Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: emotions

Piqued

The week continued to be a doozy. It seems after the meltdown on Wednesday, things were looking up again. Thursday was quiet. Easy. Good.

Then Friday I ran around and hosted a big event. The amazing thing is that I have an assistant now and he rocks. This was the first time I felt like I was actually hosting an event and not just running around like a crazy person for 5hrs.

But back at home that night I cried and cried again – getting into an actual argument with H and melting down for the 2nd time in a few days.

What the heck?

Yes, it’s definitely hormones, but besides that, I still don’t know. And I’m not sure I’ll figure it out. But I have today to hang out with a good friend from college, tomorrow a video chat with another longtime friend and then completely free. Monday I plan to take an entire day to myself and go wander Pasadena, taking photos, sitting in cafes and exploring.

The above picture is of Cater in a large box from a hiking backpack H ordered. Carter knows tons of commands, so with a little food bribing, we can get him to do lots of cool things. Like climb into a box and lay down, b/c it’s funny… but then he stayed there! So we gave him his duckie and towel and he chilled out for a while. Proving again, he is secretly part cat. Also, animals are so weird. And the best.

So now, some links:

Elizabeth Gilbert on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Yes, I linked to this in other posts, but I love E. Gilbert and I will watch anything she’s on.

The internet has created the Facebook engagement reveal, blog-featured wedding, and Pinterest-worthy baby’s rooms – so of course announcing a pregnancy is also swept up in this series of public displays of “my life is awesome”. A couple announced their pregnancy by creating a Wes Anderson parody and I loved everything about it.

I want to set a calendar reminder to reread A Cup of Jo’s post 10 Things I’ve Learned In My Career every month.

She also linked an article she wrote for the New York Magazine about people who only wear one color. Being almost 38% done with my #30daysofdresses challenge, I am finding it more constricting than liberating. So I’m not sure I could wear only one color, but I do love me some navy.

Elise is sharing This Is My Business Story in installments and I can’t get enough. The details, the timeline of things, the practicality and the reflection. Elise is a planner, works super hard and really values the behind-the-scenes sharing which, in my opinion, is a great use of the internet and the other side of the coin to the above paragraph about everyone’s fabulous version of their life they share online. And as someone who is considering updating her blog / changing the path of my career, I love that she’s kept every one of her posts live, all the way back to the beginning. How’s that for behind-the-scenes?

Lindsey never ceases to amaze me with her words on memories, living, time and life. Time Folds Like An Accordion made me aware of my own life again, it’s little details as I sit here typing this for you, for me – to remember – H napping on the couch, Carter napping in the chair, a vase of flowers on the table, and arrangement I made for the event on Friday night. How time slips and slides and truly does fold back on itself.

And because I saw Gone Girl last weekend and b/c Jennifer Garner is gracious and adorable while being asked about her husband’s success with the movie even though she has TWO movies of her own out (ahem)… watch her on Ellen.

Think that’s enough for now. xo

See all Piqued posts.

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#30daysofdresses – day 10

In where I lose my shit…

I look pretty put together in this pic, but this is the day I hit a wall.

Yesterday I mentioned feeling like crap and turning to the women who I admire for support.

After I took this photo, I drove across town for a meeting. The kind of meeting where you wonder why it was planned b/c the people in attendance don’t seem to care much. Or forgot you were coming. Or have to leave early.

It’s hot, and you’re sweating through your dress. Again. And you’re wondering when you get to go back home, but the drive home is a whole other story, because now it’s sweltering in your car, and there’s traffic and you’re gonna sit in some pretty blazing sun traveling west.

I planned to take myself out for lunch after the meeting. Take advantage of the void moon. Try to fill the well.

Found parking, ordered food, took a table. And found I’d made the mistake I often do in public places – I sat near the LOUD TALKER.

Now you could argue that everyone has the right to speak to their table-mate in public places. That I am just being sensitive and overreacting.

And you would be right.

Because I sat there – still completely overheated from the weather and the car ride, a headache pressing on my temples (didn’t realize it then, but I hadn’t had any caffeine the whole day), and now extra on fire from the chili I ordered – steaming with anxiety, trying to read a book…

The woman next to me blab on and on about how she “cried for two weeks when they had to turn down a house in Malibu”. #killme. I texted Stephanie to try and make a joke out of it: accidentally sat next to the quintessential 40 year old Santa Monica mom who won’t shut up about primrose water and full moon yoga.

I moved tables. And then I gave up and left.

Before I even got to my car, the hot tears began streaming down my face behind my sunglasses.

I cried the whole 1/2 mile home, in the garage in my car after I turned it off, in the house on the couch with the dog, and then finally upstairs in my bed. I cried like a torrential rain, a tidal wave. I cried the way toddlers cry when you get the trifecta of a meltdown – hungry, hot and tired.

And I felt sorry for myself. My head was killing me, the day felt like a waste, the $11 I spent on lunch sure was, and why couldn’t I stop crying? Why do I always feel like such shit some days?

I was mad myself. Mad for being sensitive, for not being able to adapt, for exhaustion and emotions and feeling so raw and overwhelmed by the simplest things.

And then I remembered. Highly sensitive person.

Heidi and I chatted about being an HSP – did I identify as one? I had said no, that the term felt weak and a bit much, and I wasn’t that sensitive actually. I was resourceful, practical, tough. None of this needing special treatment BS.

But again, I turned to books and downloaded The Highly Sensitive Person and felt myself come home a little:

The biggest cost to us of being highly sensitive, however, is that our nervous system can become overloadedWe simply reach that point sooner than others.

“HSPs simply process everything more, relating and comparing what they notice to their past experience with other similar things. They do it whether they are aware of it or not.

If you are going to notice every little thing in a situation, and if the situation is complicated (many things to remember), intense (noisy, cluttered, etc.), or goes on too long (a two-hour commute), it seems obvious that you will also tend to wear out sooner from having to process so much.”

Page after page, I could feel the grip I had on myself loosen. Here was someone telling me, assuring me that what I was feeling had a cause, that it was manageable, and the best piece: “To sum it up again, you pick up on the subtleties that others miss and so naturally you also arrive quickly at the level of arousal past which you are no longer comfortable. That first fact about you could not be true without the second being true as well. It’s a package deal, and a very good package”

I can look back over the past few weeks and note many causes – mercury retrograde, the lead up to the full moon, the eclipse that evening, work, events, hormones. And I can list all the reasons why I maybe started to feel better – the release of emotions from crying, the rest I kept taking finally being enough, talking to my therapist, my friends, H…

But whatever the cause of the down cycle and whatever the cause of the upswing… that evening, I finally started feeling normal again.

And thank goodness for that.

Dress is Forever 21. Shoes are Mudd, and no surprise here, think I bought them Kohl’s.

Note: I wrote this on Thursday about my experience on Wednesday. Currently, I am feeling better and I hope you’re having a good weekend. xo

#30daysofdresses – day 8

The heatwave continues to it’s uncomfortable rule over the city. Luckily, this dress is made for hot, hot heat.

I originally bought this dress for my engagement dinner July 2010 (same trip as this story) and I’ve worn it a ton since then. Again, no bra required, loose and cool to wear, and super flattering.

Plus, the pattern is my favorite thing ever.

I wore this on Monday, and while it was a very successful day of work, I still can’t shake this feeling of major blahs. Or frustration. Or upset-ness.

Whatever you want to call it – it feels unshakable – waking up rested and then the anxiety seeping in as I realize I have to get out of bed and go about my day. Feeling happy and then not. Worrying that I’m not fun, I’m not easy-going, I’m too emotional.

Mercury retrograde, heat wave, full moon, hormones, anxiety, big work event, feeling responsibly for everything, f-ing fleas on the dog, carrying around ridiculous expectations of people who probably don’t even think about me, and certainly not with the knife-cutting precision that I dissect each action I take.

It’s a lot.

I can say that the dress helped. It makes me feel comfortable in my skin. It feels powerful and sexy and comfortable all at the same time. It’s a good friend to have on days like these.

Because I can’t seem to process this enough to articulate it right now, I’ll leave you with Jill’s words from What I Don’t Want To Talk About:

My life rehab started with the simple wish to “be a better friend to myself.” Not to be a better person, not to become successful or accomplish things and make stuff, but to practice maitri — loving compassion towards the self. I have a strong sense that right now that means two things: to accept help, to seek out connection and community, and to be gentle with myself.

Today I rollerbladed 3m alone. I went to the library and carried home an armful of books. I’m writing this blog post. I exercised, got dressed and made the calls I needed to for work. I wrote morning pages and wiped the kitchen counters clean. And during all of that, I felt happy.

And then there’s the overwhelm of emails, the aggravation of the flea problem, the pressure of work events, the feeling like I’m completely alone in all of it. And that I’m being unreasonable (where did I even pick that up?).

I know I’m a better friend to myself than I used to be, but the relationship still hits major bumps in the road. And all I can keep returning to is truly and absolutely doing what I want to do, emotions, feelings, thoughts and all. Loving compassion for myself. Accepting help and seeking connection.

Being gentle with myself.

Dress and flip-flops are both Kohl’s from ~4 years ago.

Thirty

I admit, I am quite apprehensive about this milestone birthday, but today has been a normal day off at home. In fact, I probably “wasted” it by sitting at the kitchen table, scrolling through blogs, Instagram and Twitter, sipping tea and reading The Goldfinch (which I still can’t get enough of).

But as my sister texted – it’s not a waste if I’m happy.

Amen to that.

I also received many a Facebook posts, text messages, phone calls, IG comments and tweets. My awesome colleagues used Facetime to sing me happy birthday complete with inflatable instruments, and another had his entire office sing happy birthday to me over speaker phone. A few friends sent videos of well-wishes and H left me notes all over the apartment this morning.

Tonight I’m headed out with 15 of my friends to all-you-can-eat-sushi and then a dive bar. Considering I haven’t drank any alcohol in 3+ weeks, I don’t plan on going out in a blaze of glory. It will be fun nonetheless.

I’m grateful for this time alone – finally starting to feel my energy coming back, the sun moving into Pisces, and the internal wheels of project ideas and plans spinning once again. If anything, I am at least grateful to have better perspective this year after all of those events, and understanding my own cycles is helping immensely. By not fighting how I feel, it all seems to be flowing through me eventually.

More to come, but for now, I’m off to the usual routine of taking the dog out for a walk. Birthday or not, some things still need tending to.

 

 

 

A Normal, Magical Day

Monday was back-to-school. Thumbs down. But I didn’t want circumstances to ruin my day. And I remembered that, back in June when I wasn’t feeling so awesome, the Day In The Life project helped lift my mood.

So, I tried it again. And it worked, again. #win

There’s something about anchoring my choices in photographs, documenting my existence throughout the day, that makes me appreciate what I’m doing. Photography validates the decisions I make and captures me in my life. How awesome is that?

My day ended up being really enjoyable. Writing in the early morning light, eating tomatoes from my own plants, walking with the pup, drinking green juice, good meetings, lots of tea and work at the office and leftovers for dinner.

A very normal, yet magical day.

Back To School

It’s back to school over here. When you’re married to a teacher, the transition from summer vacation to school back in session can be a harsh one.

After a few years of this, I’m noticing the pattern. The exhaustion on his part, the loneliness on mine. How comfortable we become with him being home and rested and not drowning in papers and activities. How disruptive it is the day it’s gone – no easing into it. One day we slept in until 7:30 a.m. and he was home for lunch, and the next a 5:30 a.m. alarm and not seeing each other for 18hrs.

It’s not being without him that’s so terrible, but that I also work alone – and so the days stretch out before me, taunting with all I could be doing or should be doing.

But this year I’m learning. I’m accepting the loneliness, inviting it in. I’m learning the awkwardness of now only having a few key hours in the evening to spend together – what what do we do with them? And I’m making sure to focus on what I need – sleep, exercise, lovely writings on the internet (here and here), podcasts, calls with friends and a general letting go of doing it all on my own.

He’s made extra effort to communicate when he’ll be home, what he can help with, checking in with me how I am feeling. These are all good things.

My aim is to feel better than I did last year, but more so, to not knuckle down until Thanksgiving, but to really see what this season brings to my work, my marriage and my creativity.

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.

Just Breathe

I find all of the om-mimicking “just breathe” quotes plastered on the web incredibly annoying. Telling one’s self to “just breathe” when one doesn’t have a practice or space between the frustrations and the thinking of this phrase feels like such a slap in the face. Like, it’s another thing my mind uses to boss me around…

If you would just breathe through it, honey, this wouldn’t be so bad… aka if you were just stronger, more organized, in better shape, had more money, thought ahead more, etc we wouldn’t be in this situation.

Sheesh.

Telling myself to “just breathe” used to make me feel much much worse. And now when I see friends put it in status updates, I just want to hug them and say, “No. Don’t just breathe. Feel it. Feel every crappy thing you’re feeling. And take a break. And cry. And go for a walk. And give yourself some space. Call a friend. Take a nap. Do something for yourself that is nurturing, not abusive”.

Bit dramatic, I know, but this is about allowing ourselves what we need. And ending the knuckle-down options. This has a lot to do with my yoga practice, so stay with me.

Two weeks ago, I gave myself a small challenge – yoga for 5 days in a row.

I made it 4 days, and they weren’t easy, but they weren’t hard. My favorite part of classes is when the teacher says things like “Honor where you’re at” and “It’s not supposed to be easy, but stay with your breathing”. In this space, I feel like they’re giving me permission to do what I need, to choose the beginner or more challenging modification. To lay in child’s pose for the entire class if I so choose.

Because I don’t give myself this type of permission in my usual day. Even the act of doing yoga feels like a luxury.

We all have an inner dialogue, some people’s friendlier than others. Mine can be like living with an insane person. Insane. There is an incessant mix of self-deprecation, Nazi-like commands and random music playing all.the.time.

Yoga brings me back to myself. It’s like someone takes the volume of the voice in my head and turns it way down. And I’m given space to honor me.

I practiced at home 6 times over the past two weeks. And I attended one amazing class with a friend. And I’m looking forward to practicing again today.

Let me tell you, all of that deep breathing really helps.

– – –

Do you have a yoga practice? Do you practice at home or at a studio? If you have a favorite website or studio in LA – please share in the comments. I love resources. Currently, I use yogatoday.com and took a class at InYoga Center.

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.

 

 

Ths Grateful Season – Ambivalence

I had coaching call with Randi Buckley back in April. I didn’t write about it then. And I’ve been participating in her Maybe Baby course since the start of October. And I haven’t written about it here either.

I have always been ambivalent about motherhood, so much so, that I thought I was on the “no thanks” side of the fence. And then I started to get my shit together, my mom and I healed our relationship, I got married and the hormone switch when ON. Like, blaring fog horn in my body on, which was extremely confusing.

Who did that make me? A slave to my body? A hypocrite? Was I becoming one of “those people” who check off the list of adult accomplishments and after marriage realize the only next step to take is “babies” and they leap off that cliff with no detailed plans?

No, not at all. I am allowed to feel out both the “yes” and “no” and everything in between. The call with Randi 7 months ago allowed me to speak this inkling out loud for the first time… and I got excited, and scared, and nervous all at the same time. What did it all mean?!

Today I practiced feeling out a full-on YES to motherhood. And I realize that my own ability to conquer the world, to know that I can kick ass (even at motherhood) waxes and wanes with my mood. And man, has my mood been mercurial lately. It sucks.

But then I read posts like this and this and this and I know, like Brooke says:

“Sometimes it feels like everyone else is doing it better, you know? Like there’s some secret I’m a little behind in knowing.

I keep hearing There’s no easy answer.
And that seems to be true. It’s even a little of a relief, because maybe I’m not missing anything at all. Maybe it’s just…like this sometimes. And times’ll change and things’ll become easier and definitely the thing to do is to see the small steps, the small positive changes and to continue on as well as possible and to do the best we can.”
And that’s where I am. Still ambivalent – my soul leaning towards a “yes” the way our feet search out warmth under the sheets or our hands massage the puppy’s ears – but at the same time it still feels impossible. How can I handle a child when I break down some days over how filthy the house feels or that I can’t possible fathom the energy for my entire to do list…?
But people do, every day, and life goes on. So, a toast here to the good work Randi does (this woman is so.much.fun to chat with), the good work I’m doing for me and my future and the honesty to know, I need to allow myself to sit in this ambivalence. While it’s not the final answer at all, it is part of my path, and I’m learning to embrace all aspects, even those that are unclear and uncomfortable.

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For the month of November, I write each day about something I’m grateful for and call it Grateful Season. It’s my way of reviewing the amazing year I’ve had and helps me focus on blogging during the crazy holiday season uptick. Feel free to join me – just make sure you let me know!

Side note: to be honest, I feel like I’m coping out on these posts somehow. I wanted to use them as an review of my year, but instead they seem to be just daily posts. Since I invented this series, there is no “wrong” way to do it, but seriously, I was hoping to get a tad more in-depth by now.