Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: allowing myself

A New Digital Home – Allowing Myself

After a few months of stalled work, the help of an awesome tech-savvy gal, and some general finagling, I’m happy to announce that I’ve moved to my own site.

I invite you to come check it out here: Allowing Myself

This will stay up as a reference for now. All content from this site was transferred, so you can update your bookmarks and check-in with me any time at the new location.

As always – thanks for reading. xo

Advertisements

#30daysofdresses – day 8

The heatwave continues to it’s uncomfortable rule over the city. Luckily, this dress is made for hot, hot heat.

I originally bought this dress for my engagement dinner July 2010 (same trip as this story) and I’ve worn it a ton since then. Again, no bra required, loose and cool to wear, and super flattering.

Plus, the pattern is my favorite thing ever.

I wore this on Monday, and while it was a very successful day of work, I still can’t shake this feeling of major blahs. Or frustration. Or upset-ness.

Whatever you want to call it – it feels unshakable – waking up rested and then the anxiety seeping in as I realize I have to get out of bed and go about my day. Feeling happy and then not. Worrying that I’m not fun, I’m not easy-going, I’m too emotional.

Mercury retrograde, heat wave, full moon, hormones, anxiety, big work event, feeling responsibly for everything, f-ing fleas on the dog, carrying around ridiculous expectations of people who probably don’t even think about me, and certainly not with the knife-cutting precision that I dissect each action I take.

It’s a lot.

I can say that the dress helped. It makes me feel comfortable in my skin. It feels powerful and sexy and comfortable all at the same time. It’s a good friend to have on days like these.

Because I can’t seem to process this enough to articulate it right now, I’ll leave you with Jill’s words from What I Don’t Want To Talk About:

My life rehab started with the simple wish to “be a better friend to myself.” Not to be a better person, not to become successful or accomplish things and make stuff, but to practice maitri — loving compassion towards the self. I have a strong sense that right now that means two things: to accept help, to seek out connection and community, and to be gentle with myself.

Today I rollerbladed 3m alone. I went to the library and carried home an armful of books. I’m writing this blog post. I exercised, got dressed and made the calls I needed to for work. I wrote morning pages and wiped the kitchen counters clean. And during all of that, I felt happy.

And then there’s the overwhelm of emails, the aggravation of the flea problem, the pressure of work events, the feeling like I’m completely alone in all of it. And that I’m being unreasonable (where did I even pick that up?).

I know I’m a better friend to myself than I used to be, but the relationship still hits major bumps in the road. And all I can keep returning to is truly and absolutely doing what I want to do, emotions, feelings, thoughts and all. Loving compassion for myself. Accepting help and seeking connection.

Being gentle with myself.

Dress and flip-flops are both Kohl’s from ~4 years ago.

Glimpse Of My Best

Yesterday, I wrote about doing what I want. Learning to ebb and flow with my energy, demands at work and home, and general enjoyment of my days.

While last week’s emotional ups and downs were tough, writing yesterday’s post was soothing and empowering. I could see the progress, I could feel the upward sweep of energy again.

I just took the dog out for his last walk – where we say he needs to “just pee on a post”. Normally, H does this walk, but he was busy with school work so I decided I could go out again, for the third time today.

Honestly, I wanted to feel annoyed that this chore was left to me, but as I walked in the crisp air, in the pitch dark, I felt grateful – to be outside, to be in a safe neighborhood, to be in quiet, and to be with my awesome dog.

Before I sat down to write this, I pulled a tarot card (I have the Wild Unknown deck) and pulled the Queen of Pentacles.

The Queen of Pentacles may represent a mother figure in your life who can provide you with loving support and nurturing to help you get through the influences of your past. She may be a teacher, a counsellor, a mentor, or someone who you are very close to. Alternatively, she may represent a part of yourself, particularly if you are investing a lot of yourself into nurturing and caring for others and creating an established and comfortable lifestyle.

After working at the office all day, cooking dinner, taking care of the dog – it seems a fitting card. Deeper still is the importance of “you are also able to find time to invest in yourself and ensure that you have enough ‘me’ time in between all of your other commitments.”

So much of my mood swing last week seems tied to giving too much of myself. Pulling this card feels like a North Star in that whole lesson being learned – here is a symbol of the woman I want to be. Warm, practical, nurturing, generous and yet, hard-working, focused and proud of her success.

It feels as if this card solidifies much of what I wrote about yesterday. I am at my best when I have a sense of warmth, trust and security. Doing what I want, taking care of my own needs, only serves to strengthen these feelings, making me a stronger and more fulfilled person, which in turn allows me to give even more back to the world. And why else am I here if not to give my full self to my life?

Doing What I Want To Do

Blissed out after rock climbing at the ocean

Last week, I felt like crap. I was feeling awesome for over a week (energy was way up) and then, major blahs.

Anxiety, crying, low energy.

After all of these years, I can’t seem to find exactly what causes these downshifts. For someone so type-A, driven and focused, feeling like crap for multiple days in a row is a huge blow to my confidence.

On the surface it feels like something simple – putting too much pressure on myself with work, not getting enough rest, H not helping around the house, people driving like morons, hormones – you name it, it feels like the general cause of my stress. I assume I can ride it out for a few days, but when it takes over more than a week, it starts to feel insurmountable.

I’m learning that it’s complicated. And I’m learning if it’s normal for me, than it’s normal.

It’s about my innate power – my own abilities and the energy they require. How I can be so tuned into other people and yet get lost in the static of overwhelm. It’s about being highly sensitive. It’s about the ebb and flow of energy.

While there doesn’t seem to be an exact cause, there are a few things that seem to help pull me back to the filled up, happy person I always want to be. Listing them here in case they help you, and as a marker for myself the next time I’m way down in the muck.

Sleep
Overwhelm, exhaustion, an empty tank – whatever you want to call it – getting more sleep seems to brighten my moods. More than a usual 7-8hrs. We’re talking 10hrs over night or a solid 3hr nap. I know this may not sound “reasonable”, but I’m learning I need to trust myself in what I need, and if that’s 8hrs of sleep and then a 2hr nap later that morning, so be it.

Diet
Eating healthy helps, obviously, but lately a few things really throw me off. I’ve lost any interest in alcohol, (which is better than the opposite) and when I do have a drink, I feel miserable. It wrecks my sleep and ruins my mood the next day. Coffee, even decaf lattes, seem to both up my anxiety and make me incredibly sleepy. So I’ve been sticking to tea and chai lattes for my hot drink fix.

Work
Clearly I’m one of those people that care just a bit too much about work, my bar for excellence far exceeding other people’s. So last week, I took a day off. An entire day where I left my phone at home and did something fun. Another afternoon, I spent sitting with a friend at her pool, relaxing in quiet before I hosted a work event (where I was “on” for 5hrs straight). Making sure my reserves were refueled or even topped-off before I needed to pull from them is definitely something to schedule in in the future.

Input
When I’m feeling anxious, I tend to check social media a lot, mindlessly taking in information via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and websites. It feeds the feeling that I’m doing something productive with my energy, but I’m not. At all. So, I stop. I ignore texts, drive without music, go for runs without podcasts, turn off the lights in my apartment, turn off the TV, stop checking email often and choose carefully who I spend my time with. It may seem extreme to people who don’t feel the way I feel, but it really does help me bounce back.

Change Of Pace
Getting out of my normal morning > work > homelife routine also helps. Clearly, the euphoria of travel is partially being away from my responsibilities – all of those shoulds (true and made up) I let run rampant in my head. Last week, H and I went climbing at Point Dume again. This gave me quality time with him, a challenge to rise to (I climbed really, really well) and an evening at the beach. All of these things shift my perspective away from work / pressure / unhappiness back to loving my life and feeling like a badass.

Creating
There seems to be this correlation between not creating and feeling like shit. I was able to get some creative time on Friday night and Saturday – writing a blog post, shooting some photos, and playing with paper. I also made time to write morning pages, which have fallen out of my routine. Another way to refuel and top-off the energy reserves.

Self-care
All of the above falls into self-care, but the mental shift that seemed to take place last week was one of going from feeling trapped / exhausted / anxious to feeling OK with how I was feeling – allowing myself to feel it, talk about it, accept it and do what I not only needed to do to help myself, but actually what I WANTED to do.

And isn’t that the crux of it all – doing what I want to do? Why is that so difficult? And yet, it is. It’s the one thing that makes me the happiest, and it’s the thing I struggle with the most.

I mean, I started this blog and called it Allowing Myself because that is the skill I need to keep learning over and over. To allow myself. Last week was just another version of it. And each time, I get a little better at it – I move through it with more confidence and grace – even if it seems like there won’t be a light at the end of the tunnel, there is. Every time.

So maybe this week we could all practice a little bit. Tune into that little voice that suggests something that would boost our energy or even make us downright blissed-out, and choose that thing. Allow yourself any of those things you think aren’t reasonable to want, the thing that feels like “oh, that must be nice” but isn’t in your reach – and do that thing.

Let yourself do what you want. And I’ll be doing my best to do the same.

xo

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

 

 

Re-entry

I could go into all of the craziness that has been 6+ weeks of my life, but right now I’m throwing down the marker that I am back, here, home, loving my life. It’s such a relief, really, to be back in it after leaving it for some many days.

With that said, re-entry is hard. Finally slowing down involves a lot of metal-on-metal from the brakes, waiting for my energy to steady, feeling my mind smooth over like ripples on water.

I’ve napped almost every day this week, guzzling glasses of water, falling asleep as early as 8:30pm and not waking up until 7am. Some mornings, the catch-up for work feels impossible, like I’ll be forever back-logged, and then other days I power through 40 emails. I have energy for meetings but find afterwards my voice is hoarse and I need to lay down.

My life is so full, and I am so grateful for all of the experiences of the past 6 weeks – but it’s time now for me to slip back into the soft comfort of my life, of my living – to find my own routine again and just be.

3 of 52, Year of Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With so much going on at work, it’s a blessing I can walk on the beach in between meetings, lunches and emails. This day it was nice and warm out, the sun setting strongly on the horizon. The tide was far out, the lowest of the low, probably due to the full moon the day before.

What I remember is the birds running along the wet sand, sticking their straw-like noses in and sipping their dinners. I remember H calling me, asking where I was. When I said “the beach” I braced myself for a rude reply (even though he would never). When he said “oh, cool” I relaxed – and thought about why I expect to be scolded for living my life.

For taking a few minutes to walk the beach at low tide.

There was a group of tweens in wetsuits, heading out into the bright, calm water for surf lessons. I wanted to join them, but instead, picked up my wallet and boots, and walked back to my car.

**See all of my Year of Ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

I Am Not the Voice

I’ve come to understand that all the chatter inside my head is not useful.

A few years ago, when I first started therapy, I had a breakthrough. I was panicking about my to-do list, about how I’d power through the beginning of a week, running on the reserve of energy I gathered over the weekend, and experience this intense despair by Wednesday evening.

My therapist suggested that I was setting this unreachable bar for myself. No one else was asking these things of me. That it was completely unfair because even though I would reach my mark, completing my to-do list, it would never be enough. My mind would turn right around and find the next thing to obsess about accomplishing.

If I sound dramatic, it’s because I am was.

My therapist said that instead of becoming more efficient / effective / productive, I needed to learn to deal with the anxiety of not accomplishing things. Because that is the actual state of our days – things need doing, things get done, and we start again. There will never be a day that everything is Done.

When I read Hand Wash Cold it reiterated this idea. That I am here to do (and not freak out about) things like laundry, paying bills, and kissing my husband. That these daily tasks were a path into self-awareness and a type of enlightenment. Very much the basis of the human experience. To love, to be.

That was a light-bulb moment.

Then I found Byron Katie and her ideas of questioning our thoughts. That when we attach to, and believe, our thoughts, we bring ourselves into chaos. That negative feelings are a reflection of our mind believing thoughts that do not line-up with reality. She’s created something called The Work, which allows people to question and reconcile their thoughts with the world.

That was a light-bulb moment.

And now I’m reading The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. From the start, Singer focuses on the idea that you not only don’t have to believe your thoughts, you don’t even have to listen to them at all.

Our inner dialogue can be like living with a manic-depressive, a crazy roommate who continually grabs our attention. Singer suggests:

“The best way to free yourself from this incessant chatter is to step back and view it objectively…the only way to get your distance from this voice is to stop differentiating what it’s saying. Stop feeling that one thing it says is you and the other thing it says is not you… You are the one who hears the voice”

I am not the voice. I am the one who hears it.

An holy wow, doesn’t that create some distance between the craziness in my head and the gorgeous view of life I have when I’m not feeling insane?

It never occurred to me to disregard the internal chatter completely. To just separate from it, in my mind. To stop arguing with it, or trying to soothe it. To just, be.

As I’m reading, I understand.

“True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection”

WIth each lesson learned, with each experience, each light-bulb moment, I am moving away from controlling an protecting myself, to living my life.

And it feels really good.

Just Breathe

I find all of the om-mimicking “just breathe” quotes plastered on the web incredibly annoying. Telling one’s self to “just breathe” when one doesn’t have a practice or space between the frustrations and the thinking of this phrase feels like such a slap in the face. Like, it’s another thing my mind uses to boss me around…

If you would just breathe through it, honey, this wouldn’t be so bad… aka if you were just stronger, more organized, in better shape, had more money, thought ahead more, etc we wouldn’t be in this situation.

Sheesh.

Telling myself to “just breathe” used to make me feel much much worse. And now when I see friends put it in status updates, I just want to hug them and say, “No. Don’t just breathe. Feel it. Feel every crappy thing you’re feeling. And take a break. And cry. And go for a walk. And give yourself some space. Call a friend. Take a nap. Do something for yourself that is nurturing, not abusive”.

Bit dramatic, I know, but this is about allowing ourselves what we need. And ending the knuckle-down options. This has a lot to do with my yoga practice, so stay with me.

Two weeks ago, I gave myself a small challenge – yoga for 5 days in a row.

I made it 4 days, and they weren’t easy, but they weren’t hard. My favorite part of classes is when the teacher says things like “Honor where you’re at” and “It’s not supposed to be easy, but stay with your breathing”. In this space, I feel like they’re giving me permission to do what I need, to choose the beginner or more challenging modification. To lay in child’s pose for the entire class if I so choose.

Because I don’t give myself this type of permission in my usual day. Even the act of doing yoga feels like a luxury.

We all have an inner dialogue, some people’s friendlier than others. Mine can be like living with an insane person. Insane. There is an incessant mix of self-deprecation, Nazi-like commands and random music playing all.the.time.

Yoga brings me back to myself. It’s like someone takes the volume of the voice in my head and turns it way down. And I’m given space to honor me.

I practiced at home 6 times over the past two weeks. And I attended one amazing class with a friend. And I’m looking forward to practicing again today.

Let me tell you, all of that deep breathing really helps.

– – –

Do you have a yoga practice? Do you practice at home or at a studio? If you have a favorite website or studio in LA – please share in the comments. I love resources. Currently, I use yogatoday.com and took a class at InYoga Center.