Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: downtime

Powering Down

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I haven’t been posting as much lately. I’m super grateful for this space and for you, dear reader. And I find the holiday season sweeps me up and carries me into it’s darker, festive days.

So, I’m going to power-down this space for the next few weeks in order to finish up work, enjoy time with my family and gear up for the new year.

Here are a few things I have going on:

– Moving this blog over to it’s own URL, hosting and tweaking a new layout. It’s going to be all sorts of revamped (I hope).

– Napping. A lot. Sometimes I just need more rest than other months.

– Hosting Christmas at our place, for my family, for the first time ever.

– Enjoying having my husband, parents and siblings all together on Christmas morning for the first time in the 12 years H and I have been together.

– Promoting a big work event (the one that usually steamrolls me in January) and trying not to lose my shit.

– Writing Christmas cards. Shopping for gifts online. Panicking ever so slightly we won’t have it all done in time.

– Celebrating my sister and good friend’s birthdays.

– Going to the movies! I’ve seen Gone Girl, Interstellar, Nightcrawler, Hunger Games and Exodus in the past 2 months.

– Scrapbooking, aka putting words and pictures together on paper.

– Savoring time with H, walks with Carter Cash and coffee dates with friends.

– Generally feeling great about life and the awesomeness of 2014.

– Working my way through the Unraveling 2015 workbook. Get yours here.

Cheers to your holiday and a happy new year to you! xo

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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.

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.

Easter Lily, Morning Sun

After my trip to the East Coast (Boston & NY), the first few days back were pretty hectic. We had H’s best friend and step-brother staying with us for bachelor party festivities, H had a health issue, and I went into crazy “nesting” mode (as I so often do after being away) unpacking bridal shower gifts, cooking and cleaning.

It’s taken me the entirety of the past week to replenish my reserves – I even took the week off from blogging – and now I feel a head-cold coming on. I’ve claimed so much down time reading and watching the NHL playoffs, I almost feel sluggish, but I know it’s what I need. To add to my luck, I have tomorrow off (the college I work for is in Boston & tomorrow is Marathon Monday).

I plan on spending the morning getting coffee with a good friend and then hopefully enjoying more alone time reading, writing and running a few errands. Mostly, I just want to sit at my kitchen table and soak up the light like our new Easter Lily H surprised me with when I returned from my trip. I love how tall and thick it is, how the flowers just keep blooming and how it makes our entire downstairs smell like a garden.

This Grateful Season – Downtime

I’m writing this from bed.

After work, I cooked chili with whatever was on hand – 1/4 of an onion, a few carrots, sweet potatoes, beans and canned tomatoes. We watched TV and walked the dog. New running shoes came in the mail, as did OPC3. Last night I did half the laundry that piled up the past few weeks, wiped down the bathroom and took a bath.

There are a few work meetings sprinkled in this week. Friday is a holiday. Two weekends ago we cleaned the apartment – still maintaining the cleaner status. Finally rinsed out our wetsuits from the summer, hung them up on the bathroom door to dry.

The dog needs a bath, there is more laundry to be done, and our shower curtain needs to be cleaned of mold. There are purchases and library books that need returning, bills to be paid, and plans to be detailed. Our plants need repotting. I crave healthier food and more exercise. I want sleep.

This week is a stride of normalcy I’ve not experienced since May. This ease about myself is not magic, but an acceptance. The taskmaster has left for a moment and I am free to be wholly myself in each moment. Downtime in the shape of a more open schedule, yes, but more so, downtime from the anxiety that plagues my soul. A mini-mental vacation. I’m absorbing this juicy calm like a sponge, taking it all in, warm and soft. And resting while I can.

~ ~ ~

**For the month of November, I’m posting something each day that I’m grateful for. It may be as long as an intricate post, as short as a quote, as simple as a link or as wordless as a photograph. A friend has come on board. Join us? #gratefulseason