Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: anxiety

Got The Memo

View from my brunch with friends yesterday. Can’t wait to be on the plane to Hawaii…

Ok, I’m finally hitting my limit with all of the wedding stuff. Excitement has turned back to anxiety. I feel panicked about not pleasing people, about having to change our plans because someone is inconvenienced or my actions completely offended them.

How the hell am I supposed to know?

I can’t and I don’t. We don’t. We’re trying our best and so fucking thankful for everyone’s help that it so catches us off guard when someone is miffed by a decision we’ve made.

“Are you freakin’ out?” people keep asking me…

And I think, “Uh. No. Did I miss the memo?”

But yes. Now I am freaking out. I’m tired, we still have a lot to do, and we’re only going to add on the stress of traveling and having lots of family around us in the next (5) days. Yesterday I felt so super accomplished with how much we’ve done, how close to our budget we’ve stayed, how amazing all the pieces are failing into place. We’re kicking ass.

Today was me defeated. H said something to me and I started crying. I feel like I want to crawl into bed and just hide. My hope is that a good night’s sleep gets me back on track.

Last full day of work tomorrow. That’s something to look forward to.

For the Soul…

Yesterday was tough, in the way that this time of the month can be for me. I don’t know why, but the 20th / 21st of the month has become Breakdown City. Hormones? The moon? Sunday was no exception.

My horoscope mentioned that I would need a lot of down time built into this season. Some days, I remember, and make sure to read, nap or sip hot tea. Other days, it goes out the window with the rest of my sanity. While my new approach to swap “excitement” in for “anxiety” is helping, it doesn’t completely alleviate the drama in my head.

I am still panicked that there’s too much to do for the wedding and not enough time or that the choices I’m making will somehow be “dumb” when the special day arrives. It’s enough to drive anyone insane. Luckily, I have perspective because I totally see how people become Bridezillas.

Today’s relaxation came along by accident. As the wedding planning creates that vortex of “what I should be doing?” this morning I found myself rebelliously choosing to do whatever I wanted from the start.

I’ve been drinking too much again. 5 nights in a row of alcoholic beverages makes for one cranky Monday morning. So, after writing my MPs, I laid back down and promptly feel asleep for another 45min. When I woke up, I felt much better.

Then, as per usual, I walked the dog, enjoying the neighborhood. I swear these walks are keeping me sane. I knew I had (2) meetings to go to and planned to ride my bike. As the hours of the morning ticked away, I worried there wouldn’t be enough time. Should I drive instead? (See, should !)

“Fuck it” I thought. “If I’m late, I’m late” and grabbed my bike and went.

20min and 3miles later, I was covered in a spritzing of sweat, locking my bike. Even though I was 5 min late, I still beat the person I was meeting. After the first meeting, I had about a 1/2 hour to kill before my second meeting, and decided to detour down to the ocean to have a look. Then, I decided to take my shoes off and walk to the water. And I took some pictures all the way.

It was lovely. Like, effing amazing for my soul. I swear, the moment my toes hit the sand, I instantly felt better. I’m so glad I went.

Anxiety vs Excitement

Yesterday, after a day of anxiety, I decided to reframe my anxiety and call it excitement. And oh my, did that shift things.

I’ve been reading through “Glad No Matter What” by SARK. She writes about nudging her feelings. When things feel a bit extreme and not so good, she says “recalculating” to herself (like a GPS) and she moves the emotional needle bit by bit until she’s processed her feelings.

Anxiety runs through my chest, right at the top of my diaphragm, where my ribs split apart. Excitement usually sits lower, a rippling in my stomach. For how they sit in my body, they’re pretty much opposite sides of the same coin.

Brene Brown talks about our inability to feel “negative” emotions, our tendency to numb those difficult emotions, actually keeps us from experiencing the highs as well. Same circuits. Not to mention, joy is a vulnerable place.

“…vulnerability is still just absolutely essential. That we can’t know things like love and belonging and creativity and joy without vulnerability, but in this culture of reflexive cynicism you better also really have an understanding of shame if you’re going to put yourself out there.” (TED blog)

And what is getting married if not PUTTING YOURSELF OUT THERE. Like the right of passage of vulnerability.

I can be quite stoic. In cases of extreme emotions, my face stays blank, absorbing other’s issues and processing things as quickly as possible. I’ve had people yell at me, “Why don’t you smile!?” People I don’t know. In public.

It makes sense I’m having a bit of trouble untangling my panic, worry and exhaustion from my joy, excitement and anticipation when it comes to the wedding.

So, I’ve changed the tape. Instead of thinking, “I’m so stressed / overwhelmed / panicked about the wedding” I think, “I’m SO excited!” and I feel much more energized and amazing about all of the tasks I’m  working through and the challenge as a whole.

Because planning a wedding is a bitch.

“I got a lot of lovin’ / got a lot of lovin’ / got a lot of love in heart…” lissie

T Minus 54 Days

We’re officially 54 days (or 7.7 weeks) away from our wedding. Eek.

Some days, 7.7.12 can’t come soon enough, and others, well, I wish it were 7.7.THIRTEEN or some other far off distant date. But we gotta go through with it at some point – I mean, we’ve been engaged for 2.6 years, together for 9.6 years and living together for almost 4 years. Those numbers add up. Plus, all of the deposits are in, and my dress is hanging in my closet (needing to be altered) and the invites are out so it’s happening whether I like it or not.

And it’s scary. The cost, the logistics, the amount of people involved, all of the tasks to be completed… I’ve been joking that wedding planning is actually a huge coup to keep you from understanding completely that you’re ENTERING INTO MARRIAGE. Like, forever commitment and “death do us part” and all that jazz.

I don’t have any wise words to impart on anyone about this. Just putting up a post b/c I have a commitment to myself to accomplish one small, daily task in regards to the following: blog, exercise, work project and wedding.

If I can offer anything, it’s that I am in love with this website and wish I’d found it 17 months ago. It’s what I’ll be combing through over the next two days as I draft my ceremony. Yes we’re writing our own ceremony and you’re welcome: A Practical Wedding.

Last night, in the dark, H was holding me in what we affectionately call the “nurturing” position and he stroked my forehead and said, “Don’t let all of this wedding stuff make you crazy. We’re doing as low budget as we can, despite how expensive it is to us, and it’ll all be fine”.

I know this. I know the day will be gorgeous and he’ll be the handsomest and that we’ll have some of the best people in the world in attendance, but it’s a helluva big production to plan and execute.

Best news though? T-54 days till the wedding means T-58 days until Hawaii 🙂

 

Tweet Tuesday – Byron Katie

To say that a book changed my life is no small statement. Byron Katie and her work did just that. It helped me understand that my thoughts are just thoughts – little balls of information and dialogue that swim around in my brain – and that I have the ability to question them… especially the thoughts I have about myself.

And so, today I share the below tweet b/c this is really a truth I’ve been living by for over a year now. We are not our anxieties, our sadness, our emotions, our relationships or our thoughts. We are beaming lights of goodness that can only shine when we’re really, truly present in this moment. And this moment.

But how the hell do we get there?

With the practice of asking myself over and over, “Is this true for me?” I’ve been able to create some space in my head (and in my heart). I take a moment of quiet, ask myself this simple question and then listen. The answers are not loud directives but more gut feelings. And I believe we all have that compass, to bring ourselves back to the present moment and listen.

 

Here is where I explain how it changed my life. So grateful.

Read other posts I’ve written where I mention Byron Katie.

That I would be good…

Life steam-rolled me, emotionally, the past few weeks even though nothing life-altering occurred. In fact, my days were pretty void of events. Isn’t that the way, though? When things are not wrapped up perfectly, with their label clearly screaming “Emergency”, you just have no idea. Can’t see the damn trees from the forest.

In the midst of it, I knew, in my core, that this is how I “used to” feel and didn’t I work oh-so-freakin’ hard the past year to get rid of this stupid, panic-stricken hateful me? Didn’t I start this blog, get a therapist and start leaving dishes in the sink in favor of a good book all because of this.exact.crap?

I made it through, obviously, we all do, but each time I scour the experience for signs of how & why it started or what I could’ve done better during it to really take care of myself. Which is maybe why it happened in the first place – I wasn’t taking care of myself.

Here’s what helped:

  • Hugs
  • Calls with friends who listen, care and think I’m freakin’ awesome
  • Walking – the neighborhood with the dog, the beach, or around a store. Being out and moving
  • Books – library borrowing, bookstore buying and reading lots
  • Playing roller-hockey
  • Artist Dates (craft store, coffee + writing, taking pictures)
  • Fresh strawberries by the pound
  • Seeing, hearing, smelling the ocean

Here’s what didn’t:

  • Twitter, Facebook and email
  • Drinking alcohol, even if it was a glass of wine with dinner
  • Thinking about or researching wedding plans
  • Beating myself up about feeling crappy

That I would be loved, even when I am not myself
That I would be good, even when I am overwhelmed
~ Alanis Morissette

These dips and curls are what makes a life. Still, I want to dig deep during these times and then coast lighter when they let me go. Or I let them go…Because once I started putting myself back at center-stage, the panic and hurt dissolved.

Things are still as unsettled as they were last week, but today I feel good. Yesterday, I felt good. My hope is to feel good tomorrow as well. It’s perspective and it’s self-love. Pressure & permission. Doing what helps and deleting what doesn’t.

“Treating myself as a precious object will make me stronger” ~Artist’s Way

All Signs Point To – Create Now!

Inspiration finds you, really, whether you’re looking for it or not. I mean, you can be looking for it, but you may find it somewhere you least expect it. “Just think really really really hard about it and then forget it,” Don Draper tells Peggy in “The Wheel”, season one finale of MadMen, describing his creative process.

My DreamLab class is going through the guideposts of Brene Brown‘s The Gifts of Imperfection. I was cruising along, loving everything that is coming together in my head about my life, all those tidbits in the mixing pot, and then last week – BAM – derailed.

Last week covered cultivating creativity, faith and intuition – all important markers that I’ve lost track of in the past 5-10 yrs. (Dang Saturn cycle.) I recognized the faith and intuition pieces immediately, turning them over in my mind to reintegrate. Creativity, though, talk about a shame trigger.

My experiences of the past 9 years have included so many art wounds that I can’t untangle them. Scratching the surface of those history-lines sent me into an emotional panic. Too much weight. The issue isn’t whether I think of myself as creative, it’s that I starve myself of creativity.

This week my therapist asked me about drug/alcohol addictions. My extended family has a history of alcohol abuse, but my immediate family has been addiction-free. She pointed out how my self-control has probably kept me from having any issues – since feeling even mildly out-of-control is terribly uncomfortable for me. Add to that the understanding that I’m predisposed to these pitfalls – I obsessively monitor my indulgences.

But not with art. Not with writing, blogging, photography, journaling, and especially, music. I hold back. I do everything else first. I have some warped belief that if I allow myself to do creative things, the rest of my life will be swept away in a tidal wave of irresponsibility.

So not only did I have DreamLab bringing me “art wounds”, therapy bringing me “addiction & control”, I tuned into this podcast from Karen Walrond. Honestly, previous times I’ve found her stuff on the web, I didn’t fall in love. This time, though, her voice warmed my earbuds and I was smitten. And now I find this post

“All you need to do to be a writer is write.  You don’t need to wait until you’re grown up, or go to university or anything.  You just need to write, and write, and write.  You need to make a point to keep on writing.  Actually practice writing…

Later on, I was thinking about this exchange, and I realized that the same is likely true for just living life: I mean, it doesn’t take a diploma or a formal education to live, and there’s no reason to do anything proactively in life, really, if you think about it.  You could just let it wash over you, and just reactively deal with circumstances as they come.  However, it seems to me that the way to learn to live life best is to actually practice living — challenging yourself to do more, or learn more, and to be more, you know?  Purposeful living.” ~Karen Walrond

None of that’s new to me – writer’s write, runner’s run – but again that theme of practice vs. perfection – that life is in the doing and the being and not the end results. That I’m drawn to creative blogs, photography, and journaling repeatedly, even though I’m not practicing it myself.

My perfectionism, my people-pleasing, my dissatisfaction seem to be ways that I muffle that creative urge.

Creating is the best way I can see to skirt around myself and make my way through on this journey. ~Glad for Art

Here I am 3.5 months later, still not really doing any of that, but it’s there. The urge to create, to express myself, to heal.

“If you decide to trade in your authenticity for safety, there are a few things to keep in mind. Your unexpressed ideas, opinions, and contributions will not just go away. They are likely to fester and eat away at your worthiness. You may experience the following: anxiety, depression, overeating, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment and inexplicable grief.” ~Brene Brown

Experiences in the past 9 yrs had me trading in my authenticity and controlling myself by withholding creativity. It’s a damaging cycle. I know the antidote is as follows, and I know it’s going to be an uncomfortable ride: as Jamie wrote here, I don’t need huge swatches of creative time, I just need creative time NOW.

Tuning In and Floating

Things started to change in regards to my job. This is a good thing, but it’s scary as hell. It opens up a black hole of uncertainty that I realize I need to ride out. Uncertainty equals serious lack of control,  meaning not a happy camper over here, no matter how positive the changes will be.

A few weeks ago, my therapist said, “I can tell you’re upset and that you’re really frustrated with yourself because of it.” Oh, was I frustrated with myself? I.had.no.idea. Immediately, I had an out-of-body experience: I could see myself, legs crossed, foot twitching, wringing my hands, my chest tight and I thought, “Holy shit, she’s right! Not only am I upset but I’m beating myself up for feeling this way!”

How can it be that I’m so self-aware and yet, ignorant of how I really feel?

I’ve subverted my emotions for so long in an effort to not rock the boat, not pick the fight, not feel too high or too low, that I’ve lost my ability to understand my own internal language. Head + heart don’t do not share the same slang. What is a “should” in my head is “panic” in my heart. What is “freakin’ awesome” in my heart is heard as “insane” in my head.

Add to this, my recent awareness of numbing and we’ve got a whole can of worms. With my job in limbo, I am trying to give myself the care I need, to feel through this, but I know I’m only allowing myself to go half-way. Uncertainty brings anxiety, anxiety brings tunnel-vision, which brings on panic, which leads to numbing. Going all the way feels too painful right now, as if I’ll be swept away or lose my grip on reality.

So I’m trying my best to stay tuned in to how I feel, knowing that right now I’m meant to just keep swimming. Tuning in can mean: running 3miles, getting extra sleep (including naps), lessening my To Dos, saying ‘no’ to invites, reading (a lot), taking baths, going for long walks and general hunkering down hibernation techniques. It also means drinking sugary tea, eating buttery toast and enjoying lattes. I’m watching the line between self-care and over-indulgence. I don’t want to add more negativity to my life in the form of a weight gain and sugar crashes. I have been avoiding alcohol.

I like to think there’s a small, steady spot between Uncertainty and Panic, maybe a tide pool where I can just swirl around for now. Where, in the stillness, my own story can bubble up. So that’s where I aim to be, at least for now. Waiting for the next thing that comes and taking care of the basics until then. It’s not about going all the way. Right now, it’s about tuning in and floating.

Sparkles Align

A friend invited me to Yogaworks South Bay. It was the first time since Thanksgiving that I attended a yoga class.

With overcast skies and light drizzle we drove on quiet LA streets. We told stories of huge snowstorms. My friend spoke about her little third grade shoes being stuck in the mud during a fire drill. Her fiance immediately recalled a scene when he has accidentally blew the fire alarm. I felt immersed in life, as cheesy as it sounds. I was present.

Sparkles

As a friend says, the good thing about having a bad day is that you know the next day will be better. Today was – yoga, coffee with a friend, and cooking not one, but two soups. These are all things that comfort me, specifically the types of things I avoid when I need comforting.

Yesterday, I dreaded yoga. I thought I had made a mistake committing to the outing. My thoughts ping-ponged between “You don’t really want to go” and “Did you just say ‘yes’ out of obligation?”

I honestly had no idea. It seems the reason I have trouble deciding what I want is that I’ve lost parts of myself to enmeshed relationships and people-pleasing. Why listen to myself when I receive so much validation from caring for others?

Well, to start – I’m the only one who really matters (to me). And I don’t think it’s something we’re taught when we’re young, but being able to soothe ourselves and be self-compassionate is paramount to our well-being.

As I was chopping onions for my soups, I thought about their aggressive defense mechanism of producing a toxin that makes our eyes tear and burn. It made me think about people and their actions / reactions. “I can say ‘she’s controlling’, but don’t I also play a part? Aren’t I the one being controlled?”

It made me pause. What has been my role, what have I gained, from believing I’m being controlled?

Honestly, it displaced my responsibility of caring for myself. I’ve been so focused on others that all I see is myself in relation to them. The outside, the external. As soon as a tense situation resolved itself last night, I felt free – free to do yoga, to smile, to get less sleep and have more energy. But that power is already in me, somehow, I just don’t know how to access it yet.

It’s a tiny shift, but it matters. Like the sparkly water running through the Santa Monica Library cafe in the picture. A moment caught in the sun. An adjustment I’m making to align myself, feeling where the tension is and breathing through it.

Instead of Just Living

I’ll be honest, Monday holidays are tough for me. Today was exactly like other weekdays, except the relief that I didn’t need to check email. It comes with an alone-ness though. Most everyone else is working and I have absolutely no money to spend on a *fun* day. Instead I had a normal day – gym, write, eat, errand, petsit. Every day is a “normal” day – what changes is my level of panic. What’s interesting about today though is how I was able to combat the anxiety.

Panic came when I was told I had to convince someone else of my accomplishments. Panic came when I wasn’t sure I could fit it all in. Panic came when I wasn’t sure I purchased the right gift for my sister. Panic came when I worried I wasn’t doing enough.

But then…

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