Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: anxiety

Piqued

 

It was a quiet week – always grateful for that. I slept really well despite intense dreams, the cooler temps and darker mornings made for sleeping in some. We ate dinners at home, made it to the climbing gym and I got a haircut.

I feel like I did a really good job resting up before an overnight camping trip this weekend, 2nd Jimmy Eat World show in a month on Sunday plus traveling for work this coming week. I’m learning that I don’t just need recovery time after highly intense situations but I can build in “topping off” time to make sure my reserves are at their fullest before going into intense or tiring situations.

And now, a few links…

Kyla Roma is just a gem on her site. This post How I Live (Mostly Happily!) with Depression & Generalized Anxiety Disorder is not only an eye-opener about her experience, but also has a ton of links to resources and apps (!!). She writes “I had no idea how much of what I experienced daily wasn’t normal (and was optional!)” She makes the point that we only know the world as we know it, and if we’ve always felt a certain way, how can we know that that way is normal? More importantly, depression can make you forget you ever felt otherwise and obliterate you in its passing. It’s a good read.

“The process of making these books is good for you to help you process each season, appreciate it, and remember the details while also creating something to look back on in the future.” You may not know how much I love the idea of scrapbooking, but this list 10 Reasons To Give Scrapbooking A Chance hits on all the points of why I do. I just want to do it more and more. Journaling, blogging, photographing and scrapbooking. Tell all the stories!

I am continuing to learn more and more about introversion and being highly sensitive. I am not sure this applies to me for business meetings When Introverts Should Avoid Coffee, but in general, I am very sensitive to caffeine. Last weekend I had a mocha and was so wired I couldn’t think straight. Overall, I’ve switched back to tea, sip one latte a week (more for the comfort than caffeine) and avoid straight coffee entirely. Decaf doesn’t seem to matter, but the quality of the coffee does.

I linked to Elise’s blog before. Most recently she blogged her business story (you can read the entire thing here). In the last post, she spoke about her newest product idea, the BIG IDEA, the Get To Work Book. Crazy thing is, it isn’t even in production yet, and she won’t launch till July 2015. Being a paper / planner / Type-A / listmaker I am excited for the product, but more so, I am sooooo pumped she is sharing the process and behind-the-scenes of launching this product. #celebrationemoji

Years ago I wrote about stillness, and how I realized that it was never going to arrive, but instead be something I needed to actively seek amidst the activity of my full life. I think all the time – daily, at least – of TS’s Eliot’s lines from Four Quartets, We must be still and still moving. Being still in the middle of the busy-ness, that’s the goal, at least for me.  Finding ways to breathe and to be here, mostly because without doing that I miss my life.  And as I remind myself, over and over again, I chose this, this manifold set of responsibilities and identities which unfurl, shimmering, piling upon each other, beautiful and daunting at the same time.

The Slipstream of Life. Lindsey continues to break my heart and take my breath away.

Don’t forget to set your clock to “fall back” at 2am Sunday! Bye daylight savings time.

For the Halloween spirit, every year, Cathy Zielske wears a bee costume, and recently posts a video of her dancing as said bee. While the video is funny, the fact that she wears the same costume every year for 24 years is what tickles me. Check out the 2014 Bee Dance.

Lastly, h/t to my friend (and former boss) Emily for this delicious video of Patrick Fugit singing, rock star hair and all. #scorpio #obsessed

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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

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

What A Week

This week was packed and yet, doable. I am so proud of myself for handling all of it so well. So you’ll excuse me a moment if I need to list it all out to reassure myself I am pretty f-ing awesome.

  • Felt anxiety but turned to running, podcasts and good internet blogs to buoy myself
  • Watched Brene Brown on Oprah (omg!)
  • Organized an event for students visiting LA on spring break. Didn’t get home till 11pm.
  • Terrible noise from car’s rear driver side. Bring it in.
  • End up working from a Starbucks for 5+ hrs. Turns out, the need a part from the dealer and they’ll keep the car over night. Bah.
  • Manage to get a ride from a neighbor’s husband. Thank goodness for nice people.
  • Ride my bike to the grocery store for food for the next day’s event. My job should reward me for being the most resourceful & committed employee… ever.
  • Unload groceries. Walk dog. Shower & change.
  • Hitch a ride with my colleague to second event of the week. End up hosting over 150 people (biggest turn out yet for this event). Snag a ride home with an alumna.
  • Sleep less than 7 hours and get up to run events 3 & 4 this week. Hitch a ride to work with my sister. Arrive by 8:45am, which is the earliest I think I’ve ever shown up to the office since the start.
  • Run event 3 while inhaling tiny croissants, strawberries and orange juice.
  • Deal with event 4 and a student with an ego.
  • Wait for my ride home. Latest I’ve stayed at the office for no reason.
  • Go to Wurskutche with H & my sister. Needed that brat.
  • Manage to wake up and run 3m to the car place on Thursday – exercise the dog + car pick up in one. Boo-yah.
  • Meet an awesome friend for early lunch. Do more work. Finally get some rest.

And manage all of this with hardly any tears, no major panic issues, and lots of self-love. Constant reassurance that “I got this” and “I’m really not that busy“. Lots of trust in myself and in things working out just the way they should.

And that brings us to today…
Where I walked the dog, Skyped with my mom, did a bunch more work, finally ordered my Project Life photos from Persnickety Prints, and now I’m chilling on the couch with H & Carter Cash. H is just starting his spring break and I’m looking forward to the weekend together.

Hope you are yours are well xo

Asking For Help

Thursday I took the day off. It was bliss, as each day day off is. To lift the burden of work from my mind is really something. It’s not just the relief of not having to go to the office or check email or meet with people, it’s that my brain can relax, all thoughts (aka panic) about what needs to be done when can be placed in a different corner of my mind. I feel calm, yet giddy. And I feel loved.

I’m struggling again.

Thursday was pretty awesome. I wrote, jogged 2m alone, took myself out to a cafe to write / read / draw, went food shopping with my sister and relaxed. Crazy enough I found snowflake dishes for a steal at the thrift store AND even won a Polaroid camera from Impossible Project! An awesome day, for sure.

But the demons, or whatever you want to call them, are there, lurking. I feel this fight between my righteous Type-A self and my loving soul – one wants perfection, routine and Success, the other wants to be alone on a beach or indulge in a creative project. I certainly don’t have the energy for the first. Everything feels like an energy-suck right now. And I keep ignoring the latter in order to placate the former. (Note: this is not smart)

It all piled up into painful words and tears Saturday morning. Another Saturday with work, more of my time sucked away from me. I picked a fight with H, as I always do in these moments, believing somehow that if he could just help more, love me more, listen more, I wouldn’t feel so terrible. And while I would love more of all of that from him (what girl wouldn’t?) it’s not his fault I feel this way.

It’s my fault. Or at least, it’s my responsibility. I’m the only one who can make me happy.

Getting my words out into the open with H relieved some pressure, as did a small text convo with my sister about feeling so blah. I don’t feel entirely healed, I know this is just something that comes and goes. My friend said, for her, it’s 3 months on, 3 months off. For me it seems 2 months on, 1 month off, but maybe there’s a larger cycle there I’ve not pin-pointed yet.

Writing this is asking for help. Talking to H and my sister is asking for help. Taking a day off is helpful. But I know I’m struggling with something. I know intuitively I have the answers, but my brain wants to rule the argument, pick things apart (me) until it comes to some logical conclusion…but there probably isn’t one. I have good weeks and bad weeks, we all do.

To quiet my logical mind, I need a brain-dump of To Dos and projects. Then, if I have the energy, I can break those items down into one thing per day. But mostly I need to give up the ghost, trust things are going just the way they should, and focus on creating, even if it’s at a very small level.

What do you do when you’re feeling down? How can you tell the difference between the blues and something more? xo

 

Worth Something

The anxiety started yesterday – a combination of things. The over-stimulation of NYE, lack of sleep, moon in Leo, the holidays (and vacation) ending. But my schedule today wasn’t supposed to be crazy. I planned to ease back into things. So why did I feel so panicked?

I didn’t know. I could give you the above list and 10 more items, easily, but it wouldn’t change the fact that I felt anxious.

I talked it out: with my sister via text, my mom via phone and with H in person. And I gave myself a break. It wasn’t easy. I’d just spent 9 days at home, reading, sleeping, running, relaxing, so why on earth would I need another lee-way day, another nap, another hour of reading? Didn’t I have enough rest? Couldn’t I get my ass moving faster? Wasn’t there something I was supposed to be doing?!

But I gave in. Instead of dragging myself through errands, we went out to lunch. And when the taco place was closed, we ordered pizza. I was along for the ride, giving myself space to feel shitty.

And magically, I started to feel better.

Of course, these moods don’t go away with a snap of the fingers. I wasn’t surprised when that grey cloud was still following me around this morning, but I figured I’d go with it.

I stuck to my morning routine – vitamins, water, morning pages, and a run.

Since H is still on vacation, he could take care of the dog, giving me the morning to run alone. The schedule said 3 miles. I didn’t want to skimp, but last night I told H “I don’t have any idea how I’m going to run 3 miles tomorrow”. Bah. I felt tired, thought I’d eaten poorly and worried my feet would be a mess from wearing 4inch high heels for 8 hours on NYE.

But I wasn’t going to miss it. After 40 days of running, I’m addicted to that high again. In the entire span, Thanksgiving to today, I’ve never once regretted going out for a run, even if the run itself was shit.

In my morning pages, I wrote:

So many open loops, but I’m trying. Life is an open loop, but I’m making progress. I am ME. That’s all that matters. I’ll feel better after 40min of running, I’m sure. Life is good. I am blessed. But that doesn’t mean I can’t feel cranky. I can be as cranky as I want. I can feel what I feel – it’s all gray scale anyway, right? Excited and apprehensive about my run. Knowing that coffee with a friend this afternoon will make me feel good. Onward really – the days flowing by. I just need to float on, wade a little, and get those miles in. And as Patti Digh says: Lower the bar. You’ll feel better

So, I went out for my run.

And don’t you know, it was the best damn run of the last 41 days. It was chilly and bright, I was alone with my podcast and my feet pounding the pavement. I went a little bit more than 3 miles, feeling fucking amazing the entire time. I would’ve gone farther if I didn’t have work.

And after that I felt better. No more gray clouds, no more weepy feeling. In fact, the rest of the day I felt invincible, best I’ve felt in days. Unbelievable. You can blame runner’s high, I know, but I think what really did it was two things:

  1. Allowing myself to feel what I felt, no pressure or beating myself up to feel a specific way
  2. Keeping to my routine

This up and down of my moods is something that worried me in 2012 – leading to panic that something is wrong with me if I don’t feel awesome. But what I learned is that each day has it’s own reasons for being the way it is. I don’t need to understand that on a logical level. My job is not to analyze or perfect, it’s to live. And so much of life is a gray area, a mixture of feelings that is tightly knotted together to the point where we don’t know what we feel.

And then we worry what we’re feeling is wrong.

And then we think something is wrong with us.

Nothing if wrong with you. I repeat, nothing is wrong with you. You are allowed to feel what you feel, and feel it deeply. There are things in this world our brains can not possibly explain to ourselves the way our body or our feelings can.

If I learned anything in 2012, it’s to trust that what I’m feeling needs to be felt (not wallowed in or attacked), but just felt. And that what I feel is worth something.

Intensity

“It’s like, all of a sudden life’s gotten really intense and it also happens to be 102* outside”

That’s what spilled out of my mouth to a friend on the phone while walking to my car in this stupid heat. Bingo! This is exactly what I’ve been experiencing the past few weeks. I’ve gone through three bosses via department restructuring, lost one professional support, added 7 flights and 5 events to my calendar, over-committed my time, escaped into books and generally felt out of sorts.

I’m not sure what changed today, but this is the first day I’ve felt good in a while. I remember feeling awesome on 9.14.12 but the rest of that week, hell the rest of the month, was a challenge.

Chock it up to transitions…?

  • H going back to work after summer
  • Us being back home after the wedding / honeymoon and that project being done
  • My work ramping up
  • My boss leaving + major changes in my department
  • Friends leaving LA, new friends entering my life

This is what clicked into focus this morning: Back to Work: 86 has Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin talking about Merlin’s schedule changes related to his daughter attending school and his wife going back to work. And he says that he thought the adjustment challenge was having a more constrained work day to accomplish his tasks but that now, after he’s in the transition, he sees that it’s the anxiety of the change and being more responsible for things related to his daughter that were freaking him out.

Spot on. For me it seems to be about managing my own anxiety / fears / hustle around this shift into a new stage – yes, there’s more work on my plate but there also seems to be an intensity around it. Yes the wedding is over and now I’m a wife, but conversations with friends have shifted to engagements / weddings / houses / babies – all big deal topics that make one question their own place in life. Add the general upheaval that travel can bring, a lack of routine, and a bouncing all over work, and you have a pretty good idea of where I’m at.

But for some reason, today the anxiety dissipated. I’ll thank my morning pages writing for some of this – I’ve noticed my writing has taken me to a deeper, more supportive place this week. And serendipity: a hug from H that smoothed out my mood, a random phone call from a former boss, a conversation with a colleague, a phone call with a friend I haven’t spoken to in months… and reminding myself that I’ve felt like this before and, while something may feel wrong, nothing is wrong with me, and if I’ve worked my way out of it before, I can do it again.

Mostly, I feel proud that I was able to gently coax myself into articulating what it was that was “wrong” and ask for what I needed (even in just a quiet thought) and the help started magically appearing. A hug, a phone call, a conversation, a podcast tidbit, an email…

So relieved tonight, & so blessed. xo

The Month of 10

It clocked in at 104* this afternoon at my office. It doesn’t feel anything like October.

We woke up to a dense fog, which was a relief in itself – moisture in the air, cloud coverage – but as it burned off during my run with the little guy, it became uncomfortable. I wore two outfits today – one to drive in the heat and one to wear in the office a/c.

I’m working to weed myself out of the disquiet that’s been on me all September. At this point, I don’t know if I’ll ever know the cause but I’m relearning self-care routines that help.

Morning pages help so much. My journaling of the past was full of berating and controlling remarks, but over the past two years it’s changed. As the voice in my head has become more loving, so has my writing. Today it was a life-line.

2 things are happening. 1. I am perfectly capable of determining what needs to be done and when and 2. I am totally able to accomplish the work that really matters. But what I’m doing, I think, is thinking of work as some crazy overarching pressured bag rocks that I’m crying around. That there’s not enough time in the day or that I can’t keep up. This is not true as I set the pace…

I just closed my eyes and took a quiet moment and thought, “I’m doing it”. There’s less to do than I think. And another mantra that I’ve already forgotten I do need to “tune in more. take a moment. tap into my wiser self.” ~except morning pages 10.1.12

And then, as I ate veggies and egg whites for breakfast, I read this blog post. It gave me pause.

I’ve been trying to be more mindful. Because it’s so easy to rush. To feel like one isn’t getting ahead, or even keeping abreast. What are the daily decisions that keep us happy? That keep us remembering the whole picture? Soaking it all in, soaking in the details even as they can overwhelm. Focusing on what needs to be done and forging ahead when some days I just want to curl up in bed and nap. ~brooke schmidt

It was a wink, an echo, a reminder.

So on this unseasonably hot day here, I am welcoming in the month of 10, a new transit and another opportunity to trust.

p.s. on cuteoverload.com they call it “tock-tober” – the pic is a Carter’s participation

Experiencing It

Today, after writing my trusty morning pages, I rolled out my mat and did this week’s free class at YogaToday. This is not typical. My relationship with yoga is one of mostly avoidance on my part. I mean, why would I make time for something that makes me happy?

Last week, a thought hit me – how much my days are truly full of normal yet “perfect day” activities – writing, conversations, exercise, walks with the dog, podcasts, husband, cooking, photo snapping and reading. I don’t force myself to read, I just pick up a book and spend some time. Whenever I remember to snap a few photos, I feel lighter. Once I get going, exercise and cooking are both awesome, relaxing pursuits. And every morning I write 3-pages of long hand no matter what my mood, my sleep cycle, the weather or my issues. No questions.

So today while I’m smack in the middle of this yoga class, sweat beading on my forehead, my legs and arms stretched in side-angle pose, I feel this tense thought, “When is this class going to start?”

What?” another part of my mind demanded. “START?!” As if the sweat and shaky muscles weren’t enough of an indication, the sun had moved up past the window and time had obviously lapsed.

But what did this mean? How could I be half-way through a yoga class, connecting to my breathe and moving my body, and be that disconnected? Or more so, that outside of this string of present moments that my brain wasn’t on-board with the experience my body was having.

It was so odd. It was like I was expecting something, a more utopian version of what “doing yoga” should be / feel like. And it brought me back to last week’s thought about my beautifully full days and how all of these things are practices that I’ve slowly incorporated into my life. I didn’t used to write, take photos, blog, walk the dog, read and cook every day (sometimes I still don’t, but I make sure to get a few in before work). And that yoga was another practice I could add in, something I do no matter my mood, because it’s good for me and I’m always better for it after it’s done.

And how, by building in these practices of showing up, these daily rituals, I’m less inclined to be swayed by Resistance to avoid these good-for-my-soul actions. That’s where I think my thought came from today during yoga – my brain (ego) was still trying to talk me out of doing yoga by complaining that the class was so boring or low-level that it felt like it hadn’t even started yet. How silly. It comes up when I think about writing instead of moving my hand across the page or when I fantasize about baking instead of pulling the bags of flour and sugar out of the cabinet.

It’s really a matter of doing, of acknowledging the thoughts that try to deter us, thanking them for their care, and then continuing on with our practices anyways. Because the love I have for my life is not made up of the thoughts I had about doing or not doing something, but about the memories I have of actually experiencing it.