Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Category: Working

Quick Re-Focus

The internet is wonderful.

I found Kristen via Instagram, I’m sure by way of Project Life or some other paper crafting topic. She has a little process where she jots down her “right now” on these adorable Currently cards.

Back to the work grind this week – it’s probably been 2 months since I’ve worked 5 days straight, mostly from the office. Yesterday, a mid-day slump hit and then I saw Kristen tweet about using a Currently card to re-focus. So I did just that.

I’d just made the little card while on the phone with my mom and it seemed like the perfect canvas for my right now.

No need to reiterate it as the picture speaks for itself, except to say that Game of Thrones? I GET IT NOW. I apologize for my delay in hopping on that wagon. We’ve watched all of season 1 in 4 days and are straight into season 2. Probably have watched 30 hours of TV in the next week and a half. Sheesh.

Happy Thursday xo

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Flow: Month Four

April was a lot like March, if March was on speed.

The craziness that was the second half of March took over ALL of April.

Traveled to Boston, where I spent a night with my parents, went climbing outdoors for the first time, worked three 12-hour days, had an all-night happier with friends, took the 7am EST flight back (at this point, I was on no time zone what-so-ever), returned to LA to find the entire downstairs of the apartment in upheaval, as H decided he was going to finally change out the floors, with his entire family landing at LAX the next afternoon. Then on to them visiting us for 12 days – including going to Six Flags, Universal Studios, and doing a crazy hike in hot weather – and then packing up and going to Stagecoach country music festival for 4 days.

Whew.

In each circumstance, with each day, came a new reason to go with the flow.

Traveling for work is nothing if it’s not just showing up and doing my best.

Coming home with the expectation that H and I would relax before his family arrived, only to have the apartment in upheaval for the next two weeks, gave me the opportunity to repeat “it’ll get done…and we’ll finally have new floors”.

Staring at a massive pile of stuff in our office while said floors were replaced let me cut myself a break and know that, when I had the energy, I would put it all back together again.

Being whipped around time zones, with no routine, lots of restaurant food and family in town made me listen to my body more. Was I thirsty? Grab a glass of water. Was I tired? Let’s take a nap. Did I need to burn off some energy? How about a run.

Attending a music festival with 60k people and camping off-site meant the control-freak in me could only do so much. I really just had to see what came up next and go with it. With sixty-thousand other people. Haha.

Getting not one, but TWO, flat tires on the drive to the festival gave me the chance to ask for help, hang with my sister (where she took the awesome picture  of me above) and really trust that things would work out.

And y’know what? They did. They do. Over and over again. Things work out, timing makes sense, people stop by, strangers speak up and things I thought were imperative end up being kind of… whatever.

I already wrote this here, but my therapist said it best “Justine. You’re doing really well. You’re just rolling with the punches”.

Crazy thing is, I don’t feel like I’m rolling with the punches – I hardly feel like I’m being punched anymore. Nothing seems that dire right now (and of course, I’m lucky/grateful that’s the case). But it used to be that my car stereo not working could send me into a tailspin, and somehow having two flat tires was, like, nothing. We were safe, we had food and water, we called for help and we figured it out. A total pain, but relatively easy in the grand scheme of my life.

So despite how chaotic my schedule is lately, I am feeling pretty awesome. I know it won’t always be like this, and I def have days where I cry or just want to watch TV and zone out, but I am proud of myself, again, for cultivating a sense of well-being, of confidence that I can figure it out, of trust that things will work out…

For trusting and honoring flow.


Read about how my OLW ~flow~ worked for me in January, February and March. xo

But first, rest

There was a new moon on Sunday – and I slept right through it. What a way to welcome in this new season, eh?

Sunday morning, I rollerbladed the dog to the Farmer’s Market (how LA of me, I know). Cruising through the stalls on my skates, I picked out blood oranges, rye bread and farm-fresh eggs. Back at home I cooked a full breakfast. We watched the Flyers game and ate our food.

And somewhere in the 3rd period, I started to nod off. And slept for over an hour, on the couch. H woke me up to ask if I wanted to go climbing, which I did – was looking forward to it all week – but I just couldn’t get moving.

I ended up back in bed, post-shower – warm, clean and more sleepy than before. The sliding door was open and a strong breeze was outside, rustling through the palms. I slept, fairly deeply, for over 3 hours. Each time I woke up, I listened to the breeze outside, felt the cool sheets, and just knew I needed to keep laying there until I felt filled back up.

It took until Monday morning, sleeping in later than I normally do, to finally make me feel rested.

Two weeks ago I attended a conference on higher ed social media. Last week, I spent the day at the YouTube Space in LA.

Both events set my mind churning with ideas.

I am not sure how to capture all of them. Not sure what to do with all of them. I can feel the potential for my work expanding and I can feel that I’m lagging behind. There’s not enough time to capture, organize, do.

Then something clicked – these big ideas I’m having, that could catapult me right out of my current space, are too much. I’m falling into the Mars retrograde problem of all show & no go. I don’t want to talk a big game, I want to create, produce and have something to show for my work.

It’s not about revamping my resume (though it needs an update) or about finding a new job (I like my current position). It’s about going deeper into what I do well and what I can create in my current position. It’s about the work I do for myself.

It rings true for my ideas about flow too – that I need to be ride the waves, be present, act on what’s in front of me, and honor the seasonal shifts.

So I think my day-long nap on Sunday gave me a new perspective – in a subconscious, processing way. There is a certain knowing I’m experiencing in the past month, a confidence in feeling that I am kicking butt, that I am prepared, that there is opportunity for me to step up my game.

But first, I needed to rest.

Flow: Month One

Looking back over January, I have one word for myself: proud.

I’m proud that I managed my anxiety with four major events in 21 days, kept up my workload, gave myself space when I needed it and listened to my intuition.

There was the upswing of anxiety with events – planning, preparing, all hurry-up-and-wait.

There was plunging exhaustion with so much adrenaline coursing through me I only slept 8 hours in 2 days.

There was the serendipity of being asked, “What are you proud of?” the day after the last event played off.

That night, getting coconut milk ice cream with these ladies, I experienced a deja vu, only to have the store clerk say “That means you’re on the right path.”

There was Heidi’s advice via Instagram: “lots of deep breathing to help slow your body down. Generous amounts of kindness and compassion for yourself especially in recounting the event and your delivery of it. Listen to your body and do your best to give yourself permission to give it what it needs most. Hang in, Justine. You have a great sense of awareness around your HSP so I trust you will know what you need. 🙂 …the tears are a great sign that you are releasing. The more you can give into them, allow for them, and not judge them, the more peace you will find. Be gentle with your process.”

I gave into the tears, so hot and heaving one morning, I thought they wouldn’t end. And I was gentle.

I shared on Facebook:
This weekend I was the gal in the arena “who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if (s)he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”

I had almost 500 people show up to one event. We had 3 events total. I leaned heavily on my coworkers & husband. I didn’t sleep. I took good care of myself. I laughed with people and almost cried under pressure. Then actually cried in the shower. I chose green juice and then downed margaritas. I answered email from bed, walked the beach and checked Instagram too many times. I was focused, scattered, grateful, pissed and everything in between.

Risk requires vulnerability and vulnerability requires trust & love & really good people in the arena with you. The critics don’t count b/c their not even in the game. Remember that. xo

And then I posted this: Brene Brown – Listening To Shame

I drank too much (again) and took naps at 5pm in the afternoon. I did a ton of work and then soaked in a hot tub. Twice. H and I went to San Diego for a night. I hiked during the day and checked email late at night. I swam in the ocean. I went out on runs with Carter and then took over a week off from exercise because of a terrible cold. And stress.

I started pulling tarot cards – tuning into whatever magic the Universe whispers through signs. I pulled the Eight of Pentacles (focusing on the task) and The World (fulfillment of a grand project) multiple times. It’s become a morning ritual.

Somehow, it is what we’d call a “net win” – coming out at the end of January feeling confident in myself, trusting and moving along with whatever reality brought me.

It truly felt like a month of ebb and flow, week to week, day to day, even hour to hour.

And I was determined to not put my living on hold while I was awash in the anxieties of these work pressures, and I succeeded. I asked for help and received it. I was open to whatever came my way. I risked and was rewarded.

I think I grew more this past month than in other month’s combine. And I’m proud. I went with the flow. I was the girl in the arena. And I dared greatly.

4 of 52, Year of Ocean

Last week was challenging. I could say “What a way to start off 2014” but it’s how I start every year – with events that are bigger than me, with more work than I can handle alone, with an abusive amount of stress and socializing.

What was different this year is that I had a team. A few coworkers that came out to attend and assist at the events that actually helped.

And after the crazy weekend, we had some time together – sipping coffee, walking Santa Monica beach, eating at Cafe Gratitude and talking for hours. Of course we were still working – one of us would step aside to take a phone call while the other two looked in shops. They took photos of the ocean while I sent important post-event emails. But it was exactly what I needed after the pressure, the exhaustion and the work.

These two gals are my support group at work, despite us working 3,000 miles apart. We vent, laugh, work, challenge and discuss so much. We call ourselves Team DAJ and one day hope to take over the world.

But I think what’s most important to mention here is that they’re kind, hard-working people with smart opinions that set very high bars for themselves. They may have traveled out here to work my event, but the whole thing would’ve sank without them.

I was offered Grammy tickets as a thank you for my hard work, but the Grammys were right after my biggest event on Sunday, and there’s no way I would’ve made it there without crying. I was able to extend the offer to these ladies and they took it with glee. It was the perfect topper for their LA trip, despite the very long day they endured.

And as they were getting ready in the bathroom at the venue, while I still had guests mingling outside, and was waiting for the rental company to come and break down all of the tables and chairs, I listened to them chatter with excitement between stalls. They.were.so.excited. And I felt like a proud older sister, ushering them along to the next Hollywood adventure. As one skipped out of her stall so I could pee, and the other asked me to zip up her dress, I felt like, for the first time in a very long time, I had girlfriends. Not individual women who I shared deep conversations with, but a tight group of girls who gossiped and joked with their own group language, full of inside jokes and shared experiences.

So for the first time ever, I came out of the eventful weekend happy with my work, and I give most of the credit to feeling like, for the first time ever, that I had a team.

Team DAJ. #loveyameanit

**See all of my Year of Ocean

Much Needed Rest

The month of high-pressure events, networking and hustling is over. And even though I’m exhausted, I survived, remarkably better than previous years.

I welcome February, my birthday month, with open arms.

I took yesterday off and spent it devouring The Goldfinch, biking with Carter, and talking with a friend at a marathon lunch at the library cafe.

Today we’re headed to see the Flyers play the Kings and I’m hoping the rest of the weekend (and the month) involves a lot of much needed rest. xo

A Quiet Moment

While I have 3 events in the next 7 days, I also plan to: clean my apt (relaxing for me), hike, run, see the ocean, get a mani/pedi, have dinner with awesome friends, get a massage, sleep in, cuddle Carter, drink delish coffee, kiss H and run all over LA with my awesome colleagues. Work stress or not, I only get to live these days once.
~Posted on Facebook, January 22 2014

I did indeed clean the entire apartment. I needed something productive to do with my energy. Since I worked on our MLK Monday holiday, and did a bunch of work last week, I’m caught up with the events. I just need to confirm everything one last time and pay the vendors.

To add to the “hurry up and wait”, we had another snow day at work. Since the college I work for is on the East Coast, snow days are basically a free day for me. While I check email and do work that needs attention, I know that everyone else is probably not working either.

And so, I went with the flow of it all. Saw my therapist, took myself out for a latte and some INFJ business class work, visited spent way too much at Michael’s, grocery-shopped, watched some hockey with H, cooked dinner, did some Project Life and now I’m here – writing to you.

By the time this posts, I’ll be off and running on 4 days of event-planner busyness, but right now, sitting here in the quiet, I know I did good.

I’ve learned to live my life whether or not external events are stressful or calm. I’ve learned to do what needs doing, and then to take care of myself. Or maybe it’s the opposite. To take care of myself, and then do what needs doing.

It’s so much easier this way.

I wish we could all live like this, but I know jobs and families are demanding. Not everyone has the luxuries that I have. But I wonder if, inside your busy days, you can find a quiet moment to sip a latte, to stare at the birds in the yard, to snap of photo of yourself, to jot down a few thoughts, to lay in the blue light of morning.

To create a quiet moment, to take care of yourself, and then do what needs doing. xo

 

An $8 juice, and being walked home

January is never fun for me. No matter if the holidays are crazy or restful, I feel launched, unprepared, back into a month where work is demanding and stressful. This year, this month, it’s 5 events in 19 days, four of which come in a row at the end of the month.

Tuesday night was the first event of the month, and technically also the easiest, but I spent the day ragged with anxiety. I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins, this cold and tight feeling in my chest, and my heart racing like it was experiencing a caffeine overload. For the life of me, I could not shake it.

I tried rationalizing: Nothing is wrong. I am fine. I am not in danger.  I tried deep breathing, closing my eyes and waiting, a 3m run with the dog, a hot shower and even a fancy, delicious and pricey juice.

Nothing worked.

And while that feeling didn’t leave my body until I slept it off… I wanted to leave a marker here for myself for three reasons:

1. I trusted that this was some combo of panic and pms, and that I could lay low, do what work needed to be done, and know that I would mostly likely feel better after a night of sleep (which I did).

2. That there was no rationalizing or doing to be done. No fixing. I just had to go through my self-care practices and wait it out.

3. That connection is what actually helped.

It’s the third point that makes this so awesome for me now, a few days later. I shared my anxiety on Facebook and a friend commented “Look at the sky and remember you’re a blonde monkey floating in space and none of this stuff actually matters. Works for me every time.” A phone call with a former colleague & current friend let me vent. She said, “You’re a rockstar. Your event will be amazing. The end.” Lindsey sent me a lovely comment about my one little word post on Twitter and Jamie said that my word (~flow~) sounded like the perfect approach to the day we were both having. A friend was photographing the event, and she is such a quiet presence, it’s nice to have her there when I’m talking my head off to 100+ people I don’t know. And lastly, the woman who managed the bar is snazzy, sends plates of food over to my check-in table, hands me giant bottles of water and says things like, “don’t worry mama, we got this”.

As the day went on, I could feel the love I was being sent, and I did my best to soak it in, and say yes to each offering… because striving the way we do sometimes, sets us up to feel intense panic about if we’re doing the right things and if we’re working hard enough.

This day reminded me that not only was I for sure going to rock my job, but that people like working with me. I am loved regardless if the event is a success or not.

And it reminded me of this quote… which I’m pretty sure is becoming a guiding principle for how I live my life: “We’re all just walking each other home.” ~Ram Dass.

On this day, I had a lot of people walking with me, and for that, I am grateful.

 

 

500th Time of Allowing Myself

Carter and I this morning during our bike ride.

What I want to tell you is this is my 500th post, and at such a milestone, I wanted to celebrate the way that bloggers do…

But I’m realizing more and more how much hustling goes on online, with word-count limits, bullet lists and productivity tricks. I mean, I knew I was avoiding that type of space, but it’s only in the past few months I’m thinking about actually creating this space, fleshing it out with my own experience and inviting you to share yours.

So instead of a give-away, top 10 list or guest posting all over the interwebs, I am here, doing my usual thing. Sharing stuff about life.

I hosted a work event last night – it went as perfectly as an annual event can, with the help of lovely volunteers and the weather knocking down the RSVP list (this is a good thing). And even though I rested beforehand and didn’t have much on my plate today, even though I had volunteers and nothing crazy happened, even though I was home and in bed before midnight and didn’t drink a single sip of alcohol – I woke up today feeling totally wiped out.

This almost always happens. The effort of planning, executing and keeping myself calm for the weeks prior and during the hours of an event, lead to some crazy post-event hangover.

I think it’s a pressure thing. I’m learning in my INFJ business class how my type is prone to over-achieving and over-extending… not to mention perfectionism.

And in honor of my INFJ-ness, I went for self-care today, but it seemed I felt worse as I tried a myriad of things: working, running errands, reading, and finally napping. Somehow even napping made me feel worse. I mean, come on.

It’s only hours later, after a walk outside in the chilly air, two Advil, a mug of hot tea, and a heat pack on my neck that I’m feeling able to do anything. Sitting here & writing is a major step up from the tears that leaked out while I changed the bed sheets.

It’s posts like Dream Time by Elizabeth that remind me it’s OK to have days like this (serendipity has her using Van Morrison too hah). It’s listening to this podcast again, Jen Lee speaking with Michael Nobbs, that remind me it’s OK to not be able to get too much done. It’s this episode of Creative Living with Jamie where they speak about honoring seasons and experiencing winter… and it’s me trying to remember where I am in the moon cycle, as maybe that’s what’s to blame for all of this.

I know a good night’s sleep will help. I know this is only temporary. And I know my body & emotions process things in ways my mind doesn’t understand… so it’s only fitting that my 500th blog post is really just me circling all of these resources and lessons again – and allowing myself to be.

xo

Keep Your Shit Together

So, how does one act like they have their shit together, when they don’t?

Is there something in the way they carry themselves, the words they use, the fingerprints they leave (or don’t) on glasses they sip from (or don’t) on tables they wipe clean (or don’t)?

You may think I have my shit together because I value self-care. Because I went for a run this morning, after I wrote in my journal, before I showed up for 3 meetings and called a few caterers for an event. The event that, every year, makes me feel like I don’t have my shit together. (Here is 2013‘s and here is 2012‘s)

And each year, I think, I’ll do better this time – and I rally the troops (it’s just me) and make lists, send emails, gathering my courage… and still, something goes wrong. Someone nit-picks and no matter how many people are in the room, how much applause there is, the response is – we can do better next time. But all I hear is, you will do better next time which really means you didn’t do good enough this time.

I’ve done enough work over the past 4 years to know that my work is not my worth. That even if this event crashes and burns, even if it is cancelled for reasons of horrible planning or no one RSVP’d, I am still worthy of love and connection. I am still worthy of being here.

But it still gets to me, y’know?

Do you know this feeling? Do you hike up your pants and strap on your highest heels and show up and smile, only to see yourself deflated post-whatever? Because you weren’t good enough?

Because I’m pretty sure I have my shit together AND stuff still goes wrong. That’s the point isn’t it? Showing up and facing whatever it is because no matter how much we prepare, we don’t know until we’re in it. Like, knees deep, maybe even waist-high IN IT.

So, how do you do that? Well, I can only tell you what works for me…

  • I make a list of everything involved in said issue and organize it to be tackled in a logical approach
  • I vent to people who believe I’m awesome and also understand what a shit-show this thing really is
  • I actually keep up on my self-care practices (for me: writing, running and reading)
  • I say “no” to other things that could splinter my energy even more
  • I tell big, dramatic, funny stories to people about how ridiculous it all is going / feels
  • I ask for help
  • I allow myself to feel how I feel because there are some things my logical brain can’t process
  • And I  reassure myself to trust – because my version of the outcome is usually a small, often marginalized version of the possibilities that are out there… and if I can just use the above points as support and keep feeling my way through, the actual outcome will be so much more magical than I imagined.

I know this list won’t always be the right combination. Because just as I catch on to what works, my life changes, and I’m back to being in a new situation, learning new things. Like right now, with this big event coming up. It’s bad enough it’s a pain, but now I am completely revamping it due to the usual venue being booked.

But I digress…

I will keep you posted on this event, and how things pan out, if you will share with me what works for you. I would love to hear about it. I think it’s important we compare notes. What does it mean to you to “have your shit together”? How do you keep you keep it all together?

xo