Who’s in Your Head?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Let’s face it, we all have demons. Mine always choose the worst time to enter my consciousness: sometime around 2:00 to 4:00 a.m. Between having to get up to pee numerous times and these visitors, I get out of bed exhausted. These are people that were either a part of my past or live among the present. The frequent visitors are those I did not have closure with. Death, a major blow up, or fear that any sort of interaction would make things worse, keeps these demons around.

Whether in dreams, semi-consciousness, and/or periods of being fully awake, these wandering spirits, cause much consternation.

The Main Reasons These Nighttime Visits Occur

Therapists I have engaged throughout my life have told me that these visits are normal and a healthy way of coping. What they really mean to say is that approaching someone you’re angry with wielding a knife, is not good. Your mind is a complex organ where your thoughts are not always easily explained. Many of my conflicts play out in my dreams. Usually not a pleasant or productive dream, for the most part, it’s usually more of the same.

How These Conversations Usually Go

So you’re back?

I didn’t choose to be here.

Then why are you here?

You summoned me stupid.

Here’s the thing, I don’t remember asking you to be here and I’d rather you just disappear. I hate how you treated me all those years, but there is nothing I can do about it now.

Oh geez, let it go. I was an egotistical maniac and I treated everyone that way; you need to move on.

But you fucked-up my head. I have all sorts of anger bubbling up because of you. I alienate relationships, hide out for long periods of time, shut down, and sometimes blame others for my own bad behavior.

That’s not on me. Whatever I did, I did it because I thought it was right at the time. You can’t blame me because you kept it all in and never confronted me. And don’t make excuses like: “I couldn’t find the right time” or “You would never have listened,” it’s all nonsense. I’ve been your scapegoat for too many years. I’m tired of repeating myself — you are your own worst enemy.

That makes me feel so much better. Now get out and don’t come back.

[Cold sweats and a sleepless night are almost a certainty. Alcohol and other substances only makes things worse and pushes thoughts down temporarily.]

Recognize the endless loop of outrageous verbiage? It’s exhausting.

Getting Rid of the Demons for Good

As if getting rid of them is even remotely possible (the cynic in me).

I have found that there are very few ways to purge these demons.

  1. Closure — confronting the individual and either receiving an apology (unlikely) or sorting it out.
  2. Working it out in therapy. A good therapist will engage you in role play. Here you have an opportunity to say what is on your mind and purge your thoughts. You must be fully committed to the process.
  3. Meditation
  4. Time — hopefully, a long period of time will help you to eventually let it go.

Holding on to resentment or anger is never good. It does awful damage to your psyche and your internal organs. The quicker you can work it out, the healthier you will be. I’ve been working on this for years and I can only report a slight improvement. It’s something to strive toward.

Travel

COVID-19 strikes again and Lyon and Bristol are not happening . . . now. Instead I am booking a shared cottage on the Island of Farol. I’ll get there by ferry from Faro in about 30 minutes. I booked it for July and I’m fairly certain it won’t be cancelled. This should be a unique experience that I will be excited to tell you about.

Ilha do Farol: The Complete Guide to …algarvetips.com (Farol below):

Stockholm in August and Lyon (rescheduled) in September.

80 Moving on quotes and Moving forward quotes

Why I Chose to Move to Portugal (reblog)

I will be rewriting an update for my almost two years living in Portugal for next week’s blog.

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Magnificent architecture in Faro:  Moorish, Roman & Gothic throughout the city.

When you make a big and unexpected decision in your life, people are curious about why you went in a particular direction; it’s a reasonable curiosity. I’ve spent a bit of time on why I moved to Portugal in previous blogs; however, I thought since I am frequently asked this question, I would answer it thoroughly.

One of the most important things I learned throughout my career is to question “why” before you do anything. You want to start a business? Why? You want to get married? Why? You want to move overseas? Why? Asking this important question and answering it thoroughly and honestly, will help to insure that you are doing whatever you are doing for the right reasons — well most of the time.

So when I started to feel that U.S. politics were the cause of a good deal of my anxiety, I asked myself why I was wallowing in pity rather than working to change my situation. I had done some letter writing and personal campaigning for Hilary and then of course, I blamed myself for not doing enough. After a lot of soul-searching, it occurred to me that it wasn’t just that Hilary lost the election, it is the direction politics in general is going in, in the States. I’m not going to do a deep dive into politics; however, the big issues for me are gun control, healthcare, taxation, greed in Washington, and the negative perception Americans have of democratic socialism, www.dsausa.org/what_is_democratic_socialism. The conclusion that I came to was that I had to move to a country where the values of the government and the people more closely matched my own. In other words, why stay in a country where values will not be changing anytime soon.

Some “Why” Questions:

  1. Why am I leaning in this direction?
  2. Why is now the right time?
  3. Why is my heart telling me to do this?
  4. Why am I struggling with this decision?
  5. Why not?
  6. Why am I questioning the status quo?

 

Why Overseas?

Politics in the U.S. has become more conservative over the past few years. Some say it happens whenever you have a power base in office that leans in a particular direction (surprise, I lean left), the majority will tend to swing in the opposite direction the next election — that certainly is what happened in November 2016. This is likely to occur in any democratic society; however, in many European countries liberal policies and attitudes have a strong foundation, therefore, the bar is set higher.

The other reason I decided to move overseas is that I have never resided outside of the United States. I tend to agree with those who believe that life is not a dress rehearsal; this was an opportunity I may not have had again.

 

Why Portugal?

I have considered many other countries over the past few years. At one point I was certain I’d end up in Concon, Chile. I had been there a couple of times and fell in love with the coast and the lifestyle. Well then they had a big earthquake and read that there would be others. Sure enough, a short time later they were hit with a second large earthquake. I thought I had tempted fate far too many times to buy a condo in a high-rise there. I’ve thought about Italy because it is my father’s birthplace. I love visiting Italy; however, the instability of Italy’s government and economy concerns me. The Caribbean is too humid and has those pesky, life-threatening hurricanes; Norway, Sweden, and Denmark make it very difficult to reside there; and frankly other places were too expensive or too risky.

I had read a good deal about Portugal and decided to check it out. I’ve been told that it is dangerous to decide on relocating to a place having only visited once. Knowing that some advice is sound advice, I decided to do my homework. I read articles about retiring in Portugal, I joined a couple of expat groups on Facebook, I had several conversations with individuals who have made the move, and I returned to spend more time here.

 

Why Faro?

Most expats who decide to live in the Algarve DO NOT choose Faro. I discovered on several trips prior to moving to Faro that there are expat communities in many towns all along the coast; however, most people see Faro as a place to land or switch trains. I do not mean this in a disparaging way, so I hope no one takes it that way:  I did not want to be in the center of a tourist destination. Don’t get me wrong, tourists visit Faro; however, compared to other towns in the Algarve, Faro is not overrun. In fact, there are very few Americans in Faro.

The following are some of the wonderful things that drew me to this beautiful city:

Culture — music (Fado), theatre, festivals, food, ceramic tiles, history and art.

Portuguese — A majority of the people living in Faro are Portuguese or immigrants from struggling countries. I recently learned that when the European Union decided how many migrants each country should take based on their population, Portugal said, “We’ll take double that number.”

Faro is not as much a tourist city as say Lisbon, Porto or other parts of the Algarve. I’m happy about that.

Restaurants — I can find traditional Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Turkish, Indian and several other ethnic foods and the quality and value is outstanding.

The Market (Mercado Municipal) — in a huge open space (indoor) close to my apartment, it is probably the gift I will never take for granted.

Walking city — I can walk to just about every place I need to go.

Access to everywhere else — Faro is the capital of the Algarve; therefore, the airport, trains, buses, and highways, can get you just about everywhere and quickly.

Architecture — Preserved, historic, eclectic, and beautiful. Everything is understated.

Government offices — all of the Portuguese government offices I need to deal with are here in Faro.

What more can I ask of a city?

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Catholic Cathedral in Old Town — a short walk from my apartment and where the outdoor market is on Sundays (stock photo)

 

I took these photos when I was walking to the ferry yesterday — beside Faro Castle. This is Old Town, Faro and it dates back centuries. It’s a 15 minute walk from my apartment. I come here often to read, walk and eat. Some of the remains are from the 9th century.

And by the way . . . that blue sky is real (no touching up or color added). There is no smog to speak of here.

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There are several islands off the coast of Faro that offer spectacular beaches.

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Farol Island’s lighthouse is just a ferry ride through the Ria Formosa. A 5 Euro round trip ferry ride is a great way to go to the beach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remaining Positive . . .

Or Shaking Off the Negative

 

Around the time that I decided to move overseas, there were a good many disappointments in my life. My 50s were not that great. Frustrated. Feeling trampled on. Left behind. Poor me. No, no, poor, poor me. I struggled with feelings and thoughts that are so foreign to me now, I’d have to dig deep to recall what most of them were . . . and that’s a good thing. I have learned that you can’t run away from your thoughts; however, you can learn to put them into perspective and focus on what truly matters.

I did not move across the pond in order to escape life in Maine. Moving to Europe at some point in my life was a dream and it happened to be as good a time as any to realize that dream.

New beginnings and distance from relationships, helped me examine satisfaction and happiness in my life; where I wanted to be versus where I had been.

 

Goals and Objectives

Objective:  a measure of progress

I have been goal oriented since I decided that peeing in a teeny toilet was far better than sitting in a wet diaper. Seriously, I have always made a list of goals. Early on it was a “to do” list; however, I later learned that there were things I needed to achieve that were more complicated than a daily task. For example:  finding a part-time job when I was a teenager was a way to achieve independence. Buying a home was a way to earn equity; I have often wondered why people who could afford to buy a home, give money to a landlord. It seems counterintuitive to me, but to each his or her own.

Setting goals helps you to feel that have direction; you get a sense for where you want to go. So much more productive than dwelling on negative circumstances in your past.

Current goal:  To learn Portuguese

Objectives:

  1. Set aside a certain amount of time each day to study
  2. Use an app to reinforce vocabulary
  3. Purchase a textbook to assist in the learning process
  4. Work with a tutor twice weekly
  5. Practice, practice, practice

Just an example of what you can do to reach a goal. Don’t forget to periodically check yourself to be certain you’re on track for success.

I went to the grocery store to buy a steak on Monday. I decided I would only speak Portuguese to ask for the steak. The butcher I have been going to for two years, smiled and said, “Excellent, you sound Portuguese.” You have no idea how good it felt to hear those words. Patting yourself on the back is an great way to reinforce the work you’re doing toward achieving a goal. It made me want to learn more so that I can someday have a conversation with him in Portuguese . . . and I will.

I have come to realize that important things in our lives don’t just happen. We have to plan for them, work towards achievement, and reward ourselves when we get there.

 

Dreams

Dreams are very different from goals; goals being more practical and easier to attain. Dreams are big and bold and sometimes seem far into the future. They require out-of-the-box thinking and intense self-empowerment. Neither is easy and we all know that is true.

Sometimes our dreams become reality by luck and good fortune and other times they are shattered and destroyed. Once we accept the ups and downs and highs and lows of life, everything becomes just a little easier. The thing the keep in mind is:  just having a dream is very positive.

Have you ever had a dream come true? When it happens (and it can and will), there is nothing else like the feeling of joy you have when you come to that realization.

I had always dreamt about crossing the finish line at the New York City Marathon. I pictured myself running in Central Park and hearing the crowds cheer me on. I imagined the support from friends and family. I even went so far as to make a space on my dresser for my medal. The day that dream came true was like nothing else I have ever achieved. The elation, the high, the sense of accomplishment and the pride, cannot be measured or fully explained; what you feel is absolute euphoria. The byproducts are even greater:  the knowledge that your dreams can come true, the desire to keep dreaming, and the willingness to do the work.

Yes, I am boasting a bit. I am proud of this achievement and I believe as long as I don’t wear my metal around my neck and rub it in your face, it’s okay to occasionally share my pride with others. I don’t have a partner, supervisor, or fanclub to tout my achievements. It’s my responsibility to puff myself up and show those around me that I am enough. Clearly, you shouldn’t have to run a marathon to know that you are, but the reality is that we live in a world of measurements, standards, and comparisons. Perhaps it’s just human and it will always be this way. You either go along with it or you’re left behind.

I like dreaming big. I enjoy manifesting my dreams and making them real. I embrace the sense of achievement and pride that comes with having a lofty goal become reality. What is that famous quote, “Shoot for the stars and land on the moon?” I looked it up and found 16 versions of the same idea.

 

A lifelong dream:  Someday I’d like to own a home where I can wake up and see the ocean. I can currently see the Atlantic Ocean beyond the Ria Formosa, but what I’m talking about is seeing and hearing waves. I’m not ready to give up on this dream. It’s not world peace; it’s much more realistic and personal.

They (the experts) say, “If you can see it, than you can have it.” I’m beginning to see it.

 

Impulse

Being more impulsive has been one of my more difficult goals to achieve. Stubborn personality traits can sometimes win out over our more whimsical desires. I always wanted to be the sort of person who wakes up in the morning and decides to drop everything and take a flight to Puerto Rico (or some other faraway place); this is unlikely to happen. I am just way too practical and my “to do” list has always been my priority. I’m taking baby steps by booking trips without spending much time weighing the pros and cons. The flip side of being more practical, is the ability to achieve goals by planning; setting aside the funds to have what you want in the future, rather than spending it all on impulses — balance is key. There are some who will laugh at this and wish they were less impulsive; our differences are part of the human condition.

 

The People You Surround Yourself With

I believe that of all the lessons I have learned in life, learning to walk away has been the most important. Toxic people cause us great harm and often, emotional pain. It is difficult to confront a person you have known for a long time and to share your truth. Often you know the kind of response you will get before you even have the conversation. Most people avoid confrontation. These same people have a difficult time with criticism. They become defensive, angry and lash out. I’m willing to give it a go, just to test the waters. However, these days after one failed attempt, I rarely go back for more. You need to weigh the pros and cons to determine how important it is to have this person in your life.

This attitude can seem cold, harsh, and uncaring. Actually, I think it’s love on the highest level; it’s a love of oneself — a love we must embrace. It’s a path to staying positive. I’ve shared this struggle on several occasions, proving to myself, that it remains a struggle.

 

Is Moving Away the Solution?

The answer is no; however, taking a step back in order to gain perspective is key. If moving away means running away and not addressing the issue, then no, it’s not a solution. Stay put and sort things out; if you still want to relocate after you’ve moved on emotionally, then and only then, would a major move be positive.

Leaving New York and moving to Maine was probably a “run away” scenario — I’m certain my close friends would share that belief. It was painful and difficult to address the issue I was dealing with from over 300 miles away. Fortunately, I was committed to facing and getting past the thing that was gnawing away at my psyche.

 

When the Past Revisits You

Many people come in and out of our lives without much fanfare. They are good people who make us smile, teach us lessons, and enhance our lives. Much of the time we’re too busy to stop and truly notice.

This week, I received a call from an individual I worked with in the culinary world 15 years ago. He told me that he’d come across my name and was curious about how things were going in my life. He shared his own success and we talked about the past. He was very generous with his memories of me and my contributions. Two things stuck out about his call:  first, we sometimes make a positive impression on an individual and never get to learn about it, and secondly, we dwell on relationships that are/were difficult, rather than focusing on the ones that enhance(d) our lives.

This individual helped me to remember some very positive events happening in my life at that time. Clearly, when I consider my past these are not the memories that surface for me. What I learned from this unexpected call, is the importance of recalling the positive memories; these memories will add perspective and hope to your current situation. I am very grateful to this individual for unknowingly teaching me an important life lesson. We have the ability to recall significant accomplishments in our past that shaped who we are and informed where we ended up. I would not be happily living in Portugal had it not been for my past experiences — why not reflect upon the happy memories and allow them to add to our current happiness.

 

A Few On-line Resources:

The Power of Positive Thinking

21 Ways to Create and Maintain a Positive Attitude

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/positive-attitude-leads-success-happiness-dr-sanjay-prem/

 

What’s Coming:

Traveling to Toulouse (return trip) in a few weeks, Manchester in April, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina in May. Look for observations, thoughts, opinions, and travel tips.