about doing them. I battled depression and won again.

I found an interesting article here http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/03/03/469033034/could-you-hack-your-brain-to-get-more-motivated explaining how people could use feedback to access the motivation centers in their brains. With practice and fmri they could see this area of the brain lighting up. Super cool.

Excerpt from the article:

Two of the researchers, Kathryn Dickerson and Jeff MacInnes, tried the system out on themselves. Not everything worked. Dickerson said she tried thinking about different memories that left the feedback meter cold. “Zip lining was super fun, but [thinking about that] was just terrible and not effective at all.”

So she switched strategies and tried giving herself a pep talk in the scanner. “I was like, ‘Come on Katie. Move the thermometer. Just do it and move it.’ And I just pumped myself up. That was very effective,” she says. “It was exhilarating.”

It was also exhausting, MacInnes says. “The experience of the task was very difficult. You’re being asked to generate these intense motivational states for 20 seconds over multiple periods. It was very fatiguing for people.”

Study participants had a similar experience, Adcock says. Some people sang Queen songs to themselves or imagined having an angry coach yell at them. “My personal favorite was running down a line with everyone giving you high-fives,” Adcock says. When she took the feedback meter away, the participants were still able to light up their ventral tegmental area by thinking about the same things.

People really are changing their mood when they’re doing this, Adcock thinks. They’re really becoming more focused and eager. And it seems the effect begins reaching out to parts of the brain involved with learning and memory,

“We think that’s exciting because it shows after this training, something changed, Dickerson says. “The brain isn’t quite the same.” She thinks people might be achieving a state of mind that’s more conducive to learning and motivation.

I believe I have learned how to do this myself with the self talk I mentioned above. I know how to get myself moving. My problem is, I don’t often find a reason to these days. Most things sadly seem pointless. I’m struggling with staying motivated or setting goals that I care about. I used to be an overachiever. I know how to get things done. I simply don’t want to anymore. I’m not even sure I’m depressed exactly. I’m struggling with my purpose and identity, which I suppose is depressing and exhausting. But I’m able to motivate myself when I need to, when I see a reason to. And so I am desperately searching, seeking a goal, a dream, something to cling to, to attach motivation to, to stop floundering and wasting all this time.

What I’m good at:

  • I go to the gym and workout at home because I want to be stronger and have a healthy body. I hate being weak. I hate relying on others to lift and carry things. I hate feeling vulnerable. So I am motivated, this one is easy, I exercise daily to meet this goal and my progress is easy to see.
  • I eat whole foods from my safe list because I do not want to have a migraine attack. I do not want days of pain and suffering. I do not want to let my family down and be a burden. I want to take care of them. I am motivated to avoid pain and be a good mom.
  • I continue to blog and fill out cpt worksheets even though my therapy program has ended because I want to continue to heal, to process, to grow. I am motivated to be self aware of ptsd, to manage it as best I can, and work towards minimizing the symptoms.

What I’m not good at:

  • I am not working yet. Although money is tight, we are managing with one income. I am not motivated to return to work. I feel I am a better mom and wife without trying to work. I’m already exhausted and stressed daily. I do feel guilty, but this guilt is not a strong enough motivator to overcome the rest. I am grateful Hubby supports this decision.
  • I am not doing much with my free time. This should change. Eek there’s a dreaded should, but I’m leaving it because it came out. I do have considerable guilt about how I spend my days. I don’t feel like I am doing enough, or like I am enough. No one complains, I put this on myself. I’m so used to achieving and I feel so lost. I want to feel motivated again. I’m hopeful this whiny stage is the first step to finding an action item. As odd as it seems, this is better than not caring. This is an improvement.

So. I know how to put my mind to something I care about. I know how to make a change. I know how to set goals and achieve them. I just need something to care about. I need something to do. Right now. (Yes of course it’s Van Halen time)


What motivates you

What gets you out of bed each day? What drives you to keep going when things are tough? What motivates you to succeed?

Or have you given up?

I used to be the most focused, driven, motivated person you’ve ever met. I used to love and seek out challenges, eat them for breakfast and want more. I used to have goals and a sense of purpose.

That’s all gone now. I haven’t given up…but I’d like to. I don’t want to battle any more. I’ve had enough challenges, thank you. My goals have all been reduced to ridiculous little embarrassments and I have zero sense of purpose.

Even worse, I have no sense of self. I’m empty inside. When I look within, it is a hollowed out shell.

I have learned that parents have the important job of instilling a sense of self in children. My parents did everything possible to ensure that did not happen.

I have learned that everything I was working towards was not my own. I had this sense of what it is to be successful and that’s what I did, at all costs. Apparently I kept up this charade until AF’s death. Was it all for him? To show him I wasn’t stupid, worthless, and didn’t need him? But I seemed to have built a life with no meaning to myself. It was built with goals being checked off successfully. I got good grades in that life, but didn’t absorb any of it. I did what I was supposed to do, not what I wanted to do.

Now I’m left with the question then, what do I want to do? Nothing. I got nothing. Crickets.

I know my brain is broken with these migraines, and I’m working through the trauma recovery program so I should be patient and compassionate with myself. I’m trying, but the emptiness is unnerving. I’ve never been here before, a place without a plan, no boxes to check off, no way to succeed or be amazing. I’m sitting at home being stupid. On a good day I wash dishes, yay for me. I help kiddos with homework. I can’t drive at night, the persistent visual aura makes that impossible, so hubby drives kids to after school activities. I’m usually too tired to read bedtime stories, when I attempt it I repeat entire paragraphs, forgetting what I just read.

I’m scheduling with neuropsych soon for a full battery of cognitive and memory function tests, 4-5 hours.

The IV magnesium infusion last week did not help my help and messed up my guts so I spent 2 days in the loo.

I’m tired. I don’t want any of this. I don’t want anything. I’ll keep searching for something to fill into the emptiness, but I keep having this aching feeling that it’s too late for me. That it had to be done in childhood, that I could spend the rest of my life trying to rewire my brain and never get very far to feel any differently.

But as I said before, I am curious. I am my own science experiment. And I’m already broken…can’t break broken so may as well keep experimenting. What I need is some motivation that comes from within.

Right now I’m like Pierre. I don’t care.

Pierre Video by Maurice Sendak

What Keeps You Going

My new therapist asked me that question during our first meeting. I was unable to answer then. I am still unable to answer.

Daily life is weighing on me heavily. The challenge of the new job has turned to more frustration than excitement. I look for ways to enjoy myself and nothing feels right. Everything feels difficult and pointless. Yes, hello, we’ve been here before.

I’ve learned to control much of my anxiety. I’ve learned to suck it up, smile and do things I don’t want to do. Still trying to find the balance.

My daughter wants a sleepover birthday party. I’ve survived 2 of those now, so no panic this time, but instead I feel a hollow fatigue. I’ll go through the motions for her, but I wish she would’ve asked for a pony. I’d rather have a pony tromp though my house, it would seem less intrusive. The thought of all the preparations, cleaning, cooking, planning make me tired before I even start.

And this marks the start of holiday season – so many decisions. After some soul searching, I realized I do not miss anyone. Ever. This is not the same as hiding, I don’t think. Like I could tolerate a get-together, but I have no desire to attend one. I saw my mom and brother again this weekend, gave hugs, but felt nothing. I have this huge overwhelming desire to be left alone, like I have no social needs right now. This used to come with a feeling of intense loneliness and self-loathing. I don’t really feel anything. Is this improvement? or another odd mood I need to examine and dig myself out of? I want to opt out of all holiday gatherings but I can’t and I won’t. Why do I go?

I’m tired of examining and digging.

Kids were invited to a bonfire at the neighbors. I don’t understand this particular social activity. I don’t get anything out of staring at a fire. I don’t like my front too hot and my back too cold. I hate forcing a smile and laughter or faking concern as the other parents chit chat. I hate smelly smoke in my face, burning my eyes and lungs, making me cough and itch. I almost forced myself to go – to make an effort – and then I stopped and asked myself WHY? What is the point? I don’t like them and I don’t care if they like me. I don’t want to be friends or even friendly. I’m totally fine with the ‘Hey there’ wave from a distance. So hubby went to hang out without me.

Am I stifling my growth? or finally doing what is right for me?

We completed several of our Thriller performances for the season and sadly I felt no joy in it this year. Has the novelty worn off? It just felt like work. Like one more thing I have to do.

Today I had a day to myself to unwind while kids were at Grandma’s. All I’ve done is eat junk food and watch an entire season of Hart of Dixie on Netflix. Escape. I have no desire to do anything except escape my actual life. The sink is full of dishes, the laundry baskets surround me. But today they are invisible to me. Today I am just an empty blobby couch potato with no ambition, watching the clock, dreading how quickly time passes and that real life will return again soon.

Tomorrow I’ll see my new therapist again, get back in to the daily grind at work and housework, filling my day and late into each night with activities I don’t want to do.

So what keeps me going?

I guess its my sense of obligation to my kids. I am driven to give them a childhood I never had and hope they don’t grow up to be like me.

It all balances

I was going to title this back in the saddle, but I heard Aerosmith too loudly in my head. Then it was going to be back in the pilot’s seat, but I don’t feel completely in control. The horse is better. I’m definitely riding a wild PTSD beast with a mind of its own. I am learning to work with it, but I can’t push a button and turn it off and walk away. Then I thought really, working with PTSD is about balance – allowing the PTSD to go the direction it will without steering me too far off course.

I am ready to tackle this week. Even though last week was difficult and uncomfortable. Even though last week was stressful and triggering. I survived and I am ready to try again.

I am starting to recognize my inner panic before it takes control of me. I can feel the tightness in my chest, note the blurriness in my vision, acknowledge the irrational thoughts. I no longer hate myself for these reactions, and instead I am trying to work with my body to give it what it needs.

Several times last week my new job put so many demands on me, for learning, for meeting new people, for making managerial decisions, for prioritizing tasks and meeting multiple deadlines. I am usually good at all of these things, but I was struggling with the amount of unknowns and what I have to learn. I’m used to being the expert, not the annoying newbie.

This company is currently under-resourced for manpower and no one has the time to create training for what they do every day. I have been hired to analyze what they do, document it, analyze it for areas to improve, then create training modules/videos, and train new hires. So essentially I have a new job every day as I tackle the next process to document, improve, and regurgitate.

I was triggered into feeling helpless and out of control many times. Since I am in my own home to work, I simply let the tears fall, and did some power meditating throughout the day. No power naps when feeling agitated, but I have found that active yoga is very helpful. I walk around, do some jumping jacks, dance to a favorite song, bang my notebook on my head – anything to release the pent up frustration and bad energy. Then I lay down and do some deep breathing. I can usually get back to myself in about 10 minutes to an hour and it only looks like a coffee or lunch break on my timesheet.

I don’t let the spiral of negativity suck me down, so I can get back up quickly. (so far anyway, I know I can still get trapped, PTSD is an unpredictable bitch, but I am learning to keep her docile most of the time)

I am learning to let the panic and PTSD moments pass through me. I feel it, recognize it, look straight at it, look under it, stand on my head and look at it cross-eyed just to fully comprehend where it is coming from. (and hopefully confuse it with all the weird faces too) And then I do some deep breathing and muscle relaxation/stretches. I walk away from my computer and come back feeling calmer.

The good and the bad – it all balances:

I made some mistakes last week. The world did not end.

I missed a deadline last week. I am still breathing.

I had a few foot in mouth moments. I did not get fired.

I learned new software and new procedures at a dizzying rate. I stumbled, but got back up.

I learned more legalese and financial business stuff than I ever thought I could. My brain farted, but did not explode.

I dealt with helpful and anti-helpful coworkers. I put myself out there, but also protected myself.

I stepped up to many challenges. I did not hide my talents and stay under the radar. I am not invisible.

I had a relaxing weekend and feel no panic to tackle this week. Yet. Let’s see how the day goes 🙂


You don’t drown by falling out of the boat

You drown if you stay there. You drown if you panic. You drown if you do nothing. You drown if you give up. You drown if you can’t see the life preserver that has been tossed out to you.

life raft

Look for your life preservers (Photo credit: Faisty.com)


I read this quote in this month’s edition of Curves Magazine, something they email to members full of inspiration and recipes and tips for healthy living. I love this magazine because it is realistic, no even better – it is real.

It does not promise weight loss without effort, or 10 days and 10 pounds. It promises you will get out what you put in. Wow.

But this quote applies to everything in life, not just weight loss.

I will keep repeating this message because it is the most powerful one you can ever hear. Nothing will change if you don’t change it. Everything will change if you do.

Sounds simple, but it isn’t. It’s hard to change. It’s exhausting. At times it seems pointless.

So what’s holding you back? Look around for those life preservers, because no one is truly alone on this planet. When I looked for those life preservers, I was shocked to find more than one. My therapist is one. WordPress is one. My husband is one. My children are one. My new dancing friends are one. I sent out an SOS a few years back and was amazed to find so many people reaching out their hand to help me. I was drowning and ready to give up so many times. I know I will get there again. But now I know the most important thing I ever learned.

I know how to get back in the boat.

I know I can ride out any storm, get tossed about, frightened to my core, lose sight of shore and the boat too. Sometimes I get so low I need scuba gear. But no matter what – I know how to get back on the boat.

I feel strong today.

Look back at what you have overcome and I hope you feel strong too. Because no one has an easy life, and we have all fallen out of the boat (or been pushed out) at some point. But if you are reading this – you know how to get back on the boat too and need to believe in that strength.

Enjoy a bit of Chumbawamba, a throwback to my college days to fit my mood today, and also because on Friday I have a girls night out and I will have a whiskey drink, a lager drink, and be pissing the night away for sure to a local band.

“I get knocked down, but I get up again”

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