Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: day off

Malibu Creek – Hike and Climb

Last week, we had Tuesday off, and decided to head out to Malibu Creek State Park to climb the Planet of the Apes wall. After taking care of the dog and eating breakfast, we headed out. The park was simple to find and we didn’t hit too much traffic.

It was overcast which made the feeling of autumn and vacation sink in even more. I’ve had the camping / hiking bug for a while now, and it was intensified by our trip to Joshua Tree a few weeks ago.

We parked, paying $20 to the envelop system because we didn’t have any change, and headed down the Crags Road trail. After about 1.5 miles we came to the Planet of the Apes wall.

Another group was setting up a few climbs, but the bolts for the easiest climb were still open. We hiked to the top of the wall, the view was awesome. H set up our top rope anchor. (You can see him in the picture above – and the tiny people near his left elbow that show how high up we were).

The climb we set up, a 5.9, ended up being tougher than I’d hoped. Even though there are huge pockets for your hands the wall comes back at you, and it takes a lot of energy just to stay on the wall and not swing off. This was a type of climb I don’t normally work on. Plus, it is filthy. There is tons of dust and dirt in the holds, so it felt like reaching around in a cellar.

We didn’t last long. H melted out before the top of the 5.9 – I made it 1/2 way. We switched ropes with the group next to us so we could try the next route over. That felt more fun, but was tough as well. Then there was already another group of people waiting to set up their ropes. H felt pressured and I agreed. We decided to pack up the climbing gear, eat lunch and continue on a hike into the canyon.

We came up and around to the rock pool, which was prettier than it was clean. There were a lot of people there, including what felt like a bus load of high school kids.

The people were were originally climbing next to at the Apes wall had also packed up and made their way to traverse the rock pool to an additional set of climbs on the other side. You can see them in the two pictures above making their way across the rock wall of the pool.

We ate lunch at a picnic table under some coniferous trees, brown needles blanketing the ground. It felt isolated, quiet and just what I needed. The overcast made climbing feel really hot, but otherwise I was wearing my jacket and long-sleeved shirt.

Sitting there at lunch, eating a random assortment of food I packed, I told H I could sit there for hours. That I wish I’d brought a book and we had more time – I wanted to just relax there for hours. But we needed to get hiking to beat the daylight and we didn’t have all night to burn.

Down the path, H slowed. H was tired and probably not as into the hike as I was. We were headed to the M.A.S.H. site – I was using that destination as a reason to get him going. I’m all for hikes for the sake of hiking, but H likes a purpose to all the walking (this is pretty much the only instance where this type of “productive” role reversal happens haha).

 

After about an hour of walking, we made it. It’s not much, but it’s cute. I hadn’t been to this site since I first moved to LA. I don’t remember being that impressed with it then either, but it does make for a “destination” on the hike.

We took a few pictures, ate some snacks at the tables and then both took an Awake energy shot. That perked H right up. He was zooming along the trail on the way back and we were chatty as we kept up this faster pace.

We talked about camping, our Thanksgiving trip plans, the future of our homelife, the idea of kids and a bit of what we’d like 2015 to hold (travel, for sure). This is the kind of quality time I really love – being outdoors by ourselves, doing something interesting with H, and a good swatch of time to enjoy.

This whole day felt perfect. I’m so glad we headed out on this little adventure. Clearly both my day off alone and this day made for a super spoiled introverted me. Yay.

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Day Alone – Last Bookstore

Since yesterday was Veterans Day (and work was closed) I took Monday off as well, creating a 4-day weekend (after 4 days of travel for work). It was the perfect way to get grounded.

I did a HITT exercise, gave the dog a bath and then ran 2m with him. I met a friend pretty early for breakfast at Paper or Plastik Cafe (where the “no laptop” pic was taken above – Hi Julie!) and then picked up a weaving Jessica O’Brien made and gave away for free via Twitter (heart the Internet).

Some time that morning I thought about The Last Bookstore in downtown LA – I’d never been. Having the entire day to myself seemed like a good enough reason to go.

The drive downtown was pretty easy with the help of GPS and I found a metered spot across the street. #bonus

Inside it is all sorts of used-bookstore-goodness. There are shelves and shelves of books, grouped in the usual categories, but the endcaps had random assortments of new and used volumes. The tables in the middle held art or coffee table books – the themes not entirely obvious at first glance. There were a bunch of very worn, very old chairs strewn around, some with people lounging and reading. And there were PA speakers set up, with a random playlist going, though I caught some Conor Oberst, which made me super happy.

I walked around for over an hour, collecting a few books that I thought were worth owning. And by worth owning, I mean, books whose pages I may want to write in the margins of. I love reading but I don’t buy books often anymore. In the interest of more open space in our apartment, I gave away most of my books in the past few years – getting our living room down to one bookcase and the bookcase upstairs holding other things besides just books.

But that dry, paper smell of stacks of books? That never gets old.

I drove from the bookstore to a Starbucks. I tried writing some, but my brain felt so overwhelmed with ideas, it seemed blank. After an hour of scratching around, I left to pick up groceries.

At home I unpacked the groceries, biked the dog around the neighborhood, cooked Mexican food for dinner, and pulled the 9 of Cups from the tarot deck: It is a sign to enjoy the abundance of life and to feel each of your emotions as if you had never felt any of them before. See the perfection all around you.

Yes, another day alone. Just like my day in Pasadena last month, it was a much needed luxury of spending time with myself, and creating space to just be.

Perfection.

A Day Alone

I’m taking Abby Kerr’s INFJ Business class, and one of the things I’m learning about is recovery time.

How much I need, what tasks require more or less recovery time, and the self-imposed limits I’ve crafted for what is the “correct” recovery time for me (read: hustling / being good enough / work first, play later etc.)

Last week, I didn’t feel so hot. In fact, it’s the most out-of-it I’ve felt in a while. And even after a day of trying to take care of myself and starting to feel better, things were only looking slightly up.

So after two days of this, I decide to call out of work. And thank goodness. The pure relief of not having any pressure, the freedom to do what I wanted, the delight of playing hooky – it was exactly what I needed. I felt better immediately.

I saw my therapist, went to my favorite cafe and worked on my INFJ class, hunted down and rented a costume for a party, ate lunch and read a book at another fav cafe, and then came home to relax.

It was bliss.

And the reason I share this is because I forgot sometimes what I need. And maybe you do too. So here’s a suggestion: I encourage you to take a day for yourself. I know that sounds indulgent, b/c it is. It is not often we are encouraged to take a day for ourselves. So if you can’t go for that, try an afternoon or even an hour in a cafe, reading a magazine or a long walk outside alone. Allow yourself to pick something for you, and go for it.

 

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

 

Resting Up

It is silly for me to think that after 6 days of stressful, jam-packed events and schmoozing, that one day off would re-energize me.

It didn’t.

The truth is, I was kind of frustrated with myself when I didn’t feel positive yesterday or really couldn’t get out of bed this morning. Because, I mean, why does anyone even need ro rest? What does it say about me if I can’t rally?

But I worked around it – and somewhere during the 4 hrs (torture) of conference calls today, I started to feel better. Once I ate lunch and got some tea into me, I felt even better. And since then I haven’t been able to stop working through a small To Do list.

But I’m also promising myself that after this post, I’m going to lounge on the couch, read Bossypants with the Flyers vs Rangers game on the background and eat the left-over dinner my sister is cooking up.

Oh, and that’s us in the photo above. We’re too cool for school, obvi.

Done and Done

And just like that, all of the events / work stress is over. Compared to last year, I managed it all like a champ.

(Also, good to see I’m still eating some version of eggs with veggies for breakfast hah)

5 events in 4 days. Interacting with over 300 people – about 40 longer conversations. Sleep or no sleep, though I skipped the alcohol and I ate pretty well. My running slowed down a lot. The self-care increased. Even fought a small bought of food poisoning that woke me up from 3-4am on Sunday morning, 6hrs before the largest event.

The best part? I didn’t cry.

Crying, for me, is a sign that I am spent, maxed out, beyond small tweaks of help. It’s my inner 4 yr old raging, my ability to problem solve flushed down the toilet. Somehow I kept my reserves full enough that I always had that buffer.

What amazed me the most was the support I had this year compared to last year. This year I was surrounded by women, all of whom can handle events, know where to put their efforts and give great hugs. I accepted every hug I could get.

Of course it helps that this year’s events were over-attended and therefore total successes, but what matters to me, and my enjoyment of my birthday month coming up, is that I am happy… not with the results of the events, but with myself. That I am not shaming or beating myself up over the outcomes of mixers and meetings. Instead I am proud of myself – for staying as calm as possible, for drinking tons of water, for asking for and accepting help.

Such a different head-space than last year.

And today was my annual day off. Again, this year I was smarter. Instead of waiting until I was past my limit, I pre-planned my day off. So far, it’s awesome.

Off to a nap I go… xo.

 

 

Best Use of My Time and Energy

Monday was a day off, thanks to the marathon in Boston. I used to panic about days off. Work used to equal worth. Now, a day off is savored. Sometimes I make a list of all the fun things I want to do and other times I just let my brain pick the next thing on a whim.

This day off was a bit of both. This week, I want to accomplish a few “big rocks” each day and balance them with rest. For instance, more bridal shower gifts arrived and our bedroom feels dusty, but both take time and energy I am not willing to give right this moment. Note that I didn’t say “both take time and energy I don’t have” because in reality, I do have time and I do have energy. That’s the issue with my old mantra “I’ll rest when I’m done”.

The fact is, we’re never done.

So Monday involved fun and errands. I woke up on my own time, wrote morning pages (as I do now every day), biked with the dog and ate a quick snack. The first item on my agenda was a coffee date with two friends, Mike and Manny. The day was so gorgeous, we found ourselves walking and talking for over 2 hours. We covered almost 5 miles. It was splendid.

After that, I returned home to eat leftovers, read Harry Potter, shower and nap because I could. Napping, like taking baths, is another self-care item that I sprinkle about my days. Why deny yourself such an easy pick-me-up?

After all of that fun and resting, I did finally want to do some “work”. Post-office for wedding invitation stamps, library for books, the bank for deposits and finally, groceries. When the grocery store is empty, I find it the most relaxing thing ever. (It’s the dragging the grocery bags in from the car and unpacking them all that sucks).

And then I was back home – unpacking, checking Twitter, feeling a mile pressure to “accomplish” the next thing. But I took a step back and thought, “What would be the best use of my time and my energy?“.

Shoulds came out:

  • Run laundry
  • Check email
  • Cook dinner
  • Clean the bedroom
  • Change the sheets
  • Line the cabinets with contact paper
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Finish writing thank you notes
  • Unpack bridal shower gifts

Wants arrived as follows:

  • Blog
  • Read Harry Potter
  • Cook dinner, so we can eat dinner
  • Read the new books from the library
  • Watch the NHL playoffs

I share this with you for a few reasons. One, even a year ago, “blog” would’ve hardly made the list and certainly wouldn’t be acted on but that was, in fact, what I chose to do first. Two, I’ve come to learn that the “shoulds” become “wants” when it’s the right time for them, either when I have the energy reserves to accomplish them positively or when they really do become “urgent”. Three, I’ve also learned to find middle ground. Like, maybe I will change the sheets, but I won’t clean the bedroom. Maybe I will buy groceries and then we’ll eat a frozen pizza. Maybe I will write up 5 more thank you notes but not press myself to write the remaining 18. The point is I allow myself to mix relaxing activities into with the “work” and I in no way pressure myself to do it all. Because, really, there’s just no way. And by allowing myself that space to rest / recover / chill out, I have energy to do things that need doing. And it becomes blatantly obvious which things I just have no patience for on most days (see “line cabinets” or “check email” – yes, I do these things but only when I know I have the positive energy reserve to accomplish them – or else I find myself trying to reach a bar that is completely unattainable).

What would be the best use of my time and my energy?

It’s a key question, but I’m asking it from such a different mind-frame than I used to that my answers now make sense. My old answers would fit the mold of the “shoulds” and the rest would be some dangling carrot I would never allow myself to reach. Now, it’s a bit of both.

And if you’re not getting my version of this message, I encourage you to watch Shawn Achor’s TEDTalk about how happiness inspires creativity. Love it.

PTO

This is what a day off looks like… and since I never take them just for me, I made sure anything I did was purely for me. A-maz-ing.

Sleeping in till 7am. Waking up without an alarm.

Writing morning pages with the doggie sleepily looking on. 3 pages of long-hand, snapping a few pictures in the quiet. Exhibit A:

Feeding and watering both myself and the pup. Then out for a 3 mile run with lots of stops for him to sniff and pee and me to catch my breath. Listened to “Fresh Air” interview with Louis C.K. It did not disappoint.

Then on to a real breakfast, now that we have a kitchen full of groceries. Not since Thanksgiving has the fridge been this full. Fruit, eggs, spinach and a few corn tortillas. And lots and lots of reading.

I spent most of the morning reading – blogs, Harry Potter 4 (which I finished!), and few other books on the e-reader. I spent it cuddled up in an arm chair with this guy:

I didn’t check email, Twitter or Facebook. No TV or phone calls. Hell, I didn’t even leave the house. I showered around 1pm with the intention of taking myself out for writing and coffee, but just didn’t want to go. Lunch was eaten in too:

It involved a whole avocado, an entire tomato and more tea. Literally, wholes foods.

I perused Liz Lamoreux’s blog, especially her journalling videos, Chookooloonks’ blog, and got lost in the depths of Nothing But Bonfires‘ site before fiance was home and I was cooking dinner. Then it was crafty time, which is so-not-me normally but what can I say? I’m pretty inspired by Elise Joy’s blog lately, and I figured, I feel better when I make things, so why deprive myself of this tiny pleasure?

They’re going to be valentines. I’ve sent Christmas cards for the past 5+ years, but this past year it became something that needed to fall off the list to make room for things like work events, wedding planning and, um, sleep… so when I saw this adorable pack at Paper Source, I just had to have ’em.

Not sure how many hours it’s supposed to take, but I hope to get them out in the next few days. Luckily, this week is wide open in the evenings, so I’ll be making my way through the project. It’s important to note that this type of thing can so quickly become a “to do” that I’m working to keep it a “project” and not a “have to”. Something fun and relaxing, not torture. Something that will make other people happy, but is filling my well at the same time.

I don’t know why I didn’t just take a day off last week, when I needed it. Wasn’t acknowledging it somehow. That old “knuckle down” habit. So glad I did. I can feel another day would just be amazing, but tomorrow I’ll be able to return to work with energy, knowing that I took care of myself today.