Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: creating

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

Piqued

Technically, I should be traveling in Alaska while you read this, but I’ve pre-posted these links b/c I’m working to take my blog more seriously, and my serious I mean consistency is key. If I haven’t posted at all this week (due to wifi or just because, ALASKA) then I’m sure I’ve shared photos over here on Instagram.

This week’s dog picture was taken by me of (Prince) Potter, owned by friend & photographer Billye Donya – you can check out more of Potter on her Instagram (she’s also the one who snapped our engagement photos back in the day).

Loving my coaching sessions with Heidi Taylor – her post about investing in yourself is full of nuggets of advice.

Been thinking a lot about taking action for my own projects and feeling the motivation to actually put butt-in-chair. Elise hits on a good point in her post about consuming vs creating:

If you’re struggling to get your own shop going or your own blog running or your own business idea off the ground, reading about other people stories is only inspiring to a point. Eventually you have to turn it off and sit at a desk and hammer it out. You have to embrace that not as enjoyable part because that’s the part when it’s actually happening.

I thought this post by Paul Jarvis contained a multitude of practical go-out-and-do advice for experienced freelancers.

Tara Gentile’s Quiet Power series on Facebook is pretty cool. Strategy #1 and #2.

And on the quiet power note – and because I am a deep reader – I tend to agree with much of this: Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With (even though H isn’t a reader at all).

I know it’s an ad for Under Armour, but Misty Copeland? Holy crap. This is gorgeous and inspiring and kicks ass. Also, two weeks ago I tried on 10 pairs of leggings at the sports store and the only pair that fit me right was Under Armour, so win-win.

 

 

Not Responsible For Other People’s Success

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

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

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

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

So, I’ve started saying No.

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

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

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

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

What?!

I am not responsible for other people’s success?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intuition Ignition

I spent a good part of my 5m run with a friend picking her brain about visions, goals and aiming for what you want. 90-day plans. Being direct and clear with dates and measurements. How does she know? What do I do next if there’s silence in my head when I ask? What kind of warning shots (as she calls them) can I send out? What am I looking for?

On Monday I had coffee with another awesome friend; I found myself talking about the same ideas. He posed the whole “if you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?” question. My answer comes back “I would do this“. Sit and have good conversations with someone I really like. Just show up and listen to people. Help them. Create art…

…but that seems soooooooooo indulgent, I said.

As we talked, I realized that I’d been skirting something in these conversations. Essentially, I was complaining about not receiving any intuitive hits, about the silence on the radio dial. Instead, it seems, I’ve been ignoring my intuition, because the request just seems ridiculous.

And here it is: I just want to sit and create all day. Create what? I have no clue, but I can tell you at the basic level it feels like – doodle in journal, glue things to paper, sketch out a poem or two. Nothing drastic, probably nothing worth keeping, but the action, the sweet feeling of cutting paper and holding a pen and putting something down, is what my soul seems to be craving.

And then all hell broke loose at work for a day. I felt manic; talking to people, dealing with drama. I am proud of myself for handling it with an even attitude, but by the evening I was spent. A glass of wine, a bathtub and bed were my answers.

Today I woke up with that old feeling of panic – the thought of answering emails and going to a coffee meeting made me want to cry. I felt exposed, too sensitive, and really wanting to go hide out alone.

And then I left my keys in the unlocked car, IN THE IGNITION.

So I called out of work tomorrow. I’m taking the day to recharge and indulge myself a little. So much of my horoscope encourages introspection and envisioning the future. So much of it asks me to focus on myself and rest.

The ache to take a trip alone is back. To get away, to be in silence, to walk streets I don’t know and sip coffee in new places. It may just be what I gift myself for my birthday.

 

 

This Grateful Season – SoCal Fall

We know I complained like a baby about the heat the past few months. Some days, it felt unbearable. Others it was so perfect in the gray of the morning that you’d never know it’d be boiling hot by noon. I get it. We live in the desert. I live where we take full advantage of the water diversions of centuries and one day that water could run out.

But yesterday I took the above picture – 80s, sunny, with crisp leaves on the ground. Today it was rainy and “cold”. It was bliss. And with that I drank tea, did my work, cleaned my house and collaged a bit. And boy, did I need that.

As this Mercury Retrograde season slows me down, I’m hoping to have more days like today over the next few weeks.

 

Productive Monday Holiday

Yesterday was a Monday holiday for me.

Every week should be a 3-day weekend.

I was uber-produtive, creative, relaxed and happy… even with some weird head cold that’s brewing.

I cleaned the bathroom, ran 3 loads of laundry, washed the doggie bed, walked Carter Cash for an hour, worked on an e-course, created a new journal to go with the e-course, cooked food, took care of the carpet company estimate, talked to my family 2x, read a book, journaled, worked on a video, vacuumed downstairs, dusted and vacuumed my bedroom, changed the sheets, responded to emails, and watched football (the Jets are depressing ::sigh::). All of this with energy and never really feeling pressured or upset I was doing so much cleaning alone.

(Thank you moon void of course)

Today was a pretty good day at the office, though I am right on the precipice of completely freaking out with all the work I have to do. I tried to list all of the projects and “next actions” I could think of a la Getting Things Done (GTD). It seemed to help, but more and more things keep pouring out of my head. The crazy part is – how was I not going crazy already with all of that in there? Well, I guess I was.

There’s a lot of stuff percolating – three upcoming trips, three work events, this e-course which I’m sure will dredge up some buried items and MY SISTER RELOCATING TO LOS ANGELES and sleeping on my floor for a few weeks.

It’s funny how I post here so often and hardly mention the people in my life. It’s because I don’t share this blog with anyone (though I understand it’s out in the internets) and yet I feel like I have to ask permission to write about other people on here, which would mean I’d have to talk to them about the existence of this blog. Round & round.

Anyways – I’m working on that. The above is enough for now, I think, especially if you didn’t have yesterday off and / or are a Jets fan. ‘Night.

 

Tweet Tuesday – Julia Cameron

While this isn’t the most profound quote I could pull from the great Julia Cameron, it was 100% applicable to my recent  health. I wasn’t feeling so hot in general. Allergies or a head cold were wrecking my sinuses, I’d traveled a bunch (germs, germs germs) and I felt just blah. But I’ve been working, through accepting where I’m at and coming up with a few new realizations, to hone in on what’s really going on.

First of all, I decided that I need to ask myself often “What’s the best use of my time and energy?” and measure my answers against what will really feed my soul. This includes new habits of self-care, quiet time and lots of reading. Cooking, cleaning and chores are only useful when they feel replenishing, not depleting. But there seemed to be something missing still. No matter how much I rested, I still felt resentful. I still had a head cold.

And then, I felt in my bones that creating is the answer.

So when I sat down to blog the other night – and have continued to add creative fun into the past few days – I found I have more energy and less physical pain. Thinking I’ve brought myself back into alignment. And wouldn’t that just be a freakin’ delight for Julia?

Practical Spring Magic

As the Sun enters Taurus, I can feel the urge to dig deeper, be a bit more solidly on the ground, and hold damp earth in my hands. To focus on tactile items and tangible actions – books, kissing, taking the garbage out, strumming a guitar, folding clothes, scrubbing the bathroom, being spooned. Practical. Daily practices. I feel the restraints and confusion of Mercury retrograde loosening their hold.

While I’ve been taking time for restful self-care, I’m sensing that there is a new current running beneath me:

“What matters, really, is creating, which is not something I could’ve said even last week, but it’s becoming very clear. Self-care is actually not enough. ‘Taking-in’ is not enough. I need my own output for my own stuff. But what? Create what? I don’t think it matters. All of it is so important – the act of it being the lifeline I think I need. It’s not about what I ‘have to do’. It’s not about ‘work’. And it’s not about what I create either. I think my soul is freaking out because I’m not giving it time. I’m just not. All week was some good self-care, some stuff I didn’t want to do and lots of social output, and yet, no actual creating. I’m still in a shadow phase. I’m still feeding that need with other people’s books, podcasts, thoughts, language, songs – even their stories – about songwriting and creating…” (morning pages 4.21.12)

This is the uncomfortable noise running under the past few weeks. I don’t feel completely awful and depressed, but I also don’t feel at ease – each day is a bit of a struggle in the most boring ways. I’m hiding out, ignoring emails, reading a lot of Harry Potter, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. I’m not moving forward.

My self-care is lifting me up, but I’m not using that energy for a personal “greater good”. Instead, I think / worry / panic about all the shit I should be doing with this energy – paralyzed by those “productive” items on my To Do list – and not allowing myself to explore my imagination. I’ve given myself permission to rest but not to create. To quiet my left brain but not receive from my right brain. I’m allowed to save up my energy, but I’m not allowed to use it unless it’s to do something “practical” a.k.a “productive”.

But the most practical thing I can do for myself is to create. And so, I am taking a cue from the cycles of the sun and working to transfer “creating” to the practical side of my life. Small daily actions create change. I’ve seen it work over the past 2 years, from allowing myself to just be, to not weighing my worth against my work, to taking more self-care and now, to this new phase – filling my days with creating, with the beginnings of a new season, following the patterns of spring, like the birds and the bees and the seeds on the wind.

Friday Night Thoughts

– Still reading “The Paris Wife” and not loving it. :::disappointment::: It’s actually boring me. The writing feels superficial or maybe the characters’ voices aren’t grabbing me. Starting to think I should just read “A Moveable Feast” or any published letters between Hadley and Ernest Hemingway.

– I am aching to attend a retreat like Squam. I’ve done a bunch of Internet searching for something similar on the west coast but they’re either really soon / booked, a ton of money, or too art or spirit based. Nothing seems to be a good fit.

– Therefore I’m contemplating the online “Be Present” course and then this new site I found tonight “Original Impulse” that has a “Make Writing A Happy Habit” online class. So, we’ll see.

– As I wrote earlier this week – my job is actually challenging and satisfying, which seems to make me crave deeper creativity even more (and avoid it even more – Hello Resistance! – just when I was getting started…)

– I broke my iPhone last week by dropping it in a yet-to-be-used toilet. #fail A week later, still without a phone. Good news is that I’m not attached to a device, finding my own way without a digital map, and enjoying being a bit off the grid. Bad news is that I feel a bit fuzzy, like I’m not on top of my shit. Also, I’ve lost my daily camera / creative outlet, and I’m finding it impossible to make plans with friends. Not sure how much longer it’ll take for the new one to arrive as it’s a work phone and there’s lots of paperwork.

– Today’s career horoscope was spot on: “Ordinary duties will put you to sleep. If, however, you’re given anything new, you’ll be off like a speeding bullet. Opportunities to expand into new possibilities or put more content online will make you shiver with excitement. Go for it!” I had lunch with an alumna who said she’d love to partner on an interview series. This idea’s been rattling around in my head for a while now, so I’m excited. We’ll see what we can do.

– And that project above makes wonder (again) if I should start a professional blog geared towards GenY and transition from college to career. I still don’t know, but if I start mapping out ideas it seems to have a lot of potential and gets me excited.

Happy Friday!

(Blogged from my iPad app which unfortunately doesn’t allow for links or formatting)