Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Not Responsible For Other People’s Success

We know that I care a lot about self-care. That self-care seems to be the best way for me to make myself happy, to have enough energy to deal, to feel my feelings and to be present in my days. I think a lot about how, when my reserves are low, I feel like a screaming 4 year old. And if my reserves are high, I feel like Superwoman.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been dealing with anxiety. It’s coming from feeling really out of control with my salaried job and from not having enough down time, even with vacation.

I’ve spent the past 6+ months feeling like “life is steam-rolling me and going with the flow is gonna get me sucked out to sea.” And I wrote about wanting to make a change. To create boundaries and understand what my priorities are, instead of just going with the next thing…and the next thing… and the next thing.

It seems that, to dig out from the back log, to create space, to feel in control, I needed a new tool.

So, I’ve started saying No.

It began with the hand-to-heart practice that Heidi taught me. That little action began to give me pause.

Then, I decided to clear my meetings for the next few weeks. Meetings take up tons of energy for this introvert, they suck up time and create even more work. I needed a buffer. I needed to go through the back-log from months of chaos. I needed to feel relieved and focused when I woke up, not dread.

Then, I listened to Tiffany Han on Elise’s podcast (episode 17) where she speaks about taking a social media break, being bored, and saying no.

“You are not responsible for the success of anyone else’s business endeavor…people need to be strict preserves of their sanity, because no one else is going to look out for you. Cuz no one else cares that much, honestly. We’re all trying to do our own thing.”

What?!

I am not responsible for other people’s success?

Of course I’ve heard this before, but for some reason, Tiffany’s no bullshit attitude coming through my headphones was like a sermon. I felt the grace of good advice run through me.

Because that’s how I feel. Often. That I am responsible for everything. And to start saying no, to separate myself from other people’s needs, to create some space to think about how I feel and what I want – this has felt like a game changer.

So, I said no.
No, I don’t want to go to Six Flags.
I don’t want to leave my apartment.
I don’t want to cook tonight.
I don’t want to host that event that maybe only 10 people will show up to.
I don’t want to stay up late.
I don’t want a glass of wine.
I don’t want to travel for work right now.
I don’t want to meet up on a Saturday.
I don’t want to go on a 10m hike.

These things are all awesome in the general context of life. I am not turning down bad things, if anything, I am saying no to things that seam unreasonable to say no to. But, it has to be done.

Because each time I said no to one of these items, I created space for downtime, for refueling, for quiet.

(We know, I need so much downtime to function.)

But also, each time I said no, I was able to say yes to something awesome too. Going to the beach for lunch, going for a run alone, meeting a friend for coffee, spending time with H, working on a cool project, blogging, reading. Or doing nothing. Things that refuel my reserves. Things that I deem worthy of my time. Things that matter to me.

So – as the deep summer is upon us – I encourage you to say “no” to something this week. Open up some space in your life. Maybe it’s something you hate, or something you said yes to once before and now feel obligated to keep it up. Maybe it’s something where the other person will be disappointed or you’ll feel guilty. Go listen to that podcast and try out that two-letter word. No.

Because you are not responsible for the success of anyone else.

You can be selfish, in the very best way. You can say No.

Piqued

We know I love dogs (see above). If you’ve ever met Carter Cash, you know he knows a ton of tricks. Sit pretty, speak, hit the bowl, up, off, wag your tail. I kid you not. H claims he’s “the most trained dog” he’s ever owned. I’ve sort of run out of things to teach him. But this is a new bar – I could teach Carter to DRIVE A CAR. Also, videos like this, where animals are loved and proud break my heart in the best way. I want to adopt them all.

On a sadder pet note, my sister-in-law lost her bunny last week and I felt terrible hearing the news. She wrote this sweet little post about her bun and the Postagram I sent her and her boyfriend. RIP Ellie xo.

Sarah Von Bargen (of Yesandyes.org) consistently blows my mind with awesome blog content. I loved this post of innovative blog ideas. Can’t wait to try the shortest travelogue one on our trip to Alaska in T-2.5 weeks!

Jillian at The Noisy Plume takes the most spectacular photos, and writes posts that pull me into her world of nature and adventure. Check out her photos of a lightening storm in Taos.

Found Walking On My Hands via Lindsey Mead (who also recommended All The Light We Cannot See, which I’m loving) and this post, One, got me.

And getting to hear Jill Salahub speak about her creative journey on Creative Living with Jamie was a total treat. Congrats Jill.

Hope your weekending is splendid xo

See more Piqued posts here

 

Hand To Heart

“Knowing we can create a safe space for ourselves, no matter where we are or how we feel, is a gift that will last the rest of your life.”
~Susannah Conway

It started with a simple suggestion from Heidi Taylor. That I could put my hand on my heart*, breathe in an observation (usually an unhappy, panicked one of overhwhelm) like “I don’t know how to deal with these emails” and then breathe out a response (usually a productive, supportive and self-loving suggestion) “sort them by sender, set a timer and take them one at a time”.

This practice of breathing with my hand to my heart started to create space around my responses to things. It gave me a way to acknowledge what I’m feeling and to self-soothe. Game changer.

I’ve also started meditating – short little guided meditations from Susannah Conway’s The Sacred Alone. I signed up for the class months ago, but never participated in real time. I try to do them when I wake up, between drinking some water and writing my morning pages.

These practices spilled over into my free time. I chose to go without any music or podcasts during a few of my commutes and a few 2m runs. One night, I laid down on the floor in our office, in the dark, and just watched the sky. A few days I didn’t check Twitter at all. I started reading a new book. I took my lunch break at the beach & stared at the waves.

With my anxiety up a lot the past few weeks, it’s been really amazing to have these physical practices of both self-soothing with my hand to my heart and sitting still for a few minutes while meditating. Both get me more into my body and out of my head, where the anxieties tend to grab their fuel. Making the conscious decision to limit the input/output of my days only creates more space.

It seems that what I’ve been craving is space. Safe, open, calm space. And space + noticing seems to equal presence. Because I don’t want to miss my one precious life. I want to live it.

*Heidi will tell you she found this practice via Kristin Neff.

**I highly recommend this hand-to-heart practice. Go on. Give it a try xo

 

 

Friendship Over Tacos

“She took a step and didn’t want to take any more, but she did.”
The Book Thief

Living in a large, transient city like Los Angeles means that people come and go. And as my group of friends approach their 30s, everyone is settling in to the dreams they plan to pursue in adulthood.

Many of these plans involve leaving LA.

Last week, I said goodbye to Stephanie, the 4th of my girlfriends in less than two years to move on. She’s off to grad school in Maryland to become a nurse.

I remember reading her grad school application essay while we sat at my kitchen table. I remember giving her some advice on how to tighten it up, but to be honest, I felt unworthy. The essay was already well written, and it was clear she’d put more work into writing and rewriting it than I had into any project I’d ever done for school.

She not only studied her ass off to go to school while working full-time, she not only got into a prestigious school, but she received a substantial scholarship.

She is going to be fine, I know it.

Stephanie and I met in my last semester of college in a conducting class. I was abysmal at conducting, but I could tell that Stephanie, with her focus in film scoring, knew what she was doing. So I asked if she’d tutor me. I don’t know why. I struggled through 4 years of music school and not once did I ask anyone else for help.

Not only did she tutor me, but we hit it off immediately. We realized we were both from adjacent towns on Long Island and that we shared a love of books.

Fast-forward two years later, and Stephanie is doing a trip to scout out LA before she graduates. We grab tacos for lunch and pick right back up where we left off.

And that’s how it all began – my luck of getting to call her a friend for the past 6 years.

Since then we’ve gone on long hikes, run the beach path in Santa Monica, had a sleepover or two, went out for delicious breakfasts, given each other tiny gifts, gushed over Elizabeth Gilbert, shared books, and rode bikes. I listened to her while she went through really difficult times, and sent her mail when boys sucked. And she listened to me while I was manic with work anxieties and stress.

I watched her travel to countries alone, so in awe that she had the guts. And she flew across the country to attend my wedding.

Besides grad school, this year she also ran the fucking LA marathon *and* fell in love with an awesome guy.

I’ve watched her grow from a driven, lost girl, to a successful, joyous woman.

She is the most generous person I know. And I miss her like hell already.

I couldn’t be more proud of you Steph. xo

PS – We started the LA portion of our friendship over tacos, and we said goodbye over tacos last week, as you do in SoCal. Can’t wait till our next taco date!

Support

“All problems are boring…until they’re your own.”
Red, Orange Is The New Black

For the friend who just moved away from all of us here in LA to pursue a master’s degree.

To the friend whose dealing with his mom being ill, or a grandmother passing away, or a niece being born and not being able to afford a flight to be there in person yet.

To the friends who had a little boy and came home from the hospital without a hitch.

To the friends who spent 2 weeks in the hospital while their baby girl fought off an illness.

To the friend planning her wedding, overwhelmed and frustrated, who is mad at herself it doesn’t feel like an an easier, happier time.

To the friend who lost their pet.

To the friend in the long distance relationship.

To the friend who lost her mom suddenly when she was 19.

To the friend who couldn’t find a job for 5 months despite 10 interviews.

To the friend that thought she found her dream job, and now it’s sucking really bad.

To the friend who accepted a job that is wrong for them because they have to pay the bills.

To the friend who moved to a new country.

To the friend who can’t conceive.

To the friend who found herself pregnant on (happy) accident.

To the friend who can’t quit smoking.

To the friend who can’t stop drinking.

To the friend who did stop drinking… and chooses to continue to not drink one day at a time.

To the friend who tells us they’re OK but we know otherwise.

To the friend who moved in with her boyfriend, and while it’s awesome, she misses having her own space.

To the friend who adopted a pet and is realizing it’s a lot more work then they thought.

To the friend who was was dumped.

To the friend who is home alone all day with her baby boy, loving him and going crazy from boredom.

To the friend who is eating healthy, counting calories and working out and can’t seem to lose “the weight”.

To the friend whose wedding proposal was turned down.

To the friend whose start-up hasn’t gotten funded yet.

To the friend who has no vacation time at work.

To the friend who’s waiting for the ring.

To everyone, all of us, who are scared to share problems and vulnerabilities with anyone because we all try so hard to look like we have our shit together and we think no one wants to hear it. That no one cares.

I’m here to tell you, if just for this one brief moment while you read my words -
I see you. I see you and you’re doing it. You’re kicking ass.

You’re waking up. You’re going through the day. Even if this feels impossible, even if it feels like life is damaged, I am here to say that, we’re all messed up in some way. We’re all carrying some burden and that’s OK. It’s life. We’re all doing the best we can. Really. Even you. I know it. You’re doing the best you can with what you have.

And, as one of my favorite quotes says “we’re all just walking each other home”.

I’m looking out for you. And I’m thankful you’re looking out for me. Happy Monday xo

Piqued

Missed 2 weeks there due to my parents being in town + crappy wifi at the vacation house. The week went fast – H was down with a stomach bug and we were just coming back from family vacation and celebrating our two year anniversary. This is the first weekend in weeks where we are not scheduled by the hour and I plan on loving every empty minute of it.

My sister is a big Colbie Caillat fan. I feel a tad jealous that someone can have the looks + the voice + the songwriting skills etc buuuuuttttt I do love this story and new video: Colbie Caillat Is Tired of Being Photoshopped: Here’s What She Did About It

And if you’re into cute music videos that totally rock pop culture / hot topics by female singers who are great role models, watch Sara Bareilles help these kids get engaged:  

“To become a runner you must run. There is no other way.” - Hannah Marcotti’s post On Becoming A Runner.

Found Kyla Roma via Instagram (isn’t she the cutest??) and am loving reading through her posts and her Podcast Recommendations, but the most important thing is that she just adopted a HEDGEHOGI die.

Speaking of podcasts, listening to Tiffany Han on Elise’s podcast this week was just what I needed to hear  - Saying No to Say Yes (podcast will play in window). If I’m going to really own my time, if I’m going to prioritize what I want to do, I need to say “No” 100x more often. And remind myself that I am not responsible for anyone else but me. (Why is this so hard?!)

And this also helps, Born Hatin’: Why Some People Dislike Everything - b/c while I have a critical eye, I’m learning that there are just people who flip the f-out when presented with a new idea. More and more I feel if you’re not presenting a different idea or approach, if your criticism is not coming from a place of making an idea better, but instead to just keep us from trying something new, I have no time for you.

xo

Technicolor Climbing, New Hampshire-style

During my June work trip, I extended my stay to include a full day of rock climbing with my awesome coworker Arielle (read about the first time she took me outdoor climbing). She and her boyfriend, Eric, took me out to Pawtuckaway in New Hampshire where we took a leisurely hike in, climbed a few routes, and enjoyed the most gorgeous of New England summer day you could ever imagine.

Having lived in LA almost 8 years, I am blown away by the intense greenery of the east coast during summer. There is clearly no shortage of water there. Walking through the park, and coming up to the water in the first photo, it all looked like Technicolor. I couldn’t stop commenting on how green it all was.

Our climbs were good. Eric showed me how he sets a top rope anchor (something I have yet to learn). He is quite meticulous and really patient, so it was great to have him talk through his process. Also fun to watch him and Arielle climb – always enlightening to see how people approach a route.

We found this baby bird nest in the chimney climb. So tiny. We ate supermarket sandwiches and went through a bag of pretzels. We talked about work and climbing and life. It was just a delight to be outside in summery weather.

After we climbed for the day, they took me to a little coastal town (my fav!) called Portsmouth, NH where we ate at the Portsmouth Brewery. And then they took me to the ocean, because they rock.

Having climbed outdoors 3x now (one trip was Joshua Tree, which I have yet to blog) I am loving both the outdoor camping / camaraderie all-day feel and the intense competitiveness of the gym. Still feels so crazy I can add “rock climbing” to my list of hobbies.

 

 

 

 

Flow: Month Six

Ah, June.

I have to say, this entire year has felt like a whirlwind – at times I feel like I’m cruising along, other times I feel like I’m drowning. Up & down. It’s only in the past few days I’m surfacing again.

June saw me travel for work (again), family visiting (again), work drama (again), and not feeling so hot (again). But there was good too – I hired a life coach, climbed outdoors in gorgeous New Hampshire, renewed my Year of Ocean commitment, napped in the late afternoons, killed it at my annual review, spent quality time with friends and had a week with family in Newport Beach.

So much life is coming at me head on and I don’t have a reference point to deal with it all. And even though it’s all good things, it’s a lot.

I need a break.

I’m realizing that flow, like anything else, is actually a negative thing if taken too far.

I am moving at the whim of everything and there is no time to catch my breath. It’s like I’m a boat taking on water, and what I really need to be asking myself is “Do I have to carry this right now?” Because I take on a lot. Probably too much.

This, of course, is the on-going struggle I have. To prioritize my own life over that of everyone else in it. To say “No”.

While I have the perspective to know that everything is not a crisis, I still feel responsible for it all.

What I’m thinking is that I could use some structure for my flow. Some perspective. Some scheduling and processes. Nothing crazy, since I already know that creating structure and abiding by it are two different skill sets, but I’ve got to figure out something.

Life is steam-rolling me and going with the flow is gonna get me sucked out to sea.

It occurred to me this morning that there is a level of fear and hard work that I’m not willing to face. That doing everyone else’s bidding is exhausting, but I receive immediate positive feedback from it, so it feels like a win. Doing my own thing could result in too many variables: things not working, getting in trouble by someone else, having to say no / disappoint people, not reaching the goal.

But I’m seeing that to live a deeply nourishing existence, I need to not just carve out my own time, but to structure my time around me. There is a difference.

I feel like I’m sinking, when I want to be swimming. Diving deep. That requires energy and focus. And so that is where my heart is after 6 months of flow. Here’s to another 6 more.

You can see all of my OLW ~flow~ posts here.

 

On Being Married Two Years (a poem)

It’s probably still too early to tell,
but I think we’re jamming along just fine so far,
as husband and wife.

Our lives have picked up,
as they do around 30.
So many invites and obligations,
but we make the time to talk over really good coffee (because now we drink coffee, like adults)

(When did we become Adults
with bills and jobs and decisions like,
do you want to start a family?
And how much is too much money to spend on a gym membership?)

After two years, I know that your tone of voice is always caring,
your words truly never mean me harm.

After two years, I know that you think a lot more than you speak.
And I want to hear all of your thoughts.

After two years, I know you like my hands in your hair
and your back scratched
and when I hold your arm while we walk the dog.

They say it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Commitment.
And I feel how this works now, though it’s only the start.

It’s not about any one moment, but the string of hours + days + months + years.
That this one pile of laundry actually doesn’t matter because we’ll do it
and there will be more.
Again and again.
Wearing our clothes. Piling them up. Sorting. Washing.
What does it matter if I do this load and you do the next?
So long as our clothes are still mixed up together.
So long as you still help me carry it down to the laundry room.
And help fold it all.
Or go pick up groceries while I am busy. Because we have to eat and if I add
One more thing to my to do list, I will cry.

You know this.
Like that time I was working late,
and you had bought food and made homemade guacamole.
So it was there, in a little glass bowl, under that yellow fridge light, for me, when I came home.

It really is the little things.

Like that time you told me not to worry about whatever anxiety was taking up space in my chest because it would all happen whether I planned or not.

After two years, I now know there’s no reason to pick a fight,
that I’m probably just tired.
And I need a nap.
And you will nap with me, and we will lay there, with the dog between us
And the floor fan humming,
and the curtains swaying,
and the swish of cars outside,
in the late afternoon light.
And my frustrations will ebb and my love for us will flow.

It’s probably still too early to tell,
but I think we’re jamming along just fine so far,
as husband and wife.

Cheers To Two Years

Photo by Seba Photography

 

Celebrating two years of marriage today and I am still smitten by this guy. In the past year he’s cooked me dinners, walked Carter so I didn’t have to, let me nap all afternoon without judgement, learned how to make a mean omelet, graduated grad school (team effort), supported my dreams, stood up for me when I wasn’t standing up for myself, misplaced his wedding band and bought a new one (whoops) and took me to a rock climbing class that now has me hooked. He calls me honey, picks up the groceries and doesn’t expect me to do everything for our home life myself. He knows my style so well that if he picks clothes out for me, I am sure to buy them. He laughs at my jokes, doesn’t bat an eye at how neurotic I can be, and plays any song I request on guitar.

Oh, and I did I mention he put new floors in our apartment… by himself? #marriedagoodone

He is the calmest, smartest person I know and I’m a better person because of him.

Love you HJW. xo

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 201 other followers