growth + wellness

The Halfway Point

July 2, 2015


Today is the 183rd day of the year 2015. There are 182 days left before another new calendar year starts. We’re at the halfway point, folks. Congrats!

I will be 32 in 5 days. This is a great time to reflect on the last 6 months, and consider what could lie ahead for the next 6 months. 

I wrote a “farewell” 2014 post. Unlike previous years, the post contained no new year’s resolutions. I had no list of things I wanted to do/accomplish/change/work towards, just general statements to make an effort for better mental/emotional health and having a more fulfilling, less fearful year in 2015 than I had in 2014. “I’m committed to make 2015 a year of both expansion and pruning – I want to make room for only greatness to flourish.”

Pruning. Perhaps the most important stage of brain maturation for adulthood is the pruning of adolescent brain cell connections (synapses). The brain makes an overabundance of synaptic connections, to help facilitate learning necessary for independence. The brain then begins to eliminate the connections that aren’t used – connections that aren’t needed, as determined by experience. The connections that are used become strengthened and reinforced – connections that are essential.

As a neuroscientist, I understand this synaptic pruning process all too well. It’s necessary and unmitigated. And completely undetectable to us. We don’t see the results of our brains’ major reconstruction until we are old dogs trying to learn new tricks. But when pruning happens outside of the brain, in our daily lives, in front of our eyes, it’s noticeable and often uncomfortable. But just as necessary to grow and flourish.

2015, to date, has indeed been a time of pruning. Unsurprisingly, in fact, as day 1 of the year started off as terrible as any new year’s day I’ve ever encounter. And it continued to be filled with a haze of disharmony for months. I moved through the first few months of the year as a zombie, lifelessly searching for new life to thrive on, to revive whatever it was that had sucked the life out of me. Fear, and sometimes Sadness, were at the control panel of my conscious mind’s headquarters. And while most people who know me well could see my solemn state – as I was often greeted with messages like, “You were on my mind, is everything OK?” and “What’s going on? You don’t seem like yourself.”- I was, dare I say, in denial. I didn’t feel depressed or unhappy, I was just dealing with some growing pains in various aspects of my life. That’s natural right? I just had some things to work out. But I was completely fine. Nothing was so wrong that I couldn’t handle it.

Until I couldn’t.

The universe has a funny way of keeping everything in balance. It giveth and it taketh away. Whether or not you are ready and/or willing – Change gon’ come. And though Change’s presence is usually for the better, it can be a rude and painful awakening. Even when you see Change coming, there’s always those wild card, unexpected turn of events that fuck shit up.

And one thing I don’t handle well is inexplicably fucked up shit. Because I need answers, Sway. Willfull non-communication is certainly not acceptable. A lack of understanding, coupled with disrespect, disregard, and dishonesty, was maddening. And dealing with passively aggressive unknowns this past half year threw my conscious mind into disarray and I began to overthink, overanalyze, fixate, critique, question (as I am wont to do). Misery is the name of this mind game and it proved to be extremely detrimental to my mental and emotional health.

But one very important thing I later confronted in therapy (thank God, for Dr. A!) is that I can’t make sense of what doesn’t make sense. I can’t expect to complete a puzzle if I don’t have all the pieces – and obsessing about the missing pieces that aren’t made assessible to me is a futile exercise. For my sanity, I have to accept the blank spaces. Easier said than done, for sure, but this simple realization was ground-breaking for me. I felt freed from the turmoil going on in my head. I gave myself permission not to expend energy on things or people that weren’t contributing to my happiness or well-being. Despite the severe discomfort of what was being pruned from me, it was necessary and (later) much welcomed.

So here I am, on this 183rd day of 2015 feeling renewed and refreshed. Joy has once again taken a seat in the captain’s chair of my mind’s control panel, and I am reaping the benefits of the experiences formed via Fear and Sadness. As cliche as it may sound, everything seemed to happen just as it needed to, because I’m in a great place. So many good things are pouring into my life and I’m optimistic about what the future holds for me.

Even with the rocky start to 2015, I can’t ignore all of the good things that happened. I self-hosted my blog in February. I finished my first 15K race (my longest race to date) in March. I did some of my most prolific (best?) writing in April and May. I’ve been running my ass off lately and recently signed up for my first half marathon race in September (!!!!!!!). Many of my friendships are even stronger than before, and I’m building new friendships with some pretty great people. I’ve explored so much of this beautiful state I live in (Oregon truly has some wonders). I have had quite a few great career opportunities come my way. I’m starting to set goals and make action plans to accomplish them (with the support of so many fantastic people). I look and feel amazing! Ya girl Gem is on fleek in every aspect of her life!

I’m excited and expectant to finish 2015 with numerous wins and accomplishments. I will not look back on 2015 with regrets or unpleasantness. It was off to a shitty start but it was just the kick in the chest I needed to make some much needed space for all the blessings God has in store for me. I am thankful for the journey and welcome any challenge that sets itself in my path.

So cheers to the 2nd half of 2015! Wishing you a great rest of the year, filled with some pretty kick ass moments 🙂 Go forth and prosper, and shit.

With love,

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  • Reply Aaron Ab July 2, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Great read!! Sometimes the beauty of life is not having the answers and taking everything one day at a time. Glad to see you shining through your process!

    • Reply Gem July 5, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      thanks for reading and commenting Ab!! you’re absolutely right – gotta take everything one day at a time. thats when the real growth occurs 🙂

  • Reply Steph July 2, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    What an awesome post!
    I do not want to seem super religious ( I consider myself spiritual and not religious) but I saw God all throughout your post. He has a way of changing our lives for the better ( even if we go kicking and screaming or overwhelmed with sadness) so we can become what He wants us to be. He is awesome like that. Happy to know you are utilizing therapy- it saved my life (really!!).

    I plan to try to make the second half of this year one of no regrets. I have all these pressures I put on myself ( need new job, have a baby, train for my run) that I want to plan/accomplish in the future but not let them overwhelm me. We will see how that goes.

    I am so happy to know you got your joy back! Nothing is worth our joy! NOT A DAMN THING!

    Happy Early Birthday! Enjoy-Turn up! Ayyyyyye.

    • Reply Gem July 5, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      thanks so much, Steph! yes, God absolutely has a way of getting our attention and letting us know He is working for our good. i was resistent to his movement at first, and once i stayed still, i saw the magic, so to speak.

      i wish you and your hubs all the best in this second half of the year! let go, let God, and wonders will work!!

      love to you xoxo

  • Reply Wu Young, Agent of M.E. July 2, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Have a great second half of 2015, Doc!

    • Reply Gem July 5, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      thanks my dude!!

  • Reply Aleisha Johnson July 7, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    This post just gave me life! You are truly an amazing person that I’m proud to call a friend. You’ve listened to me vent when I was on the brink and now even 2000 miles away your words continue to provide solace. Happy happy birthday and wishing you an amazing second half of the year 🙂

    • Reply Gem July 8, 2015 at 12:05 pm

      awww AJ thanks for the comment chica – its always good to hear some one let you know they feel your pain!!! through every trial is triumph and we are walking in the greatness now, praise Him!! love ya boo :-*

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